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The following can be attributed to Dr. Joseph Savoie, University of Louisiana at Lafayette president. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco received a bachelor’s degree in business education from the University in 1964. Her husband, Raymond, was a coach and longtime administrator. Dr. Savoie met the Blancos when he was an undergraduate at the University. His 12-year tenure as state commissioner of higher education included the four years Blanco served as governor.

The University family is saddened by the death of one of our most distinguished graduates, former Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.

Kathleen’s career in public service was guided by an unwavering devotion to the state’s citizens, whom she represented with compassion, dignity, determination and optimism. People supported Kathleen because she embodied a set of innately Louisiana values they recognized in themselves – faith, family and service to others. No one could doubt her genuine love for the state or her sincere commitment to doing all she could to make it a better place to work, to raise children, to visit, to open a business, or to seek an education.

Her support as governor for Louisiana’s colleges and universities enabled institutions to rededicate themselves to their missions of research, scholarship and preparing students for lives of purpose. She worked with the Legislature to fully fund higher education for the first time in more than a quarter century; those investments helped sustain colleges and universities when financial challenges arose later.

Kathleen always concentrated on tomorrow, even as her life moved gracefully toward its close.

Last year, she worked with the University to establish the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center. The independent research the center produces will examine issues Kathleen championed throughout her career: criminal justice reform, poverty and economic opportunity, governmental ethics, and education.

It will be a place where thoughtful discussions – shaped by the same sense of responsibility to future generations she personified – can occur. We can think of no better way to honor Kathleen than by working to improve our state and the lives of its residents, just as she did throughout her extraordinary career. 

Gail and I join the entire University community in offering condolences to “Coach,” Pilar, Karmen, Monique, Nicole, Raymond Jr., and their families. We thank them for sharing Kathleen with Louisiana, and hope that they find comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on at the University she loved and that loved her in return.

Photo caption: Former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco addresses the Sept. 21, 2018, gala celebrating the creation of the University's Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

In an interview last year, Gov. Blanco looked back on her extraordinary career and discussed her vision for the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center. View it here.