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Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a recipient of an honorary doctorate of liberal arts, is hooded by University of Louisiana at Lafayette President Joseph Savoie during the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Fall Commencement General Assembly Friday, December 15, 2017, at the Cajundome in Lafayette, La.

The University of Louisiana-Lafayette plans to open a public policy center in honor of former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who graduated from the university in 1964.

Plans call for the center to open next year in the Dupre Library, with $2.7 million in funding coming primarily from private gifts, according to a news release.

The center will contribute independent research focused on criminal justice reform, poverty and economic issues, governmental ethics and education, according to the news release.

“Gov. Blanco championed these issues throughout her career,” said Jordan Kellman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, in the news release.

Kellman said the center will draw on expertise of UL faculty, as well as scholars from around the country “who will gather data and offer nonpartisan analysis to confront challenges facing our state and nation.”

The center will also house Blanco’s gubernatorial papers, which she preserved with the help of an archivist. Blanco donated 90 boxes of files, including those pertaining to recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.

“By directing her staff members to retain their records, she ensured that future generations would have an unparalleled vantage point from which to view an extraordinary period in Louisiana’s recent past,” Kellman said.

Blanco, who was governor from 2004-08, lives in Lafayette.

Her husband, Raymond Blanco, was a longtime administrator at UL-Lafayette.

Follow Ben Myers on Twitter, @blevimyers.