RPCC moves into new home for education

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley
River Parishes Community College and officials from state, parish and city levels cut ribbon for new facility on Sept. 10.

As a result of Louisiana ACT 391, a statewide facilities improvement program, the River Parishes Community College built a new home. On March 21, 2013 the college broke ground at the Edenborne Development Parkway, and on Sept. 10 the officials cut ribbon for its official opening.

In a ceremony that was supported by a large crowd, the River Parishes Community College (RPCC) officially moved into an 81,000-square-foot facility for academic programming and administrative offices.

With several dignitaries from the state, parish and city level in attendance, RPCC Chancellor Dr. Dale Doty admitted he was not the reason for the accomplishment, merely just a beneficiary of it.

“This building was well underway when I got here,” Dr. Doty said, who was named Chancellor in November 2013.

RPCC’s first employee and founding Chancellor Dr. Joe Ben Welch is credited taking the vision of RPCC from zero students to over 3,000 students currently.

“It was my pleasure to report for duty as the first employee of RPCC on August 10, 1998,” Dr. Welch said. “Throughout this first decade and a half, the college experienced rapid growth.”

RPCC went to a campus spread thin in the Sorrento area, to now a one-stop shop for student education.

Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne was part of the legislation that created the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS). In the ceremony he said the new RPCC building represents “the link.”

“It’s the link between K-12 education and four-year schools, and it can also provide an ending point for those people who are here for associate degrees and want to go right to work,” Dardenne said. “If you hear anything being talked about in Louisiana today, it is the need for a trained, talented, Louisiana-based workforce and that’s what this is going to do.”

“It’s such a momentous occasion for this area with the great developments that are on their way for the state and this is symbolic of how far the community and technical college system has come in less than two decades,” Dardenne said. “It’s what Louisiana needed, it’s what Louisiana now has, and I congratulate and thank all of you who had a role in making it a reality.”

Dr. Monty Sullivan, president of the LCTCS, said he remembers vividly when RPCC was in the trailers, “and you were proud to have them.”

“Today you are proud to have this building and it’s pretty amazing,” Dr. Sullivan said.

“Yes it’s a building, yes it’s bricks and mortar, but it’s about changing lives,” Dr. Sullivan said. “So you go back in time, ancient times, when new buildings were built there was a protocol for the height of the building, the size of the columns, it was a protocol based on the activities that would take place inside those buildings. The most important activities in the community took place in buildings that were the tallest, and took place in buildings with the largest columns. Look around. The tallest building on the skyline in Gonzales, the broadest columns in the parish are right here. Because what goes on inside those walls is so very important to this economy and to the people.”

Dr. Doty concluded and said the faculty, staff and students all of appreciate the efforts of everyone in the community.

“Whether you carried the legislation, or made a donation of dollars and cents, or you are just a supporter, you are the reason we’re here and you’re the reason we’re going to continue to support this community,” Dr. Doty said. “Community is the key word in the title of River Parishes Community College and you are the community and we are here to see that your needs are met and meet your expectations in the future.”

Dr. Doty added, “This is a beautiful facility and it was well planned, well built and we’re going to provide services for many years in this facility.”