By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE – Louisiana College President Rick Brewer announced Dec. 1 the school’s plans to start three new programs, and shared details about a matching gift opportunity for alums, saying Louisiana College has much to be thankful for heading into the Christmas season.
During the press conference held in the Granberry Conference Center, Brewer told the crowd about the development of programs for students to attain a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Social Work. The school also hopes to offer an online RN to MSN program, which will enroll registered nurses practicing with an associate degree in nursing or hospital diploma.
These new programs could accept students as early as next fall, pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges.
“Our academic leaders in this room have been working on these for several months and we’ve identified a need in our region and are trusting that these programs will help us meet that need,” Brewer said.
He also explained that two of the proposed degrees will receive funding thanks to a Healthcare Occupations Program Grant from the Rapides Foundation. The Master of Science in Social Work will get $554,146 while the Bachelor of Science in Nursing will garner $54,436. The degree offerings are part of the school’s Vision 2020 plan, which strives to raise $20 million and enroll 1,500 students by 2020.
Representatives from the two largest hospitals in the region said the new programs will help address a growing need in the medical field.
Nancy Hellyer, CEO of Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital, said many times young people leave central Louisiana to earn degrees in these areas.
“Millenials are becoming the largest workforce,” Hellyer said, “and we know the number one thing they want is career preparation, or they’ll leave.
“If we’re able to offer in our community a very solid program such as this one,” she said, “it really will make all the difference for Christus Cabrini.”
Rapides Regional Medical Center CEO Jason Cobb thanked the school for its vision.
“It’s a great day for Louisiana College, it’s a great day for your students, and it’s a great day for the community, and especially in the healthcare arena,” Cobb said. “So we thank you for letting us be a small part of it. We’re looking forward to what it becomes for this community.”
Brewer also said that the school has struck an agreement with Union University in Jackson, Tenn., that gives qualified Louisiana College graduates preferred applicant applicant status – any chemistry graduate with a GPA of at least 3.0 will be given preferred status for admission into the sister school’s program.
“We are pleased and thrilled in that and honored to be associated with Union, a benchmark institution.
We are grateful they would partner with us,” Brewer said.
Brewer closed the press conference with an announcement that an anonymous donor has given $100,000 to challenge other alums and friends of the school to match the gift.
The intent is to advance the ongoing efforts for campus beautification and facility enhancements.
Since late May, 17 of 18 school buildings have received new roofs, and some facilities have received interior upgrades.
Brewer said they are receiving checks daily, ranging from $10 to $5,000.
“It’s not equal gifts,” Brewer said. “But it’s equal sacrifice, equal participation.
“We can all give something, whether it’s 10 bucks or 20,” he said. “I don’t mind asking, because we’re asking for something fantastic.”