Rotarian Dr. Willie Buller presented a donation from the Ville Platte Rotary Club to Dr. Kimberly Russell, the Chancellor of LSU-E, during the Rotary meeting Tuesday. Pictured here from left to right are Carey Lawson, Director of University Advancement; Meg Heitman assistant director; Dr. Buller; Dr. Russell; Rotarians Annette Johnson and Peggy Tate; and Brenda Saucier, guest of Dr. Buller. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
Putting the excitement into LSU-E
Every year since 1984, the Ville Platte Rotary Club has been providing financial support in terms of a Rotary scholarship that is available to students attending LSU in Eunice.
During the club’s meeting Tuesday, Rotarian Dr. Willie Buller presented a check in the amount of $5,100.00 to LSU-E Chancellor Dr. Kimberly Russell.
On hand for the check presentation were also the Director of University Advancement Carey Lawson and the assistant director Meg Heitman.
“We have awarded scholarships from this scholarship endowment to over 100 students,” Dr. Russell said. “Just as of today, the balance of that fund is $108 thousand. What we do is spend a percentage off of that account, and that’s given to students each year. We have three new recipients this year, and they all happen to be Fontenots.”
She continued, “This is one of our top five endowments that we have at LSU-E. It is very important to us, and we are very appreciative.”
Dr. Russell went on to describe some new programs being offered by her university that are adding excitement around campus. The biggest of which is the LSU-E Academy that is available to high school juniors and seniors from Evangeline, Acadia, and St. Landry Parishes.
“I’m happy to say that Evangeline Parish is the parish with the most students because we have 20 students from Evangeline Parish on our campus taking classes,” she stated.
“We’re hoping students begin the summer before their junior year. They are able to complete enough courses to complete an associate degree by the time they graduate from high school or shortly thereafter.”
Dr. Russell also explained how her staff is assisting these high school students. “Not only do the students get to attend classes with regular college students at LSU-E, they also have a dedicated person who is taking the time to offer study skills and teaching the students through that transitional year between high school and college,” she said. “There is a difference particularly when a student takes these classes on our campus.”
Other new programs available on the campus of LSU-E are three new health programs, including a surgical technology program.
As Dr. Russell said, “That’s something the hospitals in this region and also the Lafayette region have come to us and said they’ve been without any surgical technologists for five to six years, and it’s a huge need in their market.”
The students who finish the program, according to Dr. Russell, are hired by hospitals immediately after graduation. The program is slated to begin this fall.
Another new program is slated for the spring of 2019, and that is a pharmacy technology program. “We have two local pharmacists in Eunice, who are currently working as employees of LSU-Alexandria and are offering a LSU-A certificate program in pharmacy technology on our campus,” she stated.
“That certificate program will now become part of LSU-E and will become an associate degree.”
Along with these programs, the campus will be adding new sports to join its championship winning programs of women’s basketball, baseball, and softball. These new athletic programs that will start this fall are men’s and women’s soccer and men’s basketball.
“What it does for us, in terms of soccer, is provide some new opportunities for fundraising for field space,” said the chancellor. “We’re going to be constructing two new fields, and both of these fields will be utilized by LSU-E and also by the community. We’re hoping to develop a robust youth soccer program where there is a lot of grant funding that is available.”
These new academic and athletic programs are coming on the heels of a new renovation to the Student Union that was completed last year. “We brought together all of our enrollment services, registration, admissions, and financial aid into one area in the union called the Geaux Center that is modeled after the Geaux Center on LSU’s campus,” expressed Dr. Russell. “Now when parents and students come to the Student Union, they can be serviced right there. They can apply, they can register, and they can find financial aid right there in one facility.”
The renovations to the Student Union also include a revamped dining hall. Dr. Russell told the Rotarians, “It has a full service menu and all of the services we really need for students who are living on campus, and we have about 250 students who live with us on campus.”
All of these additions and improvements have led to a 22 percent increase in enrollment on the Eunice campus. “It’s been exciting to watch and to see many more students on our campus,” Dr. Russell shared. “The Academy students have added such a life to campus. They do make a difference, and you can see that even with our faculty and the other students who are there.”