Dave Rogers

For The Record

 

Lamar State College Orange is holding its 50th Birthday Bash Tuesday, Oct. 29 and the little school that could has much to celebrate.

This week brought the announcement of a fall enrollment of 2,395 students, the highest fall semester enrollment in six years for the two-year college in downtown Orange.

The Birthday Bash, originally scheduled for August and postponed by bad weather, will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. next Tuesday and will be combined with the school’s annual Fall Fest.

Festivities will be held around the campus, with food trucks, moonwalks, a costume contest, giveaways, campus tours and live music by Mixx Fixxer.

The 50th Birthday hype began in January when former presidents Joe Ben Welch and Michael Shahan joined current president Thomas Johnson and other civic and community leaders in an indoor program at the Shahan Center.

Johnson, a Port Arthur native who came to LSCO from Tyler Junior College in September 2017, said, “I’m a two-year kid,” meaning a community college grad. “Education saved my life.

“A lot of students would never go to college without a two-year school, but you can get a certificate for welding and make a living wage.

“We are not in competition with the other two-year schools around us. We’re committed to keeping small classes and serving the needs of our community.” 

A total of 362 students enrolled in 1969, the year LSCO opened as a lower-division extension center in an abandoned elementary school in Riverside which earned the school the nickname “Tilley Tech.”

A scrapbook clipping from a 1970 newspaper showed that five classes (15 hours) cost just $180 to enroll.

By 2018, it cost more than $2,500 to enroll for 15 hours.

A tuition reduction, announced last summer, drops the per semester tuition for a full-time student to $1,995.

This week’s enrollment announcement showed that headcount in non-credit workforce classes is up 34% and contact hours are up 171%.

The fall credit enrollment numbers to 2,395 students, is an increase of 2% over last year. Contact hours and semester credit hours are up by 2.1% and 4.7% respectively in comparison to last fall.

Academic student enrollment is up 9.5% and technical student enrollment is up 4.1% compared to last year.

Enrollment in day classes is up 12.5%, night class enrollment is up 14.2% and Friday-only class enrollment is up 14.7%, compared to Fall 2018.

It’s been a big year for LSCO, including the largest grant in the school’s history, a $1 million pledge from the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation. And it is added on to a $500,000 per year Stark Scholarship Program.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such a generous, philanthropic foundation dedicated to improving lives in our community,” Johnson said.

The school showed its appreciation by renaming the Nursing Classroom Building in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Stark.

The Stark Scholarship Program has provided the opportunity for more than 500 students to complete their higher education goals.

LSCO also has recently purchased the former Capital One Bank Building, which is located next the Orange Public Library downtown at the corner of 5th Street and Green Avenue.

Thanks to a generous donation from Capital One, the school purchased the building at a fraction of the appraised value. It will play a central role in the college’s new 10-year master plan.

LSCO’s calendar includes an 8:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 28 ceremony at the Shahan Center to acknowledge a new student transfer agreement between the Orange college and McNeese State University in Lake Charles.