A total of 1,786 degrees were awarded during the UL Lafayette’s 161st Commencement ceremonies Friday at the Cajundome and Convention Center.
UL Lafayette alum and former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco will be guest speaker at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Fall 2017 Commencement ceremony on Friday.
She also will receive an honorary doctorate.
The General Assembly will be held at 11 a.m. at the Cajundome.
Blanco was governor from 2004 to 2008.
The year after she took office, Blanco led the state when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the state.
During her term, she directed the largest investment increase in higher education in state history. Blanco expanded the state’s pre-K program and fully funded Louisiana’s colleges and universities for the first time in 25 years.
She was a two-term lieutenant governor. Blanco was first elected in 1995 and reelected in 1999.
As lieutenant governor, she oversaw the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. State tourism increased by 41 percent under her leadership. The industry’s growth resulted in a $2.5 billion increase to the state economy and the creation of 121,000 tourism-related jobs.
In 1984, Blanco was elected to the state House of Representatives. Five years later, she was the first woman elected to the state Public Service Commission. Blanco was commission chairperson in 1993 and 1994.
Earlier in her career, she was a political consultant, a district manager for the U.S. Census and a high school teacher.
Blanco earned a bachelor’s degree in business education from the University in 1964.
She is married to Raymond Blanco. He retired as UL Lafayette’s vice president for Student Affairs in 2008 after serving in many roles during 46 years at the University.
Learn more about Fall 2017 Commencement at commencement.louisiana.edu.