Delgado…Then and Now

 By: Tyler Scheuerman
The year was 1921. A loaf of bread cost six cents and a seven bedroom house $6,500. Warren Harding becomes the 29th President of the United States. Albert Einstein wins the Nobel Peace Prize. The first baseball game on the radio is broadcast. Walt Disney opens his first studio and introduces his first animated short. The Unknown Soldier is interred in Arlington National Cemetery, symbolically ending the Great War (later named World War I). Adolf Hitler assumes leadership of the Nazi Party in Germany. In New Orleans, the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School opened its doors.

We all know that time moves quickly, but it’s been 90 years since these events transpired. For Delgado, those 90 years have been years of growth, progress, and education for generations of New Orleanians.

Ninety years in the life of any institution is a milestone. For Delgado, it’s just another event on an already full timeline in the history of a college that has seen multiple missions, curriculums, population, economic, and physical changes.

Delgado opened its doors in 1921 as the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School on City Park Avenue. With the majority of the funding for the school coming from the estate of Isaac Delgado, the school became the first of its kind in the New Orleans area.

Then and Now Comparisons:

Enrollment: In 1921, the College opened with about 150 students. Today, Delgado maintains a climbing enrollment of 20, 452, making the College second in size only to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. When its doors opened in 1921, Delgado only accepted white males, age 14 or older. Today, the school’s population is a diverse one, drawing males and females, Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, students recently graduated from high school and adults coming back to freshen up their skill sets.

Faculty: When it opened its doors, about 30 instructors were on hand to train and educate students. Today, the multi-campus college employs nearly 900 full and part-time instructors, who hold degrees across a wide expanse of subject matter, contributing to the wide variety of courses now offered from carpentry to computer design to anatomy and physiology.

First Faculty at Delgado

Campuses/Sites: Delgado opened and operated strictly from its City Park Avenue location for decades, most of that time from Isaac Delgado Hall (now also known as Building 1). Today, given Delgado’s large population and diverse metropolitan population, the College has eight satellite locations including the West Bank Campus, Charity School of Nursing, Slidell, Covington, Maritime Training Center, Jefferson and West Jefferson. The oldest campus, the City Park site, remains the largest and most populated.

Historical Shot of Building 1
Present Day Shot of Building 1

When the College opened, it was operated by the City of New Orleans. Today, it is a state institute, under the auspices of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

Programs and Course Offerings: In the first days of Delgado’s existence, trades such as carpentry, welding, stewardship (culinary arts) and hospitality, paper hanging, and machine repair were listed in the catalog. Today, while the Technical Division still maintains technical trade course offerings to meet the needs of a changing world, Delgado’s academic workload had blossomed.

Now offering degrees and certificates in more than 70 courses of study, a Delgado student can enroll in classes offering math and science education, liberal arts, communication, nursing, foreign languages, culinary arts, criminal justice, computer programming, marketing, psychology, veterinarian technology, history and much more! Delgado is an SACS-accredited institution that offers associate (2-year) degrees and transfer degrees, working with other state institutions to ensure an easy transition into four-year programs. The College also offers many clubs and activities to students outside of the classroom, including athletics, intramural sports, student government, and many other clubs associated with specific programs to foster student life and the college experience.

Recent economic studies have reaffirmed that Delgado is a major contributor to the local workforce and economy of the area.

The past 90 years have been years of change, progress, and growth at Delgado. The College has continued its underlying mission of offering “education that works” to hundreds of thousands of students across southeast Louisiana while meeting the needs of a changing world. Delgado’s recent growth is a testament to its successes both in and out of the classroom as the College seeks to continue its mission for many years to come.

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