By Dr. Elizabeth Clarke,
Pineville, LA (LC News) – Louisiana College welcomed Congresswoman Julia Letlow to campus Thursday—her first visit since taking office in April.
LC President Rick Brewer welcomed Letlow, along with some of her staff members, at a breakfast meeting where he shared campus updates and introduced LC administrators. Letlow recalled fondly how she had attended a faith-based youth camp on the Louisiana College campus several decades ago.
“This tour has been a long time coming,” Letlow said. “Higher ed is near and dear to my heart, and our hearts are here to serve.”
Letlow has worked in higher education for many years. She served most recently as the director of external affairs and strategic communications for the University of Louisiana at Monroe, before running to fill her late husband Luke Letlow’s seat in Congress. Letlow had been elected in November 2020 and was slated to take office in January 2021. He died of COVID-19 in December.
“One thing my husband ran on—and that I want to carry on—is that he wanted to be accessible,” she said. “Day or night, we’re here to serve.”
She told LC administrators that as projects and programs arise, her office will be a resource. She introduced each of her staff members and gave each area they will be the best resource for.
Letlow and her staff have been touring all higher educational institutions in her 5th congressional district.
Brewer shared the importance of the Christian mission of the college and briefed the congresswoman on the continuing struggle that faith-based institutions endure. Letlow, a woman of faith herself, acknowledged the challenges he described and listened intently as Brewer recounted how proposed bills in Congress and federal policies have the potential to harm Louisiana College and other similar institutions.
“Congresswoman Julia Letlow is a genuine servant-leader,” said President Rick Brewer. “How encouraging to know we have public servants such as Dr. Letlow who lead with integrity and authenticity. Her passion for the people of Louisiana is obvious and deeply appreciated. Louisiana College is grateful to have another friend in Washington, D.C. who understands the challenges facing the future of higher education in America.”
Henry Robertson, coordinator of Sponsored Programs, discussed the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) grant he is completing for the Office of Post-Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). Letlow is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee. She took great interest in how the USDE grant programs will benefit higher education at LC.
Letlow spoke about her experience in higher education and how helping students across the 5th district is one of her top priorities. She wanted everyone to know that she is a Louisiana-centered public servant who will work to meet the needs of all colleges in the district. Federal grant programs such as the Title III IDEA grant LC received several years ago have brought millions of dollars in funding for LC programs and students.
Robertson explained how the SIP grant would benefit student services and how the $400,000 grant might provide funds for additional academic support for any student in need.
“The USDE SIP grants are an important tool for making transformative improvements in both retention and graduation rates for the school,” Robertson said. “By keeping students enrolled and graduating on time, Louisiana College becomes stronger, central Louisiana becomes more capable in its workforce, and America is better.”
Robertson added that in the 20-plus years he has followed politics in the 5th district that this is the first time, to his knowledge, anyone elected to this office has made a higher education tour—including her staff—and asserted her heartfelt belief that higher education is a key to advancing Louisiana.
“Dr. Letlow’s visit was most certainly a breath of fresh air and a welcome signal of better days to come for Louisiana, this country, and higher education everywhere,” Robertson said.