The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System named Ron Berry the ninth president of the University of Louisiana Monroe last week.
Berry has spent his 25-year career at ULM and currently serves as the dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences at the university.
“The people at ULM are passionate people, and the community came together for the university during this process,” Berry said. “Together we will set priorities for our university to become the transformative entity that we so desperately need to become.”
The University of Louisiana Monroe Presidential Search Committee narrowed the field to three finalists, Berry, Katrice Albert and Jeannine Kahn, after interviewing six semifinalists on ULM’s campus in August. The search committee was formed earlier this year after former ULM President Nick Bruno announced he would retire.
“When it’s a difficult decision, that speaks to the incredible quality of the candidates before us,” UL System President and CEO Jim Henderson said. “Ron Berry is a balanced leader who will usher the University of Louisiana Monroe into an even stronger future.”
Prior to the finalists’ interviews, state Sen. Stewart Cathey touted Berry’s qualifications for the position.
“Our university needs someone who can step in on day one without a steep learning curve. We need someone who has the trust of faculty, staff and community members,” said Cathey, R-Sterlington. “He’s clearly the most preferred by faculty, students and communities across northeast Louisiana.”
During his interview, Berry spoke of his vision for ULM to continue to serve as a beacon for opportunity and inclusiveness for the region. He emphasized his belief in the importance of approachability and accountability in his leadership style.
“Our faculty are ready to be heard,” Berry said. “Immediately, we would start that process.”
“We need to begin developing our own leaders,” he added.
Berry was joined by his wife Christine who is a faculty member at the university.
“I measure success by happiness,” Berry said. “Faculty will be excited to come to work, and students will be excited to come to learn. I’m interested in the intangibles—the lives we change and the communities we improve. We will change lives on the bayou.”
Berry’s selection is the culmination of a seven-month search process.
“The process of selecting a university president is the most important work of this board and I commend this board for their engagement,” Board Chair Mark Romero said. “Dr. Berry, with his long tenure, is familiar with the needs of the community and ready to lead ULM to its full potential.”
Interim President Edwin Litolff was appointed in May. Berry will begin his tenure as president next month.
Berry, a native of Winnsboro, and a two-time graduate of ULM, has served ULM for 25 years. He advanced through the academic ranks as assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor of Information Systems. Berry began his academic administration career as Department Head of Computer Information Systems, Interim Dean, then Dean of the College of Business and, most recently, Dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences.
A sign stating “Student Centered: Excellence Driven” hangs in his office and serves as Berry’s motto.
As a first-generation student who came from an impoverished household, Berry said he understands and appreciates ULM’s impact on students and the communities the institution serves. Forty-three percent of ULM’s undergraduate students are Pell Grant recipients, and 31 percent of the fall 2020 freshman class are first-generation.
“I believe strongly that where a student begins life does not predetermine their path through life or final destination. The vision for ULM must continue to be to transform lives and serve as a catalyst for breaking the cycle of poverty in Northeast Louisiana and bringing true equality, inclusiveness, and opportunity for all citizens in our region,” said Berry.
As Dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences, Berry has built a diverse leadership team, spearheaded the college’s academic program accreditations, received substantial external funding, made and improved alumni relations, created partnerships locally, statewide, and nationally, and built a culture of student-centered learning.
Berry has worked closely with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, serving two years on the executive board as Vice President for Membership and Vice President for Business Advocacy and six years on the board of directors. Berry served as chair of the United Way of Northeast Louisiana for two years and seven years as a board member.
“It will be an honor and privilege to serve the ULM family and community as the ninth president. Throughout the search process, I was inspired and overwhelmed by the support, enthusiasm, and excitement around ULM’s future and look forward to collectively realizing our full potential,” stated Berry.
Berry had his “partner, best friend, and wife” First Lady Dr. Christine Berry with him throughout the entire presidential search process.
First Lady Christine Berry, Ph.D., CPCU, ARM, ARe
Dr. Christine Berry moved many times as a child and young adult. She has lived in eleven different states but has lived in Monroe for nearly 20 years and considers it home.
Berry is the Kim Sledge Endowed Chair and Professor of Risk Management and Insurance, Director of the Small Business Risk Management Institute, and Program Coordinator for the Risk Management and Insurance program. Prior to joining ULM in 2001, Berry was a Risk Management Consultant and later the Director of Education with reinsurance brokers E.W. Blanch and Benfield Group in Minneapolis, MN, and Dallas, TX. She also served as an Assistant Professor of Risk Management at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.
Berry earned a B.S. in Finance from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. in Risk Management and Insurance from Florida State University. She has also earned Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter, Associate in Risk Management and Associate in Reinsurance designations.
Berry has worked closely with the Louisiana Department of Insurance during her time in Louisiana. She was appointed by Governor Blanco to serve on the Louisiana Insurance Rating Commission and later served on the Property and Casualty Insurance Commission.
“We want the ULM community and Northeast Louisiana to know how much their support has meant to us since even before this process began. Words can’t express how excited we are to be a part of this amazing group of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the broader community, and look forward to working together to create a bright future,” said Christine Berry.