Northwest Louisiana Technical College has appointed an interim director in the wake of Dr. Rick Bateman taking a position at Bossier Parish Community College.
Dianne Clark, a 20-year employee with the technical college system, is returning to Minden after a two-year stint at the Mansfield campus. With this one-year appointment, she hopes to strengthen industry partnerships and the college’s existing programs.
“Coming back to Minden knowing that we have this third building being completed under Act 360 as a workforce center, the focus is going to be on building industry partnerships and customizing the workforce offerings,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been challenged to do, and to bring continuity between us and Bossier Parish Community College. Because of the relationship with Dr. Bateman, we’ll have a lot of shared resources and we’ll work together very closely.”
She’s already cultivated a relationship with BPCC at the Mansfield campus and gave a brief history of how that partnership worked there. She hopes to bring some of that to the Minden campus, she says.
“We’re going to reduce duplication of services where possible, and we’re going to use our resources much more efficiently,” she said. “We’re going to expand the day at our facilities. Right now, our facilities are going largely unused after 3 in the afternoon. We will be working very hard to establish programs that will hopefully utilize every one of our campus sites.”
Another area she wants to focus on is establishing a foundation to help students with tuition. She says with the continuing state budget cuts, it’s getting more difficult for students to get financial aid. Currently, at NWLTC, if a student does not already have scholarships or a Pell Grant, then a student may not be able to pay for college. With the foundation, this will allow students to apply for a scholarship.
“There’s just not been much of a way for us to help our students when they can’t help themselves,” she said. “We want to begin to get some endowments for a foundation to offer some scholarships to these students who have no other means.”
Regarding industry partnership development, Clark says the goal is to move with industry and provide the education they require to provide the workforce needed. She says the goal is to provide education for high-paying, high-demand jobs.
“We work very closely with the Louisiana Department of Labor,” she said. “We’re focusing on five- and four-star jobs,” she said.
She explained the LDL uses a star system to rank jobs in the way they pay, and the more stars, the higher the wages. She said they also work by a tier system, which also helps distinguish the higher-paying, higher-demand jobs.
“We will be making some changes, and I’m not saying we’re closing programs,” she said. “What we’re going to do is take a good hard look at the curriculum that is established, and begin to revise it and tailor it towards the credentials that are being required.”
Clark began her career at NWLTC in 1989 as a business instructor and moved into the assistant dean position in the early 1990s. She stayed with the Minden campus until 2013 in that position until she took the dean’s position at the Mansfield campus.