George T. Walker
|George Thomas Walker, Sr.|
March 2, 1913Jackson Parish
|Died||June 17, 2011
Monroe, Ouachita Parish
|Alma mater||Louisiana State University|
|Occupation||President of University of Louisiana at Monroe|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Ellen Neal Walker (married 1938–2002, her death)|
George T. Walker, Jr.
George Thomas Walker, Sr. (March 2, 1913 – June 17, 2011), was from 1958 to 1976 the president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, known first as Northeast Louisiana State College and then as Northeast Louisiana State University, located in Monroe in northeastern Louisiana.
Walker was born in the Wyatt Community of Jackson Parish near the Winn Parish line in north Louisiana, the second youngest of nine sons and two daughters of William Thomas Walker and the former Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Stovall (1877–1951). At the time of his mother's death in 1951, the obituary lists George Walker as a dean at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches and his youngest brother, William Stewart Walker as a lieutenant colonel in Vienna, Austria. Another brother, Edgar Lee "Ed" Walker (1901–1972), was a football coach at the University of Mississippi at Oxford, who led his team to an early Orange Bowl competition.
In 1935, Walker received his Bachelor of Science degree from NSU, then known as Northwestern State College. In 1936, he earned a master's degree in accounting at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He then began his teaching career in Monroe at the then Northeast Junior College. Thereafter, he was a member of the faculty of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Lafayette. From 1941 to 1943, he was the state supervisor of business education. From 1943 to 1945, he was personnel director for the Port of Embarkation in New Orleans.
After World War II, Walker earned his Ph.D. from LSU in business administration and accounting, with a minor field in economics. At the time, he was also the assistant to the dean of the LSU Junior Division. After completion of his doctoral studies, Walker became dean of applied arts and sciences at NSU, thereafter adding to those duties from 1954 to 1958 the position of NSU dean of administration.
On July 1, 1958, Walker began his service as only the fourth president of ULM. Under Walker, the university grew in enrollment, physical plant, and academic standing. The enrollment increased from barely 2,000 in the late 1950s to more than 9,000 by the middle 1970s. He worked to increase the quality and the compensation of the faculty. Under Walker ULM added more than a dozen academic buildings and residence halls to the campus. These structures included Garrett, Hanna, Sugar, and Strauss hlls, Schulze Dining Hall, the Business Administration Building, the Band Building, Sandel Library, Fant-Ewing Coliseum, Heard Tennis Stadium, Brown Stadium, Malone Stadium (opened 1978), the Anna Gray Noe Alumni Center (named for the wife of former Governor James A. Noe), the Lake C. Oxford Natatorium (completed in 1978), and several residence halls.
The then NLU became the largest university in North Louisiana in terms of both enrollment and state appropriations. Among the universities under the Louisiana Higher Education Board of Trustees, NLU had the greatest percent of faculty holding terminal degrees and more nationally accredited academic programs.
In addition to academic growth under his leadership, numerous support groups came to fruition: the Northeast Louisiana Concerts Association, NLU Foundation, NLU Athletic Scholarship Foundation, and the Northeast Louisiana Land Corporation. The land corporation was created in 1965 with local business leaders with the goal of procuring land for university expansion.
Walker's tenure at NLU corresponded in part with that of F. Jay Taylor, the president from 1962 to 1987 of nearby Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. Under Taylor's tenure, Louisiana Tech grew in similar fashion to that of ULM under Walker. Taylor died a month before the passing of Walker. The tenures of Walker and Taylor also corresponded to that of Arnold R. Kilpatrick, president of Northwestern State University from 1966 to 1978. During this same period Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones was president of historically black Grambling State University in Grambling.
Family and legacy
Walker authored numerous academic and professional journal articles as well as several books on accounting and business education. Of his five copyrighted books, two were written during his retirement, The Building of a University (1991), which examines the early years of ULM, and the biographical Emy-Lou Biedenharn: Her Life and Legacy (1999).Emy-Lou Biedenharn was a world-renowned contralto from Monroe and the daughter of Joseph A. Biedenharn, the first bottler of Coca-Cola.
In 1938, Walker married the former Mary Ellen Neal (1911–2002), his college sweetheart. They had a son, George T. Walker, Jr., of Monroe and a daughter, Ellen Claire Stephenson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Walker died of a lengthy illness at the age of ninety=eight. In addition to his children, Walker was survived by five grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
In 1997, the Louisiana Board of Regents awarded Walker its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for his ongoing dedication to higher education. He is also honored by the Mary Ellen and George Thomas Walker Scholarship Endowment through ULM.
A memorial service was held on July 9, 2011, at the First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, where Walker was an elder. His hometown newspaper, the Monroe News Star, paid tribute to Walker on theday before his memorial service:
"His legacy is both complex and far-reaching. While most associate him with the physical university here, in truth his greatest influence is to be found within the countless lives that were changed by his example. His abiding concern for the welfare of others, his courage in action, his quiet support when friends and colleagues needed it most, his belief in the empowerment that comes through education, his charity of spirit — these will live on through the actions of those who knew him."
- "Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Stovall, Transport Cemetery records, Dodson, Louisiana". transportcemetery. Retrieved July 19, 2009.
- Obituary of Morgan W. Walker, Sr., Winn Parish Enterprise News, Winnfield, Louisiana, February 23, 1983
- "George T. Walker". Monroe News Star. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- "Remembering a University President: Dr. George T. Walker". kedm.org. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- "Remembering Dr. George T. Walker: University Builder". ulm.edu. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- "Dr. F. Jay Taylor". Shreveport Times, May 17, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
- "Home Named in Honor of Former NSU President". Northwesternalumni.com. Retrieved May 22, 2009.
- "Ralph W.E. Jones, 78, Ex-Head of Grambling". The New York Times, April 11, 1982. April 11, 1982. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- "Biedenharn Museum & Gardens". bmuseum.org. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- "Walker's legacy is changed lives". Monroe News Star. Retrieved July 9, 2011.