Birthday bash: College of Liberal Arts celebrates centennial


The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s oldest academic college is celebrating its 100th birthday with a party that stretches across the fall and spring semesters.

The College of Liberal Arts Centennial will feature a range of events and activities, including monthly lectures and exhibits, a project to gather oral histories from alumni and former faculty and staff members, and the publication of an illustrated book.

Each of the college’s nine departments will showcase their achievements during a designated month through May.

A series of exhibits on each department at UL Lafayette’s Edith Garland Dupré Library will include photos, correspondence, official documents, academic articles, and theses and dissertations. The materials will be culled from the University Archives and Acadiana Manuscripts Collection. 

The Department of English exhibit is in place during September.

“As a whole, the exhibits will offer an interesting dynamic, providing a look at both the evolution of the college and at the intellectual production of our graduate programs which, over time, is considerable,” said Dr. Jordan Kellman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

The “COLA Memory Project: Voices of the College” encourages alumni, current or former faculty, and staff members to share memories and experiences from their time at the College of Liberal Arts by recording audio, video or text narratives. Photos and memories can also be shared by tagging #COLAMemoryProject on social media.

Memorabilia can also be submitted as part of the COLA Memory Project. All “voices” and other testimonials and remembrances that are collected will be archived at Dupré Library. Kellman anticipates some interesting, humorous, historically significant or otherwise noteworthy narratives and photos will be shared periodically on the college’s website.

“We’re hoping to hear from as many of our alums as possible. So many of them feel such a strong connection to their professors and advisors, to their fellow students, and to their departments and degree programs. So, in some sense, this is an invitation to stay connected and a means for getting back in touch with those people,” Kellman said.

A colloquium consisting of four panel sessions is also being planned for later in the academic year. Retired faculty, staff members and alumni have been invited to explain why the college is important to them, exchange stories, and reconnect with former colleagues and classmates.

“The group will reminisce about the impact that the college – and the people they knew, worked with and studied with – had on them. They’ll also share how their time at the college helped mold their lives and careers – and gave them the tools to help shape the world around them,” Kellman explained.

Meanwhile, authors Ann B. Dobie and Leslie Schilling are tracing the history of the college from its beginning in 1921 in the pages of an illustrated book being produced for the Centennial.

“Celebrating a Century of Liberal Arts at UL Lafayette,” which UL Press plans to publish next semester, is “a labor of love crafted by two people who have a longstanding connection to the college,” Kellman said.

Dobie is professor emerita of English at UL Lafayette, where she directed graduate studies in rhetoric and the University’s writing-across-the-curriculum program. Schilling is director of the Humanities Resource Center in the College of Liberal Arts.

“Celebrating a Century of Liberal Arts at UL Lafayette” presents the college’s history in nine chapters arranged chronologically. Each chapter will correspond with the tenure of each of the college’s deans, including Kellman, who in 2012 became its ninth.

“They capture – in text and images – how the college has evolved, the main phases of its development, how the student, faculty and staff experience changed over time, and how its relationship to the University and the community changed over time,” he said.

“They also capture how the essence of the college’s core values and mission of teaching, research and service have not changed in 100 years,” Kellman added.

The Centennial celebration will wrap up late next semester, with a day of musical performances, readings and presentations that will celebrate the college’s future as well as its past. The players, as with other Centennial events, will be current and former faculty and staff members, and students and alums.

“We’re looking forward to the next 100 years,” Kellman said.

The College of Liberal Arts’ nine departments are: Communication; Communicative Disorders; Criminal Justice; English; History, Geography and Philosophy; Modern Languages; Political Science; Psychology; and, Sociology, Anthropology, and Child and Family Studies.

Learn more about the college’s Centennial celebration.