Chairman of the Board & CEO, Bollinger Shipyards
UL System Universities
The University of Louisiana System enhances the life experiences of its students, employees and community members by creating unique learning and cultural opportunities.
Strategically located throughout the entire state, the eight UL System universities enrich Louisiana communities with arts and humanities programs such as McNeese State University’s Banners Series, Nicholls State University’s Jubiliee, and Southeastern Louisiana University’s Fanfare, all which bring lcoal, national, and international lectures, music, and theatrical programs to the campuses and communities they serve each year.
Louisiana’s citizens rely on University of Louisiana System campuses to serve as the hub for cultural programming, family-friendly activities, and community-building events above and beyond university activities.
On average, there are 100 events taking place every day at UL System campuses.
Combined, the eight universities had almost 36,000 event days and 3.9 million visitor days last year.
Examples of major event attendance include:
- Grambling State University’s Bayou Classic, which attracted 59,784 people to New Orleans,
- University of Louisiana at Monroe’s Bayou Jamboree, which had an attendance of 25,000,
- University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s showcase of marching bands, which drew 17,000,
- Northwestern State University’s Louisiana Boys and Girls State program, which brought in 10,800,University of Louisiana at Monroe’s commencement with 7,210,
- Louisiana Tech University’s Space Days, which drew 3,017,
- McNeese State University’s Works on Paper Retrospective with 2,014, and
- Nicholls State University’s Family Day 2008, with 2,000 people.
Campus events attracted 3.7 million people, 45 percent of those being off-campus visitors. Those visitors infused money into the state’s economy through food purchases, lodging, and travel expenses. For example, 266,523 (15%) of university visitors stayed in paid lodging.
Mayor, City of Ruston
UL System visitor spending had a $487 million impact on the state, $270 million of that impact came directly from visitor spending for events and activities.
UL System institutions are also the custodians of the rich cultural history of Louisiana and its people. For example, Northwestern State University’s Louisiana Creole Heritage Center serves as a central clearning house and support system for Louisiana and national Creole communities and organizations. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Center for Louisiana Studies is the only research center devoted exclusively to Louisiana’s rich history and culture.
Service-Learning and Volunteerism
University of Louisiana System faculty, staff and students volunteered approximately 900,000 hours last year. Contributing vastly to the communities in which they serve, students volunteered an average of 29 hours per year and faculty and staff served an average of 58 hours.
Enhancing service-learning and volunteerism across the eight unviersities is a priority for the UL System. In 2006, the system acquired a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the Corporation for National Community Service’s Learn and Serve America Division to create service-learning programs that address hurricane recovery and disaster preparedness.
Over the past two years, the program, titled “ULS Serves,” has funded 70 service-learning projects at the eight campuses. These projects have engaged 675 faculty and staff, 8,462 college students, 201 youth volunteers, 1,276 adult volunteers, and 243 community partners - all working towards improving Louisiana’s communities.
Through these projects, UL System students contributed almost 100,000 volunteer hours above and beyond their work in the classroom. That’s a win for community and a win for the students.
Research shows that student participation in service has positive impacts on leadership ability, grades, retention, degree aspirations, critical thinking skills and commitment to helping others in difficulty. College graduates are also more likely to volunteer and participate in civic activities, so the foundations set in service-learning at the eight UL System schools will continue to benefit Louisiana for years to come.
The final year of the three-year grant cycle will see an increased emphasis on Pre-K-12 partnerships through establishing or enhancing mentoring programs at all eight universities. As the largest provider of education graduates in the state, this is a natural outgrowth of the symbiotic relationships UL System schools have with their local elementary and secondary schools.
The economic and community impact study results show a solid foundation of service-learning and volunteerism at the eight universities. Officials are working towards institutionalization of service-learning activities to ensure a wide range of community programs remain available in the future.
For example, Grambling State University created an Office of Service-Learning and added a service-learning requirement of 160 hours to its General Education Program, Northwestern State University hired a full-time Director of Service-Learning to promote and coordinate programs, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette instituted two campus wide surveys to begin the process of identification and collaboration of service-learning activities on a broader scale. UL Lafayette is also looking to receive service-learning for all first time freshmen.
UL System universities improve the quality of life for communities in which they serve by providing cultural, economic, and educational opportunities that would not likely be available otherwise.