The following can be attributed to Dr. Joseph Savoie, University of Louisiana at Lafayette president.
In 1959, Cecil Picard received a degree in upper elementary education from then-SLI. He later received his certification in secondary education. On Saturday, he will return to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette once again for another degree.
The State Superintendent of Education will receive an Honorary Doctorate in Educational Leadership during the 3 p.m. commencement service for the College of Education at the Cajundome Convention Center.
“ The feeling you get from this university never changes,” said Picard. “It’s a feeling of pride, a feeling of home, a feeling that never diminishes over time.”
Picard became the state’s Superintendent of Education in 1996 with his priorities being early childhood education, collaboration with colleges and universities to improve the quality of teacher preparation programs and to develop programs and initiatives that promote strong school leadership skills, among other goals.
He worked closely with the Governor and the Legislature to develop and implement a nationally recognized accountability system that enables the state to identify weaknesses in student and school performance and target resources where most needed to improve student learning. Education Week’s 2006 “Quality Counts Report” ranked Louisiana’s Accountability System as number one in the nation.
“ Cecil Picard has served this area and served Louisiana in so many capabilities – as a teacher, principal, state legislator and Superintendent of Education,” said UL Lafayette President Ray Authement. “He has always put the interests of his constituents first. And, he has been very effective as Superintendent of Education – one of the best ever.”
In 2002, Picard’s vision of a statewide early childhood program came to fruition when the LA 4 program was piloted in 11 school districts to serve at-risk four-year-olds. He also joined with the chief state school officers in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi to form a multi-state Early Childhood Education Compact to seek Congressional funding to provide early childhood services to at-risk four-year-olds.
As Louisiana enters the second phase of educational accountability, Picard’s focus has expanded to include an increased emphasis on quality teaching and educational leadership, integration of technology throughout the curriculum and school environment, and expansion of early childhood programs to provide universal access, high quality early childhood education for all children.
Before assuming his present position, Picard served for more than 20 years in the public school system. He served as a member of the Louisiana Legislature for 20 years, retiring from the State Senate in 1996. He was a long-time member and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Education. Picard also served as Chairman of the Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs and the Committee on Senate and Governmental Affairs. He was lead author of more than 50 pieces of legislation.
His educational leadership has been recognized at the state and national levels. In 2001, he was selected by the National Governor’s Association and ZERO TO THREE as one of the 14 fellows nationwide that comprised the first class of the State Early Childhood Policy Leadership Forum. Since 1980, he has served on the Southern Regional Education Board, which advises 16 southern states on education policy.
Picard, who was a 2001 Outstanding Alumnus at UL Lafayette, is married to Gaylen David Picard. They have two grown sons and four grandchildren.