About Us

History of the College


The Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) was created in 1999 to bring almost all the state’s community and technical colleges together into one governance body. Driven primarily by the need for increased workforce training capabilities, Governor M.J. “Mike” Foster and other top governmental officials promoted the idea as a simplification of the complex and inefficient governance structure in operation at that time.

Since the 1930’s vocational education has been offered to the citizens of Louisiana through a system of post-secondary technical schools. Initially these “trade schools” or “vo-tech schools” as they were often referred to, were governed by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education/Board of Vocational Education. ACT 151 of the 1998 First Extraordinary Session not only created LCTCS but also moved vocational education under the umbrella of LCTCS as Louisiana Technical Colleges (LTC) reflecting the integration of technical and applied academic education.

Additionally, ACT 151 added seven community colleges to the state’s three community colleges that were operating at that time. State Senator Louis Lambert, a resident of Ascension parish and advocate for the community and technical college system, was instrumental in having a community college located in Ascension parish. Designed to serve the residents of the parishes along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, River Parishes Community College was founded.

River Parishes Community CollegeJoe Ben Welch

Joe Ben Welch, Ph.D., was named RPCC’s first Chancellor and is responsible for building RPCC from the ground up. Under Dr. Welch’s leadership, the college began offering classes in 1999 to little more than 100 students in the Sorrento Firehouse and a local church. Classes were moved shortly thereafter to a leased facility in Sorrento consisting of a large Acadian farmhouse administrative building with classrooms stretching across the property. The first graduating class consisted of six students.

In 2005, the LCTCS Board of Supervisors, under Act 506, re-organized LTC combining all the LTC entities with the Community College in their respective service areas. It was this reorganization that brought the Ascension Technical College to River Parishes Community College. Due to space constraints, RPCC continued to operate two campuses in Sorrento with the campus on HWY 22 focused on academics and the campus on Hwy 61 focused on technical training.

Under Dr. Welch’s leadership, RPCC experienced unprecedented growth. In 2010, RPCC was named the fastest growing community college of its size in the nation by Community College Week.  RPCC’s 2013 graduating class of 206 students was larger than the college’s first student body.

Ascension Campus

In 2012 RPCC was authorized to purchase property and build a dedicated campus. Over 43 acres in the Edenborne Development off LA 44 near Interstate 10 was purchased to house the entire college. After navigating through the purchase, design, and initial construction phase, Dr. Welch announced his retirement, ending his storied fifty-year career in higher education. Dr Bill Martin, Executive Vice Chancellor of RPCC from 1999 until his retirement in 2014 praised Dr. Welch, “Of all the CEO’s I’ve worked for in my forty-six years {in higher education}, he was the best. He was a man of great integrity and his word was good as gold.”

After a nation-wide search, Dale Doty, PhD was named Chancellor. Under the leadership of then Chancellor Doty, as construction was coming to a close in 2014 for the Academic Building, the RPCC Foundation kicked off a capital campaign to raise $1.1 Million in matching funds required under ACT 360  to build the Technical Training Building which allowed the campus to fully consolidate to one campus in 2016. Local philanthropists Bill and Mary Lee Dixon were the first to donate with the petro-chemical industry, most notably BASF, and local businesses donating the required matching funds.

The Technical Training facility was completed in 2016 allowing the RPCC technical campus to relocate to the Gonzales campus bringing the college together for the first time.

Westside Campus

LCTCS opted to restructure in 2017 with the Baton Rouge Community College’s Westside campus being allocated to RPCC. That Plaquemine campus expanded the RPCC service area to all of Iberville parish and brought together the expertise from that campus in PTEC and Instrumentation along with their partnerships with companies like DOW and Shintech to the RPCC family.

Reserve Campus

The restructure was completed in 2018 with the allocation of the South Central Louisiana Community College (SCL) Reserve campus to RPCC. This campus, formerly known as River Parishes VoTech, had a long history of providing outstanding technical training to the residents of St. John the Baptist parish and surrounding parishes. Of particular note is the strength of education in PTEC, Instrumentation, HVAC, and welding. All these skills are in high demand in the river parishes region. St. John the Baptist parish government provided the matching funds required under ACT 360 to build the new Technical Training Center via a land donation. This facility was completed in 2016 with additional upgrades to the façade of the other buildings completed in 2020.  Additional upgrades to the welding facilities are on-going and expected to be complete before Summer 2021.

United Way of St. Charles Campus

In 2019, the industry and governmental leaders of St. Charles parish determined the need to have a community college located in their highly industrial community. The most populous parish in Louisiana without a community college, the business and industry leaders partnered with United Way of St. Charles to fund the purchase of a building in Boutte on Hwy 90 and converted that building to a college campus. With a nominal lease fee, RPCC began offering on-line classes based on that campus in Fall 2020 with in-person classes expected to begin in Spring 2021 following the completion of the renovation.

RPCC Today

RPCC boasts a student body of nearly 4,000 and serves another 3,700 non-credit students annually. Chancellor Doty is credited with increasing business partnerships, transitioning the college into a multi-campus true community college serving all of the communities of the River Region with first class facilities and a full range of services. To quote Dr. Sullivan, LCTCS System President, “Seven years ago, Dale inherited a college in transition. Yet he engaged the faculty, staff, students, and community and built a college that is meeting the needs of the communities it serves. Dale has left an indelible mark on his colleagues and the community.”

The current chancellor of RPCC is Mr. Quintin D. Taylor. Mr. Taylor was selected as the interim chancellor in June of 2022. He served as interim for 6 months and was announced as the offical chancellor in December of 2022. 

Today, college offers a variety of courses at each of the four college campuses and in partnership with community partners across the service area such as the East Iberville Industry Neighbor Companies (East Iberville INC) sponsored PTEC course at the St. Gabriel Community Center, WorkReady U offered in St. Rose, and technical training offered at St. James Parish Schools Career and Technical Center. Dual Enrollment opportunities in nearly all our communities allowing high school students to earn college credits. Workforce Training is offered on-site across the region for companies like Noranda, Entergy, and many others. Whether looking to complete high school, improve your career skills, earn an Associates or complete coursework that transfers to a degree at a four-year university, RPCC has the course and the campus that is convenient for you.

Take the next step

Accomplish your educational and professional goals. Take the next step and apply to join the River Parishes Community College family.

Campus Locations

Gonzales Campus
925 W. Edenborne Parkway
Gonzales, LA. 70737

Reserve Campus
181 Regala Park Road
Reserve, LA. 70084

St. Charles Campus
13145 HWY 90
Boutte, LA. 70039

Westside Campus
25250 Tenant Road
Plaquemine, LA. 70764


River Parishes Community College is committed to collaboration, accountability, respect & inclusion,
excellence, and sustainability.

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