Dr. Ray Authement is a good man, and he's been a good university president, leading the University of Louisiana through unprecedented growth and prosperity, during his tenure.
However, in announcing his intention to swap 36 of the most beautiful undeveloped acres in Lafayette for four acres of land near Lafayette General Medical Center, and in suggesting the development of the remaining 65 horse farm acres as "high-scale residential property," Authement's public pronouncements are curious, unconvincing and even suspect ("Horse Play," Oct. 19).
Publicly, Authement is saying the property is too far from campus for classrooms, and the university can't negotiate the Johnston Street traffic with its buses. The horse farm is about the same distance from the main campus as is the football stadium parking lot, from which UL's buses negotiate Johnston Street traffic every day. Also, how many classrooms can be built on the proposed four acres to be acquired in this deal, as opposed to 100 acres less than one mile away? It just doesn't add up. Authement now appears unable or unwilling to envision the university's land needs ' 25, 50 and 100 years from now.
In urban areas all across the nation, universities are running out of land and space to grow. Most would love to be in UL's position, owning 100 acres of beautifully situated and prime real estate, within one mile of a main campus.
The secrecy and speed with which this deal is moving forward is calculated to preempt public scrutiny as to the wisdom of this affair. This land swap should not be a private and secretive deal, and Authement's power and arrogance are starting to seriously interfere with good judgment and the effective governance of a public institution.
As a younger man, Authement exhibited great vision for our university's future. Now, it seems he cannot see beyond a couple of blocks from the main campus.