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(Advocate) UL honors faculty researchers, mentors, innovators who sparked R1 designation

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The Acadiana Advocate BY KEN STICKNEY | STAFF WRITER FEB 14, 2022 - 4:00 AM


The University of Louisiana at Lafayette honored more than 100 people Friday — researchers, emerging junior faculty members, mentors and other innovators — whose efforts helped lift the institution into the top tier of American research schools.

Ramesh Kolluru, vice president of research, said those honored had “galvanized the transformation” of UL into the top tier of research institutions. With its recent R1 designation, UL joined LSU and Tulane, the other Louisiana universities in that elite tier of research institutions.

Kolluru said those honored in a 90-minute program at the LITE Center on campus were being recognized “for your excellence.” The ceremony covered two academic years — 2019-20 and 2020-21. The 2019-20 award ceremony was not held because of the pandemic; honors we delayed a year for those recipients.

“You made this (R1) designation possible,” Kolluru said.

President E. Joseph Savoie recounted the history of research at UL, dating back to when the first bachelor’s degrees were granted more than a century ago, when it shed its classification as a training facility to a college and later a university.

He recalled a conversation with former UL President Ray Authement, who quoted a poem to Savoie that concluded with the message, “I want to sail where the big boats are.”

“Today, we are a big boat,” he told the honorees. People had worked for more than a century to gather such talented people such as the group honored.

“You are the accumulation of a lot of people’s dreams,” he said.

Top honorees were those who received the Research Excellence Award, Kolluru said. They were 2019-20 honorees Kiwana McClung from the College of Arts; Chase Edwards, B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration; Dianne Olivier, College of Education; Xiao-Dong Zhou, College of Engineering; Philip Auter, College of Liberal Arts; Paula Zeanah, College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Miao Jin, Ray P. Authement College of Sciences.

Also, 2020-21 Research Excellence Award honorees Garth Alper, College of Arts; Joshua Bendickson, College of Business Administration; Natalie Keefer, College of Education; Xiao-Dong Zhou, College of Engineering; Hung-Chu Lin, College of Liberal Arts; Tricia Templet, College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Wu Xu, College of Sciences.