(The Daily Advertiser) Tributes poured in Monday for Ray Authement, the longtime leader of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who died a day earlier.
Authement, who oversaw the education of countless students and helped expand UL’s footprint as president for more than 30 years, was honored by Acadiana leaders and organizations who shared memories of the beloved educator.
When he retired in 2008, Authement was the longest-serving public university president in the United States.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Barbara Braud Authement; daughter, Julie Authement Johnson (Chris); five grandchildren, Jacob and Benjamin Johnson, Philip Prouet (Emily), Lauren Newbill (Wes) and Michelle Prouet; and two great-grandchildren, Graham and Parker Prouet. He is also survived by his brothers, Don Authement (Suzanne) and Ronnie Authement (Jane); and his sisters, Norma Dill (Jerry, deceased) and Rosalie Tipton (John.)
Authement was preceded in death by his parents, Elios and Elphia Authement; his oldest sister, Nell Page; and a daughter Kathy Elizabeth Prouet.
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory said in a statement posted to Facebook that Authement’s time at UL “shaped the course of the institution we know today.”
“Our parish and Acadiana still feel the impact of his work and passion for our university,” Guillory said. “His mark will continue to be felt for decades to come.”
Shawn Wilson, the head of the state’s Department of Transportation and Development and a UL graduate, wrote that “so many UL graduates and Alumni owe so much to Dr. Ray P. Authement’s leadership.”
“Dr. Authement rarely said no to me as student government president or as Alumni president and for that I’m so very grateful,” Wilson said. “He taught me so much about leadership, service, and doing them both with passion. He and his family welcomed so many in my circle into theirs. I’ll never forget working with him to recognize the ‘four that would’ desegregate the university. We gave them all honorary degrees. He said to me after the event that those four made the experience and educational experiences of all those that followed more complete because of their courage and commitments.”
The family would like to express sincere appreciation to the staff of Bridgeway Hospice as well as his amazing team of caregivers.
Memorial contributions can be made to the UL Lafayette Foundation or to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Lafayette.
“He was a man of much integrity, a man who no longer accepted our Ragin Cajun university as one of a large high school or trade school, but one that would bring students to a school that promoted all-around academic excellence, open enrollment to selective admission, NCAA division I program,” said Lafayette Parish Council Member John Guilbeau. “Under Doc’s leadership, ULL became an economic force in the community that quickly gained national attention.”
Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana’s commissioner of higher education, said Authement “brought his sharp mind, vision for academic excellence and student dedication to the role he cherished,” president of UL Lafayette.
“As we mourn his passing, we at the Board of Regents celebrate an educator for the ages and reflect on his rich legacy,” Hunter Reed said in a statement.
Read the tributes: The Daily Advertiser