Louisiana College is a private institution of higher education located in Pineville, in the central portion of the U.S. state of Louisiana. Affiliated with the Louisiana Baptist Convention, it serves approximately 1,300 students. The college operates on a semester system, with two shorter summer terms. Although the college is affiliated with a group of Baptist churches, who make up the membership of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, students need not be a member of that denomination to attend.
The school colors are orange and blue, and their athletics teams are known as the Wildcats and Lady Wildcats.
Louisiana College, known as "LC", was founded on October 3, 1906, in Pineville, across the Red River from the larger Alexandria. The college began in tents with four professor and nineteen students. Since 2006, LC has reported an enrollment growth of 50 percent.
Baptist clergyman and educator Edwin O. Ware, Sr., is considered to have been the principal founder of the institution. He was from 1906 to 1907 the LC financial agent and its first president from 1908 to 1909. LC is the successor to two earlier Louisiana Baptist schools, Mount Lebanon College, sometimes called Mount Lebanon University, and Keatchie Female College. The first, a men's school founded in 1852 by the North Louisiana Baptist Convention, was located in the community of Mount Lebanon in Bienville Parish. The women's college, founded in 1857 by the Grand Cane Association of Baptist Churches, was located in the community of Keatchie in De Soto Parish south of Shreveport. After a history beset by financial difficulties, both schools came under the control of the Louisiana Baptist Convention in 1899. An Education Commission was selected by the state convention to administer the schools with the understanding that both would be succeeded by a more centrally located institution as soon as a suitable campus could be selected. When Louisiana College was opened in 1906, Mount Lebanon College closed, followed by Keatchie a few years later. Since the first class of nineteen students in 1906, more than ten thousand have since graduated from the institution.
Until 1921, Louisiana College was administered by the Education Commission. The new charter established a board of trustees. The first administrative head of Louisiana College was W. F. Taylor, whose title was chairman of the faculty. Since its opening under President Edwin Ware, LC has had these seven other presidents: Dr. W. C. Friley, in 1909, the first president of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas; Dr. Claybrook Cottingham, in 1910; Dr. Edgar Godbold, in 1942; Dr. G. Earl Guinn, in 1951; Dr. Robert L. Lynn, in 1975; Dr. Rory Lee, in 1997; and Dr. Joe W. Aguillard, in 2005.
In 1941, Hal Monroe Weathersby (1885–1965) served as acting LC president until the arrival later in the year of Edgar Godbold, the former president of Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. From 1911 to 1914, Weathersby was professor of Greek and history. From 1914 until his retirement in 1965, he was the dean of Louisiana College. Weathersby, like Godbold, graduated from Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, and the University of Chicago. The Weathersby Fine Arts Building is named in his honor. He and his wife, the former Matalee Thompson, had three children, Hal T. Weathersby, Scott M. Weathersby, and Rose W. Normand. A Baptist, Weathersby died in Pineville and is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
In 1958, the Louisiana Historical Association was reorganized in a statewide gatherin on the LC campus. Edwin Adams Davis, head of the history department at LSU and author of a popular Louisiana history textbook, became the first president of the revised association.
Among the benefactors of Louisiana College has been the family of Simon W. Tudor of Pineville, who founded Tudor Construction Company in 1946. Tudor coached basketball, football, and baseball at the college in the 1910s. The men's dormitory Tudor Hall is named for him. Tudor was also chairman of the board of trustees from 1943-1953.
In 2005, four former professors who dispute the Baptist doctrine of inerrancy of Scripture filed suit against Louisiana College after newly-confirmed president Joe Aguillard determined that the 1978 M. Scott Peck book, The Road Less Traveled be labeled as Buddhist, rather than Christian. The book was formerly used in a Christian values class at the college. The dissenting faculty, citing academic freedom, filed a grievance and then a suit. In 2013, the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal denied the professors' claim. The judges cited the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. They determined that the establishment clause forbids their entering into an "unconstitutional entanglement in a religious dispute." The plaintiffs could now appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
In 2012, the Louisiana Baptist Convention granted approval to Louisiana College to seek $12 million in donations from member churches within the state as part of the institution's $50 million capital improvements program. The $12 million will be earmarked for improvements in student housing. Cottingham Hall, named for President Claybrook Cottingam and built in 1941, is in particularly need of full renovation, roof, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation.
Louisiana College is situated on an 81-acre (328,000 m2) campus in Pineville. The school has twenty-five academic and residential buildings, which include:
Louisiana College awards the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Social Work, and Bachelor of General Studies degrees and offers more than seventy majors, minors and pre-professional programs. These programs are:
Law school in Shreveport
On September 1, 2010, Louisiana College announced that it is building in downtown Shreveport the Judge Paul Pressler School of Law, named for a former justice of the Texas Court of Appeals from Houston, Paul Pressler, a long-time leader of the theological conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention and a strongly conservative Republican activist. Pressler was a state representative from Harris County from 1957 to 1959 and a state court judge from 1970 to 1992. J. Michael Johnson is the founding dean of the new institution. The formation of the law school was originally announced in 2007.
LC expects to place the law school in the former federal building named for the late U.S. Representative Joe D. Waggonner, Jr. Currently there is no law school within two hundred miles of the planned location. Johnson said that the school will "pursue academic excellence by use of a curriculum that directly acknowledges and embraces our Judeo-Christian heritage and the moral foundations of the American legal system. We want our students to learn and to study the history and philosophy of the law, but all of that will be grounded in what we call 'The Unchanging Foundation.' That is the motto of Louisiana College, and it will be for the law school as well."
Johnson said that the curriculum will be grounded on the ideas of the Declaration of Independence: a Creator God with inalienable rights. The American Founding Fathers, said Johnson, "believed if we moved away from those truths, and the Natural law philosophy, we would be in trouble . . . So their admonition to us was to . . . interpret the Constitution very carefully and according to its original intent because if we fail to do that, we would drift away from the moorings. It is a perilous position, and that is where we find outselves today."
A board of reference has been named to advise regarding the establishment of the law school, including the two area U.S. Representatives John C. Fleming and Rodney Alexander. Others on the board include Alveda C. King, founder of King for America, Inc.; Tim LaHaye of Tim LaHaye Ministries, Beverly LaHaye of Concerned Women for America, psychologist James C. Dobson, David Barton of the group Wallbuilders, former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Associate Justice Jeffrey P. Victory of the Louisiana Supreme Court, and Richard Land, the president of the SBC Liberty Commission at the time, since resigned.
On December 15, 2010, the Louisiana College trustees received a $1 million contribution from an anonymous foundation in order to launch a divinity school at Louisiana College. This is Louisiana College's third announced graduate school since 2008. The school is named the Caskey School of Divinity, after a Southern Baptist minister who "tirelessly worked and evangelized in Louisiana". The founding dean for the school is Dr. Charles Quarles, who is currently serving as the Vice President for Integration of Faith and Learning and Research Professor of New Testament and Greek in the Christian Studies Division. Currently Louisiana College is able to grant up to the master's degree under Level 3 status of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The school began classes in Fall 2011. The school planned to initially accept up to one hundred students with free tuition, something unprecedented. Dr. Quarles explained the goals of the Caskey School of Divinity:
In April 2013, Dr. Quarles resigned from Louisiana College.
Meanwhile, funding of the divinity school came into question. The Cason Foundation, which donated $5 million to LC to fund the divinity school, announced that it will no longer financially support the college because of "actions of President (Joe) Aguillard which we believe to be unethical and potentially illegal." Edgar and Flo Cason, who established the foundation, informed LC trustees by letter on April 15 that it would end its ties to LC. A probe into the matter by a law firm in New Orleans claims that Aguillard had improperly diverted nearly $60,000 in divinity school donations to LC projects in Tanzania, Africa. Five LC board members, however, have defended Aguillard and maintain that he did not act improperly regarding the funds. Cason further questioned why the LC trustees did not permit him to address the board at its March meeting.
A special committee of the trustees voted 4-3 to clear Aguillard of wrongdoing in regard to the diverted funds. One of the dissenting votes was cast by Tony Perkins, a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and the president of the Family Research Council. Perkins subsequently questioned in an email to the Reverend Kris Chenier, chairman of the special panel and the pastor of the Trinity Heights Baptist Church in Shreveport, why the committee had implied that the vote to clear Aguillard had been unanimous, rather than by the one-vote margin.On April 30, the trustees called a special meeting to consider the dispute over the divinity school. Trustees voted to retain Aguillard as president and laid spiritual hands over him. It was not disclosed how many of the thirty-four trustees were present for the special meeting or the breakdown of the vote, but the trustees declared the matter closed for further consideration.
One of the things which sets LC apart from other schools is its commitment to promoting a Christian atmosphere. Because LC is a small school it fosters a small community environment where most students are familiar with each other. On October 25, 2008 LC inaugurated a new football field which brought the first stadium to the campus in 40 years. Since the new Wildcat Field students at LC have worked towards fostering new traditions centered around athletic/intramural events. Overall development amongst the student body is new and growing as the college grows larger and evolves. LC is still in a state of growth and expansion and has been experiencing record setting enrollment within the past few years.
Louisiana College have several treasured traditions carried out by its students. While LC lacks a large variety of student organizations, traditions are handed down mostly through word of mouth. One of the first traditions learned about at LC is the marriage swing located in front of Cottingham Hall. Legend holds that if a couple sits on the swing at the same time they are destined to be married. This of course leads to apprehension to sit on the swing, although many take their chances. Several have even proposed at the marriage swing. Another tradition held is the annual rolling of Cottingham Forest during Mom's Weekend. Every year LC holds a Mom's Weekend event when girls and their moms share time together on campus. On the first night of this weekend the male students of LC collect toilet paper and use it to TP the trees immediately in front of Cottingham Hall. In the morning the girls awake to a white wintery wonderland. Another tradition is the fabled Moses statue in front of the Weathersby Fine Arts Building. Legend says that it holds the power of good luck. This power is conferred upon an individual when he/she rubs the top of his head. This phenomenon has been investigated by many, but few are able to offer sufficient explanations for it. Throughout the school year Louisiana College holds several annual events. Homecoming Honey is an event held during homecoming week; male students compete for the hotly contested title of "homecoming honey" by showing off their talents and personalities. The winner is then selected by panel of judges. Christmas Gala is a treasured tradition at Louisiana College. This is LC's equivalent of prom without a dance. Students bring a date to a formal dinner and enjoy well prepared meals. After the meal students file into Guinn Auditorium for a Christmas presentation put on by professors and students. During this presentation the Gala Court is announced and presented to the student body. Cochon De Lait is another event put on by LC's Union Board. Cochon is a campus-wide crawfish boil with all you can eat crawfish. This event is much anticipated and students' families often participate. There are often inflatable games and live music.
Louisiana College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Wildcats are a member of the American Southwest Conference (ASC); and formerly competed in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball and tennis.