President highlights university highs during his 6th State of University address

Olivia Barfield

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University President Nick J. Bruno gave his sixth State of the University address Thursday morning, pointing out several academic strengths of the university and a few challenges to faculty, staff and community members in Brown Auditorium.

“I tell folks all the time that I feel privileged to talk about the accomplishments of so many people that work so hard on a daily basis despite the challenges we face,” said Bruno.

The address was given on the last day of “University Week,” a week in which all faculty–new and old–attended training and development activities in preparation for the new semester.

Bruno began by reviewing some “points of pride” that the university has achieved. One large “point of pride” is that the university has been recognized for the first time as an “R3” (moderate research) doctoral-granting institution of higher education by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (CCIHE). Certification by the CCIHE puts ULM in a category that only half of US higher education institutions achieve.

It was also mentioned that ULM has once again been ranked as a Tier 1 school by US News and World Report, which is great for public relations.

The president also highlighted the fact that our passage rates on licensure exams are up, our Doppler weather radar is expected to be up and running within a week, and our accounting program ranks 26 in the country.

As far as athletics go, although ULM is not the most-winning school, its athletic program has the highest academic performance rate of any school in the Sunbelt Conference.

Bruno also covered the subject of TOPS. This semester, TOPS is paying about 93% of what it paid last semester. Next semester it is expected that TOPS will only pay about 48% of what it did in spring 2016.

“We don’t know economically how that’s going to affect our students in the spring or further if a solution isn’t found. I do know the legislatures are very aware of it and concerned about it, and we’ll just have to see what happens,” said Bruno.

Another challenge that the university faces is that the Board of Regents funding formula was recently changed to reward research more. As a consequence, there are many programs  the Board may not consider funding in the upcoming semesters.

The address ended with recognition of the ULM Foundation, which raises money for student scholarships and faculty pay enhancements.

This year, the board passed out six awards to faculty and staff for excellence at work.

Tom DeNardin was awarded for teaching, Bette Kauffman was awarded for creative and artistic activity, Seetharama Jois was awarded for research, Kioh Kim was awarded for faculty service, Sabrina McClain was awarded for service by unclassified staff and Sue Oliver was awarded for service by classified staff.