Our Lady of the Lake College (OLOL College), located in Louisiana’s capital city of Baton Rouge, is a four-year independent, private, Catholic institution. The College is a wholly owned subsidiary of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and is sponsored by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, North American Province.
Devoted to excellence in teaching and learning, OLOL College is a student-centered academic community guided by its institutional Mission. Student to full-time instructional faculty ratio is twenty-to-one, with Fall 2014 census reflecting an enrollment of 1701 students.
Accredited to offer doctorate, masters, bachelor’s and associate degrees, the College’s seventeen academic degree programs are organized within three schools: the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Health Professions and the School of Nursing.
Our Lady of the Lake College has an extensive and growing tradition of service to the community. During 2014, students provided 47,784 hours of service locally. In early 2011, the College was named by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Carnegie Engaged Campus. In addition to this prestigious Carnegie Foundation classification, the College has been named seven times to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll - which is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. This designation was especially significant from 2012 through 2014 when the College was featured "With Distinction" - an honor bestowed on only 100 to 120 colleges and universities in the nation.
History of Our Lady of the Lake College
A School of Nursing is Created to Serve Louisiana
Established in 1923 by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, the Our Lady of the Lake School of Nursing began in conjunction with the establishment of Our Lady of the Lake Sanitarium in the Capitol Lake area of downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The School was an integral part of the new hospital’s program of service to the community.
Five students from the St. Francis Sanitarium in Monroe, Louisiana, formed the nucleus of the first class of nine students. The students lived, attended classes and cared for patients in the hospital overlooking Capitol Lake. Upon completion of three calendar years of education, the students were awarded a diploma in nursing.
The School Initiates Innovations in Healthcare Education
The curriculum was revised over the years to incorporate advances in medical science, nursing science, nursing practice, and nursing education. In 1960, in response to the changing health needs of the community and the prevailing nursing shortage, the School of Nursing was the first school in the South to revise its curriculum by shortening its program from three calendar years to 27 consecutive months. Recruitment to the diploma program was intensified, enrollment increased, and the School continued to grow and maintain its reputation for excellence.
The Modern College Begins to Take Shape
During the 1970s, major changes began to occur in the student population. Along with a decline in residential students, there was a gradual but persistent increase in the number of non-traditional students (23 years of age and older) seeking admission to the nursing program. By the close of the decade, the School of Nursing became a commuter school and no longer offered on-campus housing. This coincided with the relocation of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center to its present site on Essen Lane.
In response to trends in nursing education and licensure, the faculty began exploring options in the 1980s to position nursing education within the collegiate setting. In 1989, the process culminated with the decision of the Franciscan Sisters and the medical center administration to transition to a degree-granting institution of higher education. In May of that year, Our Lady of the Lake College of Nursing and Allied Health was registered with the state. Within the next few years, the College began offering Associate of Science degrees in Radiologic Technology and general studies, in addition to nursing. Regional accreditation of the College was initially received from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in June 1994. In July of 1995, the College was officially renamed Our Lady of the Lake College.
New Programs are Developed
The late 1990s and early years of the new millennium were a time of expansion for the College, and several new associate degree programs were added to the curriculum. In 1998, the College was approved as a Level II institution to offer baccalaureate degrees, and by the turn of the century had added seven bachelor’s programs. Additional programs were established during the summer of 2000 to offer dynamic training opportunities including practical nursing and phlebotomy as well as continuing education for healthcare professionals.
In response to the regional devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the College ramped up outreach programs on three campuses in the New Orleans metropolitan area, ultimately graduating over 450 associate degree nurses who contributed significantly to a healthcare system in need. Another noteworthy point in the College’s history occurred in 2005, when SACS granted approval for master’s level programs in nurse anesthesia, nursing and physician assistant studies, making available for area professionals a new level of academic achievement. The College recently received approval from SACS to offer the Doctorate of Nursing in Nurse Anesthesia.
Our Lady of the Lake College Today
In 2009, the College received a full ten-year re-accreditation from SACS. This process was extremely valuable, leading to some reorganization of undergraduate programs and the development of a stronger core curriculum. Additionally, the College went through a reorganization of its undergraduate and graduate academic programs resulting in three academic schools: the School of Arts and Sciences. the School of Health Professions and the School of Nursing. Today the College offers 1 doctorate degree, 3 master’s degrees, 6 bachelor’s degrees and 4 associate degrees – in addition to 1 certificate program. Today, the College has over 1,700 students and a full-time faculty of 85.
In addition to an emphasis on academic excellence, Our Lady of the Lake College has continued the commitment to service begun by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady. During the 2013-2014 academic year, OLOL College students provided 47,246 hours of service to the community. This commitment to serve ensures graduates will possess a wide range of knowledge and skills which will allow them to continue to fulfill the College’s mission of service to God's people.