University of Louisiana at Lafayette Announces $500 Million Fundraising Campaign

Oftentimes the spirit of giving accompanies the end of the year, and at UL Lafayette, that spirit is abundant. According to this news release from the university, a $500 million comprehensive fundraising campaign was announced by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, making it the largest single fundraising initiative in the school’s long history.

The initiative, which was formally started on November 5th is titled Together: The Campaign for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and according to UL Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie, the half-billion-dollar goal is not only about focusing on the school and its students, but the surrounding community, state, and world they find themselves in.

In his rousing speech announcing the historic milestone fundraising goal, Dr. Savoie stated that in reaching the $500 million goal, ULL will also “enhance the role the University plays in strengthening our community, deepening our wider understanding, and opening the door to a world-class education for those who come here to pursue their aspirations. This campaign is our moment to look upward and see that the only obstacle we face – the only limit we have – is our own capacity to dream. Together, we can – and will – shape the future.”

Four days following its announcement, the fundraising campaign was over halfway towards meeting its target, according to UL Lafayette vice president for University Advancement and CEO of the UL Foundation, John Blohm. Reportedly, alumni and friends of the university had already provided $303 million in pledges and gifts during its initial phase, which began in 2016.

As of today, the campaign has enabled the University to create many opportunities for faculty and students. This is seen in the four endowed chairs, 34 endowed professorships, and 122 endowed student scholarship funds that have been created thanks to the campaign.

In their donation, ULL alumni and friends have chosen to support various construction projects and renovations of teaching and learning spaces found inside several academic colleges over the years. Included in these projects made possible by the generosity of alumni and friends are the Maraist Financial Services Lab, which is located inside of theB.I. Moody III College of Business Administration, the Northwestern Mutual Sales and Research Lab, and the Grant Gibson Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory in the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences.

Additionally, several labs such as the Franks CAD Student Education Laboratory, Nick Pugh Aerospace Electronics Research Lab, and the Solar Energy Program of Excellence were created in a similar manner, and all three of the aforementioned labs are located inside ULL’s College of Engineering. Not to mention, the fundraising campaign has also helped to renovate the Roy House, which turned it into the new home for the Center for Louisiana Studies and the creation of the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center.

Included in the $303 million that has already been raised in the campaign are the two single largest gift committees in university history. These are the $20 million from LHC Group that was for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions and the $15 million from Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center for the renovation of Cajun Field. Both of these pledges were received by ULL in 2021.

According to UL Lafayette’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Jaime Hebert, of the approximately 25,000 individuals who have made an effort to give to the campaign to date, 62% were identified as being ULL alumni, 30% friends, and 8% organizations.

Dr. Hebert reelected on the funds raised so far in the campaign by remarking, “this campaign has provided more opportunities for student success, world-class facilities for our student-athletes, a deeper connection to this community and its culture, and a stronger, better prepared and more agile workforce. None of this would have been possible without donors and friends working with the University to empower our students and change their destinies.”

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UL Lafayette Among the Nation’s “Best Colleges & Universities”

Many of Louisiana’s colleges and universities received some national recognition recently as the U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 edition of “Best Colleges” was released and awarded numerous top rankings to the state’s institutions of higher learning. UL Lafayette was listed amongst the top 391 colleges and universities in the nation, making its student body, faculty, and staff quite proud– according to a press release from the school.

In total, 1,466 four-year colleges and universities were assessed by U.S. News & World Report, where they considered the academic reputation of an institution, retention and graduation rates, social mobility, facility resources, student and faculty ratio, ACT and SAT scores of admitted students, and alumni giving. This particular ranking is of “national universities,” which is defined as being a post-secondary learning institution that emphasizes research and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

In addition to this, the U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Universities are founded on the basis of considering the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. With that being said, in addition to UL Lafayette, the Louisiana colleges and universities below made the following placements on the list for Best National Universities:

#42                  Tulane University | New Orleans, LA

# 172               Louisiana State University–Baton Rouge | Baton Rouge, LA

#202                Loyola University New Orleans | New Orleans, LA

# 277               Louisiana Tech University | Ruston, LA

# 299-#391     University of Louisiana at Lafayette | Lafayette, LA

# 299-#391     University of Louisiana–Monroe | Monroe, LA

# 299-#391     University of New Orleans | New Orleans, LA

When news of UL Lafayette’s placement was made public, many of the university’s various programs received additional acclaim such as the school’s undergraduate business program, undergraduate nursing program, undergraduate computer science program, and their undergraduate engineering programs at schools that grant doctoral degrees.

When UL Lafayette’s vice president for enrollment management, Dr. DeWayne Bowie, was interviewed about the school’s placement, he commented, “the rankings underscore the University’s success in many areas, including its quality, academically challenging degree programs, dedicated faculty members who deliver those programs, and ongoing commitment to providing a campus and learning environment that attracts high-caliber students.”

In addition to the annual guidebook, US News also recently released their list for the “Best Value School,” which ranks universities on the quality of the program vs the cost of attendance, and they’ve also ranked the nation’s Liberal Arts Colleges.  These rankings are paired with several other resources from the news publication such as articles on how to “make college cheaper,” “how to apply to college,” and many other much-sought-after articles and guides. These resources and lists are ultimately put together in the 2022 edition of the U.S. News Best Colleges Guidebook, an invaluable guide to all things postsecondary from prospective students and families.

Outside of Louisiana’s most notable National Colleges, the state’s “best colleges,” as indicated by U.S. News & World Report are:

The publication made a distinction of the state’s mixture of research universities, mid-sized colleges, and small liberal arts colleges not only being located in various areas state-wide but also within its larger cities. For instance, New Orleans was heralded for being a centerpiece hub of higher education institutions with the city having ten colleges and universities on the list within the Crescent City’s limits.

There’s never quite been a time like the present to be benefiting from an education from the great state of Louisiana, and it’s encouraging to see that sentiment be shared on the national stage.

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Louisiana Universities Partner to Deliver STEM Program to Northeast Louisiana

Three Louisiana universities are banding together to create the Louisiana STEM Pathways Consortium which allows for the delivery of the LaSTEM Pathways curricula, teacher training and so much more across the state of Louisiana, as learned from a News Star article.

The partner universities uniting for this project are the University of Louisiana Monroe, the Louisiana State University’s Gordon A. Cain Center and McNeese State University; all three will work with their regional high school systems to implement the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved STEM curricula created by LSU faculty.

As a partner in the Stem Pathways program, Louisiana universities in the ULM system will work with Northeast Louisiana school systems in order to provide intensive training to teachers in the high-demand field of  biomedical sciences and computing, which will enable each of the university’s four colleges to participate.

ULM’s Dean of the College of Arts, Education, and Sciences, John Pratte said of the partnership, “This is an effort across several colleges within ULM and with school districts in more than 14 parishes. It is a tremendous opportunity for ULM to partner with LSU and McNeese to provide workforce and education training.”

The LaSTEM Pathways program is aiming to provide Louisiana high school students with an opportunity to enroll in progressive sequence of up to eight standards-based projects and inquiry-based STEM courses in order to attain “industry-promulgated” credentials, university-issued certificates of course completion and/or dual enrollment credit. Students completing this pathway will graduate with either a career-tech diploma or an enhancement to their university prep diploma alongside a Silver or Gold STEM Diploma Seal.

Under Louisiana’s current approved state education funding formula, any school districts offering a BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education)– approved LaSTEM Pathway course that is taught by a trained and LSU-certified teacher will receive $482 per student per course in the form of Career Tech and Career Development supplements. In the case of the LaSTEM Pathways Program, the bulk of student credentialing will be completed by LSU or ULM.

This educationally and community-rich partnership is set to reward the Louisiana universities, educators involved, and most of all the students hoping to get a “leg up” in STEM fields of employment.

LSU’s Dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences, Ron Berry, said of the venture, “four of our faculty have been training with LSU faculty this summer to prepare for their role in training regional high school teachers. We look forward to working with our secondary school partners across the region to improve STEM education through this partnership.”

Professor of Political Science and Public Administration and LaSTEM Coordinator, John Sutherlin added, “A great deal of thanks goes to Billy Dean Blackett, a board member of the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission and a longtime advocate of education and ULM. Dean helped bring all of the parties to the table, which led to this exciting and very promising partnership. His commitment to providing opportunities for young people across our region is exceptional.”

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Tulane Donation Drive Raises Over $1 Million in 24 hours

For the past three years, Tulane University has hosted an annual “Giving Day,” but this year’s event was certainly for the record books as fundraising records were broken by nearly 45% when thousands of donors came together to celebrate the historic university. As detailed fully in a press release from the university, the 24-hour “Give Green: A Day for the Audacious” was an event held on June 25, after having been postponed twice by the university out of respect for the challenges faced by members of its community.

This year, over $1.1 million was raised from a collection of more than 2,700 gifts, according to the preliminary numbers. In the recent history of Tulane university, the “Giving Day” event stands as a celebratory watermark for the school, but with such a challenging year as 2020, many perceived the event as an outstanding achievement and a powerful vote of confidence in the Tulant institution at large.

“Given the uncertainty of the past few months and the multiple postponements of Give Green, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the astounding generosity of our Tulane community. I know that Tulanians everywhere have dealt with extraordinary challenges this year — so to see them come together in support of the university was even more powerful than in the past,” said Jenny Nathan Simoneaux, executive director of Annual and Leadership Giving at Tulane.

Contributions for this year’s “Give Green” event were from all reaches of the country and world as the gifts came from all 50 states and from 12 countries during this remarkable 24-hour event. Donor momentum was kept high during the day thanks to over two dozen challenges and matching gifts that further boosted the impact of generosity to schools, units, and initiatives all across the university.

On Give Green Day, the grand prize, The Carol Lavin Bernick Big Green Grand Prize, lightly takes advantage of the “winning nature” of Tulanians near and far, fostering friendly rivalries between schools and participants by offering bonus funds for the highest number of gifts donated. Tulane Athletics, Newcomb Institute and the School of Professional Advancement each won an extra $5,000 because they received the highest number of gifts in their respective categories. Tulane Law School, the School of Liberal Arts and the Center for Public Service won $2,000 each. The A. B. Freeman School of Business, the School of Science and Engineering, and the Tulane University Marching Band also received a bonus $1,000.

Alumni with reunions in 2020 (those whose graduation years end in 0 or 5) were also offered a special challenge — the largest one this year — with an anonymous reunion celebrant matching up to $50,000. Overall, those classes more than tripled that challenge — bringing in $234,317 toward their class totals.

The event was a resounding success across various social media platforms throughout the day as Tulanians shared their excitement about the university with friends, family and colleagues.

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Louisiana Universities Awarded Grants for 3D Printing

Looking towards the future are five universities in Louisiana that have been awarded a collective $20 million federal grant to build a sustainable research and education program in Louisiana in addition to designing complex alloys and polymers for 3D printing, as detailed in an Associated Press release this summer.

The award establishes the Louisiana Material Design Alliance (LAMDA), a board of scientists and engineers at five Louisiana universities and will have a big focus on 3D printing – Louisiana Tech, University of Louisiana Lafayette, Southern University A&M, Tulane University and LSU. The Louisiana Board of Regents is administering this grant.

The project is aiming to introduce new technologies and materials to boost a range of manufacturing industries, with federal support from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, as 3D printing technology holds the potential to reinvent the manufacturing industry, but currently available materials do not meet the needs for structural safety and integrity.

To solve this, Louisiana University scientists, engineers, and other collaborators will be discovering and testing the composition, processing, microstructure, performance, and structural integrity of materials that can be used in advanced 3D printing.

“This game-changing work is at the frontiers of science, engineering and education. We are committed to connecting our research discoveries to industry, so they can have real-world impacts,” said Michael Khonsari, the Dow Chemical Endowed Chair in Rotating Machinery in the LSU Department of Mechanical Engineering, who is the project director for the newly established LAMDA and 3D printing initiative.

The overall project aims to forge new collaborations among LAMDA institutions and establish new partnerships with federal agencies and industries to build a sustainable research and education program in Louisiana as well as development of a skilled and diverse STEM workforce which includes 3D printing. It includes summer training programs for community college faculty to provide them with educational tools to incorporate in their own classrooms, a conference series and other outreach activities.

“This is a great win for Louisiana and the economy that will provide a much-needed boost to the manufacturing industry in our state and across the U.S. We are thankful for the National Science Foundation’s support of the research expertise at LSU and throughout Louisiana,” said LSU Interim President Tom Galligan.

“The manufacturing industry plays a critical role in both state and national economies, and 3D printing will help take it to the next level,” said Sen. John Kennedy, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said. “This funding will help educate university students and better equip Louisiana’s workforce.”

“We are delighted that NSF has recognized the immense value of the collaborative work of researchers across Louisiana institutions, public and private, around cutting-edge manufacturing,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “The project’s dual emphasis on research and education ensures the broadest possible reach of the work.”

The grant will pay 14 new faculty members to work in the 3D printing program at the five universities, LSU said in a news release.

In addition to their research, the faculty will develop new courses and student-led research projects to increase Louisiana’s STEM workforce.

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