LSCPA named a finalist for national award

Published 12:24 am Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Lamar State College Port Arthur has been named among 30 finalists from across the nation for the Bellwether Award.

The college has been recognized among the Planning, Governance & Finance award finalists, one of three categories awarded by the Bellwether College Consortium.

LSCPA’s entry is based on its Commercial Driver Academy and Examination Center under construction on Highway 69 between Beaumont and Port Arthur.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The final announcement comes in Spring 2023, and the award is considered among the top accolades a junior/community/state two-year college can attain in the U.S.

LSCPA applied to become a third-party testing facility under the authority of the Texas Department of Public Safety in the summer of 2019.

The request was in response to the growing demand for training and examination opportunities for CDL students from across the state.

With this new testing authority, LSCPA became the only local facility to conduct CDL knowledge exams.

With COVID came even more demand for training and exam opportunities, leading to a federal EDA grant and ultimately a new CDL center in Southeast Texas.

“The goal is to minimize the ‘time to success’ for students who are pursuing a CDL license,” said Dr. Ben Stafford, Vice President of Workforce Training at LSCPA and author of the Bellwether Award application.

“COVID really slowed the opportunity to test for a CDL and that caused a slowdown in the production of qualified drivers across the state. Our program’s intent is to shorten the time between training and exam so we can get certified drivers on the road and in the workforce.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded LSCPA a $4.3 million Economic Development Administration CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant, leading to the construction of the CDL mega-testing center.

The project is being matched with $619,000 in local investment, including the donation of 20 acres of land along U.S. 69 between Beaumont and Port Arthur.

Most recently, the T.L.L. Temple Foundation presented a grant of more than $1.7 million to support the construction in the face of increased costs associated with economic trends. The CDL Center is breaking ground this fall with completion set for summer of 2023.

Established in 1995, the Bellwether Awards are a long-standing, respected award solely awarded to innovative community colleges. The rigorous award competition is an integral part of the Community College Futures Assembly where the 30 Bellwether Finalists are invited to present their program in a final round of competition among selected peer institutions.

The Futures Assembly focuses on cutting-edge, trendsetting programs that are worthy of scaling and replication given their evidence-based outcomes and indicators. The Bellwether Awards are awarded annually in three categories to community colleges with outstanding and innovative programs or practices.