Happy birthday! UL Lafayette turns 125


The University of Louisiana at Lafayette turns 125 on Friday.
On July 14, 1898, Louisiana Gov. Murphy J. Foster signed Act 162 to establish Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute, now UL Lafayette. State Sen. Robert Martin authored the bill. 
Its signing “was one of the most consequential moments in the history of our region and the state of Louisiana,” wrote Dr. Joseph Savoie, University president, in a message to campus community on Monday.  
“The governor’s pen set in motion a century and a quarter of progress and growth – both for the institution itself and for the region and state it’s served since its creation,” he said. 
The University will kick off a yearlong celebration of its 125th birthday with a Founding Day Ice Cream Social on Friday. The party, and all events throughout the year, will center on the anniversary theme – Service. Vision. Leadership. Louisiana. 
“Our anniversary is an opportunity to commemorate more than a moment in history,” Savoie said. “It’s a chance to celebrate the enduring connection we have to an institution that has given each of us – and this community – so much for so long.”
The University has launched louisiana.edu/125, a website to commemorate its birthday. There, visitors will find a calendar of events, a timeline of milestones, archival photographs, videos and links to University publications. The site will be updated throughout the year.
Alumni, students, employees, friends and the public are encouraged to share their own memories and birthday wishes on social media by using #louisiana125. The posts will be featured on the website, as well. 
Though the University’s legislative founding was on July 14, 1898, Lafayette would not be selected as its permanent home until early 1900. 
Other area towns vied for the institution, but Lafayette was chosen after a campaign of public support resulted in the donation of 25 acres of land, $8,000 in cash and the levy of a parish-wide property tax that would generate about $8,000 annually for 10 years.
In his message to campus, Savoie cited a Lafayette newspaper article that, in supporting the tax’s passage, reminded its readers “not to think of the Industrial School as a temporary thing, for it is not. It is an institution for all time.”
Savoie wrote: “Our 125th year is an opportunity that reminds us – and reminds the community that we call home – that we are still an institution for all time.”