His voice breaking with emotional intensity, Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard announced during a June 27 press conference staged in front of the fountain at the center of the college’s front lawn that “we will be able to offer masters degrees across all divisions in our institution.”
PINEVILLE – His voice breaking with emotional intensity, Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard announced during a June 27 press conference staged in front of the fountain at the center of the college’s front lawn that “we will be able to offer masters degrees across all divisions in our institution.”
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Commission on Colleges informed Aguillard the previous afternoon that LC had been granted Level 3 academic standing, which allows a college or university to confer graduate degrees.
“This did not happen by itself, but through the efforts of some people who worked so diligently, so faithfully,” Aguillard said. He read from the Old Testament book of Joel, chapter 2, about reclaiming the years the locusts have eaten, and then said, “I know the Lord has His hand on Louisiana College.”
The effort to gain Level 3 academic standing took five years and three tries, said Michael Shamblin EdD, assistant professor of education and chairman of the education department during much of the approval process.
“Dr. Aguillard wrote the first proposal; it was 600 pages long,” Shamblin said. It was rejected in 2004 because SACS determined the college was not financially stable, Aguillard said. The second try was 400 pages long. It was deferred in 2007 for additional information. For the third try, the college brought in Don Crump of Tuscaloosa, Ala., a former vice president at the University of Alabama.
“Dr. Crump really helped us focus,” Shamblin said. “He was very helpful to us. We’re not unintelligent people, but it sometimes helps to bring in a professional.”
The third proposal was 250 concisely-written pages.
“We were up here over Easter break, writing this, and Dr. Aguillard was right here with us,” Shamblin said. “You’ve got to give credit to that kind of involvement.”
LC felt a responsibility to its students and its state to provide masters-level education, Shamblin said.
“We felt like we were missing opportunities to serve our students and the community by not having a masters’ program,” Shamblin said. “Our instructors all have doctorates in education, plus classroom experience, and they teach a Christian worldview.”
The first masters degree to be offered is to be a Master of Arts degree in education, specifically for students who are in the TEACH program, which is a certification program that requires 21 hours of study past the baccalaureate degree.
Anyone who has graduated from the LC Teacher Education Alternate Certification program, or who is in the TEACH program, is eligible to enroll in LC’s Master of Arts degree in education course of study, which entails yet another 21 hours of study past TEACH certification. “Teaching with significance” is the first course to be taught. It begins July 7.
“This means anybody ever certified through TEACH is immediately eligible to begin work on this Master of Arts degree in education,” Shamblin said. “We have thousands of teachers who have earned their credentials at Louisiana College. We have taught them to not just survive but to thrive in education. … These are teachers who not only love students, but love the subjects they teach.”
John Cady of Pineville was one of about 50 students in attendance for the press conference.
“I’m a student with the TEACH program,” Cady said in the moments before the press conference started. “I’m here to hear what they have to say. I’d like it if they tied a masters degree into the TEACH program.”
Other masters degrees are on the horizon, Aguillard said.
A Master of Science degree in Athletic Training is to start next summer. St. Frances Cabrini Hospital has agreed to pay the tuition of the first 14 students to enter this program, Aguillard said.
Among other masters degrees being discussed: guidance and counseling, social work, and business administration, Aguillard listed from the forefront of his memory. LC also is studying the feasibility of a nurse anesthetist program.
“This has been years of writing, submitting and praying,” Aguillard said. “We will be the only institution of higher education offering graduate programs in central Louisiana.”
Individuals interesting in applying for the Master’s of Arts in Teaching degree should contact the Louisiana College Teacher Education Department at 318.487.7302.