LAFAYETTE, LA — The Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on Thursday unveiled two bronze sculptures of the center’s namesake, former State Superintendent Cecil J. Picard, and Loyd J. Rockhold, the center’s major donor.
“Following our grand opening just more than a year ago, unveiling the sculptures of these two great visionaries is the finishing touch for the Picard Center,” said Executive Director Dr. Billy R. Stokes. “For the families of Cecil Picard and Loyd Rockhold and for our staff of researchers at the Picard Center, the sculptures enshrine the ideas, focus and vision of both men, who devoted their lives and careers to improving outcomes for our state’s most vulnerable children.”
Tyron Picard, son of Cecil Picard, and his sons John and David unveiled a life-sized bronze sculpture by Patrick Miller titled “Cecil Picard and Children.” The sculpture, situated outside the front entrance of the Center, depicts Picard seated on a bench reading to a young girl seated on his left and a young boy standing on his right. The book featured in the sculpture is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, which was used with permission by The Eric Carle Studio. The book was a favorite of the Picard family, and Picard often read it with his own children and grandchildren and with students in the classrooms he visited as State Superintendent of Education.
A second sculpture by Miller, a bust of Loyd J. Rockhold, was unveiled by Sharon Holder, Rockhold’s daughter. The bust is a feature of the Picard Center’s lobby, situated in an alcove outside of the Loyd J. Rockhold Distance Learning Center, a meeting space equipped with state-of-the-art video-conferencing equipment and capacity for up to 200.
Jerry Luke LeBlanc, UL Lafayette Vice President of Administration and Finance, welcomed the crowd of about 100 close family and friends to the campus. Monsignor Keith DeRouen led the invocation.
As State Superintendent of Education, Picard created LA4, Louisiana’s nationally-acclaimed early childhood program, to provide high-quality prekindergarten for at-risk four-year-olds. He also helped develop and implement Louisiana’s Accountability Program, which is ranked as one of the top programs in the nation.
Picard began his career as teacher, coach and principal, and served for 20 years in the Louisiana House of Representatives and Senate.
Rockhold is the founder of the Special Children’s Foundation, which works to better the lives of children and individuals with developmental disabilities. He established the Loyd J. Rockhold Center for Child Development, which was relocated from New Orleans to the UL Lafayette campus in 2005. Rockhold and his family renamed the center in honor of Picard, who died in 2007 following a two-year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Rockhold’s foundation donated initial funding for the construction Picard Center’s new building, which was completed in September 2011. The Rockhold’s also established two endowed chairs and an endowed professorship to ensure that the Center’s research in early childhood education and health would continue to flourish. Rockhold died in 2010 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s and prostate cancer.