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ULM's Berry is hopeful for the future

President Ron Berry of the University of Louisiana at Monroe is feeling hopeful for the future now that things are getting back to normal on campus after COVID.

Universities across the country were hit hard when COVID appeared and ULM is no exception. Most universities switched to remote learning, but lots of students are back on campus even with the challenges of enrollment. According to Berry, "ULM's enrollment was down 3% which is better compared to sister schools and peer institutions around the country."

On enrollment growth

"We are not focused solely on 18-year-olds, we are looking at a broad spectrum of students to try to meet them where they are."

Recently ULM has been up 800 applications and admittances for the Fall 2023 semester. Additional enrollment for returning 2nd year and adult learners has increased as well. New programs and scholarship opportunities have been created to help these students be successful. The Board of Regents has an ambitious goal that by 2031 approximately 60% of Louisiana citizens will have some form of higher education. ULM has a successful history of creating online programs targeted to adult learners. There is a strong infrastructure in place to work with the population of students that want to progress in their careers.

On online education

During COVID, ULM was a leader in online education in the state. The pandemic caused teaching methods to shift, but online learning is not for everyone. An 18-year-old just entering college may need in-person learning more than a 25-year-old or older. Online technology was used to meet the needs of our students. Students are happy to be back on campus and involved with different events.

"At the end of the day, it's all about that mission of our university, which is lifting our community up."

On being a university president

Being a university president is a foundation, a platform from which all of us can dream. Aspirations are created in ways that a university can grow and change. Plans for the future are always ongoing and give room for thinking about new ideas, innovation and discussions among faculty, staff and students. New ideas can spark from even the simplest things like phone calls and meetings. Recently, there has been talk about a new disaster management program that sparked from a phone call with a man who led most of Louisiana's disaster recovery responses.

Strategic planning is looking at ULM's strengths, weaknesses, the needs of the state and the universities resources to make new academic degree programs. A university president always thinks about positive and negative things that could happen, different student needs and potential cyberattacks. The main goal is to meet every individual where they are and help them become the best version of themselves.

A great foundation for ULM is to dream, aspire and go out to change the world one individual at a time.