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.”

For more education-related information, click here.

New Cajun Prairie Habitat and Outdoor Classroom Coming to UL Lafayette

Students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will soon be able to take their learning outside of the traditional classroom setting by building an innovative outdoor classroom to study Louisiana’s Cajun Prairie, according to a news release from the school.

The new classroom is just one of two new environmental changes happening at the University as part of their Sustainability Strategic Plan, an initiative that encourages the creation of urban prairie environments on ULL’s campus. The project to cultivate the planned Cajun Prairie Habitat aligns with the Office of Sustainability’s master plan for stormwater management. By installing more urban prairies instead of other types of landscaping systems and structures, ULL will reduce the need for mowing, help to reduce stormwater runoff, and provide a habitat for bees, birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Once the urban prairie is installed on the campus, it will also serve as an outdoor classroom from which students can conduct research and learn about stormwater runoff erosion management, native grasses and plants, bees and other pollinators, and soil quality. Also, in addition to being used by students directly involved in STEM courses and research studies, the outdoor environment will also serve as a type of gathering spot for all types of learning.

Gretchen LaCombe Vanicor, the director of the University’s Office of Sustainability said of the layout, “the idea is to have a plaza-like outdoor seating area with no walls or roofing – a true outdoor classroom where students, faculty members, and the public can meet while they are working on the project.”

This vision of a school-wide classroom isn’t just a concept that exists in the completion of the Cajun Prairie Habitat and Outdoor Classroom, but the interdisciplinary aspects of the project’s inception, planning, construction, and much more will provide learning opportunities for students from many colleges and disciplines.

The work to bring this project to life will begin this fall semester with an interdisciplinary effort to plant more native flowers and grasses along the 4 acres on either side of Coulee Mine, a stream that bisects University Common behind Blackham Coliseum. The planting of more native fauna along this section of the waterway will be led by UL Lafayette’s Ecology Center and its Office of Sustainability. This work will lay the foundation for what will become of the urban prairie environment, as it allows for students, community officials, faculty members, and researchers to gather and learn about the ecological value of native flowers and grasses in an environment where they actually exist.

Vanicor went on to highlight this stage as “one of the most important components of the project, because native plants’ expansive, fibrous root systems hold soil, reducing erosion caused by stormwater runoff. They slow water drainage, which reduces flooding, and also filters contaminants.”

Outside of the Ecology Center leading the installation and planting of the prairie, other ULL schools are collaborating to bring the project to life. For example, students who will help design and build the outdoor classroom will be from the School of Architecture and Design. Then, after it’s completed, students partaking in community service with the University’s AmeriCorps program and the Office of First-Year Experience’s ‘Big Event’ will coordinate the maintenance of the urban prairie along the coulee.

According to Vanicor, any findings and research gathered at the future site will be shared with public officials and water management professionals in an effort “to inform community dialogue and decisions, including about implementing flood mitigation methods.”

So while it’s encouraging for UL Lafayette to have so many students from several of the University’s departments and schools coming together to bring the academic and ecological dream of the Cajun Prairie Habitat and Outdoor Classroom to life, the Louisiana community outside of the school will also be able to benefit from the research conducted in the urban prairie as well.

For more education-related information, click here.

UL Lafayette and SLCC Partner on New Engineering Transfer Agreement

It was recently announced that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and South Louisiana Community College are collaborating on a new transfer pathway agreement that will allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering from both institutions.

This beneficial transfer agreement, which is set to begin with the Fall 2021 semester, will allow students beginning their post-secondary studies at SLCC to earn an associate’s degree in general studies with a pre-engineering concentration at SLCC. The student will then transfer to UL Lafayette’s College of Engineering to complete coursework, earning them a bachelor’s degree in engineering with no course credits lost in the process.

For decades high school graduates in the Acadiana region regularly attend their first two years of post-secondary education at SLCC before transferring’ over to ULL. Students choosing this pathway do so to save on tuition costswhile they earn generalized course credits that transfer over with them when they transfer to the four-year university. It should be noted that in transferring from a community college to a public university, many students notice that not all of their course credits transfer to their new degree program; luckily this won’t be the case with the announced transfer agreement.

SLCC’s chancellor Dr. Vincent G. June commented on the aim of the agreement, saying that it was designed to help a larger percentage of the student body achieve both their academic and career goals as well as give a boost to the development of the engineering workforce.  When speaking of the organization of the agreement, Dr. June was quoted as saying “to ease the transition for SLCC students who ultimately intend to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering from UL Lafayette.”

While at SLCC students will complete a curriculum consisting of 61-63 course credits that include classes in English, history, math, natural sciences, and social sciences. In addition to these courses that are applicable to a General Studies degree, students will also be required to take several engineering courses that are to be taught on UL Lafayette’s campus by professors from its College of Engineering. This cross-campus learning model is best suited for students entering the transfer pathways agreement as it will acclimate them to the learning environment, practices, and student body of the school in which they will ultimately finish their degree.

The press release confirmed that all credits taken in the pathway will successfully transfer to UL Lafayette, allowing students to pursue an engineering degree in a variety of disciplines and concentrations, including chemical, civil,electrical and computer, mechanical, and petroleum engineering. In order to earn an undergraduate engineering degree from ULL students must have completed at least 127 course credit hours of study.

Members of UL Lafayette’s administration who were present at the signing included Dr. Joseph Savoie, president, Dr. Jaimie Hebert, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Ahmad Khattab, dean of the College of Engineering. Representing SLCC at the historic signing that occurred in late May were Dr. Vincent G. June,chancellor, and Dr. Darcee Bex, interim vice chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs.

Dr. Bex, who is also SLCC’s dean of STEM as well as Transportation and Energy, spoke to ULL Press on the beneficial aspects of the agreement, “upon enrolling, transferring students will already know some of our professors and their fellow students and be acclimated to campus. They will also have about four semesters of coursework completed. Aligning the community college with university partners like UL Lafayette just makes sense. This transfer pathway will increase educational attainment in Acadiana and is a commitment to those students seeking a career as an engineer. We’ve created a pathway to get these students to that career.”

For more education-related information, click here.

ULL Awards Jefferson Caffery Research Award

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has recently awarded the 2021 Jefferson Caffery Research Award to a student examining how Cajun and Creole cultural identity is altered when assimilating into American society, according to a press release from the school.

René Champagne, a senior at UL Lafayette double majoring in French and Francophone Studies as well as Anthropology, wrote his award-winning research paper, “Cajuns, Creoles, and the Impact of Americanization on Ethnic Identity in Louisiana,” in an effort to pay tribute to his hometown of Galliano, Louisiana.

Champagne, who plans on graduating in Fall 2021 and pursuing masters and doctoral degrees in anthropology, attributes his award recognition to his lifelong tracking of the diminishing French culture of the small, unincorporated Lafourche Parish town. Located along Bayou Lafourche, Galliano still has a modestly-sized French-speaking community today, but over the past century, it has greatly diminished due to the region’s assimilation into American society.

According to the UL Lafayette Office of Communications and Marketing, Champagne wrote the award-winning paper as a means to “examine the “evolution of race and ethnicity as a result of factors such as assimilation, and the resulting impact on cultural identity.” Since childhood, the senior has had a fascination with “monitoring cultural changes that have been created by outside influences.” This passion for cultural studies is what had inspired the senior to investigate the many ways that culture is exhibited, celebrated, and suppressed, causing his paper to cover a wide range of topics including customs, traditions, languages, dialects, hurricanes, land loss, and even ways in which culturally-specific holidays were celebrated during the pandemic.

Speaking of Galliano’s declining evidence of South Louisiana culture, Champagne told ULL press, that the town’s “culture is still very present, but south Louisiana, in general, is decreasing rapidly in terms of both culture and land – which is so strongly tied to culture – and that’s a huge interest to me.” The research paper utilizes nearly two dozen sources such as The New York Times, U.S. Census Bureau, the Journal of Anthropological Research, and the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development.

In order to be considered for this annual award, students must either cite or directly investigate primary source documents found in UL Lafayette’s Edith Garland Dupré Library. Specifically, these documents must be found in the Special Collections department of the library, which includes the Louisiana Room, Rare Book Collection, Ernest J. Gaines Center, Cajun and Creole Music Collection, U.S. Government Information, and the University Archives & Acadiana Manuscripts Collection.

Created in 1967, the Jefferson Caffery Research Award was established by Ambassador Jefferson Caffery and his wife, Mrs. Gertrude Jefferson Caffery, to recognize outstanding scholarly research conducted through materials offered by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The award is accompanied by a $500 prize and is bestowedannually by both the Edith Garland Dupré Library and the University Library Committee.

The award’s namesake, Ambassador Caffery was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and he was an integral part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s early days as an educational institution. Specifically, he was a part of the school’s first graduating class when it was initially established as the Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute. Caffery kept his ties with the school over his historic career as an American Diplomat, serving as a United States Ambassador to Egypt, France, Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, and El Salvador from 1926-1955. ULL has since honored Caffery not only by annually awarding out the Research Award but by keeping an archival catalog of library holdings in the Jefferson Caffery Reading Room, which is located on the 3rd Floor of Dupré Library.

For more education-related information, click here.

Prestigious CAREER Award Presented to 3 UL Faculty Members

The National Science Foundation has recently presented three University of Louisiana at Lafayette faculty members with the prestigious CAREER Award, according to a press release from the University.

Considered to be one of the NSF’s most prestigious honors bestowed, the CAREER award is presented by the Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, and it is presented to early-career faculty members who “have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department,” according to the NSF’s description.

Dr. Nicholas Kooyers, Dr. James Nelson, and Dr. Mohsen Amini Salehi are the recipients of the distinguished award, and they are all faculty members of UL Lafayette’s Ray P. Authement College of Sciences. Dr. Azmy S. Ackleh is the dean of the college, and he remarked on the prestige of the award by saying, “this is one of the most prestigious funding awards early-career faculty can get. It shows the caliber of faculty we have in the College of Sciences. They are leaders in their respective disciplines and their ideas make them competitive at the national level.”

The National Science Foundation first presented the CAREER award in 1995 as a way to support the outstanding efforts of junior faculty members who epitomize the role of a teacher-scholar in their education and research. The award is presented annually alongside a federal grant for research and education activities, both of which are dispersed over five years. The NSF is an independent federal agency that provides funding for nearly 25 percent of federally-supported research that is conducted by American colleges and Universities.

Dr. Kooyers and Dr. Nelson are each assistant professors in the University’s Department of Biology and Dr. Salehi is an assistant professor in the School of Computing and Informatics.  Each CAREER award is accompanied by an NSF grant that is given to award recipients to further their research. Dr. Nicholas Kooyers will receive $997,269 to examine whether or not the effects of climate change can be countered through a process known as assisted migration. Dr. James Nelson will receive $688,849 to research climate change’s effects on coastal marsh ecosystems, specifically those in Louisiana. Dr. Mohsen Amini Salehi will receive a $513,000 grant to research the development of a domain-specific cloud platform for enhanced multimedia streaming.

Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, associate provost and vice president for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development at UL Lafayette remarked, “with the addition of Drs. Kooyers, Nelson, and Salehi to this roster of exceptional academic talent, our faculty members have now received the CAREER Award eight times since 2004. That’s undeniable evidence of the continued strength of our research mission and the dedicated faculty whose work animates it.”

While the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s College of Sciences has had five CAREER Award recipients before 2021, this year makes it the first time multiple NSF honors were bestowed to faculty members in a single year. UL Lafayette’s past recipients were Dr. Sheng Chen, a 2018 honoree; Dr. Danella Zhao, 2011; Dr. Miao Jin, 2009; Dr. Dmitri Perkins, 2005; and Dr. Hongyi Wu, 2004.

Receiving the honor that is a CAREER award from the NSF is a highly-respected achievement by educational leaders in their respective schools, and it has a history of building a firm foundation for a career marked by leadership and the integration of both education and research. Recipients of the award are selected for the honor early in their career, making them the ideal academic role models of their respective educational institutions, and with three UL Lafayette faculty members receiving the honor this year, the future is looking bright.

For more education-related information, click here.

University Of Louisiana at Lafayette Praised for Educational Opportunities

In a press release by The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the school is praised for providing “programs that level the playing field for educational opportunities,” according to INSIGHT into Diversity, the largest diversity magazine and website in higher education.

 INSIGHT into Diversity assessed colleges and universities in the United States and Canada for their contributions in advancing diversity and inclusion across their campuses. In the publication’s “Courageous Conversations workshop series” in its May/June issue, The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s “Learning is for Everyone,” or LIFE program was featured and praised.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s LIFE program aims to give students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities and academic foundation, work experience, and social opportunities as they enroll in classes designed specifically for them and audit regularly schedules classes with other University students, who help with assignments.

The publication’s workshop series, Courageous Conversations, focuses on increating diversity and including in the classroom, across campus, and in the community as faculty, staff members, and students father monthly to share experiences, ideas, and resources.

Dr. Taniecea Arceneaux Mallery, the University’s executive director of Strategic Initiatives and chief diversity officer stated, “Recognition for these two programs that are integral to the University’s diversity and inclusion efforts are indicative of a campus-wide commitment to providing equal access for underrepresented groups.”

In 2014,  The University of Louisiana at Lafayette became the state’s first four year institution to offer a postsecondary program for people with intellectual disabilities with the LIFE Program.

Students who are enrolled in the program have curriculums tailored to their interests and career goals. They learn life skills such as how to manage finances, and hold internships in campus offices or departments. They also participate in student organizations, clubs and extracurricular activities.

“The blend of academic, social and career development is designed to help LIFE students develop skills and confidence that will enable them to find meaningful jobs, and live independently,” Mallery said.

INSIGHT into Diversity’s acknowledgement of the Courageous Conversations series was centered on a recent virtual session where a group of panelists addressed a range of topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic such as physical and mental wellness, and challenges faced by minority students who lack access to technology.

“The idea of the webinar was to be intentional and think about certain experiences many of our students are having, because not everyone is experiencing this crisis in the same way or dealing with the same circumstances,” Mallery said.

This isn’t the first time University of Louisiana at Lafayette has earned praise from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine. Last year, the University was among 93 institutions that received the magazine’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award. It also was recognized with the HEED award in 2018.

Mallery said the recognition is, in large part, the result of a Strategic Plan for Inclusive Excellence created by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Office for Campus Diversity. It outlines a comprehensive plan for expanding initiatives and professional development resources that advance equity and inclusion.

“We want to continue to develop policies, resources and initiatives that engage all segments of campus and the community in the University’s ongoing mission to increase opportunities for underrepresented students,” Mallery said.

For more education related information, click here.