Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Baton Rouge CC Opening Still on Hold

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Baton Rouge CC Opening Still on Hold

Article excerpt

Baton Rouge CC Opening Still On Hold: Rebel Shopping Center to Be Part of Desegregated Campus

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The long-awaited opening of a community college that will help integrate this city's higher education community will have to wait a little longer.

A federal judge, bowing to a request from Louisiana state officials, has granted a one-year extension for the opening of the proposed Baton Rouge Community College.

Creating a community college here in the capital city is mandated as part of a settlement of the desegregation case against Louisiana's higher education system. But U.S. District Judge Charles Schwartz agreed late last month to give the state until the fall of 1998 to open the school after reviewing recent efforts to assemble a sixty-five-acre campus in the heart of Baton Rouge.

The centerpiece for the proposed campus is the soon-to-be-vacated thirty-five-acre Louisiana State Police headquarters, with an adjacent ten-acre parcel that now houses the state fire marshal's office but could be used later to expand the campus.

In addition, state Commissioner of Administration Mark Drennen announced in May that he had completed a deal to purchase a twenty-acre shopping center adjacent to the State Police site. Drennen said the Rebel Shopping Center, which will be purchased at a total cost of $2.8 million over a ten-year period, will serve as the site for the construction of an initial 50,000-square foot building for a new school.

Under the desegregation settlement, the community college is supposed to help serve as a racial mixing tool in a city currently served by predominantly white Louisiana State University and historically Black Southern University. Both universities are charged with overseeing the creation of the new community college and already have hired a chancellor and staff for the school.

Louisiana Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Savoie, who also is involved in coordinating the creation of the new campus with the state Board of Regents, said the formal request for a one-year extension in the school's opening was partially prompted by the negotiations to buy the shopping center. But Savoie said another factor in the delay was trying to sell the court-appointed monitoring committee on the need for an extra year.

"They [the committee] made sure we weren't dragging our feet. They some tough questions," Savoie said.

Once the request was submitted, the judge responded quickly, Savoie said. …

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