Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Louisiana Economic Development grant during an event Friday that celebrated Waitr’s new downtown headquarters.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is a Research University with high research activity, according to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s newest classification system. UL Lafayette is the only university within the UL System to rank in this prestigious doctorate-granting level.
The classification system, which ranks institutions of higher education in the United States, underwent a major overhaul this year. In the new system, doctorate-granting universities are divided up into three categories - up from two in the previous classification revamp - based on several aggregates namely research activity. UL Lafayette was formerly ranked as Doctoral Intensive by Carnegie.
“ Carnegie’s rank continues to recognize the seriousness of this university’s commitment to research and economic development,” said UL Lafayette President Ray Authement. “We have high caliber faculty delving into coastal restoration who are big contributors to this state’s recovery following the past hurricane season. And, at the New Iberia Research Center, applied and basic research aimed at promoting a better quality of life is being conducted every day. ”
In the past year alone, UL Lafayette has received more than $40 million in funding from state, federal and private sources for research and sponsored programs . This represents an almost 12 percent increase from the prior year and a 30 percent increase from three years ago.
The university expects to increase the $40 million in funding last year by 10 percent this year.
Some of this funding goes toward sponsored programs like the Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Louisiana (MEPoL), which in turn promotes economic development. This center helps manufacturers by providing innovative and technical solutions to specific needs. MEPoL leaders were recognized last year with the Achievement in Performance Excellence award from the Louisiana Quality Foundation.
Across campus in University Research Park, economic development is a priority among an array of tenants including the LITE facility which is under construction. LITE joins the National Wetlands Research Center, NOAA’s Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Research Center, the new Hilton Garden Inn and Abdalla Hall in the research park. Other tenants include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. National Park Service and Ducks Unlimited to name a few.
University centers like the Center for Business and Information Technologies, the Center for Ecology and Environmental Technology, the Center for Louisiana Inland Water Studies and the Energy Institute are also located in the research park. Designs of the Center for Child Development which will also be located in the research park are now under way.
In addition to promoting economic development through its centers and reseach park tenants, UL Lafayette’s total economic impact in Acadiana is $650 to $700 million each year while it injects about $149 million of direct, unrestricted spending into the Lafayette economy per year. If it were a private business, the university would rank 5th in the Top 100 private businesses in Acadiana.
“ The Carnegie ranking is a reflection of all of this,” said Authement. “This has been the university’s tradition and it will continue to contribute immensely in research and economic development.”
Other changes to Carnegie’s new classification system include using single-year data as opposed to using a combination of single-year and multiple-year data and presenting categories in order of total enrollment.
Carnegie also introduced a new web tool which allows users to search for universities using data from the classification system with hopes of attracting public use. In the past, the system was geared mostly toward the academic environment.