Since 1938, SOWELA has served the people of Southwest Louisiana with higher education and training opportunities. Originally, the College was established to prepare individuals for a specific vocation through technical training. Today, however, SOWELA is a comprehensive technical community college that offers students a holistic higher education experience from professionally trained professors through state-of-the-art facilities and numerous student-led organizations and internship opportunities.
In 1962, the name was changed to SOWELA (Southwest Louisiana) Technical Institute due to the expansion of facilities, growth of the student body, increased curricula, and the need for additional technical education.
In 1971, SOWELA Technical Institute gained significant recognition with accreditation from the Commission on Occupational Education (COE) Institutions of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a prestigious educational accrediting agency in the United States.
SOWELA Technical Institute moved to its present location near Chennault International Airport on the east side of Lake Charles, La. in January 1980. The institute was renamed SOWELA Regional Technical Institute in March 1990, as it served as the regional center for Region Five. By the 1990s, SOWELA was among the largest and most progressive post-secondary technical colleges in the state of Louisiana.
On July 27, 1995, the school was renamed again to Louisiana Technical College – SOWELA Campus, and in 2003, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) Board of Supervisors changed the status of Louisiana Technical College – SOWELA Campus to SOWELA Technical Community College, giving it the status of a technical community college.
LCTCS approved the transfer of the Morgan Smith campus in Jennings from Central Louisiana Technical College to SOWELA on July 1, 2011. A new building was constructed at a different location for the Jennings facility and began operations with the spring 2018 semester.
SOWELA received initial accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional body for accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states, in 2014. For our students, this means an increase in the transferability of coursework and assurance that curriculum meets the rigorous standards set forth from the accrediting body.
On July 1, 2018, SOWELA transitioned an existing campus in Oakdale, formerly under the umbrella of Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC), into its operations. Through this acquisition, SOWELA expanded its outreach and program offerings in the five-parish area of Southwest Louisiana.
Throughout the College’s over 80-year history, the mission and core values have remained the same—to meet the educational and training needs of the community we serve. Today, SOWELA provides traditional, distance, and lifelong learning experiences and awards associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates that empower learners in transfer, career, and technical education to excel as globally competitive citizens.