Gov. John Bel Edwards announces funding for LSMSA residence hall

GOV John Bel Edwards LSMSA 091818 (4)

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday announced to students, faculty and staff of the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) that the state will allot $27 million for a new residence hall. Construction should begin in the next fiscal year.

“We have secured, and I have committed, the funding necessary to build a new dormitory here at LSMSA,” said Gov. Edwards during his announcement. “This is a residential setting for you all, and it is important that you have a home here that is conducive to what you are trying to do in terms of your academic studies.

“I am very excited about this, and we are going to make sure that this funding is made available as soon as possible.”

The project has been in the works for several years, beginning under the direction of LSMSA’s former Executive Director Dr. Patrick Widhalm.

“LSMSA has earned its place among the nation’s top schools because of the exceptional ability and dedication of its students and faculty,” Widhalm said, who now serves as head of school at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans. “However, what sets it apart is the ‘living, learning’ environment.

“As I saw among students during my tenure at the school, the current residence halls, Prudhomme and Caddo, were places that set a transformative LSMSA experience,” Widhalm continued. “It is so exciting to think of moving beyond these residence halls to a properly designed place that will nurture, secure, and transform generations of Eagles for years to come.”

Prudhomme and Caddo halls, both Northwestern State University residence halls built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, were loaned to LSMSA in 1982 to house its male and female students. Extensive renovations were completed in both buildings during the late 1980s. Originally, the residence halls were offered to LSMSA for five years, but due to state budget restraints, the school was unable to submit a request for a new residence hall until 2005. Since that time, LSMSA has maintained the facilities beyond their useful life spans.

“We are thankful to NSU because without their sharing of these residence halls with us, LSMSA would not have existed as it is today,” said LSMSA Executive Director Dr. Steve Horton. “Since the school’s opening in fall 1983, all of its near 6,000 students have called Caddo, Prudhomme, Bossier, or Bozeman halls their home throughout their LSMSA experience. Bossier and Bozeman halls have since been demolished.”

During his announcement, Gov. Edwards applauded the students for their ability to make the most out of their current residencies.

“One of the things that encourages me most about young people at this school is that you have not allowed the condition of the dormitories to diminish your experience,” said Gov. Edwards.

The new residence hall will support and encourage the needs of each student and provide a safe community. Ashe, Broussard, and Weinzettle Architects, and Tipton Associates, the designers of the project, secured input from faculty and staff, students and parents to define ideal areas for a comprehensive campus living environment.

The proposed 110,000-square-foot facility, located adjacent to the campus and behind NSU’s Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library and LSMSA’s Center for Performance and Technology, will have four stories and three towers, and will include 10 neighborhoods designated for male and female students. Each neighborhood will include a common room, a kitchen, several two-bedroom resident suites, a laundry room and a study lounge.

In addition, the facility will include administrative offices for Student Services, a student health center; apartments for residential life staff, a demonstration kitchen with a small dining area, a guest suite for visiting professors and prospective students, a crafts room, a resident lounge, a gaming room and a theater room. The facility includes an outdoor recreation area.

“For more than 35 years we have been able to offer Louisiana’s high-achieving and highly motivated students a unique, world-class education with nationally ranked, university-credentialed faculty and classes unlike anywhere else in the state,” said Dr. Kristi Pope Key, director of academic services. “With the addition of our new residence hall, what we are finally able to do is offer those same students a unique, world-class living environment to match the vision and the scope of our learning environment.”

LSMSA students, faculty, staff and governing board members all expressed eagerness and thankfulness to the state for seeing the benefits of this upcoming project.

“The Board of Directors is excited and enthusiastic about moving ahead,” said Sharon Gahagan, chair of the LSMSA Board of Directors. “The board thanks Gov. Edwards for his leadership and dedication to the dormitory project. By doing so, he understands the importance of providing safe, secure and comfortable housing for LSMSA students and has made a commitment to the total educational experience on campus.”

The LSMSA Foundation Board of Trustees in 2013 provided funding for a feasibility study for the proposed new residence hall.

“It is a project we have been working on for years, so it has been a long time coming,” Bill New, president of the LSMSA Foundation Board of Trustees, said. “We are thankful to finally see it come to fruition, and it is all thanks to a lot of hard work from a lot of different people.”

Construction is estimated to take two years. Upon completion, the facility will house 360 students. The school is currently at its enrollment capacity of 365 students.

“The living/learning experience at LSMSA is so life-changing that, each year, eager parents and students manage to look beyond our aging facilities to see that the experience is worth the sacrifice,” Emily Shumate, director of Enrollment and Student Services, said. “Even with the issues that exist in our current residence halls, we had a waiting list for this school year. Finally being able to offer applicants a living experience that is as exceptional as the learning experience we offer them will be a game-changer.”

LSMSA is now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 school year. Interested students can start the process at

12 thoughts on “Gov. John Bel Edwards announces funding for LSMSA residence hall

  1. In total agreement with Brain C, Michelle and Kim too. Education has been neglected for too long in this State, and how could a state so rich with oil and gas (like Texas) be broke? Think about it. These dorms were in use by NSC students back in the early 60’s! Prudhomme and Caddo were considered “new” at that time, but obviously outdated today (about 60 years old). NSU could utilize these dorms again if they were renovated. Yes, the La. School is in need of dorms and we desperately need high paying jobs for these students to remain within this State; who will be the next governor? The technical colleges (former trade schools) have received their share during the last several years, but education should be #1 and that will provide or allow $$ for highways that are desperately needed in Louisiana. Do a little research.

  2. LSMSA has been a bright spot in Louisiana and deserves every bit of funding it can secure. It’s not a place for “privileged kids.” These kids earn their place with academic performance and many go on to earn scholarships at the nation’s best universities. I met many from towns so small I’d never even heard of them. The school gives children from places like these an even footing (at the very least) with those from Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and New Orleans in terms of quality education. Anything the state can do to help out LSMSA will benefit us all in long run.

  3. So typical of the “entitlement” mentality. This school was good for me, she says. Oh? THEN YOU PAY FOR IT!! It’s always hardworking taxpayers who get stuck with the bill just so some elites can go play at some special school. No tuition cost? That is total BS! Make those who benefit from it PAY FOR IT!

    Meanwhile, REAL public schools continue to be neglected.

    Wake up taxpayers! Vote ’em out!

    • I’m uncertain where you are getting your information. Directly from the website: “As a public high school, there is no tuition to attend and only a nominal room and board fee that covers housing, meals, and campus activities including dances and residence hall programs.” Elites? Maybe some students come from wealth. But some students are from underrepresented areas and don’t have much of anything. The students at LSMSA have to work hard to get there, and even harder when they are there.

  4. It is amazing what a broke state “Louisiana” will spend 27 million on .
    Hell….forget roads or jobs we wil build privileged kids a place to stay .

  5. I hope this Edwards is a one-term guvnar, but I doubt it. Louisiana voters tend to re-elect incumbents, it’s “the devil you know.”

  6. So where are the funds? We were told for months that the State was short of a balanced budget to the tune of $300M to $900M so I guess they fixed it by taking more of our money or it was a lie. The out of control spending BS continues unabated but hey the Gov got a great PR stop out of it and I noticed that the same people that bitched about Jindal’s travels are somehow quiet about Edwards’. #SymbolismOverSubstance

  7. Governor will help build a new hall for LSMSA but he won’t fund the trade school ? Makes no sense,trade school kids don’t have equipment or supplys
    but the kids who go to LSMSA come from money .

    • What sets LSMSA apart from many schools is that it is public and not private. Most students DON’T come from money. Roughly 30% or more qualify for the free and reduced lunch program at their home schools and often need financial support in other ways during their stay.

    • Matt, the kids at LSMSA do not come from money. While there are some, the vast majority of the students are middle class & quite a good bit of lower class as well. I am a graduate of LSMSA & my parents were most certainly not wealthy. We barely got by sometimes. This school was quite a blessing for me. The dorm is actually a necessity as the current ones are literally falling apart & becoming a health hazard. There were fears of it being condemned before a new dorm ever got approved.

      • LSMSA is a PUBLIC school. Students who meet criteria may be admitted, whether or not parents can afford room and board (there is NO tuition cost). If parents can not afford room and board, fee waivers may be applied. Take a tour through the current dorms. You’ll understand why they need a new place to live.

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