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May 20, 2013

Blinn scholar and vice president announces retirement

Dr. Debra LaCour wrote the book on Blinn’s first 100 years

Dr. Debra LaCour

Dr. Debra LaCour literally wrote the book on Blinn College history. Now, after 25 years serving the College, she’s ready to write the next chapter of her life.

Blinn’s vice president for academic affairs, LaCour recently announced her planned retirement this August after 32 years in community college teaching and administration.

It was perhaps a surprising career path for a woman who grew up in Louisiana, a state that didn’t have its own community college system until 1999.

But shortly after LaCour first followed a Blue Bell ice cream truck down F.M. 50 for an interview to become Blinn’s new history and geography instructor in 1981, LaCour realized she had a passion for education.

“I immediately saw the value of a community college in terms of what a wonderful transition it provides,” LaCour said. “You can be one of 18,000 before you become one of 48,000, and the focus at a community college was on teaching and learning with rigor.”

Within a few years, LaCour realized that the career path she had imagined as a cultural or social historian was a thing of the past. Instead, she enrolled in Texas A&M University’s educational history doctorate program. Her doctoral thesis was titled, “Blinn College: A Century of Transformation.”

“One of the things that impressed me most was the community support through the years,” LaCour said. “When the true financial challenges came in the late ‘20s and ‘30s, the citizens of Brenham sustained the College through some very difficult years. The names of the leaders and various roles changed, but there was always strong support for the College.”

In 1993, it was LaCour’s role that changed as College President Walter Schwartz tabbed her to direct Blinn’s reaccreditation self-study. She continued to teach classes throughout the first year of the process, but by the second year LaCour was entrenched in the reaccreditation process full-time.

When the on-site reaccreditation team arrived in Brenham for Blinn’s review, it was delighted to inform the College that it didn’t need any further information – LaCour and her team had prepared every document necessary to review the College’s systems.

LaCour was named Blinn’s academic dean the following year.

“Debra LaCour has strengthened Blinn’s statewide reputation for academic excellence with her leadership and dedication,” said Blinn President Harold Nolte. “We wish her the very best as she embarks on this new chapter in her life.”

LaCour said she looks forward to catching up on the traveling and reading she hasn’t had time for in recent years. She would like to resume her international travel and is considering a return trip to Eastern Europe. She would also like to explore historical destinations across the United States and maybe catch a few NASCAR races along the way.

“I’m very excited,” LaCour said. “I love what I do and I work with great people, but I’m really intrigued about the next chapter.”