College Of Sciences Named In University President’s Honor


The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s College of Sciences was named Friday in honor of the university’s longtime president, who will retire in June.

Effective at the university’s commencement on May 24, it will become the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences. The Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System unanimously approved the change at its regular monthly meeting in Baton Rouge.

Authement is the longest serving president of a public university in the United States. He became president of UL Lafayette (then known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana) on June 30, 1974, after serving a year as its acting president. He succeeded the school’s fourth president, Dr. Clyde Rougeou.

“Naming the College of Sciences was proposed by Julie Simon-Dronet, UL Lafayette’s director of Public Relations and News Services, who is leading retirement recognition of Authement. We thought it was an excellent idea,” said Dr. Steve Landry, UL Lafayette’s vice president of Academic Affairs.

Landry and Winfred Sibille, vice president of the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System, then made a formal request for the name in a letter to Dr. Sally Clausen, president of the University of Louisiana System.

“ We believe that Dr. Authement is very deserving of having the College of Sciences named in his honor,” they stated in the letter. They noted that through his vision and commitment to long-term goals, Authement led the College of Sciences to national prominence in areas such as computer science and mathematics.

“ Dr. Authement’s ties to the College of Sciences date back to over 60 years ago, when he became a student at SLI (Southwestern Louisiana Institute) majoring in physics, with a minor in mathematics. He received his bachelor’s of science in 1950. He later joined the university as an associate professor of mathematics and was soon promoted to professor in the College of Sciences, where he taught and mentored students for nearly a decade.”

The college offers eight bachelors degrees, five master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees. In Fall 2007, it had 1,706 students and 315 graduate students.

There are about 135 faculty members in the College of Sciences. Many of them have helped create academic and research programs that have earned national recognition. “Research in this college is relevant, is having an impact on the future of technology and attracts large amounts of external funds that stimulate our local economy,” Landry said.

The college’s departments include biology, computer science, chemistry, geology, health information management, mathematics, physics and renewable resources. The Department of Military Science also reports to the college.

Dr. Bradd Clark, dean of UL Lafayette’s College of Sciences, joined the faculty in 1976, two years after the college was formed. “It’s my opinion that Dr. Authement has demanded superior teaching and superior research from all of his faculty. Absolutely nothing less than the very best was allowed.”

Clark said the president also supported faculty, citing merit-based pay raises for the past 15 consecutive years, the creation of hundreds of endowed professorships and endowed chairs, and the presentation of awards for outstanding academic advising.

The National Science Foundation recently ranked UL Lafayette’s computer science program in the top 60 in the nation and its mathematics program in the top 100.

After the board voted unanimously to approve the college’s name, Authement received a standing ovation. “It has been a pleasure to work for you and with you and I hope I can continue to serve in the retirement phase,” he said.
Clausen said Authement taught other presidents in the University of Louisiana System to seek other people’s opinions before making decisions and to “not be led by the sound bite in the next day’s newspaper.” That process is sometimes difficult, she said, “unless you have the courage of a Dr. Authement to stay the course.”

Under Authement’s guidance as president, UL Lafayette:

• changed its name from the University of Southwestern Louisiana to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a name which better reflects its status as a state and national leader;

• implemented academic admissions standards;

• became the first Doctoral II university in Louisiana; has always competed in NCAA Division I , the highest level of collegiate competition;

• increased its gifted and pledged assets from about $500,000 to more than $150 million;

• weathered numerous financial crises caused by state revenue woes;

• helped diversify the Acadiana economy by establishing 17 research centers;

• created the 143-acre University Research Park, which houses numerous national research centers, the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise and a hotel;

• was designated by the Carnegie Foundation as a “Research University with High Research Activity,” which put it in the same research category as Baylor and Auburn universities;

• constructed more than 30 buildings and facilities and renovated or expanded more than 25 others; and

• became the state’s second largest university.