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Released: 02/17/1999

<p> When Louisiana State University at Alexandria first opened its doors in 1960, everyone assumed that it would soon become a four year institution. After years of waiting, that time may have finally arrived. </p><p> For the past 18 months, the community&acute;s ears have perked as support for the change has solidified and a formal proposal was made by LSUA to begin offering baccalaureate degrees in elementary education, general business, accounting, biology, general studies, and one other degree to be determined. After the local community rallied around the plan and a variety of governmental and business leaders endorsed the proposal, the LSU Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the proposition in January 1998. Now the four-year plan must be approved by the Board of Regents and the Louisiana Legislature. </p><p> But things are looking favorable for LSUA. Unlike the failed proposal that was presented in 1976, the new proposal has the community, business leaders, government leaders and even Governor Mike Foster&acute;s backing. In March of 1998, Governor Foster stated, "We understand the advantage of having a four-year college in an area that really has no other four-year public school." </p><p> The Board of Regents is currently reviewing the proposition and is conducting a needs assessment study for the feasibility of a four-year institution. In the mean time, the Central Louisiana Foundation recently hired MGT of America, a Florida consulting firm, to conduct a survey of their own. And the results look good. </p><p> The MGT assessment was based on four types of factors-- the demand for four year programs, the cost of implementation, the potential quality of programs and the impact on other institutions. </p><p> Demand </p><p> The MGT report found that a four-year LSUA would "appeal to a sizeable number of placebound students who are unable to travel or relocate to pursue a baccalaureate degree," which, according to another survey, includes over 65 percent of LSUA students. A probable demand comes from the local community as well. An increase in college participation, which the assessment showed is lower in Central Louisiana than the state and national average, would potentially boost economic development. </p><p> Cost </p><p> Of all of the options available, the LSUA alternative offers the least expensive approach, according to MGT. The campus should be able to handle considerable enrollment growth, and longer-term expansion is very possible. Additionally, expected tuition charges, room and board and transportation costs are lower than any other solution. </p><p> Quality </p><p> The main appeal to the four-year LSUA is the ability to respond to local educational needs because of the local academic leaders. Students would also receive a much prefered education from local professors in small class settings. </p><p> Impact </p><p> According to MGT, a four-year LSUA "would not have any lasting adverse impact on any other institution." Northwestern State University may experience a slight initial impact as students attend LSUA instead of commuting. Louisiana College is shown to attract a qualitatively different student population. </p><p> All-in-all, LSUA faculty, staff and students are looking favorably on the upcoming Board of Regents Decision. However, support is still needed. If you would like to help make LSUA a four-year institution, write to your local legislators or Board of Regent members. </p><p> Contact LSUA for a list of the Board of Regents members. </p>