The College of Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences was officially formed on July 1, 1974 by transferring selected departments from the College of Liberal Arts; however, it continued to be administered by the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts until Dr. David R. Andrew was appointed as first Dean of the college on May 15, 1975. Departments forming the college at its inception were Aerospace Studies (ROTC), Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics, Microbiology with a sub-unit of Medical Records Science, and Physics. About 86 percent of the faculty held the Ph.D. degree within their fields at that time.
These departments serviced all students in the university who were following a curriculum which required science courses. They also provided professional education and training in specific degree programs offered at the time. The Biology Department offered degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Biology, Botany, Wild Life Management and Zoology. The departments of Chemistry and Physics offered a single degree program in their areas. The Computer Science department offered two degree programs; one with emphasis on applications of computer technology to the business community and one emphasizing applications to the science and engineering community. The Mathematics and Statistics Department offered a degree in each field. The Microbiology Department offered degree programs in Microbiology, Medical Technology and Medical Records Science. Programs in the departments of Biology, Chemistry and Microbiology were frequently chosen by students who planned to attend medical and dental schools and allied health professional programs at other universities.
As time passed, departments changed degree programs, new departments were formed, departments merged and one department was moved from the College of Engineering to the College of Science. The Aerospace program was discontinued by the U.S. Air Force as part of the reduction in armed forces in 1990. Training of future reserve officers for the U.S. Army was introduced in collaboration with the U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training program.
The Biology Department began to offer the Ph.D. in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology in 1983. The Board of Regents, after a review of all biology programs within the state by an external consultants committee, awarded the department a commendation for the strength of its program. It was the only Biology Department within the state to receive such recognition. The Microbiology Department was merged into the Biology Department in 1992 and the Medical Technology degree program was converted to a three year transfer program. Students received their degree from the institution to which they transferred. In 1995, after an extensive review of programs, the biology faculty replaced them with new programs entitled Biology, Resource and Biodiversity, a revised program in Microbiology and a Pre Medical Technology transfer program.
The Chemistry Department is approved by the Committee on Professional Training of the American Chemical Society to offer a degree program certified by the Society. Students are certified by the Society after graduation. The curriculum has changed to introduce flexible course work substitutions for students to pursue careers where chemistry is important but not as a chemist. In 1992, the Louisiana Board of Regents ordered the termination of the M.S. program as part of its campaign to reduce duplication of graduate programs at nearby universities. Faculty have since formed collaborative groups with faculty in other departments.
The Computer Science Department initially offered B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs. The Center for Advanced Computer Studies, CACS, was formed in 1984 to give greater recognition to one of the first and strongest graduate programs in computer science in the south. Both units were managed by the same person until 1988. CACS received authorization to offer the Ph.D. in Computer Engineering in 1986. While the administration of CACS remained under the College of Sciences, faculty members in the Electrical Engineering Department became members of the advisory committee and taught graduate courses. In 1988, on the recommendation of the Computer Science Accreditation Board, CSAB, the Computer Science Department became independent of CACS to place emphasis on education at the undergraduate level. It recruited faculty for that purpose although faculty in CACS taught some courses at the undergraduate level. In 1999 the faculty changed to one degree program with concentrations in cognitive science, human-computer interaction, management information systems and scientific computing. The department has been accredited by CSAB since the formation of the accrediting organization.
The Geology Department was transferred from the College of Engineering to the College of Sciences in 1993 and continues to offer B.S. and M.S. programs. The curricula was modified in 1999 to offer one degree in geology with concentrations in environmental geology and petroleum geology. Faculty work in areas frequently discussed in local, national, and international political conversations related to coastal erosion and warming of the planet.
In 1985 Mathematics and Statistics became two distinct departments each offering B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees. In 1996 the B.S. program in statistics was incorporated into the B.S. program in mathematics because degree requirements were very similar. In 1997 the graduate statistics program was incorporated into the mathematics graduate program and the departments were rejoined as the Mathematics Department. Faculty research is focused in pure mathematics, applied mathematics and statistics.
The Medical Records Science sub-unit of the Microbiology Department became independent in 1992 and the name was changed to Health Information Management to conform to a name change of the profession association. It is periodically reviewed by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs, CAHEA, and has been accredited since the first graduates completed the program in 1965. In 2011 Health Information Management became a unit in the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.
The Physics Department has adjusted course work to balance the emphasis in classical physics and applied physics. Undergraduate and graduate students now receive a broader education on the applications of physics principles to practical problems in industrial processes with emphasis on medical physics, molecular biology, engineering and computer science. This focus has brought significant grant funding for projects in materials science and geophysics. Several faculty members are in the forefront of research in astrophysics.
The college name was changed from the College of Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences to simply the College of Sciences when the Geology Department was moved from the College of Engineering. Until 1997 only one Ph.D. program in the University was not within the College of Sciences. Increased emphasis in recruiting graduate students capable of completing requirements for the Ph.D. and an increased number of graduate assistantships resulted in an increased production of Ph.D. graduates in the late 1980's. In 1989 the university was classified as a Doctoral II institution. Departments with Ph.D. programs have continued to grow in size and the Doctoral II status is now well established. Departments administered by the College of Sciences have contributed over 75% of the Ph.D. graduates.
Serious budget cuts to higher education motivated the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to closely examine all colleges, departments, and programs. As a result, beginning in 2010 and continuing through 2011, substantial restructuring of several units within the Ray P. Authement College took place. The rationale of this restructuring was to leverage existing resources in such a way as to make possible new synergies and higher efficiencies. This led to gains and losses, including departments, degree programs, faculty, staff, and students. Specifically, the Ph.D. Program in Cognitive Science was slated for elimination, the Department of Health Information Management was transferred from our College to the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, and two entirely new Schools were formed within our College, namely, the School of Computing and Informatics, and the School of Geosciences.
The foundation of the strength of the college has been a dedicated faculty which expends an enormous amount of energy in promoting the university by being active in their professional organizations, in publishing results of scientific research in regional, national and international journals, in supporting students efforts to excel within their fields of study, by being available for consultation, and by serving on various committees within the university. Participation of faculty as members of editorial boards of professional refereed journals, some as editors, has greatly increased in the past 20 years. A number of faculty also participate as professional visiting evaluators in accreditation reviews of programs at universities in other states.
Five deans have served the College of Sciences:
- David Andrew (1975-1985)
- Sigred Lanoux (1985-1992)
- Duane Blumberg (1992-2001)
- Bradd Clark (2001-2013)
- Azmy S. Ackleh (2013-present)