We continue our interview with Dr. Robert Stewart.

In Part I, he discussed various UL Centers that are growing or emerging. Today he discusses the culture and the future of UL. To read Part I, click here.

UL is very poorly funded, and so many of the Centers you have discussed are cutting-edge efforts. How do we accomplish so much with so little?

One of the ways that UL has done so much with our limited resources, is the collaborative attitude of faculty and administrators. For example, Deans at many Universities generally don't talk to one another that much. Here at UL, they actively work together and support collaborative, win-win initiatives.

What do you see for the future?

The future looks very bright at UL. On the research side, we're approaching $50 million per year in revenues from outside sponsored research and program funding and we're hoping to break that in the next year or two. And 60% of our faculty are graduate faculty, which is great; I'm very pleased that we are getting more and more faculty with PhDs, who want to pursue research, and educate and train graduate students. We’ve been classified as a Doctoral II program by the Southern Regional Education Board. As of Fall 2007 we’ve produced over 11,562 Master’s degrees, 317 post-Master’s Education Specialists, and 760 Ph.D.’s. It's a strong desire among our faculty and administration to increase both the research and graduate program agendas of the University. It enhances the University and the city, and it strengthens our relationship with granting agencies, particularly Federal Agencies.

Of course, the University's footprint will need to expand. We're one of the two largest schools in the three-state region of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, but we're on a relatively tiny campus. In addition, we're the only Louisiana university that grew last Fall. So we're looking to expand the main footprint of the campus, toward Lourdes, toward the Oil Center or in other directions.

And as we grow, it makes it easier for us to attract the very best faculty, and also the very best students. The reputation of the University is rapidly increasing; that leads to better pay for faculty, and we get more and better students. There is a definite ripple effect of that into Lafayette, Acadiana, and the state economy. It used to be that university investment was calculated as $2 returned for every $1 invested; some now say it’s as high or higher than a $7 return for every $1 invested. But there is no question there is a great return on investment, and that it increases the buying power in our economy. A strong University also enhances the reputation of the community, and it serves as a powerful economic engine.

I think these are very exciting times, and I look forward to working with both Dr. Authément and Dr. Savoie.

Name 4 salient things going on at UL you find exciting.

The Cecil Picard Child Development Center - We all know the discouraging status of K through12 education in Louisiana. Change has to take place very early in a child's life to have an effect before they reach the 9th or 12th grade. This won’t be easy nor quick. What is needed are major increases in student test scores, and retention and graduation rates for most of Louisiana’s public schools. The Picard Center will provide the data sets that will help Louisiana improve the education system overall. We are pleased to have this center and its Director Dr. Stokes on campus.

ICEE, the Institute for Coastal Ecology and Engineering was created to address Louisiana’s serious loss of coastal wetlands. Every university on the Gulf Coast should step up to the plate, and help with coastal restoration. We need to bring the fantastic capabilities of our research to focus on this important issue for the state, collect the necessary data, do the studies and analyze the data properly, to make sure that our restoration efforts are successful in the end. Dr. Don Hayes is doing a great job of coordinating our coastal activities and making certain that the people making decisions have the best science information available to deal with this very complex problem.

NIMSAT, the National Incident Management Systems and Technologies Institute was created under Dr. Kolluru's direction to improve how the federal and state organizations, and the private sector deal with natural and technological disasters. It was developed after Hurricane Katrina, not only to focus on disaster response but also on recovery, and in particular the recovery of businesses.

LITE, The Louisiana Immersive Technologies Center is a fantastic world-class resource in 3 dimensional visualization and high speed computing, that will profoundly affect a diversity of industries: the arts, movies, medicine, geology, GIS, etc. We are delighted to have this marvelous center available, not only for economic development but also for applied research in visualization, grid computing, and super computing. We are equally pleased to have someone of Dr. Cruz-Neira's talent, experience and capabilities as both LITE Chief Scientist for the University and as the Executive Director of LITE.

UL has a lot of fantastic faculty, new programs rising quickly, and a lot more in the queue. I have to say, I'm very, very pleased with the progress being made.