University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s 125th birthday

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Today is the 125th birthday of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. It was July 14, 1898, when the governor signed an act to establish Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute, now known as ULL.  University president Dr. Joseph Savoie said it was two years later before Lafayette was chosen as the site for the school.

“It was chosen because of the donation of land, cash, and the agreement for a parish-wide property tax to generate money to support the institution,” said Savoie.

Since its beginning, Savoie said public support has been essential for the university’s growth and success.

In its early days, Savoie said the school was known for the quality of its hay that sold for $14 a ton. More than a century later, the most recent statewide economic impact study indicates ULL has a $2.7 billion dollar impact in the state…

“Supported one out of every 15 jobs in the region and for every one dollar of state support the university returned $8 in benefits to the state. It’s not making hay anymore but it’s making a big difference,” said Savoie.

Savoie said it was state Senator Robert Martin who authored legislation to create the university and the school’s first president Edwin Stephens planted a dozen oak trees on the campus and today there are more than 200 oaks.

“I think they were visionaries, but I think they would be very pleased and maybe even surprised at how their creation has evolved,” said Savoie.

ULL will be holding activities commemorating the school’s 125 birthday throughout the year. For a listing visit Louisiana.edu/125.

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