ultoday.com interviews David Barry, Dean of UL's largest college.

What's happening in the College of Liberal Arts?

One of the biggest things happening is the Ernest P. Gaines Research Center, which will hold Dr. Gaines's archives, host visiting researchers, organize conferences, provide scholarships, and generate publications. The Center has been approved by the UL System Supervisors last December, the Board of Regents in February and Dr. Authément has committed up to $500,000 to build the center space in Dupre Library. The Center will hire two positions, an archivist, and a research scholar. The President has also committed to help in raising $2M-4M to support the Center.

There are a couple of other things also related to Dr. Gaines. The Center for Louisiana Studies is targeting next January for the publication of Marsha Gaudet's & Reggie Young's book on Ernest. Filling the Writer-In-Residence position that Dr. Gaines vacated, we have brought in a rising star as a Visiting Distinguished Writer, Rikki Ducornet. She has numerous publications including The Jade Cabinet, which was a finalist for The National Book Critics' Circle Award, and The Fan-Maker’s Inquisition/A Novel of the Marquis de Sade, a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year; and she won the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters and The Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. In addition to Dr. Gaines, the Writer-In-Residence position has been held by Pulitzer Prize winner John Kennedy Toole, as well as bestselling author James Lee Burke, and Rikki maintains the high visibility for that position.

Another big step forward is the Bachelor of Arts degree in Cinema Studies. The Letter Of Intent was accepted by Board of Regents, and we will submit the final documents and undergo a formal review this semester. The program is headed by Charles Richard, who worked as a writer on Against the Tide: The Story of the Cajun People of Louisiana, named "Best Historical Documentary" by the National Educational Television Authority in 2000; as a co-writer for Signpost to Freedom: The 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott, awarded "Best Historical Documentary" at the 2007 New York Independent Film & Video Festival, and which was nationally broadcast on PBS last fall; and as writer for the six-hour series for Public Television, Louisiana: A History, which aired as a part of the state’s celebration of the Bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase in 2003. In addition, Louisiana: A History, which Richard wrote, has become the most honored program in the 30-year history of Louisiana Public Broadcasting, with awards ranging from "Best Documentary Series" from the National Educational Television Authority, to a Suncoast Emmy, to the Telly award (a total of seven awards for the series), to the prestigious duPont Columbia Award—television’s equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize.

The Cinema Studies BA program is expected to start in the Fall of 2008 as a collaborative effort involving English, Communications, Visual Arts, and the Moody College of Business. The degree will have three foci: Entrepreneurial and Business, Production & Technology, and Creative/Narrative. The Center will create, produce, and sell cinematic products. We've had the minor for just one year, and the Cinematic Arts Workshop has already completed three projects: one for the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Center; a service learning piece for the UL System; and "I Always Do My Collars First," for the Acadiana Arts Council. The program is also tied into the Center for Louisiana Studies which provides technical, cultural, and research support.

Scott Mire in Criminal Justice is collaborating with ULM to host the Asian Association of Police Science here in 2008. That's a very big deal. It will bring in scholars and officials from across Asia and the United States.

Right now, we're in the process of screening applicants for the Judge Kaliste Saloom Jr. Chair in International Relations, which will be in the Political Science Department. That Chair complements the new Political Science concentration in International Relations that was recently approved by the UL System Supervisors.

In the Department of Anthropology & Sociology, Ray Brasseur & Greg Guirard are collaborating on a new book on the Atchafalaya Basin, which should be coming out in the next year.

Finally, but certainly not least, Darrell Bourque was named Poet Laureate of Louisiana. He is only the second person so named, the first was Brenda Marie Osbey. His book The Blue Boat has been well received, and has sold well, which is always a challenge for poetry.