It was five and a half years ago when Dr. Jim Henderson stepped onto the Bossier Parish Community College as its Chancellor.
Coming in, Henderson knew the community college had all the elements of a “perfect storm” and was on target to becoming world class. Its combination of faculty and staff, campus facilities and the support it received from the community gave it the most potential for achieving great success.
Yet, Henderson feels that the college has yet to reach its full potential.
“This is a community of forward thinking movers,” he said. “I hope people fully understand what a gift this college is to the area. It’s truly a magical place.”
Henderson is confident that BPCC’s reputation in the community, state and on a national scale will continue to prove itself year after year. However, he will be supporting the school from a new venture come 2015.
Henderson will take office as the 18th President of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches Jan. 1. He was selected unanimously by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System in September.
“Change is good. Change is the only thing that helps us improve,” Henderson said of his departure. “I can’t help but miss people on a personal side, but BPCC is positioned to become the preeminent community college in the nation. I have no doubt they will achieve that designation.”
Under Henderson’s leadership, Bossier Parish Community College created market responsive programs in nursing, oil and gas technology, construction management, industrial technology and engineering.
But there’s more to take away from the job than these accolades.
“The best part of my day is walking around campus and talking to the students,” Henderson said. “Whether I’m helping someone with a math problem in the learning center or talking to someone and learning their dog’s name…this campus is filled with a rich group of diverse students who are invested in themselves because they want something better for them. Students thank me for what I’m doing, but they don’t understand the impact they’ve had on me.”
Henderson said leaving the BPCC faculty and staff will also be tough.
“This group is very dedicated to the promise of what the institution stands for,” he said. “They are the hardest working group of individuals and we have developed a great working relationship. I’m excited to see what the incredible team here is able to achieve moving forward.”
Dr. Rick Bateman Jr. has been named the interim chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College, effective Jan. 1, 2015. The Louisiana Community and Technical College System Board of Supervisors approved the recommendation at its November board meeting.
“Dr. Bateman has the right personality to make this college move forward,” Henderson said. “He is creative and a man of character. I’m looking forward to partnering with him at NSU and seeing the BPCC/NSU relationship grow stronger.”
Bateman currently serves as Interim Director of Northwest Louisiana Technical College. He will serve in both roles until a permanent chancellor is selected.
“Bossier Parish Community College is such a great institution and Jim Henderson has done such a fabulous job over the last five years,” Bateman said. “He has raised the profile of this college significantly and has increased the value of the degrees earned by the students who come through here.”
Henderson and Bateman have worked together to transition the college at the first of the year. Bateman said Henderson’s absence at BPCC will be felt, but his presence has created a path for the school’s future.
“He gets it. He understands what this business of two year and technical colleges is all about. He understands that it’s about the people and creating opportunity and hope for a lot of folks,” Bateman said. “He not only gets it, but he gets after it. He doesn’t waste time. He sets goals then sets out to accomplish them. To me, he’s a great friend, colleague and someone I’m grateful to see him staying in Louisiana.”
The LCTCS Board of Supervisors will conduct a comprehensive national search to find the next chancellor of BPCC. This search process will include the selection of a search committee, stakeholder meetings, campus meetings, and public forums. Faculty, staff, and students will be included the process.
Bateman added that he will be applying for the official Chancellor’s position.
“I’m excited about being asked to provide some interim leadership during the search, but I will apply and compete with all those folks who have an interest in coming to Bossier Parish. So we’ll see what happens,” Bateman said. “We love this community. We’d love to stick around for a very long time. If provided an opportunity to lead an institution in northwest Louisiana, we would definitely love to make this our home.”
In his final days at BPCC, Henderson is not only reflecting on his past, but focused on his future. He’s already been a visible presence on the Northwestern campus and sees it’s potential to be a premier educational institution…just like he did at BPCC.
When asked if he will stay in contact with his Bossier Parish home, Henderson said “absolutely.”