BATON ROUGE – The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System today named Ray P. Authement President Emeritus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Authement retired in 2008 after serving an astounding 34 years as president.
“I am very surprised and extremely honored about the new title of President Emeritus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I know that the university will continue to grow and prosper. You will hear great things about UL Lafayette because of the abilities and character of the leadership, faculty, staff, and student body,” said Authement.
“Dr. Authement was one of the longest-serving university presidents in our system. He has dedicated his life to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, even going back to the classroom after retirement. It is an honor to recommend that we bestow the title of President Emeritus to such an admirable man with a very distinguished record of service to the university,” said UL System President Randy Moffett.
According to Board Rules, only the System President can recommend to the Board the awarding of President Emeritus. The title is to honor, in retirement, individuals who have made distinguished professional contributions and have served significant portions of their careers at the institution. Specifically, to be considered an individual must have a minimum of ten consecutive years of full-time employment with the university immediately prior to retirement at the institution; clear evidence of outstanding teaching, scholarly activity, and/or administrative services; recognized record of meritorious professional achievement, growth, and development; and clear evidence of university service beyond the normal or ordinary expectations.
“I enthusiastically endorse the recognition of Dr. Ray Authement as President Emeritus of the Unviersity of Louisiana at Lafayette,” said UL Lafayette President E. Joseph Savoie. “I had the privilege to work with Dr. Authement for over 18 years. Words that come to mind in describing him are determination, compassion, commitment, and focus. He is analytical, patient, and most importantly, selfless. He always put the university before himself. That was a good lesson for a young administrator. This honor is very well deserved.”
Under Authement’s leadership, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette became a major economic force in Acadiana, while earning a national reputation in the fields of computer science, environmental and biological research, and Francophone studies.
He was responsible for the development of University Research Park, which houses numerous national research centers, the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) facility and a hotel. The Carnegie Foundation designated UL Lafayette as a “research university with high research activity.” That puts UL Lafayette in the same category as Clemson, Auburn and Baylor universities.
During Authement’s administration, UL Lafayette became a selective admission institution and the first Doctoral II university in Louisiana.
He was a major force in successful efforts to change the name of the university from the University of Southwestern Louisiana to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. During Authement’s tenure, Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns competed in NCAA Division I, the highest level of collegiate athletic competition. The football team is a member of NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A.
A $130 million construction boom on campus yielded the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum; Moody Hall, which houses the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; Oliver Hall, the new computer science building; Legacy Park, an apartment-style student residence on campus; a 400-plus parking garage; and an indoor practice facility for UL Lafayette’s athletic teams. Edith Garland Dupré library was expanded and totally renovated.
In his presidency, Authement supervised construction of several other buildings, including the 12,800-seat Cajundome and an adjacent convention center.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s gifted assets surpassed $100 million during the Investing in Our Future Centennial campaign under Authement’s direction. UL Lafayette also achieved 18 endowed chairs; each valued at $1 million and two endowed chairs funded entirely through private sources.
During Authement’s presidency, 217 endowed professorships; 20 endowed chairs, valued at $1 million each; and one super chair, valued at $2 million, were created.
When Louisiana’s oil industry virtually collapsed in the early 1980s, the university, under Authement’s direction, led efforts to diversify the area’s economy. For example, it helped existing businesses operate more efficiently, offered assistance to fledgling companies and showed businesses how to obtain government contracts.
Since the mid-1980s, Authement established more than a dozen research centers, including the Louisiana Productivity Center and Institute of Cognitive Science.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1950; a master’s degree in 1952 from Louisiana State University and a doctoral degree from LSU in 1956.
EIGHT UNIVERSITIES STRONG: The largest higher education system in the state, the UL System enrolls almost 82,000 students at Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.