A week of Homecoming 2020 fun is planned leading up to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns game versus the Arkansas State Red Wolves at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7.
Since Dr. Ray P. Authement’s death Sunday, higher education leaders, former students, public officials and members of the business community have paid tribute to the former University of Louisiana at Lafayette president.
Authement served as University president from 1974 to 2008. He was the longest-serving public university president in the United States at the time of his retirement.
The University he led for 34 years will be the site of a memorial from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday. The public may drive past Martin Hall to pay their respects, leave notes and other small tokens of remembrance and view a commemorative display.
What follows is a sample of how Authement is being remembered by those who knew him.
“Through dedication, determination and selflessness, he changed how the University saw itself and how others perceived it as well. He guided our growth from a strong regional University to one recognized nationally and globally for its research and scholarship.
“Our University’s achievements today – and its importance to Louisiana’s future – are rooted in the foundation he built. UL Lafayette stands as a monument to his visionary leadership.”
“As the longest serving public university president in the United States, Dr. Authement laid the foundation for the extraordinary advancement of UL Lafayette into a national model and a source of pride for Louisiana. Countless students and multiple generations were blessed by his leadership.”
Dr. Jim Henderson, president of the University of Louisiana System
“Dr. Authement lived an extraordinary life. During his presidential tenure, he influenced thousands of students’ lives, including mine. It was an honor to be a student under Dr. Authement’s leadership. He fostered a learning environment that made all students feel valued.”
Mark Romero, chairman, UL System Board of Supervisors and UL Lafayette alum
“Dr. Authement brought his sharp mind, vision for academic excellence and student dedication to the role he cherished. As we mourn his passing, we at the Board of Regents celebrate an educator for the ages and reflect on his rich legacy.”
Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana commissioner of higher education
“When serving as SGA president, I had a standing 4 o’clock meeting with Dr. Authement each Monday. He collaborated with his students at this weekly hour for years. Thank you, Doc, for teaching us how listen closely to the ones you seek to serve.”
Sarah Berthelot, former Student Government Association president
“Upon learning of the passing of Dr. Ray Authement, I am left with a deep sense of loss for such an extraordinary leader. He led our institution through incredibly challenging seasons, forging relationships and casting a vision that set our University on a course to achieve what then seemed impossible. It was an honor to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Authement. His guidance, compassion and dedication will continue to inspire generations to come.”
Dr. Ahmed Khattab, interim dean, UL Lafayette College of Engineering
“Dr. Authement was a farsighted and responsible steward of the University’s gifted and pledged assets who believed that the economic and social health of this community was in direct proportion to the wellbeing of the University.
“This was his guiding principle throughout this tenure. Donors and friends understood that, and they wanted to support the University because they knew every decision he made was focused on the future – both of the institution and of the community that it served.”
Joe Giglio Jr., chairman, UL Lafayette Foundation Board of Trustees
“We mourn the loss of Dr. Ray Authement, a true community and state leader. He was a longtime CABL Board Member and served as our chairman in 2008. Our hearts and thoughts are with his family.”
Statement from the Council for a Better Louisiana
“Our prayers are with the UL community today as we commemorate the life and work of Dr. Ray Authement. His 34 years as president of USL and later, UL Lafayette, shaped the course of the institution we know today.
“Our parish and Acadiana still feel the impact of his work and passion for our University. His mark will continue to be felt for decades to come.”
Josh Guillory, Lafayette mayor-president
“The Ray P. Authement College of Sciences sends deepest condolences to Mrs. Barbara Authement and the Authement family. Dr. Authement’s strong leadership and vision have built the foundation for the national stature that the College of Sciences and UL Lafayette attain today. Dr. Authement, the College being named in your honor is a mark of pride for the entire College of Sciences family. May your memory be eternal.”
Statement from the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences
“I’m reflecting on the many lessons of leadership and public service taught by Doc. Dr. Authement rarely said no to me as student government president or as Alumni Association president and for that I’m so very grateful. He taught me so much about leadership, service, and doing them both with passion.
“I’ll never forget working with him to recognize the 'four that would' desegregate the university. We gave them all honorary degrees. He said to me after the event that those four made the experience and educational experiences of all those who followed more complete because of their courage and commitments. So many UL graduates and Alumni owe so much to Dr. Ray P. Authement’s leadership.”
Dr. Shawn Wilson, secretary, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, former SGA and Alumni Association president
“Dr. Ray Authement – a giant of an educator, a demonstrated leader. The gentleman had a vision for (UL Lafayette) that was unparalleled. He had a knack of communicating his vision that brought faculty and business leaders together. Under Doc’s leadership, UL (Lafayette) became an economic force in the community that quickly gained national attention.”
John Guilbeau, Lafayette Parish Council member
“Dr. Ray Authement . . . was not only a good friend of mine, but also a renowned and respected educator and community leader.
“He was a teacher at heart, and he never forgot that. I remember stories of him, as UL (Lafayette) president, filling in for professors who were ill and teaching their classes while they recovered.
“He was a great supporter of Acadian and of emergency medicine education, supporting our efforts to create associate programs at the University. His civic and charitable contributions are too numerous to mention, but his devotion to his profession, his family and his community is always something I aspired to emulate.
Richard Zuschlag, chairman and CEO, Acadian Ambulance Service
Photo caption: Former SGA President Sarah Berthelot, Dr. Ray P. Authement and former SGA president Shawn Wilson confer in this photo taken prior to Authement's retirement at UL Lafayette president. (Photo credit: Philip Gould for La Louisiane magazine)