University College Opens in New Orleans Centre

November 18, 1999

Robyn L. Loda

Tulane University College has expanded its presence to downtown New Orleans with its new satellite branch in the New Orleans Centre. A ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Rick Marksbury, dean of University College, and New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial took place there on Monday, Sept. 13.

The new facility is located on the third floor of the New Orleans Centre, next door to Macys and across from the new Warner Brothers Channel 38 studio. Course offerings include 22 classes in liberal arts and sciences, media arts, computer information systems and paralegal studies. Classes will be offered early in the morning, at lunchtime and during traditional evening hours, all designed for working adults.

"Our market is the working adult," said Marksbury. "They already have commitments to their work and family. The less pull on their time, the better."

At press time, a week before the campus opened, more than 180 students had enrolled in downtown classes. Marksbury noted the convenience of the location to downtown workers who will have easy access to meals through a number of food vendors at the New Orleans Centre, as well as parking in the adjacent garage. Marksbury cited inconvenience as the main deterrent for adult students using the uptown campus, which does not benefit from the downtown campus proximity to where many potential students work or the Elmwood campus proximity to where they live.

"Furthermore," said Marksbury, "with the recent construction of several residence halls, parking is currently severely limited on the uptown campus, forcing these students to park in the neighborhood and walk to night classes."

"The New Orleans Centre campus was inspired by the huge success that we'd had at Elmwood, which was our first big satellite location," said Greg Goodwin, assistant dean of University College. "Enrollment at Elmwood has grown steadily, by approximately 200 students each semester, since opening two years ago. It caused us to think that satellite locations are absolutely essential to the life of the college, remembering that convenience is everything," said Goodwin.

"As is the case at Elmwood, the downtown campus will be self-contained and self-sufficient," said Katie LeBlanc, assistant manager of the New Orleans Centre Campus. "We'll take care of everything for the students, including putting them into the system, scheduling, handling their paperwork, doing adds and drops," said LeBlanc. "They can buy their books here. We will operate like a mini campus."

Negotiations for the space at New Orleans Centre began two years ago, but were stalled by the sale of the building. Once new ownership was secured, the contract was signed in June 1999 for space for two 30-student classrooms and a computer lab. A rectangular layout makes it easy to double or triple this space as needed, said Marksbury.

"I don't see this as going into a shopping mall-we're not a shopping mall school," said Marksbury. "Instead, I see this as moving into a multi-complex facility, of which education happens to be one component."

Goodwin sees no threat from University of New Orleans Metropolitan College, which also targets the working adult market with an established downtown campus. Nor does he fear competition from the Loyola City College operation recently installed in New Orleans Centre.

"We offer a safer location than Metropolitan College," said Goodwin, "plus we will offer more areas of study than any of the competition, particularly in liberal arts and paralegal studies."

Marksbury believes this is the beginning of a major move toward expanding University College via satellite campuses. Although University College already operates a small facility on the North Shore, said Marksbury, a bigger, more accessible site is in the cards. Marksbury also anticipates tapping the Gulfport-Biloxi market, which is currently served only by Gulf Coast Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi, he said.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000