Mourning the Loss of Leaders

Within just the last few weeks, CABL has lost two of its former chairmen – Dr. Ray Authement and Dr. James Peltier. We are saddened by their passing, but also reminded of some of the tremendous leadership we have had in our state.

Dr. Raymond Authement, CABL Chairman 2008

Dr. Raymond Authement was in many ways a quiet man. But he was a big leader. To say he came from humble beginnings is an understatement. He grew up in Boudreaux Canal along Little Bayou Caillou near Cocodrie in rural Terrebonne Parish. He was the first in his family to attend college and in 1950 he graduated from Southwestern Louisiana Institute with a degree in physics. Twenty-three years later, he became the fifth president of that school which was called the University of Southwestern Louisiana at the time before he helped transform it into the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

While Dr. Authement was a champion of changing the name of the university to UL-Lafayette, he actually changed much more than that. When he became president, the university was seen as a regional school without much reach outside of the Acadiana area. He had a vision for something much bigger. By placing a strong focus on research and computer science, UL-Lafayette became recognized as a high activity research institution by the Carnegie Foundation, with a national and international reputation.

He was also a leader in the Lafayette community and helped to diversify its economy in the wake of the oil bust of the 1980s. When he retired in 2009, he had been president for 36 years and was the longest serving leader of a public university in the country. As chairman of CABL in 2008, he helped us strengthen our focus on education and that has had a lasting impact on our organization and our state.

Dr. James Peltier, CABL Chairman 1986

Dr. James Peltier is well-recognized as a leader in Thibodaux and the Lafourche Parish area where he lived, but he was also a great asset to the state.

He is well-known for his love for LSU and the fact that at different times he led the LSU Board of Supervisors, the LSU Foundation, and the LSU Alumni Association.

He was also CABL board chairman in 1986. It was a time of transition for the organization and he and a few other board members had a vision for CABL that redefined who we were in ways that, back then, probably no one could imagine.

Dr. Peltier saw CABL as an organization that was pushing positive change in Louisiana. He also saw the potential to expand that work by creating a statewide program that brought together current and emerging leaders from across Louisiana and expose them to the riches, challenges, and opportunities of our state.

That idea gave birth to Leadership Louisiana. Today, more than 30 years later, it’s still going strong. The program now has more than 1,300 alumni from every corner of Louisiana. They include a governor, Supreme Court justices, statewide elected officials, legislators, CEOs, and countless business and civic leaders who have made real differences in their communities and the state.

In visiting with him over the years, we know he considered the creation of Leadership Louisiana as a proud accomplishment among many great things he did during his life. We appreciate his vision, the legacy he has left for CABL, and his contributions to the betterment of our state.

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