Catholic Schools

OLHCC has a student-friendly college tuition curve

 
When David M. “Buck” Landry played offensive guard for Holy Cross’ top-flight football teams in the early 1960s, the Tigers had only one problem: Jesuit and quarterback Pat Screen. 

Now that Landry has served for seven months as president of Our Lady of Holy Cross College (OLHCC), the financial whiz who still can run circles around a balance sheet candidly admits the No. 1 problem facing higher education today: out-of-control tuition.
 

“It’s a challenge all over the country,” said Landry, who got his doctorate in international affairs from the University of Notre Dame, spent 13 years in higher education at the University of Southern Mississippi and Nicholls State University and then nearly 30 years in high-level banking and financial services. “The real challenge is to keep tuition affordable and keep costs down, and a lot of those costs can’t be controlled by the administration.”

Low tuition, quality education
In assuming the presidency of OLHCC last August, Landry came to know intimately one of the great assets of the school where he had served for two years on the board of regents. At $10,000 a year for a full-time student, OLHCC is an incredible bargain for a student looking for quality education at an affordable price.
 
“If you have TOPS (Tuition Opportunity Program for Students), a full-time student for four years here would wind up with about $30,000 in debt,” Landry said. “You can contrast that with four years at another university, and you might be looking at $250,000 in debt. You don’t want to have persons getting out of college with such a debt burden that they can’t service the debt. It’s important to keep the costs down as much as we can.”
 
Landry is at home with facts and figures – in his public financing job in the 1990s, he helped sell bonds that financed renovations and construction at the Superdome, the Alario Center and Zephyrs Field – and he also knows what businesses want from a college graduate.

Keeps students in N.O.
OLHCC historically has done a great job producing graduates in education, health sciences and counseling, and since virtually all of its students live in the New Orleans area, most of those graduates remain in the region. Landry said OLHCC’s current enrollment is about 1,100, but he has a goal of growing that by an average of 100 students per year to reach about 1,500 students in three years.
 
“We have a record number of admissions for next year, about 300 for the freshman class,” Landry said. “We’ve increased our recruiting efforts and we’re hoping that it pays off.”

New programs coming
There are several new initiatives brewing. OLHCC has established a doctoral program in executive leadership. “This would be important for executives who want to move up the corporate ladder,” Landry said.
 
OLHCC also is offering a master’s degree in education in Baton Rouge and is attempting to do the same on the northshore to fulfill a perceived need among teachers who live in that area. OLHCC also is working with Delgado Community College’s Culinary Institute by offering food science courses at Delgado’s new satellite offices at Howard and St. Charles avenues.
 
OLHCC graduates about 70 nursing students a year, and that will continue to be important as the LSU-Veterans Administration hospital complex opens. The college will award its first doctorate in counseling in May. Landry also would like to offer more educational options for the hundreds of military personnel who live on the West Bank.
 
Landry said his Holy Cross background – his high school years and at Notre Dame – informs everything he does.
 
“I may have been a banker, but I also had to manage humans,” Landry said. “We are called to educate the mind but not at the expense of the heart. My main focus has been having everyone work as a team so that we can achieve more. I’m enjoying being with the students. It keeps me young.”
 
Our Lady of Holy Cross College will host a testimonial dinner honoring its former president, Holy Cross Father Thomas E. Chambers, March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Metairie Country Club. Sponsorships and individual reservations are available by calling 398-2206 or going to olhcc.edu/ThankYouFather.

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