Letters to the Editor


While the UL horse farm controversy rages on and accusations fly of Ray Authement's "tin pot dictatorship" ("IndBox: That Little Tin-Horn Despot," July 12), my letter is to depict the Ray Authement I know.

Twenty years ago, I was a junior faculty member at USL (as the university was known then). President Authement personally helped me and nurtured my research and academic career. It was 10 years later, when Oxford University in England wanted a specialist for computer integration, they invited me. When the oil rich country UAE wanted a specialist to start an engineering education program (they had the wherewithal to choose anyone, worldwide) they selected me. Because Dr. Authement supported my career, I was able to represent Acadiana and UL in these assignments.

I remember working alongside Dr. Authement to get funding for Rougeou Hall. We were out there in Baton Rouge, personally lobbying the Legislature, including Sen. Armand Brinkhaus of the Education Committee. This was during the late '80s, when oil prices were a low $20 and the state of Louisiana was having financial difficulties. But we were successful in getting the funding for Rougeou Hall, one of the few capital improvement projects during those difficult times. In addition, Dr. Authement worked tirelessly alongside us faculty members to implement the Apparel Computer Integrated Manufacturing Center and the Louisiana Productivity Center.

It was his leadership (along with high caliber academic leaders like professors Bill Mueller, Wayne Denton and Steve Landry) that started a special scholarship program to increase the enrollment of women in engineering. And we were miles ahead of Lawrence H. Summers, former president of Harvard, in his analysis of women in engineering education. But unlike him, we did not say women were inferior; we encouraged and assisted women to apply to our department and were able to increase the enrollment of women in engineering. We reversed a negative trend that even Harvard could not accomplish!

The intricacies of the horse farm controversy are many. However, many, including myself, owe our careers to President Authement. And in return, we have brought significant business investments, honor and international acclaim to Acadiana and the University of Louisiana.

God Bless Ray Authement.