Saturday, July 13, 2024

SBBA Higher Education Summit 2024: Leaders Discuss Future of Northwest Louisiana Institutions

by BIZ Magazine

The annual SBBA Higher Education Summit, presented by Christus Shreveport-Bossier Health System, convened key figures from Northwest Louisiana’s higher education institutions, local legislators, and the public to discuss the current status and future needs of the region’s colleges and universities. The summit provided a platform for dialogue between higher education leaders and members of the Northwest Louisiana Legislative Delegation.

Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Commissioner of Higher Education, opened the event with remarks emphasizing the importance of collaboration between educational institutions and legislative bodies to foster innovation and address challenges in higher education. Following her address, representatives from nine regional institutions shared updates on their achievements and strategic initiatives.

The Higher Education Panel featured:

  • Centenary College: Dr. Chris Holoman, President
  • Grambling State University: Mr. Adarian Williams, Deputy Chief of Staff for the President
  • Louisiana Tech University: Cami Geisman, Executive Vice President for External Affairs
  • LSU Health Sciences Center: Dr. David Gusick, Chancellor
  • LSU Shreveport: Dr. Robert Smith, Chancellor
  • Northwestern State University: Laurie Morrow, Executive Director for Economic Development
  • Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College: Dr. Jayda Spillers, Chancellor
  • Southern University Shreveport: Dr. Aubra Gantt, Chancellor

Legislators present at the summit included:

  • Representative Dennis Bamburg Jr.
  • Representative Steven Jackson
  • Representative Tammy Phelps
  • Representative Chris Turner

During the summit, university leaders highlighted their institutions’ innovative programs, recent accomplishments, and the critical partnerships they have formed to enhance educational outcomes and workforce readiness. Each institution’s representative also discussed their specific needs and priorities for the upcoming 2025 legislative session, focusing on securing funding, expanding program offerings, and addressing infrastructure requirements.

Legislators provided insights into the successes and challenges faced during the recently concluded legislative session. They engaged in a robust discussion on the pivotal role higher education plays in workforce development, stressing the need for continuous investment in education to drive economic growth and community development in Northwest Louisiana.

Dr. Reed and the panelists underscored the importance of aligning educational programs with the evolving needs of the workforce to ensure that graduates are well-prepared for the job market. They also emphasized the need for legislative support to sustain and enhance the quality of higher education in the region.

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