On March 5, 2015, Louisiana College’s Board of Trustees unanimously elected Dr. Rick Brewer as LC’s ninth president. On April 7th, Brewer officially took office. Brewer told the LC family he would “listen, learn and lead”. He met with small groups on campus that represented LC’s various academic and administrative leaders and students. From Tennessee to Texas and across Louisiana, Brewer met with alumni, preached, led worship, played piano concerts, and met with pastors, parents and prospective students—all the while, listening.
Undaunted by former problems at LC, Brewer used the listening sessions for assessment, planning and developing rebuilding strategies. “I discovered a vast group of people who love Louisiana College deeply, and who are willing to move the college forward again,” he said. LC’s stakeholders have rallied around Brewer, adopting his vision for preparing graduates and transforming lives. Since Brewer’s arrival, the college has received more than $5 million in gifts, in addition to funds received through the Cooperative Program of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, an avenue of support for which he is grateful.
Right away, Brewer and his administrative team answered accreditation concerns, and LC’s probation was lifted December 2015. Brewer focused on faith integration: “Our goal is to ensure students gain maturity of intellect and maturity of Christian character,” he said. “If we fail at either, we have failed at both.” Brewer developed faith integration training workshops for LC faculty, staff, and coaches, and emphasized faith integration in LC’s hiring processes and the newly instituted requirement for faculty and staff to attend chapel.
Restructuring his senior leadership team, Brewer assigned enrollment management responsibilities to Dr. Brandon Bannon, vice president for student development. LC’s 2015 spring preview day garnered about 36 attendees. The spring 2016 event drew more than 100 prospective students along with their families.
Brewer hired Dr. Marilyn Cooksey to lead LC’s School of Nursing, “who demonstrates true academic excellence coupled with a biblical commitment to compassionate care,” he said.
Launching a Board of Visitors last summer, Brewer effectively has built a coalition of alumni, professionals, business leaders, pastors and other friends of LC committed to support a scholarship fund that goes wholly and solely to qualified students. Several LC staff and faculty have joined the effort that now has more than 80 members. Though students will benefit from the BOV’s scholarship fund, the “total impact of our BOV members is priceless as they pray for the college, mentor students, and serve as ambassadors for LC,” Brewer said.
Brewer hired Reni Mason, head men’s basketball coach. Mason took the Wildcats to their first-ever conference championship game in his first year. “Reni is equally committed to the academic, athletic and spiritual development of our student-athletes,” Brewer said.
Last fall, Brewer inked an agreement, along with Dr. Les Guice, president of Louisiana Tech, that provides qualified students the opportunity to gain two bachelor’s degrees in five years. Students may complete a pre-Engineering degree at LC before matriculating to Louisiana Tech. Likewise, LC and University Academy—a local, independent high school—signed a dual enrollment agreement allowing UA students to attend classes at LC.
Brewer has improved college facilities and infrastructure. Residence halls have been remodeled, roads repaired, air conditioning units and roofs replaced, and new greenery surrounds the college’s fountain. “All of these efforts represent a cohesive strategy to prepare graduates and transform lives,” said Brewer, while noting his gratitude for his senior administrative staff. “I am also grateful for LC’s Board of Trustees, who have wholeheartedly embraced our mission and vision,” Brewer said.
Throughout his travels, Brewer continues to meet people who express their appreciation for his arrival at LC and for the course he has set. “I cannot count the number of personal comments, letters, phone calls, emails, cards and letters from those who endorse what we are doing at Louisiana College,” he said. “The frequency, diversity and sincerity of such approval tell me we are heading in the right direction.”
“Cathy and I thank God for all of these accomplishments. Greater than all of these, however, are the students who have recommitted their lives to Christ or have come to faith in Christ for the first time. God is at work at Louisiana College, and we are both humbled and grateful for what he is doing.”