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Looking Ahead in Our Anniversary Year

Dr. Joseph Savoie -- Wed, 01/10/2024 - 9:11am

Dear students and faculty and staff members,

Welcome to the Spring 2024 semester! I hope your winter break was restful and enjoyable.

Earlier this month, the University continued the observance of its 125th birthday with one of its oldest – and rarest – traditions. On the first day of the year, members of the University and local communities gathered on the Health Sciences Campus and planted five live oak saplings.

Only twice before in our history has the University observed New Year’s Day with a tree-planting ceremony – in 1901, when our founding president, Dr. Edwin Stephens, planted 40 live oaks near the intersection of what is now Johnston Street and University Avenue, and again in 2001, when Dr. Ray Authement concluded our centennial celebration with a tree planting at University Research Park.

Like the trees Dr. Authement planted, the new live oaks on the Health Sciences Campus are descendants of the original Century Oaks that Dr. Stephens seeded in our earliest days. The trees are a visible link among the properties.

More than that, they represent the University’s deep roots in the community, the broadness of its reach and influence, the living nature of the work that it does, and its permanence as a source of pride, as an engine of growth and as a fountain of service. These trees represent the University’s confidence in the future, because – even in an anniversary year dedicated to looking back – our focus and energies remain on improving tomorrow.

On March 12, this commitment will be on full display during 125 Day. The community-wide celebration will include historical displays, a showcase highlighting academics, athletics, research and other signature areas of excellence, and a featured speaker. We’ll announce more details soon, but please mark your calendars because you’re all invited to join us at the Cajundome for a special day that’s been 125 years in the making.

Also this semester, the very successful Academic Speaker Series will continue to bring experts to campus, and I encourage you to attend those presentations as well.

Our 125th birthday celebration will end with this semester’s Commencement. But, like the trees we planted on New Year’s Day – and the trees planted on other New Year’s days in our history – the service, vision and leadership that’s been at the heart of this observance will endure. That’s a promise we’ve made to the future, and it’s a promise we intend to keep.

Here's to a successful spring semester, and Geaux Cajuns!


Dr. Joseph Savoie