Caddo Comm. Appropriates $1Million for local Legal & Health Education Projects
The Pathway to bringing legal education to North Louisiana received a big boost the Caddo Parish Commission. On December 1, 2021 the Commission adopted its 2022 Annual Budget. The adopted budget provides an additional $700,000 to support ongoing efforts by Southern University Law Center's (SULC) phased approach to establishing a branch campus. The goal is to scale over the next 3-4 years to offer a 4 year part-time program at a branch campus in Caddo Parish. Phase 1 begins with current 3L students participating in a Semester in Shreveport beginning January 2022. Students will work across public and private sectors while finishing their coursework toward graduation. From there it will expand to a year with hopes of Fall 2025 having its first 1L class starting in Caddo Parish.
“We have a real chance to make this a reality. We know that previous efforts went unsuccessful with the Louisiana College start up law school in 2010. However , Southern University is an established brand across the world and Southern University Law Center has produced many brilliant legal minds that have made an impact locally and nationally. This is an ideas who's time has come.” Commissioner Jackson said.
The additional appropriation follows $500,000 secured by Senator Gregory Tarver during the 2021 Legislative Session. The additional appropriation will bring the total to $1.2 million for renovations and IT upgrades to the Shreve Memorial Library where the the Law Center will operate out of. Currently SULC will occupy the third and fourth floors with potential of using the entire building as the phases advance, The Downtown Library is a formal federal courthouse which is now owned by the Parish Commission and the City of Shreveport and managed by the Shreveport Memorial Library System. The law school program is not associated with the Southern University at Shreveport as the two are separate institutions.
Decades in the making, the pathway to legal education gain momentum in 2019 when the Commission approved Ordinance 5869 of 2019 to appropriate $100,000 to help fund a formal Board of Regents study. While the study rejected building a brand new law school, it did identify a significant gap in legal education in North Louisiana. State Representative Cedric Glover's House Concurrent Resolution 24 (HCR 24) called on the Board of Regents to study how to meet education, economic, and workforce needs of the Shreveport-Bossier region, through establishment of Southern University Law Center campus in Shreveport.
Additionally the Parish budget provides $333,000 to LSU-Health Shreveport to support the Center Emerging Viral Threat Lab. The lab will be located inside the brand new Center for Medical Education located on LSU Health Shreveport's campus. Consistent with previously adopted Ordinance 6044 of 2021 the Parish Commission will provide $333,000 over a three year person for a total of $1 million in support
"LSU Health Shreveport is one of our largest employers and we must work to leverage it as an asset. Our region is indebted to the work they have done during the pandemic and even now as we continue to see new variants of Covid19 form," says Jackson. Funding for the project comes from a portion of the Commission's $42 million from President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan.
When completed, the new $60 million Center for Medical Education and Wellness will feature spacious classrooms that can accommodate up to 250 students, the 187,000-sf facility will enable the medical school to increase its medical school class size to 200 by 2023 to address a statewide shortage of physicians.