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In-depth look at Bossier Parish Community College growth - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

In-depth look at Bossier Parish Community College growth

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an in-depth look at Bossier Parish Community College's growth an in-depth look at Bossier Parish Community College's growth
BOSSIER PARISH, La. -

Since 1967, Bossier Parish Community College has been in the education business. The two-year institution initially started out as grades 13 and 14 of Airline High School. But, a big move in 2005 from the old airline campus to its new $55 million home on Highway 80 has given the college more room to grow.

Four years ago, the college enrolled over 5,400 students but this year it's estimated that they may exceed 8,000. For 45 years, the doors of Bossier Parish Community College have been open to area students. They're open, and thriving.

"Our enrollment trend right now is way above what it's ever been and we're expected to hit another record number this fall" says BPCC Chancellor Dr. Jim Henderson.

Henderson says the move from its old campus to its Highway 80 location has given the school room to grow both in student numbers and facilities.

"We had a little over 7,900 students enrolled this last year and we expect that number to be well above 8,000 and maybe close to 9,000 this year. It's really because we keep creating programs and creating opportunities that lead to jobs. J-O-B-S it's that simple" says Henderson.

He says BPCC offers not just a two-year degree, but a degree that is tied into local job demands.

"The growing demands in this regional economy, they're in manufacturing, they're in health care, they're in information technology, they're in energy" says Henderson.

BPCC collaborates not just with industry, but with other higher ed institutions to help students pursue the skills they need.

Henderson says "in the last four years we have developed 34 bilateral articulation agreements in partnership with regional universities."

Students can transfer credits not just to the Shreveport campuses of LSU-S and Southern University, but to Northwestern State University down in Natchitoches and down I-20 to Grambling, Louisiana also to LSU-Tech in Ruston and the University of Louisiana in Monroe.

Prospective student Christa Chance believes a degree from BPCC will prepare her for work immediately after graduation.

"For starters, a lot of the courses transfer, the credits transfer to another college if you want to further your education" says Christa. "I have an ill husband and I have three children and I've been a homemaker for six years. I've been out of everything and I'm wanting to further my education, get smarter and I just want something to support my family."

To meet the needs of Christa and others, BPCC keeps adding more and more space.

The college's newest building will also house the college's latest degree program for one of the area's newest employers.

The engineering and technology labs will initially train workers for Bentler Steel, a German-based company building a $900 million metal tubing plant at the port of Caddo-Bossier. Industrial recruiter, Rocky Rockett, says his foundation contributed $700,000 to help build the building.

"It was a no brainer for us to be a part of this because the job numbers that were created out of this plus the training facility can later on be used for other opportunities to bring new jobs in this market" says Rockett.

He says the ability to create new programs very quickly makes BPCC and this area attractive for new businesses.

"BPCC fits this market because it's educating a lot of kids and putting a lot of kids in the workforce. It allows to go ahead and go to work, it allows them to start work while they're getting further education, and get the initial training and for people certifications and so forth so people can get good jobs in this market" says Rockett.

Chancellor Henderson believes this will help BPCC continue to grow for years to come.

"That's one of the great things about Northwest Louisiana is the higher education entities that come together and work in partnership to make this a more beautiful community" says Henderson.

Cuts to BPCC's budget have been much smaller than other local higher education institutions. BPCC received a 5 percent cut to its budget this year compared to LSU-S with a 25 percent cut. It helps that BPCC's high enrollment numbers make its cost per student very low. And when it comes to state money for construction, it's a lot easier for 2 year colleges to get money compared to 4 year schools.

This year, Senator Robert Adley, authored Senate Bill 204, that would provide more than $250 million for construction projects in the community and technical college system.

The legislation, which passed, includes funds for the new science technology, engineering and math building at BPCC.

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