On his first day as president of the University of Louisiana Monroe, Dr. Ronald Berry, joined by his wife, Dr. Christine Berry, announced their establishment of the ULM Opportunity Fund, to be administered by the ULM Foundation.
The Berrys started the fund with a personal commitment of $100,000, with the original goal of matching that amount through alumni, community, and business support.
"Today is a day that we start dreaming together," said President Berry. "It's about changing our trajectory as a community. It's about lifting people up." He encouraged discussion about the opportunities the University can provide to the region.
"Creating opportunities for others is something Ron and I have been passionate about since even before we met," said Dr. Christine Berry. "We have to do more. We have to do better at preparing students for college, better at helping them succeed in college, and better at helping them succeed after college."
When President Berry came to his office last Tuesday, there was a check for $100,000 on his desk with a note stating, “I hope this donation helps get your Presidency started in the right direction.”
“This very generous and thoughtful gift allowed us to reach our goal before the fund was even announced,” said President Berry. “So, we decided to reach even higher and quadruple the amount to a new goal.”
Dr. Ron Berry said he then received a call from Jerry Allen, who serves on the Board of Trustees of the ULM Foundation, with the news that the Foundation will match up to $100,000 toward the new fund.
When speaking about the growth of the fund from $100,000 to $300,000 in just a week, Berry suggesteed a higher goal "I think we need to dream a million dreams."
Designed with limited conditions, the Opportunity Fund can assist students, faculty and staff in many ways, from emergency circumstances to special projects.
“It will be a flexible fund to support a wide variety of activities. We want to remove obstacles for people pursuing life changing opportunities,” said President Berry.
Examples of potential funding include programs that improve diversity, equity and inclusion, tuition assistance, support for staff or faculty members pursuing graduate work or academic career advancement, development of leadership programs for faculty, staff and students.
"We want to change lives. We've spent our lives trying to serve others, and we're hoping that other people in our community will join us. We're going to continue dreaming to do more, and provide opporunities for people who need them."