Submitted by philip on Fri, 04/04/2014 – 09:52
Michael Johnson, an attorney from Shreveport hired in 2010 to be the law school’s founding dean, resigned in Sept., 2012.
By Kelly Boggs, Editor
PINEVILLE – A recent report by Alexandria’s daily newspaper questions not only the fiscal health of Louisiana College, but also the school’s enrollment, especially as it relates to freshmen. Alexandria’s daily newspaper indicates both have seen better days.
The Town Talk report included Information from LC’s most recent 990 tax form, which is from the fiscal year that ended July 31, 2012. The document reveals that while LC generated $29.2 million in revenue it had $30.5 million in expenditures which resulted in a $1.3 million deficit.
The 990 form is an annual reporting return that federally tax-exempt organizations must file with the IRS and is a matter of public record. The most recent LC report via Guidestar for fiscal year ending in July 2012.
For the 2011 fiscal year LC’s 990 reflected a $3.9 million surplus but in 2010 the IRS document showed the college had a $3.6 million deficit and the 2009 report also indicated a shortfall of $3.6 million.
The information concerning LC’s IRS records was obtained via the Internet site of Guidestar. The organization, according to its website, exists “to revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.”
The 990 form for the fiscal year ending in July of 2012 includes expenses related to the remediation and renovation of the Joe D. Waggonner Federal Building in Shreveport. LC announced Feb. 14, 2011, the college’s agreement to purchase the building to serve as the home of the school’s Judge Paul Pressler School of Law.
Expenses incurred in reference to the Waggonner Building project included $2.7 million in asbestos abatement and repairs to the roof, elevators, the HVAC system, electrical and plumbing. The total cost for the project was “a little more than $4.2 million,” according to The Town Talk.
The money spent on revamping the Waggonner Building helps to explain LC’s $1.3 million deficit in the fiscal year ending July 2012.
LC announced April 24, 2013, that the Waggonner Federal Building was going on the market and had been listed with Sealy Real Estate Services LLC, a company specializing in commercial properties with corporate offices in Shreveport and Dallas.
LC has not officially commented on the status of the law school since July 2012. At that time it was revealed the school had been denied its first attempt to gain a level V status from the accrediting organization the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
LC had sought to move from a Level III status to the level V in order to offer degrees at the doctoral level. The first of those degrees, according to LC, would have been the juris doctorate (JD) degree from the law school.
The SACS decision prohibited the college from granting the JD and, in essence, meant the law school was not accredited.
Michael Johnson, an attorney from Shreveport hired in 2010 to be the law school’s founding dean, resigned in Sept., 2012. A statement from LC indicated Johnson had tendered an “amicable resignation” and was “moving on to other endeavors.”
According to the LC news release a national search was to be conducted for a permanent dean. The Shreveport Times reported that Aguillard said Johnson’s resignation could affect the opening date of the law school that, at the time, was planned for Aug. 2013.
In a recently released recording, secretly made by Charles “Chuck” L. Quarles on Aug. 28, 2012, Aguillard mentions Johnson’s resignation. At the time Quarles was Dean of the LC Caskey Divinity School.
“Chuck [Quarles], before we leave, we are going to be re-crafting Mike Johnson’s going away statement,” Aguillard is heard to say on the recording. “’Cause we think it leaves the school vulner able the way he wrote it… we just want it to say, ‘Mike Johnson has been offered this great job and we wish him the best.’ Don’t talk about the law school and what’s left.”
In the fall of 2012 LC launched a $50 million capital campaign that was to span five years.
Highlighted in the campaign was $12 million for student housing needs. At the 2012 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting messengers voted to allow LC to make appeals directly to LBC churches in an effort to raise the money for student housing.
Announcements from LC about the status of the capital campaign have been sparse. The only information the Baptist Message has is several months old when the college said a $10 million pledge had been made and $1.2 million had been received.
Feb. 23 LC promoted a “Pray and Pledge” Sunday where Louisiana Baptists were encouraged to set aside the day to pray for the college and to give or make a promise to give toward the $12 million needed for student housing needs on the campus.
Pray and Pledge took place on Sunday, Feb. 23, and as part of the plan seeking $12 million dollars directly from LBC churches is to be dedicated to student housing needs.
The Baptist Message contacted LC on Wednesday morning, April 2, and asked the following questions:
How is the overall capital campaign coming? How much money has been raised to date? What was the response to the Pray and Pledge Sunday? How much money was raised or pledged as a result of the emphasis?
LC did not respond to the Message’s inquiry by the print deadline for this report at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 3.
Questions concerning LC’s student numbers have recently become an issue. According to The Town Talk, the publication received an anonymous letter, reportedly from an LC faculty member, who indicated enrollment was down, especially in regard to freshmen.
Michael Shamblin, Assistant Dean of Students at LC, responded to The Town Talk report. “After parts of the letter were published… Shamblin included enrollment figures from the registrar’s office in an email to The Town Talk,” the newspaper reported.
Shamblin’s email to Alexandria’s daily newspaper indicated that freshman enrollment for the fall of 2013 was 293, according to The Town Talk. “That is probably average for the last 30 years, Shamblin said, and he [the registrar] is optimistic about next year’s figures,” reported The Town Talk.
“Admissions tells me they are on track for 250-275 (first time freshmen) for fall 2014! Now we hope for 450!” The Town Talk reported Shamblin said in his email.
In an email, previously mentioned in this report, the Baptist Message contacted LC and asked the following questions: What are the enrollment figures for the fall and spring semesters, specifically what are the numbers for undergraduates and what are the figures for graduate programs?
LC did not respond to the Message’s questions by the print deadline for this report at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 3.