On August 20, 1998, nearly 2,000 people embarked upon a journey of educational excellence as the first students of Baton Rouge Community College. As faculty and staff scrambled to find seats, classrooms, and more instructors for the 1,866 new enrollees, administrators marveled at the wonderful problem of garnering nearly triple the expected first year enrollment goal in the college’s then only building on its one campus in Mid City Baton Rouge.
In the past 20 years, BRCC has grown by leaps and bounds, now boasting a total of 285 faculty members, more than 70 degree programs and courses, and a steady enrollment of about 8,000 students spread throughout its eight locations. On August 20, 2018, as BRCC welcomes the class of 2020, the college will begin a year-long celebration in honor of its milestone 20-year anniversary, and every step that it has taken to become a leader in providing world-class educational opportunities for the Greater Baton Rouge community.
“I am so excited to see Baton Rouge Community College flourish and continue to grow as a leader in education in this region,” said BRCC Chancellor Dr. Larissa Littleton-Steib. “It’s hard to put into words how honored I am to be a part of this great educational resource during this milestone anniversary. Our future holds so many wonderful things, such as continued successes, growth, partnerships, and workforce development outreach, among countless other initiatives we hope to contribute to this community and the state.”
Born from a 1994 Desegregation Settlement Agreement between Louisiana and the U.S. Department of Justice in an effort to eliminate remnants of a dual-race system in the state’s post-secondary educational structure, BRCC quickly grew to meet the needs of an ever-growing, widely varying student population that even today still includes traditional, non-traditional, special-needs, first-generation, and continuing-education students.
Through continued efforts to serve these student populations, the college established a robust and diverse academic curricula that enabled it to pursue and obtain full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College (SACSCOC). This accreditation was first granted to BRCC in 2004, reaffirmed in 2009, expanded to include the merger with the former Capital Area Technical College in 2015, and is in the process of its initial decennial reaffirmation.
During the spring 2018 commencement exercises, 404 degrees were conferred upon a graduating class with the average age student being 29, oldest graduate being 70-years-old, and 24 percent of the class as first-generation college students. Since the college opened its doors, it has awarded 16,364 credentials.
“For the past 20 years, BRCC has given students the opportunity to unleash their potential and pursue their dreams. They not only uplift students, but this institution has created and continues to create a more vibrant Baton Rouge,” said East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.
Over the past two decades, one of the things that has remained crystal clear is that more and more students are taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to them at the community college level, thanks to BRCC. This past academic year, more than 2,500 students transferred from BRCC to Louisiana State University, Southern University, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Northwestern State University. BRCC now also has six certificate and two associate degree programs that are fully online which assist in the college’s goal to influence the educated population of the Capital City, as well as to continuously develop a solid workplace in all areas of employment for which it can contribute.
“The Baton Rouge Community College has had a huge impact on our community by providing unique education and training programs for our residents,” said John Spain, Executive Vice President for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. “Its outstanding faculty, facilities and flexible schedules allow our citizens to continue their education while managing jobs, family life and busy life styles. The programs offered are designed to meet the demands of our growing economy and by building a well trained workforce, the college has become an important partner in expanding our economy.”
BRCC has not only done amazing work in academics, but college officials recognize the need to increase and develop workforce industry partnerships and invest in the implementation and effective continuation of workforce training initiatives. The college has top workforce programming in Union Apprenticeship, NCCER Skilled Craft, NBRITI – Skilled Craft, Motor Vehicle Inspection, Automotive Technology, Welding, Customized Corporate Training, Operator Training, Professional Development, Leadership, Medical Assistant, Workplace Spanish, and Process Technology, to name a few.
BRCC also has lasting and effective partnerships with All Star Automotive Group, Gulf States Toyota, Praxair, Placid Refining Co., Turner Industries, Shell, BP Castrol, Honeywell, Triad, Brock Group, Hunter Engineering, ISC, Capitol Ultrasonics, Stupp Corporation, City of Baton Rouge, Jacobs Engineering, Cummings Diesel, Kenworth, Davis Aircraft, Louisiana Cat, Dow Chemical, Louisiana State University, ExxonMobil, Pala Group, Formosa Plastics, Performance Contractor, Herb and Maxine Jacobs Foundation, BBP, among others.
“Economic development thrives in communities where workforce collaboration exists,” said Adam Knapp, CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “We have been fortunate over the past two decades to have a thriving community college as a regional asset and as an active partner in our shared desire to move the Baton Rouge Area forward. A skilled workforce, with more certificates and two-year degrees, is essential for the stability and growth of the Capital Region, and BRCC is making its impact felt as a solutions provider to business workforce needs. Here’s to the next 20 years of success.”
What began as a concept to fulfill the area’s comprehensive community college needs grew into so much more. Two decades of excellence later, BRCC continues to soar to new heights and achievement upon achievement, adding to its ever-growing list of successes.
"Congratulations to Chancellor Steib and the entire Baton Rouge Community College family on the college's twentieth anniversary,” said Dr. Monty Sullivan, President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS). “Since its inception in 1998 Baton Rouge Community College has provided the capital region with timely academic and workforce training. Thanks to the commitment of the faculty and staff tens of thousands of lives have been dramatically improved."
With so many milestones to its name, it’s not hard to imagine where the college will be in the next couple of decades. Just in this last year alone, BRCC students participated in accelerated scientific research opportunities, presented research findings on Antibiotic Resistance at a national conference, began full time employment all over the state in a variety of fields, including computer science jobs at IBM. BRCC is also responsible for bringing to this state more than 300 licensed nurses in fewer than 10 years. And one of the college’s most recent additions, the Program for Successful Employment is assisting adults with cognitive disorders successfully join the workforce.
BRCC continues to encourage people to “Imagine What You Can Do.”