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$7.2M Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development breaks ground

$7.2M Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development breaks ground

$7.2M Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development breaks ground

Ground was broken Friday for a 40,000 square-foot building next to the LITE Center for the Cecil. J. Picard Center for Child Development, where research goals of the former state superintendent of education can be fully realized.

Expected to be built within two years at a cost of $7.2 million, the new complex will include a research library, distance education conference center, and an analysis center for tracking Louisiana children’s educational progress from birth to age 25, making it one of the nation’s premier child development centers.

Picard championed the power of research and hard facts in forming opinions and policy for public education, said Gov. Kathleen Blanco at the event. Facts proved the significance of the state’s LA 4 program, which focuses on shaping children’s learning habits before they leave the fourth grade, to state legislators last year.

“It’s pretty exciting to know that facts can drive funding,” Blanco said.

The Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development was established at UL in 2005, and is now operating in temporary offices at O.K. Allen Hall. Twenty researchers focus on areas like early childhood and K-12 education, and the center partners with agencies like the Office of Youth Development, the Office of Mental Health and the Department of Education while evaluating state programs like LA 4.

The new center will house UL’s Educational Counseling Unit, the Center for Innovative Learning and Assessment Technologies, the Educational Foundation and Leadership Department, the Center for Gifted Education and the Department of Psychology.

The center benefited from donations by Loyd J. Rockhold and the Special Children’s Foundation, which provided three endowed chair positions and $2 million toward construction of the new building. But a long-term effort by Blanco, UL President Ray Authement and others were key to fully realizing and funding the center.

“The governor and her administration made this center a priority in the budget and we will deliver on our promise to become a leader in educational research,” said center Director Billy Stokes in a press statement.

Athletic Network Footnote:  Cecil Picard is the son of the late Romain Picard, Football and Track, in the late 1920s and early 30s.  His profile was designed, in part, by Cecil Picard prior to his passing.

Click below for the photo gallery of the dedication ceremonies.