RPCC announces the passing of the college’s founding chancellor

Published 12:45 pm Thursday, September 14, 2023

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RESERVE — With great sadness, River Parishes Community College (RPCC) announces the passing of their beloved Founding Chancellor, Dr. Joe Ben Welch.

Dr. Welch was an educator with over fifty years of experience in education instruction, administration and community service. His love of education took him across three states and as many colleges and universities.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Math and Science Education from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana. After teaching in Louisiana and Texas for several years, he returned to school and earned a master’s degree in Math and Science Education from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. He later earned his doctorate in Administration and Supervision in Higher Education (EdD).

Upon graduation from Lamar, he directed the development of a branch campus for the university in Orange, Texas. That branch is now a community college. Welch held various positions at Lamar ranging from instructor, director, dean and provost to president.

He spent twenty years in Lamar before accepting the presidency at Middle Georgia College in Cochran, Georgia where he served for nine years before returning to Louisiana to accept the position of founding Chancellor at River Parishes Community College in 1999, a position he held until his retirement on August 31, 2013.

“Dr. Welch’s legacy as the first Chancellor of RPCC will forever be recognized through the thousands of students who benefited from his advocacy and commitment to provide educational and workforce training opportunities for the people of the River Region. Joe Ben Welch almost singlehandedly built RPCC into the academic and workforce engine it is today and am I grateful for all he did for the college,” said RPCC Chancellor Quintin D. Taylor.

Under Dr. Welch’s leadership, RPCC grew from a small college in rented facilities to the beautiful new campus located today on West Edenborne Parkway. What started as a class of seven grew into an enrollment of over 3600 at his retirement. His early leadership was the guiding force to establishing the comprehensive Community College that RPCC is today. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Eva Welch, daughters Robin, Wendi, Sandi, Roxana and their families. He was loved by all and will be missed.