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|Moffett encourages grads to pursue service|
The holiday season served as a backdrop to the spirit of giving, which was the keynote message delivered to 404 University of Louisiana at Monroe graduates on Saturday.
Randy Moffett, president of the University of Louisiana System, spoke during Fall Commencement exercises on Dec. 13, in Fant-Ewing Coliseum.
Moffett encouraged the graduates to utilize their education at ULM for the betterment of others.
"I urge you to remember that success means more than dollars and cents," he said. "It means dedicating your life to something bigger than yourself. There are endless challenges in your backyard, and I hope you will dedicate yourself to using your gifts and education you received to better the lives of your neighbors."
Moffett referenced a philanthropy report that stated charitable giving has been recession-proof, with contributions to American charities increasing during 39 of the past 40 years. It said between 69 and 72 percent of people give routinely.
He said despite warning signs in the economy, "service is a valued commodity in the Monroe area, and it's a focal point at ULM as well."
"This university's first lady, Deborah Cofer, was featured in a recent national article about presidential spouses – the unpaid, unsung heroes of college campuses – who volunteer around the clock to better the community, the university and its students," he said.
Moffett is a strong advocate of student service learning, where students combine academic pursuits with service to their communities.
He praised the work being done at ULM, among them:
• The College of Pharmacy delivered care to special needs patients following Hurricane Gustav.
• Education faculty and students mentored northeast Louisiana schools to bring new strategies for increasing student achievement to some of the most economically disadvantaged school districts in the nation.
Moffett also heralded a recent New York Times editorial titled, "What Louisiana Can Teach," singling out ULM for positively impacting student achievement through course improvements and other reforms.
Melissa Keaster of Farmerville, is the top 2008 fall graduate. Keaster, who is a vocal music education major, is married to Brandon Keaster. She is the daughter of Arden and Melanie Chapman. She graduated summa cum laude with a 3.98 cumulative grade point average.
Several honor graduates were recognized during the ceremonies. They are designated as summa cum laude (3.900-4.000), magna cum laude (3.750-3.899) and cum laude (3.500-3.749).