I want to know what President Savoie's GPA was. I also want to know what Mayor-President Durel scored on the ACT, and I want to know where Congressman Landry graduated in his class at USL.

Mind you, I don't want to embarrass them. To the contrary, I want to hold them up as exemplars. We put a lot of emphasis on GPAs, ACTs & class rankings. Why? Here are three people who collectively have been highly successful citizens, civic and political leaders, and businessmen. Who cares about their academic credentials?

Apparently, the University and the state care-- very, very much. The State pays many millions of dollars every year to cover tuition for those students who have good grades and test scores. Thereafter, the University holds those students up as the best we produce.

But why? When President Savoie was a candidate to lead the University, no one asked him what his high school, college or graduate grades were. I can't imagine anyone asked those things of Vice Presidents Twilley, Leblanc or Ardoin. So how can we say these things are of paramount important for our students, if they're not the least bit important for our University leaders?

Because they really aren't important at all. Research has shown for decades that academic success is a lousy predictor of success in later life. The ability to take tests predicts one, and exactly one, thing.

The ability to take tests.

And it goes both ways. I have worked with various doctors, lawyers and other professionals who had first rate academic credentials. Sure, some of them were good. But some were downright dangerous. And I have known many professionals with mediocre academic achievements, who are first rate practitioners, executives and leaders.

I remember reading that Robert E. Lee graduated second in his class at West Point. I, like many people, immediately wondered, What did the guy who graduated first go on to do? If my memory serves me, he went on to become an insurance executive in New York. So much for class rankings.

These concerns are critical right now. The Governor, the Legislature, the Regents and the Boards of Supervisors are all putting great pressure on our educational system to produce more, and 'better prepared' graduates. Which, by the current metrics we are using, means better grades and ACT scores. Which means...


I've given the once-over to UL's Strategic Plan . For des Americains, the consultants did an OK job, I guess. I want to reread it carefully, but I immediately noted one glaring omission in it.

Right now, we are building the Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development in the UL Research Park. Correction: we are building the Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning in the Research Park. So where is the 'lifelong learning' goal in our Strategic Plan? It's mentioned in the explanatory text, and many of the goals imply and vaguely target lifelong learning. But it is never explicitly mentioned as one of our goals in the extended list. That goal isn't listed for our students.

More concerning to my mind, it also isn't listed as a goal for our community. At no point does the document even hint that the role of the University is to inculcate lifelong learning in our community and our state, even though we constantly encourage our faculty and students to involve the larger community in culture and learning. Consider the University Art Museum, the UL Press, the Acadiana Symphony, the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Festival International, Festivals Acadiens, and many other community enhancements that were founded wholly or partly by University faculty. All of those are directed toward the intellectual enrichment of our community. And yet, we don't list community lifelong learning as a goal. Considering the unusually close relationship UL has with Acadiana, that's a pretty big oversight. Because lifelong learning is not just a worthy goal.

It's the primary goal.

Right now, the political powers that be are arguing loudly for 'workforce development'. I wonder if this isn't a problem that happens when too many businessmen are running state government. It's said that when you're a hammer, the whole world is a nail. Well, I suppose that when you're a businessman, the whole world is either an employee or a customer.