Lawson Swearingen

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Lawson Lewis Swearingen, Jr.
Swearingen Lawson & Sharon 2010Jan31.JPG
Lawson and Sharon Harrelson Swearingen
Louisiana State Senator from District 34 (Ouachita Parish)
In office
Preceded by H. Lawrence Gibbs, Jr.
Succeeded by John C. Ensminger
President of the University of Louisiana at Monroe
In office
Preceded by Dwight D. Vines
Succeeded by James E. Cofer Sr.
Personal details
Born (1944-05-27) May 27, 1944 (age 69)
San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, USA
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sharon Harrelson Swearingen
Children Lawson Lewis (Chip) Swearingen, III

Ashley S. Day

Residence Fairhope, Alabama, USA
Occupation Attorney; State Senator; Professor

Former university president

Religion Baptist
State Senator Swearingen left the legislature to become president of his alma mater, which was renamed as the University of Louisiana at Monroe during Swearingen's ten-year tenure as president from 1991 through 2001.

Lawson Lewis Swearingen, Jr. (born May 27, 1944), is a former Democratic member of the Louisiana State Senate, having represented District 34 (Ouachita Parish) from 1980 to 1991,[1] and a former president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, whose tenure extended from 1991 through 2001.

Early life[edit]

Swearingen was born in San Antonio, Texas, to Lawson Swearingen, Sr. (1919–2011), and the former Jeanette Christine "Jean" Cadwallader (1922-2012). The senior Swearingen was a World War II veteran, a graduate of Louisiana Tech University, and an executive with Commercial Union Insurance in Ruston, Louisiana, and, later, Boston, Massachusetts. The paternal grandparents of Swearingen, Jr., were Annie Marie Estlinbaum and Henry Douglas Swearingen of Eagle Lake, Texas.[2]

Swearingen's mother, Jean, daughter of the Reverend Chester Sabin Cadwallader and the former Carrie Kendall, met her husband at Baylor University in her native Waco, Texas. While the couple resided in Ruston, she was for twelve years the Lincoln Parish deputy clerk of court. She was active in Baptist women's groups and assisted her husband while they were living in Boston to organize Billy Graham's 1980 New England Crusade.[3]

Swearingen, Jr., was reared in Ruston, where he graduated in 1962 from Ruston High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1966 in the field of government from ULM, known at the time as Northeast Louisiana State College. He also excelled in college basketball under the popular coach Lenny Fant.[4] In 1969, he received his Juris Doctor degree from Roman Catholic-affiliated Tulane University in New Orleans. He then practiced law for twenty-two years in Monroe while he also served as a state senator.[5]


Louisiana State Senate[edit]

Swearingen was elected to the Senate in 1979 to succeed Democrat H. Lawrence Gibbs Jr. (1919–1993).[6] In his third and last election to the state senate in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 24, 1987, Swearingen easily defeated the real estate figure and fellow Democrat Fred Huenefeld Jr., also of Monroe, 26,087 (77.6 percent) to 7,521 (22.4 percent).[7]

Upon his resignation from the Senate in 1991 to become the ULM president, Swearingen was briefly succeeded by former State Representative John C. Ensminger (born 1934), a conservative Democrat who had switched to Republican affiliation while serving in the House in 1985.[1]

ULM President[edit]

In 1991, Swearingen resigned with less than a year remaining in his senate term to become only the fourth president of the then Northeast Louisiana University, which was renamed ULM in 1999 during his presidential tenure.

Under Swearingen, the university added four doctoral degree programs, expanded the pharmacy program, built new library and computer science buildings, and expanded Biedenharn Hall. Certain selective admissions procedures were also implemented. Swearingen retired as president in 2002.

Personal life[edit]

Swearingen has also lived in Hammond, Louisiana, and, currently, Fairhope in Baldwin County near Mobile in southern Alabama.[8] He served as a professor of management, specializing in legal environment of business and other business law courses at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond in Tangipahoa Parish[9] before retiring in 2010.[10] He was an active community leader in Hammond and often lectured on education topics. A Baptist as well as a member of Gideons International, Swearingen is a trustee having served a term through 2011 on the board of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.[11]

Swearingen is married to the former Sharon Harrelson (born 1947), originally a ULM cheerleader from West Monroe. The couple has two children, Lawson Lewis "Chip" Swearingen, III; and Ashley Swearingen Day and husband, Will. Swearingen has two sisters, Carolyn Swearingen Cody, and husband, Rodger, of Houston, Texas, and Sharon Swearingen Tusa of Richmond, Texas. Swearingen's mother resides in Shreveport, where she retired with her late husband,[2] who was an active donor in 2008 to the Republican Party.[12]

Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Henry Lawrence Gibbs Jr.
Louisiana State Senator from District 34 (Ouachita Parish)

Lawson Lewis Swearingen Jr.

Succeeded by
John C. Ensminger
Preceded by
Dwight D. Vines
President of the University of Louisiana at Monroe

Lawson Lewis Swearingen, Jr.

Succeeded by
James E. Cofer Sr.


  1. ^ a b "Members of the Louisiana State Senate, 1880-2004". Retrieved January 13, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Obituary of Lawson Swearingen, Sr.". Shreveport Times, December 24, 2011. Retrieved December 28, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Jean Swearingen". Shreveport Times. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Mark S. Rainwater, "Fant's legacy lives on in 'his boys'", October 13, 1998". Monroe News Star. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  5. ^ "’’The Bayou: The History and Traditions of the University of Louisiana at Monroe’’". Retrieved January 14, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October5 24, 1987". Retrieved January 14, 2010. [dead link]
  8. ^ People Search and Background Check
  9. ^ "Southeastern Louisiana University". Retrieved January 14, 2010. 
  10. ^ A retirement reception for him occurred in Southeastern's Garrett Hall on 2010 May 6.
  11. ^ "New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary". Retrieved January 14, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Lawson Swearingen, Sr., Political Campaign Contributions, 2008". Retrieved January 14, 2010.