Today, more than ever, a higher education may not only set a student on a successful career path, but can prepare the student for a competitive global job market. Albert Einstein once said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” With the world’s economy as it is, a higher education—a key to training the mind to think—continues to be the best investment a student can make in his or her future. In Central Louisiana, students are fortunate to have several colleges and universities to choose from to continue their postsecondary education, including Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana State University at Alexandria, Northwestern State University in Natchitoches or through one of the colleges that offer courses through the Learning Center for Rapides Parish in Alexandria, such as Upper Iowa University.
Dr. Rick Brewer, the president of Louisiana College, says that not only do students recognize that a higher education is a key to opportunity, but that communities and business leaders realize the value of postsecondary education. “A well-educated populace contributes significantly to attract new industry to a community. Students can receive a quality education, both in the public and private colleges, within a 50-mile radius in Central Louisiana,” Brewer notes. With new industries, more jobs are created, which in turn boosts the economy in Cenla. But higher education is more than just a paycheck, college leaders say. It is about increasing critical thinking skills, molding character and building integrity.
Higher education can feed into a person’s heart and soul, Dr. Haywood Joiner, interim chancellor of Louisiana State University of Alexandria, agrees. “Education is the key to one’s future and can be very instrumental in developing character,” he adds. Statistical studies indicate that students who earn a college degree typically engage in more civic involvement, tend to vote, increase personal development, increase their critical thinking skills and have better written and verbal communication skills. In life, the benefits and advantages gleaned through a college education are significant.
Louisiana State University of Alexandria continues to grow and prosper in ways some may have never even imagined only a few short years ago. The university is coming off two straight fall semesters with record 39 percent enrollment growth, along with experiencing a record number of international students, athletes, out-of-state students and highest high school GPA.
Additionally, there are more opportunities for students on campus than ever before. LSUA recently added a student-life coordinator to the staff to continue to make the undergraduate experience the best it can be for both traditional and non-traditional students. Students may also elect to participate in the more than 30 student-based organizations or show off their athletic skills as part of one of the club sports. Currently, LSUA offers four club sports, including golf, rugby, rodeo and pom line. In only their first year, the LSUA Rugby Team won four tournaments and also earned a berth to the National 7’s rugby tournament in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as one of the top eight teams in the country. Of course, LSUA also offers seven intercollegiate sports that continue to make waves on a conference and national level. Four of the seven intercollegiate teams ended their respective seasons last year with national rankings and trips to their national tournament.
Students can also live entirely on campus thanks to on-campus housing and a completely revamped food service system. Students who live at The Oaks can choose from one-, two- and four-bedroom on-campus apartments that come complete with a common living room, fully equipped kitchen, swimming pool, laundry facility and game room. Students can choose one of several meal plans for use in the recently redesigned and remodeled Magnolia Café. Last year also saw the addition of a Starbucks to the LSUA campus for those who are looking for a cup of coffee or snack during the day. For a quick bite, a Subway restaurant overlooks the 9-hole golf course on campus as well.
The university also continues to offer in-demand, high-quality majors that are attracting students from around the world. LSUA is home to nursing, allied health, business administration, biology, education, arts, English and humanities; math and physical sciences; and behavioral and social sciences degrees. The demand is high for LSUA graduates. Nursing (associate degree), radiologic technology (associate degree), allied health (baccalaureate degree), business administration (baccalaureate degree) and education (baccalaureate degree) graduates frequently obtain jobs in their respective fields immediately upon earning their degree.
LSUA has also partnered with LSU-Eunice in offering a number of two-plus-two programs, where students can earn an associate degree from LSUE before transferring to LSUA to complete a bachelor’s degree. For those who are place bound or just prefer the online experience, LSUA is expanding its offerings of online degrees. Currently, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in a 100 percent online setting in nursing (RN-BSN), criminal justice, psychology, disaster science and emergency management, English, business administration and allied health.
Despite the recent budget challenges, and thanks to an increase in enrollment as well as some strategic belt tightening, school officials say LSUA is in a better financial position than it has been in many years. More information about LSUA can be found at www.lsua.edu.
Louisiana College, in Pineville, is all about transformation. In April of last year, Dr. Rick Brewer became the college’s ninth president, and under his leadership, academic, aesthetic, administrative and athletic transformations abound.
LC’s relevant, relational and rigorous curricula, built on a Christian worldview, saw the addition of a Bachelor of Arts degree in leadership, with majors in business, communications and Christian studies. In addition, two new certificate tracks of study were launched: one in pastoral ministry and the other in missiology. Both certificates offer 16 accredited hours of course work. The college’s “3+2” agreement with Louisiana Tech University offers the successful graduate two Bachelor of Science degrees in only five years.
Passersby will see scaffolding at several buildings, as 18 of 23 campus roofs are being replaced. Recent dorm upgrades include new carpet, paint, ceilings, HVAC, remodeled bathrooms, several flat screens with Bluetooth technology, charging ports for mobile devices, a movie room with theater seating, upgraded electrical power service, fiber-optic internet cable and new wireless internet access points.
Most significant to the community is the total refurbishment of Guinn Auditorium’s interior, including replacement of the ceiling, walls, flooring and seats. Campus landscaping improvements added lighting to both medians at each campus entrance, the planting of numerous trees near the dining hall and low-growth shrubbery at LC’s iconic fountain, which has been repainted.
Brewer recently announced the promotion of Dr. Jerry Pounds as vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Cheryl Clark as associate vice president for academic affairs, Chief Financial Officer Randall Hargis as executive vice president and Dr. Amy Craig as dean of the School of Education. LC’s head basketball coaches, Patrece Carter and Reni Mason, were promoted to associate athletic directors. Carter will manage program operations and Mason will oversee external relations and donor development. Rev. Vincent Smith was appointed to serve as dean of students, and he will focus on student life, retention, service learning, and international student services. By adding volleyball and men’s and women’s indoor/outdoor track and field, the LC Wildcats have 18 sports now sanctioned by the NCAA, Division III and the American Southwest Conference. “These changes in the life of Louisiana College and the uptick in new student enrollment illustrate God’s faithfulness as we pursue LC’s vision for preparing graduates and transforming lives,” Brewer says.
Northwestern State University, in Natchitoches, begins the fall 2016 semester with an enrollment of more than 9,500 students, which includes a freshman class of nearly 1,300. The university’s mission is to serve its students and its goal to become the nation’s premier regional university through innovative, transformative student learning that prepares graduates for life and career success.
The university is led by its president, Dr. Jim Henderson, a 1994 alumnus of the university, who set a high bar for faculty and staff to focus on the student experience, academic excellence, market responsiveness, athletic prominence and community enrichment. The university has been aggressive in recruiting, engaging alumni of all ages and developing mutually beneficial partnerships with businesses and industry and other institutions.
Northwestern State offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In addition to its main campus in Natchitoches, Northwestern State has satellite campuses in Shreveport, Alexandria and Leesville/Fort Polk. Northwestern State is home to eNSU, Louisiana’s first and largest electronic campus that offers 39 degree programs with accommodating class schedules, personalized instruction, veterans’ benefits and financial aid to those who qualify.
The school offers many experiences outside the classroom that enhance student life. NSU has more than 100 student organizations, Greek organizations, honor societies, student media, service opportunities, a packed schedule of performances, exhibits and lectures, a state-of-the-art Wellness, Recreation and Activities Center, the Recreation Complex and the exciting atmosphere of Demon Athletics. Together, these enhance scholarship by developing leadership, a sense of community, personal integrity and social development.
To keep up with a global economy, new market-responsive programs were developed in the last year including: post associate certificate in quality control, post baccalaureate certificate in quality control, post associate certificate in project management, post baccalaureate certificate in project management, post baccalaureate certificate in business analytics, graduate certificate in writing for business, industry and technology, bachelor of applied science in resource management and associate degree in engineering technology.
Northwestern State’s doctor of nursing practice has been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The program’s first cohort graduated this past summer. The university has also recently undertaken an initiative to realign and streamline several degree programs. The university is partnering with Louisiana Economic Development to connect students and new graduates with Louisiana companies in the IT and digital media fields.
NSU continues to work with several community colleges throughout Louisiana to offer students options for seamless transition from 2-year institutions to Northwestern State. These initiatives include streamlining curricula and aligning programs for the easy transfer of credits, awarding associate degrees to qualifying transfer students while they pursue their baccalaureate degrees and offering add-on certifications specifically targeted to meet industry needs in several disciplines. The university offers a dual enrollment program to students at Bossier Parish Community College and is working in tandem with BPCC to pilot a joint ROTC program.
Recently, Northwestern State’s online RN to BSN program, along with bachelor’s programs in computer information systems, criminal justice and psychology were ranked first in the country by Nonprofit Colleges Online. The bachelor’s in accounting was ranked second. Topmastersineducation.com ranked the master’s in special education third in the nation and the master’s in education fifth. In 2016, Northwestern State was recognized as having one of the top graduate nursing programs in America in a recent ranking by Top Master’s in Healthcare Administration. Editors selected graduate schools based on program flexibility, faculty involvement in the healthcare field and tuition cost.
The university expanded its memorandum of understanding with Fort Polk by signing an addendum in which the university’s Leesville-Fort Polk campus will offer associate degrees in nursing and bachelor’s degrees in business administration, criminal justice, social work, hospitality management and tourism, nursing and general studies with concentrations in arts and communications, computer and natural science and social science.
The university incorporates service into its curriculum and there are many examples of students working, learning and gaining experiences valuable to their courses of study through service on campus and in the community. Most recently, students in the Department of Social Work planned, opened and are operating a student food pantry for students with food insecurity, which has been a valuable asset to many students.
Northwestern State and Louisiana Community and Technical System signed a scholarship transfer agreement, the Purple Prestige Scholarship, which awards scholarships to LCTCS students who earn their associate degree and transfer to NSU to complete their bachelor’s degree. The scholarships are awarded to active members of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society who meet specified criteria. The Purple Prestige Transfer Scholarship seeks to remove economic obstacles for Phi Theta Kappa students who wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree after completing their two-year degree, administrators said.
Upper Iowa University has been preparing students to succeed—in the classroom and in the world since 1857. That rich history, coupled with a student-centered mission, has created a springboard for UIU to become a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and self-paced study, according to Meredith Clark, the director of UIU’s Alexandria center. The university is housed inside the Learning Center for Rapides Parish, located at 1410 Neel Kearby Boulevard in Alexandria.
Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing educational excellence and leadership development to approximately 9,000 students–both nationally and internationally. The university offers an accredited, quality education and has a diverse range of student populations and progressive, flexible options for students of all ages. Whether a new college student or someone returning to college after 20 years, Upper Iowa University works with the student to fit college into their busy life. “At UIU, you can graduate taking two or three classes per term. That means less stress and better focus,” Clark says. The UIU-Alexandria Center offers evening courses or online and self-paced programs. However you blend the coursework for a college degree, all UIU courses count toward a degree.
The Learning Center for Rapides Parish is part of a consortium of colleges and universities, including NSU, LSUA and Texas Wesleyan, which aim to provide for the educational goals and career development for people of Central Louisiana. All classes are offered at the LCRP in the evenings to minimize schedule disruption for working adult learners. Upper Iowa has articulation agreements with Baton Rouge Community College, Bossier Parish Community College, Central Louisiana Technical Community College, Delgado Community College, Nunez Community College and River Parishes Community College to assist transfer students. The college has also partnered with the Fraternal Order of Police and the Louisiana State Troopers Association to assist law enforcement officers obtain continued education.
There are six, 8-week terms offered year-round at UIU so students can access the courses needed. Students can take just two courses most terms and graduate on schedule. Up to 90 college credits may be transferred from other colleges. Professional experience and test scores can also often be applied toward earning college credit. A personal academic advisor can help tailor a student’s academic plan and advise them on financial aid. For more information about UIU, call (318) 484-2184.