The B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration broke ground Wednesday for a facility that will help its students gain real-world business experience without leaving the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus.
A $2.5 million gift from Lafayette businessman Michael P. Maraist, a 1971 business administration graduate, will fund the initial construction of the Maraist Financial Services Lab.
Using the latest technology, the lab will enable students to acquire hands-on experience in portfolio management, financial strategy and analysis. It will also provide data resources and statistical tools to enrich research opportunities for business students, faculty and the community.
“We are very proud to assist in the creation of this innovative new project,” Maraist said. “Our goal is to see a facility that teaches students leadership, service and dedication as well as providing them with an excellent education.”
Members of his family – including his 100-year-old mother, Gertrude, a 1939 graduate of the then-Southwestern Louisiana Institute – joined Maraist during the groundbreaking. Also taking part were faculty and administrators from the Moody College of Business Administration and University President Dr. Joseph Savoie.
“This facility is going to serve our students for generations to come,” Savoie said.
Construction on the Maraist Lab is expected to take about a year. The renovation of existing space and the addition of 1,000 feet of new construction will provide a high-tech learning environment in F.G. Mouton Hall. It also will alter the building’s façade, which faces the University’s Quadrangle.
Inside the lab, tickers will deliver up-to-the-second reports from Wall Street. Digital displays will flash breaking business news headlines. Students will learn, in real time, how financial markets work by utilizing state-of-the-art equipment to undertake projects similar to those that business professionals confront every day.
“The Maraist lab exemplifies the Moody College of Business Administration’s commitment to experiential learning, which counters the often-theoretical nature of classroom instruction with real-world scenarios and case studies,” said Dr. Gwen Fontenot, the college’s interim dean.
Students who engage in practical coursework are better prepared to confront the demands of the job market, which results in more profitability for their employers.