BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – President-Chancellor Dr. Ray Belton’s time at Southern University was celebrated on Thursday.

Dr. Ray L Belton, served the institution for more than 35 years and Thursday was Belton’s last official day as President-Chancellor.

President Belton says, “I always enjoy the opportunity to work with students.”

According to the Coordinator of the Chancellors, De’Andre Dearinge, Southern is all about providing access and opportunity. And that’s what Doctor Belton offered his students.

Dearinge says “Southern University provides access and opportunity for all students and walks of life, any age.”

Dr. Belton was very touched by all the decorations and the number of people who showed up for his last day. Belton says “I’m typically not accustomed to receiving such acclimate, I’m really humbled by it all.”

A long-time friend, Dr. Kim Reed Hunter, who is now the Commissioner of Higher Education Louisiana, supported his beliefs in the university and students. Hunter says that “It is truly important for us to thank him for service and to celebrate him.”

During speeches, it was said that during Belton’s term, student enrollment went up 154 percent.

Dr. Belton says, “It’s not just about the number of students enrolled, but providing them a rigorous experience in the classroom but also outside of the classroom, opportunities to discover themselves.”

As President Belton steps down, he says he’s ready to kick back his shoes and enjoy retirement.

“Put my feet up, that’s the first thing, I’ve actually considered a number of opportunities but I’m going to decompress and see what’s a good fit.”

Dr. Dennis Shields has been named the next president-chancellor. Shields has been the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Platteville since 2010.