RPCC Chancellor announces retirement

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Dr. Joe Ben Welch, River Parishes Community College Chancellor, announced an end to his storied fifty-year career in higher education when he announced his retirement on Wednesday, May 8. Effective August 31,2013, Dr. Joe Ben Welch will step down as chancellor of River Parishes Community College (RPCC).

Dr. Bill Martin, Executive Vice Chancellor of RPCC, did not hold back in his praise of Dr. Welch.

"Of all the CEO's I've worked for in my forty-six years [in higher education], he was the best," stated Dr. Martin. "He was a man of great integrity and his word was as good as gold."

Dr. Welch's personal attributes were instrumental parts of his leadership style.

"He did not micromanage," said Dr. Martin. "He hired an excellent professional staff and empowered them to achieve the vision he helped set for the college."

Under Dr. Welch's leadership, RPCC has experienced unprecedented growth. In 2010, RPCC was named the fastest growing community college of its size in the nation by Community College Week. RPCC's 2013 graduating class of 206 students is larger than the college's first student body. The RPCC class of 2013 is also the largest graduating class in RPCC history.

As chancellor, Dr. Welch oversaw RPCC's 2010 merger with the Louisiana Technical College-Ascension Campus, as well as the purchase of the site for the future home of RPCC, which is currently being built in the Edenborne Development in Gonzales.

Dr. Welch also has the distinction of being the founding chancellor at two colleges. In addition to serving as the chancellor of RPCC since the college was founded, Dr. Welch was also the founding chancellor for a two-year branch campus of Lamar University in Texas.

Dr. Welch served at Lamar University in Texas for twenty years before accepting the presidency at Middle Georgia College in Cochran, Georgia, where he served for nine years before assuming the role of chancellor at RPCC.

Dr. Welch has shown a dedication and commitment to the community in both his personal life and through his leadership at RPCC. As chancellor of the college, Dr. Welch stressed community involvement, especially through his commitment to service learning, the process whereby students learn through service to the community. Dr. Welch led by example, serving in a variety of capacities in area civic and economic groups. Dr. Welch currently serves on the boards of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Greater New Orleans, Inc.

Dr. Welch received his Doctorate of Education Degree in Administration and Supervision in Higher Education from McNeese State University, a Master of Education Degree in Math and Science Education from Lamar University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Math and Science Education from Louisiana Tech University.