SUNO opens West Bank campus

Southern University at New Orleans opened its new West Bank campus this week, enrolling 160 students in evening classes inside the Landry-Walker High School building in Algiers.

SUNO’s presence at the high school makes for a comfortable partnership that has so far resulted in 80 Landry-Walker students taking college-level courses through the university’s Early Start Program.

In a news release, SUNO’s West Bank coordinator, Wesley Bishop, called the new campus an exercise in expanding access to a historically underserved part of the city.

SUNO Chancellor Victor Ukpolo announced plans for the new campus in August, explaining that his plan is to expand incrementally until a student can get a “full-service, four-year degree,” all on the West Bank campus.

The plan has been in the works for nearly a decade as leaders in both secondary and postsecondary education have lamented the void of options on the West Bank.

The great barrier, apparently, is the Mississippi River.

Ukpolo points out that about 30 percent of the nation’s population holds a four-year degree or higher, while only 15 percent of people on West Bank can say the same thing.

He estimated that SUNO would have to eventually shepherd 290,000 students through its West Bank campus to meet the national average.