James E. Cofer

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James Erwin Cofer Sr. (born 1949), Dr. James E. Cofer, Sr., was the 10th president of Missouri State University. He was named in 2010 after serving eight successful years as president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Although his tenure at Missouri State came during a difficult economic period, the University accomplished much under President Cofer’s leadership. According to Missouri State's official account of his presidency, Cofer, Sr. "opened up the budget process, balanced the budget without cutting the academic departments even in light of the state appropriation reductions, gave equity raises to 40 percent of the faculty and started the process of raising the pay grades and salaries for staff. The new long-range plan, Fulfilling Our Promise, was successfully completed under his watch. He also initiated a review of the General Education Curriculum, expanded the campus’s thinking about ways in which to offer courses and he pushed for greater emphasis on student learning outcomes."<5> Cofer resigned after eleven months as President at Missouri State University due to what he claimed were "the rigors of the schedule.".[1] After a twelve month sabbatical, Cofer was eventually reassigned to the faculty in the College of Business at a salary of $165,000 per year. Cofer was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant for the 2014-2015 Academic year.

From 2002-2010, he was president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM).[2] He previously held faculty appointments at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, and Mississippi State University in Starkville, from which he obtained the Bachelor of Science and MBA in business administration. He received his Ed.D. in administration of higher education from UALR in Little Rock, Arkansas. Eisenhower Fellowships selected Cofer as a USA Fellow in 1995.

Cofer came to ULM in 2002 when the institution was experiencing severe financial and audit problems, having succeeded Lawson Swearingen, a former member of the Louisiana State Senate, in the top position. He led successful efforts incrementally to return the University to solvency and generally accepted auditing standards.[3] His "Reclaiming Our Campus" campaign effectively consolidated cooperation from the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community in restoring a sense of pride and became a case study for ACT Survey Sources.[4]

Cofer claims to have had "numerous academic involvements;" one such "involvement" is said to be membership on Eisenhower Foundation International Advisory Council. He is married to Deborah A. Cofer, whose activities to help refugees from Hurricane Katrina contributed to her being chosen "Business & Professional Person of the Year" by the Monroe / West Monroe Business and Professional Women organization.[5] Although not damaged per se by the hurricane, ULM was profoundly affected by Katrina, the campus serving as a major refugee site; additionally, President Cofer, Sr. "boldly" initiated an unprecedented winter session (during the normal Christmas holidays) so that students could take courses from which they had been uprooted during the Fall 2005 semester.


  1. ^ Springfield News-Leader, June 28, 2011
  2. ^ ULM president's welcome page.
  3. ^ Louisiana Legislative Auditor Report dated 2007 January 10.
  4. ^ Case Study: University of Louisiana at Monroe. Nick Bruno, later Vice President for Business & Finance with the University of Louisiana System and then Cofer's successor as ULM president, served on the administrative team which Cofer brought in to address the financial and audit problems.
  5. ^ Biosketch of Deborah Cofer.
  6. ^ http://www.missouristate.edu/president/cofer.htm
Preceded by
Lawson Lewis Swearingen Jr.
President of the University of Louisiana at Monroe

James Erwin Cofer Sr.

Succeeded by
Nick Joseph Bruno