UL Lafayette announced today that Vice President for Student Affairs Raymond "Coach" Blanco has retired after more than four decades at the university. Blanco, who oversees both student affairs and the university's physical plant department (campus maintenance), has stepped down as VP but will continue his duties in the physical plant until Jan. 1, 2009. The 72-year-old was making $127,000 a year.

Dean of Students Ed Pratt will serve as interim VP while the university searches for a permanent replacement for Blanco.

Blanco served the university during the administrations of four of its six presidents and is often referred to as “Coach” or “Dean Blanco” by former students. He joined the university in December 1962 as assistant head football coach and defensive coordinator. During his six-year coaching tenure, the team had five winning seasons and won two conference championships. In 1969, Blanco was tapped to serve in the dean of men’s office and led student affairs through the turbulent times of the Vietnam era.  Blanco later became dean of students and was soon promoted to vice president for student affairs. He later took on the additional responsibility of overseeing the university’s physical plant.

“During my 46-year career at the university, I have watched the evolution of student life on campus from integration to student protests of the war, to the current era of instant communication,” says Blanco. “But the one thing that has remained constant is that kids want to be respected and they want to know someone cares about them. We were able to deal with difficult times because we listened, we communicated, and we truly cared about kids.”

“Coach gave me my first opportunity to become a university administrator,” says UL President E. Joseph Savoie. “He was one of my first mentors and taught me to be sensitive to students and their needs. I will always treasure his loyalty and friendship.  Over his many years of service, he has also mentored dozens of college administrators that are now serving on campuses across the state. Many of the remarkable things he has done at the university have gone unnoticed but have had a lasting impact on many students, faculty, and staff.”

During the budget cuts of the 1980s and ’90s, Blanco oversaw the development of an energy management program to reduce electrical and fuel costs for the university. It now generates a savings of more than $1 million annually.

Adds Blanco: “Sooner or later all things must end, and it is now time for me to focus on other things in my life. As I prepare to leave the university, I am truly excited about the new administration and the direction the university will take. I had the opportunity to hire Dr. Savoie some 30 years ago, and I have watched his career with great admiration and pride. The university  family and the community are excited about the future of the university and under Dr. Savoie’s leadership, they have every right to be.”

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