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UL Lafayette Recognized as Best by Princeton Review

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The Princeton Review is taking notice of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Administrators here were notified this week that the university is among “The Best 357 Colleges” as designated by The Princeton Review.

The best-selling guidebook provides prospective college students and their parents with “robust information on the best schools in North America.” UL Lafayette is one of eight universities receiving this designation for the first time by The Princeton Review.

“ Since the first publication of this book over ten years ago, our mission has never wavered; we provide useful and accurate information about specific schools to prospective college students from the real experts: current college students. What do fluctuate are the schools profiled in each edition,” said Robert Franek, author of “The Best 357 Colleges.”

In a letter to UL Lafayette administrators, Franek goes on to congratulate the university. “Narrowing the field of applicants down to eight was a difficult process; some hard decisions had to be made along the way,” said Franek. “The University of Louisiana at Lafayette clearly fit the criteria we were looking for, and we are pleased to include it in the new edition of our book.”

To qualify for inclusion in this bestseller, the university had to detail its outstanding qualities, curriculum development and experiential learning.

Proving the university had what it takes for inclusion wasn’t hard to accomplish based on its record. “With so many shining examples of strong academics, faculty and athletics, it’s easy to understand why this university is among the best,” said UL Lafayette President Ray Authement.

This month, for instance, UL Lafayette students and faculty produced “CajunBot,” one of 25 autonomous vehicles competing for a Department of Defense prize of $1 million. CajunBot, which was featured on CNN, uses artificial intelligence and GPS positioning to navigate a designated route while detecting and avoiding obstacles.

Also this month, Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns men's basketball team competed in the NCAA Tournament. This is the second time the Ragin’ Cajuns made an appearance in the “Big Dance” in recent years.

Undergraduates are involved in important projects at many of the university’s research centers including the NASA Regional Application Center, the Center for Advanced Computer Studies and the Intelligent Robotic Systems Laboratory. Students are also offered the chance to combine learning and community service through Americorps and a Community Service Program.

In addition, writer-in-residence Ernest Gaines was recently nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. He’s known for works such as “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” “A Gathering of Old Men” and “A Lesson Before Dying.”

The university has more than 550 permanent faculty who are dedicated and talented people. They’ve won major grants and honors and earned widespread recognition. Many professors like Dr. Karl Hasenstein teach introductory classes as well as graduate courses. Dr. Hasenstein was one of 80 scientists from around the world whose experiments were on the Space Shuttle Columbia. This same professor teaches Biology 102, Principles of Biology.

Dr. Robert Twilley, director of UL Lafayette’s Center for Ecology and Environmental Technology and biology professor, is also a leading expert in the field of coastal erosion. He heads up research funded by the Department of Energy to determine mechanisms of marsh loss and to create a model for coastal restoration.

Worth mentioning is also one of the biggest building booms ($130 million) in the school’s history which is going on right now. “A $14.8 million student apartment complex just opened on campus,” said Authement. “An $8 million art museum will open next month and a Technology Immersion Center will be added to University Research Park along with a hotel and an expected $22 million expansion to the National Wetlands Research Center.”

A massive renovation and expansion of the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration building is also under way along with plans for a student parking garage on campus.

The university also offers affordability to its students. “With in-state tuition as low as $1,469.75 per semester, and room and board plans beginning at just $1,563 for both semesters, not many four-year public universities can compete with us,” said Dan Rosenfield, dean of Enrollment Management. “And, out-of-state students with an appropriate high school GPA and ACT scores, as well as children of out-of-state grads, can qualify for in-state tuition.”

Plus, nearly $4 million a year is awarded in scholarships and fee exemptions in addition to state (TOPS) and federal funds available to students.

“ Considering all this, its apparent that UL Lafayette is among the best in North America,” said Authement. “We’ve known that for years and now even more prospective students and their parents will know what a quality, well-rounded education is offered here.”

“ The Best 357 Colleges” is expected to be out in late August and it is being published by Random House.