Input sought on Sowela’s future

By Special to the American Press

New chancellor. New buildings. New path to accreditation. Now, Sowela Technical Community College will conclude 2012 with

an effort to craft a five-year strategic plan.

Chancellor Neil Aspinwall, who took the

reins midyear, heads a five-member steering committee and 15-member

planning committee

to shape Sowela’s future. The scope of the mission extends beyond

the borders of the Lake Charles campus and its Morgan Smith

facility in Jennings.

“Sowela must remain connected to the communities in which it serves so that we can respond to the needs of the businesses

and industries as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Aspinwall said.

“Engagement with our local communities

and industries, particularly with the workforce training aspects, is

also a high priority,”

said Charles Nwankwo, chief information resources and technologies

officer, who is assisting with the strategic planning effort.

Sowela’s institutional knowledge will be assisted by the community. Elected officials, business and industry leaders, civic

leaders, and Sowela alumni will gather at the Lake Charles Civic Center later this week for “A Conversation on College and

Community” to share their views.

The planning committee will gather information throughout the rest of the year, generate feedback in January, draft the plan

in the two months after that and then implement the plan beginning in August.

Sowela has enlisted the expertise of consultant Daniel Seymour, former vice chancellor of Houston Community College, for the

effort. Seymour, of QSystems, is a Fulbright Scholar and Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award senior examiner. He has consulted for more than 40 colleges and universities


Sowela, which will celebrate 75 years

of technical education in Southwest Louisiana in 2013, opened the

Phillips 66 Process

Technology Center this year and will soon open a new arts and

sciences building. The college is seeking Commission on Colleges

accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and


In early 2013, it will break ground on a 35,000-square-foot health and nursing facility.