With more than 16,300 students and only 137 acres on its main academic campus, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette doesn’t have much room to grow.
In fact, UL Lafayette is near the bottom of the list in terms of acreage for academic campuses in the UL System. McNeese has the smallest campus with only 99 acres. It’s enrollment is just above 8,700 students.
Northwestern has the largest amount of acreage with 916 acres for its academic campus with just above 9,400 students. Numbers from other UL System campuses include:
• Grambling – 375 acres, 5,039 students
• Southeastern – 365 acres, 14,757 students
• La Tech – 256 acres, 10,607 students
• UL Monroe – 238 acres, 8,510 students
• Nicholls – 210 acres, 6,882 students.
“ When looking to the future, we need more land in close proximity to our main campus,” said UL Lafayette President Ray Authement. “With the recent construction boom on campus, land for future growth of the main academic campus is not available at this time.”
Virtually landlocked, not much space is available on campus but future growth is inevitable, according to Authement.
The five-year Capital Outlay plan along with current construction and renovation projects are squeezing available space even tighter.
Last year, the university opened a new three-story building for Computer Science and the Center for Advanced Computer Studies. This building takes up space where McNapsy Stadium once stood.
A proposed annex of Fletcher Hall to accommodate the growing College of the Arts could take up the remaining space near the Advanced Computer Technology and Research Hall. Future plans call for an annex to the Engineering building on that same piece of property.
This annex would probably take up any available space in that portion of the main campus.
Also, the current expansion of Burke-Hawthorne Hall will fill in available space near Judice Hall. A two-story wing is under construction between the two buildings with another one-story wing to be added to the backstage area of the Burke Theater in the direction of the Student Union.
Next to Angelle Hall, a 400-spot parking garage has been constructed and is expected to open in the spring. The garage covers most of the green space where the marching band practices. A small portion remains as a practice field.
The biggest upcoming project is the renovation and possible expansion of the Student Union on McKinley Street. This project is expected to fill in the green space between McLaurin Gym and Guillory Hall. Other green space will be opened up if Coronna and Olivier Halls are demolished. This would open up Hebrard Boulevard to Cypress Lake and Moody Hall.
Future plans also called for an expansion of Legacy Park - apartment style living for students. To meet competition from other state schools, an expansion of these apartments is necessary.
Over the past decade, the university constructed a 2,200-square-foot percussion wing at Angelle Hall, the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum on St. Mary Boulevard, and a new day care center, which can accommodate about 100 children.
The university needs to acquire land close to campus to make room for expansion. Constructing academic buildings away from the main campus creates major inconveniences for students and operating a transportation system is proving to be expensive. The cost of labor, buses and fuel is a financial burden on the university.
“ Acquiring land close to the main campus has been a priority for us for a while now,” said Authement. “It is critical to this university’s future growth.”