PLAQUEMINE — River Parishes Community College in Gonzales now has a second campus, in Plaquemine, that until this month was the westside campus of Baton Rouge Community College.

And a year from now, RPCC will have a third campus, in Reserve, that's now a site of another community college, South Central Louisiana Technical College.

With three campuses under its belt, in Ascension, Iberville and St. John the Baptist parishes, River Parishes Community College will truly be living up to its name.

"From New Orleans to Baton Rouge, all the river parishes will be under one community college," said RPCC's Chancellor Dale Doty.

"All the industries on the river will be looking to this college to help them" find the workers they need, Doty said.

The expanding River Parishes Community College is part of several realignments announced in March by the Louisiana Community and Technical College System due to declining state funding for the two-year higher education institutions.

The LCTCS board approved realigning eight campuses with colleges with stronger finances in a move that's anticipated will lower administrative costs and allow for more efficient instruction.

In addition to the campuses in Plaquemine and Reserve that will be part of River Parishes Community College, other campuses being realigned in the state are:

  • South Central Louisiana Technical College's campus in Morgan City, realigned with South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette.
  • Fletcher Technical Community College's Louisiana Marine Petroleum Institute in Houma, also realigned with South Louisiana Community College.
  • South Central Louisiana Technical College's campus in Cut-Off, realigned with Fletcher Technical Community College in Schriever.
  • Northwest Louisiana Technical College's campus in Natchitoches, realigned with Central Louisiana Technical Community College in Alexandria.
  • Northwest Louisiana Technical College's campus in Many, also realigned with the Central Louisiana Technical Community College. 
  • Central Louisiana Technical Community College's campus in Oakdale, realigned with Sowela Technical Community College in Lake Charles.

Quintin Taylor, executive director of community and outreach with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, said the campuses being realigned are all rural campuses.

The former westside campus of Baton Rouge Community College in Plaquemine, for instance, "geographically fits better with RPCC," which is closely aligned with industries along the Mississippi, Taylor said.

Doty, at RPCC's new campus in Plaquemine on Tenant Road, near Plaquemine High said Friday, "Nothing here changes, the classes, the schedules."

"We're trying to make it seamless for the students," he said. The fall semester begins Aug. 16.

The Plaquemine campus, which has about 250 students, offers training in the electrical, pipe fitting and instrumentation trades, as well as in practical nursing. It also offers training toward certification with the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

The campus hasn't in the past had a transfer program for students wishing to move credit to a four-year university, but Doty said the plan is to add the English, history and other classes required for those transfers.

No layoffs were involved when the Plaquemine location became an RPCC campus, Doty said. The staff includes three full-time faculty, one administrator and about 20 part-time faculty.

It will be another year before River Parishes Community College will have its third campus, in Reserve, which will continue , in the meantime, as a location of South Central Louisiana Technical College.

The Reserve campus, with some 800 students, is accredited under a different system than RPCC, so it will have to go through another accreditation process, Doty said.

RPCC's main campus in Gonzales has about 1,800 community college students.

Of the new RPCC campus in Plaquemine, Doty said, "My objective is to grow the services here. This is a great opportunity" for students and the community. 

Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.