November 19, 1928 - April 5, 2020
Former president of the University of Louisiana Lafayette, Dr. Ray P. Authement passed away on April 5, 2020 after an extended illness. Dr. Authement was at his home in Lafayette with his beloved wife Barbara at his side. Born on Nov. 19, 1928 in Boudreaux Canal in South Louisiana, Dr. Authement came from humble beginnings and was raised to place a high value on education, family and faith. As a first-generation college student, he was driven by the desire to ensure that others like him could have the opportunity to experience a first-rate education. Dr. Authement was a devoted family man, a faithful member of the Our Lady of Wisdom parish, and a passionate advocate for the advancement of higher education in the state. Dr. Authement’s early love for academics led him to leave home and hitch-hike to Lafayette to attend UL Lafayette, then known as SLI, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics with a Minor in Mathematics. He went on to earn his Masters and Doctoral degrees in Mathematics from LSU. Prior to serving as a university administrator, Dr. Authement had a gift for teaching mathematics and spent time as an instructor at LSU, an associate professor at McNeese State University and a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He joined the UL Lafayette faculty as a professor in mathematics in 1957 and dedicated the rest of his career to the university. Dr. Authement took his first administrative role in 1966 when he was named Academic Vice President of UL Lafayette and was promoted to Vice President 4 years later. In 1973, Dr. Authement was a unanimous choice to become the fifth President in the university’s history. Between 1974 and 2008, Dr. Authement steered Louisiana’s second largest university deliberately and confidently, advancing it from a solid regional University to one worthy of national and international attention. Although resources were limited, he made smart, bold and calculated decisions. He invested resources in Biology and Computer Science long before other universities. During the downturn of the 1980’s, Authement led efforts to diversify the area’s economy. And, by establishing the 143-acre University Research Park, UL Lafayette focused on attracting research centers, scientists, and grant funds to the region. Today, the park is still home to several national and statewide research centers. The list of major accomplishments during Dr. Authement’s Presidency is extraordinary. Highlights of university achievements under his leadership include: • changing its name to gain more prestige as The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. • implementing academic admissions standards to support more academically prepared students, increase the prestige of the degree, and achieve better academic outcomes. • growing the endowment from $500,000 to $122 million, largely through the “Investing in Our Future” campaign during the university’s Centennial celebration. • raising funds to attract and retain top Faculty by establishing twenty $1 million Endowed Chairs and 217 $100,000 Endowed Professorships. • becoming the first Doctoral II University in Louisiana. • competing in NCAA’s Division I, the highest level of collegiate athletic competition. • increasing gifted assets from about $500,000 to more than $150 million dollars. • receiving national accolades from organizations like the National Science Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation and earned a strong national reputation in the fields of computer science, environmental and biological research, and Francophone studies. • establishing 17 centers to help create companies, grow jobs, and diversify the economy. • and, constructing more than 30 buildings and facilities and renovated or expanded more than 25 others. Among the 30 new buildings are some of today’s campus hallmarks such as B.I. Moody Hall (home to the B.I. Moody College of Business Administration), James R. Oliver Hall (home to Advanced Computer Technology and Research Center), the Paul and Lulu Hillard University Art Museum, the Leon Moncla Indoor Practice Facility for Athletics, the Cajundome, and the Convention Center. And because of Dr. Authement’s fiscal responsibility, the university became debt free even as the campus was expanding. This enabled Dr. Authement to reward faculty members for their commitment, something that he deemed of the highest importance. Dr. Authement retired from the university in 2008 as the longest serving President of any public university in the nation. For 34 years he served UL Lafayette with fierce dedication as the public face of the university. He was a passionate visionary, an aggressive fundraiser, an academic steward and the Ragin’ Cajun’s biggest sports fan. Above all, he will be remembered as a humble servant, a committed husband and a loving father and grandfather who dedicated his life to leaving UL Lafayette, Acadiana and higher education in Louisiana – in a better place. In recognition of his historic contributions, the University renamed the College of Sciences the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences in 2008. In 2009, the University of Louisiana System named Dr. Authement President Emeritus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Dr. Authement is preceded in death by his parents Elios and Elphia Authement, his oldest sister Nell Page (Charlie) of Houma, and his daughter Kathy Elizabeth Prouet. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Barbara Braud Authement, their daughter Julie Authement Johnson (Chris), their five grandchildren, Jacob and Benjamin Johnson, Philip Prouet (Emily), Lauren Newbill (Wes) and Michelle Prouet, as well as their great-grandchildren Graham and Parker Prouet. He is also survived by his brothers Don Authement (Suzanne), Ronnie Authement (Jane) and his sisters Norma Dill (Gerald, deceased) of Crowley, and Rosalie Tipton (John.) To honor the memory of Dr. Ray Authement, during a time when our community is unable to gather in prayer and celebration of his life, there will be a Drive-by Memorial on Friday April 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the UL Campus. The community is invited to drive through Martin Hall Circle to the very front of the building in recognition of the historic contributions that Dr. Authement made to the university, community, region and state. Guests will be asked to remain in their vehicles. For those who are interested in leaving behind a small expression of sympathy for the Authement family, there will be a basket in which they can drop off a note, card, or other remembrance. The family would like to express sincere appreciation to the staff of Bridgeway Hospice as well as his amazing team of caregivers Phyllis Celestine, Travis Celestine, Willie LeBlanc, Suzanne Manuel and Angela Augustine. In remembrance of Dr. Authement, and in lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made, in his honor to the UL Lafayette Foundation at https://give.louisiana.edu or to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Lafayette at https://donate.lls.org/lls/donate. Delhomme Funeral Home, 1011 Bertrand Drive, Lafayette, LA is in charge of arrangements.
Former president of the University of Louisiana Lafayette, Dr. Ray P. Authement passed away on April 5, 2020 after an extended illness. Dr. Authement was at his home in Lafayette with his beloved wife Barbara at his side. Born on Nov. 19,... View Obituary & Service Information
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