By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE – Louisiana College has launched a program that not only provides financial aid to students but gives them possible real-world business experience in a variety of fields.
The newly-formed Board of Visitors is comprised of alumni, business owners and other professionals and friends of LC who are giving between $1,000 and $10,000 annually for four years. During their four-year commitment, the members will help the students find internships, network for the college, help develop additional financial resources and help refer prospective students to LC.
LC President Rick Brewer, who said the initial goal was to sign up 25 members by Sept. 1, who would contribute at one of four levels: Board of Visitor, $1,000; Leadership Council, $2,500; Executive Council, $5,000; and the President’s Council, $10,000. But they surpassed that goal when the formation of the Board of Visitors was announced on Oct. 6. Forty-four have signed up. The initial success prompted Brewer to set a goal of 50 members before the end of the fall semester.
“It has the ability to transform a student’s life,” said Brewer, who saw success with the same model when he was on staff at Charleston Southern University before coming to LC. “Closing the affordability gap – that’s the biggest thing this can do for us.”
Byron McGee, LC’s vice president for institutional advancement, said during his 30 years of experience in the enrollment area of the school, some prospective students were unable to attend because their parents did not have the money needed. With the formation of the Board of Visitors, McGee believes those situations could be less common.
“This is going make a huge difference in our ability to close the deal for students who want to be here, to get that Christian education, to be here for all the right reasons and not have to settle for somewhere else just because of a few hundred dollars,” McGee said. “So again you might not think that extra thousand a year will make a difference. I’m telling you, it’s going to make a huge difference in the lives of the students.”
The Board of Visitors members will have the opportunity to meet some of the students who benefit from the money they will give for scholarships during an annual luncheon. These donors will “enjoy a meal and fellowship with some of the finest college students on the planet,” Brewer said.
In addition to donating money for scholarships, Brewer said he is elated that the Board of Visitors will provide internship opportunities for some students. The Board of Visitors members are involved in such industries as agriculture, banking, education, health care, law agriculture, local government and ministry.
“I’ve met each of these folk who have joined this Board of Visitors and others who have yet to join, and there’s not a single one of these people I wouldn’t want our kids to be around,” Brewer said. “Every one of them are powerful men and women of great experience, powerful mentors, leaders, people who exemplify what we want Louisiana College students to be like, look like and live out life.”
Around half of the Board of Visitors members are alumni of the college. These include two members of the Class of 1981 – Mike Johnson, an attorney from Pineville, and Paula Halle, owner of Alexandria/Pineville Travel.
“In our small part, hopefully we’ll let students that are here and in the future to establish those relationships and make those wonderful friendship I made at Louisiana College and be prepared to go out into the business world or teaching or whatever their hearts desire,” Halle said. “So I hope that that will be my part in doing this.”
Johnson said this is a way to support the future of students at LC.
“I don’t see any reason why this group doesn’t double in a year or triple when they find out what we’re doing,” he said. “There’s too much here not to support the young people who are coming up here in the future that they will build for this scholarship for the next hundred years.”
For more information on joining the Board of Visitors, call 318.487.7118.