home sitesearch contact fan about
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:

UL first lady Barbara Authement grateful for tributes

Saturday gala to honor contributions of Ray Authement, wife

The past few months have been bittersweet as Barbara Authement has watched her husband honored for his contributions as his tenure as university president for nearly 35 years comes to an end.

"This university is his life," she said.

And it’s been her life, too.

So on Saturday, it will be Ray and Barbara Authement who will be recognized for their contributions to the university during the Alumni Association’s spring gala fundraiser.

During Ray Authement’s tenure, the couple have lived on campus, steps away from the president’s office in Martin Hall. The proximity and the nature of the job means work doesn’t just come home – rather, work is home.

"It’s been an experience that’s hard to explain," Barbara Authement said about her years alongside her husband on campus. "I’ve met so many people from different facets of life – students, staff, faculty, politicians, ambassadors. I’ll miss the constant activity."

While the annual event serves as a fundraiser for the Alumni Association to make improvements to its Alumni Center on campus, this year’s event is also a farewell gala for the couple.

Ray Authement will step down as president of UL at the end of the spring semester after first serving as interim president in 1973 and as president since 1974.

While Ray Authement has been honored previously by the Alumni Association during its gala marking UL’s centennial celebration, "honoring them as a couple brings recognition to her for all the work she’s done in supporting him and the university," said Dan Hare, Alumni Association director.

"The spring gala is a perfect opportunity to be able to include the community and allow them the opportunity to come and show their appreciation of the Authements’ contributions," he said.

The event includes a silent and live auction with items like VIP tickets, backstage passes and a photo with Alicia Keys when she plays New Orleans in May. Other performances on the block include Sonny Landreth, Jimmy Buffet and B.B. King. Supporters can also bid on a trip to Cabo San Lucas. Jewelry, free tuition to UL, and travel packages with the Ragin’ Cajuns also are part of the auction this year.

Response to the event already has been "tremendous," Hare said with tickets purchased, donations from the community in the form of auction items and even mailed donations from those who are unable to attend the gala.

Another boon to the event this year is presenting sponsor, Cox Communications’ support, Hare said.

"This is the first year we’ve had a presenting sponsor, and that has really been a welcome addition to the program," Hare said.

Last year, the event raised about $100,000, Hare said.

The spring gala began in 1997 and each year the association selects an honoree to recognize for their support to the university.

Authement is credited with helping to diversify Lafayette’s economy in the 80s, when Acadiana’s economy was deflated by the oil bust. Under his leadership, the university has grown from a regional institution to one of only three Doctoral II institutions in the state.

It’s name has changed, as well – a fight that Authement is credited with leading and winning, although it took more than 20 years.

The name change, the creation and development of the research park, and building support for the university through the foundation have been accomplishments that Barbara Authement said she believes will be viewed as her husband’s greatest contributions to UL.

In the past few months, different pockets of the community have shown their appreciation for Authement’s leadership.

Among the most recent, student athletes gathered center court at a Ragin’ Cajuns basketball game to applaud Authement’s leadership and support of athletics.

"The tears were rolling," she said, "for him to see all those students lined up."

Her eyes welled at the memory.

"Athletics, faculty, staff, the community. They’ve all taken the time to show their appreciation. It’s been continuous. The gala has been a culmination of it all," Barbara Authement said. "It’s been beautiful."

 Zoom Photo

Marsha Sills/msills@theadvertiser.com

Barbara Authement, wife of UL President Ray Authement, reflects on her experiences at UL. Her husband will step down from the university’s top post after 34 years of service.

Want to attend the gala honoring the Authements?


The UL Alumni Association spring gala Saturday will honor Ray and Barbara Authement. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Cajundome Convention Center and also features a silent and live auction to pay for improvements to the Alumni Center. Tickets are $100 per person and are still available for purchase at the Alumni Center or by calling 482-0900. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.louisianaalumni.org.