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Contact: Christine Payton FEB. 17, 2012
(337) 482-6397, payton@louisiana.edu
Gov. Bobby Jindal joined statewide elected officials, school administrators and special guests for the opening the new home of the Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Research Park.

Briefly reviewing his education reform plan for the upcoming legislative session, Gov. Jindal also mentioned the Picard Center as a key component in his plan with its competency of high-quality research on children from birth into the workforce.

“Cecil Picard was a champion of using proven methods to ensure school accountability, and a staunch advocate of strong pre-K programs that prepare our students for the classroom. I know that the research conducted here will honor Cecil’s goal of improving our education system by evaluating programs being implemented across the state. This center is about more than just bricks and mortar, it’s about making sure we give all of our children the tools to succeed and pursue their dreams here at home,” he said.

The Picard Center is an important source of data and analysis on education, children’s health, poverty’s effect on families, and lifelong learning.

The establishment of the center is credited to Picard, a former state legislator and former state superintendent, and Loyd J. Rockhold, a Baton Rouge entrepreneur and founder of the Special Children’s Foundation, both of whom are deceased.

The ribbon cutting follows an 18-month construction on the $5.6 million, 40,000-square-foot facility. Staff moved into the building in September 2011. The new Picard Center building is located beside the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) Center on East Devalcourt Street, as an integral part of UL Lafayette’s Research Park.

“ It is humbling to celebrate this wonderful facility today and recognize what an honor it is to be the culminating reality of the visions Cecil Picard and Loyd Rockhold had for Louisiana’s children,” says Dr. Billy R. Stokes, executive director of the Picard Center.

The complex houses 80 offices, which includes the entire Picard Center operation, in addition to UL Lafayette’s Educational Counseling unit, the Center for Innovative Learning and Assessment Technologies, the Educational Foundation and Leadership Department, the Center for Gifted Education, and the Department of Psychology.

The building features a museum-quality room honoring Cecil J. Picard and highlighting his lifelong contributions to education. The room will be open to the general public during university hours. The building also includes a data analysis room that can display numerous data sources simultaneously, and the Loyd Rockhold Distance Education and Conference Center, which can hold up to 250 individuals and has distance learning and video conferencing capabilities.

UL Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie noted, “Both Cecil and Loyd recognized the value of university research to inform and evaluate programs designed to help children succeed. They saw an opportunity to benefit from UL Lafayette’s research expertise in these areas and were instrumental in relocating the center here.”

Since the Picard Center’s establishment at UL Lafayette in 2005, it has brought more than $40 million into the university, through contracts, state appropriations, capital construction dollars and foundation contributions.

Some of the current initiatives for the center include working with school districts to implement comprehensive birth-to-five programs in their areas, provide surveillance on the nutrition and fitness levels of Louisiana’s children, and develop electronic school health record capacity to improve communication with all health care providers in their communities.

“It is said that true selflessness is planting a seed and knowing you will never enjoy the shade or fruit of that tree. Although Lloyd Rockhold and my father did not get to enjoy the shade of this tree, the children of Louisiana will benefit from its fruits for many generations to come,” said Tyron Picard, son of Cecil Picard.

Sharon Holder, president of the Special Children’s Foundation and daughter of Rockhold, remarked, “My father would be so proud. This center was so special to him, and I know he’s smiling right now.”

Document last revised Friday, February 17, 2012 12:32 PM

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