UL Lafayette unveils state-of-the-art financial lab at ribbon-cutting event


Business students and faculty at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette now have access to a state-of-the-art financial lab.

UL Lafayette’s B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday to open the Maraist Financial Services Lab.

The 1,178 square-foot facility is located in F.G. Mouton Hall. It features 24 computer workstations, 12 Bloomberg Terminals, electronic ticker tape display, digital data board, and television monitors for business and financial news.

The Bloomberg Terminals provide students and faculty the same platform used by the world’s leading banks, corporations and government agencies. The service includes real-time price data, financials, news and trading data to build portfolios, benchmark fund performance, conduct portfolio analysis and compare investment strategies.

Students will gain experience in portfolio management, financial strategy and markets, trading, modeling, and business performance analysis. Professors also will utilize the data resources and statistical tools to enrich research opportunities, said Dr. J. Bret Becton, dean of the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration.

“The Maraist Financial Services Lab provides students with the resources and learning environment to prepare them for success. Our students now have the opportunity to learn about finance and investment management in a way that can’t be found in a traditional classroom,” Becton said.

“In addition to providing real-world simulation, the lab will provide students the opportunity to work toward Bloomberg certification, which will better position them to compete for highly competitive financial services jobs.”

A $2.5 million gift from Michael P. Maraist, a 1971 College of Business Administration graduate, and his family enabled the University to begin construction on the lab last spring.

Maraist got his start in banking while in college. He said the lab’s hands-on learning environment will enable the next generation of finance professionals to enter their careers with confidence.

“We have a responsibility to train students with current industry standards and facilitate an active learning environment. My hope is that these students will stay in our area after they graduate and the skills that they acquired at the lab will be transferred to local businesses and companies,” Maraist said prior to Tuesday’s ceremony. 

Members of the Maraist family, including Michael Maraist’s 102-year-old mother, Gertrude, a 1939 University graduate, joined Becton and UL Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie for the ribbon-cutting.

Savoie said Michael Maraist’s investment in the University “will pay dividends for students, faculty and the Moody College of Business for years to come.”

“The Maraist Financial Services Lab is a tangible way to show how companies, economies, markets and governments are interconnected. It gives our students a broad, real-world perspective. At the same time, it enables them to analyze up-to-the-second information.

“It is a powerful resource for our students and faculty.”

In addition to the Maraist family, financial support for the lab’s components is provided by the Gachassin family, Gene Fortier State Farm, and Darnall Sikes Wealth Partners LLC.

Mathes Brierre was the project’s architect. J.B. Mouton Inc. was its general contractor.

Photo caption: From left are Dr. Bret Becton, dean of the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration, Naomi Maraist, Michael P. Maraist, Gertrude Maraist, Mag Maraist Ritchey and Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president. (Photo credit: Rachel Keyes / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)