Local Technical And Community College Merge Into One
By Barbara Gautreaux
South Louisiana Community College and Acadiana Technical College officially merged July 1, welcoming in an era of being more responsive to students, businesses and industry and to four-year colleges. The merger will allow SLCC to efficiently provide education that will prepare students for higher learning and for the workplace. It is now the third largest community college in the state, behind Delgado Community College and Baton Rouge Community College.
Merger News Good For Education
Louisiana is following most other states in having comprehensive community colleges, which offer technical programs and workforce training in addition to degree programs that transfer to four-year universities. Public Relations Director Christine Payton says that in addition to the official merger this summer, the duplicate services of human resources and information technology were merged more than a year ago, making each more cost-effective.
“More so, though, SLCC is now a comprehensive community college that offers both general education courses and technical options,” says Payton. “The college can offer more than 40 programs, dozens of certifications, technical diplomas and industry-based certifications at all of its campuses.”
Acadiana Technical College campuses included Teche Area in New Iberia, Gulf Area in Abbeville, Evangeline in St. Martinville, T.H. Harris in Opelousas, Acadian in Crowley and C.B. Coreil in Ville Platte. SLCC has campuses in Abbeville, Crowley, Franklin, Lafayette, New Iberia, Opelousas, St. Martinville and Ville Platte.
All of the campuses have names, and those schools will now use the SLCC name as they used to use the Acadiana Technical College name, which has been eliminated. For example, the New Iberia campus will be identified as SLCC-Teche Area Campus.
Dr. Natalie Harder, SLCC’s Chancellor since January, says “We are extremely appreciative of the efforts of Acadiana’s delegation in supporting the merger,” says Harder. “This merger will give the college the ability to be more responsive to Acadiana. From students to business and industry to our four-year college partners, we will be more relevant, more efficient and more effective in meeting their needs.”
No programs will be eliminated due to the merger. The enrollment at SLCC nearly doubled with the merger. Presently the community college employs 500 people and has 7,000 students. Payton expects that number to increase and the school now has an online registration process at www.southlouisiana.edu/.
Connections With Business
Payton says three major education issues will be improved by the merger. “It allows SLCC to offer general education on all its campuses, including math, English and reading. Students in Ville Platte don’t have to drive to Lafayette to take these courses; they can take them in their town.”
In addition, by joining resources, SLCC can make connections with business to find out what their workplace needs are in the community, and train the work force to meet those needs. “If businesses are looking for welders and machinists, we can tailor the work force education to meet those needs, which may be different in the different parishes.”
Payton says the Lafayette campus, where her office is located, is similar to the New Iberia campus, with the two schools very closely situated. The variety of classes offered serves many different interests.
“Students are learning computer technician, graphic design, automotive collision repair, nursing, cosmetology and much more. The number of classes available is just wonderful.” She says instructors are experts in their fields. “Our instructors are work-experienced and passionate about their expertise.”
The third major plus to the merger is offering even more dual enrollment with high schools in Acadiana. “Students can really get a jump start on their college degree,” says Payton. In Lafayette, there is a ‘school of choice’ high school, The Early College Academy, in the community college. The students earn a high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time. Dr. Harder would like to see those in other towns.”
Dual Enrollment In All Parishes
SLCC will be pursuing additional dual enrollment opportunities in all parishes where campuses are located. High school students across Acadiana will be able to take college credit courses close to home this fall. SLCC will be offering 24 dual enrollment courses at all of its campuses.
Currently, SLCC has “for credit” dual enrollment arrangements in all of Acadiana, and those credits are eligible to be transferred to post-secondary institutions. “This is one of the many benefits of the recent merger between SLCC and ATC,” says Paul Bourgeois, SLCC dual enrollment director. “We are able to offer more general education courses across Acadiana through our dual enrollment program. This makes working towards a degree more convenient.”
Courses will be offered at Lafayette Parish’s David Thibodaux High School and the Early College Academy; through the Teche Area Program for Seniors in Iberia Parish; with Seniors Technically Advancing with Gulf Area Education in Vermilion Parish; the Tomorrow’s Adults Reaching Goals Through Evangeline Campus in St. Martin Parish; with Pathways to Achievement at T.H. Harris in St. Landry Parish; the Careers at Acadian Campus Promote Success in Acadia Parish; and at the Success at C.B. Coreil with Occupational Readiness for Education in Evangeline Parish program. Each of these programs spells out an acronym used by the schools for daily use, such as T.A.P.S. in Iberia Parish.
Available for three-credit hours are a variety of classes including College Success Seminar, Rhetoric & Composition, World Geography, Applied Algebra for College Students, and Introduction to Psychology.
Students must have ACT test scores, SAT equivalent or Compass test scores required for placement into college level, degree credit courses in both English and mathematics to enroll in any of the courses being offered. For English, scores must be ACT or PLAN 18+, Compass 68+ or SAT-1 (quantitative portion) 450+. For mathematics, scores must be ACT or PLAN 19+, Compass 40+ or SAT-1 (quantitative portion) 460-470+. Students interested in taking these courses should contact their high school counselor or Bourgeois at 337-893-4984, ext. 4145 or email Paul.Bourgeois@southlouisiana.edu/.
Tuition Increased For Some
Payton says that tuition increases have been occurring for two years and are based on state-approved increases that are determined by the Louisiana GRAD Act at technical colleges.
“This is to bring tuition at technical colleges on par with community colleges.” Students who are unable to cover the additional costs after exhausting all financial aid awards can apply for a hardship waiver.
“It is an exciting time for these campuses and for our students,” says Payton. “People can come to the schools, get training and in 18 months go to work and be making a good wage, a very good living. High school students can take two courses and get a certificate that allows them to go to work in the oil and gas industry and be very prosperous.”
All tuition and fees are posted on the SLCC website (www.southlouisiana.edu).