With classes starting Monday, LSU at Eunice is expecting to expand.
Full enrollment numbers were unavailable last week, but looking at the enrollment trends, Chancellor William ‘Bill’ Nunez said the school is expecting a 1 to 3 percent enrollment increase this semester.
That may seem like a small increase, but at a time when most Louisiana colleges are experiencing declining enrollment due to out-of-state migration and a sluggish economy, Nunez said that any increase is good news.
“The enrollment looks pretty good. We’ll have to wait and see after the dust settles, because there’s still lots of things pending,” Nunez said.
Dual credit programs with local high schools, the Pathways extension at LSU at Alexandria, and the LSUE courses offered through the Learning Center for Rapides Parish have all helped to boost LSUE’s enrollment beyond those that attend the physical campus.
In addition, LSUE’s Continuum for All Louisiana Learners (CALL) initiate has allowed the college to reach out into cyberspace and enroll students who otherwise might not be able to attend courses on-campus.
The course enrollment for the CALL classes includes a mix of traditional students, older, non-traditional students, and even a few international students.
The pilot online program is ready to go, despite the lack of a curriculum developer, Nunez said.
“We’re not waiting, and we’ve put our faculty through a lot of training, and we’re very, very happy with the outcome,” Nunez said.
The position of curriculum developer is currently still open, Nunez said.
LSUE is growing in other ways too. LSUE was approved earlier for a 9.8 million-dollar capital outlay grant to add a new building on campus.
The new classroom building would primarily house continuing education and information technology.
The amount was based on pre-Katrina and Rita cost estimates; since that time, labor and supply costs have gone up significantly, and it is estimated the project would need another 1 million dollars to be completed as planned.
District 41 representative Mickey Guillory, who serves on the Ways and Means Committee, has been shepherding the project through the state legislature, and said that he is hopeful that some of the 52 million available for capital outlay from the budget surplus can be used to pay for the cost overrun.
Nunez said that plans will continue forward, even if they have to be downsized.
“The goal will be that by the end of this year, those plans will be given out to contractors and we’ll be asking for bids, so that next year, after the fiscal year begins (on July 1), we’ll start seeing some construction activity going on on-campus,” Nunez said.
Nunez said that he expects the building will take approximately 18 months to complete, due in part to the extra wiring needed for the information technology component.