On Aug. 17, 2022, President Joseph Savoie gave the 2022 State of the University address. He spoke on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s research and enrollment accomplishments, the planning of a new Health Sciences campus, the upgrading of the New Iberia Research Center and a new engineering building and renovations to Madison Hall.
Savoie spoke on UL Lafayette’s accomplishments in research, announcing that the university has, for the first time, ranked among the top 100 public research universities in the nation.
“Coming on the heels of our R1 designation, this is an exceptional newsworthy event to celebrate, and it’s a headline that all of you have helped to write,” Savoie said.
He did, however, stress that the R1 designation does not change the mission of UL Lafayette to be inclusive and give its students a chance to succeed.
“We do not want to present the designation as a marker of exclusivity. We are an engine of social mobility and we will remain so,” Savoie said. “We will continue to focus on serving our broader community and providing the students who come to us to pursue their academic and professional dreams a real chance to succeed.”
Adding to this, Savoie announced that UL Lafayette has been recognized by Insight Into Diversity Magazine with its Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for the fifth year in a row.
He announced that during the 2021 fiscal year, UL Lafayette spent $181.4 million in research and development, and over $1 billion from 2013 to 2021. Savoie stressed that what these funds will be used for is of greater importance.
“What’s more important are the solutions that result from these investments. The vital questions asked and answered today by the university’s researchers and scholars strengthen the ability to confront and to answer greater questions tomorrow. The region, state, nation and world that we serve is looking to us for clarity, understanding and results, and this university is up to that responsibility.”
Savoie discussed the issue of climate change, citing a report that Louisiana is already experiencing rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, record heat waves and regular flood-inducing storms that will only worsen unless the causes are addressed. The C1 Extension Service was created over the past year to address these issues. It is led by Dr. Mark Zappi and the Energy Institute of Louisiana and aims to help Louisiana meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Savoie shared that preliminary figures indicate the fall’s freshman class is the largest in five years, following a dip in first-time freshman over the past few years.
“The anticipated growth in our freshman class this year is the beginning of reversing that trend,” Savoie said.
The growth of the physical campus has been a priority. This includes the acquisition of former Lourdes property, which contains medical office buildings, parking garages and other facilities, where the College of Nursing and Health Sciences is planned to be relocated to, as well as becoming the core of a new Health Sciences campus.
The New Iberia Research Center is also being upgraded to a Level Three Bio-Safety Lab, which allows for more advanced on-site research for infectious diseases. While the research center played an important role in developing the Pfizer vaccine, final testing was not able to be done in the facility. This upgrade changes that and will make future testing possible.
The College of Engineering will be receiving renovations to Madison Hall, and a new 70,000 sq. ft classroom building that will feature smart classrooms, maker spaces and engineering center of excellence.
Savoie also announced plans in the coming year to request state funds for a new lab school in the College of Education, new buildings for the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Sciences and renovations to Angelle Hall.
Savoie closed with a message of hope for greater things to come.
“As we enter our 125th year, even greater possibilities are within reach. We only have to be bold enough to grasp them, and I know that we are.”
By: Writer, Adhamm Safford