University, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana sign partnership


A partnership between the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana will empower the state’s green energy landscape.

The focus on strengthening Louisiana’s renewable and traditional energy sectors is among a host of areas the new partnership will address. Other areas will include economic, workforce and community development, public health, and computing and information technology.

The partnership will advance the Tribe and UL Lafayette’s shared mission of improving Louisiana; it will also provide crucial resources for the Tribe’s 1,500 citizens and their families, both in Louisiana and around the country.

Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, and Marshall Pierite, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe chairman, formalized the partnership during a signing ceremony on Tuesday. The event was held at the LITE Center in UL Lafayette’s Research Park.

“Collaborations such as these are essential to our state. By aligning resources toward a common mission, this partnership between the University and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe will strengthen the state’s economic landscape today and nurture future economic growth,” Savoie said.

“This collaboration is good for the University and for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. Ultimately, it’s the people of Louisiana who will benefit.”

Pierite said that “this mutually-beneficial partnership will not only open doors for our Tribe, but allow us to make an impact on the development of our state and region.”

“From public health to energy and more, we are working together to address some of the most critical topics in our region. We are extremely grateful to UL Lafayette for their collaboration and look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together,” Pierite added.

The memorandum of understanding signed Tuesday “creates an environment of mutual support” that advances economic development for the Tribe through the University’s applied research and workforce development programs, said Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, UL Lafayette’s vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development.

“We are a public university, and the work being done here is for the public good. This partnership is an opportunity to translate our research and intellectual capacity into tangible outcomes that will benefit society,” he explained.

The partnership includes research collaborations, technical assistance, consultation, training and workforce development in a number of economic areas and industries, including traditional and sustainable energy resources.

“One of the focal areas of this partnership will capitalize on the University’s longstanding role as a leader in energy research to assist the Tribe as it explores both conventional and alternative energy sources,” Kolluru said.

Additional collaborations will focus on economic and community development through entrepreneurship, business cultivation, financial literacy and hospitality management. The partnership will also foster collaboration in the fields of public, mental and behavioral health and other life sciences, and through information technology, including broadband applications such as telehealth and e-learning.

The agreement also seeks to enhance support for traditional students and continuing education and lifelong learning opportunities for adult learners of the Tribe.

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana has more than 1,500 citizens and their families throughout the United States, primarily in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois. With deep ties to Central Louisiana, the Tribe is dedicated to the prosperity and growth of the region. The Tribe received federal recognition in 1981 and owns and operates Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, the largest employer in Central Louisiana.

UL Lafayette is the largest institution in the nine-member University of Louisiana System. It is one of two universities in the state designated by the Carnegie Foundation as Doctoral Universities with Higher Research Activity. UL Lafayette’s research and development expenditures topped $144 million in 2019.

Photo caption: The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana will collaborate in a host of areas, including renewable and traditional energy, as part of a partnership signed Tuesday. Seated, from left, are: Marshall Pierite, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe chairman and Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president. Standing, from left, are: Roy Holleman, Tunica-Biloxi Economic Development Authority CEO; Wayne Elmore, immediate past chairman of the UL Lafayette Foundation Board of Trustees; Dr. Jaimie Hebert, UL Lafayette provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; and Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, UL Lafayette vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development. Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette