A total of 1,786 degrees were awarded during the UL Lafayette’s 161st Commencement ceremonies Friday at the Cajundome and Convention Center.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Professor Hector LaSala and Assistant Professor W. Geoff Gjertson of the School of Architecture and Design received the prestigious American Democracy Project First Place Curricular Award.
The award and prize were presented to the faculty members at the American Democracy Project (ADP) South Conference at Moorehead State University, in Moorehead, Kentucky earlier this month.
The American Democracy Project is a multi-campus initiative that seeks to create an intellectual and experiential understanding of civic engagement for undergraduates enrolled at institutions that are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The goal of the project is to produce graduates who understand and are committed to engaging in meaningful actions as citizens in a democracy.
LaSala and Gjertson were nominated for their service-learning projects with the Building Institute, a design/build program within the School of Architecture and Design. For the last three years, the Building Institute has worked with the Acadiana Outreach Center, a local nonprofit whose shelters and programs help people rebuild their lives from poverty and homelessness.
More than 100 of LaSala and Gjertson's students have worked on a continually evolving master plan for the Outreach Center and have completed 16 small-scale design-build projects on the organization's grounds. Their work is now continuing in the same low-income community for the Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana.