ULM Foundation Honors Excellence

Aug 18, 2017

Four University of Louisiana Monroe faculty members and two staff members were the 2017 winners of the ULM Foundation Awards of Excellence.

The awards were presented Thursday as part of ULM President Dr. Nick Bruno’s State of the University address at Brown Auditorium. The annual presentation of the awards features winners chosen based on a set of standards determined by a selection committee.

Dr. Matthew E. Talbert, assistant professor of biology in the School of Sciences, was presented the Award for Excellence in Research. Talbert and a team of student researchers are studying the effects of altered diets on fruit flies in hopes of unlocking the secret to human obesity.

“Being obese is not a health concern on its own,” Talbert says. “Not all obese people become ill. But many do.” Certain illnesses recur in unhealthy obese people, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Talbert is searching for the trigger, that moment. “I want to know what causes a person to go from obese and healthy to obese and sick.”

Among the findings so far: The lifespan for flies with altered diets are cut in half. These same flies demonstrate cardiac difficulties, insulin resistance and sluggishness.

Talbert’s first manuscript as senior author has been prepared and submitted to Cell and Molecular Life Sciences for publication in 2017. At the Endocrine Society’s Endo 2016, Talbert’s graduate student presented a poster at an invited symposium for students from minority backgrounds. 

Although Talbert teaches 12 contact hours each semester, including courses in genetics human physiology and biomedical ethics, he believes the most important work comes in the research lab. “In the lab, what I feel to be the ultimate classroom, my students and I generate and share ideas in a setting in which they chart our mutual successes or failures, elevate one another with mutual expectation, and push at the boundaries of fact in the field.”

Dr. James Boldin, an associate professor of music at ULM, won the 2017 ULM Foundation Award for Excellence in Creative and Artistic Activity.

Boldin has been on the music faculty teaching French horn since 2012. He has held the Dr. William R. Hammond Endowed Professorship in Liberal Arts and the L.M. McNeely Endowed Professorship in Humanities.

During his career at ULM, Boldin has traveled nationally and internationally as a clinician, soloist, author, arranger, performer and educator. His performances and presentations have taken him to San Diego; Chicago; Memphis; Highland Heights, Kentucky, for the International Women’s Brass Conference; Los Angeles, where he performed the world premiere of Gary Schocker’s In Arkadia for horn and harp; and Ithaca, New York.

He also participated in a series of performances and master classes in Thailand at Mahidol University, Silpakorn University and the Royal Thai Navy Music School. 

Boldin plays with three different regional orchestras. He is the fourth horn for the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, third horn for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra and is the principal horn for the Monroe Symphony Orchestra.

“Performing with these ensembles is important not only for my own artistic development, but also because it allows me to share what I have learned from these experiences with my students,” he says.

Boldin’s achievements include that of recording artist. His solo recording “Jan Koetsier: Music for Horn” was released on the MSR Classics label in 2013. Two more recordings on the MSR Classics label are in the pipeline.

Dr. Aaron J. Witek, assistant professor of trumpet, is the winner of the ULM Foundation Award winner for Excellence in Faculty Teaching. Unable to attend, his award was accepted by his wife, Karen Witek.

Witek, the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Endowed Chair, Instructor of Trumpet from 2013 to spring 2016, has been on the ULM faculty since 2013 and served as assistant director of athletic bands from 2014 to 2016.

As assistant director of athletic bands, he designed the drills, arranged music, conducted rehearsals and organized the band travel. Witek’s recruiting efforts increased the size of the band by 29 percent from 2014 to 2015. In 2016, the ULM winter color guard, under his direction, won the Louisiana state championships.

Witek is responsible for teaching applied trumpet to undergraduate and graduate music majors, trumpet studio, directing the trumpet ensemble, coordinating and coaching chamber music ensembles, assisting with administrative duties in the brass area and performing with the faculty ensemble in residence: Black Bayou Brass.

“Among all aspects of my job, the students’ educational success is my primary concern. I've had the pleasure of educating dedicated students who have been successful in competitions, admitted into graduate programs and became employed in their field of study,” Witek says.

Dr. Pamela Higgins Saulsberry committed her life from a young age to helping people. “After I began working at ULM there was never a time when I was not involved in service provision either on campus, in the community or in the region,” Saulsberry says. That commitment to helping others earned Saulsberry the ULM Foundation Award for Excellence in Service.

Saulsberry joined ULM in 2008 as department head of the social work program. Since 2014, she has been director of the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences, professor of social work and the program coordinator. She is a past recipient of the Northeast Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation Service Award, CAMEO Award for Outstanding Leadership in Education for March of Dimes, Association of Black Social Workers’ Regional Humanitarian of the Year, Delta Sorority Woman of FIRE Award for Community Service and Together We Can “Linda Christmas” Families and Children Award. She serves on the Masur Museum of Art Board of Directors and has previously served on the GO Care Board of Directors.

Saulsberry has been instrumental in developing the MLK Day of Service. She has grown the program to include students, staff and faculty from across the campus, and individuals from across the region. For the past three years, Saulsberry has been a volunteer reader for the United Way of Northeast Louisiana’s Read Learn Succeed program.

Andria Price, in reflecting on her service, says, “Taking the time to sit and read to and with a young child may not seem like a major contribution to some. However, this volunteer service exemplifies my service philosophy, epitomized by the quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: 'Everyone can be great. Because anybody can serve.'”

Price, an administrative assistant in the College of Arts, Education and Sciences (CAES) dean’s office is the winner of the Foundation Award for Excellence in Service by Classified Staff. Price was selected because of her significant contributions to the college, the university and the community.

Price joined ULM in July 1990 as a secretary in the Department of History and Government and the Department of Foreign Languages. In May 2004, she was promoted to administrative assistant III in the CAES, and she moved to her current position in December 2013 when the College of Arts and Sciences merged with the College of Education and Human Development.

In her role, Price works closely with graduating seniors, auditing their transcripts and degree plans before submitting them to the registrar and prepares checkout materials for the seniors to submit to the registrar. She collects and uploads syllabi of courses into the Flightpath system. She supervises student workers and assists students, faculty, administrators and visitors.

Price also is an active member of Macedonia Baptist Church, where she has been involved in the church’s annual “Back to School New Shoes Give-A-way.”

Kelli Cole is the winner of the ULM Foundation Award for Excellence in Service by Unclassified Staff. She is a research analyst in the Office of Assessment and Evaluation and an instructor in the School of Humanities.

Since joining ULM in 2005, Cole has served as Staff Senate president, the ULM United Way Campaign Coordinator and Committee Commencement chair. She has been an active member of the Monroe Junior League since 2014.

Cole has volunteered at a local soup kitchen and the Back to School Bash at Lenwil Elementary and served as Volunteer Coordinator for the League’s activities at the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, the PAWS Pet Parade, the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo Day, Chennault Aviation Museum, the Center for Children and Families, the Salvation Army and Mercy Multiplied.

Cole also is involved at Grace Episcopal Church and School, which her son attends. At the school, she is serving on the Fall Festival, Gator Greenery and Gala Silent Auction committees.