Louisiana continues to rank behind almost every other state in the country in terms of its educational outcomes across the board – from Pre-K through post secondary. But buried under those bad stats, are some bright spots – success stories of programs and schools that are finding ways to prepare students and train them for the jobs of the future.

On this episode of Out to Lunch, meet two of the leading lights of the Baton Rouge education system.

Tina Holland is President and CEO of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University in Baton Rouge, better known as Fran U. Tina came to Fran U in 2014 from Notre Dame, Indiana, where she had served as Executive Vice President and Provost of Holy Cross College. In the years since, she has overseen an aggressive and successful expansion of Fran U.

Tina Holland, whose combination of military and education experience and vision has elevated Fran U to an accredited college

Fran U started out nearly a century ago as Our Lady of the Lake, a nursing school. Today it is a fully accredited university with new undergraduate and graduate degree programs that Tina has created.

Tina is overseeing the development of Fran U’s first freestanding building which will give the university a new level of autonomy.

Tina is a native of Los Angeles and a former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps., who brings an extraordinary knowledge and skillset to a position that requires navigating the turbulent waters of not only higher ed and Catholic Church but local politics as well.

Christine Merchant is  World Language Coordinator with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. If you’re thinking, “I didn’t know East Baton Rouge Schools had a world language coordinator,” you’re not alone but you might be surprised to learn that not only is the school system’s immersive language program highly successful, but also that Christine has been running it for 42 years!

In fact, Christine is the first and only person to hold this position.

Christine Merchant, the depth of her French accent is matched by the depth of her 42 years of dedication to foreign language education in Baton Rouge

The most visible flagship of the East Baton Rouge School System’s foreign language track is FLAIM, or more formally, the Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet, but world languages are offered at a large number of EBR public schools.

Stephanie Riegel hosts a mostly English language edition of Out to Lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard

Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. You can find photos by Erik Otts at itsbatonrouge.la.

baton rouge business podcast christine merchant east baton rouge parish schools flaim fran u mansurs on the boulevard out to lunch stephanie riegel tina holland

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