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Dr. William Arceneaux
On the photo of the founder of CODOFIL, we read the following dedication: "4/11/84. To my dear and esteemed friend Wm "Bill" Arceneaux, the true Educational leader of the State who has also the responsibility of saving the French language for Louisiana and the U.S.A. James Domengeaux, CODOFIL" With such a mark of confidence, we discern his designation as the rightful heir. However, it took almost 27 years for him to become its fourth president. In the meantime, he built an impressive career in the world of education before finally turning fully to the preservation of French in Louisiana.
Originally from the town of Scott, Arceneaux became a historian with degrees from USL and LSU. From this latter university, he obtained a Ph.D. in History and Politics in Latin America in 1969. Three years later he was appointed Executive Director of the Louisiana Coordinating Council for Higher Education. In three more years, he was appointed Commissioner of Higher Education to the Louisiana Board of Regents, a post he held until 1987. Then, for 20 years, he served as president of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He is the only person to have represented both the interests of public and private universities in Louisiana and the United States.
During these years, he worked with many professional organizations directly or indirectly involved in promoting the French language in education. If that was not enough, he also ensured the interests of students borrowing money by serving on the Sallie Mae commission. President Clinton even appointed him president from 1993 to 1997. When Governor Jindal chose Arceneaux as president of CODOFIL in January 2011, he had already drawn up, as did Domengeaux before him, an admirable professional record. Nonetheless, he still had a lot of projects in mind.
As our international partners made clear to him on assuming the post, it was time for Louisiana to start weaning itself off the foreign teachers that these governments had so generously provided us from the beginning. His talents as a historian and leader in education were in full swing when he created "L'Escadrille Louisiane," a program to train more Louisiana French teachers. Named in memory of "L'Escadrille Lafayette," a group of 200 American pilots who volunteered in France during the Great War, France welcomes every year, thanks to this exchange, Louisianians who teach English, and, at the same time, who work towards a Louisiana certification in French. There are already alumni in our French immersion classes.
Since Arceneaux’s arrival, immersion programs have been expanding once again with the recent addition of Pointe Coupée and Evangeline parishes. It took time, but Domengeaux's prophecy seems to be coming true, putting CODOFIL on the right path for its next fifty years.