University of Louisiana System to Host Inaugural Academic Summit

LAKE CHARLES, LA. – Faculty, staff, and students from the University of Louisiana System’s nine universities will come together on April 19 and 20 on the campus of McNeese State University for the system’s first Academic Summit.  The two-day event will include an entire day focused on service-learning, a reception featuring a juried student art exhibition, and a second day focused on undergraduate research.

“We are very excited about this premier event for the University of Louisiana System as it exemplifies the important work going on at our institutions.  Regional, comprehensive universities are all about experiential student learning, civic engagement, and applying knowledge and manpower for the benefits of the communities we serve.  I see no better way to celebrate the faculty, staff, and students at our universities who go above and beyond to achieve exceptional ends,” said UL System President Randy Moffett.

General sessions for the Academic Summit will include the following keynote presenters:

  • Eric Rowles, President and CEO of Leading to Change, is a nationally recognized trainer, speaker, and consultant. Characterized as one part motivational speaker, one part DJ, and two parts community organizer, Rowles will focus on Generational Crossroads for the UL System Academic Summit.
  • Mark Merchant, Professor of Biochemistry at McNeese, is recognized internationally for his work in the field of alligator mississippiensis immunology. He has made numerous television appearances including National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, Good Morning America, and Fox In the Morning. For the UL System Academic Summit, he will share his research on how alligators resist infection and how they might hold the key to a new class of antibiotics for human use.
  • Katherine Whatley, Provost at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, will represent the national Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) of which she has been an active participant since the 1980s. A nuclear physicist whose career includes creating an honors program and directing undergraduate research at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Whatley will provide words of welcome on behalf of CUR as well as lead a faculty development session on how to create powerful learning environments through undergraduate research.

While the keynote speakers have been secured, breakout presentations are still being considered.  Faculty, staff, or students interested in presenting about service-learning are encouraged to fill out an online presentation proposal by March 1.  Students who would like to be considered for the juried art exhibition can submit up to three digital entries, also due by March 1.  Undergraduate research student presenters are being selected by each campus by March 15.

Anyone wishing to attend the Academic Summit must register online and pay a registration fee of $40 for faculty/staff or $20 for students.  Priority registration ends on March 30, after which registration is $50 for faculty/staff and $25 for students.  This pays for conference materials and meals for both days.  There is one fee regardless of attendance for one or both days.

For more information about the Academic Summit including links to presentation proposal forms and registration, go to

“We are confident this will be a successful, thought-provoking event that will be equal parts celebration, networking, and collaboration for our universities.  In fact, we are so excited about this event that we have already secured campuses to host future Academic Summits: the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2013 and Nicholls State University in 2014,” said Moffett.


ABOUT THE UL SYSTEM: The University of Louisiana System is the largest higher education system in Louisiana enrolling about 94,000 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, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and the University of New Orleans.