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History

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s nearly 17,000 students attend a world-renowned research institution spread across a 1,500-acre campus of handsome red brick buildings and natural beauty.

Things looked far different circa 1900. That’s when classes began at the new Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute.

Enrollment topped out at 100 students. A few classrooms dotted a patch of barren farmland. Degree programs included agriculture, stenography and mechanics.

The University’s first president? He was one of the nation’s youngest, a 27-year-old named Edwin Stephens. History has nevertheless proven Stephens had the right vision for the fledgling agricultural college.

Today, Dr. Joseph Savoie, the University’s sixth president, oversees the state’s second-largest public institution. The University is an international leader in computer science, engineering and nursing. But that only counts a few of the more than 120 stellar undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. Or, to put the last century or so in perspective, enough degree options to outnumber the entire original student body.