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Sullivan campus of NTCC will be celebrating 90 years

Ninety years ago, today, the Sullivan Memorial Trade School opened its doors to the community of Bogalusa. Funding to establish the trade school was made possible by the local paper mill in addition to contributions from local citizens. Established in 1930, the local Bogalusa trade school has evolved to what is now known as the Northshore Technical Community College Sullivan Campus, offering a wide variety of academic and workforce training programs vital to strengthening the local and regional economy.

On the evening of Nov. 18, 1930, citizens gathered at the former location of the school on Columbia Street to cut a ribbon and celebrate this most important investment that would impact future generations. Initial programs included wood working, machining, automotive technology and drafting and design; all programs essential to sustain what was at the time one of the largest paper mills in the western hemisphere. Today, the Sullivan Campus offers a wide variety of academic courses that transfer to universities, as well as Nursing, Business, Electrical, Welding, Diesel, Building Technology, Care and Development of Young Children, AC Refrigeration, Machine Tool Technology, Patient Care Technician, and Pharmacy Technician in addition to noncredit workforce training and HiSET (High School Equivalency Diploma).

In its 90-year history, the college has celebrated several milestones. The Sullivan Campus was the first Louisiana Technical College to receive financial support by the State of Louisiana and served as a model for what would follow as the Louisiana’s largest investment in technical education with the construction of over 50 technical vocational schools to emerge in every parish built upon a strategy to ensure accessibility to all citizens. The Sullivan Campus was also the first technical college to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 1975. The college later broke away from SACS to become accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The Sullivan Campus was also the first Louisiana Technical College to appoint an African-American female to administration in 1979 when Debra Taylor was appointed Assistant Director. Another defining moment for the college was the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina on the college and community. Under the leadership of Mickey Murphy, the Sullivan Campus was one of the first Louisiana Technical Colleges at the time to fully recover and offer a successful mini-semester that October serving 500 students. Murphy now serves on the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Board of Supervisors, where he has held roles as Chair and Vice Chair, continuing his advocacy for technical education in Louisiana.

It’s no secret to many that the history of the Sullivan Campus has shaped the lives of thousands of citizens of Washington Parish, however, it is still not uncommon to hear of people within the parish who are unaware of the college and its mission. Successful partnerships and advocacy with Washington Parish Economic Development, local legislators, industry, Washington Parish Public Schools, and Bogalusa City Schools continues to expose the wealth of opportunities available locally. The week of Nov. 16, the college will celebrate 90 years by partnering with Bogalusa City Schools for a signature “College Take Over Event.” During this event, the college will position its Mobile STEM Lab and Mobile Mechatronics Lab on the campus of Bogalusa High School where college and high school staff will share the many opportunities with students through engaging in hands on innovative technologies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as well as Mechatronics supporting advanced manufacturing careers. The week of Nov. 16, the college will also share testimonials from alumni and public officials marking this most important milestone.

As Chancellor of Northshore Technical Community College, the Sullivan Campus became my home 22 years ago when former Dean, Mickey Murphy, hired me as a grant writer upon graduating from college. The foundation provided by the Sullivan faculty, staff and students ignited my passion for dedicating a career of service to technical education. The mission of the college has never been more important during these challenging times. I often tell the story of my mother earning her GED and remind people that her GED is the only reason I hold a Ph.D. The power of education is undeniable!

Please join me this week in celebrating this remarkable milestone for the college, the City of Bogalusa, Washington Parish and the State of Louisiana. During these challenging times, lets turn our attention to the future and continue to guide citizens in need of postsecondary education and workforce training to your local technical community college. Together, we can “Build Futures” for our graduates and reap the benefits of a strong economy, a strengthened quality of life, and a generational educational investment that is beyond measure.

For more information on Northshore Technical Community College, please visit www.NorthsoreCollege.edu. For giving opportunities in support of student scholarships, please visit www.NorthshoreCollege.edu/advancement/index.

Dr. William Wainwright is the Chancellor of Northshore Technical Community College.