Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
I am pleased to inform you that the university has secured necessary approvals to proceed with two important projects that are prominent recommendations of our 2009-2014 University Strategic Plan.
These projects will build new residence halls, improve existing student housing and renovate and expand our Student Union. The result will be an invigorated campus climate intended to help more students achieve their goal of earning an academic degree.
Funding for these projects involves no state general funds nor any state capital outlay funds. A student self-assessed fee that was first implemented in 2003 and supplemented in 2005 will finance the Student Union project. The housing improvements are a project of Ragin Cajun Facilities, Inc., a separately incorporated 501(c)(3) organization, and will be paid for with revenue bonds amortized with income from room rentals.
Here’s a closer look at the construction plans:
Denbo and Bancroft residence halls and the UL Lafayette Federal Credit Union will be torn down. New housing and a 1,000 vehicle parking garage, which will include a new credit union on the first floor, will be constructed on these sites. The band practice field will be maintained for its current use and will provide green space for various student and campus activities.
Bonin, Baker-Huger and Evangeline residence halls will be torn down and replaced with new residence halls. Harris, Randolph and Buchanan residence halls and Alumni Hall, which houses The Vermilion, UL Lafayette’s student newspaper, will be renovated.
New residence halls will have suite-style rooms with a bathroom in each suite. Certain residence halls may serve particular groups, such as Honors Program students or students who participate in Greek life. Others will introduce living-learning communities, or clustered residential groups. Members of these communities will have something in common. For example, they could be enrolled in the First Year Seminar or be members of the band. Research shows that living-learning communities improve student retention rates and academic achievement.
Residence halls will also house classrooms equipped with high-tech instructional equipment. These classrooms will enable the university to provide academic support services, such as tutoring, where students live and study.
Convenience for students and an enriched social environment are at the heart of the Student Union expansion and renovation. Many student support services that are now scattered across campus will be consolidated there to provide a “one-stop” facility.
A new food service area, with a food court atmosphere, will be constructed in the new student union. The University Bookstore will remain in the Student Union, but it will be redesigned. Spaces where student organizations can meet and where students can gather informally will be included in the renovated facility. Four buildings will be torn down to accommodate the expanded Student Union. Those are Coronna, Olivier, Guillory, and Saucier. As part of this project, O.K. Allen Hall will be renovated to accommodate Student Health Services and the Counseling and Testing Center.
These are major construction projects that will invigorate the campus. They also will be an inconvenience and will disrupt the routines of several faculty, staff and students. Parking and Transit, as well as Facilities Management, are working hard to plan for and accommodate those affected.
I invite you to view a brief, animated visual presentation of the residential housing plans.
Thank you for your patience and support as we move forward in improving our campus and implementing our strategic plan.
E. Joseph Savoie