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Dr. Ray Authement
Graduated 1950




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Email: bxa0328@louisiana.edu

Last updated May 14, 2014 via phone conversation with Ed Dugas.

Table of Contents:
August 30, 2009 – Head of the Class…by Tina Marcias (photo gallery included);
October 20, 2007 – University honors Authement and wife with award by Marsha Sills;
October 14, 2007 – Alumni Association to honor Authement;
May 1, 2007 – Authement to help raise funds by Marsha Sills;
May i, 2007 – Authement’s critics never knew whole story by Dan McDonald;
April 29, 2007 – Athletics ‘won’t be the same’ without Authement by Bruce Brown;
April 29, 2007 – Authement could stay on for a year by Marsha Sills;
April 28, 2007 – Authement credited with helping build economy by Marsha Sills and Claire Taylor;
April 27, 2007 – Authement announces his retirement by Julie Dronet;

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Head of the class: UL’s Authement returns to his roots; see photo galleries from Authement’s career

Longtime president rekindles desire to inspire

Tina Marie Macias � tmacias@theadvertiser.com � August 30, 2009

Click below for Photo Galleries:

Dr. Authement: http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=DG&Dato=20080512&Kategori=NEWS01&Lopenr=805120803&Ref=PH

Dr. Authement 1: http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=DG&Dato=20080417&Kategori=NEWS01&Lopenr=801310804&Ref=PH

Dr. Authement 2: http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=DG&Dato=20080417&Kategori=NEWS01&Lopenr=704270805&Ref=PH

Dr. Authement 3: http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=DG&Dato=20080417&Kategori=NEWS01&Lopenr=704270808&Ref=PH

Dr. Authement Honored: http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=DG&Dato=20080507&Kategori=NEWS01&Lopenr=805070801&Ref=PH

Dr. Authement Last Day: http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=DG&Dato=20080630&Kategori=NEWS01&Lopenr=806300812&Ref=PH

Former UL President Ray Authement teaches linear algebra on Thursday at UL. This is the first time Authement has taught a class in more than 30 years. (Claudia B. Laws/claws@theadvertiser.com)

The small, white classroom with two tiny windows and rows of squeaky desks in Maxim Doucet Hall was packed Thursday as junior and senior UL students filed in cheerfully.

The 35 students armed with graphing calculators, linear algebra textbooks, pencils and notebooks chatted happily while waiting for their professor to start the lesson.

Although none of the students ever had him as a teacher, the man with thinning black hair dressed sharply in blinding shiny black dress shoes, grey dress slacks and a matching tie over a perfectly pressed white shirt was familiar.

In their freshman or sophomore year at UL he was their university president and at 80 has returned to the college with his namesake � the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences � to teach.

“I love this university and this is where I want to be,” Authement said.

As UL president for nearly 35 years, Authement served longer than any other public university president in U.S. history, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. University presidents usually stay on for an average of nine years, according to the same publication.

Joe Savoie took over Authement’s post in June 2008, and for the last year Authement said he enjoyed retirement. He served on the Council for A Better Louisiana board, built a new house, furnished it and visited his grandchildren in Atlanta.

But Authement missed the university that was his professional home for 40 years. He also wanted another way to keep his mind active and thought he could still contribute.

“I found out that I was not mentally challenged in retirement,” he said, jokingly.

The Houma native earned a bachelor’s degree in physics with a minor in math in 1950. He went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees from LSU and taught math from 1954 to 1966 at LSU, McNeese and UL.

He remained at UL for the rest of his career as academic vice president, vice president and accepted a temporary acting president position in 1973 that became permanent.

Authement returned to his roots and now teaches one class of linear algebra to upperclassmen twice a week. The new endeavor is a test. He will see how this semester goes and then decide if he wants to continue teaching.

Students at his class Thursday � the second class of the semester � already believe he will be a great teacher.

“He really makes it easy to understand,” math education junior Faith LeBlanc said.

Another math education junior Katie Muguira agreed with LeBlanc.

“He seems like he will be sensitive to our needs,” she said, “which is hard to find in the math department.”

At the beginning of class, Authement announced that he did not want to call everyone’s name off a piece of paper to see if they were in class.

“I want to try something,” he said. “I don’t like taking roll.”

He told the students that he would assign them a point on a matrix � the math that linear algebra is centered around. It started with a11. Muguira was a73 and LeBlanc a74. They will have the same assigned seat all semester and when Authement sees an empty seat he’ll make a note.

“You can call me and say, ‘This is a12.’ My wife will probably pick up and think it’s a crazy person, but I’ll understand,” he said.

He and the class chuckled at the system that appeals to math junkies.

The joke eased the notoriously shy and taciturn man. It took Authement a few minutes to become comfortable in front of the class.

The last time Authement remembers teaching was in the 1980s when he tutored students who were struggling in math classes. His last formal teaching assignment, however, was in 1966.

A lot has changed since then.

Adding machines were used, far from the current-day graphing calculators that solve matrices with a few presses of a button. He’ll stay away from calculators most of the semester and focus on what makes him love Linear Algebra.

“It’s a very pure form of mathematics.” Authement said.

The class has also been the first time Authement used a dry-erase board and markers. He struggled with writing on the board, the markers sliding off the board or running out of ink.

“This didn’t happen when I was president,” he said to a roar of laughter.

As Authement left class, another teacher approached him to ask if he wanted to move to a larger room � one, with a chalkboard.

Authement’s answer was clear. He hugged the messenger.

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University honors Authement and wife with award

Marsha Sills

For the past 33 years that Ray Authement has led the university, his wife, Barbara has been at his side, supporting the university and loving it as much as her husband.
And on Friday night, as the Alumni Association honored him for his years of service and contributions to UL with its outstanding alumni award, they recognized her with a rare distinction – the honorary alumni award.

Upon receiving his award, her husband’s first words were for her as he joked that the Herbert Heymman told him he had met the fifth president of the university.

“He said, ‘And it’s Barbara Authement,'” her husband laughed along with the crowd. “She’s helped me through so many crises and helped me when I needed it,” he said.
Her honor was the surprise announcement of the evening.

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” Barbara Authement told the group gathered for the reception at the Alumni Center. “I’m very honored.”

It’s Authement’s final homecoming as UL president. He announced his retirement this past April. His successor is expected to be selected by the system’s search committee in December.

“It’s my final homecoming as president, but I’ll be here many more times in the future,” Authement said. “The Alumni Association has been so instrumental in the growth of the university. We bought this house together and developed the center together. The association is close to my heart.”

Alumni Association President Martin Audiffred said the honorary alumni award has been given only three times in the past 16 years. The committee voted unanimously to honor both Authements this year, he said.

Authement was named president in 1974, after a year as the university’s acting president.

He graduated from USL in 1950 with his bachelor’s degree and returned to teach math at the university.

He grew up in Boudreaux Canal in Terrebonne Parish.

“My dad was so proud of Ray,” said his sister Rosalee Tipton of Houma. “He’d say, ‘Wouldn’t it be good if Ray graduated college and came back to teach at Terrebonne High School? But he’s done more than that and we’re so proud of him.”

The night was a celebration for Authement’s family – those he gets honestly through blood and the members he’s adopted through the university.

Authement was surrounded by several family members, including his siblings, his four grandchildren, and daughter, Julie Johnson who now lives in Atlanta.

“It’s so nice to come home and see people come together to honor him and the work he’s done for the university,” Johnson said.

She said that both of her parents tend to stay out of the spotlight.

Friday night she was honored by the gesture given to both her parents, she said.

“She’s always behind the scenes,” she said of her mother. “She loves the university and given as much of her life to the university as he has.”

More than the university’s name has changed under Authement’s leadership. UL is now a selective admissions, Doctoral II university with a Research Park that houses national research centers.

“I can’t think of an individual who’s given more extraordinary service to the community or the university than this gentleman,” said John Chappuis, UL Foundation president.

Authement has also worked to develop the university’s athletic teams, who now compete in NCAA’s Division I.

The university’s bricks and mortar have grown by $130 billion in just the past 10 years with a new art museum, business college, computer science building, indoor practice facility and a new university-run apartment complex.

The university will also open its first parking garage later this year and renovations to one of its older buildings, Burke-Hawthorne are now underway.

Authement tagged the team that helped the university raise more than $100 million during its Investing in Our Future Centennial campaign. The university’s number of endowments for professorships and its assets continue to grow with community support.

Daily Advertiser, October 20, 2007

Daily Advertiser, 2007 Outstanding Alumni Photo Gallery

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The Alumni Association will recognize UL President Ray Authement as an Outstanding Alumni during homecoming week this week.

The Outstanding Alumni Award is the highest honor the university can give a former student. It is given in recognition of outstanding profession and personal achievements that have brought honor and distinction to the university.

The Alumni Association’s Awards Committee makes the Outstanding Alumni selection each year.

Authement announced his retirement earlier this year.
He was named the university’s president in 1974, after serving as acting president for a year.

Under Authement’s guidance, the university has become a major economic force in Acadiana, while earning a national reputation in the fields of computer science, environmental and biological research, and francophone studies.

He is responsible for the development of University Research Park, which houses numerous national research centers, the LITE facility and a hotel. Recently, the Carnegie Foundation designated UL as a “research university with high research activity” placing it in the same category as Clemson, Auburn and Baylor.

During Authement’s administration, UL transitioned into selective admission institution and became the first Doctoral II university in Louisiana.

He was instrumental in the university’s name change from the University of Southwestern Louisiana to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Since Authement became the university’s fifth president, Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns have competed in NCAA Division 1, the highest level of collegiate athletic competition. The football team is a member of NCAA Division 1-A.

A $130 million construction boom on campus in the past decade produced the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum; Moody Hall, which houses the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; a new computer science building; and Legacy Park, an apartment-style student residence on campus. Edith Garland Dupr� library was expanded and totally renovated.

A 400-plus parking garage and an indoor practice facility for athletic teams are under construction.

Earlier in his presidency, Authement supervised construction of several other buildings, including the 12,800-seat Cajundome and an adjacent convention center.

The university’s gifted assets surpassed $100 million during the Investing in Our Future Centennial campaign under Authement’s direction.

The university now has 18 endowed chairs, each valued at $1 million.

Since the mid-1980s, Authement established more than a dozen research centers, including the Louisiana Productivity Center and Institute of Cognitive Science.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from USL in 1950, a master’s degree in 1952 from LSU and a doctoral degree from LSU in 1956.

Daily Advertiser, October 14, 2007

Click below for more photos of the half time ceromonies, Courtesy of RaginCajuns.com http://www.ragincajuns.com/PhotoAlbum.dbml?&&PALBID=14100&DB_OEM_ID=15400&USE_FLASH=NO

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Authement to help raise funds

Retiring UL president pledges to help with university’s fiscal growth

Marsha Sills

Days after his unexpected retirement announcement, UL President Ray Authement said his future plans involve the university that has been a part of his life for the past 50 years.
“I will raise money for the university,” he said Monday. “The Foundation has grown from $400,000 to $140 million. I’m somewhat enchanted with raising big money and hope to continue to do that.”

Authement announced his retirement Friday after serving as president for nearly 34 years during the UL System Board meeting held on his campus. He didn’t grant interview requests from reporters after the announcement.

He sat down for an interview Monday afternoon after an event at Dupr� Library that heralded the university’s millionth volume and the contributions of Edith Garland Dupr�, the library’s namesake.
“I was not going to leave until this one millionth volume,” Authement said, joking with the crowd. “It took a volume a day to make it.”

Authement also has humor for the speculations he imagined are circulating about the timing of his retirement.

Spending time with his family, especially as his daughter in Atlanta tries to grow her own family, are his top priorities now, he said.

“I’ve been in the business 34 years. I have a new grandson in Atlanta. … I want to spend time with them and my family,” Authement said. “I’ve done as good a job as I can over the years, and now it’s time for someone else.”

The search has yet to begin for that someone else. The UL Board likely will appoint a search committee at its next board meeting on June 29, said Jackie Tisdell, UL System executive director of student development and communications.

Authement said he hasn’t been grooming anyone in his administration and didn’t venture to guess on a short list of applicants.

“There will be a lot of applicants out of state and possibly two excellent people – Steve Landry and Joe Savoie,” Authement said referring to Landry, his vice president of academic affairs and Savoie, the commissioner of higher education. “They may apply. I haven’t discussed that with them.”

Authement said he’ll stay on to train the university’s new leader.

“I’ve been here so long I would say I’d spend a semester or part of a semester with the president-elect and fill them in,” Authement said. “It’s a more complex university than what I took over.”

All weekend, Authement’s retirement was the topic of conversation.

The outgoing president said he decided long ago that when the time came he wanted to tell the board on his own campus.

That all happened Friday to the shock of many who expected he would retire soon, but not so soon.

“I told no one, including my brother who lives in Lafayette, because I had not spoken to my board members,” Authement said. “I held it in the strictest confidence.”

Authement admitted that he’s been preparing for the day for years, but the final decision was a difficult one to make.

“It was not an easy decision. There are a lot of people who depend on me and especially at a time that the university is about to experience it’s best budget year,” Authement said, referring to the governor’s proposed plan that would fully fund higher education.

Meanwhile, Authement said he expects he’ll take some days off -unused leave time he’s accumulated.

He and his wife, Barbara, who have lived in the president’s house in Martin Circle for more than 30 years, plan to build a house on a lot in a Lafayette subdivision.

“We’re looking at house plans. My son-in-law is an architect,” he said.

He said his wife supported his decision.

“She’s happy with the decision. She’s such an important part of my life, whatever I do, she’ll support, and whatever she does, I’ll support,” Authement said.

As he prepares for his final months in office, Authement said he still wants to see the university have land security.

“I wish more people would be more observant and see that we’re out of land,” he said.

Authement said to exchange a portion of its horse farm property on Johnston Street to developers for residential acreage on Girard Park Drive would enable future building shifts on campus. Authement has said that the plan would have enabled the president’s house to move from campus to Girard Park Drive, making room for new construction if the old president’s house and a nearby older academic building were torn down.

The deal fell apart, and now Authement is trying to clear the title on the horse farm property -a matter he said will be resolved soon.

He said his job isn’t over yet.

“I told the board, ‘You better keep me around. The university has money, and I’m the only one who knows where it’s buried,'” he laughed.

He also has a promise to fulfill – one he made when his daughter, Kathy, died.

“One of the things I want to do, and it’s very important, my grandson will graduate in Mamy not this May but next. He is 4.0 at this particular time, and I want to hand him that diploma. That’s very important to me, and I told that to the board. … I promised that I would do that when my daughter died, and I will hand him that diploma.”

Originally published May 1, 2007

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Authement’s critics never knew whole story

Dan McDonald, Sports, Daily Advertiser

Everyone involved in the UL athletic program owes school president Ray Authement a huge debt of gratitude.
So do most of the teams in the Sun Belt Conference. Without him, it’s very possible that a lot of current league members might still be floating around looking for a home. At the very least, they’d be mired in a conference that’s not on the level that the Sun Belt currently enjoys.

Authement was part of the delegation from the old American South Conference that made trips to places like South Alabama and Western Kentucky nearly two decades ago. It was his task to persuade those and other schools – schools left behind when original Sun Belt members UAB, Charlotte, South Florida and others bolted for Conference USA – to join with the American South programs.

It took some convincing. But now, the Sun Belt is playing Division I-A football, is part of the NCAA’s management hierarchy and the BCS, and is established as a league respected nationally in several sports.
Authement should be proud of his role in league history. But, like his many other accomplishments in almost 34 years as UL’s top man, they’re rarely celebrated. He’s not the type to brag about what he’s done, preferring instead to play up the accolades of the university as a whole.

Accolades which, by the way, would be far less if he hadn’t shepherded the school through some tough times. It will be tough to find another such shepherd, with Authement surprising nearly everyone on Friday with a retirement announcement.

“He’s the role model president in Louisiana,” said interim athletic director David Walker, a part of the university administration for many years before his recent involvement with athletics. “He’s kept us financially stable, put us on track in the right technology fields, and grown this university into a very well-respected research institution.

“At the same time, he’s taken care of all the auxiliary areas, including athletics.”

Throughout his career, Authement has taken more than his share of heat from Ragin’ Cajun fans for what many perceived as a lack of support – mostly financial – for the athletic program. Those critics, though, didn’t know the whole story.

They didn’t know of his work behind the scenes to help the school’s sports programs or how he squeezed every cent possible in the direction of Reinhardt Drive.

They didn’t see him out on the field at football practice, or quietly in attendance at too many athletic events to count. It’s not many presidents that would spend lunch hours at their school’s athletic complex, touching bases and keeping tabs on the goings-on.

“I know he’s the reason I’m here,” said UL football coach Rickey Bustle. “Since I’ve been here, he’s been a great influence for me, and I appreciate everything he’s done for us. I’m excited for him and I’m proud for him.”

Authement actually pre-dates Bustle in football, playing single-wing tailback at Terrebonne High in the 1940’s. He also played baseball and basketball, although he says he wasn’t very good at the latter, and his love for athletics never waned after that.

He knows more student-athletes than most, and he revels in their successes on the field and in their later lives. No one ever took Cajun losses harder. And no one enjoyed the wins more.

He’s probably his own worst critic. Like most of us, he probably feels he hasn’t done enough. That’s why he’s already said that one of his final tasks with the school will be to raise funds to solidify the athletic program’s financial future.

The department appreciates the help, Doc, but the people in athletics know you’ve already done a lot more than your share. And for those who disagree, to quote a former New Orleans Saints coach – You don’t know … and you never will.
Originally published May 1, 2007

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Acadiana Diary: Two ideas will make Authement’s presidency

Jim Bradshaw

Back in the days when Glynn Abel was dean of men and Ray Authement was vice president, their offices were across the hall from each other.
Abel would kick me out of school and I’d go across the hall to Vice President Authement and get reinstated – but not without the lecture.

“Jim,” he’d say, “you really ought to try to go to class more often. You’d be surprised what you might learn around here.”

I’ve liked Ray Authement ever since those days.
Jim Oliver, the other man considered with Authement for the presidency, was the godfather of my daughter and a man I remember with huge respect and admiration. I sometimes wonder how UL would have been different had the choice gone the other way.

But that’s speculation. Authement’s record speaks for itself.

I know – and, by the way, so does he – that he was not always the most popular man on campus. He had to make some tough decisions during some tough times.

But he had a vision – not a dream, a vision – of where UL should go, and a plan to get there. Importantly, he also had the will and the political savvy to make it happen.

Aside from the recent business about the horse farm and his insistence that the Ragin’ Cajuns play a 1-A football schedule, there’s not a lot that I’ve disagreed with him about.

And there are so many pluses.

People who were not here during the darkest days of the oil bust in the 1980s will never appreciate how he became a driving force in keeping Lafayette alive.

He made certain UL was not only a center for educational excellence, but also an economic engine for the area – developing ways and tools and techniques to use Acadiana’s skills and products and people to diversify our economy.

Much of the basis of the vibrant economy that we see in Lafayette today came not only out of his vision as president of the university but also from his leadership at the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce and in working with the oil and tourism and health care and other industries to create new jobs and train people for them.

There’s a lot of brick and mortar and concrete on the UL campus that are a testament to Authement’s tenure, but I think two ideas are the most important of his accomplishments.

The first is in the name change to the University of Louisiana. Say what you will, even someone as tradition bound as I am has to admit that the change elevates the university in the eyes of anyone who knows nothing more about it.

The second idea was to turn land once used to graze dairy cattle into an Idea Park, a technological center developed around wetlands research and high-tech processes coming from Abdalla Hall and LITE illumination that will become more important in our history and economy than even the building of the Oil Center.

That park is the place where future vice presidents will point when students like I was sit across from them. They’ll say: “Son, check it out. You’ll be surprised what you might learn around here.”

Senior writer Jim Bradshaw’s Acadiana Diary column appears in Sunday’s Daily Advertiser. You can reach Bradshaw, a recipient of the UL Department of Commun-ications Distinguished Alumnus Award, at 289-6315 or by e-mail at jbradshaw@theadvertiser.com.
Originally published April 29, 2007

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Athletics �won’t be the same’ without Authement

Bruce Brown

Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips echoed the thoughts of many Friday when he was informed that Ray Authement is stepping down as UL’s president.
“It won’t be the same,” said Phillips, who served as UL’s athletic director from 1983 to 1988, during a crucial time in the school’s growth in major college athletics.

“He’s absolutely one of finest presidents, and men, I’ve ever been associated with,” Phillips said. “I honestly can’t say enough good things about the man. He could have gone to a lot of universities in the country, but he chose to live and work there at UL and stay with that community simply because of his tremendous love and passion for Lafayette and the university.”

Phillips arrived at a time when the NCAA created Division 1-AA for football, recognized as a step below Division 1-A in both funding and aspirations. Other members of the Southland Conference elected to become a 1-AA league, but UL balked, leading to a departure from the conference.
Authement was willing for the school to be independent for a few years in order to pursue its larger goals.

“Dr. Authement saw athletics as a way to expand the horizons of the university and make people think beyond the regional concept with the university, and provide opportunities for exposure beyond which the university had historically experienced,” Phillips said.

“At that time, going Division 1-A in football was a bold step, very bold.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns program was derided by some for that decision, and competition remains fierce in 1-A football. The football program has had nine winning seasons since 1983 and one break-even 6-6 mark last fall, with no bowl game appearances.

But UL also has produced Super Bowl-caliber NFL players in Brian Mitchell, Jake Delhomme and Brandon Stokley, as well as Pro Bowl honoree Orlando Thomas.

“Certainly, you learn not to be afraid of competition,” Phillips said. “You learn that it doesn’t hurt you to step outside your comfort level. When you do, you learn to deal with cynicism and skepticism because people don’t understand the whole picture.

“You have to put those things behind you, and in some ways it gives you a little thicker skin. We did step out of our comfort zone at that particular time.”

Phillips was followed by head football coach Nelson Stokley and then Nelson Schexnayder in the A.D. office, with longtime UL figure David Walker now handling athletics.

“Athletics is going to lose the biggest supporter we have,” Walker said of Authement’s departure. “It’s going to be a tremendous loss to athletics, regardless of what people have said or thought. He has done everything humanly possible to support athletics.”

The vacuum will be larger than in just Cajuns athletics, Walker noted.

“He’s the type of president that everybody goes to for advice,” he said. “… He’s well-respected across the state. And throughout the Sun Belt, there is tremendous respect.”
Originally published April 29, 2007

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Authement could stay on for a year

Replacement search may be lengthy process

Marsha Sills

Although he announced his retirement Friday, UL President Ray Authement could remain in his post for the next year.
“When I became president there was a whole year – I was acting president for the full 12 months,” Authement said in an interview with The Advertiser last week about rumors of a pending retirement. “The trend across the country is a year’s notice at this time.”

Authement became acting president of the university in 1973.

For the past decade, there’s been talk of his possible retirement. Names bandied about as possible candidates include the state’s higher education commissioner, Joseph Savoie, who served as UL’s vice president of university advancement for 18 years; and Steve Landry, UL’s vice president of academic affairs since 2000.
Savoie left UL in 1996 to take his current job as leader of the state’s postsecondary institutions.

“There’s been speculation about that since I left 10 years ago, so there’s nothing unusual about that,” he said. “I like my job. I have a very supportive board, and I’m very focused on this upcoming legislative session, which could be historic and have a positive impact on our state. I think it’s much to early to speculate about things down the road.”

Prior to heading academic affairs, Landry served as UL’s vice president for research for three years.

He is out of the country in Peru, according to UL staffers.

Looking at their past histories, Landry appears to be following in Authement’s footsteps. Like Authement, he is an academic who moved into administration. Before serving as UL president, Authement served for seven years as vice president of academic affairs. Landry was appointed vice president in 2000.

It was as vice president of then-USL that Authement said he was trained by then-President Clyde Rougeau.

When asked a few years ago if he was grooming anyone for his job, Authement said: “I’m not going to anoint anyone, but I’m just saying there are people here who could take over. I think that whether it’s the current administration or someone else, they’ll know and love the university just as much as anyone.”

Authement’s top level of administrators includeLandry; Della Bonnette, vice president for information technology since 1996; Robert Stewart, vice president for research and graduate students and former director of the USGS National Wetlands Research Center; and Raymond Blanco, vice president for student affairs since 1982 and husband of Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

Faculty said they hope the replacement will be an academic.

“I just don’t know who could take his place,” said Pat Rickels, an English professor and honors program director who also is retiring after 50 years of service to UL.

“An academician of moral stature, that’s my prayer,” Rickels said. “You never know what these boards are going to do.”

Gregg Gothreaux, executive director of the Lafayette Economic Development Auth-ority, said the next president will be expected to commit to the community off campus.

“The university plays a major role in solving the work force crisis that we face,” he said. “It’s very important that we have someone who is as visionary as Dr. Authement is.”

The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors decides who will replace Authement based on a recommendation by UL System President Sally Clausen. A search committee appointed by the board chairman will oversee the process and interview candidates. UL will have a voice in the process; the UL Faculty Senate will choose a faculty member to serve on the committee. Clausen serves as the nonvoting chair of the committee and makes the recommendation to the board.

How long the process will take is up to the committee. At its first meeting, the committee sets its timeline of action, according to the board’s rules.

As part of the process, the system holds public forums to help guide the selection.

It took the board three to five months to name a presidential replacement in the system’s most recent searches at Grambling and Nicholls.

Candidate qualifications

The search committee is responsible for setting the minimum qualifications for the job.

Candidates are expected to hold a doctorate from an accredited institution and show “successful experience” in at a postsecondary institution.

Exceptions may be made if the candidate has an “extraordinary record of leadership and accomplishments, but lacks one or more of the above specified credentials.”

SOURCE: UL System Board Rules

Originally published April 29, 2007

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Authement credited with helping build economy

Marsha Sills

Ray Authement was a man of foresight when it came to the role of a university to spur economic development.
Authement’s decision to grow the university’s computer science program is the reason why Lafayette is poised as one of the state’s technology centers, said Gregg Gothreaux, executive director of the Lafayette Economic Develop-ment Authority.

“When I moved to Lafayette in 1986, his legend of economic development was well established because he had created this computer science program that had become one of the leaders in the world,” Gothreaux said. “Oil and gas technologies seemed to rise out of Lafayette, and I think a lot of it had to do with the university and its focus.”

Last year, UL and LEDA opened their joint endeavor – the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise Center with 3D immersive technology.
The university’s research park also has set the stage to attract researchers and more industry to the community.

“His influence is more than statewide, but it’s certainly felt every day in economic development,” Gothreaux said.

The university estimates its economic effect on Acadiana is between $650 million and $700 million annually.

As a business, it would rank No. 5 in the Top 100 private businesses in Acadiana, according to the university’s Web site.

As president, Authement also oversaw the construction of the Cajundome and the Convention Center, which pump revenue into the city.

Greg Davis, Cajundome director, said Authement has stood by him in his leadership of the facility.

“We are a governmental entity. We are non-civil service, so we have always been very, very vulnerable to the politics of Louisiana, which we all know can be very destructive,” he said. “Dr. Authement has stood by management and staff of the Cajundome and supported the business practices that we have used. … On many occasions, these practices were not the best political position, yet Dr. Authement stood by management and staff and defended the good business practices here.”

Senior reporter Claire Taylor contributed to this report.

Originally published April 28, 2007

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Authement the nation’s longest serving public university president
UL President Dr. Ray Authement, the nation�s longest serving public university president, announced his retirement this afternoon during a meeting of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System in Lafayette.
He was named the university�s president in 1974, after serving as acting president for a year.

�I today announce my intention to relinquish the presidency of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as soon as the board can arrange a smooth transition from this presidency to the next,� Authement told board members at the end of their regular monthly meeting.
The board was meeting at the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise facility in UL’s University Research Park. Board committees met on the university�s campus yesterday.

�I thank you so very much for all you�ve done,� Authement said. �As you can see, we�re making tremendous progress. I can assure you that I will continue to work with all of you to continue this development and movement forward.�

Jimmy Long, chair of the UL System Board, responded that the board, �individually and collectively, is saddened� by the announcement. �I also want to say that we appreciate your statement that you�ll be here for as long as it takes for a smooth transition.�

Dr. Sally Clausen, UL System president, thanked Authement for his service. �You have served as our �dean,� both as a leader for our system office and presidents. You�ve also been a friend � the best friend higher education has had. Thank you for giving us your life.�

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco issued a statement that commended Authement for his service to UL and his work to improve higher education throughout Louisiana.

�Dr. Ray Authement has given visionary leadership and service to the University of Louisiana, to the Lafayette community, and to the tens of thousands of graduates who are leaders across Louisiana and around the world. The university has thrived under his direction, growing from a small regional college to one with internationally acclaimed programs,� she said.

�Dr. Authement will always be the most beloved member of the Ragin� Cajun family and I am proud to count him and his wife Barbara among my special friends. I thank them both for a lifetime of service to our people.�

Under Authement�s guidance, the UL has become a major economic force in Acadiana, while earning a national reputation in the fields of computer science, environmental and biological research, and Francophone studies.

He is responsible for the development of University Research Park, which houses numerous national research centers, the LITE facility and a hotel. Recently, the Carnegie Foundation designated UL as a �research university with high research activity.� That puts UL in the same category as Clemson, Auburn and Baylor universities.

During Authement�s administration, UL became a selective admission institution and the first Doctoral II university in Louisiana.

He was a major force in successful efforts to change the name of the university from the University of Southwestern Louisiana to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Since Authement became the university�s fifth president, Louisiana�s Ragin� Cajuns have competed in NCAA Division 1, the highest level of collegiate athletic competition. The football team is a member of NCAA Division 1-A.

A $130 million construction boom on campus in the past decade produced the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum; Moody Hall, which houses the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; a new computer science building; and Legacy Park, an apartment-style student residence on campus. Edith Garland Dupr� library was expanded and totally renovated. A 400-plus parking garage and an indoor practice facility for UL Lafayette�s athletic teams are under construction.

Earlier in his presidency, Authement supervised construction of several other buildings, including the 12,800-seat Cajundome and an adjacent convention center.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette�s gifted assets surpassed $100 million during the Investing in Our Future Centennial campaign under Authement�s direction.

UL has 18 endowed chairs; each valued at $1 million. It has two endowed chairs funded entirely through private sources. The most recent addition to the university�s funded chairs is an endowed super chair in telecommunications, valued at $2 million.

The university has more than 140 endowed professorships, valued at $100,000 each, through the Board of Regents� matching program and 29 endowed professorships funded through private sources.

When Louisiana�s oil industry virtually collapsed in the early 1980s, the university, under Authement�s direction, led efforts to diversify the area�s economy. For example, it helped existing businesses operate more efficiently, offered assistance to fledgling companies and showed businesses how to to obtain government contracts.

Since the mid-1980s, Authement established more than a dozen research centers, including the Louisiana Productivity Center and Institute of Cognitive Science.

He earned a bachelor�s degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1950; a master�s degree in 1952 from Louisiana State University and a doctoral degree from LSU in 1956.

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Breaking News from the Daily Advertiser, April 27, 2007

Dr. Authement Resigns

Dr. Ray Authement’s Announcement
Today I announced to the University of Louisiana System Board that I
intend to relinquish the presidency of the University of Louisiana at
Lafayette as soon as the System Board can arrange a smooth transition
from this Presidency to the next. I wish to thank all the Faculty
and Staff so much for all that you’ve done during my tenure. I can
assure you that I will continue to work with the university community
to move the University of Louisiana at Lafayette forward.

Julie Dronet, University News Services
Originally published April 27, 2007

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