The College will sponsor a panel discussion with several key figures who were instrumental in founding the College, including former State Rep. Jimmy D. Long, former Northwestern State President Dr. Robert Alost, Dr. Stan Chadick, Dr. Fraser Snowden and Don Barker. The discussion will begin at 2 p.m. Friday, March 15 in Room 227 of Morrison Hall. The event is free and open to the public.
The Scholars’ College will host a dinner to honor and thank founders Saturday, March 16. Faculty, students, NSU President Dr. Randall J. Webb and other administrators and officials will participate.
The Louisiana Scholars’ College was founded in 1987 as a four-year selective admissions honors college in the liberal arts and sciences. The backbone of the Scholars’ College course load is the Common Curriculum, of which theTexts and Traditions course is the most notable. Students can major or minor in any specialization offered by Northwestern State, or choose to major in the College’s specialized liberal arts degree in one of five concentrations that include humanities and social thought, scientific inquiry, history and philosophy of science, fine and performing arts or foreign languages.
The Scholars’ College was “a direct outgrowth of the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts,” said Alost, who served as LSMSA’s first director before becoming president of Northwestern State in 1986. In the summer of 1987, Alost engaged several administrators to visit other liberal arts colleges, develop a curriculum, hire faculty and recruit and advise students. Alost credited Long for playing an instrumental role in gaining approval for the creation of the Scholars’ College.
Barker’s role focused on academic advising, recruiting, retention and engaging students in extracurricular activities.
“I give all the credit in the world to the wonderful faculty we had in place,” Barker said. “Dr. Stan Chadick deserves enormous credit for getting us through the first year.”
From the beginning, the environment at the Scholars’ College was one in which students not only tackled a challenging curriculum but also learned to successfully interact with people who are different from them, Barker said.
“Students learn from leading and learn from each other,” Barker said. “They have varied backgrounds, they exchange ideas…it makes for a wonderful environment.”
That environment persists today, with the College under the guidance of Dr. T. Davina McClain, LSC director since 2006, who during her tenure has seen the College grow from 108 students to 211 last fall. LSC students are involved in the spectrum of campus extracurricular activities and have a graduation rate of 69 percent.
“Our students go on to graduate work across the U.S. and in Europe, law schools in and out of state and medical schools,” McClain said. “They work for non-profits, teaching English in Korea, Japan and China, and teach other subjects especially here in Louisiana and Texas.”
The Scholars’ College special isspecial because of the sense of community among the faculty and students and their love of teaching and learning, McClain said.
“We can have heated and challenging discussions from different points of view and then go to lunch together andhelp each other,” she said. “We are all passionate about learning and understanding and doing for others. That passion and dedication translates into a lot of work, but also an immense amount of happiness and satisfaction. There aren’t really words that can convey what it means or how it feels to be a part of Scholars’ College, but it is truly a wonderful place. I hope and believe it always will be.”