The honors building, which was built in 1927 as a boy’s dorm, had a functional third floor until it was refurbished in 2001, according to Julia Frederick, Ph.D., director of the Honors Program.
Frederick said during the renovations, the university “basically ran out of money,” and the third floor was never remodeled. Some areas of the upper level are still exposed to the elements during the year, she said.
“It’s basically become a storage dump for us because we don’t have a lot of storage here,” Frederick said.
In an effort to restore the upstairs space, the Honors Program reintroduced their fundraising event, the Soireé d’Execellence.
The Soireé d’Excellence’s inaugural year was 2014. It is a way to raise money to rebuild the third floor for students. The Honors Program raised about $5,000 in 2014, after deducting costs of the event.
It takes about $2,000 to put on the event, Frederick said.
The following year, 2015, did not see the event because the Honors Program was busy hosting the Louisiana Collegiate Honors Conference, said Katie Wappel, a member of the events planning committee.
Wappel said they decided to have the event again this year because the third floor is still “problematic.”
“They still want to have use for it, and that’s what the gala is for – to raise money for the third floor campaign,” Wappel said.
The money for the third floor comes from the tickets sold for the soireé. A ticket costs $50 and the night includes dinner, silent auctions and guest speakers explaining why the Honors Program is important.
According to Wappel, only about 50 tickets were sold this year, though the committee was hoping to see about 100-200 sold.
Two attendees, Jim and Ruth Moncus, have donated scholarships for honors students since 2010. Ruth Moncus said they donate money because the honors program needs it and she knows the students will graduate.
“I think (being in honors) gives (students) a better chance of getting a good job,” Jim Moncus said.
Frederick said the master plan for the third floor will cost about $650,000. The plan is to create a few different rooms including a Rickels memorial library, dedicated to the founder of the Honors Program, Patricia Rickels, Ph.D.
“Pat was 30 years here at honors; she built this program from the ground up in many, many ways,” Frederick said.
A learning center, a pullout stage and a media workshop for computer projects will also be available to students.
“They can do whatever it is that they need in this digital age to create electronic media that they use now,” Frederick said.
Frederick said she would like to have the third floor finished within the next five years.