Around Martin Hall and at many Ragin' Cajuns events, one of the most upbeat and best-liked people is always UL's Director of the Scholarship Office, Adèle Bulliard. ultoday.com interviewed her recently.

Adele Bulliard, Scholarship Office, University of LouisianaHow long you been with the UL Scholarship Office?

Twenty years, maybe.

How has it changed?

When I started, the budget for University-funded scholarships was $278K. Today it's probably $2,000,000... but that's only the part directly funded by UL.

Donations to the Foundation have really increased, particularly since the UL Centennial in 2000. So now we have about 700 accounts, some of which support several students. It was maybe 150 accounts when I started. Today we handle about $4M from all sources. Of course, that does not include TOPS, which is another $5M.

How many students are benefited by these scholarships?

When I started, maybe 350 students from the University received scholarships, perhaps 400 total. Today we deal with 4,000 'transactions', i.e. funds to students, but students can get more than one scholarship. So let's say 3,500 students total.

And we offer about 1,000 University-funded scholarships for incoming freshmen. Every year for the past 10 years, any student with a 3.0 and a 23 on the ACT, we have been able to offer them all scholarships. That's almost 900 scholarships. And again, that's not including TOPs.

Have the students improved?

The requirements have certainly gone up over the years, and they'll continue to go up. We're also making more offers to better students.

They are so smart, and they are so cool.

Martin Hall, Administration, University of LouisianaTalk about that.

The kids in my office? They're a trip. One is a first-time freshmen, he's on the Debate Team. He's going all over the country, one weekend Miami, then D.C., all over.

Then I had another student who is in medical school in Shreveport. She had a 4.0, and good scores on her MCATs, but I think working with Freshman Orientation really helped her. She's quiet and more of a thinker... but we forced her to get out and talk, and she gained a lot of self-confidence.

I had another student who went to Baylor Medical School, graduated first in his class, and is in his psychiatry residency now.

I have a Chinese-Cajun engineering student, his grandmother lives in Hong Kong. He reads all the time.

I have all kinds. I had an accounting major, he was president of one of the fraternities, I made him keep track of all of our funds for accounting. He eMailed me recently and said, "Now I know why you made us do all that. Today, I'm a legislative auditor."

ACTs and GPAs are definitely going up. We're seeing a lot more kids with high 30's on the ACT. When I first started, that was almost unheard of. We're getting kids who have had offers from MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley, Michigan, Texas, A&M, Tulane, Vanderbilt, UNC, and a lot of the big privates. UL's growing academic reputation, our scholarship offers, and TOPs are helping us attract kids who wouldn't talk to us before.

We're also attracting more out-of-state students. I have an English graduate from California, now she's back in school studying mechanical engineering here.

How do the kids find out about our academic reputation?

We correspond with them, and they often come for tours and for preview days. Kids are also more savvy today, they'll research us on-line. For instance, we have one of the few Industrial Design programs in the country, so we get kids from all over. Selective admissions have also enhanced our reputation.

We also bring guidance counselors in for conferences. We had the conference this Fall in LITE. They were blown away, particularly the Baton Rouge counselors. They had no idea at all of what we have going on here at UL.

And then the students hear from their friends. The students here talk to the people they know, tell them how much they like Lafayette and UL, how friendly people are, how accessible and personable everyone is. They are hearing that we have excellent teachers, not just researchers, but people who really enjoy interacting with students.

And that's true, it's an area where UL excels, our faculty are much more interested in our students. I recently talked to a student who made a D in a math, and she was saying how hard the professor was. But then she said she learned so much and enjoyed it... and she has to repeat the course!

The word is getting out there about UL. The preview days, we're having to expand those because they're getting too large. So we'll have two this Fall, and one in the Spring.

Or maybe two if necessary.