|THOUGH FRIENDS MAY LEAVE AND LIVES MAY CHANGE, FAITHFUL WE SHALL ALWAYS BE.|
|Funds help OPJC, but fight was far from finished
Originally published in The News-Star newspaper, June 4, 2006
It was August 1933. Ouachita Parish Junior College had closed for the summer, and C.C. and Lottie Mae Colvert traveled to Arkansas to visit relatives. The worries of the spring over funding were relieved by the upcoming agreement and contract with LSU, which made OPJC part of the university system.
On Aug. 13, 1933, the Monroe Morning World announced "Junior College to Become Part of Louisiana State University." The terms of the signed agreement, announced by Superintendent T.O. Brown, stated that "the plant and equipment of the junior college would be loaned to the state university for its use as part of the university system providing education for the first two college years and the college will henceforth be known as the Northeast Center of Louisiana State University." Fewer than 30 days later, however, there was another headline in the Morning World - "Louisiana State University Abandons Plans to Operate Junior College in Ouachita." This action was made known to Colvert via telegram from LSU President James Monroe Smith and a dispatch to the Associated Press. The words of Colvert on Sept. 10 describe those frightful days, "We are wholly in the dark about the reasons for such an outcome of a plan on which we had depended so much for the perpetuation of the junior college work. We are entirely unprepared for this news."
A week later, there was another headline, "State will finance Ouachita Junior College." The money was to come from a contingency fund at Gov. O.K. Allen's disposal. What happened? There are two stories, one from the newspaper and one from Thomas Hatfield's dissertation, "A Junior College Man." Both revolve around state Sen. James A. Noe.
The newspaper reported simply that Noe had made a trip to Baton Rouge to meet with the administration and the state realized that it had an obligation to the students and teachers of Ouachita Parish. Hatfield reports a somewhat more colorful story. Colvert and Noe, after no success with Allen, traveled to see U.S. Sen. Huey Long in New Orleans. He refused to support the agreement with LSU. They continued to talk to Long and tried to persuade him with stories of families moving to Ouachita Parish to attend the college, the value of linking to LSU and the "weeping widow of Wisner" who wanted to educate her two sons and cried when she heard the college was closing. Long refused to make OPJC part of LSU, but did make a phone call. He called President Smith of LSU and demanded that the budget for OPJC be run through the LSU budget. Perhaps this was the "contingency fund" that Allen used.
So OPJC would open its doors on Sept. 25 - with one more year of operating funds. But the party was not over. During the tumultuous spring and summer of 1934, we would see Noe again as he passed Act 231, which re-instated the original contract with LSU and made us officially Northeast Center.
Have a great day at ULM.
Dr. John Knesel, ULM Professor75th articles page
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