ULM Aims to be Best-In-Class; Online Programs Nationally Ranked

MONROE, La. -- University of Louisiana at Monroe has received fewer dollars from state funding in recent years leading to a school budget decrease.

U.L.M. continues to adapt to the latest changes in the education world. Part of their five-year strategic plan envisions the school among the best-performing in the region.

"ULM won't settle for good enough, we've always worked to be best," voiced ULM's Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Eric Pani. "That's been a fairly well-hidden secret. The wraps are coming off. That's where we're headed."

The University of Louisiana at Monroe has a strategic plan in place to reach its best-in-class goal. And part of it has already been set in motion.

Facing state funding cuts, the school has restructured its colleges and streamlined its administrative structure, dropping 266 positions over the last 5 to 7 years.

To generate revenue, the school says it has restructured its debt and outsourced its tuition payment office, bookstore, and food services.

U.L.M. President Dr. Nick Bruno reports community donations have gone up recently.

"We're seeing people stepping up and donating money now in larger amounts and more people that are connecting back, said President Bruno. "ULM Will it ever replace the  state dollars? No. But it will give us the opportunities for professorships and incentives and scholarships for our students and so forth. And that will help us."

The Louisiana Board of Regents wants higher education to bring in more non-traditional students and increase their academic credentials to  develop a skilled workforce for the state.

"Students want the degrees," said President Bruno. "They're recognizing this university's degrees as having value to provide them a rewarding career. That's what drives a student to a university, not how that university is managed."

U.L.M. education officials plan to attract more students with unique innovative programs like unmanned aircraft systems food safety and dance.

"There's only one other dance program in the state," said Vice Presdident Pani. "And that's at Tulane. And if you look at the national demand for dancers and choreographers, it's expected to grow by more than 18% per year through 2020."

In US News rankings, only 20 schools scored higher than U.L.M. in online graduate program faculty credentials and training.

Two programs at the University of Louisiana at Monroe are nationally ranked in the 2014 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Online Programs.” ULM’s online graduate business degree (MBA) and online graduate education degree (M.Ed.) were ranked number 87 and number 103, respectively.

Both programs have been ranked as some of the nation’s best in previous years and the newest rankings are evidence of the continued growth within the programs.

University officials praise dedicated faculty and staff for the accomplishment, but warn that future budget cuts will have to mainly affect personnel and programs, all while remaining oriented to student success.

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