LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - We've told you that SOWELA will play a key role in the projected economic boom in the Lake Area.
Well now, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System that oversees SOWELA has a new President.
And today, Dr. Monty Sullivan visited the school for the first time.
The new President had plenty of positive things to say. In fact, he believes the school is one of the fastest growing technical community colleges in the state, if not the country.
Last week, Dr. Sullivan was selected by a Board of Supervisors as the new President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
"And this is the first opportunity I've had to visit SOWELA Technical Community College and I'm going to tell you something, you guys are on a roll," said Sullivan.
He added, "There's a buzz in this community about what's going on in SOWELA Technical Community College. It's an exciting place, lots of new facilities, but more than facilities what's going on within those facilities is exciting. I had an opportunity to meet some of the students and see the direction they're taking, the excitement that they have, the optimism they have for the future."
SOWELA's Chancellor, Neil Aspinwall says he's thankful the board chose someone like Sullivan.
"I'm glad that it was one that came from among our colleges and he knows our system, he knows the state of Louisiana, he knows what we do, he understands what we do and he'll move us ahead," said Aspinwall.
According to Sullivan, SOWELA may be the fastest growing technical community college in the state, if not the nation. Aspinwall says it's evident.
"If you look at our past growth, 23% over the past two semesters, I do believe within two years we'll be at or above 5,000 students so that's tremendous growth," explained Aspinwall.
And while a lot of positives were highlighted today, Dr. Sullivan also addressed some of the challenges that lie ahead.
"One of the things I think we have to do is continue to strengthen those relationships with business and industry, but also to make sure that the capacity exists, so that when students show up on our doorsteps and are interested in finding that next job opportunity that they are able to do so," said Sullivan.
Sullivan says its important SOWELA does not miss this once in a generational opportunity with the economic boom.
"The work you're doing produces the workforce that will ensure that they're successful, don't miss that connection," said Sullivan.
Chancellor Aspinwall says he believes the budget and enrollment will continue to grow and will also lead to pay increases down the line.
For more information on Dr. Sullivan: http://www.lctcs.edu/news-media/press-releases/lctcs-board-of-supervisors-nominate-dr.-monty-sullivan-for-system-president