11/14/2018
ULS NEWS ARTICLES

Today's News

University of Louisiana System

15 2018-05-15
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls student, alumna honored for leadership in nutrition-


A Nicholls student and an alumna were recognized for their accomplishments in the field of nutrition at the Louisiana Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference.

Co-founder and owner of the Houma-based Root2Rise, Leah Porche, who graduated in 2012, was named the academy’s Young Dietitian of the Year. The award is given annually to registered dietitians under the age of 35 who are leaders in policy, influence, outreach, education or management in nutrition and dietetics.

Root2Rise has offered fresh-pressed juices, healthy snacks and daily yoga since the business opened in December 2015.

Senior dietetics major Hana Calhoun, of Houma, was named an Outstanding Dietetic Student. Students are recognized for their achievements in and out of the classroom.

“I’m extremely proud of Leah and Hannah. These two are great representatives of nutrition and Nicholls State University,” said Brigett Scott, associate professor and department head of Allied Health Sciences.

Porche and Calhoun received their awards in April during the conference held in Baton Rouge.

An affiliate of the national organization, the Louisiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a professional organization that represents more than 1,000 dietetic nutrition experts in the Pelican State. The organization seeks to promote healthy eating and living in Louisiana.
15 2017-10-20
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls to host World War I exhibit reception


Guests can view documents and artifacts related to the area’s efforts during World War I from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday in Nicholls State University’s student union ballroom.
Featured items will include the Elks Lodge 1918 parade flag.
The free reception is part of an exhibit that runs through January in Ellender Memorial Library. The exhibit is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in the archives and special collections department.
It includes letters, photographs, scrapbooks, sheet music, poetry and other documents from the Nicholls archives. The Regional Military Museum in Houma has also loaned artifacts, including uniforms, bayonets, models, posters and a German trench mortar.


15 2017-08-30
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls community buzzing as football opener approaches


Jeremy Becker has been a Nicholls State University sports fan all of his life.

The 43-year-old newly appointed executive director of the Nicholls Foundation started attending games as a child. His father, Jack, played basketball at Nicholls in the early 1960s and passed down his love for the Colonels to his children.

So when it comes to the recent resurgence of the Nicholls football program under third-year head coach Tim Rebowe, who has led the Colonels back from a 23-game losing streak that lasted more than 700 days and started before his arrival to a possible Southland Conference and Football Championship Subdivision playoff contender, Becker is one of the people on campus who can offer a unique perspective on the positive energy surrounding Colonels football.

“Coming to Nicholls games has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and what I see happening now is that people are changing their schedules to make Nicholls games,” Becker said. “Before people were only going to Nicholls games if it fit in their schedules. Going to a Nicholls game is becoming an event. That is the biggest change that I see. People are bringing their families to the game. It is something people want to be a part of.”

And plenty of people will be a part of the Colonels season opener at 7 p.m. Thursday against Southland Conference opponent and perennial FCS power McNeese State University at Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium in Thibodaux.

After the Colonels nearly shocked the sports world to start last season by almost defeating the University of Georgia and after finishing 2016 with a 5-6 overall mark and 5-4 record in the SLC, Nicholls marketing senior Grant Henry, who is from Bossier City, said the Thibodaux campus is buzzing over the season opener.

“Coach Rebowe does an excellent job of making the campus aware of what’s going on with the football team and there is a lot of hype around campus with this game, especially being the home opener,” Henry said. “Talking to some of the football players, they are ready. I am expecting a hostile atmosphere for McNeese coming in here. This game is for more than just the football team. It’s for the entire campus and the entire community.”

While Rebowe has been busy preparing the Colonels for Thursday’s game, he said he understands what the game means to Nicholls fans and everyone involved with the program.

“When you have a conference opponent like the McNeese State Cowboys who has a really good program, that gets everybody’s attention right away,” Rebowe said. “Then you get them on a Thursday night. I hear the excitement in the community. Everybody is coming out for this and they are looking forward to it. We have a conference opponent coming in here who has 14 conference championships. We have come a long way and we have built some confidence but we need to beat somebody picked ahead of us to get where we want to be.”


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Rafe Blades is a Baton Rouge native who played baseball at Nicholls from 1989-94. His son Rafe is a freshman on the Nicholls basketball team and is daughter Scout, a junior at E.D. White Catholic, is a Nicholls softball commitment. He settled in the area and coached high school basketball for 15 years and said there are lots of good things going on at Nicholls.

“You can hear the buzz, which is great, but you can see it as well,” Blades said. “You can see the new turf (at Guidry Stadium). You can see the stadium is painted and the new scoreboard. All of that is because the community is excited about the football program. When your football program is doing good things, it bleeds into all of parts of the university, including academics. Athletic Director Matt Roan and all the coaches are doing a great job. This place is just so special to me and my family. When my dad dropped me off in 1989, I never thought I would never leave, but I haven’t.”

Like Blades, Jonathan Terrell came to Nicholls as a student-athlete and never left and is beaming about the direction of the football program is heading.

He played football for the Colonels from 1993-96 when Rebowe was an assistant coach at Nicholls and also coached at Nicholls as a student assistant and as a full-time assistant in 2004. He later became president of the football team’s booster club when the Colonels won their last Southland Conference title in 2005 and is now the president of the football program’s new booster group -- the Huddle Up Club.

He has a daughter set to graduate from Nicholls in May, twin daughters who are eyeing Nicholls as a college option and a nine-year old son who is all about the Colonels.

“There is just so much going on here,” Terrell said. “I am so ready for this game that I don’t even know what to do with myself. Coach Rebowe has done a great job. He is just so personable and makes everybody feel like they are part of the team. He makes people feel at home being a Colonel. The young men on this team have the attitude that they can win any game that they play.”

Another sign of the energy surrounding Colonels football came during the last two weeks when a group of volunteers painted and pressure washed areas of Guidry Stadium ahead of Thursday’s game.

“Season ticket sales are up and people are getting more and more involved because they want to be a part of this,” Becker said. “People are looking forward to this game for sure, but they are really looking forward to the entire season because the future is so bright. You can see it trickling all across the athletic programs and across the university. It’s contagious and extremely exciting.”


15 2017-08-30
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls hosting WWI exhibit this fall


This fall, Nicholls State University is tipping its hat to the “War to End All Wars.”

In tribute to the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I, the Ellender Memorial Library at Nicholls State University will host an exhibit featuring items from the library’s collection, as well as loaned items from the Regional Military Museum in Houma.

Some of the items on display from the library’s collection include letters from soldiers, photographs and scrapbooks, sheet music and poetry. The museum contributed a German torch mortar, uniforms, bayonets and posters.

The exhibit was designed to showcase what the American experience was during WWI, at home and on the war front, and especially what life was like for those from southeast Louisiana, according to Helen Thomas, librarian and assistant archivist at Nicholls.

Nicholls’ Department of History, the Office of Veterans Services and the Regional Military Museum collaborated with the library to bring the event to campus. In 2016, Nicholls received a grant from the Library of America to support programming related to the centennial of America’s entrance into World War I, according to a news release from the university.

The exhibit is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday in the archives and special collections department of the library throughout the fall semester.

In addition, a reception will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Cotillion Ballroom. It will feature documents and artifacts from the archives and the Regional Military Museum, including a special viewing of the Elks Lodge’s 1918 parade flag.


Historians and local veterans will discuss first-hand accounts and reflect on the impact of the war in a panel discussion held from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 9 in Le Bijou Theater on campus.

“Exhibits like this put our veterans, both past and present, and their sacrifices in the spotlight,” said Gilberto Burbante, coordinator of Veterans Services at Nicholls. “Nicholls is one of the most military-friendly campuses in the state and events like these solidify that designation.”


Thomas said she especially hopes people will see the kinds of materials available to the public for research.

“I think sometimes people don’t totally understand what archives do, and what kind of stuff we have here. A lot of times they think it’s just old newspapers, which we definitely have, but there’s a lot more to it than that,” said Thomas. “We have photographs, letters and diaries, scrapbooks, records of families and organizations and local groups. We are a one-stop shop for looking into local history.”

-- Staff Writer Holly Duchmann can be reached at 857-2205 or holly.duchmann@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @holly_evamarie.


15 2017-08-17
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls president: University making strides toward higher enrollment


Nicholls State is making progress toward increasing its enrollment to 8,000, University President Bruce Murphy said Wednesday.

A total of 6,267 students enrolled for the 2016-17 school year, and the projected number for 2017-18 is 6,394, Murphy said.

The information was part of Murphy’s State of the University address to faculty members during the University Convocation.

“I know that’s a pretty big stretch,” he said in an interview afterward. “But we figure at 8,000 (students), we don’t have to add more residence halls and we don’t have to add more classrooms. We can deal with what we have. We could sit there and cry and wish that the state funding would all come back and we wouldn’t have to grow, but we have to grow in order to survive.”

Tuition and fees at Nicholls total $7,641 a year, compared to the University of Louisiana System average of $8,117.

Murphy said tuition and fees make up $41.8 million of Nicholls’ budget, and the university gets $15.1 million from the state. Nicholls’ estimated annual economic impact is about $275 million, and it is directly responsible for 3,000 jobs.

Nicholls’ freshman retention rate was 64 percent in 2014, 70.1 percent in 2015 and 71.6 percent last year, Murphy said.


In an interview after his address, Murphy said the culinary arts program has about 300 students, but has the capacity for 600. The plan is to reach that number in three years.

The nursing program used to only accept about 60 students a year, Murphy said.


“We’ve actually knocked out walls. We’ve gotten some donors to help us with computer labs,” he said. “This semester, we’ve expanded that capacity to add an additional 40 students a year – 20 in the fall, 20 in the spring.”

In his address, Murphy also pointed out some recent good news, including:


The university awarding 672 degrees in its spring commencement.

John L. Guidry Stadium getting a new artificial turf field.

The Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management Department unveiling a new well-control simulation lab.

Education major Brooke Mazac showcasing her research to congressional members as part of the Posters on the Hill contest.

Culinary arts major Crystal Lachney being named a top chef at Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance.

The university introducing a new sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, and new fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha.

-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or bridget.mire@dailycomet.com. Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.
15 2017-08-17
Houma/Thibodaux

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15 2017-04-18
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls alumnus publishes book on notorious murder


Nicholls State University alumnus Christopher Peńa said it was his interest in murders and his fascination with execution styles of the past that led him to write a book about the 19th century French Quarter dentist Dr. Etienne Deschamps who sexually abused and murdered a 12-year-old girl in his alleged quest to find pirate Jean Lafitte’s treasure.

“The Strange Case of Dr. Etienne Deschamps: murder in the New Orleans French Quarter,” which was published early in February, recounts the true events of Deschamps, who allegedly used hypnotism on his patients, became obsessed with finding the treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte and eventually killed 12-year-old Juliette Dietsh in 1889 with an overdose of chloroform. In his book, Peńa explores the life of the doctor and Dietsh’s father, as well as the court case and eventual execution of Deschamps in 1892.


“I wanted to write a murder book that had a finality to it,” said Peńa. “And I wanted a book that dealt with an execution, because I always was fascinated with how they executed people back in those days.”

He said he had first heard of the crime on Murderpedia, an amateur online database of serial killers and mass murderers, as he was searching for a Tennessee-based murder on which to base a book. He had been searching the database alphabetically, and when he found the Deschamps case, he was interested because of New Orleans’ proximity to Thibodaux, where his mother’s family is from and where he lived for several years. Peńa received a bachelor’s degree in theater and history from Nicholls, where he also taught nursing. Henow lives in Knoxville, Tenn.

Peńa said that with the help of a private investigator in the New Orleans area, the 216-page book took only six months for him to research and write.

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Readers from the Houma-Thibodaux area would be fascinated by the crime, Peńa said, because it gives a glance into the criminal justice system in Louisiana in the late 19th century.

Peńa will be at the Lafourche Parish Library, 705 W. 5th St., Thibodaux, from 1-2 p.m. Friday selling and signing copies of his book as well reading passages from the first chapter and discussing aspects of the book. He will also be at the Young-Sanders Center, 701 Teche Drive, Franklin, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday and at Barnes & Noble, 3721 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, from 1-3 p.m. Sunday.
15 2017-04-17
Houma/Thibodaux

Environmentalist to speak at Nicholls commencement


Jonathan Foret, a local environmental advocate and educator, will be the keynote speaker at Nicholls State University’s 100th commencement ceremony held at 10 a.m. May 13 in John L. Guidry Stadium.

Foret, a Nicholls alum, grew up in Chauvin and taught English in Houma and Brooklyn after graduating from Nicholls in 2001. Foret spent two years in the Kingdom of Tonga as a member of the Peace Corps. After working for several nonprofit organizations in the United States, Foret went to Bangladesh to work with disabled individuals and later with the United Nations all across Asia.
Foret returned to Louisiana and earned his master’s in public administration from the University of New Orleans. Foret now serves as the executive director of the Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center in Houma. Foret also created the Rougarou Fest, a family-friendly festival that celebrates bayou folklore each year around Halloween.
Commencement will be moved to Stopher Gymnasium and split into three ceremonies in the event of bad weather. The College of Education and College of Business Administration ceremony will begin at 9 a.m., followed by the College of Arts and Sciences at noon and the College of Nursing and Allied Health at 3 p.m. Tickets will be required only if the ceremonies are relocated to the gym.
15 2017-04-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls exhibit teaches basics of cameras


By Jordon Legendre Staff Writer
Thanks to advances in technology, many people walk around each day with a camera capable of taking high-quality photographs in their pockets.

The art department at Nicholls State University is offering a public interactive exhibit, “Camera Obscura: A Walk-In Camera,” which showcases how light forms an image inside a camera. The exhibit runs 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m all week in the Ameen Art Gallery on the second floor of Talbot Hall.


“There’s a lot of history behind cameras in general,” said Ross Jahnke, head of the Art Department. “It really helps you understand the way a camera functions.”

People taking part in the exhibit walk in through black plastic designed to keep Ameen Art Gallery as dark as possible. A sheet of plastic covers the window opposite where the person stands, and the sheet contains a hole. Exhibit goers slide a strip of mat board to open the hole to its largest state.

By doing so, an image of the buildings and trees across the street from Talbot Hall is projected upside down and flipped left to right. People and cars passing the building can be seen on the ceiling while the wind moving trees can be seen on the floor. This optical phenomenon is what’s known as camera obscura.

“That hole by the window is like the shutter in a camera which opens and closes,” Jahnke said. “The idea that light comes in through that hole and enough of it comes in that it can project an image on the ceiling and the wall and the floor is pretty amazing. It gives them the sense of how a camera operates.”

Students from the Art Department said the exhibit is a great way to interact with the community.


15 2017-04-05
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls raises money for child abuse prevention


By Jordon Legendre Staff Writer
Nicholls State University and Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana are teaming up to raise money for parenting resources designed to prevent child abuse.

As part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, pinwheels are being sold for $1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. this week in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union on the Nicholls State campus. Prevent Child Abuse America uses the pinwheel as its symbol to represent a happy, healthy childhood.


The pinwheels will then be planted as part of a pinwheel garden. Plantings will take place April 10 in Thibodaux and Houma. The Houma planting will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the lawn of the Houma Courthouse, 8046 Main St. The Thibodaux planting will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Warren J. Harang Jr. Municipal Auditorium, 310 N. Canal Blvd.

“It’s just a way to get the entire community involved,” said Nichole Waltrich, outreach coordinator for Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana. “The community is the most important part, and they don’t really know about what we’re offering.”

The Family Service Center at Nicholls State provides services such as a free 24-hour hotline that provides advice for parents and classes for families at risk of losing their children.

Waltrich said money raised during the pinwheel sales will go to improving and expanding those services.

“Any money that we raise between Houma and Thibodaux is going to go for improving parenting resources,” Waltrich said. “I’m hoping it can support a 10-week workshop series and other outreach stuff. All the money is staying here.”

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Alicia Faul, a senior interdisciplinary studies major from Donner, is helping to sell the pinwheels. Faul said it’s important to create awareness about the issue of child abuse and help parents learn healthy habits.

“Children are the future,” Faul said. “If they’re raised properly, they know they’re loved and they have the proper resources, they’re going to be better leaders in the future. I actually want to go into social work for children. This is the greatest opportunity for me to get my foot in the door, learn and help at the same time.”


Waltrich said the issue is incredibly important for Louisiana, as the state consistently scores poorly on reports looking at protecting children and providing them with healthy futures.

“Louisiana has a problem in particular with child abuse,” Waltrich said, “and I think a lot it is just about not having access to education. There are prevention methods that we have in place right now, so that’s what we’re looking at featuring.”
15 2017-04-05
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls opera workshop to present ‘The Magic Flute’


The Nicholls State University Opera Workshop will present “The Magic Flute,” a fairy tale opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, beginning Thursday.

“The Magic Flute” is a Germanic opera that involves both song and spoken dialogue, and features Prince Tamino as he tries to win the heart of Pamina, the daughter of the evil Queen of the Night.
The opera, hosted by the university’s Department of Music, will be performed in the newly renovated Mary and Al Danos Theater by area students ranging from elementary to high school, as well as by students, faculty and alumni of Nicholls State University Opera Workshop.
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General admission is $10, or $5 for students who present their Colonel Cards.
Showings are 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.


15 2017-04-04
Houma/Thibodaux

Contest challenges Nicholls students to explain research simply


By Garrett Ohlmeyer Staff Writer
Nicholls State University provided 11 students with a chance to explain research simply at Monday’s coastal connections competition,

The competition, the first of its kind at Nicholls, gave the students three minutes to present research they have worked on in a way that is simple to understand by anybody
Three students were selected to receive a $500 travel award to attend a conference relating to their research: Megan Nephinsky, Kellyn Lacour-Conant and Alexa Ballinger.
The winners were selected based on their ability to deliver their presentation clearly and efficiently without the use of scientific jargon with no bias toward the topic, said Simone Maloz, a judge for the competition and director of Restore or Retreat.
“Sometimes you do only have a very, very short amount of time to explain your work and what you’re doing,” Maloz said. “Whether it’s on a TV interview, which are never very long, or even in front of a policy maker that is very busy and has limited time.”
Throughout the preparation, the focus of the faculty involved was to reiterate to the students they need to be able to explain their information to someone who only has a high school diploma or a non-biology major, said Aimee Hollander, a biology professor at Nicholls and an organizer of the competition.
“It’s really important to keep the jargon down and explain everything clearly,” Hollander said. “And for our students, they are so used to talking in a scientific language to one another. That was a bit of a hurdle for them.”
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Hollander said overall she thought the students did a great job and there was a good turnout at the event.

Megan Nepshinsky, a graduate student in marine and environmental biology, said although presenting was a bit nerve wracking, her passion for her research helped her to overcome nerves.
Nephinsky said the competition really helped the 11 researchers to connect.
“We were each other’s biggest supporters,” Nephinsky said. “Before people were presenting, we were like, ‘great job, you got it.’ We weren’t alone and isolated. It’s not about who wins, it’s about doing the best job we can.”
Alexa Ballinger, a graduate student in marine and environmental biology, said putting scientific information into a three minute, two slide presentation without any scientific jargon was more challenging than she anticipated.
“You have down on paper what you want to say, and it’s over three minutes,” Ballinger said. “It’s amazing how fast that three minutes goes by, but if you really want to get the picture across, you can make it happen.”
-- Staff Writer Garrett Ohlmeyer can be reached at (985) 850-1149 or garrett.ohlmeyer@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @GOhlmeyer.
15 2017-04-03
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls sophomore researchs antibiotic-resistant bacteria HIDE CAPTION Cameron Belding


Most college students don’t get the opportunity to do research to help them when they apply for jobs or graduate school until they become juniors or senior


But Cameron Belding, a biology student with a pre-medical concentration at Nicholls State University, didn’t wait until he was an upperclassmen. He has been conducting research ever since stepping foot on campus two years ag

Now a sophomore, Belding beginning research on bacteria resistant to antibiotics in coastal waters. His project is being financed by the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program of Louisiana Sea Grant.

The ability to jump straight into research was one of the major reasons he said he ended up choosing Nicholls over his other two options: LSU and Tulane.

“The thing with both of those schools is I would have easily been lost in the crowd there,” Belding said. “This research project really was that incentive for me to come to Nich

Belding said before graduating from E.D. White Catholic High School in Thibodaux, he knew people in the biology department who told him he could get started on research projects right away. He said he would have four years to work on projects, publish his research and eventually be able to train other researchers.

Belding’s current project is to measure the amount of bacteria in certain bodies of water and monitor how much of the bacteria is resistant to antibiotics. The two sites he chose are in Cocodrie and Port Fourcho

If the bacteria is abundant, it can easily come into contact with people swimming, fishing or making any kind of contact with the water. This can lead to bacteria in the body that is resistant to antibiotics like penicillin.


“Say you receive penicillin because you have some kind of small sinus infection,” Belding said. “That will kill off many of the bacteria in the body. That resistant bacteria all of a sudden has this whole body to

He said there are many different ways these antibiotics get in the water. These include dumping unused antibiotics down the toilet or by having them pass through the body and into the sewage system.

He said there isn’t much research out there relating to the amount of antibiotic resistant bacteria in water, especially in coastal Louisian

“It’s not so much that we’re coming up with a solution to fix this, but just how much of a problem do we have down here,” h

March was used as a test run to make sure all the tests he and his professor, Ramaraj Boopathy, came up with would work. After a little tweaking, he said he would be able to start coming up with reportable data for the samples he will be taking in April.

Belding said he will take three samples from each of the two locations for consistency. Samples will be taken once a month from April until September and he will submit his report in January.

“If anything, we’re kind of hoping it’s a wake up call to the health care profession about not necessarily the overuse of antibiotics but just keeping a tab on how much gets out there,”

-- Staff Writer Garrett Ohlmeyer can be reached at (985) 850-1149 or garrett.ohlmeyer@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @GOhlmeyer.
15 2017-04-02
Houma/Thibodaux

Photos: Governor tours Nicholls cooking school


Gov. John Bel Edwards stopped by Nicholls State University in Thibodaux on Wednesday and toured the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building. The $12.6 million, 33,000-square-foot building, which opened in 2015, is home to the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.
15 2017-04-02
Houma/Thibodaux

Photos: Governor tours Nicholls cooking school


Gov. John Bel Edwards stopped by Nicholls State University in Thibodaux on Wednesday and toured the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building. The $12.6 million, 33,000-square-foot building, which opened in 2015, is home to the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.
15 2017-03-29
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls raises money with Art Works HIDE CAPTION Ashlyn Pittman (left), a sophomore graphic design major from Morgan City, draws a portrait of Monic


By Jordon Legendre Staff Writer
The talents of the Nicholls State University Art Department were on display Tuesday as it hosted its annual Art Works fundraiser.

The event, in its fourth year, featured a silent auction, sales of artwork from Nicholls faculty members and students and demonstrations of various art disciplines, including drawing, photography, graphic design and painting.


Ross Jahnke, the department's head, said he enjoyed the fact the event gives people in the community an opportunity to do hands-on art activities.

"A lot of people don't know how things are made," Jahnke said. "They don't understand the process and what happens in an art department. This is a little bit of an education. It's like teaching again, which is what we really do."

Matt Matherne attended the event to support his daughter Lauren, a graphic design major at Nicholls. With Lauren's guidance, Matherne tried his luck at the hand lettering demonstration offered by the students.

"You look at stuff like this, but how do they do it?" Matherne said. "It's good for them. They can use their talents, because obviously a lot of them are good at it. It's fun. I'm not going for any grade, for sure, but it's pretty cool. I liked it."

Maya Evans, a junior art major from Marrero, said the event was a good way for people in the community to see just how difficult producing art can be.

"It's a great honor because it gives a chance for people to see all the hard work that we put into everything that we do here," Evans said, "especially for people always say, 'It's just art. Anyone can do it.' They get to see how we produce it and how complicated it actually is."

All money raised during the event is used to pay for scholarships for the Art Department and smaller mini-grants, up to $250, to be given out to students. Additional money from the event is used to purchase new equipment for the department.

Jean Donegan, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chairwoman of the event, said those smaller grants, which are usually given to around 10 students a year, has allowed students to have wonderful experiences.

"The mini-grants have been responsible for these kids going places they never would have gone," Donegan said. "You can see when they come back, they've left campus and seen some professionals, and it changes them. I think that's one of the things we're most proud of because we can spread that money around and give them quality experiences."
15 2017-03-29
Houma/Thibodaux

Houma native's coobook offers slimmed down Louisiana recipes


By Garrett Ohlmeyer Staff Writer
Shelly Redmond, a Houma native and culinary dietitian, saw 18 months of work finally pay off when her cookbook, "Skinny Louisiana," came out on Mardi Gras.

In "Skinny Louisiana ... in the Kitchen," Redmond takes traditional Louisiana dishes and makes slight changes to the ingredients to help make them healthier.
Redmond said that ever since winning a 4-H competition in middle school with a dessert called "cracker pie," she wanted to make cooking a bigger part of her life. She also started to notice how important food was to her family.
Slimmed Down Crawfish Bread
Here is one of Houma native Shelly Redmond's favorite recipes from her new book, Skinny Louisiana ... in the Kitchen."

Ingredients:
1 pound crawfish tail meat, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup plain 0% Greek yogurt
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
*1 loaf French bread or 4 large Mission Carb Balance Wraps (or other high-fiber tortilla)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place skillet on stove top. Set fire at medium heat.
Add olive oil.
Add tomatoes, Creole seasoning and crawfish. Sauté for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine cheeses, Greek yogurt, and parsley.
Mix crawfish mixture into cheese mixture. Place aside.
Cut loaf in half, then cut lengthwise.
Cut Mission Carb Balance Wraps into 8 triangles.
Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
Place bread and triangles on baking sheet.
Spoon crawfish mixture onto bread and triangles.
Bake 10-15 minutes.
Remove from oven and cut bread into 2-inch sections.
Serve.
*It is highly recommended for individuals counting carbs (diabetic population, etc) to replace the French bread with the Mission Carb Balance Wraps. These wraps can be found in the tortilla section of any supermarket.
Yields: 8-10
Serving: 1 slice, 2 inches x 2 inches or 4 Mission Carb triangles
Nutrition facts per serving (if prepared with French bread): Calories: 190, Fat calories: 45, Total fat: 5 g, Saturated fat: 2 g, Cholesterol: 70 mg, Sodium: 530 mg, Total carbohydrate: 20 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein 17 g.
Nutrition facts per serving (if prepared with Mission Carb Balance Wraps): Calories: 130, Fat calories: 45, Total fat: 5 grams, Saturated fat: 2 g, Cholesterol: 70 mg, Sodium: 420 mg, Total carbohydrate: 6 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: less than 1 g, Protein: 14 g.
"When someone was born, we had food, and when someone passed away, we had food," she said. "I just saw that food brought that excitement to family functions."
When Redmond learned her family had a history of heart disease, she started to look for ways to make the traditional Cajun food she was used to eating a little bit healthier.
That led her to study nutrition at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.
"I want to cook; I want to eat this food," she said. "But I want to do it the right way. I want to make sure it tastes yummy."
Redmond said some of the best ways she has found to make a meal healthier are to use different ingredients, like plain Greek yogurt and Fiber One cereal. Greek yogurt can be used in the place of cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream and butter in desserts. Fiber is great for anyone trying to lose weight, she said, because it expands in the stomach and makes someone feel more full. An easy way to include fiber in meals is to crush up Fiber One and use it with flour.
One of the most common misconceptions, she said, is that when people are told they need to eat healthy, they think it's going to be bland.
"They think they have to eat chicken and green beans, and that's not true," Redmond said. "I tell everyone, in our cookbook, there is no chicken and green beans."
One of her favorite recipes is her Slimmed Down Crawfish Bread, which she described as "everything Louisiana in a dish."
Redmond will hold a book signing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 30 at the Nicholls bookstore. Her book, published by Pelican Publishing in Gretna, is available at major online and retail bookstores.
15 2017-03-29
Houma/Thibodaux

Agreement helps cooking students make 'seamless transition' to Nicholls


By Jordon Legendre Staff Writer
Nicholls State University has entered into an agreement with a Lake Charles community college to help cooking school students more easily earn their bachelor's degrees.

The agreement between Nicholls and SOWELA Technical Community College means students who earn their associate's degree in culinary arts from the Lake Charles school will see their credits transferred to Nicholls' Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, which offers a bachelor's degree.


"We've all heard horror stories about starting a program one place, trying to go someplace else and some things don't carry over," Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said. "This is our way of ensuring that once you start your program somewhere else that we've articulated an agreement with that it can continue here. It'll be a seamless transition. It's as if they started as Nicholls students, and they just continue when they come here."

Neil Aspinwall, SOWELA chancellor, said the agreement is an exciting one for SOWELA students.

"Our students are always looking for options to further their education," Aspinwall said. "We can go back with information ... and say that you have a university with open arms that are going to take you in."

Aspinwall and Murphy said the agreement offers new recruitment opportunities for SOWELA and Nicholls.

"We can say you can come to SOWELA, start with your associate's degree and then we have a direct path to a four-year degree," Aspinwall said.

Murphy said the agreement is part of an effort on Nicholls' part to expand its reach not only throughout Louisiana but the entire country as well.

"Part of our strategy is to keep branching out, keep going out further and further," Murphy said. "To be able to do this into the Lake Charles area is a significant accomplishment. We are continuing to look beyond into other states and so forth. We are continuing to look at students who have expressed an interest in culinary from throughout the country and to welcome them here."

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Amanda Johnson received her bachelor's degree in culinary arts from Nicholls and is now a faculty member for SOWELA's cooking program. Johnson said the partnership with Nicholls offers experiences to SOWELA students they might not otherwise have.

"It's a good growth for both schools to get some students, and it's definitely a good education," Johnson said.

Before signing the agreement, Aspinwall and other SOWELA officials were given a tour of the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building, home of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. The $12.6 million, 33,000-square-foot building, featuring the student-run Bistro Ruth restaurant, opened in 2015.

Aspinwall said the opportunity to see the building will have a positive impact on SOWELA as well.

"Nicholls' reputation precedes them," Aspinwall said. "When you walk into a facility like this, this is first class. We're in the process of designing and building a new facility, and we've got all kinds of ideas today. We know this is a first-class operation."

John Kozar, department head for the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, has been with Nicholls since 2002. Kozar said the new agreement shows the continued growth of the program and highlights the uniqueness of the culinary experience at Nicholls.

"We've got the opportunity on campus now," Kozar said, "to work very closely with the business department, education and mass communication to create the concentrations for culinary students that involve more than learning how to cook. Our strength is in our academics and the work ethic that we instill in the students here."

-- Staff Writer Jordon Legendre can be reached at 448-7635 or jordon.legendre@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @JordonLegendre.
15 2017-03-27
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls to hold science communications competition


Nicholls State University is holding an April 3 science communications competition to further student research on coastal issues in Louisiana.

The competition will be at 4 p.m. in the Mardi Gras Suite of the Bollinger Memorial Student Union.


Three winners will be selected to receive a $500 travel award to attend a conference that relates to their research. Students will be judged on how concisely they are able to communicate their research in a short period of time.

"This is an excellent opportunity for our students to not only get experience in communicating their research concisely but also for them to compete for the chance to expand their knowledge and meet scientists from all over the world," said Aimee Hollander, Nicholls biology assistant professor. "Being able to communicate science and our research to the general public is increasingly important in this political climate because it can impact public policy."

About a month ago, students submitted their research to a panel at Louisiana Sea Grant. From that, 11 finalists were chosen to present their information at the competition

The research focuses on the impact coastal erosion has had on the region. Students have three minutes to present their information and are only allowed to have two slides.

The finalists are Alexa Ballinger, Emily Bodin, Justin Brockmann, Kristen Chatelain, Richard Grabert, Kellyn LaCour-Conant, Ashleigh Lambiotte, Megan Nepshinsky, Drew Prejean, Alexis Rixner and Seth van Dexter.

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Three judges will decide on the winners for the final competition: Nicholls President Bruce Murphy; Craig McClain, director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium; and Simone Maloz, director of Restore or Retreat.

Maloz said this is a great competition to help students prepare for reality.


"Sometimes you do only have a very, very short amount of time to explain your work and what you're doing, whether it's on a TV interview, which are never very long, or even in front of a policy maker that is very busy and has limited time."

The competition is also offered at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Louisiana State University.
15 2017-03-24
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls grad student uses drones to study barrier islands


This weekend, a group of students and professors at Nicholls State University will make their third trip to Trinity Island, a barrier island off the coast of Terrebonne Parish, to study its vegetation using unarmed aerial vehicles.


Frank Yrle, a marine and environmental biology graduate student at Nicholls, is using this new technology as the basis for his master's thesis.

"A lot of studies will maybe classify just the landscape, but not down to the species level," Yrle said. "We're actually able to classify the vegetation down to the species level."

The barrier islands are the mainland's first line of defense against hurricanes, so keeping the islands intact can help to lessen the impact of major storms.

But over time, these barrier islands and the vegetation on them suffer from erosion, subsidence and a lack of fresh water.

"After an event like a hurricane or something major comes through and damages a barrier island, we want to be able to study (the island) in a timely manner," Yrle said.

Before this new technology, there were a few ways to measure vegetation. One was to use a satellite. The main problem with that, he said, is that satellites aren't able to measure the specific species.

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Satellites generally measure about 30 meters per pixel while his UAVs can measure 4 centimeters per pixel, creating a significantly higher resolution image.


Knowing the level of vegetation on the islands before a hurricane will help to figure out how much damage a specific hurricane has caused to the island.

There is also the possibility of doing a vegetation survey by foot, but Yrle said it would be extremely time-consuming and that some parts of the island would be extremely hard to navigate on foot.

Yrle is expecting to finish his thesis this spring, and although his time with the project will be up, he said he expects it to continue with other students in the future.

-- Staff Writer Garrett Ohlmeyer can be reached at (985) 850-1149 or garett.ohlmeyer@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @GOhlmeyer.
15 2017-03-24
Houma/Thibodaux

Our opinion: Neglect of our campuses is a disgrace


Nicholls State University is dealing with a terrible problem: The campus has $39 million in needed structural work that simply cannot be completed because of a series of state budget cuts.

To the school's credit, officials have done an excellent job of prioritizing Nicholls State's expenses and using the little money they do have wisely.


As Nicholls State President Bruce Murphy recently said, the university has put its money toward academics rather than physical upgrades and maintenance.

"Our buildings are not new buildings," Murphy said "As that happens, we have to decide how we're going to spend money. For the past 10 years, we have decided that we're going to put the money where the mission is, which is the academic side. We've engaged in faculty, program support, computers and all the stuff that is the academic program."

Unfortunately, that means that crucial work on the university's buildings has been left out of spending plans in recent years.

That situation is one that simply cannot continue.

Neglecting necessary work such as roof repairs makes those repairs more expensive and can cause secondary problems that will require even more money to address in the future.

Even with such a large backlog, Nicholls State isn't the worst-off school in the University of Louisiana System.

In fact, its $39 million is far less than the $48.9 million of needed work at Grambling, which has the largest backlog.

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And the university has set aside some of its budget to address the most pressing needs.

But our state is failing our universities and colleges and, by extension, the students who are relying on them for preparation for their careers.

When our institutions of higher learning cannot afford even to fix the problems they know exist, it is a clear sign that there are systemic problems. The fact that most of our state schools are in the same situation is also an indication that statewide reform is needed.

Louisiana has cut again and again from colleges and hospitals, largely because many other areas of the state budget enjoy constitutional protection from cuts.

But we cannot afford to have our colleges fall down around our students and professors because of neglect.

Our state must change the way it sets and implements its priorities. And colleges and universities cannot be at the bottom of that list any longer.

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.
15 2017-03-23
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State has $39 million in needed maintenance


By Jordon Legendre Staff Writer
In 2016, Nicholls State University's Ellender Memorial Library was named the top library among higher education institutions by LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network.

For all the plaudits the library has received for what goes on inside, the building itself is an example of a growing problem for not only Nicholls but universities throughout the state.


Ellender has damage to its exterior due to a failure to waterproof the building. Damage to the library is part of $39 million in maintenance projects that are needed but have not yet begun.

Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said the continuing budget cuts to higher education have left Nicholls with difficult decisions about where best to spend its $55 million budget.

"Our buildings are not new buildings," Murphy said "As that happens, we have to decide how we're going to spend money. For the past 10 years, we have decided that we're going to put the money where the mission is, which is the academic side. We've engaged in faculty, program support, computers and all the stuff that is the academic program."

Murphy said the biggest concern for Nicholls now is Peltier Hall. Built in the 1960s, the hall has interior issues stemming from its aging electrical work, old wiring and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Nicholls has $3.7 million in projects and repairs that would help the university meet the standards set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act, another $5 million of work for 54 air handlers that need to be fixed and roof replacements that would total $2.1 million -- including a new roof for Gouaux Hall.

"It is probably in the worst shape of any of the roofs," Murphy said, "and it's going to cause damage to electrical equipment, so we have a health and safety concern there. We try to identify some things that are more immediate or if there is a health and safety risk."

The issue of deferred maintenance has received increased attention after Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne included school-by-school information about the issue during a presentation on next year's proposed state budget.


"If you have a hole in the roof and don't have the money to patch it, the problem eventually grows into something much more serious and costly," Dardenne said after the meeting, according to a report by USA Today.

The University of Louisiana System faces a total of $364.5 million in deferred maintenance costs. Nicholls' $39 million figure is the third lowest among the nine institutions making up the system. Grambling University tops the list with $48.9 million in deferred maintenance.

According to the Louisiana Board of Regents, the state provided $18.4 million in money for deferred maintenance in 2016, up from $4.7 million in 2013 but down from a peak of $48.7 million in 2000. In response, Murphy said Nicholls has set aside 2 percent of its current budget for deferred maintenance needs.

"At least it's being talked about," Murphy said. "In the meantime, we'll do what we do. I will continue to set aside part of that budget. We will always maintain high quality academics; we think that's our No. 1 mission, but we might cut around the edges because we have to maintain our facilities."

Murphy said that while he accepts that state funding for higher education is unlikely to return to previous levels anytime soon, there are areas the state should take more responsibility in paying for, such as campus policing and street improvements.

"Since the state has a direct interest in the facilities, the state ought to put money aside to maintain it," Murphy said "Do some things that will relieve our budget from doing the things I believe are a state responsibility. Clearly, these facilities are going to be here long after all the administrators, all the students, all the faculty have turned over."

Murphy said the university will continue to do the best it can with limited resources, aided by the university's maintenance team.

"The guys that actually do the work are extremely dedicated folks," Murphy said. "I have seen them at all hours of the day and night trying to fix stuff. They have a great attitude. The maintenance guys are really out there to make it happen and do their best."
15 2017-03-22
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls changes Master of Business Administration curriculum


Nicholls State University's College of Business Administration is adjusting its Master of Business Administration curriculum in an effort to reach more students.

Prerequisite courses in accounting, economics, statistics, management, marketing and finance are being folded into existing curriculum. These changes, which will begin in the fall, will lower the amount of time required to complete the program for non-business graduates.
Luke Cashen, professor of management and director of Nicholls' MBA program said the changes are designed to help students who wish to enter the program without a business degree and those who are considering returning to school.
"This change will not only boost enrollment," Cashen said, "but it's a way for us to serve our students better by bringing all of them up to speed."
An information session about the MBA program will be held in 105 White Hall at noon on Tuesday. Additional information sessions will be held in April. Additional information is available by calling Cashen at 448-4178 or by email at luke.cashen@nicholls.edu.
15 2017-03-22
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls changes Master of Business Administration curriculum


Nicholls State University's College of Business Administration is adjusting its Master of Business Administration curriculum in an effort to reach more students.

Prerequisite courses in accounting, economics, statistics, management, marketing and finance are being folded into existing curriculum. These changes, which will begin in the fall, will lower the amount of time required to complete the program for non-business graduates.
Luke Cashen, professor of management and director of Nicholls' MBA program said the changes are designed to help students who wish to enter the program without a business degree and those who are considering returning to school.
"This change will not only boost enrollment," Cashen said, "but it's a way for us to serve our students better by bringing all of them up to speed."
An information session about the MBA program will be held in 105 White Hall at noon on Tuesday. Additional information sessions will be held in April. Additional information is available by calling Cashen at 448-4178 or by email at luke.cashen@nicholls.edu.
15 2017-03-22
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls hosting performance of ‘The Vagina Monologues’


Nicholls State University Student Services will hold a production of "The Vagina Monologues" at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Danos Theater in Talbot Hall.

Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues," which premiered in 1996, is a collection of monologues that express different aspects of femininity.
Tickets are $5 in advance for Nicholls students, faculty and staff, and $10 at the door. VIP tickets are available in advance for $30 and include admission to the play on Saturday, an invitation to the post-performance reception with the cast and a commemorative mug and poster signed by the cast.
Proceeds go toward violence prevention and education, as well as victim services at Nicholls.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call 448-4080.
15 2017-03-20
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls students showcase their artwork in annual show


Nicholls State University art students have the chance to not only showcase their work but have it judged by outside observers during the annual Student Art Show that's being held.

The show, located in the Ameen Art Gallery, 200 Talbot Hall, runs until Thursday. While student art shows are common, the one Nicholls puts on is unique, said Ross Jahnke, head of the Nicholls Department of Art.


"We bring in outside reviewers," Jahnke said. "The show is judged. The person that we get to do that selects the work that's going to be in the show. We had around 250 entries this year, and the juror selected 100 approximately to be in the show."

Joey Blake, a senior graphic design major from Thibodaux, said it was an honor to have his work featured as part of the show.

"Without Nicholls, I probably would not have the opportunity to do something like this," Blake said. "Nicholls has helped me push myself to submit myself to shows such as this. It's an honor and a privilege of being a Nicholls art student."

The show features three competitions. Studio areas of art such as ceramics, painting and drawing are being judged by Leslie Friedman, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University. A second competition for graphic design work is being judged by local graphic designer Lornell Parfait. A third competition involves the best art history research papers being judged by Al Davis, a faculty emeritus from the Nicholls English Department.

"The idea is that professionals in the region, people who don't know our students, who are just coming in to look at the quality of the work, are doing the judging," Jahnke said. "They're really just looking at the work and saying, 'Is this a good print? Is this a good photograph? Is this a good sculpture?' and making decisions based on that."

Winners will be announced during a special reception to honor the show at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Ameen Art Gallery. A special prize will be awarded to the winner in the studio arts contest. The winner will receive an all expenses paid one week course at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The prize is sponsored by Arrowmont and the Nicholls State Ceramics Club.

Besides having their work judged, Blake said simply being able to see what his fellow students have been working on is also a positive aspect of the art show.

"It's good to see disciplines other than the one you're majoring in," Blake said. "If you're a graphic designer, it's very helpful to see what the drawing majors are doing or what the painting majors are doing. This is an opportunity to showcase the best of the best. That really helps broaden our scope as artists."
15 2017-03-20
Houma/Thibodaux

Art and science promote awareness of coastal land loss


By Garrett Ohlmeyer Staff Writer
A coastal landscaping photography course at LUMCON was the beginning of the merging of art and science in a short documentary called "Last Island" to help bring light to Louisiana's disappearing coast.

Gary Lafleur, an associate professor of biological sciences at Nicholls State University and biologist who helped with the course, said coastal scientists mostly talk to each other, and all of them understand what's going on coastally in south Louisiana. However, he wanted to increase public awareness, so he teamed up with then Nicholls art professor Dennis Sipiorski.


"A lot of times biologists don't get to hang out with artists, even though we are on the same campus," Lafleur said. "It's just not part of our normal day, and it takes a little bit of an extra step to kind of collaborate."

Sipiorski later went on to teach at Southeastern University. There, the duo of professors were joined by Ernest Milsted, an art professor at Southeastern and a Houma native.

Last year, Dylan Maras, a former student of Milsted and Sipiorki, and owner of White Donut Productions, and his friend Tom Nguyen, brought their drones out to the barrier islands in south Louisiana to film the three working together.

"You've got an artist's perspective from a professor, and then you have a biologist's perspective," said Maras. "It's really interesting for us with White Donut Productions as well to work with content that kind of shows perspectives through all these other artists that we collaborate with as well."

The goal of the film was to help bring awareness to not only the work they were doing but also to the need for coastal restoration in south Louisiana, Maras said.

Over the past few years, Maras said he has spent a lot of time in Houma and is really getting to know the local area.

"I'm realizing how many people survive on either the oil industry or fishing and just the area over there," Maras said. "If that's the case, then how many people can afford to move?"


When Maras found out about what the professors were working on in coastal Louisiana, he said he wanted to go with them one day out to the islands.

So the group headed out to Trinity Island, more commonly known by locals as the Last Island. Milsted said he wanted to get some drone footage "just to see what happens."

"What started out as simply taking a scouting trip, turned into Dylan and Tom really taking off from there and saying, 'well why don't we not only get the footage, but put together a little documentary about these trips to the island,'" Milsted said.

Last year, the three professors and Daniel Kariko, an art professor at East Carolina University and former Nicholls art student, were planning an exhibition of artwork at the Hammond Regional Art Center to present some of their work on coastal Louisiana. The title of their show was called "Last Island."

They decided that would be the ideal time to release the film.

"The short film become sort of a documentary on all of our work but also something to promote awareness about the coast and that sort of thing," Milsted said.

-- Staff Writer Garrett Ohlmeyer can be reached at (985) 850-1149 or garett.ohlmeyer@houmatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @GOhlmeyer.
15 2017-03-15
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls SHRM chapter places in regional competition


Nicholls State University's Society for Human Resource Management chapter recently finished in the top half at the regional Human Resource Case Competition in Houston.

The undergraduate team placed eighth of 20 teams and the graduate team finished fourth of nine teams at the competition, held March 10-11. It was the chapter's first appearance at the competition.
Nicholls had advanced to the regionals after winning the Louisiana Human Resource Case Competition in November. The university's SHRM chapter is the largest in the state with 120 active members.
"Our students represented Nicholls extremely well," said Melanie Boudreaux, faculty sponsor and instructor of management. "While watching them present to human resource leaders from around the nation, I was overwhelmed with pride. I truly believe that our students will forever remember this experience. We may be a small university, but our SHRM student group is definitely making a name for ourselves."
15 2017-03-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls, Entergy partner to offer campus tours for students


By Jordon Legendre Staff Writer
Nicholls State University is partnering with Entergy to create "Tour Tuesday," a program designed to give students who might not otherwise be able to visit a college campus the opportunity to do so.

Entergy donated $10,000 to Nicholls for the "Tour Tuesday" program, which has already hosted students from two local high schools with three more schools scheduled to participate soon. The program is geared toward students who might not believe college is a possibility.


Entergy President and CEO Phillip May said the company felt the new program was a perfect one for them to support.

"When Entergy looks at how it can be successful as a company," May said, "we can't be successful unless the communities we serve are successful. A program like this will have such a great impact and is exactly what we're looking to do as a company that serves this community."

Students who take part in the program are brought to Nicholls from their respective high school school in a charter bus. Recruiters from Nicholls take the bus ride with students to begin interacting with students in an effort to ensure the campus tour fits all of their needs.

"The second that they pull up in the nice charter bus, they notice it's not one of those yellow school buses so they're excited," said Leon Hutchinson, an admissions counselor. "It's very exciting for these students to come and see what their opportunities are like here at Nicholls State."

Students are then given a tour of the Nicholls campus and provided with a free lunch in the Nicholls cafeteria.

Rebecca Durocher, director of admissions for Nicholls, said the response to the program so far has been positive.

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"We heard words like life-changing," Durocher said. "It's been heartwarming, and the students have been so receptive. The recruiting team, after the first one, said these are the best students we've ever toured. They're so grateful; all of a sudden a spotlight is on them."


Students from South Terrebonne and Ellender high schools were the first to participate in the program with Morgan City, St. James and Assumption high schools all scheduled to take part.

Durocher said Nicholls works with the guidance departments at the schools to figure out the best students to attend the tour. Students who attend meet Nicholls' admission criteria and are also given help with the financial aid process, admissions application and are given information on waivers available to them.

Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said the program is part of an attempt to change the way the University recruits students.

"This is a way to provide some hope for some kids that may not otherwise have the opportunity to walk on a college campus," Murphy said. "We have an admissions team that is second to none. They are looking at all kinds of way to drive enrollment. It's a much more personal approach to it, and we're already seeing some great results."

Durocher said programs like "Tour Tuesday" help Nicholls maintain a link with local high schools, and the university is thankful Entergy has provided the resources necessary to run the program.

"It cements the bond we have with the respective high schools," Durocher said. "I'm just hoping that it gets bigger, bigger, bigger to include more schools, but we are definitely grateful to Entergy because we saw a need, and they helped us to fill that need."
15 2017-03-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls celebrates Holi with a Festival of Color


By Garrett Ohlmeyer Staff Writer
Nearly 100 students showed up to Nicholls State University's Color Run on Monday dressed in white T-shirts and left with a variety of colors painted across their chests thanks to a colorful powder thrown around by the participants.


The Festival of Color, also known as Holi, is a festival of love that is traditionally celebrated in India and Nepal, said Binu Bashyal, the multicultural chair of the Student Programming Association and organizer for the festival of color at Nicholls.

It has since evolved into a festival celebrated around the world.

"It went well," Bashyal said. "I'm excited that all of the international students here get to celebrate different cultures."

Holi celebrates the triumph of good over evil, according to HoliFestival.com, and occurs at the beginning of spring, usually at the end of February or the beginning of March.

The event on Nicholls' campus began at 4 p.m. Monday and ended around 5 p.m. The students at the event spent their time throwing the powder up in the air and at each other with music playing in the background.

Alex Madere, a senior accounting student at Nicholls, said he had heard about the event in the past, but this was his first time attending.

"It was awesome," Madere said. "I'm full of colors right now. I can't even see the black on my shorts right now. That's how much fun I had."
15 2017-03-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls Players performing rock musical about Jesus


By Holly Duchmann Staff Writer
The Nicholls Players will be presenting its production of "Godspell," a musical depicting the life of Jesus based on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, from Thursday to Sunday in the newly-renovated Danos Theater at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.

The play features vibrant musical numbers to recount Jesus' life and parables from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, according to Anna Broussard, director and adviser for the drama club.


"It's basically a rock musical about Jesus written by hippies," Broussard said. "That's what I've been telling people."

"Godspell" is the first musical the Nicholls Players has done since Broussard became involved with the organization in 2012, and the second show performed in the new theater since the renovations were finished in the fall.

Broussard said preparing to perform "Godspell" in the new theater was a learning opportunity for students because of new capabilities with the lights and sets on the stage. The production will feature a cast of 10, two of whom are Nicholls alumni, but with the stage crew and those who helped with the set and other aspects of the production, Broussard estimated more than 30 people put their hands on the production in some way.

"We're looking forward to doing this with the technology we now have," said Broussard.

The students have been rehearsing the two-hour musical, which was composed by Stephen Schwartz in the early 1970s, since late January and will be performing the play on Thursday-Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Danos Theater in Talbot Hall.

Tickets are $5 for students with IDs and $10 for the general public.
15 2017-03-14
Regional/National

A Glimpse Into the Life of a Slave Sold to Save Georgetown


He was an enslaved teenager on a Jesuit plantation in Maryland on the night that the stars fell. It was November 1833, and meteor showers set the sky ablaze.

His name was Frank Campbell. He would hold tight to that memory for decades, even when he was an old man living hundreds of miles away from his birthplace. In 1838, he was shipped to a sugar plantation in Louisiana with dozens of other slaves from Maryland. They had been sold by the nation’s most prominent Jesuit priests to raise money to help save the Jesuit college now known as Georgetown University.

Mr. Campbell would survive slavery and the Civil War. He would live to see freedom and the dawning of the 20th century. Like many of his contemporaries from Maryland, he would marry and have children and grandchildren. But in one respect, he was singular: His image has survived, offering us the first look at one of the 272 slaves sold to help keep Georgetown afloat.

Photo

The scrapbook had belonged to Robert Ruffin Barrow Jr., a prominent landowner whom Mr. Campbell worked for after the Civil War. Credit William Widmer for The New York Times
These rare, century-old photographs of Mr. Campbell help illustrate the story of those enslaved men, women and children. We shared that story with you back in April, starting a conversation about American institutions and their historical ties to slavery that has engaged many readers.

The photos had been stored in the archives of the Ellender Memorial Library at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., not far from where Mr. Campbell was enslaved.

Clifton Theriot, the library’s archivist and interim director, made the connection late last year after stumbling across an article in a genealogical quarterly about the Jesuit slaves who had been shipped to Louisiana. He was startled to see Mr. Campbell’s name listed among them.

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“I thought, ‘I know this name,’” Mr. Theriot recalled.

He went into the archives and pulled out a small, black photo album from the early 1900s. Mr. Theriot went through the album, page by page, photo by photo, until he found them: three photographs of a bearded, elderly black man with pearly white hair.

Underneath was a handwritten notation. It described the man as having been born in “Moreland” or “Mereland,” probably referring to Maryland, Mr. Theriot said.

And it identified him as “Frank Cambell our old servant 19 when the stars fell.” The fiery meteor shower of 1833 was so memorable that many people used it to date important moments in their lives.

Mr. Theriot knew he was on to something: “I was like, ‘This is the guy.’”

He reached out to Judy Riffel, the author of the article that had inspired his search through the archives. She is the lead genealogist for the Georgetown Memory Project, a group founded by Richard J. Cellini, a Georgetown alumnus, to identify the 272 slaves and their descendants.

Photo

Clifton Theriot, the archivist at Nicholls State’s Ellender Memorial Library, found the scrapbook after stumbling across an article about the slaves who were shipped to Louisiana to help Georgetown. Credit William Widmer for The New York Times
Ms. Riffel began digging through records. She discovered that Mr. Campbell had bought a small lot after the Civil War and kept his ties to the Roman Catholic Church. His son, his daughter-in-law and two grandchildren all ended up working for Robert Ruffin Barrow Jr., a prominent landowner. The photo album in the Ellender library had belonged to Mr. Barrow’s family.

In December, Ms. Riffel visited Nicholls State University, examined the album and conferred with Mr. Theriot. That same month, she confirmed that the man in the photograph was Mr. Campbell, who had been sold from the St. Inigoes plantation in Maryland in 1838.

She described the discovery as “momentous.”

Earlene Campbell-Coleman, a great-great-great-granddaughter of Mr. Campbell, said, “It took my breath away.”

Ms. Campbell-Coleman, a semiretired nurse in Charlotte, N.C., received the photo in an email from Mr. Cellini last week. When she saw her great-great-great-grandfather’s face for the first time, she wept.

“It really makes it real,” said Ms. Campbell-Coleman, who learned in December that her ancestors had been enslaved by the Jesuits. “It was almost as good as having him come to stand right here.”
15 2017-03-08
Houma/Thibodaux

Request to defund yearbook approved by Board of Supervisors


TThe University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors approved Nicholls administration’s request to defund the yearbook on February 24.
The La Pirogue yearbook was established in 1948 when Nicholls was a junior college with LSU. At the time, Nicholls was named the Francis T. Nicholls Junior College of Louisiana State University.
The La Pirogue yearbook was created using funds diverted from LSU athletics, concerts and special events, creating the University Registration Fee for the yearbook. The original fee, spearheaded by students, remained at $3.50 for several decades until the issue of the yearbook being severely underfunded came about, leading up to the fee being increased to $10 in 2002.
The La Pirogue yearbook is a University assessed fee, which falls under the board of supervisors.
According to Lynn Gillette, Nicholls provost and vice president for academic affairs, the decision was brought up over the summer from a committee that met to discuss it.
“The committee, that the President convened looked at things beyond what was supported by student fees. It was broad and looked at how various things fit the mission of the University,” Gillette said.
Gillette said the main question that needed to be answered was whether or not a yearbook is what should be done in 2017. He argues that there are many universities in the United States that have done away with a printed yearbook.
In a previous article, Hollyn Millet, La Pirogue Yearbook Editor, mentioned that the yearbook staff has been considering other business models that would allow interested students to still purchase a yearbook without the university collecting the current fee. Gillette said the President’s cabinet would have to make that decision.
“I don’t make that decision but I would be supportive of that,” Gillette said. “Ultimately, that will be a president’s cabinet decision but, I will say again, I would support it because the model they discussed is potentially doable.”
Going back to the summer, the President and Vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA) attended these committee meetings that discussed the yearbook. Austin Wendt, Vice President of SGA, mentioned that he was critical of the yearbook, but it was not clear that discontinuing the yearbook fund was the final decision of the committee.
“It was a broad view, an overwhelming consensus of the committee, that the time for a yearbook was dated,” Gillette said.
Gillette explains that the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) which is Student Advising and Mentoring (SAM) was decided far in advance going before faculty and staff.
“We have an incredible focus on trying to help all students be successful,” Gillette said. “I personally have a moral commitment to every student that has come here to help them succeed and graduate.”
The student fee money collected specifically for yearbook publishing will go into General Operating Revenue. The president determines how the money is spent. The decision on where this money will go has not been decided yet.
“From the academic side, I can say this, it is a strong probability that it will be used to improve academic quality, facilities, etc.,” Gillette said. “It will go into something that students would see as improving the quality of their academic experience.”
15 2017-03-07
Houma/Thibodaux

Retired Navy veteran to speak at Nicholls


As part of the Bonnie Bourg Lecture series, retired U.S. Navy veteran Yvette Dinvaut will speak at Nicholls State University on Tuesday.

The free, public talk will be held at the LeBijou Theater in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Dinvaut served in Operation Desert Storm as an EMT and nurse. After retiring from the Navy, Dinvaut earned a bachelor's degree in marketing from Xavier University. Dinvaut's experiences serving our country, adjusting to life after military services and how she embraces her various achievements in her personal, career and family life will form the basis of her presentation.
15 2017-02-13
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls counselor embraces family, communication


Family and communication have always been cornerstones of Julius Austin's life.

Throughout his time playing professional soccer and then getting his education, Austin's twin brother Jude was by his side. At the same time, Austin always appreciated the value and necessity of communication. As a soccer player, he enjoyed playing a position that allowed him to communicate and lead his entire team.

That devotion to family and communication has led Austin to feel at home at Nicholls State University where he works as a counselor, outreach coordinator and teacher.

"The genuineness of the students have, the close-knit community that we have, it makes you want to stay," Austin said. "What getting a job here meant was starting not only a new chapter, but it felt like the start to life after education. This is the perfect place for somebody who is starting their career to learn and grow and develop."

Austin, who has a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision, takes on many roles at Nicholls. As a counselor, he meets with individual clients as well as offering couples counseling and group therapy. As outreach coordinator, he builds relationships with different programs and departments on campus by giving presentations on issues such as anxiety, stress and school-life balance. As a teacher, Austin teaches future counselors the basic skills they will need.

"I love helping students make that transition from the theories that they've been learning through their classes to the practical side of things," Austin said. "There's a lot of anxiety in that class, but I love it."

Michele Caruso, dean of the Office of Student Services, said Austin brings a lot to the table for students, faculty and staff.

"He's very passionate about his work with students," Caruso said. "He has a very diverse background that he brings with him in terms of life experience. That makes a difference. He's very genuine. Students very easily pick up on professionals who are not so genuine. He has a very gently way about him that makes students feel very comfortable."

More Video: Final seconds of the second quarter, Nicholls vs. SFA.

Austin was born in Opelousas, and he made the jump into professional soccer at a young age. At 14, he and his brother were signed by Cruz Azul, a pro team based out of Mexico City, to play in the team's youth division. Austin's stay in Mexico was short, however, as he was soon picked to be a part of the U.S. Olympic Developmental Program.

Austin then transitioned into a college soccer, playing for four years at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. Austin received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology as well as a Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling. His next stop was the University of Wyoming where he received his doctorate.

He said he chose the University of Wyoming because he was seeking a completely different experience, such as the "body engulfing experience" of Wyoming's cold weather. Austin said he slipped on ice as he was trying to answer the phone call that led to his hiring at Nicholls.

"I knew that I was wanting to end up in Louisiana," Austin said of taking the job at Nicholls, "and I hadn't even heard of Nicholls before. But when I looked at the website and I talked with my family who's from Louisiana, I thought this looked pretty good. Then I talked with Dr. Caruso, and the second I met her I knew this was the type of person I wanted to influence my development."

Austin's life has changed in other ways since arriving at Nicholls. The biggest challenge has been he and his wife, Megan, having their first child in December. As his family grew, Austin said the way his Nicholls family celebrated the impending arrival of Cairo Anthony Austin made him appreciate the relationships Nicholls has given him.

"I don't even know what you would call it," he said. "A baby shower? A man shower? At that time, I've never felt more connected with people before that I've went to school with or worked with. Even if I don't stay here the rest of my life, those people are the people I want to keep in my life."
15 2017-02-07
Houma/Thibodaux

Fair links Nicholls nursing students with potential employers


As graduation approaches, the prospect of having to find a job can be a difficult task for students.

Nicholls State University helped its graduating seniors in Nursing and Allied Health get a head start today by hosting a job fair.


The fair featured an expo open to all students in the two programs. An invitation-only luncheon followed for graduating seniors to allow them more time to meet with recruiters and learn about potential openings.

Kristie Tauzin Goulas, director of the Office of Career Services, said the job fair is held not just to benefit students but also because employers asked for it.

"For nursing, it's always come up because a lot of employers were calling and saying, 'Hey, we'd like more time with the graduating seniors,' " Goulas said. "We put together this event where we got them all together. Our nursing students are coming out, and we know 100 percent of them are finding jobs."

MORE VIDEO: LAFOURCHE PARISH FIRE DISTRICT 3 MEMBERS PARTICIPATE IN ROPE RESCUE TRAINING TUESDAY AT LADY OF THE SEA GENERAL HOSPITAL IN GALLIANO.
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Organizations represented at the job fair included Terrebonne General and Thibodaux Regional medical center, the Houma-based Cardiovascular Institute of the South, Leonard Chabert Medical Center Health, Ochsner Medical Center and Tulane.

"A lot of people who come to Nicholls nursing are from Houma or from around the area," Tanei Armendariz, senior generalist at TGMC said. "For us, it's about really building a relationship with them so they feel like coming home. I want to make sure the talent here stays here. We need to keep good nurses around."

For Collen Levy, a graduating senior in the nursing program from New Orleans, said she was attending the job fair looking for new experiences and openings available to her after graduation.

"It gives us an opportunity to look at different hospitals, what benefits they provide, what things they have for us and give us a brief history and background of their hospital," Levy said. "The nursing program is so well-rounded, organized and excellent. For them to do this and really open up the tree of opportunity for us is excellent."
15 2017-02-02
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls' Black History Month program starts with education discussion


Nicholls State University kicked off its Black History Month celebration Wednesday morning with a town hall meeting that discussed a crisis in education.

Cleveland Hill, Nicholls' first African-American student-athlete and former dean of the College of Education, served as keynote speaker.


Since this year's Black History Month theme is "The crisis in black education," Hill tackled the topic by giving statistics about how students of color across the country perform academically.

The former College of Education dean said that because Lafourche Parish is an A district -- its score jumped from 95.8 in 2014-2015 to 102.2 in 2015-2016 -- people in the area can't fathom the education gap between ethnic groups in urban and rural parts of the country.

"In 2015, only 21 percent of low-income fourth-grade students received proficiency in reading on the NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) test," he said. "In Cleveland, in 2011, only 6 percent of African-American students in eighth grade scored proficient in math, and only 30 Latino students in that entire city scored proficient."

As a result, a crisis in education is the academic achievement gap, where African-American, Native American and Latino students are at the bottom in academic achievement and Asian-American and white students are at the top.

Places such as Washington, D.C., Charlotte, N.C., and Boston have narrowed the gap a bit. Still, Hill said, the country has a long way to go and must first address the problems the education system faces.

It's not just the academic gap that plagues education among people of color. Inadequate and inequitable funding plays a part, as well as low expectations, he said.

When Hill opened the meeting up for discussion, students and educators shared their thoughts on the education crisis.

MORE VIDEO: THIBODAUX'S AMIK ROBERTSON TALKS ABOUT SIGNING WITH LOUISIANA TECH


"We understand early on in life that we're probably going to get a low-paying job, drop out of high school early because that's the culture, that's where we come from. In the early days, that was the custom. The whites are more expected to go to college," said Traig Wagner, an East Thibodaux Middle basketball coach.

When Wagner took a group of 80 students to Nicholls, he said, about 60 of them didn't even know about the school, even though it's right in their backyard.

For Breiah Daniels, a Nicholls psychology graduate student, going to college wasn't too far-fetched because her mother and sisters attended college.

But environmental factors can affect what you do after college, Daniels said.

"Everyone around you, when they see you get to college, they're excited that you're there. But it's important that we keep going," she said. "The environmental factors you grow up with can motivate you or stop you from going too far because you think you can't reach (farther)."

For the remainder of February, Nicholls will host guests including New Orleans jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, Zulu historian Clarence Becknell and others.

For a full list of events, visit nicholls.edu/news.
15 2017-01-30
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls making upgrades, moving forward


Nicholls State University is getting back to its core identity while looking toward the future.

The university has recently made upgrades to a kitchen laboratory used by its dietetics program, and a congressman stopped by the university farm to see the latest technology NSU’s geomatics program is using. The university has also continued to see small but steady progress in its mission to have an enrollment of 8,000 students.

Earlier this month, Nicholls President Bruce Murphy addressed faculty ahead of the beginning of the spring semester. During the talk, Murphy spoke about Nicholls getting back to its core identity. In the face of continued budget cuts to the state’s university system, NSU has seen its ability to invest in its professors and their research dwindle.


“About eight years ago, we stopped acting like a university. We stopped doing the things universities do. We stopped having routine pay raises, we stopped having merit increase, we stopped preferred maintenance, we stopped a lot of things universities do,” Murphy.

For the past year Murphy has proposed the state handle costs such as maintaining facilities and paying for the campus police, while students pay for the services they receive themselves, such as classes, books and extracurricular activities. Murphy said he is planning on talking to state senators and representatives from the local delegation about bringing the idea to Baton Rouge.

In the meantime, Nicholls has made some progress in getting back to what it wants to do, partly by continuing to bring students in. Nicholls currently graduates about 1,300 to 1,400 students per year, Murphy said. If the school were at its goal of 8,000 enrolled students, it would be graduating around 1,700. While the gap is still large, it has made progress. According to Murphy, admissions were up by 300 in comparison to the same day in 2016 when he addressed faculty. Murphy credited the small progress to Nicholls keeping its tuition and fees flat, making it the most affordable school in Louisiana’s university system. He also credited the admissions department, which is using more advanced technology to better target and engage with potential students.

To help retain professors, Murphy said Nicholls has budgeted for raises this year. He said each full-time employee at Nicholls is set to receive a $500 retention supplement, while each department will get a pool of money, at $250 per employee, in incentive awards to hand out as department heads see fit. Murphy said he will know for sure on Feb. 3 if Nicholls will be able to go through with the supplemental pay, but he is currently planning to do so.

Murphy said he wanted people to know Nicholls is on track, and there are still great things happening at the university.

“We are thriving. We are a great place to get a quality education. Some of those top moments that we talked about, you look at those, students are being very successful,” Murphy said.

One of those great things was revealed this week in Gouaux Hall, where the dietetics program has renovations to its kitchen lab. The $68,000 renovations cover two classrooms and improve the flooring, ovens and other kitchen equipment. According to a Nicholls press release, one classroom is ready for use while work is being done in the adjacent room.

Down the road on Thoroughbred Drive, Nicholls officials hosted U.S. Rep. Garret Graves to get an update on the geomatics program. Graves dropped in last week to see an unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a drone, launch and talk about how the geomatics program is using it.

The latest drone technology has been critical to the research of Frank Yrle, a graduate student at Nicholls. Yrle has used drones to analyze barrier islands between the southern ends of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes and the Gulf of Mexico. The islands, critical to stopping storm surge, have been targeted by local and state coastal restoration officials for rehabilitation projects. Yrle has been using drones to track vegetation on the islands to get a better understanding of the overall health of the islands. The drone imaging provides much higher resolution than satellite imaging of the islands and drones can bring back data faster than satellite, which rotates around the earth and captures images of the state every two weeks or so.

Yrle, who works with both the biology and geomatics departments in his research, said it has been awesome to be on the cutting edge in the state as far as coastal research in concerned.

“I feel like we're breaking some ground. We're not the first school to be doing this study with UAV or anything – it's happening all around the country, even all around the world. I mean, this is one of the first times it's really being applied in Louisiana. I think it's great to be applying it to coastal restoration,” Yrle said.

Dr. Balaji Ramachandran, who heads the geomatics program, said while the program has seen enrollment dip recently, it is still being recognized for its achievement. The program, which is the only of its kind in Louisiana, was honored by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying with a $10,000 award for being one of the top ten surveying programs in the nation. Ramachandran said the demonstration last week for Graves was to highlight the progress the program continues to make.

“(Graves) has kept up with us over the years. We are basically just showing him the latest and greatest. How we were in 2005 and how we are in 2017. A lot of things have changed over 12 years, that’s what we’re showing him,” Ramachandran said. “This is the thing I tell: Geomatics is a profession where you’re changing your tires as you’re driving your car. That’s how fast it’s changing.”

During the demonstration, Graves floated the idea of the U.S. Department of Defense decommissioning older drones for civilian research use to increase their capabilities. Graves, a former head of the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, said the CPRA’s draft 2017 master plan’s bleak outlook on sea level rise means researchers have an even greater impetus on getting the best information going forward, which he said the drones are allowing researchers like Yrle accomplish.

“Us learning a little bit more about – as was talked about – the types of vegetation, the rates of erosion, the success or failure of projects. You can get data, cheaper, faster, on more compressed intervals,” Graves said. “So it really is going to help further perfect some of our efforts on coastal restoration, sustaining our barrier islands and most importantly, keeping our communities protected from hurricanes and floods.”


15 2017-01-30
Houma/Thibodaux

Grant to help prepare future teachers


Nicholls State University, as well as the Lafourche and Terrebonne school systems, will receive part of a $1.5 million grant designed to provide prospective teachers with a full-year teaching residency.

More than $1 million will be given to universities to support staff costs related to the transition of preparation programs. Nicholls will receive $65,000. The remaining money will be granted to 18 school systems throughout the state, allowing them to provide 233 teacher candidates completing year-long residencies with a $2,000 stipend and 228 mentor teachers hosting year-long residencies with a $1,000 stipend.


The grant from the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is an effort to alleviate statewide staffing shortages and issues with teacher retention.

"The residency program is a key component to ensuring that new teachers enter the classroom ready on day one," BESE Vice President Holly Boffy said in a news release. "This is an important initiative to further strengthen teaching in Louisiana. Great teachers pave the way for our students to excel academically and achieve their goals."

Currently, students seeking to become certified teachers are required to do one semester of a residency or student teaching. Teacher candidates admitted into programs in the 2018-19 year will be the first where the year-long residency will be required.

Leslie Jones, dean of the Nicholls Department of Education, said Nicholls has long advocated for more field experiences for potential teachers.

"At Nicholls, we've been engaging in a high level of field experiences for many years," Jones said. "This provides us an opportunity to add additional structure to our field experience model. The goal is to have teachers who are better prepared and teachers who contribute in the profession for a longer time."

More Video: Girls Hoops: South Lafourche holds off South Terrebonne, 46-39
Terrebonne Parish school Superintendent Philip Martin said Terrebonne schools have had year-long student teachers before, and he's excited to see the concept being expanded.

"The most significant thing," Martin said, "is that it certainly prepares a young educator a better preparation before they step into the classroom as the teacher. When you do that, the ultimate beneficiaries are the kids. In any profession, there's a learning curve when you start. This shortens the time of the learning curve."


Martin said at the beginning of this school year he was able to meet with several teachers who had just completed their year-long residencies at various Terrebonne schools. Martin said the love for those schools that was instilled in those teachers is part of why he believes the program is going to be successful.

"It gave them an opportunity to experience something they might not have," Martin said, "and to see the reality of something and not the myth of it. Right then and there, I realized this was going to work. This year-long residency is going to be good for kids, young educators, and for the school district."

Jones said the BESE grant will help strengthen the relationship between Nicholls and the local school districts, which is important for developing strong teachers.

"There's a sense of excitement, and it has revitalized some of the momentum as it relates to teacher preparation," Jones said. "It's very important to have two-way communication between the university and the school districts because we're actually employing their employment."


15 2017-01-18
Houma/Thibodaux

Local congressman gets drone demonstration Previous HIDE CAPTION U. S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, launches a drone Tuesday at the Nicholls St


Nicholls State's use of drones to study barrier islands in Terrebonne Parish was the focus of a local congressman's visit to the university's farm.
U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, took part in a drone demonstration Tuesday.
"The key utilization in regard to the coastal space is us getting more frequent information, us learning a little bit more about … the types of vegetation, the rates of erosion, the success and failure of projects," he said. "You can get data cheaper, faster, on more compressed intervals. So it really is going to help further perfect some of our efforts on coastal restoration, sustaining our barrier islands, and, most importantly, keeping our communities protected from hurricanes and floods."
Nicholls student Frank Yrle, who is working toward his master's in marine and environmental biology, said the technology helps researchers characterize plants on an island.
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Yrle said the Trimble UX5 drone is used to study Trinity Island. It can fly at a low altitude and capture high-resolution images.
"We also fly the same area with a near-infrared camera," he said. "Out of all the different types of vegetation on the island, they're going to have their own value or range of values for near-infrared, so that's more information that we can use to help classify the vegetation. We're trying to speed up, or automate, the process of finding all that vegetation as opposed to actually walking."
For instance, he said, healthy plants will show up white, and water will show up black.
Gary LaFleur Jr., associate professor of biological sciences, said the technology also shows the height of sand and how it changes from year to year.
"In the barrier islands, just one storm can knock off a little bit of the height of these dunes," he said. "So if the dunes are getting smaller, that's sort of like the environmental health of the island is going bad. The other thing that we can see is the difference between plants. It's not totally mangrove and totally spartina. There's all this water back here. Now, a little bit of water is healthy in a tidal marsh, but what's happening more and more each year is this back marsh is sinking and you can really see that when you look at this imagery."
LaFleur said being close to the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program and Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium allows Nicholls to work on coastal restoration projects before other schools.
"It's sort of like the eyes of the world are on Louisiana because we are the place that's losing the most land in the world, and so there's restoration things that are being learned here and done here for the first time," he said. "It's an opportunity for faculty and students and there's a real opportunity for us to be an important component of coastal restoration and to teach the world."
Nicholls has been using drones since 2005.
Balaji Ramachandran, applied sciences department head and associate professor of geomatics, said grants pay for about 80 percent of the program. Terrebonne Parish has been a big supporter, and Lafayette-based Navigation Electronics has donated drones.
"One of the things that we are looking at next is there's this whole notion that putting a levee's going to affect the ecosystem of the area," Ramachandran said. "So we are looking not just at the levee as a control feature, but also how controlling the freshwater, saltwater, how it's going to impact the ecosystem."
Graves said Nicholls' use of drones may translate to Department of Defense projects.
"There's, I think, some opportunities there where you could take what's being done here today at Nicholls and really put it on steroids. You could cover greater areas, you could deploy better technology, heavier weight sensors, some things that I think would really advance some of the efforts that are underway here now," Graves said.

15 2017-01-18
Natchitoches

Brazilian pianist Pianist Fernando Müller to perform at NSU Jan. 26


NATCHITOCHES – Pianist Fernando Müller will perform at Northwestern State University Thursday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. The concert is part of the Louisiana Piano Series International. Tickets are $15. Students are admitted free. Dr. Francis Yang and Dr. Christine Burczyk Allen are the organizers of the Louisiana Piano Series International.

Müller will play works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Waldemar de Almeida, Edmundo Villani-Côrtes, Francisco Mignone, Ernesto Nazareth and Marlos Nobre.

A native of Paraná, Brazil, Müller is a piano teacher at the Pernambuco Conservatory of Music. He also taught as an adjunct at the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, where he currently serves as collaborative pianist. From 2003-2013, he was a pianist of the Symphony Orchestra of Recife.

As a soloist and chamber musician, Müller has appeared in several cities in Brazil, Germany, and Canada, sharing with his audiences music from Brazil. He has participated in many festivals and masterclasses, with many renowned pianists.

In 2005, Müller recorded the “Concerto for Piano,” by José Alberto Kaplan with the Orquestra da Paraíba. He recorded the works of Inaldo Moreira on three CDs between 2009 and 2015. The CD “Arrurar” was released in 2012 with pieces for piano by composers from Pernambuco. In 2014, he released the CD “Território XXI” with the Percussion Group of the Northeast.

Müller completed his undergraduate studies at the Universidade Federal da Paraiba and received his master’s degree from the Université de Montréal.


15 2017-01-17
Houma/Thibodaux

http://www.houmatoday.com/opinion/20170113/our-opinion-challenges-opportunities-abound-at-nicholls-state


Louisiana's colleges and universities have had a rough time in recent years.

And Nicholls State University is no exception.


Repeated cuts to state money going toward higher education has forced colleges such as Nicholls to do more and more with less and less.

The cuts have already affected the level of services offered to students.

And now, the threat of permanent cuts to the TOPS program that subsidizes many of our students' educations could make things even worse for the students and their schools.

But Nicholls President Bruce Murphy sounded a positive tone Wednesday in his state of the university address.

"Our goal is to make Nicholls State University affordable, accessible, relevant, high-quality, public education," Murphy said. "We are doing amazing things."

Murphy made some great points. Among the high points, he cited:

- Increased enrollment, from 6,215 last year to 6,267. That might not seem like a huge hike, but it is important considering all the things working against Louisiana students and making it more difficult for them to attend school in their own state.


- Tuition and fees that are below the average for the University of Louisiana System.

- A library that has received accolades from the state's library network.

- A campus that was named the third-safest in the state.

- Renewed accreditation that should remain with the school for the next 10 years.

One thing is certain: For a university to thrive, it must continue to attract and keep students who are prepared to succeed. The fact that Nicholls enrollment figures are trending upward is a positive sign in difficult times.

And while Nicholls and other colleges and universities continue to contend with the hardships that affect them and their students, there are also positive signs for a local institution upon which so many depend for jobs, education and edification.

Nicholls is important not just to its students; it is a huge part of our local communities. It is an educational institution, yes. But it is also a cultural institution that does so much more than educate tomorrow's leaders.


That is why its significance reaches so far beyond its own campus. It is also why local people - even if they and their children aren't enrolled at Nicholls - should root for its continued success.

Let's hope that Murphy and his colleagues, in addition to the students they are doing so much to prepare for their next steps in life, can continue to bring the university forward in spite of the challenges that await.

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.


15 2017-01-12
Houma/Thibodaux

State of the University: Nicholls president looks to future HIDE CAPTION Nicholls State President Bruce Murphy delivers his State of the University s


Nicholls State's president highlighted successes and challenges today in his annual State of the University speech to faculty members.

"Our goal is to make Nicholls State University affordable, accessible, relevant, high quality public education," Murphy said. "We are doing amazing things."


Among highlights from his speech:


Nicholls now enrolls 6,267 students, up from 6,215 in the 2015-16 academic year.

Tuition and fees for a full- time undergraduate, $3,820 per semester, are below average for schools in the University of Louisiana system.

In October, Nicholls' library was named best among state higher institutions by the Louisiana Library Network.

Nicholls was rated the third safest college campus in the state by BackgroundChecks.org.

December also saw Nicholls' accreditation renewed for 10 years by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College. Accreditation, which comes after a lengthy internal and external review, offers assurance that the university meets regionally accepted quality standards.

Murphy said recent athletic success for the Colonels has also benefited the entire university, with ticket revenue up 71 percent and bookstore commissions and concession revenue both up over 300 percent from 2015.

"We have had an amazing increase in interest in our campus," Murphy said. "People from all kinds of places have come to talk to us. We don't do athletics to make money, but that energy has translated in some very real ways and in some very intangible ways."

Financial issues continue to be a major focus amid continued state budget shortfalls.

MORE VIDEO: Cajun Critters in Houma caught fire this morning. Video by Al Hebert.

Murphy noted that 75 percent of Nicholls' $55 million-a-year budget comes from student tuition and fees, while state money makes up the remaining 25 percent. Murphy said he believes the state needs to pay for things such as building construction and repairs and rising insurance costs. Part of Murphy's plan for the coming year also involves Nicholls' campus police becoming part of the State Police system to lower costs.

"The state should pay for those things that perpetuate the institution to guarantee that Nicholls State University will be here in five years, 10 years," Murphy said. "Students should pay for those things from which they receive a direct or current benefit. If that falls out 50-50, so be it. If it doesn't, let it fall out as it will."

Mandated costs mean the university gives back to the state $1.02 for every dollar it receives, he said. In the past year, Nicholls has paid the state more than $2 million. Murphy said Nicholls' size is one of the key reasons this happens, and he hopes to end it.

Murphy said he also hopes the state introduces specific goals to increase the number of residents with a college education, and he believes continuing to showcase Nicholls' strengths can help.

"We are thriving," Murphy said of Nicholls. "Students are being very successful. Some people tend to forget Nicholls is a great institution. It's a medium-size institution which is safe, a good value and with high_quality education."


15 2016-12-19
Houma/Thibodaux

Hundreds graduate from Nicholls in fall ceremony HIDE CAPTION Janai Joseph (from left), Lashawn King, Diamond Lampton and Zeica Mollaire were among h


By Emma DischerStaff Writer
More than 660 students graduated with degrees from Nicholls State University this morning at the first outdoor commencement ceremony at John L. Guidry stadium.

The sun was shining as the graduates marched into the stadium in their robes to "Pomp and Circumstance." Growing class sizes led the university to plan one unified ceremony for the school's 99th commencement.
Before receiving their degrees, the students heard words of wisdom from Harvard University professor and U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Kevin Kit Parker.
Parker was one of Bruce Murphy's students when the Nicholls president was a professor of military science at Vanderbilt University. Murphy said Parker met all the requirements of a commencement speaker.
"The vets group on campus wants a combat veteran. The top researchers, they opted for an eminent researcher. Many faculty thought that a creative and engaging faculty member would fit the bill. The community thought that someone from an elite university would be best. And I, as a typically proud instructor, I personally wanted a highly successful former student. So in selecting today's speaker, Kit Parker, we got all of the above in one package," Murphy said.
Parker spoke about his belief that childhood is the most creative time in a person's life and that sometimes education makes people forget about that creativity. He urged the graduates to reach back to that time and remember that creativity.
Harnessing that creativity and pursuing passions especially in the workplace were also part of Parker's advice.
"Find a job that's not going to feed your belly and eat your soul," Parker said. "I can't tell you how important it is to find a job that's going to feed your soul. You see people later in life who chase the dollar and it leads to a terrible outcome. You gotta follow your passion."

Parker expressed the importance of treating co-workers and others as family. For the graduates, this could also be seen as a description of what it's like to be at Nicholls: a family.
"Everything about Nicholls kind of tugged at my heartstrings from the beginning," graduate Kaylee Cole said. "I didn't plan to stay at Nicholls long term ... but I got a student job right away at the Office of Admissions and I fell in love with it. ... It's hard to be a student worker in that office and not be on fire about Nicholls 24/7."
Now looking back on her time at Nicholls, Cole sees her degree and her diploma as the embodiment of that time and the families she developed from her time at admissions, the orientation team and Delta Zeta sorority.
"One thing I am incredible grateful for is the ability to have a bachelor's degree so close to home and at our fingertips," Cole said. "As I was looking at masters programs it wasn't as easily attainable. We kind of take it for granted. ... Yeah, it's a piece of paper, but when I look at it it will be my past three and a half years."
Another graduate, Vondavious Breaux, shared something in common with Parker in that he found career inspiration in a professor as Parker did with Murphy.
"President Murphy, Colonel Murphy as I knew him, was my first role model as a warrior scholar and it really opened my eyes as to what my career could be serving my country and serving academia," Parker said.
Breaux started as a nursing student but found a love of English and creative writing through his classes, literary magazine and spoken word activities. One professor in particular, Michele Theriot, inspired him to pursue a career in education after graduation.

Outside of the classroom, Breaux took part in service projects through his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and the football team, of which he was a member. After the historic floods this year in Louisiana, Breaux worked with the football team to help with flood relief in Gonzales. Breaux, a native of Lafayette, also was affected by the floods personally.
"It taught me that sometimes disasters are going to happen, but you have to be very open and try to maneuver through all the disaster and keep a positive mind and help out other people," Breaux said.
-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.

15 2016-12-09
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State University earns reaccreditation HIDE CAPTION Nicholls State University has been accredited for another 10 years and will now focus mo


By Kevinisha Walker Staff Writer
Nicholls State University has been accredited for another 10 years and will now focus more on advising and mentoring students as part of its quality enhancement plan.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges -- a U.S. Department of Education organization that accredits over 13,000 public and private educational institutions -- approved Nicholls' accreditation renewal during its annual board meeting in Atlanta earlier this week.
The accreditation process happens every 10 years, but at about the fifth year mark, the accrediting commission reviews schools' quality enhancement plans, which include a five-year look at trying to improve student learning. That's where the focus on greater advising and mentoring comes in.
The university is moving from counselors simply helping students select classes to more of a greater advising role where counselors work with students for a longer time throughout their college career.
"We're trying to move toward developmental advising, where the adviser builds a relationship with students and talks a whole lot with students from freshman to senior year to help them look at what their strengths are, what areas they're not quite good in ... and what courses they need to take and why they're important for the major," said Lynn Gillette, Nicholls provost and vice president of academic affairs.
The coaching and mentoring will allow counselors and faculty to dig deeper into what students need and build stronger relationships with students, said Todd Keller, associate vice president for academic affairs.
"Every student comes here with a dream to graduate and head on to a great career," Keller said. "It's great to have a dream. But at the rate we're going right now, I'm not so certain that we know where our students are coming from, what their circumstances are or what led them to college."
With the focus on advising and mentoriing, "it's still advising a student but with that mentoring and coaching layer that digs much deeper," he added.

Nicholls has already started implementing the plan, first with the hiring of Lizetta Frederick, director of student advising and mentoring.
Frederick started in September, and she said the program is off to a good start as students and faculty are comfortable with the systematic approach the school has taken.
"We're doing things in stages," she said. "In addition to what we're doing with the transition plan to help students, we're also helping faculty in the sense that we're providing a toolkit for them ... this is just going to take us to the next level."
Nicholls met nearly 100 standards of accreditation by which the SACS committee judges schools.
"They spend about a week here (for the onsite visit) and then submit a report. At the end of the report, there were no findings or recommendations, which are areas where they (might) find that we are not compliant," Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said.
"When they got out of here with no recommendations, that was a pretty good deal. You're not done, you're not home free, but you're about as home free as you can get," he said.
The SACS committee looks at everything from facilities to finance and meets with staff, students and faculty before deciding on accreditation.
15 2016-12-05
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls professors to discuss Star of Bethlehem


Nicholls State University physical science professors Chadwick and Kaisa Young will discuss the origin of the Star of Bethlehem at 6 p.m. Monday in the Student Union's Plantation Suite.


According to the nativity story, the Star of Bethlehem, also called the Christmas Star, signaled the birth of Jesus and led the three wise men to Bethlehem.

The presentation, titled "O Star of Wonder: The Astronomy, History and Mystery of the Star of Bethlehem," will offer insight into the genesis of the star while also surveying its significance on Christianity.


15 2016-12-05
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls Chamber Singers to host Christmas dinner


The Nicholls State University Chamber Singers will host their annual Christmas dinner at 7 p.m. Friday in the Student Union’s Cotillion Ballroom.


Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the event, which will include a multi-course meal and a visit from Santa Claus. The theme is “Here Comes Santa Claus,” and songs will include “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “Zat You, Santa Claus,” and arrangements from “The Polar Express” and “Home Alone 2.”


15 2016-12-05
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls Concert Choir to perform Christmas show


The Nicholls State University Concert Choir will present "A Joyful Christmas" at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Talbot Hall's Mary and Al Danos Theater.


Along with holiday classics, the free candlelight concert will include songs arranged and performed by Nicholls vocal education student James Rodrigue, guitar professor Masson LeMieux, instrumental music education student Emma Prejean, violin student Joăo F. Fraga and music fraternities Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and Sigma Alpha Iota.


15 2016-11-16
Houma/Thibodaux

TOPS scholarship cuts to go into effect HIDE CAPTION Nicholls State University pre-dental hygiene freshman Sadie Theriot reads today in the quadrangl


By Kevinisha Walker Staff Writer
For the first time, TOPS will not cover full college tuition, and local students and their parents are preparing to dig deeper into their pockets when the cuts take effect in January.

As many as 50,000 Louisiana students will only be eligible for 41.8 percent of the total merit-based Taylor Opportunity Program for Students scholarship in the spring.


Dealing with a $1.6 billion deficit, state lawmakers only provided money for about 70 percent of the $300 million program.

"When we leave our kids with more student debt than necessary, we’ve failed them," Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a recent statement. "Going forward, it is my hope that we can restore funding to TOPS because too many students across the state are dependent upon the assistance it offers."

"In fact, despite the budget shortfalls we’re currently facing, we will not be making further cuts to this program," he added. "Today, we risk having an influx of students drop out of college or leave with burdensome debt. We can and must do better."

Peyton Chiasson, a junior at Nicholls State University, said knowing about the TOPS scholarship as a child was an incentive to make good grades even when he was in elementary school.

"You go through all these years and you hear, if you do well you will get TOPS," Chiasson said. "Having (this cut) come up is not great to hear, but I also understand. Obviously our state needs money to operate and money doesn't last forever."

The business management major's parents have paid the remainder of his college tuition after TOPS. While the scholarship certainly helped ease some of the burden, he realizes that the scholarship is more than just a luxury for other students.

"I'm lucky enough to come from parents who pay for my schooling. For students who are paying for tuition out of their own pockets, it's different," he said.


O'Neal Scott, 21, also a business administration major at Nicholls, said his parents chip in a bit with college expenses. But not enough to pay tuition in full.

He pays out-of-pocket between $2,500 and $3,000 a semester after help from TOPS.

"This is a big deal to me because I will have to pay for what TOPS won't on top of other fees so it's not helping at all," Scott said. "I also feel bad for everyone else who will come along and might not even have TOPS."

It's not just college students concerned with TOPS cuts, however.

Thibodaux native Shaunda Naquin figured her son would get TOPS money because he always had good grades and scored high on the ACT.

"It was definitely something that was going to be a great help, but with the economy you never know," she said. "We're going to have to do what we have to do I guess. The important thing is that he gets the education he deserves and needs to be successful."

Naquin's teenage son Andrew is a senior at Thibodaux High. He hasn't been awarded a TOPS scholarship yet but has high hopes he will get an award letter in the spring.

In the meantime, he's applying to Tulane University, Louisiana State University, Nicholls and out-of-state schools just to have more options.

"With TOPS up in the air, I want to have more options so I applied to Fordham University and New York University," he said. "If TOPS and other in-state scholarships are big enough, I probably will stay in-state."
15 2016-11-15
Houma/Thibodaux

English group explores local culinary scene HIDE CAPTION Chef John Folse does a cooking demonstration today for students from Oxford, England, in the


A group of renown British chefs and up-and-coming culinary students spent today in Lafourche Parish as part of a Louisiana culinary visit.

The group toured the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University, Bourgeois Meat Market in Thibodaux, Raceland Sugar Mill and Alzina’s Kitchen in Galliano.


The idea for the trip came from a conversation between food historian Jessica Harris and chefs Jeremy Lee and Yotam Ottolenghi last year.

“We were at an event and ... I was talking about New Orleans, running my mouth, and he’s like, ‘I’ve never been to New Orleans.’ So I said, ‘well come visit!’ That’s how the whole thing happened,” Harris said.

Harris is an expert of the food and foodways of the African diaspora and has previously worked with Chef John Folse. She is a recipient of the Lafcadio Hearn Award, which is awarded by the Folse institute to culinary professionals who have impacted Louisiana food and culture.

Lee is the chef of Quo Vadis restaurant in London. Harris called Ottolenghi “one of the top chefs in the UK right now.” Donald Sloan, the head of the school of hospitality management at Oxford Brookes University, and about a dozen students were also on the trip.

“When it was all decided that they were coming and because we were bringing students, (Folse was) like ‘you’ve got to take students to Nicholls State,” Harris said. “They’ve got to see Nicholls State. So that was the nucleus of this whole day’s trip. You need to go see cane country, you need to come to Nicholls State, you need to understand the culture, and you’ve got to do it by coming and showing up.”

While touring the new Nicholls culinary building, the group heard about the worldwide influences on Louisiana cuisine.

Nicholls President Bruce Murphy mentioned in his opening remarks that the institute’s emblem includes multiple flags. These, he said, represent the different cultures and influences that have made Louisiana food what it is.


“Gumbo could only have happened here,” Randy Cheramie, recruiting coordinator and instructor of the culinary institute, said in response to Murphy. “When you look at the seven nations that had their hand in the pot, so to speak, you take one of them out and it’s a whole different ball game. It’s funny how we’re still evolving down here. It’s still a melting pot.”

During his cooking demo of a seafood gumbo, Folse explained the cultural and historical ingredients in the dish in addition to the roux, shrimp and crabmeat that he added to the pot.

“My final exam is ‘tell me who is in this damn pot,’” Folse said.

The group will round out their Louisiana culinary visit with a few more days exploring the New Orleans culinary scene.

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.


15 2016-11-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Veterans Day: 'Your sacrifice does not go unnoticed' Previous HIDE CAPTION Students from the Little Colonels Academy recite the Pledge of Allegiance


After completing final exams at Nicholls State University in 1988, Todd Keller went to a Navy recruiter's office because he didn't know what to do with his life.

When he got to boot camp, everyone had to write down why they joined the military. Many said they needed money and couldn't find other work, but a first-generation American of Vietnamese descent wrote, "I joined the military because I love my country and I want to serve."


"It was a life-altering moment," Keller said. "It's one that made many of us in that unit sit down and look deeply within ourselves and ask some serious questions about why we were there, what was the purpose and what were we going to do with this. A lot of answers came to me, and today I can stand here and tell you that the United States Navy is the single most important influencer of where I am today."

Keller left the Navy as a hospital corpsman and entered Nicholls' nursing program. He eventually earned his master's and doctorate degrees and has worked at Nicholls for the past 18 years, now as associate vice president for academic affairs.

Even now, Keller said, he can't hear the national anthem without getting emotional.

He shared his story today at Nicholls' Veterans Day program. Participants included the Thibodaux High JROTC, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Little Colonels Academy and Max Charter School.

Gilberto Burbante, a Marine and the university's coordinator of veterans services, said every day is Veterans Day to him.

"Not a day goes by that I don't think back on the days of combat or just my time shared with so many brave brothers of mine," he said. "I know that somewhere in a far-off land, I have a brother or a sister going off on a combat patrol, a raid, or into a building not knowing what's on the other side of that door. They enter a hostile environment on a daily basis, putting their lives on the line, which means giving up time with loved ones so that we are able to do this here today."

Burbante reminded audience members of their fellow students and professors who are veterans. He said all veterans hold dear their oaths to defend the United States from enemies.


"We are able to enjoy a blanket of freedom provided by that brave individual," he said. "Yet, this freedom does not come without a cost, and that cost is paid by the sacrifices of young Americans that have bravely served without question throughout the ages. It is my honor to stand here as a proud American, surrounded by so many brave Americans and veterans who are willing to give up so much of their own so that others may prosper."

Guest speaker Col. Jacques Thibodeaux retired from the Army in 2015 after 31 years. The Thibodaux native belonged to the ROTC and the Louisiana National Guard while attending Nicholls and served in Desert Storm, Task Force Noble Eagle and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Thibodeaux's last mobilization was serving as security forces commander for the Green Zone in Baghdad. He also earned a master's degree from the U.S. Army War College in strategic studies.

He shared a few of his favorite quotes that he said apply to veterans:

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try." – President John F. Kennedy.
"We owe this freedom of choice and action to the men and women in uniform who serve this nation and its interest during its time of need. In particular, we are forever indebted to those who gave their lives so we all may remain free." – President Ronald Reagan.
"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." – G.K. Chesterton.

Thibodeaux also spoke about the fight for free choice.

"No veteran wakes up and says, 'Today is my day to die.' However, all veterans wake up every day and say, 'Today is my day to live free, and I shall live free today knowing that if I do die, others will be free tomorrow,'" he said. "Once a Coastie, a Seabee, a sailor, a soldier, an airman, a Marine – always a veteran. Your sacrifice does not go unnoticed."

-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or bridget.mire@dailycomet.com. Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.


15 2016-11-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Community forums feature former members of Congress


Nicholls State University students and community members will have the chance to interact with two former members of Congress next week at the annual Congress to Campus program.

Republican Ann Marie Buerkle of New York and Democrat Nick Lampson of Texas will participate in several events from Sunday to Tuesday.


The public is welcome at community forums from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday in the Golden Meadow Town Hall, 107 Jervis Drive, and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at the Nicholls Peltier Auditorium. The duo will also speak to multiple Nicholls classes.

The Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business, which is located on the Nicholls campus, and the Lafourche Commission on Women are sponsoring the program.

Buerkle was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013. She is also a former nurse and the former assistant attorney general of New York. She is currently the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission commissioner.

Lampson served in public office for 42 years, 12 of which were in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 2009. He now works as the vice president of operations for Riceland Healthcare in southeast Texas and serves on other boards and committees in Texas.

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.
15 2016-11-11
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls hosts discussion about oilfield jobs HIDE CAPTION Maurice Gourrier was the keynote speaker today at the Nicholls State University Department


By Kevinisha Walker Staff Writer
There are reasons to be hopeful about careers in the oil and gas industry despite its downturn, four workers told students at a panel discussion today at Nicholls State University.

Maurice Gourrier, Nicholls Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management alum, served as the keynote speaker and spoke a lot about what the industry looks for in employees.


"What does the industry want?" Gourrier asked. "Integrity. Someone with integrity. It is simply what you're willing to do when no one is looking. If you're not honorable yet, it ain't too late."

Gourrier is retired and ended his career as a Drilling and Completions HES Team lead at Chevron. He graduated from Nicholls in 1977 and spent 43 years in the industry.

As the "pendulum swings every 30 years or so," he said, circumstances surrounding a slump may change. But companies often look for the same qualities in its employees no matter what.

Oil and gas companies "want leadership, people with people skills and who know how to treat people," Gourrier said. "If they're going to emerge as the best in what they provide, it won't happen unless they have a team of leaders."

After Gourrier delivered his speech, he joined three other Nicholls PETSM graduates for the panel discussion.

Each of them had different paths to their current roles, but they all agreed that it takes hard work and dedication to remain successful in the industry.

Currently there are 569 oil rigs running, up by 12 since last week's count but down by 202 compared to November 2015, according to data from American industrial service company Baker Hughes.


That uptick may not be a huge leap, but Chad Hebert, manager of Workforce Logistics, told students that by 2020, there will be some bright spots for them if they choose to work in the oil and gas sector.

Randall Guidry, regional technical director at Baker Hughes, added that regulations will play a huge part in the future of the oilfield.

The government rewrote the whole playbook with the introduction of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement," Guidry said.

"What regulations come upon us, get dropped and where the government assists in key situations happening offshore will impact companies' production," he added.

The youngest panelist, Matthew Perrin, earned his degree from Nicholls last year after working on lift boats in the maritime industry. Currently, he is a drillsite manager at Chevron.

While he spent several years working before pursuing his PETSM degree, he urged students not to be afraid to go after oil and gas jobs with little to no experience because employers look at more than just that experience.

"It's not always about who's best at math. "It's about what you offer, your people skills and what you can do in the field," he said.
15 2016-11-10
Houma/Thibodaux

Students to premiere documentary Thursday on Nicholls' veterans


Students will premiere a documentary about Nicholls State University veterans Thursday in conjunction with Veterans Day.

The documentary was produced in the spring by history and mass communications students after Nicholls received a $90,000 state Board of Regents grant for new equipment.


Andrew Simoncelli wrote the grant application and ran the project with fellow professors Lance Arnold and Paul Wilson. Simoncelli said once they received the grant for the film equipment they knew they needed to start with a big project.

“Lance Arnold did some oral histories of musicians in New Orleans, so we said, All right, let’s do something like that, but who is worthy of being interviewed? 'Veterans,' ” Simoncelli said. “So we said, All Right, how about we interview veterans on campus? We’ve got a lot of veterans on campus. We’re a big military-friendly campus.”

Students interviewed 14 veterans and edited 14 hours of video to the one-hour final cut. It also includes Nicholls President Bruce Murphy and his wife Jeanne, who are retired from the Army.

Interviewees were asked about why they joined the military, about boot camp and deployment experiences and about their time afterward. Most are more-recent veterans.

The university's Veterans Affairs Office helped the professors and students locate on-campus veterans. Veterans Services Coordinator Gilberto Burbante said he immediately thought the documentary was a great idea.

“Fellow students aren’t aware of how much of a daily struggle some of these guys and girls go through with transitioning back into the civilian life. … They go day-to-day without asking for recognition,” Burbante said. “We owe it to these veterans to show them recognition by obviously putting this documentary together because now that’s part of their history that’s going to be forever etched into this documentary.”

One student was on both sides of the camera for the project. Senior Micah Hebert served active duty in Hawaii from January 2005 to July 2010 and in the reserves from 2011 to 2013. Now he is close to finishing his degree from Nicholls.

“The disconnect is real, and to put a face on what would otherwise be a very distant headline or otherwise the very, very far-removed news, I think, is important," Hebert said.

-- Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.


15 2016-11-09
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls to premiere veterans documentary


Mass communication and history students will premiere their documentary called "Local Veterans: An Oral History" Thursday in Nicholls State University's Peltier Auditorium.


Doors open at 4:45 p.m., and the film starts at 5:30 p.m. A question-and-answer session will follow with some of the featured veterans.

Professors Andy Simoncelli and Lance Arnold edited the documentary, which was paid for with an $88,000 Board of Regents grant. History Department Head Paul Wilson assisted with the project.

The screening is free, and refreshments will be served in the lobby.
15 2016-10-28
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls library named top in state



15 2016-10-28
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls' culinary institute to host Bite Night


By Kevinisha Walker Staff Writer

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University will host its 21st annual fundraiser Saturday night at Ducros Plantation, 147 Old Schriever Highway, Schriever.

For the past 20 years, the institute put on a Bite of the Arts gala to raise money for the program and student scholarships.

But organizers wanted to do something a little different this year so they tied the gala to Halloween and called it Halloween Bite Night Costume Party.

"Everyone felt like it was time to update the fundraiser this year, so we came up with a Halloween costume party theme," said chef John Kozar, department head and assistant professor at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

The costume party kicks off at 7 p.m. Local band the Soul Survivors will provide the live entertainment.

Nicholls alum chef Jean Paul Bourgeois will create the menu and lead Nicholls students in preparing a whole hog. Bourgeois is coming to Thibodaux from New York City, where he's the executive chef at Blue Smoke restaurant.

The menu will basically be Bourgeois' update on barbecue Cajun cuisine.

Bourgeois and students will roast the hog all day Saturday in a Cajun microwave, which is basically a charcoal heated dutch oven used for cooking outdoors.

The gala will also have a costume contest and cocktail hour featuring a variety of mixed drinks, wine and beer.

The gala typically sees around 150 people, but Kozar said there is room for anyone who wants to come.

Tickets are $100 and can be purchased by calling 493-2700.

15 2016-10-28
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls library named top in state


LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network has named Nicholls State University's Ellender Memorial Library the best in the state among higher education institutions.

The Library of the Year Award, given annually during LOUIS' conference in Baton Rouge, recognizes libraries for services, programs and projects as well as contributions and partnerships with the LOUIS staff and other libraries.

"This award is a reflection of the hard work and collaboration of our team of librarians and staff along with the support of the university," Ellender Co-director Clifton Theriot said in a statement. "We have continuously strived to provide resources and services to meet the needs of our users in this ever-changing information age. We're honored to receive this award."
15 2016-10-21
Houma/Thibodaux

Report: Nicholls third-safest college in state


By Bridget Mire Staff Writer

Nicholls State University is the safest of nine schools in the University of Louisiana System and the third-safest college in the state, according to a recent report by BackgroundChecks.org.

The rating included both public and private, not-for-profit four-year institutions. Nicholls, which showed a crime rate of less than 1 per 1,000 residents, fell just behind University of Holy Cross in New Orleans and LSU Shreveport.





"We are honored to be recognized as one of the safest campuses in Louisiana," University President Bruce Murphy said in a statement. "Nicholls has always prided itself on its sense of community and for being a welcoming, inclusive environment for students, their families and the community-at-large. The officers in our University Police Department do an excellent job making sure that our students can live and learn in a safe environment."

Nicholls has an enrollment of 6,292. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Crime in the United States reports, it had 17 thefts in 2013, 27 in 2014 and 22 last year.

The university had one burglary in 2013, two in 2014 and none last year, according to the FBI. It reported two rapes in 2013, one in 2014 and one last year.

Craig Jaccuzzo became police chief at Nicholls in 2004. He said he was surprised that alcohol wasn't a major problem, but rather physical attacks and narcotics offenses.

"It was an open-admission university," he said. "That means anyone and everyone could come for at least one semester and try it out at college. ... We had two kidnappings, we had situations with individuals doing robberies and burglaries because just any caliber of person came on our campus. A lot of times our students became victims of people they brought to campus or friends of friends."

Over the years, Nicholls has raised its academic standards, such as ACT score and GPA, which Jaccuzzo believes has helped lower the crime rate.

"I believe that our (current) admission requirements bring in individuals who are more serious and committed to education," he said. "They're individuals who are goal-driven."





Jaccuzzo said the university has added cameras around campus, and officers have increased patrols of parking lots. Call boxes are around campus, and University Police also run an external siren system and an emergency notification system, which alerts people of crises by phone or email.

The University Police website has a monthly crime log that includes date, time, location, type of incident and what happened with the case.

But Jaccuzzo is quick to note that his agency only plays one part in keeping the campus safe and that all departments at Nicholls are involved.

"When we see a student doing something that may not be criminal, but his behavior may illustrate something, we go to the Judicial Affairs Office and say, 'There's a code of conduct. We need to do something,'" he said. "If we see an individual that may have some kind of stress in their life that is not helping them be successful, we go to the counseling center and we say, 'This kid needs help.' If we see kids walking on a certain path of our campus where there's no lights, we go to maintenance and say, 'We need lights.' ... We are officers that are more vigilant and more observant of our surroundings and bring in everybody to make sure we get it right."

15 2016-10-19
Houma/Thibodaux

You're invited to Nicholls' Monster Piano Concert


More than 35 pianists will perform classical music on seven Steinway grand pianos during a concert Thursday at Nicholls State University.

It's part of the Eighth Annual Monster Piano Concert scheduled for 7 p.m. in the newly renovated Mary and Al Danos Theater.


This year’s concert is dedicated to the memory of Mary and Al Danos, benefactors and longtime supporters of the performing arts at Nicholls.

Faculty, alumni and community members and local high school students will perform the “Carnival of Animals” by Camille Saint-Saens on seven Steinway grand pianos. Faculty and students will also perform other classical works.

Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for students and $50 for general admission. To purchase a ticket, call Kellie Gaspard at 985-448-4600. Proceeds will benefit maintenance of the pianos.
15 2016-10-17
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls professor helps preserve local culture HIDE CAPTION Nicholls State University biology professor Quenton Fontenot plays accordion with the Ca


Chackbay resident Quenton Fontenot grew up just outside of Baton Rouge. His father's from Ville Platte and his mother's from New Orleans.

Basically, he's a "good south Louisiana hybrid," he joked.


Because of his south Louisiana roots, Fontenot felt a strong calling to highlight the effects of coastal restoration and the culture of the region that groomed him.

So he became a professor of biological sciences at Nicholls State University, a position he's held for the past 14 years.

Just as devoted as he is to studying ecology, he's equally as committed to preserving the history and culture of south Louisiana.

For the past three years, Fontenot has played accordion with the Cajun Music Preservation Society, an organization dedicated to promoting, preserving and enhancing the awareness and appreciation of traditional Cajun music within the southeast Louisiana region.

"The connection I have with traditional Cajun music and land is that as we lose our land, we lose our culture. We're working hard as scientists to preserve land and ecology, and I'm working hard as a citizen to preserve our culture," he said.

When he's not studying the effects of land loss and how it applies to fish, he's at The Venetian Food and Spirits in Thibodaux every other Wednesday jamming with the Cajun Music Preservation Society crew.

He also helps organize the Louisiana Swamp Stomp Festival, an annual music fest that features traditional Cajun music.


This year's Swamp Stomp will be Nov. 5 at the Bayou Lafourche Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 4484 La. 1, Raceland.

This is the first time it's being held off Nicholls' campus and in the fall. Before, every fest was held in March.

Due to budget cuts, Fontenot said the university couldn't continue to host the festival.

Thanks to a grant from the Bayou Lafourche Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, festival organizers were able to secure a new location.

"They knew that swamp stomp would be good for the parish and area and target people to the region," Fontenot said.

The fest will start at 11 a.m. and admission is free. Spahr's Seafood, Alumni Grill and The Venetian Food and Spirits will provide food, and four traditional Cajun music bands will perform.

There will also be a farmer's market where people will sell their fresh foods.


Food and art are certainly some of the Swamp Stomp's main features, but Cajun music is its main reason for being.

"At some of the major area fests, I couldn't find traditional Cajun music. So we're trying to make it publicly available for people to hear," Fontenot said. "We know it’s not for everybody, but for those who love it, they really love it. To see the look on people’s faces is a big deal."

Fontenot realizes that some people can't differentiate between Zydeco, swamp pop and Cajun music.

"It's so hard to describe what the difference is and I've stopped (trying to explain,)" he said. "For us down here, we know the difference."

The 45th annual Louisiana Gumbo Festival in Chackbay, which attracts thousands of people, was capped Sunday with a parade. The three-day festival supports the Chackbay Volunteer Fire Deparment, which last year saw a profit of $109,693.77.


15 2016-10-14
Houma/Thibodaux

La. poet laureate hosts talk at Nicholls HIDE CAPTION Louisiana Poet Laureate Peter Cooley reads from his latest collection of poetry, "A Night Bus t


A strange sister, New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and the death of a parent are all themes in Louisiana Poet Laureate Peter Cooley's poetry, some of which he read today at Nicholls State University.

As the state's poet laureate, a role he stepped into last year, the Tulane University English professor travels across the state giving poetry readings and writing workshops. The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities arranges his speaking engagements.


Nicholls just happened to be his most recent stop.

"I've never heard of a poet having an agent, but this is like having an agent," Cooley said.

The university's Ellender Memorial Library and Department of Languages and Literature requested Cooley's visit to inspire students interested in poetry and careers in creative writing.

During his discussion, the Detroit native talked about his family life, experiences living in the Midwest and the enjoyment of writing about things he's unfamiliar with.

Still, most of his poetry seems to stem from his own experiences.

"Anything inspires me to write, but it has to connect with something," he said.

When he was a little boy, his parents had a standing floor globe in their home that he couldn't touch.


A similar globe standing in Nicholls' library caught his eye and reminded him of his childhood. And that scenario could be inspiration for a poem, Cooley joked.

Throughout his career, he's published nine different collections.

In 1981, he was named the Robert Frost Fellow of the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. And in 2001 and 2003, he received the Inspirational Professor Award and Newcomb Professor of the Year Award, respectively.

Currently, Cooley teaches creative writing and poetry and leads the Creative Writing program at Tulane University.

Continuing with his poet laureate duties, the New Orleans-based poet will speak at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola next spring.
15 2016-10-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls introduces Roan as new athletic director HIDE CAPTION Nicholls State University introduced new athletic director K. Matthew Roan on Thursday


By Teddy Renois Staff Writer
Nicholls State University president Bruce Murphy introduced K. Matthew Roan as the new athletic director at the school at the Harold J. Callais Student Recreation Center on Thursday morning.

In front of administration, faculty, coaches, students and supporters, Roan, 32, said in his opening remarks that Nicholls is the right place at the right time for he and his family.


Roan was one of four finalists for the position and the search committee chose him over China Jude, assistant vice president and director of athletics at Queens (N.Y.) College, Christopher Walker, associate athletic director at Washington State and Kent Hegenauer, senior associate athletic director at Southern Miss.

Roan comes to Nicholls from Eastern Kentucky where he was the deputy director of athletics. Prior to his time at Eastern Kentucky, Roan worked as the deputy director of athletics at Southern Utah and helped with football operations at the University of Kentucky while obtaining his law degree in 2012. Roan, a native of Radford, Virginia, also played football at Virginia Tech before transferring to Southern Utah to finish his college career. An all-conference offensive lineman at Southern Utah, Roan was a free-agent rookie at the Minnesota Vikings 2008 training camp.

While he doesn’t have a lot of experience in terms of years, Roan said he believes it was his depth of experience that won over the search committee. Roan’s hiring is still pending approval from the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors and his first official day on the job is Nov. 15.

“I worked in the president’s office, the compliance office and athletics. I think I have a comprehensive understanding of athletics, and I can’t wait to get here and get started,” Roan said. “I worked at two institutions that had a lot of success. I’m looking to bring that to Nicholls. I hope the committee saw in me someone who has helped bring success to other institutions and has that ability to bring that to Nicholls. I am 32, and I don’t have the number of years of experience, but it is the depth of my experience that has prepared me well. I worked with some great people that have taught me well.”

The lessons Roan learned while coming up through the ranks impressed the search committee and provost/vice president of academic affairs Dr. Lynn Gillette said Roan simply rose above the other candidates.

“I will relate this to a football term. He graded out really well on everything,” Gillette, who was the search committee chairman, said. “He had, overwhelmingly, the most support across campus over some very strong candidates. It was his diversity, being a student-athlete, being in law, working in compliance and his friendly manner that we saw. He will be able to connect with the community, so it was the whole bundle of his skills.”

As far as a philosophy in running an athletic department, Roan said his is simple.


“What is boils down to, in athletics, you have success when you hire tremendous people and you give them the tools to be successful. By all indications we have tremendous people inside this institution and in the athletic department. So that box is checked off,” Roan said. “We need to give them the resources to be successful and really an athletic director isn’t as important as the head coach and student-athletes. They are the foundation of our program and it is how we can better equip them to be successful.”

Roan, whose family roots can be traced back to Vivian, Louisiana (located in the very northwest corner of the state), will return to Kentucky with his wife Mallory, who is expecting the couple’s fourth child, to begin the process of moving to Thibodaux. Once he does return, Roan said he expects to jump head first into the job and begin to put Nicholls athletics on a winning track.

“I want to give our sports all the resources, but it is coming in and evaluating as any athletic director should in taking a job,” Roan said. “I do see the same challenges between Louisiana and Kentucky. They are states that have dealt with cuts to higher education. Over the last six and eight months (at Eastern Kentucky) we spent considerable time working on those challenges. So I am well equipped to come in here and take on some of the challenges.”
15 2016-10-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Students stage first play in Nicholls' revamped theater Previous HIDE CAPTION The Shakespeare play is the first peformed in Nicholls' newly renovated


For the first production in the newly renovated Mary and Al Danos Theater, The Nicholls Players are staging William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Showings are scheduled for 7 p.m. today and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 for the public and $5 for students with Colonel Cards.


University officials and members of the Danos family last month celebrated the theater's reopening, part of a $9.6 million renovation of Talbot Hall, which also houses the campus TV studio, KNSU radio station and classrooms.

Talbot Hall's 5,500-square-foot, 240-seat theater is named for Al Danos, a Larose businessman and leader on the Nicholls Foundation board, and his wife Mary. Family members of the deceased couple announced during the ceremony that the Mary and Al Danos Foundation has pledged $1 million to support the newly renovated Danos Theater and academic programs that benefit from it. That comes on top of $1.5 million the family had already raised for the work.

During the renovation, the student drama troupe performed in Peltier Hall and the Student Union's Le Bijou Theater.

Sunday's show is not only about performing in the new theater but staging the Shakespeare play on the day that commemorates the 400th anniversary of the iconic playwright's death.

Nicholls Players Director Anna Broussard staged a children's version of the play for the university's Performing Arts Camp in summer 2014. During the first day of rehearsal, Al Danos just happened to be touring the old theater and stopped by to say hello.

Now, the group is staging "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in the theater named after Danos and his wife.

"That's a really neat coincidence, and I didn't even do that on purpose," Broussard said.


On choosing one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies, she said it was sort of a happy accident.

"I thought that it would be flexible enough to show if anything went wrong" with the new theater, she said. "It was a just in case, but it worked out really well."

A number of enhancements have been added to the theater, including new seating and flooring, an upgraded sound system and a new rigging system for bringing curtains in and out.

"The new lighting is wonderful," Broussard said. "We're doing stuff with lighting that I would've never been able to do before in the old theater."

The theater still has incandescent lighting, normally used in theaters, but it also has new LED lights that allow for more color options and easier transitions between scenes and help ensure everyone on stage is lit. Before the upgrades, the group struggled to make sure actors were seen on stage.

The 22-person cast for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" consists of students from departments across the university. Nicholls doesn't have a theater department, but it has a theater minor Broussard is working to improve.

"Not having a theater major is a strength in a sense because we're open to everyone," she said. "I always tell the community that students are first priority, but we're open to faculty, members of the community and students."


15 2016-10-13
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls Players to perform Shakespeare play


The Nicholls Players will perform William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Thursday through Sunday in Talbot Hall's Mary and Al Danos Theater.

Showings will be at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 for the public and $5 for students with Colonel Cards.


The production will be the Nicholls Players' first in the newly renovated theater.


15 2016-10-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls names Roan new athletic director HIDE CAPTION Nicholls State University has named K. Matthew Roan as its next athletic director, pending app


By Staff Reports
Nicholls State University has named K. Matthew Roan as its next athletic director, pending approval from the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.

Roan will be introduced at a press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Harold J. Callais Memorial Recreation Center. The public is invited to attend.


Roan, who currently serves as deputy director of athletics at Eastern Kentucky University, will start Nov. 15, replacing long-time athletic director Rob Bernardi who resigned in July. Head women’s basketball coach and senior woman administrator DoBee Plaisance has held the interim athletic director position since mid-July.

"From a highly qualified candidate pool, Matt stood out to me and the search committee for his extensive experience with strategic planning and budget management as well as his excellent communication skills," Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said in a press release. “We are excited to welcome Matt to Nicholls and look forward to him leading the Colonel athletic program to new heights.”

A former team captain on the Southern Utah University football team, Roan assisted with football operations at the University of Kentucky while working on his law degree which he obtained from University of Kentucky’s College of Law in 2012. He was then named deputy director of athletics at Southern Utah University before joining Eastern Kentucky in 2013.

In his current role at Eastern Kentucky, Roan focuses on external operations, legal and other administrative matters, as well as sports administration. He worked as the special assistant to Eastern Kentucky’s president before moving into his current position in June 2015.

As a football player, Roan, a Virginia native, played one season at Virginia Tech before transferring to Southern Utah. Roan played center and earned All-Great West Football Conference honors for three seasons at Southern Utah. He also earned various academic honors while at Southern Utah.

Roan also participated in the Minnesota Vikings’ camp as a rookie free agent in 2008.

Nicholls received about 30 applicants for the athletic director position and held Skype interviews with the Top 12. The field was narrowed down to four, who were brought in for on-campus interviews between Sept. 20 and Oct. 3. Other candidates interviewed by the 15-member search committee were China Jude, assistant vice president and director of athletics at Queens College (N.Y), Christopher Walker, associate athletic director at Washington State and Kent Hegenauer, senior associate athletic director at Southern Miss.


During the interview process, Lynn Gillette, chair of the search committee, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the committee was looking for the one candidate that meets the criteria a small university like Nicholls needs in an athletic director.

“We want someone who will help us be competitive and successful in our sports. We want someone who can help our student-athletes be successful in academics. We do a good job with that right now, but we can do a better job,” Gillette said. “We certainly want someone who understands NCAA compliance, Southland Conference compliance and we need someone who is committed to Title IX. Someone who is excited about the community in drawing support and help us raise funds. The goal is to have some on board starting in January, but the president will make that call.”

Bernardi spent 15 years leading the Nicholls athletic department – the longest tenure of any athletic director in school history. During his tenure, Bernardi represented the Southland Conference on the NCAA Division I Council, a 40-member committee serving as the managing body for NCAA Division I. Bernardi was nationally recognized in 2013 as an Under Armour AD of the Year for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, and the Allstate Sugar Bowl/New Orleans Hall of Fame honored him in 2014 for his efforts at Nicholls.

Since leaving Nicholls, Bernardi was named the senior associate athletic director at Tulane.

--Staff Writer Teddy Renois contributed to this story.
15 2016-10-10
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls to host wine and food gala to provide student scholarships


Nicholls State University is bringing back its A+ Scholar Wine and Food Tasting Extravaganza to raise money for student scholarships.

For the last 15 years, the gala has welcomed about 700 guests every year and raised more than $300,000.


On Wednesday from 6-9 p.m., event goers will head to the Cotillion Ballroom where they will be treated to food and wine samples donated by more than a dozen area restaurateurs and beverage providers.

There will also be live and silent auctions and music.

"The money raised is for the students and about the students," said Monique Crochet, executive director of alumni and external affairs.

Already, 22 vendors have confirmed that they'll participate in the gala and over 300 tickets have been sold.

Tickets cost $50 for a single, $75 for two and $500 for corporate packages. Faculty and staff tickets are $25.

Headline sponsors this year are Mark Plaisance, Lafourche Parish chief public defender, and Dr. DesLey Plaisance, director of graduate studies at Nicholls.

The money raised at the benefit goes directly to students in various departments on campus.

"Every little bit helps with our students. It's amazing. It can help cover textbooks, a lab fee. There are so many ways this money can help students," Crochet said.

For information about the gala or to purchase tickets, call 448-4005 or visit nichollsfoundation.org/sponsorships/scholar.
15 2016-10-10
Houma/Thibodaux

Culinary entrepreneur shares her story HIDE CAPTION Chef Susan Spicer gave a cooking demonstration this morning in the Chef John Folse Culinary Insti


By Emma Discher Staff Writer
Chef Susan Spicer is a pro at juggling many things at once, both in and out of the kitchen.

With just two weeks to go before she opens another New Orleans restaurant, Rosedale, Spicer took time today to share her story with culinary students at Nicholls State University as the final speaker for the Empowered Women Chefs Series.


While preparing a dish of sweetbreads with potatoes and mushrooms topped with a lemon caper sauce, she explained how she went from a casual cook to a student in a French restaurant to the culinary entrepreneur she is today.

Spicer owns the restaurants Bayona and Mondo in New Orleans but has opened and worked in many more.

“It never occurred to me that it was something that I couldn’t do,” Spicer said.

Growing up, Spicer was part of a big family and says her parents never taught her that being a girl was a handicap to what she could achieve. She began cooking with a friend casually, but soon both pursued more professional culinary careers.

She started working at the Louis XVI restaurant under Chef Daniel Bonnot, who was the first of her three male French mentors.

“I was lucky to find a chef who took a woman in and put her somewhere other than the pantry,” Spicer said.

After starting her career in New Orleans, she took a break to work in Paris with Chef Roland Durand at the Hotel Sofitel. She said this was a great way to test her knowledge and grow more comfortable in a kitchen. This was after she was asked to open the bistro Savior Faire when she had just three years of professional cooking.


While in France, she said that 90 percent of people were very supportive, but she was the only female in the kitchen, which attracted attention.

“I was totally a novelty,” Spicer said. “ Other employees would tour through the kitchen and look at me.”

Spicer added that they would make comments like, "Oh look at the little girl chef" or "Aww, aren’t you tired?"

Asked what she had to sacrifice to get where she is today, Spicer said she had to give up "1,000 beautiful spring days," but that she wouldn’t trade it for anything. The gratification of seeing a clean plate come back to the kitchen is worth everything for her.

“One of the things I like about cooking is that it challenges me in every way, mentally and physically,” Spicer said.

The seven-part series at Nicholls' Chef John Folse Culinary Institute aims to provide aspiring women chefs with industry role models and tips for navigating challenges.

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.
15 2016-10-10
Houma/Thibodaux

Father-son musical duo take center stage Previous HIDE CAPTION Reese Chiasson and his son Peyton. HIDE CAPTION Reese Chiasson (left) and his son Peyt


By Emma Discher Staff Writer
Peyton and Reese Chiasson know that their musical gigs will begin with a knowing nod and unmistakable introduction to the song "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison.

The Sugar Ridge-based father-son duo started playing music together about five years ago with Peyton on the keyboard and his father Reese on the guitar.


They play mainly for-hire shows like weddings and parties, but they have played at Thibodaux’s Boogie on the Bayou festival and will return to Nicholls State University for the Nov. 3 tailgate show.

For the Chiassons, music just runs in the family. Reese remembers learning from his uncle who played the organ at a Chackbay church before eventually joining the bands C’est La Vie and Good Feelin' before going solo for a while.

“Music was such a huge thing in the household growing up,” Peyton said. “We have a room in the house dedicated to the piano and guitars. … Just growing up around the band and taking lessons it was introduced to me at such an early age.”

Peyton took classical piano lessons from Michelle Parro at Hofman Music and more contemporary lessons from Tommy Boudian. The Nicholls junior also briefly minored in music in addition to his business management major.

His 13-year-old brother Parker is now in lessons with Parro, too, and both Peyton and Reese chuckled while recognizing that the duo could one day become a trio.

Both had a difficult time sufficiently explaining what it’s like playing music together, but they agree that it is a memorable experience.

“We think alike,” Reese said. “It’s very special to be on stage with him and to play. It’s very different.”


The duo don’t even make setlists for their shows because they can just work off of one another and go with the flow.

“Working with him is an experience in itself,” Peyton said. “He’s been like a best friend to me my whole life. ... It’s just a fantastic bonding experience. It’s something that I’ll remember the rest of my life.”

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.


15 2016-09-29
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls grad's research shows sauerkraut is a superfood Previous HIDE CAPTION Cultures help measure the beneficial bacteria in sauerkraut. HIDE CAPT


By Kevinisha Walker Staff Writer
When some people think of sauerkraut, they might think of the shredded, white cabbage that's usually on hot dogs or polish sausage.

But it's so much more. It can be eaten in a salad, in soup or on sandwiches. It also has important health benefits.


A Nicholls State University graduate says his research indicates it's a probiotic superfood, meaning it has live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your digestive system.

Ryan Orgeron of Thibodaux, a first-year master's student in Applied Nutrition at Louisiana Tech, conducted the research in a lab earlier this year while studying in Nicholls' dietetics program.

With three trials, the 23-year-old measured two tablespoons, a half cup and one cup of homemade sauerkraut over three weeks. He then took measurements to see which amount would meet the recommended colony-forming unit range in comparison to a supplement probiotic called TruBiotics. The CFU range is how the number of bacteria in a substance is counted.

Of the three trials he examined, two revealed that only two tablespoons of sauerkraut is enough to meet the recommended CFU range, or industry standard.

Orgeron's findings were published in the Functional Foods of Health and Disease Journal in August.

"Two tablespoons was a very little amount, which surprised me and the assistant professor (Angela Corbin)," Orgeron said. "We found that two tablespoons is enough to meet the recommendations, especially when some food like yogurt doesn't meet those expectations in a single cup."

Because yogurt is a dairy product, Orgeron said, it doesn't have the bacteria needed to start or produce other bacteria. So when some companies make yogurt, they use a starter culture. Essentially, they start the yogurt-making process with man-made bacteria.


Orgeron's unprocessed sauerkraut, however, doesn't have or need a starter culture. It has natural bacteria from the soil that it's grown in.

The Louisiana Tech graduate student could've examined any other food, but he chose sauerkraut because he makes his own.

"The first thing people think when I say sauerkraut is on a hot dog. But mine doesn't taste like the one you taste in the stores. It's crunchier," he said. "Sauerkraut is a cabbage, so people consider it healthy. So I thought, let's see if it even helps (with health problems) as much as I think it does."

According to Orgeron's research, naturally made sauerkraut contains probiotic microorganisms called lactic acid bacteria, or LAB.

LAB has established benefits that include the treatment of diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and urinary, urogenital and candida infections.

"A lot of these probiotics haven't even been named yet. We're discovering more and more with every study we do," Orgeron said.

He submitted his findings in May and learned about publishing last month.

"It was an awesome experience," he said, adding that he learned a lot working beside the professors at Nicholls. "I was motivated to do this, especially because I found a food that I can make naturally and is beneficial to the body."


15 2016-09-28
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls celebrates building upgrades; Lafourche family donates another $1 million Previous HIDE CAPTION Members of Nicholls' Opera Workshop perform


After two years of undergoing renovations and technological enhancements, Talbot Hall and the Mary and Al Danos Theater were unveiled at a grand reopening ceremony this evening on Nicholls State University's campus.

The building was originally built in 1970 for $1.6 million. Now, the 73,000-square-foot facility has received a face lift, which includes new seating, curtains, flooring and state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment all worth $9.6 million.


The campus TV studio, KNSU radio station and two Talbot Hall classrooms also received technological upgrades to enhance student learning.

Talbot Hall's 5,500-square-foot, 240-seat theater was named for Al Danos, a Larose businessman and leader on the Nicholls Foundation board, and his wife Mary.

Family members of the deceased couple announced during the ceremony that the Mary and Al Danos Foundation has pledged $1 million to support the newly renovated Danos Theater and academic programs that benefit from it.

"Our parents were patrons of the arts and supported their community. Not just with Nicholls, but with philanthropy, too. They loved giving back to what our community had given to them," Rene Danos David said of her parents.

The ceremony included performances by the Nicholls Concert Choir, Nicholls Jazz Ensemble, Nicholls Players, Nicholls Camerata and members of the Nicholls Opera Workshop.

Nicholls President Bruce Murphy expressed thanks to the Danos family for their generosity and support of the school over the years.

State Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, talked about working with Al Danos to help the renovations come to fruition.

While Danos helped raise $1.5 million for the theater's renovation, Chabert helped get money through the state Legislature.

"One thing Al and Mary had an appreciation for: the performing arts. The appreciation they had for this place, it's because it's Nicholls," Chabert told the audience. "The people that will walk on this stage aren't regular college students. They are single parents, caregivers, working three jobs. That's what Nicholls students do. That's why Al and Mary have always supported this school."


15 2016-09-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls' Talbot Hall grand reopening set for Tuesday


Nicholls State University will host the grand reopening of Talbot Hall and its Mary and Al Danos Theater on Tuesday.

The event will include artwork displays from students and faculty and performances by the Nicholls Concert Choir, Jazz Band and Nicholls Players. A cocktail reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and performances at 7 p.m.


Built for $1.6 million in 1970, the 73,000-square-foot building has undergone $9.6 million in renovations, beginning in 2014. Those include new seating, curtains, flooring, lights and sound equipment in the 5,500-square-foot theater and technological upgrades to the TV studio, radio station and some classrooms.

Tickets are $100, and all proceeds will go toward the Danos Theater Maintenance Fund. For tickets, visit nichollsfoundation.org or call 448-4005.


15 2016-09-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls to air ESPN live coverage HIDE CAPTION Nicholls State University campus videographer Corey O'Quinn (from left), associate professor of mass


As part of a three-year agreement with ESPN, Nicholls State University will broadcast sports games through online streaming service ESPN3 in the spring of 2017.

Initially, coverage will include select basketball games and coverage will eventually expand to all home conference volleyball and basketball games. In 2018, football and baseball games are expected to be part of the ESPN3 deal.


Twenty-three other universities are working with ESPN3, but they each have their own approach.

"Ours is more unique because it takes marketing, athletics and mass communication to put this all together," said Bryant Johnson, assistant athletic director for communications.

Another major difference with Nicholls' plan is its reliance on students.

Once they roll the coverage out in the spring, about 20 students will be needed to run the operation. Five camera people, a technical director, an instant replay team and several other roles will need to be filled.

"For our first year, our goal is to get up to 10 games," Johnson said. "The success of this is dependent on the students."

Johnson, campus videographer Corey O'Quinn and Chairman of Broadcast Communications Lance Arnold will be the only full-time university employees involved.

Arnold has been involved with this process for the past four years.


The Southland Conference, which Nicholls is part of, suggested the school work with ESPN. The sports network didn't come on board until last year.

After they made a deal with ESPN, Arnold said he realized the athletics department couldn't do it all on its own, so he suggested that mass communications join the project.

"This would benefit my students to work with ESPN3 on these productions," he said. "Plus, no department on campus has the money to put this project together (alone). Other universities can probably do it in athletics, but with the state of education in Louisiana right now, we can't."

Arnold will train students on the cameras, graphics and instant replay technology just to name a few areas. Productions will be directed by O'Quinn, and Johnson will continue with his role as "Voice of the Colonels."

They want to recruit students for the program as freshmen or sophomores and keep them until they graduate. When they reach junior and senior status, they can also train freshmen.

This will be an opportunity for students to not only put the experience on their resume but also to namedrop ESPN. Arnold said he expects it to be great for school recruiting.

"Whatever they want to do in their career, embrace this ESPN opportunity," Johnson said. "No one else can offer this in our conference. This is all about seizing the moment. Take advantage and let's build something together."


15 2016-09-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls to air ESPN live coverage HIDE CAPTION Nicholls State University campus videographer Corey O'Quinn (from left), associate professor of mass


As part of a three-year agreement with ESPN, Nicholls State University will broadcast sports games through online streaming service ESPN3 in the spring of 2017.

Initially, coverage will include select basketball games and coverage will eventually expand to all home conference volleyball and basketball games. In 2018, football and baseball games are expected to be part of the ESPN3 deal.


Twenty-three other universities are working with ESPN3, but they each have their own approach.

"Ours is more unique because it takes marketing, athletics and mass communication to put this all together," said Bryant Johnson, assistant athletic director for communications.

Another major difference with Nicholls' plan is its reliance on students.

Once they roll the coverage out in the spring, about 20 students will be needed to run the operation. Five camera people, a technical director, an instant replay team and several other roles will need to be filled.

"For our first year, our goal is to get up to 10 games," Johnson said. "The success of this is dependent on the students."

Johnson, campus videographer Corey O'Quinn and Chairman of Broadcast Communications Lance Arnold will be the only full-time university employees involved.

Arnold has been involved with this process for the past four years.


The Southland Conference, which Nicholls is part of, suggested the school work with ESPN. The sports network didn't come on board until last year.

After they made a deal with ESPN, Arnold said he realized the athletics department couldn't do it all on its own, so he suggested that mass communications join the project.

"This would benefit my students to work with ESPN3 on these productions," he said. "Plus, no department on campus has the money to put this project together (alone). Other universities can probably do it in athletics, but with the state of education in Louisiana right now, we can't."

Arnold will train students on the cameras, graphics and instant replay technology just to name a few areas. Productions will be directed by O'Quinn, and Johnson will continue with his role as "Voice of the Colonels."

They want to recruit students for the program as freshmen or sophomores and keep them until they graduate. When they reach junior and senior status, they can also train freshmen.

This will be an opportunity for students to not only put the experience on their resume but also to namedrop ESPN. Arnold said he expects it to be great for school recruiting.

"Whatever they want to do in their career, embrace this ESPN opportunity," Johnson said. "No one else can offer this in our conference. This is all about seizing the moment. Take advantage and let's build something together."


15 2016-09-26
Houma/Thibodaux

TaWaSi donates $20,000 for Nicholls culinary scholarship


TaWaSi has donated $20,000 to the Nicholls State University Foundation for a culinary arts scholarship.

The $500 per semester scholarship is available to full-time students enrolled in the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and working at Bistro Ruth. Preference will be given to students from Lafourche Parish, those who demonstrate a financial need and those working a part-time job.


This is the second scholarship the women's club has created at Nicholls. In 2003, it started a $50,000 scholarship for Thibodaux students.

"The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and the graduates they produce are so important to the region," TaWaSi Director Cathy Stack said in a statement. "By making this donation, we hope to inspire future chefs, help promote the program and show our support for Nicholls."


15 2016-09-20
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls to interview finalists for athletic director


Nicholls State University has announced its four finalists for athletic director on Monday

The four finalists will arrive on campus for public interviews over the next two weeks. The finalists and the date of their interviews are as follows: K. Matthew Roan (Wednesday), China Jude (Sept. 26), Christopher Walker (Sept. 28) and Kent Hegenauer (Oct. 3).


“The four finalists are the result of a months-long national search with an outstanding and diverse pool of candidates. We are looking for a professional with proven experience in intercollegiate athletics administration,” Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy said. “We encourage public participation in the search process and hope the faculty, staff, alumni and the community come out and get to know the candidates as we prepare to make this important decision for the future of our athletics program.”

Nicholls former athletic director Rob Bernardi resigned his position in July and eventually accepted a position as senior associate athletic director at Tulane.

Roan is the deputy director of athletics at Eastern Kentucky, while Jude is the assistant vice president and director of athletics at Queens College (N.Y.). Walker is the associate athletic director at Washington State, and Hegenauer is the senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Nicholls women’s head basketball coach DoBee Plaisance has served as the interim athletic director since Bernardi’s resignation.


15 2016-09-19
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls to open well control simulation lab HIDE CAPTION Nicholls State University will open its first well control simulation lab next spring. The


Nicholls State University will be the first university in the Gulf South to have a well control simulation lab in the spring of 2017.

Nicholls' Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management Department was able to purchase the well control simulator and make renovations to its existing lab in Gouaux Hall with money from student fees, local companies and organizations such as the Morgan City Oilfield Fishing Rodeo.


The rodeo donated $9,000 to the department earlier this month, rounding off its total donation amount over the years to $36,000.

The PETSM program offers courses in exploration, production and concentration that deal with well drilling and well control, which are two main components of the offshore industry.

The simulator will demonstrate to students what its like to control pressure and prevent blowouts when drilling.

"The simulator is three super computers with one that projects a video image of what's happening downhole, the second one projects an animation and graphic of the surface equipment like the rotary turning and the third one is the control piece like when you're drilling the hole, a driller controls how much pressure is on the drill bit," PETSM Executive Director Michael Gautreaux said.

Over 300 students will be able to work with the equipment when it makes its debut.

It is unique to the region and to the university because most big companies like Noble Drilling Corp. have simulators like the one PETSM purchased from Drilling Systems, an oilfield training simulation technology development company. It cost the department $50,000.

Gautreaux said Nicholls will start setting up the simulator once renovations to its lab end at the end of October.

The department will host a grand opening ceremony sometime next spring.


15 2016-09-16
Houma/Thibodaux

Center for disadvantaged students to open


Nicholls State University received a $1.2 million grant to create the Bayou Educational Opportunity Center, which will offer resources for disadvantaged students to go to college.

The center should be open by early October to provide opportunities such as tutoring, mentoring and assistance locating and applying for scholarships and college applications. A U.S. Department of Education TRIO grant is paying for the project.


“The grant came at a perfect time because we’re really focusing at Nicholls on how we can be even more supportive of first generation students,” said Lynn Gillette, Nicholls provost and vice president of academic affairs.

Resources at the center will be offered for low-income, first-generation or disabled students by partnering with the schools boards in Assumption, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, Bayou Cane Adult Education School, South Central Louisiana Technical College, Fletcher Technical Community College and community groups.

Support for parents of these students will also be available. The center is expected to work with at least 1,000 students in the next five years. Last year, 68 percent of Nicholls students were first-generation students, Gillette said.

That statistic and the fact that Louisiana has a low percentage of residents holding a college degree led him to gather a team to explore the grant opportunity. He said the support from others at Nicholls was “overwhelmingly” positive.

The center will be run by a program director and two outreach coordinators. Applications for the program director position are still open and the search for the outreach coordinators will follow. More information on the director job can be found at https://jobs.nicholls.edu/applicants/jsp/shared/search/SearchResults_css.jsp.

This money will cover the center for five years and then Nicholls can re-apply. A total of $48 million was allocated to 143 colleges and organizations to support these centers across the United States.

Niichholls previously had an Upward Bound program, which is another TRIO program that targets seventh-grade students, but the grant expired and was not renewed after 2012. The school has not had such a program since then.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette also received a first-time grant. Renewed grants were also offered to Southeastern Louisiana University and Southern University at Shreveport this year.

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.


15 2016-09-16
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls alum returns with success stories for chef series


Nicholls State University graduate Meg Bickford returned to her alma mater today, but this time she was in the front of the classroom.

By Emma Discher Staff Writer
Nicholls State University graduate Meg Bickford returned to her alma mater today, but this time she was in the front of the classroom.

Bickford was the latest speaker for the Nicholls' Empowered Women Chefs Series. She cooked hand-pulled mozzarella ravioli while discussing her experience in the restaurant industry.


She became the first female sous chef at Commander's Palace in New Orleans just one year after starting there and is now the executive chef at Cafe Adelaide in New Orleans.

Asked about the challenges and obstacles she faced in her career, she said she dealt with a lot of bullying. She started working in restaurants and kitchens at 16 years old.

“As a young woman I felt like I had to pay my dues, but that's BS,” Bickford said. “The work you do is the only due you need to pay.”

Bickford's husband is a sous chef at Tableau restaurant in New Orleans and she said they can be like “ships in the night” between their busy schedules. She works every weekend and holiday, but when she was asked if she felt like she was missing anything or if she had regrets, she was quick to reply 'no.'

“I'm doing it. ... I'm moving onward and upward,” she said.

While at Nicholls, Bickford spent six months at the Institut Paul Bocuse in France, which she said cemented why she wanted to cook. She encouraged students to apply to the program, but she had plenty of other advice for the students.

“Put your head down and work hard,” Bickford said. “Be a sponge. ... Learn from other people's mistakes. You don't have to make them yourself.”


The seven-part series at Nicholls' Chef John Folse Culinary Institute aims to provide aspiring women chefs with industry role models and tips for navigating challenges.

Bickford said that chef Susan Spicer is one of her role models and a "rockstar." Spicer will be the next in the series and will come to Nicholls at 10 a.m. Oct. 7.

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.


15 2016-09-16
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State gets some positive signs


Anyone who has followed the recent history of Nicholls State University knows that the school faces significant hardships.

Anyone who has followed the recent history of Nicholls State University knows that the school faces significant hardships.

Primarily because of numerous cuts to its state money, Nicholls has seen several trying years.


But the latest signs of the university’s health are encouraging, to say the least.

Nicholls State’s fall enrollment showed an uptick this year — its first increase since 2009. It has 6,267 students enrolled in the current semester, an increase of 103 over last year’s number.

That might not seem like a huge number, but the important fact is that it is an increase rather than a decrease.

Because of hikes to student fees, cuts to the TOPS program that offers so many Louisiana students free tuition and the floods that struck south Louisiana in August, there were fears that this year’s numbers could go down once again.

That was not the case.

“You look at those three things and I was kind of tensing up for a significant downturn even with our hopes being up here with what we had going for us,” said Nicholls State President Bruce Murphy. “I thought it was going to be tight, but then it worked out that it didn’t hit as hard.”

Key areas fueling the overall enrollment increase were nursing, biology, Nicholls Online and the John Folse Culinary Institute.


The good news on enrollment wasn’t the only bright spot, either.

“It’s not just recruitment,” Murphy said. “The other side of that is retention. We had the highest retention of freshmen that we’ve ever had in history.”

That, too, is a positive sign for the university and the students it serves.

Of all the first-time freshmen who entered Nicholls last fall, 70 percent remained enrolled this semester.

That is a good indication that the school is doing more to attract people who will succeed, getting more of those people enrolled and making sure they do what’s necessary to remain in school from one year to the next.

All of this leads to an ambitious hope. Murphy has said he hopes to see enrollment hit 8,000 — something that would be an excellent sign of success and a reason for hope amid all the recent setbacks and challenges.

Nicholls State has an excellent history of working on behalf of its students to prepare them for their chosen paths. As the university has dedicated itself to attracting better-qualified students, their odds of success have increased. And, finally, the university is seeing that come to its logical next step of increasing enrollment.

Here’s to continued success.

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.


15 2016-09-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Despite obstacles, Nicholls' enrollment, retention increase


Despite a "perfect storm" of obstacles, Nicholls State University's fall enrollment is up for the first time since 2009, and student retention rates are at a record high, officials said today.

Nicholls' enrollment now stands at 6,267 students, up 103 from last fall. Spring enrollment was also up by 20 students from the year before.

Higher student fees, cuts to Louisiana"s free-tuition program and last month's floods across the state all made up what university President Bruce Murphy called the “perfect storm.”

“You look at those three things and I was kind of tensing up for a significant downturn even with our hopes being up here with what we had going for us,” Murphy said. “I thought it was going to be tight, but then it worked out that it didn’t hit as hard.”

Murphy attributes the increase to several factors. Applications were up by about 300 for the incoming class, which led to a great number of acceptances. Recruiters shifted the way they offer scholarships to target more students who were undecided about attending Nicholls.

The incoming student orientation program was also revamped.

“They made that a lot more fun,” Murphy said. “They made that a lot less, ‘OK, these are the 10 rules you need to know .. and more like, ‘Here’s all the stuff you can do’ to get them excited.”

Previously, about 90 percent of students who attended orientation would ultimately enroll. After the changes, 95 percent did.

Here's a breakdown of some of the specific enrollment increases:

-- The largest program on campus, nursing experienced a 12 percent increase in students, with enrollment now at 843 students compared to 755 last fall.

-- Biology, the third-largest undergraduate major, increased by 10 percent, with 466 students this year, up from 425.

-- Nicholls Online saw its enrollment jump from 328 to 391, a 19 percent increase.

-- The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute saw a 3 percent increase one year after opening up our new Lanny D. Ledet Culinary building.

“It’s not just recruitment,” Murphy said. “The other side of that is retention. We had the highest retention of freshmen that we’ve ever had in history.”

Seventy percent of last fall's first-time freshmen are still enrolled at Nicholls, a retention rate of 70 percent, up seven percentage points from the year before. Nicholls recently implemented focused freshman-level math and English courses that have led to improved pass rates and decreasing dropouts, officials said.

Murphy’s goal is for Nicholls to enroll a record 8,000 students and said the university could comfortably handle the increase without investing a much more money in construction.

Overall, Murphy said he is happy that NSU enrollment is up and feels the university is headed in the right direction.

“One of the things that I think about all the time when I’m going across campus is I’m just absolutely amazed that students really want to go to college,” Murphy said. “We keep putting some impediments in front of them like the TOPS thing or raising tuition or whatever it is that we have or the cuts in state funding, but they still keep coming back and coming back.”

-- Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.

15 2016-09-13
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls alum to give presentation for chefs series



Nicholls State University's Chef John Folse Culinary Institute will continue its Empowered Women Chefs Series on Wednesday with the first female executive chef in the Commander's Family restaurants.


The event, set for 10 a.m. in the Ledet Culinary Arts Building, will feature Meg Bickard, who will make hand-pulled mozzarella ravioli. Commander's Palace Chef Tony McPhail hired Bickard after she graduated from the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

Bickard, a Larose native, worked her way up from the hotline to become the first female sous chef at Commander's Palace. In December, she became executive chef at Cafe' Adelaide in New Orleans.

For reservations, visit nicholls.edu/culinary/women-chefs.

15 2016-09-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls professor's book inspired by post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans


Although Nicholls State University professor Nicholas Mainieri has lived in Florida, Colorado and Indiana, there was something about his time in Louisiana that stood out and became a recurring theme in many of his published works.

His short story called "Bird Shot" involves duck hunting in Lafourche Parish.

And now his first novel debuting in November takes place in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.

"The Infinite" tells the story of undocumented Latina Luz Hidalgo and 18-year-old orphan Jonah McBee who wade through love, loss and tragedy to find their place in the world.

Mainieri said his "baby novel" took him five years to write and he is thrilled that it's finally coming out later this year.

"I'm excited. It's a relief to work on something for a long time and then actually get it released," he said.

The story was inspired by Mainieri's time in New Orleans in 2008. He lived in a neighborhood with a lot of undocumented immigrants who were day laborers working in the city.

He also spent time observing his friend's high school classes at a Recovery District school that was about to shut down and be converted to a charter school.

He saw the tough circumstances those students were facing and was inspired to write the book about two individuals caught up against the bigger social backdrop of post-Katrina New Orleans and drug wars in Mexico.

"It's really more focused on these two characters who are young, passionate and just trying to make it," he said.

The New Orleans resident is the son of Louisiana State University's head baseball coach Paul Mainieri.

He earned a master's of fine arts degree from the University of New Orleans and an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Currently, he teaches creative writing, literature and professional writing courses at Nicholls.

"The Infinite" is now available for pre-order at amazon.com and will be available anywhere books are sold in November.

Copyright © 2016 HoumaToday.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
15 2016-09-08
Houma/Thibodaux

Campus cooking: Nicholls offers healthier meal options


Nicholls State University rolled out health-conscious food options this month at its cafeteria.

They include more choices for vegetarian and vegan students, like the Hummus Bar, which features roasted garlic and red pepper hummus, Italian black rice and bulgur. A Peak Performance Bar includes additional menu options like hormone and antibiotic-free beef, fresh vegetables, sourced sweet potatoes and fresh fish, much of it found locally. Freshly prepared desserts include apple cobbler, cakes, cookies and other sweets.

"It’s the freshness and quality of food that’s really heightened and allowed for the experience in this dining hall to be so much better," said Student Government Association Vice President Austin Wendt. "A lot of people would always complain about going to the caf', and now a lot of people want go to the caf' because the food is so great."

The changes came after the university's food services staff interviewed students and faculty members who indicated that they wanted healthier options.

"When we interviewed students, a lot of their wants had to do with sustainability, local, vegetarian and vegan options," said Russell Barrios, general manager of Food Services.

Nicholls Executive Chef Norman Hunt said everything is freshly made, nothing frozen.

"Food is made fresh all day long. Now that foodies are actually a trend, we're trying to elevate it even more and compete with local restaurants," Hunt said. "We're going from an age where cafeterias are exactly that: cafeterias. We're trying to get away from that. We want to make stuff that you can get at home."

Despite the changes, students will still find fried chicken, fried fish, pizza and other not-so-healthy foods in the campus cafeteria. 0

The university came up with the new food plan in conjunction with Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company that provides all the university's food. Sodexo is implementing similar menu changes in New Orleans universities, including Xavier, Dillard, Loyola and Tulane.

Nicholls' food services staff meets with students once every other week to figure out what the department is doing right or wrong.

"We try to do everything we can to help them get what they want in the cafeteria," Hunt said.

Investing in the healthier menu options cost the university $90,000, an amount Barrios said is "worth every penny."

He also said the new menu didn't increase meal plan prices for students.

The number of students with meal plans has risen by 40 percent this semester. Cash sales have also risen by 20 percent as locals are coming from off campus to try the new offerings. For $8, anyone can eat at Galliano Hall.

The cafeteria is now the only place on campus with sustainable and locally sourced foods. By summer 2017, all of the food offerings will be locally sourced, Barrios said.

The new menu is only the first part of the university's three-phase plan to revamp food services. The remaining phases will include healthier breakfast options, new signs in Galliano Hall and bringing some national food chains to campus.


15 2016-09-06
Houma/Thibodaux

Student combines knack for numbers with love of people


Roshan Patel is a self-proclaimed people person with a knack for numbers.

At age 20, he is already a Nicholls State University senior working toward his master's degree in business administration and working 35 hours a week.

Despite his impressive current day-to-day schedule, it is his upbringing and his aspirations for the future that really give a glimpse of who Patel is.

Patel, his older brother and their parents moved to Houston from India when he was 12 years old without knowing much English. In eighth grade he was doing 10th grade algebra, but fourth grade math.

He quickly closed that gap, however, by working with teachers after school and practicing his English with friends and watching cartoons. Now his late introduction to English isn't even noticeable.

Much of Patel's work ethic is thanks to his father's strong value of education that Patel has clearly picked up.

“In the beginning (my parents) gave up a lot,” Patel said. “My dad's friends were buying cars and building houses while we were driving to town four of us on one motorcycle because he was spending four times what anybody else was spending on our education. He sent me and my brother to the best boarding schools.”

He will graduate in December with his bachelor's degree from Nicholls State University and then will complete his master's of business administration in the spring of 2018. Outside of the classroom, Patel tutors other students, volunteers at his temple and just joined a campus human resources club. He did a finance internship at the PwC business firm in Houston this past summer where everything came together.

Patel and the other interns took a day off from their internship duties to volunteer together at a local low-income school teaching math and English classes through the Barbara Bush Foundation. Organizers asked for ideas about how they could better serve the kids there. That's when Patel spoke up with an idea based on his own experiences.

“Use the kids to teach the parents because they come from low-income, minority families and a lot of the parents don't write English,” Patel said. “In 2016 you kind of find that hard to believe, but it's true. ... We could use the kids to teach them and they would be more open to it than a random person teaching a 30-year-old man how to read.”

Patel found a way to combine his knack for numbers and his love of people that day. After graduation he hopes to pursue a career in business, hopefully at PwC, where he can work with people both in the office and out. He wants to find ways to give back to his family and the poor in India.

“I am a people person. I understand people,” Patel said. “That's where the real value is at. If you have good people, your business and everything is going to be good. As a businessman, if you don't have your people right you can't get anything else right.”

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.

Copyright © 2016 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
15 2016-09-06
Houma/Thibodaux

Thibodaux forum to focus on U.S. Senate race


Learn about some of the candidates vying to become Louisiana's next U.S. senator during a forum Sept. 15 in Thibodaux.

Scheduled for 6 p.m. in Peltier Auditorium on the Nicholls State campus, it's sponsored by the Thibodaux and Lafourche chambers of commerce and the university's Student Government Association.

“We are excited to host the top candidates right here in Thibodaux," said John Lombardo, the Thibodaux chamber's Governmental Affairs Committee chairman. "The issues to be discussed are vital to our region, and it gives voters a chance to hear candidates firsthand.”

Candidates will field questions from panelists with expertise in areas of wide local interest, such as coastal restoration, the oilfield and agriculture.

With two dozen candidates in the Senate race, Lombardo said, organizers decided to limit the number participating to four who met criteria that the groups felt are important to their members and area voters.

Here are the candidates the groups invited:

-- U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette.

-- Democrat Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans attorney.

-- State Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican.

-- Foster Campbell, a Shreveport Democrat and member of the Public Service Commission, a state board that regulates utilities.

They are vying in the Nov. 8 election to replace retiring Republican Sen. David Vitter. If no candidate receives more than half the vote in the primary, the top two finishers will compete in a runoff Dec. 10.

Voters who haven't already done so much register by Oct. 11 to cast ballots in the election, which also includes the race for U.S. president.

Here are the other Senate candidates:

REPUBLICANS

New Orleans attorney and former one-term U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao; Covington business consultant Donald "Crawdaddy" Crawford; former Ku Klux Klansman ex-state Rep. David Duke of Metairie; U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Minden; retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness of Madisonville; Charles Marsala, a financial adviser from New Orleans; and Abhay Patel, a New Orleans businessman.

DEMOCRATS

New Orleans attorney Derrick Edwards; Gary Landrieu, a New Orleans building contractor; Vinny Mendoza, a farmer from Ponchatoula; Josh Pellerin, an oilfield executive from Lafayette; and Peter Williams, a tree farmer from Lettsworth.

LIBERTARIANS

Leroy Gilliam, a Pentacostal minister from Washington, La.; and Lafayette businessman Thomas Clements.

INDEPENDENTS

Beryl Billiot, a restaurant owner and Marine Corps veteran from Kentwood; former state Sen. Troy Hebert of Jeanerette; Bob Lang, a Navy veteran from Natchitoches; Kaitlin Marone, a New Orleans comedian; Gregory Taylor, an unemployed janitor from New Orleans; and Arden "Dixiecrat" Wells, a disbarred attorney and tea party activist.


15 2016-08-30
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls community raises $6,925 for students affected by flooding


Nicholls State University nursing sophomore Madison Kohan got a call from her family in mid-August that they were evacuating their St. Amant home and coming to stay with her at her Thibodaux apartment.

Kohan is one of the more than 50 Nicholls students who are feeling the impact of the recent flooding across the state. Other students and local residents have since raised about $6,925 for an NSU Flood Emergency Relief Fund. The goal is $10,000.

Nicholls culinary students organized a jambalaya sale on Friday that raised $4,570 of the total. The rest came from donations.

The fund will be available to students who need help making ends meet for things like books, clothing and dorm items due to losses in the storm.

The house that Kohan shares with her grandparents and father had five feet of water in it for about a week. They did not have flood insurance because the area had not historically flooded.

Her first semester school bills were already paid for, but she now says they're taking things “day by day” and that she is grateful for the help she has received.

“Any little bit of help is great,” Kohan said. “It's just nice having so many people on campus care about me and ask about me ... or hang out with me and spend time with me.”

She said she attended every Welcome Back Week activity at school to keep her mind off of things before heading home for the weekend to help with the cleanup.

Freshman Joseph Fuentes also plans to spend some of his weekends back home in Denham Springs to help out. His family's home took in about three feet of water that destroyed some of the things he was planning on taking to school with him for his dorm.

“It really does change perspective on life,” Fuentes said. “You see in the news with (Hurricane) Katrina about how those houses were destroyed. You never think it will happen to you, but one day you wake up and it does.”

Money can still be donated online at nicholls.edu/relief. Students who are interested in receiving money should contact Vice President for Student Affairs Eugene Dial.

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.

15 2016-08-30
Houma/Thibodaux

Women chefs' advice to Nicholls students: 'Be who you are and stick to your guns'


It is clear that chefs Anne Kearney and Felicia Suzanne Willett have known each other for a long time by the way they shared the kitchen today at Nicholls State University's cooking school.

The two spoke about their culinary journeys as they prepared a four-course meal for the newest installation of the NSU Empowered Women Chefs Series. One concept that they kept returning to was the idea that cooking is a story.

“You take a little bit of something from everyone you work with,” Kearney said. “You pick up a little something from everyone you work with, like techniques or flavor profiles. … You just have to take a deep breath and make it your own.”

Willett added that it is “personal.”

“It tells a story,” Willett said. “It becomes a part of you.”

For two friends who have known each other more than two decades, it is clear that they have picked up things from each other and made it their own. Both also repeatedly mentioned their mothers, grandmothers and other mentors as having an important influence on their culinary successes.

Kearney and Willett met when they worked with Chef Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans in the 1990s. Willett said that Kearney took her under her wing since the kitchen was dominated by men and northerners.

Since then, Kearney opened and operates Rue Dumaine in Dayton, Ohio, and Willett opened and operates Felicia Suzanne's in Memphis, Tenn.

In New Orleans, Kearney worked at Mr. B's Bistro and Bistro at Maison de Ville before going to Peristyle, where she later became owner and chef. She received the Southeast Regional Best Chef award from the James Beard Foundation and, in 2007, opened Rue Dumaine in Dayton with her husband.
15 2016-08-29
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls' Empowered Women Chefs Series to continue Monday


Nicholls State University's Chef John Folse Culinary Institute will continue its Empowered Women Chefs Series on Monday with two former Emeril Lagasse proteges.

The event, set for 11 a.m. in the Ledet Culinary Arts Building, will feature Anne Kearney and Felicia Suzanne Willett. They worked with Nicholls instructor Marcelle Bienvenu while learning under Lagasse.

Kearney worked at Mr. B's Bistro and Bistro at Maison de Ville before going to Peristyle, where she later became owner and chef. She received the Southeast Regional Best Chef award from the James Beard Foundation and, in 2007, opened Rue Dumaine in Dayton, Ohio, with her husband.

Willett started as an intern under Lagasse, eventually becoming his assistant, co-authoring some of his cookbooks and producing his "Good Morning America" segments. In 2002, she opened Felicia Suzanne's in Memphis, Tenn. Last year, the Memphis Business Journal named her Executive of the Year.

For reservations, visit nicholls.edu/culinary/women-chefs.

15 2016-08-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls celebrates Welcome Back Day


At Nicholls State University's Welcome Back Day festivities today, some students signed up for campus organizations, sororities and fraternities, while others lined up to ride a mechanical bull.

No matter what activities they took part in, many of them had one thing in common: their pride for the university.

Red and white colored T-shirts filled the ballroom in Nicholls' Bollinger Memorial Student Union building.

Campus organizations like International Community and KNSU 91.5 and various local businesses and organizations lined the ballroom with tables that displayed their pamphlets and giveaways.

Undergraduate and graduate students in all levels of study walked around the ballroom mingling with their peers or eating snacks provided by some organizations.

Twins Lila and Liza Thomas said they are mostly looking forward to earning better grade point averages this semester.

Their friend, Sandrea Williams, is just beginning her Nicholls career as she transferred from Xavier University in New Orleans.

The 19-year-old said she transferred because she was intrigued by the dietetics program.

"I really just love nutrition and how you can prevent diseases from happening based on what you eat," she said.

Graduate psychology student Breiah Daniels was drawn to her program of study because of the low student-to-teacher ratio.

"The professors, faculty and staff, they actually know people by name. I didn't think that could happen. They know my face and they remember me. You don't get lost in the crowd," Daniels said.

Midway through Thursday's festivities, university staff members pepped up the crowd with words of inspiration and encouragement.

New men's basketball coach Richie Riley, whose voice was a bit hoarse after days of yelling and coaching, encouraged students to get involved on campus.

"I've worked at a lot of universities, seen a lot of different things and Nicholls State is truly family," he said. "Our whole campus is motivated by family and that's why I love it here. I challenge you guys no matter what grade level to get out of your comfort zone and don't just be on this campus just to be here. Go get involved with things."

DoBee Plaisance, interim director of athletics and head women's basketball coach, welcomed students back in the only way she knows how: with her booming voice and energetic presence.

"Welcome back and let's start it off with a real good 'Go Colonels,'" she yelled. "Thank you for choosing Nicholls and bringing your gifts and your talents to Nicholls. Thank you for being future ambassadors to Nicholls."

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15 2016-08-26
Natchitoches

Traveling the world to learn how to perfect the clarinet


As with most people who are attending college, there are many challenges, especially when moving on to the next year. This is especially true for Alejandra Monjardin of Athens, who has been accepted to the Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio in Madrid, Spain through the International Student Exchange Program.

Monjardin, an undergraduate student at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, needs about $8,500 to participate in the program.

In Spain, she will be studying interpretations of the Spanish clarinet repertoire under the guidance of Yehuda Gilad and Venancio Rius, two legendary clarinetists.

“I started as a bass clarinetist in Athens Middle School, and at that time, I guessed I just wasn't good enough to play the clarinet,” Monjardin said. “That's what got me into it. I enjoy challenges. Eventually, I made the All State Band at 15, and I think I was the youngest. And, ever since I was little, my parents bought me classical music. Mozart was the one I enjoyed most with his 'Clarinet Concerto.'”

Born in Saltillo, Mexico 23 years ago, Monjardin came to the U.S. when she was 3 years old. She has played the clarinet for the past 11 years. She said she now plays the bass, and all other types of clarinets. She graduated from Athens High School in 2011. Her parents are Victor and Herlinda Monjardin.

According to a news release from Keith Dromm, Ph.D. associate professor of philosophy from Northwestern State University, and director of Study Away programs, Alejandra has earned the right to attend.

“Alejandra's acceptance into this program attests to the high opinion of her professors, and her outstanding academic achievements. I believe that the educational benefits from this exchange will be extremely high.”

The monitary total needed for her in the program includes costs for tuition, housing, meals and various associated fees. Alejandra will also be responsible for her transporation costs to and from Spain.

“This will mean something that I never even imagined that I could do,” Monjardin said. “I always set goals really high. And, I always accomplished them. This was something that I never had planned. I went to Spain last summer, met all these clarinetists, and was told I needed to come back there. I auditioned for this with the clarinet. It's frightening, but it's exciting. It means the world for me. I want to make it one day as my career.”

Alejandra's plans for the future are not quite exact, but she really eventually wants to play in the London Symphonic Orchestra, or perhaps the Dallas Symphonic Orchestra.

Currently, she has gotten several contributions from the general area of Athens, with the biggest yet coming from Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia, who gave her $1,000.

To make a contribution to Alejandra's expenses for studying abroad, you can send a check to NSU Office of Scholarships, Room 261, Student Services Center, Natchitoches, LA 71457. You should provide a note indicating that it is intended for Alejandra Monjardin (Student ID No. 10561937).

Your cancelled check will be returned to you, which you can then use for tax purposes.


15 2016-08-18
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls students helped with flood relief


Nicholls State University students have been pitching in with flood relief efforts across the state, and now the university is helping raise money to help its students who were affected by the flooding.

The Flood Emergency Relief Fund will be available to students who need help making ends meet for things like books, clothing and dorm items due to losses in the storm.

“We are concerned about our students and some of them who are dealing with crisis and a lot of uncertainly,” Vice President of University Advancement Neal Weaver said. “All across campus we’ve been having people calling our offices wanting to know how they can help. It became pretty clear, especially when we opened our dorms (early), that we were going to have students affected by this.”

Money can be donated online at nicholls.edu/relief. Students who are interested in receiving money should contact Vice President for Student Affairs Eugene Dial. By contacting the office of financial aid, students can also have their college plan reassessed including reconsideration for an on-campus job.

“One of the things that makes our Nicholls family so special is the outpouring of care and concern for our community,” Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said. “By coming together, we can help ensure that our affected Colonels get through these challenges as they continue to pursue their dreams of a college degree.”

Weaver did not know offhand how many students have been affected, but he knew that the families of a handful of athletes lost everything and a couple of students moved in early.

Nicholls student Cameron Gautreau lives in Ascension Parish where the flooding came within just half a mile away from his home. He works at a local supermarket and saw many people come in and out that were affected by the weather. Some of his family members did get flooding and had to evacuate.

“It was devastating seeing all of that,” Gautreau said. “The water moves so fast and caught everyone by surprise.”

One of his former bass fishing teammates, Frank Robichaux, was out in the parish doing rescues by boat. Robichaux spent his freshman year at Nicholls but will now transfer to University of Lafayette. After hearing about the floods on social media, Robichaux joined a group with over a dozen boats in rescuing hundreds of people. One rescue stands out in his memory.

“One lady that I rescued, she was in her house and she was wading with an 8-month old baby and a bag of clothes. That was all she had. ... It hits home when you see someone who lost everything.”

Members of the university’s volunteer club and athletes also pitched in this week, collecting and sorting donations and filling sandbags.

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.

Copyright © 2016 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
15 2016-08-11
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls biology professor gets award


Nicholls State University assistant biology professor Aimee Hollander has received the 2016 American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators Travel Award.

The annual award is given to biology instructors with "leadership potential and a commitment to education" who gain success through active learning techniques. Hollander will get money to attend a conference in Maryland.

She said in a statement that the award allowed her to meet with microbiology instructors from around the country and get ideas to bring back to Nicholls.

Hollander presented "Guess That Microbe," a mock game show she uses in her classes, in a competition hosted by McGraw-Hill, and it was chosen as the best of the competition. She also uses blogs and social media to interact with her students.

"Nicholls is committed to implementing progressive instruction and active learning strategies that truly influence student engagement," Nicholls Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lynn Gillette said in a statement. "Aimee Hollander is a perfect example of that. This recognition confirms that her methods are working and making an impact on students."

15 2016-08-08
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls biology professor earns international recognition



By Kevinisha Walker
Staff Writer


Published: Friday, August 5, 2016 at 12:52 p.m.





Nicholls State University Biology Professor Ramaraj Boopathy has worked and lived many places before landing in Thibodaux.

After finishing a PhD program in his native India, he found himself in Glasgow, Scotland in 1986. A year later, he got a job with the Department of Energy as a visiting scientist in Italy.

Then, a chance encounter with a University of Missouri professor brought him on the first leg of his U.S. journey as he took a research position at the Columbia, Mo. university.

And after living in Iowa City, South Bend, Ind. and Lemont, Ill., he finally settled in Thibodaux when he accepted his current teaching post at Nicholls.

"I liked Nicholls because of the people," Boopathy said. "When I came to interview, everyone was very nice. The department head at the time took me to her home and invited my family for dinner. They were so friendly and that's what ultimately made me come down here."

He's spent nearly 18 years at Nicholls and among his many accolades, he's recently been named a Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology fellow and a Fulbright Senior Scholar specialist. The latter took him to Indonesia late last month.

SIMB only awards three fellowships every year.

“It’s a great honor to receive such an award. SIMB is one of the oldest international societies on microbiology,” Boopathy said. “It’s a really big honor for me and a bigger recognition for Nicholls as well.”

The biology professor was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2007, but his new specialist status will allow him to travel to universities and colleges across the globe that need his expertise. He'll remain on the Fulbright Specialist roster for five years.

Boopathy is an Alcee Fortier Distinguished Service Professor of biological sciences. He's also received the Jerry Ledet Foundation Endowed Professorship, Nicholls State University's Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence and the John Brady Endowed Professorship.

He has over 25 years of research and teaching experience, both of which bring him great joy.

"When you’re teaching in university setting, you’re always meeting fresh minds. And i like that part, training the next generation of students to become scientists," he said.






Copyright © 2016 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.

15 2016-08-05
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls grad takes on Deepwater Horizon spill case


A former Nicholls State University basketball player traded his jersey for a suit for a career in law after his graduation in 1976. Now, John Perry will take on the completion of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill case.

Perry, who graduated from Louisiana State University’s law school, will serve as the Grand Master in the case.

“It’s going to be an interesting assignment because the objective is to fairly apportion the money that is available among the attorneys that participated,” Perry said.

He was a founding member of the Baton Rouge-based law firm Perry, Balhoff, Mengis & Burns, L.L.C. with a focus on litigation, but over time Perry has found a niche in mediation and arbitration. He is also a founding member of Perry Dampf Dispute Solutions.

“It’s almost like serendipity,” Perry said. “I had an active practice in Baton Rouge for 20 years and I got asked to arbitrate a couple of cases and I got asked to mediate a couple of cases. I didn’t try to go that direction but I had some experience in 1996 and it just took off and really developed to the point where I almost gave up traditional law.”

Before attending law school, Perry was a leader on the basketball court at Nicholls as a point guard from 1972-76 and captain. The team won the conference championship his senior year. He also met his wife of 38 years at Nicholls and their youngest son received his masters in business administration from the school.

Despite working a busy schedule even before taking on this project, Perry considers himself blessed.

“I average 240 cases a year,” Perry said. “I’m in some other cases out of state so I’m working seven days a week. … I enjoy my work. I’ve been very blessed.”

The Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April 22, 2010, two days after a blowout southeast of the Louisiana coastline killed 11 crewmen and ignited a fireball visible from 40 miles away. Oil leaked from the rig for months at the seabed, causing the largest spill in U.S. history.

The office that processes claims for businesses and people who suffered economic losses from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill says it has approved payments totaling $8.5 billion as of June 30. BP reached a $20 billion settlement with state and federal governments.

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.

15 2016-08-01
Houma/Thibodaux

Storyteller finds challenge in conservation


Nicholls State University alumna Harmony Hamilton sharpened her storytelling skills studying broadcast journalism, but now she’s putting it to use to promote the work of Audubon Louisiana.

Hamilton’s task is to tell the story of Audubon’s conservation work in Louisiana and break down the issues for the community as Louisiana’s first Walker Communications Fellow.

She first visited the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion where land is being built up. Her final project will be on the Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary where 200 species of birds take their final rest before making their 400-mile flight over the Gulf of Mexico.

“Harmony didn’t come in with an extensive background with conservation,” Audubon Communications Director Jacques Hebert said. “She has really great storytelling abilities and ... you can understand her work or what she’s saying and it can resonate with you. Our coastal crisis is so significant and people on the coast know that, but ... (others) are not as aware.”

There are other fellows in New York and San Francisco, but Hamilton is the first for Louisiana. She says hearing the passion in the voices of the conservation workers that she talks to is her favorite part of her job. This helps her to tell their stories.

“We’re here to bring their work to the younger generations,” Hamilton said. “It’s an eye opener. It’s a lot of stuff that you don’t know what’s going on. ... It’s that initial click that ... can be a little challenging. Our generation doesn’t like to read, we like to watch videos. I’ve been finding ways to do more videos and pretty pictures with shorter text.”

Hamilton was looking to continue her education in journalism with a master's degree before posts about the Walker Communications Fellowship for Audubon Louisiana caught her eye.

“I never thought about working for a nonprofit organization at all especially coming from a hard news background this wasn’t on my radar at all,” she said. “It allows me to be more creative with my storytelling.”

Hamilton now says she’s looking for full-time opportunities with the organization.

Before she graduated from Nicholls in 2015, Hamilton was the secretary of the radio television digital news association, the managing editor of Garde Voir Ci magazine and intern at WDSU, and she covered Nicholls sporting events with KTIB and KNSU.

It was these experiences at Nicholls and Hamilton’s background growing up in LaPlace that made her stand out among the applicants, according to Hebert.

“We put out a call for applicants and we did get a ton of interest,” Hebert said. “Harmony has knowledge. She’s from Louisiana. She went to Nicholls. She has done a lot of reporting both at Nicholls and interviews with local TV stations, so she really stood out among the crowd of applicants. I’m glad she’s on board. She’s been doing a great job.”

15 2016-08-01
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls' Talbot Hall renovations nearing completion


In just a few weeks, Nicholls State University students will experience a new Talbot Hall.

Renovations began last August, and everything outside the Mary M. Danos Theater is expected to be complete by Aug. 15 – ready for when classes start Aug. 22. The theater interior should be done about the first week of September.

"That's a little bit past (planned) completion, but the intricate detail work that's going on the walls has set us back," said Stan Silverii, superintendent of facilities services and project management. "It's going to be a fine facility when we're done."

Talbot Hall opened in 1970. Formerly called Talbot Theater, the Mary M. Danos Theater was dedicated under that name in 2012.

Silverii said the total cost of renovations is $9.6 million and BETCO is the general contractor. Al Danos, Mary's husband, raised $1.5 million for the theater, and state money is going toward the hall's other renovations.

The glass has been brought out, increasing the lobby size. The stairwell that once graced the front of the building is now inside and lined with ropes and tassels like those inside the theater.

A double set of doors helps block the noise from the lobby to the theater, where lighting has gone up and acoustic panels are being added. Silverii said chairlifts will be along the walls to help people with physical disabilities get down the steps.

The 240-seat theater also has LED lighting and a 24-foot projection screen, Silverii said.

"We've got a projector up here in the control room, so when we have class in here, the instructors can sit there and project what they need on the screen," he said. "It's going to be a very multi-use facility. It's just not for theater, it's just not for music, but it's also for our academics."

Three of Talbot Hall's classrooms have been renovated, and the KNSU radio station has gotten a face-lift and been brought up to code.

Silverii said the newly renovated television studio will include a green screen.

"They can put them anywhere in the world and integrate the two photographs seamlessly so you don't even know it," Silverii said. "It's going to bring this studio and the quality of production to a professional level, so our students are going to have a great opportunity to learn. We're hoping to join up with ESPN3 in producing our sports – football, basketball – and televising over their channels as well."

Talbot Hall also has a new roof and air-conditioning units, and the lobby restrooms have been renovated to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

Nicholls Players Director Anna Broussard said she can't wait to see the renovated theater.

"Hopefully it'll make our lives easier to have stuff that works properly," she said. "We didn't have enough lights that worked properly, and it wasn't worth the time to replace them when we knew we were going to be renovating soon. There were just a lot of issues with lighting the stage properly."

Broussard said she usually holds auditions at the beginning of the fall, and productions start in the middle of the semester.

During the renovations, Broussard said, the Nicholls Players have been using Le Bijou Theater in the student union, although only four actors could fit on the stage. They've also used Peltier Auditorium for a spring show and summer camps.

"It was a bit of an adjustment finding other places and then also finding (a place for) rehearsals because everyone's sharing those spaces, too," she said.

Silverii said the state fire marshal inspection is set for Aug. 9. A university walk-through to determine if anything is left to do will take place Aug. 10.

-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or bridget.mire@dailycomet.com. Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.

15 2016-07-27
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls head knows the issues he faces


Nicholls State University President Bruce Murphy recognizes several important truths.

First, he knows that our state and our region need more college graduates, not fewer.

Second, he acknowledges and appreciates the fact that making college less affordable will lead to fewer prospective students pursuing degrees. Ultimately, raising the cost of college might be a way for colleges to make ends meet, but it works against the ultimate goal.

Third, he recognizes that stability will help both students and the institution.

The big question is how Nicholls, for instance, can stabilize its academic and financial situation while attracting more students and offering more and better services — against a backdrop of continued cuts in state money coming to the local campus.

It is a problem many Louisiana schools face, and the answers aren’t easy to find.

“Sometimes I feel like the Lone Ranger as I look at Louisiana and higher education and what is the issue,” Murphy said. “The issue is we don’t have enough college graduates. If you look at the numbers, we are either dead last or very close to last in the percentage of college graduates per capita.”

Body type J: In the past, many Louisianans could afford to forego college and still pursue lucrative careers in the oilfield and other related industries. But recent trends have changed those scenarios.

In an increasingly digitized world, oilfield jobs are becoming more technologically advanced, demanding training that often extends beyond high school diplomas.

Even more recently, the oilfield slowdown has dimmed the job prospects even more.

At the same time, though, demand for highly skilled college graduates remains relatively strong, and Nicholls State has cooperated with other local colleges to offer advanced training and education that can give graduates the inside track to landing those jobs.

Unfortunately, if we price our local students out of being able to attend college, all the potential benefits are nullified.

So Murphy has a strong grasp of the issues facing his university and the students it exists to serve. And the goal of attracting more of those students to Nicholls State is clearly a priority.

Now, if the people who are trying to supply or receive an education could get some cooperation from state leaders who have displayed another set of priorities for years, we might see some forward progress.

If not, Nicholls and its students will continue to suffer the consequences of shortsighted decisions in Baton Rouge.

— Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.

15 2016-07-27
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls well represented at national bass fishing tournament


Nicholls State University is well represented at the 2016 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship.

The event is the national championship for college bass fishing teams with 62 tandems from schools all across the country competing. The anglers will fish Green River Lake in Campbellsville, Ky., from Thursday to Saturday.

Nicholls will have four teams competing this week all trying to equal last year's third-place finish at the 2015 national championships by the tandem of Tyler Rivet and Allyson Marcel.

The teams for Nicholls are Rivet and Jess Robertson, Matt LeBlanc and Matt Benoit, John Authement and Cameron Naquin and Frank Robichaux and Marcus Kliebert.

After last year's surprising finish in the national championship, Rivet said Nicholls is well known among the bass fishing teams and he doesn't feel any pressure to repeat last year's accomplishment.

“Just from last year we met a lot more people, but when you look at it to finish third was great and I would gladly take third place again,” Rivet said. “It helps us in knowing what we can accomplish, but just coming into this tournament you are not sure what you can do. This is completely different from what you normally do, but just from that experience, it is a great feeling knowing you can do it.”

While there is skill involved in bass fishing, there is also a lot of luck and in early scouting of Green River Lake, Rivet and Robertson haven't been lucky.

“(Monday) we had a practice and we caught fish but not a lot of keepers. It was tough for everybody, and it has really been hot up here,” Rivet said. “They do call for rain and clouds later in the week, so hopefully that will help out with the fishing.”

The 8,200-acre lake also will make for some cramp quarters with anglers in search for that special honey hole.

“Where we normally fish, you can travel for miles and miles, but here at every point, there are a couple of boats so I expect it to be a battle up here,” Robertson said. “It is a small lake so the fishing will be pretty tough. We just have to stick with it and grind it out and hopefully catch some fish. It is going to be cloudy with rain and that will help push the fish into the shallows and people like to fish in shallow water.”

The top 4 teams will advance to the 2016 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket and the eight anglers will go head-to-head on Kentucky Lake near Paris, Tenn., on Aug. 4-6. The winner of the bracket tournament will earn a spot in the 2017 Geico Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe near Conroe, Texas, on March 24-26.

With a third-place finish last summer, Rivet got to experience bracket tournament, and after winning his first-round match, he was eliminated in the semifinals.

Rivet would like another chance at reaching the bracket tournament, but with four teams from Nicholls in the field, he is hopeful one of the four tandems can have a good showing in the national championship.

“We had a pretty good regional and we had four teams qualify. We had six teams competing in the regional so more than half has made it to the national championship and that is awesome,” Rivet said. “We got into the championship bracket tournament and that was a learning experience. Hopefully, one of the four teams that came here will get to go there.”

15 2016-07-25
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls president leads creation of stability for students


After cuts to higher education and uncertainty about the future of the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, Nicholls State University President Bruce Murphy hopes to provide stability and opportunity at Nicholls.

To do this, his plan includes boosting enrollment, controlling costs and providing more programs for students.

“Sometimes I feel like the lone ranger as I look at Louisiana and higher education and what is the issue,” Murphy told The Courier and Daily Comet in an interview. “The issue is we don't have enough college graduates. If you look at the numbers, we are either last or very close to last in the percentage of college graduates per capita.”

Murphy looked back over the past several years and found that as tuition continued to increase, eventually enrollment stopped increasing too.

“The way we're going to get ahead of the game to be financially solvent is to increase enrollment and those two things go against each other,” Murphy said. “We're not going to increase enrollment by raising the price. We will probably contribute to decreasing enrollment by raising the price.”

The way to increase enrollment, however, is to provide more programs and benefits to students at the university level, he said.

“Our number one goal is student opportunity and success,” Murphy said. “The question is, and with that other underlying goal of having more graduates in the state of Louisiana, how do we do that? We control the cost and we're trying to do that the best we can. Students will not object to paying more money if they see more stuff.”

Murphy gave examples like maintaining residence halls and cafeterias, increasing the number of faculty members, and decreasing the class size. In the past as the university has increased tuition, the state has cut that amount from its contribution in a move referred to as “sweeping,” according to Murphy.

This led to years of increased tuition, but not necessarily increases in the services and benefits that he thinks are so important. Nicholls is not alone in facing this predicament.

Nicholls tuition will not increase for the second year in a row, but different scholarships and fees will still change.

TOPS funding for Nicholls students will not be fully paid for this year. The scholarship is at 93 percent for the fall, which leaves a $170.80 shortfall for students. The spring will see even less at just 47 percent and a $1,298.80 shortfall.

“That saddest part to me is that somebody might look and say, 'I can't afford college,'” Murphy said. “That's the worst thing that can happen because they can. We can find a way to make that happen.”

Murphy mentioned work study and recommendations for additional scholarships and grants as opportunities to supplement a student's cost for school.

The Legislature funded higher education at the same level as last year, officials said, but a change in the state Board of Regents' funding formula has resulted in a $483,251 cut for Nicholls.

The university has added a $15.18-per-credit-hour fee, capped at 12 hours. That equates to $182 per semester for a full-time student.

Thanks to a decrease in energy costs, students will see a decrease in existing fees of $26 per semester.

In dollars, Nicholls had the third-lowest fee increase in the system, with most students paying less than $200 more per semester.

Overall, mandatory tuition and fees for a full-time undergraduate -- a student taking 12 credit hours, usually four classes -- will total $3,638 for the coming fall semester. Of that, $2,461 is tuition; the rest, $1,177, are fees.

-Staff Writer Emma Discher can be reached at 448-7636 or emma.discher@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmadischer.

Copyright © 2016 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
15 2016-07-25
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls geomatics program gets $10,000


The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying has awarded $10,000 to Nicholls State University's geomatics program.

Nicholls was among 10 universities to receive the money as part of the council's inaugural Surveying Education Award. The council selected winners based on student involvement and outcomes, outreach and recruitment.

The university's geomatics graduates pass the Fundamentals of Surveying national exam at a 95 percent rate, compared to the national average of 54 percent.

Copyright © 2016 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
15 2016-07-25
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls biology professor gets international recognition


A Nicholls State University biology professor has achieved international recognition.

Ramaraj Boopathy was named a Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology Fellow and a Fulbright Senior Scholar Specialist.

Boopathy will receive the first award at the society's annual convention Tuesday in New Orleans.

As a Fulbright Senior Scholar Specialist, Boopathy can be sent to universities and colleges around the world that need his expertise. He'll remain on the Fulbright Specialist roster for five years.

Immediately after next week's convention, he will leave for Bali, Indonesia, where he will teach short courses and give seminars on environmental science. He will return to Nicholls Aug. 15.

"It's the cultural exchange part that benefits both the host institution and me because I expand my network in the scientific community and can learn from others as well," Boopathy said in a statement.

Copyright © 2016 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
15 2016-07-25
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls nursing students, instructor to go on Jamaican mission trip


In an effort to give back to less fortunate communities, four Nicholls State University nursing students and their instructor are heading to Kingston, Jamaica, Tuesday for a mission trip.

They are able to take the trip thanks to a $1,200 donation from the Cardiovascular Institute of the South.

One year ago, a couple of Shane Robichaux's students came to him with the idea because they wanted to give back.

And because some of his friends had volunteered with Missionaries of the Poor, a Jamaica-based organization that serves depressed Jamaican communities, he thought it'd be a good program to volunteer for.

"There's a great need there, it's very, very poor," Robichaux said. "We're going there to serve in any way we can."

Nicholls nursing student Hailey Orgeron, a native of Cut Off, has always wanted to go on a mission trip.

"I like helping and serving people and this seemed like a good way to do that," she said.

Her classmate Breely Danos always wanted to go on a mission trip as well and is simply looking forward to assisting those in need.

For most of them, this will be their first time traveling outside of the country.

"I think they will come back being able to give back to humanity," Robichaux said. "Being able to do this in Kingston will give them fulfillment."

While there, the students and Robichaux will be bathing, feeding, clothing and doing anything that the community requires of them.

"I know this experience is going to help me in my nursing career," Madison Knight said. "It's going to be a wonderful experience."

The crew will return Aug. 1.
15 2016-07-19
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls hosts Lafayette-based chef for empowerment series


Following the lead of guest chefs Jacqueline Blanchard and Nina Compton, Chef Holly Goetting of Charley G's in Lafayette continued Nicholls State University's Empowered Women Chef Series Monday in the Ledet Culinary Arts Building.

The Nicholls alum demonstrated to an intimate audience how to make jumbo lump crab, asparagus and Boursin cheese risotto.

All while she prepared the dish, Goetting discussed her path to the culinary world and how much she loves her job.

But the 30-something chef didn't always know she wanted to be a chef.

She started her college career at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette studying architecture, but realized early on that she didn't quite gel with other aspiring architects.

"It just didn't feel like something I enjoyed," she revealed. "I felt like an outsider."

It wasn't until her mom suggested culinary school that she finally discovered her passion.

"As soon as I started the classes and labs (at Nicholls), I felt at home here," Goetting said.

Throughout her time at Nicholls, Goetting worked at Flanagan's and after earning her associate's degree, she honed her French cooking skills at Mirabelle Restaurant in Vail, Colo.

Then in 2001, she began her career at Charley G's by making dressings and cutting lettuce. And after a year of learning how to cook at various stations in the kitchen, she was asked to be sous chef _ the second in command of the kitchen.

Six months after that, she became executive chef.

Not only is Goetting one of a few chefs who get to move up in a short time but she's also in that small percentage of women who actually work in the industry.

Among Nicholls' culinary students, 65 percent are women but only 21 percent of culinary jobs are held by women.

As a result, Nicholls is hoping to provide aspiring women chefs with industry role models and tips for navigating challenges within the culinary world.

The seven-part empowerment series kicked off in April and is expected to host four more women chefs in the coming months.

"I got really lucky," Goetting admitted. "But it takes dedication and time to move up the ranks."

15 2016-07-18
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls increases student fees to offset budget cut


Nicholls State University will increase student fees this semester to help offset a nearly $500,000 state budget cut, officials said.

Nicholls has not raised tuition in two years, and it remains the lowest among the nine campuses that are part of the University of Louisiana System.

“Nicholls is sensitive to the rising cost of college and is dedicated to finding ways to control tuition and fees as much as possible,” Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said in a news release. “We’re committed to working with students who have financial concerns on an individual basis. Moving forward, we will continue to deliver high-quality, affordable and accessible public higher education.”

The Legislature funded higher education at the same level as last year, officials said, but a change in the state Board of Regents' funding formula has resulted in a $483,251 cut for Nicholls.

As a result, the Thibodaux university has added a $15.18-per-credit-hour fee, capped at 12 hours. That equates to $182 per semester for a full-time student.

Thanks to a decrease in energy costs, students will see a decrease in existing fees of $26 per semester.

In dollars, Nicholls had the third-lowest fee increase in the system, with most students paying less than $200 more per semester.

All told, mandatory tuition and fees for a full-time undergraduate -- a student taking 12 credit hours, usually four classes -- will total $3,638 for the coming fall semester. Of that, $2,461 is tuition; the rest, $1,177, are fees.

Two program-specific fees will also be added this fall to help expand the Nicholls nursing programs as well as the master of business administration program, officials said.

The university will charge an additional fee of $300 per semester for nursing undergraduate students and $350 per semester for nursing graduate students.

Students enrolled in the MBA program will see an additional $50-per-credit-hour fee.

Revenue from those fees will go back into the programs to help pay for faculty training and travel, technology upgrades and other program improvements, officials said.


15 2016-07-18
Lake Charles

Nicholls tuition lowest in UL system; fees increase slightly


THIBODAUX, LA (WAFB) -
Since news of the state-wide budget cuts first surfaced in January, students, parents, and educators have fretted about the cost of higher education in Louisiana. Fortunately for current and perspective Colonels, Nicholls State University has the lowest tuition in the University of Louisiana System.

The university has not raised their tuition for the last two years, however a few fee increases are expected.

“Nicholls is sensitive to the rising cost of college and is dedicated to finding ways to control tuition and fees as much as possible,” Nicholls president Dr. Bruce Murphy said. “We’re committed to working with students who have financial concerns on an individual basis. Moving forward, we will continue to deliver high-quality, affordable and accessible public higher education.”

The University added a $15.18 per credit hour fee, but capped the fee at 12 hours, resulting of an average additional $182.16.

State budget cuts resulted in an almost $500,000 fund decrease for the University.

Nicholls State also implemented an additional fee of $300 per semester for nursing undergraduate students and $350 per semester for nursing graduate students. Students enrolled in the MBA program will see an additional $50 per credit hour fee.

All fees will go directly to helping programs pay for faculty development, training, travel expenses, and improving facilities and technology.


15 2016-07-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Plaisance named Interim Athletic Director at Nicholls State


THIBODAUX, LA (WVUE) -
Nicholls State University has given women's basketball coach Doobie Plaisance the title Interim Athletic Director.

She's filling the role left by long-time AD Rob Bernardi, who recently resigned. Plaisance has been at Nicholls for nine-years now and has guided the women's basketball team to new heights.

She was named the Southland Conference's Co-Head Coach of the Year last season.

On her appointment, Plaisance said she's looking forward to continuing the great things that are going on within the athletic department.

Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.


15 2016-07-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Candidates interviewed for Nicholls vice president position


Two candidates for Nicholls State University's vice president of finance and administration position spoke before the public today regarding their qualifications for the position.

The position replaces the role of chief financial officer and includes oversight of departments such as Auxiliary Services, Human Resources, Maintenance, Purchasing and the Nicholls Police Department.

It has been vacant since April after Ronnie Rodriguez accepted a job at LSU Health Sciences Center.

Before a small audience in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union, candidates Terry Braud and Archie Chaisson III spoke about how their respective experiences at Nicholls shaped them and what they plan to bring to the vacant position.

The two finalists were among 25 candidates who applied.

Via email, Nicholls' Marketing and Communications Director Stephanie Verdin said Nicholls President Bruce Murphy looked for candidates who could strategically position the university financially through collaborations with other on-campus and off-campus groups.

Out of the pool, Braud and Chaisson stood out "for having broad-based experience in the private and public sector, strong ties to the local community and proven track records of working effectively with various constituencies," she said.

Braud, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Cross Holdings Inc., laid out his qualifications and experience this morning.

The Nicholls alum said finance and administration has been his lifelong career and he's looking forward to accepting new challenges, facing new settings and seeing new faces.
Because he's coming from the private sector, some audience members asked whether he's prepared to accept such a position in higher education.

Braud admitted that there will be a learning curve should he be offered the job, but he's up for the challenge.

"I've always been open to learning new tasks and I believe there are a lot of similarities in the way the rules are followed (between the private and public sectors)," he said. "It will be challenging, but I don't expect it to be a difficult transition."

The university faced major financial uncertainty earlier this year when officials considered closing for two weeks to absorb budget cuts aimed at higher education.

While the proposed two-week closure did not happen, the university was forced to cut off spending and hiring and face cuts from the state's scholarship program TOPS, which was left $28 million short after a special legislative session earlier this year.

Despite the financial difficulty, Braud said the university has a competent crew that is very good and he's ready to join the team.

"I think President Murphy has a vision and along with the board of regents, we're going to work to get as many dollars as we can," he said. "We as a university have been through struggling times before and came out stronger and we'll do it again."

When Chaisson spoke before the audience this afternoon, he echoed a similar message of optimism, noting that the university can leverage financing in other ways.

"We can look at grant funding and self generate more than we've done in the past so we won't have to rely (solely) on state funds," he said.

The 31-year-old city of Thibodaux public works director is also a Nicholls alum.

He got the public service bug after watching agencies work when he was project manager for engineering and architectural firm Picciola & Associates.

Not too long after the BP oil spill, the then 28-year-old accepted a position in Lafourche Parish government where he was in charge of a $100 million budget and many employees.

In his address to the audience today, Chaisson discussed his experience with estimating revenues.

"Parish government is more different than higher education. It was all about putting numbers together after staffers put them together on the spread sheet," he said. "I can work a spread sheet, but my deal was making those numbers work for us."

In the same way, Chaisson said once he knows university numbers, he's going to be able to advise Murphy on how to use those numbers.

Murphy will make the final decision based on input from today's interviews and from the search committee.

Ultimately, the hire will have to be approved by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.

The final decision should come in the next couple weeks. A firm start date is to be determined later, but the university hopes to have the new hire start in early August.

Copyright © 2016 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.


15 2016-07-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls student organizes community event to promote unity


The public is invited to a community bash promoting unity that's planned for Saturday at Peltier Park, 151 Peltier Park Drive in Thibodaux.

The bash will take place from 3-7 p.m., and there will be kickball and flag football games. Visitors are also encouraged to bring their own food to cook on the barbecue grill.

Nicholls State University student Nigel Robertson is organizing this event after being disheartened by the recent shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas.

"We know what's going on with all the violence and media attention that's come from police brutality and I've seen a lot of racist comments (on social media)," he said.

As a result, the 22-year-old wants to bring everyone in the community together and show the world that people can come together, no matter what they look like, and have a good time.

Robertson initially thought the event would only be for he and a few friends. But after sharing a post about it on social media, it took on a life of its own.

"I didn't expect for it to get as big as it got," he admitted. "One hundred people might show up or 1,000 people might show up. I just really want to have a good time."

Visitors are also encouraged to bring whatever they have to share with the community whether it be cookies, business cards, water or simply a story.

Name tags will be distributed so that everyone can be addressed by name.

Before the event, Robertson is asking for donations to pay for the police detail required.

The cost is $45 per police officer, per hour for four police officers, which amounts to $720.

So far, Robertson has raised $615. To donate, use this link: https://fundrazr.com/619Bk9?fb_ref=share__a5oGJ5

Any extra money will be used for purchasing barbecue supplies and free refreshments, and for donations to the Lafourche Parish Animal Shelter.

Saturday is the last day to donate.


15 2016-07-13
Houma/Thibodaux

Bernardi left his mark at Nicholls


Well, my quiet summer came to end last week with the resignation of Nicholls State University Athletic Director Rob Bernardi.

While Bernardi’s resignation was a surprise to most, it really didn’t come as that big of a shock once it was announced.

Bernardi was listed as a candidate when the University of New Orleans was searching for a new athletic director in 2012, so he was definitely looking for other opportunities. When I asked him about his next step in his career, Bernardi was uncommitted, but clearly he felt his work at Nicholls was done.

Bernardi arrived at Nicholls in 2001 and his tenure didn’t have the greatest of beginnings.

Early in his Nicholls career, he dealt with one of the most devastating hurricane cycles in our state’s history. Bernardi had to guide this athletic program through hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Gustav and Ike in 2008.

Bernardi held things together in the wake of these storms and was a positive influence on the athletic department when others in his position may have decided to leave.

Dealing with hurricanes would be enough for most, but there was an academic scandal that came to light in 2004 that rocked the football, men’s basketball and volleyball programs. While the fallout of the academic scandal led to the dismal of coaches and players and cost the volleyball team its 2003 Southland Conference tournament title, it also gave Bernardi a new priority -- cleaning up the academic side in athletics.

Bernardi had help in cleaning up academics thanks to new admission standards at Nicholls and the NCAA implementing and Academic Progress Rate (APR) to measure student-athletes’ academic progress. Still, he had to put this athletic department on the straight-and-narrow, and Nicholls is now on solid footing academically.

Besides fixing the academic side, Bernardi made it a priority to upgrade the athletic facilities at Nicholls. Whether it was building a new press box for softball and baseball, upgrading locker rooms or adding a new complex for women’s soccer, there are upgrades all throughout campus with several more slated to be done in the coming years.

The only thing missing during his Nicholls tenure was a wealth of championships.

Nicholls did win Southland Conference titles in football (2005) and women’s tennis (2015), but those are the only two conference team titles during his tenure. But if we look at where this athletic department was in 2001 to where it is at today, the athletic teams are far more competitive in every aspect.

While the athletic teams weren't always winners, Nicholls became a big winner when Bernardi lured the Manning Passing Academy to campus 12 years ago. Getting the Manning Passing Academy to Nicholls is Bernardi's crowning achievement during his tenure, and the publicity the university has gotten from hosting the camp is priceless. Also, the association with the Mannings has lead to an artificial turf field (Manning Field) in John L. Guidry Stadium and other improvements for the athletic department.

Bernardi’s resignation was a shock, but if he was going to leave, now was as good a time as any.

With academics solid, facilities in line for more upgrades and a group of coaches committed to do what is right, Bernardi leaves this athletic department far better off than what he inherited in 2001.

Bernardi has definitely left his mark, and Nicholls will forever be grateful for his tenure in putting the athletic department on the right path.

Staff Writer Teddy Renois can be reached at 448-7618 or teddy.renois@dailycomet.com. Follow on Twitter @RenoisTeddy
15 2016-07-13
Houma/Thibodaux

Candidates interviewed for Nicholls vice president position


Two candidates for Nicholls State University's vice president of finance and administration position spoke before the public today regarding their qualifications for the position.

The position replaces the role of chief financial officer and includes oversight of departments such as Auxiliary Services, Human Resources, Maintenance, Purchasing and the Nicholls Police Department.

It has been vacant since April after Ronnie Rodriguez accepted a job at LSU Health Sciences Center.

Before a small audience in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union, candidates Terry Braud and Archie Chaisson III spoke about how their respective experiences at Nicholls shaped them and what they plan to bring to the vacant position.

The two finalists were among 25 candidates who applied.

Via email, Nicholls' Marketing and Communications Director Stephanie Verdin said Nicholls President Bruce Murphy looked for candidates who could strategically position the university financially through collaborations with other on-campus and off-campus groups.

Out of the pool, Braud and Chaisson stood out "for having broad-based experience in the private and public sector, strong ties to the local community and proven track records of working effectively with various constituencies," she said.

Braud, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Cross Holdings Inc., laid out his qualifications and experience this morning.

The Nicholls alum said finance and administration has been his lifelong career and he's looking forward to accepting new challenges, facing new settings and seeing new faces.

Because he's coming from the private sector, some audience members asked whether he's prepared to accept such a position in higher education.

Braud admitted that there will be a learning curve should he be offered the job, but he's up for the challenge.

"I've always been open to learning new tasks and I believe there are a lot of similarities in the way the rules are followed (between the private and public sectors)," he said. "It will be challenging, but I don't expect it to be a difficult transition."

The university faced major financial uncertainty earlier this year when officials considered closing for two weeks to absorb budget cuts aimed at higher education.

While the proposed two-week closure did not happen, the university was forced to cut off spending and hiring and face cuts from the state's scholarship program TOPS, which was left $28 million short after a special legislative session earlier this year.

Despite the financial difficulty, Braud said the university has a competent crew that is very good and he's ready to join the team.

"I think President Murphy has a vision and along with the board of regents, we're going to work to get as many dollars as we can," he said. "We as a university have been through struggling times before and came out stronger and we'll do it again."

When Chaisson spoke before the audience this afternoon, he echoed a similar message of optimism, noting that the university can leverage financing in other ways.

"We can look at grant funding and self generate more than we've done in the past so we won't have to rely (solely) on state funds," he said.

The 31-year-old city of Thibodaux public works director is also a Nicholls alum.

He got the public service bug after watching agencies work when he was project manager for engineering and architectural firm Picciola & Associates.

Not too long after the BP oil spill, the then 28-year-old accepted a position in Lafourche Parish government where he was in charge of a $100 million budget and many employees.

In his address to the audience today, Chaisson discussed his experience with estimating revenues.

"Parish government is more different than higher education. It was all about putting numbers together after staffers put them together on the spread sheet," he said. "I can work a spread sheet, but my deal was making those numbers work for us."

In the same way, Chaisson said once he knows university numbers, he's going to be able to advise Murphy on how to use those numbers.

Murphy will make the final decision based on input from today's interviews and from the search committee.

Ultimately, the hire will have to be approved by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.

The final decision should come in the next couple weeks. A firm start date is to be determined later, but the university hopes to have the new hire start in early August.


15 2016-07-11
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls AD Bernardi resigns


Rob Bernardi’s time as Nicholls State University’s athletic director came to an end on Friday.

Saying "it was time for someone else to take charge,” Bernardi ended 15 years at the helm of the department _ the longest tenure of any athletic director in the history of the university.

“I think I turned that place into a solid Division I program, but now it is time for someone else to take charge. I think there are other opportunities for me, and I want to explore,” Bernardi said when reached by phone. “In my time there I have improved facilities and improved the academics. I put together a tremendous coaching staff and raised money at the highest level we ever had. I look back a few weeks ago, and that was the most successful Manning (Passing Academy) in the 12 years it has been here, and if not for me, that camp would not be here. I think I’ve done all I can for Nicholls, and it is time in my career to move on and explore other areas that I’ve come across.”

Bernardi’s resignation will be effective Sept. 1, but Nicholls will name an interim athletic director to handle the day-to-day business, while conducting a national search for a replacement.

In a statement released by the university, Nicholls President Bruce Murphy thanked Bernardi for what he accomplished during his tenure.


15 2016-07-06
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls professor learns a little about himself halfway around the world


The last year for Richmond Eustis has been a long way from teaching English and Spanish at Nicholls State University, spending Christmas with mom and three brothers and sisters.

Eustis has spent 11 months teaching refugees in a town that that represents stability surrounded by countries in the midst of civil war. His spare time is spent learning to play the oud. Christmas turned into a visit to Bethlehem. Instead of hiking through Alaska, he trekked through the Wadi Rum.

He's accomplished all of this as part as a Fulbright Scholar spending his time at the University of Jordan in Amman.



Nicholls Professor Richmond Eustis in his office shortly after finding out he had been accpeted to the Fulbright Porgram.

The Fulbright Program is a competitive, international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government that sends students and professors to various countries to learn and teach in different cultures. Less than one-quarter of its applicants are selected each year. Fulbright alumni have won 82 Pulitzer Prizes and 54 Nobel Prizes.

But Eustis's friends and family weren't surprised that he wasn't spending the holidays with them. This adventure was very typical of their friend, sibling and son.

“When I found out he was doing it, and this is not something you ever expect to hear, we were all just like, 'Oh, yeah, it's Richmond,'” said friend Tom Andes.

What's more, they could see the impact the trip has had on him, from perspective-changing interactions with his students to eye-opening travels across the Middle East.

Those close to Eustis describe him as down to earth, a bookworm and an adventurer who has a natural ability to connect with people. They say he's read and owns more books than most people they've ever met combined, but is unafraid of pushing himself in different environments.

In the summers, he spends his time as a field instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School. For fun, he seeks out various trails to hike and explore, both in and out of the U.S.

Josh Eustis characterized his brother as “completely fearless” without being reckless.

“He's been in scary situations before...he's had bears chasing him up and down the Appalachian Trail for days at a time,” Josh said.

He's accustomed to experiencing new cultures. As a kid, his family played host to foreign exchange students from Argentina, Turkey and France. When he was 16 he traveled to Argentina. Eustis and his mother, Cathie, also spent a month in Turkey. He's worked in Costa Rica and Spain and visited France, England, Morocco, Germany and Italy.

So, when the multilingual New Orleans native found out he was going to be teaching in Jordan, which shares borders with Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia, he wasn't afraid.

While some members of his extended family raised an issue over the move, his immediate family saw it as a “pretty big deal,” Josh said.

In fact, Eustis told friends and family that his biggest fear was making a social faux pas. His Arabic, one of the toughest languages to master, wasn't strong at the time. But he was downright elated.

Beyond the honor of being accepted to the Fulbright Program, Eustis was charged up for the challenge of living in a culture that was almost completely foreign to him.

This trip marked the first time that he was going to truly be a resident in another, non-English speaking place.

And, according to his friends and family, that is what exhilarated him the most. Eustis is always seeking a better understanding of humanity. He planned to do so by immersing himself in the local culture, visiting surrounding landmarks and having scholarly discussions with other academics.

“That's attractive to him, he's always looking for opportunities to push himself,” said Jim Seba, a friend.

While Louisiana, especially south Louisiana, is known for its diverse culture, the classes Eustis taught in Thibodaux couldn't hold a candle to the cultures, religions and nationalities of his students in Amman.

Mostly female, some of his students wore traditional Islamic garb, such as abayas and hijabs. Others wore Metallica shirts. Some were born in Jordan. Others were refugees from Iraq and Syria or were Palenstinians.

About one-eighth of Amman's 8 million residents are refugees.

The same refugees found themselves at the center of a vitriolic political debate this past fall. Eustis was disappointed that people are painting those refugees, his students, with a broad brush.

I came to Jordan already feeling a kinship with people who try to carve out a space for human kindness and beauty and joy in the face of tremendous forces that insist that anything other than fear and violence are luxuries we can't afford,” Eustis said.

“I've never had a lot of patience for referring to some political or economic abstraction as justification for inflicting pain,” Eustis added. “In my time here I have been able to put faces and individual stories to the condition rather than viewing all displaced people in this region under the blanket category of 'refugee.'”

In fact, it has been those students who have provided the outside outlook on one of Eustis's favorite texts, Homer's The Odyssey.

At its heart, the story, which describes the trials and tribulations of Odysseus's return home after defeating Troy, is about a refugee.

For years, he has taught the text and received mostly similar responses. But the perspective of these students caught Eustis off guard.

“For my students, questions of xenia, of civilization, of displacement, loyalty, hope and loss, are very, very real,” Eustis said. “It's part of their lives -- not just something they read about, or just someone's abstract political agenda.”

The impact on Eustis was very real. Seba said his friend had been yearning for a new perspective on familiar works. Eustis's mother, Cathie, said his students' take on the familiar work had helped her son experience an “awakening.”

“To hear the interpretation from people who are true refugees longing to go back, I think it really struck him,” Cathie said.

If there has been any other experience that has impacted Eustis's trip as much as his own students it has been where he was last Christmas when he went to Bethlehem.

Friends and family say this quickly became a priority for Eustis once he found out he would be in the area.

“I was so jealous when he told me,” said Briget Scott, a friend and the Faculty Senate President at Nicholls. “Just imagine that, being where Christ was born.”

He attended Mass at St. Catherine's. Because the church is so packed, the overflow viewed the ceremony in the adjacent Manger Square, where people can listen and watch via speakers and flat screen TVs. The sermon was a mixture of Latin, Arabic, English, Spanish, Italian and French, (“It was like having an entire education in languages squeezed into 90 minutes.”)

Parades, which Richmond said were similar to those during Mardi Gras, ran all day long on Christmas Eve.

“The drummers would have fit in beautifully with any New Orleans carnival drumline -- except that many more of the drummers in Bethlehem were women,” he said.

“If you were to sit there and dial back the table on Rich, if he'd say he wanted to achieve something, sitting in Bethlehem on Christmas would have been on that list,” Seba said. “It's a wonderful illustration of someone achieving a life goal.”

Eustis also hiked the Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon, the largest dry valley in Jordan; he saw Josh's band, Telefon Tel Aviv, play in Tel Aviv; and he caught up with a cousin in Dubai.

Seeing his brother was a highlight. Especially for the family a very rarely misses a Christmas.

“It was very strange to not have him be with us,” Molly said.

Transitioning to life in Amman has been relatively smooth.

Eustis has traded andouille sausage, crawfish and oysters, for hummus, falafel and lamb. Religious messages are broadcast in the streets. The process of buying an item is even a little more intimate. When Eustis sought to buy an oud (a pear-shaped guitar-like instrument), he had to go through a friend of a friend. Then they sat down and got to know each other first. Then, at a later time, Eustis was finally able to purchase the instrument.

customs are similar to those in south Louisiana. People emphasize face-to-face contact and discussions are hardly ever strictly business. Meetings, even brief interactions, almost always include someone offering candy. To turn it down is considered rude.

But, as Eustis learned, there are some things you can do in the states that aren't as well-received in Amman.

“I have to refrain from attempting to high-five a woman when she writes a terrific essay or makes a brilliant insight in class,” he said.

Then there's the language. Eustis studied Arabic roughly a decade ago. It gets tricky when different dialects are used in literature and speech. It's the speaking part that can trip up Eustis - he characterizes his speech as “a toddler reciting Chaucer.”

“He feels right now that people are chuckling at him on the street when he talks,” Josh said. “I feel like if I went to Bubba's on the Bayou and started speaking Shakespearean English, I would get the same looks he is getting.”

Eustis took an interest in the oud. He's been shy about what he's learned - despite staying in contact with family and friends, he has yet to play a note for them.

Trying out the oud is not something out of the ordinary for Eustis, Seba said.

Josh said his brother is beginning to ask him questions about music that he can't answer. The oud doesn't have ties to Western music. His brother tells him that he's so bad that his teacher will laugh at him. But learning to play the instrument is Eustis's way of clearing his mind.

But for all that he's experiencing, Eustis often thinks of home.

He keeps up with his friends and family, talking about American politics, New Orleans Saints football and Dr. Who.

We all sit there and have plans and goals. Richmond has done an extraordinarily wonderful job of reaching those life goals,” Seba said.

But he's not coming not coming back for good just yet. The Fulbright Program has extended his stay at the University of Jordan.

“It's a really awesome vote of confidence. It's quite rare,” Molly said.

Body type J: Added Cathie, “He's so thrilled to be learning so much at this point in his life. He's totally wired by it.”

Eustis will surely continue his travels. He might even become good enough to play the oud in front his family. But, for him it all goes back to the real reason he's in Amman: to teach.

“When classes go well, with smart students and good material, teaching is the most rewarding profession in the world.”


15 2016-07-05
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls officials respond to sexual assault statistics


Nicholls State University reported six sexual offenses from 2012-2014, far less than the larger universities across the state, according to federal data.

The U.S. Department of Education included rape in a category with other sex offenses for 2012 and 2013. Starting in 2014, it only collected data for rape, not other sex offenses.

According to a Department of Education website, Nicholls reported no sex offenses in 2012, four in 2013 and two rapes in 2014.

"You wonder, is this an aberration, is this a one off? Or, is this a reflection of culture?" said University President Bruce Murphy. "I can tell you absolutely, honestly, that those instances are not a reflection of culture at Nicholls State. I think that we have a very healthy organization and attitude about sexual assault and harassment, and there are some outliers. There are some exceptions that happen."

Of Louisiana four-year universities and colleges, Tulane, LSU and Loyola reported the most sex offenses from 2012-2014. Tulane reported 27, LSU reported 22 and Loyola reported 10.

'NOT THERE YET'

In October 2014, then-Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order requiring the state Board of Regents to coordinate a uniform sexual assault policy for colleges and universities. The board rolled out that policy the following February.

"It created uniform definitions on sexual misconduct, sexual exploitation, stalking and domestic violence," said Cami Geisman, a spokeswoman for the University of Louisiana System, to which Nicholls belongs. "It was really important for everyone to have the same definitions. ... We aren't saying we're there yet, but we are definitely making every effort to educate our students on sexual misconduct and also working hard on making sure victims are comfortable reporting sexual misconduct."

Also part of the policy are confidential campus climate surveys, which Geisman said officials hope will provide more accurate numbers for sexual assaults.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 65 percent of sexual assaults were not reported to police from 2006-2010, the latest timeframe available.

Jessie Nieblas, director of education and prevention for the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault, said getting victims to come forward starts with universities publicizing policies and hosting awareness campaigns and activities.

"Nationwide, the number of reported sexual assaults never matches the actual number of sexual assaults," she said. "In an ideal situation, anybody who wanted to make a report would feel comfortable doing so. They would feel supported, they would feel like they would be believed, and they would feel there would be a fair investigation. Because we're not there yet, we have lower numbers of reports."

One concern she has is campaigns putting the responsibility of preventing sexual assaults on victims, such as telling women to watch their drinks. Instead, she said both men and women should be encouraged not to perpetrate crimes of violence.

Baylor University in Texas recently became a defendant in lawsuits alleging officials failed to properly investigate or report sexual assaults by student-athletes over the past few years. That lawsuit and a university investigation led to the dismissal of the school's president and football coach.

"Most of the time, those aren't protocol issues, those are cultural issues – cultures of silence, cultures of protecting the perpetrators, cultures of blaming victims – and that has to change in our culture as a whole," said Michele Caruso, director of Nicholls' Women's Resource and Services Office.

A HIGH PRIORITY

Like in other jurisdictions, if a victim at Nicholls decides not to move forward with charges, a case often won't proceed criminally. However, University Police Chief Craig Jaccuzzo said those cases are still included in the statistics reported to the Department of Education and, in campus security matters, may still require police action.

"It's mind-boggling to me, with other universities getting involved into situations like this where you're not transparent and you don't report that information," he said. "When individuals are victims of a sexual assault or rape or any crime that we investigate or that we have knowledge of and is forwarded to our police department, administrators don't hover in an office and debate, 'Should we report this?' That is not the mindset here. ... It benefits us in no way not to report what occurs here."

Another step taken to encourage victims to talk is allowing them to have an advocate present for support during the interview, Jaccuzzo said.

Caruso said victims have many options for reporting sexual assaults on campus, such as University Police and the offices of Student Judicial Affairs, Student Services and Student Affairs. Certain faculty and staff members are trained as report recipients.

On-campus adjudication is an option for victims not wishing to press criminal charges, Caruso said. And, like all on-campus sexual assault survivors, they still have access to medical and counseling services.

Caruso said students complete a program covering sexual assault, relationship violence and other issues in their first semester. Events like Take Back the Night also raise awareness about sexual assault.

Murphy said he's notified of all sexual assaults on campus and that Nicholls places a high priority on such crimes.

"The numbers are low, but the risk is so high, the potential is so high," he said. "We invest in it, we watch it very closely, we have regular discussions about what we are doing, we have activities around that. ... You've got to have trust in your subordinate leaders that they're doing the right things, they have to know what those things are, and then you have to monitor it to make sure it's happening."

-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or bridget.mire@dailycomet.com. Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.


15 2016-06-28
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls, Thibodaux remains football camp hub


For eight days, Nicholls State University was the center for offseason football, as the Offensive/Defensive Line Camp and Manning Passing Academy rolled into Thibodaux.

The Offensive/Defensive Line Camp is the largest in the United States with a record turnout of 522 campers.

One day after the lineman camp ended, the Manning Passing Academy rolled into town with 1,250 campers.

Both camps have an estimated economic impact of $4.5 million for the area and helps put a spotlight on the community and university.

Legendary defensive line coach Pete Jenkins has run the Offensive/Defensive Line Camp for more than 30 years and was overwhelmed with the turnout.

“It’s amazing on Father’s Day weekend we had the largest turnout ever,” Jenkins said. “In the first year, we had 48 kids come to the camp. For a few years, it hovered in the 400s, but last year we broke the 500 mark for the first time and this year 522. For an old coach, it does my heart good to see these young men working here.”

Jenkins said the camp is a success because it helps teach the proper techniques to play along the offensive and defensive line. That is one of the reasons it has attracted players from around the country, including 17 from Maryland who held a fundraiser to raise money for the trip.

After more than 30 years, Jenkins said Nicholls and the Thibodaux area feels like a second home and pulling it off would not be possible without the help of Thibodaux Regional Medical Center.


15 2016-06-17
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls hosts its first junior chefs camp


For the first time, Nicholls State University is hosting a Junior Chefs Culinary camp at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

The week-long camp started Monday and will wrap up on Friday.

Twenty-four junior chefs between ages nine and 13 are learning how to prepare meals like gumbo and pasta from scratch. They are also learning lessons on kitchen skills and safety and sanitation.

Nicholls chefs Jean Pierre "J.P." Daigle and Amelie Benoit-Zeringue are taking the kids under their wings this week.

So far, they learned how to make fruit pizza, chicken and andouille gumbo, potato salad, blueberry compote, vanilla ice cream and fan-favorite, chocolate molten cake.

"It's hard to beat chocolate," Daigle said. "How can you not win friends with chocolate?"

Ten-year-old Michaela Luft, an aspiring pastry chef, said the chocolate cake was her favorite because it tasted good.

Madeline Perret, 11, wasn't a fan of the chocolate cake because it usually makes her sick. But she has been enjoying the cooking experience as a whole.

"I always thought cooking was one of my favorite things to do," she said. "I'm getting good at it."

Perret wanted to join the camp because she plans to try out for Master Chef Junior when it comes to New Orleans next week.

She has her own cooking tools at home, but thought she needed more practice before try outs.

Perret and 11 of her classmates learned how to make homemade noodles, pasta sauce and bread with Daigle, while the other group made chicken and corn quesadillas with Zeringue.

"Previously, we didn't have the space to do such a camp and now that we have the space, we hope to do even more programs (for other age groups,)" she said.

The kids enjoy learning different cooking skills but often grow tired of standing for long periods of time.

"They love it, but they're realizing that it's hard work," Zeringue said. "They want to sit down, and it's hot in the kitchen, but really the hard part is making sure they get individual attention."

15 2016-06-15
Houma/Thibodaux

Fletcher partners with Nicholls, Northwestern for nursing program


Students who earn associate's degrees in nursing from Fletcher Technical Community College can easily transfer into bachelor programs in nursing through new agreements with Nicholls State University and Northwestern State University.

Articulation is mandatory for all nursing education programs in Louisiana, and registered nurse programs must be accredited by a national nursing accreditation agency.

Fletcher's Associate of Science in Nursing program was initially accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing in March. Students must pass the National Council Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses upon graduation.

They must meet admission and general education requirements.

In a phone interview, Becky Lyons, department head of Nicholls' Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, said the degree is offered online in eight-week sessions and generally takes a year to complete. Students are also guaranteed to get into courses they need.

"The good thing is they're a nurse already, so they can still be practicing while continuing their education," she said. "Plus, economically, it keeps the students here. We need to partner in education and we need to keep the students here serving the Bayou Region. ... Nicholls is right here, so they have access to the resources if they need. You have a huge support system. We want to see the students succeed."

"This increased opportunity means that, working jointly, we continue to provide the most educated workforce possible for the Bayou Region," Fletcher Chancellor Kristine Strickland said in a statement. "Our faculty and staff are to be commended for their efforts in achieving these articulation agreements with both universities. We look forward to continuing to provide pathways for students in the field of nursing."

Lyons said students may need courses like history or humanities electives that are required for a bachelor's degree but will otherwise be able to transfer seamlessly.

Further education allows nurses to not only serve patients but also navigate the health care system, Lyons said.

"You can't be static in it," she said. "Nursing and health care change all the time. You have to have the backing and the best practices. ... Failure to recognize, failure to respond, that's when we see patients with poor outcomes. That's what a broad education – a good, sound education – can provide."

David West, director of communications at Northwestern, said in a statement that the university is looking forward to working with Fletcher.

"Northwestern has worked successfully for a number of years with community college partners throughout Louisiana to meet the state's workforce needs," he said. "The university has the largest and most extensive distance learning network in the state so students from the Bayou Region can complete their BSN at Northwestern without leaving home."

-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or bridget.mire@dailycomet.com. Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.

Copyright © 2016 HoumaToday.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
15 2016-06-13
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls police officer is also a student


By Bridget Mire
Staff Writer


Published: Monday, June 13, 2016 at 6:01 a.m.





When Sgt. Laverne Glenn's classmates see her, they are sometimes surprised that she's wearing a Nicholls State University Police uniform.

Being both an officer and a student helps Glenn, 43, relate to troubles such as getting decals and paying fees, she said. The Gibson resident also been able to explain procedures, where to get information and how to schedule classes to first-time students and parents who did not attend college.

However, Glenn said she's never responded to a criminal complaint involving a classmate.

"Thank God for that 'cause that would be weird," she said. "I wouldn't know how to act in that situation. I have a job to perform, and I'm going to do my job, but for me to sit in the classroom after that, I wouldn't know."

Glenn said she started out working as a monitor at the Student Union, locking up the building and supervising student employees, while pursuing her bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies. She wanted something different, so when a dispatcher position became available at the campus police station, she took it.

"At the time it was 6-6," she said. "I would get off at 6 in the morning, go home, make sure my kids were good, come back to school without sleeping, stay up 'til maybe 2 or 3 depending on how many classes I had, go home, pick (the kids) up from my mom's house, make sure they were good, help them with their homework, take a shower, and I was back at work if I had to work. I had to do what I had to do for my kids. The more I stayed, the more I liked it."

She eventually became head dispatcher and Training, Advising and Counseling officer. In 2013, she graduated from the police academy, and she completed her bachelor's degree the following year.

Now, in addition to her other roles, Glenn serves over the parking division.

She's also working on her master's of education degree and was recently admitted to Phi Kappa Phi honor society. She works 12-hour shifts and is enrolled in online classes for the summer.

Angelle Hebert, one of Glenn's professors, said she has always gone above and beyond in her coursework and around campus.

"She is amazing – very, very hardworking and very personable," Hebert said. "She's willing to go the extra mile for anybody. A perfectionist, wonderful work ethic."

Despite her busy schedule, Glenn makes time for herself and her family, however. Not a "going out" person, she prefers attending church, getting her hair and nails done, and having game and movie nights with her husband and two children, who also attend Nicholls.

The family also enjoys bowling, having cookouts and going on vacations.

Glenn said one of the reasons she's stayed in law enforcement is that she enjoys helping others.

"It's not always about locking people up," she said. "Some people just need help. ... I've got two children in college, so I would want someone to extend the same hand that I'm extending to other people. They're good kids now, but I don't know what the future holds and I would want somebody to be fair with them."

Glenn said the purpose in getting her master's degree is to broaden her horizons.

"I may want to be a police officer all my life. Who knows?" she said. "Wherever God leads me, I'm going to listen. But if I'm able to do all of this while I'm here, that's what I'm going to do. I always did (want to teach), and I may one day want to open up my own facility for kids. I may want to be a principal. ... The older ones, some of them need guidance, and some of them don't get it from home."

She said faith helps her manage her busy life.

"I put God first," she said. "God is the head of my life. I pray a lot, and I cry a lot. It's hard sometimes when I get overwhelmed, especially being a wife, a mother, a police officer, running parking, making sure everybody in here is good. ... I'm on top of my game, and I pray that God keeps me and gives me the strength to continue doing what I'm doing."

-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or bridget.mire@dailycomet.com. Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.

15 2016-06-09
Houma/Thibodaux

http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20160608/ARTICLES/160609706/1320?Title=Nicholls-journalism-educator-to-be-honored-in-LSU-journalism-Hall-of-Fame


By Kevinisha Walker
Staff Writer


Published: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 3:57 p.m.





Alfred Delahaye, longtime Nicholls State University professor and founder of Nicholls' mass communication degree program, will be inducted into Louisiana State University's Manship School of Mass Communications Hall of Fame this fall.

Delahaye earned a bachelor's degree from LSU and even started an LSU Journalism School alumni organization, which was part of the reason he stood out among committee members.

"I believed his nomination was way overdue, especially considering the impact he has had in journalism education at Nicholls, and nationally and internationally through the students he has mentored," LSU professor Roxanne Dill wrote via email.

And after reaching out to some of Delahaye's former students and colleagues, Dill hinted that Delahaye's work and impact began to speak for itself.

Those who know him describe him as a quintessential journalism educator who was tough, yet caring.

"If you're going to pick anybody for Hall of Fame, pick him," said James Stewart, head of Nicholls State University Department of Mass Communication. "He's an LSU grad, and has been an ambassador for the school. LSU should be proud to have him."

Stewart and nine others contributed letters of recommendation or comments about Delahaye's influence on their careers.

The journalism educator technically retired from Nicholls in 1990, but continued to teach classes many years after. In fact, it was only up until three years ago that he stopped going to campus every day.

"Nicholls was so lucky to have attracted people like him," Stewart said. "His position at Nicholls was more than a job, it's been a vocation. His life has been Nicholls."

Delahaye and other Hall of Fame recipients will be honored Sept. 9 at Juban's Creole Restaurant in Baton Rouge.

15 2016-06-09
Houma/Thibodaux

http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20160608/ARTICLES/160609706/1320?Title=Nicholls-journalism-educator-to-be-honored-in-LSU-journalism-Hall-of-Fame


By Kevinisha Walker
Staff Writer


Published: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 3:57 p.m.





Alfred Delahaye, longtime Nicholls State University professor and founder of Nicholls' mass communication degree program, will be inducted into Louisiana State University's Manship School of Mass Communications Hall of Fame this fall.

Delahaye earned a bachelor's degree from LSU and even started an LSU Journalism School alumni organization, which was part of the reason he stood out among committee members.

"I believed his nomination was way overdue, especially considering the impact he has had in journalism education at Nicholls, and nationally and internationally through the students he has mentored," LSU professor Roxanne Dill wrote via email.

And after reaching out to some of Delahaye's former students and colleagues, Dill hinted that Delahaye's work and impact began to speak for itself.

Those who know him describe him as a quintessential journalism educator who was tough, yet caring.

"If you're going to pick anybody for Hall of Fame, pick him," said James Stewart, head of Nicholls State University Department of Mass Communication. "He's an LSU grad, and has been an ambassador for the school. LSU should be proud to have him."

Stewart and nine others contributed letters of recommendation or comments about Delahaye's influence on their careers.

The journalism educator technically retired from Nicholls in 1990, but continued to teach classes many years after. In fact, it was only up until three years ago that he stopped going to campus every day.

"Nicholls was so lucky to have attracted people like him," Stewart said. "His position at Nicholls was more than a job, it's been a vocation. His life has been Nicholls."

Delahaye and other Hall of Fame recipients will be honored Sept. 9 at Juban's Creole Restaurant in Baton Rouge.

15 2016-06-08
Houma/Thibodaux

Small sugar courses give Nicholls an international reputation


Each year dozens of sugarcane workers from all over the globe descend upon Thibodaux to take part in the annual Sugarcane Institute held at Nicholls State University to learn more about the sugar industry.

It's one of the smallest programs that Nicholls puts on, with about 50 students split between a pair of 2-week courses that cover raw and refined sugar. But the program is so world-renowned that the university is able to fill up their classes with little to no advertising with students from all over. Of the 22 students in the June session, fewer than one-third are domestic.

“That says something about the program, I think,” Nicholls Sugar Institute Director Darcy Wayment said.

Employers from all over the world have sent nearly 2,000 workers to Nicholls since the Cane Sugar Refiners’ Institute was created in 1978. The Raw Cane Sugar Manufacturers’ Institute came in 1985.

Classes teach everything from the basics of the industry down to the chemical processes included in the crystallization of sugar.

Students come from as nearby as Raceland. Others are from places like Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, the Philippines and Germany. In years past, others have come from Venezuela and England.

Sachin Agarwal works in international business development for a sugar factory in India.

“I’m hoping that when I go back, I can have more technical conversations with my own team, as well as with the customers,” he said. “I’m personally focusing on making sure I understand the core concepts.”

Michael Avelar works in information technology for a mill in Lakeland. But recently, he’s begun to work on the instrumentation side of things at the mill.

“Part of why my bosses sent me here is to understand why and how everything works before they get me involved with the automation process,” Avelar said. “I’ve learned a lot. This is the completely opposite end of the spectrum of what I went to school for.”

The workers involvement in the sugar industry varies. Some work directly in the factories and the refineries. Other sell parts and chemicals to the companies. In all cases, their employers want them to get a better overview of the industry so that they can take on more responsibilities.

“There’s no place else...they can get a thorough overview of the industry,” Wayment said.

Teachers and students describe the course as “intense.” They'll spend a majority of their time in a classroom setting, meeting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with tests administered once or twice a day. They do take a few field trips. The class visited a factory in Jeanerette, a refinery in Gramercy and the John Deere plant in Thibodaux. Wayment said they will occasionally visit the USDA research fields in Houma and hope to visit the B2X sugar cane conversion facility in Raceland once it is operational.

“It’s a lot in a short period of time,” Avelar said. “The people who are teaching this are good at what they do, so we get a lot out of it.”

Teachers, too, come from all over. Wayment said he has been approached several times by people who want to teach in the program.

In fact, many of the teachers involved in the institute have written the books on sugar. One of the two textbooks used in the course was actually published 22 years after the Sugar Institute began. Many of the authors of the book were teachers at the institute at some point in time.

“Some of what’s in that book was probably learned at Nicholls,” Wayment said.

But the courses are more than just learning. It’s a chance for representatives of the different companies to make international connections and learn from each other.

“I think the perspective that you get from the various different countries and how each country has a slightly different approach to solving the same problems,” Agarwal said. “That stood out for me because there is no sort of right answer. Each country is tweaking the solution a little bit to suit their local conditions.”

Wayment said he expects the program to continue at Nicholls for a long time.

“We plan on keeping this going as long as they’re producing sugar in Louisiana,” Wayment said.

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.

15 2016-05-17
Houma/Thibodaux

'Go Change the World': Nicholls awards 700 degrees


Chicago is a long way from Nicholls State University's Thibodaux campus, but Erin Flores decided four years ago to step out of her comfort zone, move to a new town and embark on new experiences.

And Saturday, she about 700 graduates received their diplomas at the university's 98th commencement ceremonies in Stopher Gymnasium.

Flores participated in a morning ceremony with other graduates from the colleges of Nursing and Allied Health and Education. Graduates from the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Business Administration received their diplomas during an afternoon ceremony.

Flores, 22, will soon start her career as a neonatal nurse in the intensive care unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in her native Chicago.

But she will forever remember Thibodaux and Nicholls.

"This was probably one of the best experiences I've ever chosen," Flores said. "I've made a lot of amazing friends, and now I have a home away from home in Thibodaux."

In his commencement address, Congressman Garret Graves said people have been discovering south Louisiana's blessings since the nation was settled.

"When we were trying to get people to come here, we couldn't get them to come," said Graves, R-Baton Rouge.

The sweltering heat, among other difficulties, didn't always persuade people to settle in the swamps and marshes.

But once people started to recognize all the area has to offer, Graves said, "they came here to fulfill their version of the American Dream."

"The gates to the American Dream have been opened to you," he told the graduates. "Go change the world."

Texas native Kaylie Daniels earned a bachelor's degree in dietetics Saturday.

"It's been a long four years, but I'm excited about today," she said. "I've been looking forward to this day for quite a while."

Berwick native Regan Sampey started at Nicholls with the goal of becoming a nurse. Now, that goal has been fulfilled.

"For us, it's more about juggling our classwork and being in a hospital setting," she said. "We can go in the hospital, work a 12-hour shift and then study for a test the next day. You're tired and it's not really what you want to do, but you have to."

15 2016-04-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State to introduce Clemson's Riley as men's basketball head coach


CLEMSON, S.C. —Clemson assistant coach Richie Riley will be named the new men's head basketball coach at Nicholls State on Tuesday.

Nicholls State University Athletic Director Rob Bernardi will introduce Riley as the 11th head coach in Colonel men's basketball history during a press conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the Harold J. Callais Memorial Recreation Center. Riley's hiring is subject to approval by the University of Louisiana System Board Of Supervisors.

Riley comes to Thibodaux after spending the last two seasons as an assistant at Clemson. Prior to his work in the ACC, Riley had coaching stints at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Eastern Kentucky and Coastal Carolina.
15 2016-04-22
Houma/Thibodaux

Masters Chefs: Nicholls culinary students cook for top golf tournament


For the third year in a row, Nicholls culinary students got the chance to cook for the nation's top golfers at The. Masters in Augusta, Ga. earlier this month.

From front of the house to back of the house, 50 Nicholls culinary students and alumni helped prepare some of the most delectable dishes with the best chefs in the industry.

Freshman and Lafayette native Austin Babineaux participated in the program this year.

While it's not unusual for freshmen to cook at the tournament, Babineaux said typically upperclassmen attend.

"When I first saw the email about the tournament, I figured I'd never get (the opportunity,)" Babineaux said. "But people kept talking to me and saying the worst that could happen is (professors) will say no."

Luckily for Babineaux, his instructors said yes.

The week-long tournament required students to work more than 10-hour shifts preparing up to 1,500 meals a day at various tournament venues.

Lamb chops, ribeye steak, filet mignon medallions and ratatouille tarts are just some of the dishes Babineaux helped prepare at the champion's dinner.

"It was an overwhelming experience. Everybody was running on coffee and espresso shots," he said. "But I'll do this all over again if I'm invited back next year."

This year's masters tournament was 21-year-old Jordan Bradbury's second time participating.

She went back to the same Scottish pub and worked with the same chef.

"I loved it and I plan on going back," she said.

Bradbury was in the back of the house cooking shepherd's pie, mussels, fish and chips.

The junior culinary student could've worked with another restaurant, but she chose to work with the same one because she was already familiar with the swing of things.

"We had a flow to our kitchen," she revealed. "I had one of the most laid back chefs ever. He was good at keeping things calm and it kind of reflected on everyone."

15 2016-04-21
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls series aims to empower women chefs


Before Paincourtville native Jacqueline Blanchard opened a retail cutlery shop in New Orleans, she cooked in restaurants in Boulder, Colo., New Orleans and San Francisco among others.

While at Benu Restaurant in San Francisco, she said she worked with more women in the back of the house than she ever did throughout her culinary career.

"It was just awesome," she said. "You realize how different women work and the thought process, and we have better communication."

But that experience was the only time Blanchard really got a taste of working in a diverse kitchen environment because for the most part she was often the only woman in the kitchen.

"We have a male-dominated industry, which always started with females: grandmothers and mothers, always," she said.

But when cooking became a profession, it became a male-dominated industry, she said.

As a way to empower aspiring women chefs at Nicholls State University, Blanchard gave a discussion and cooking demonstration today to a packed room at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

The discussion and demonstration was the start of a new seven-part series at the university focused on encouraging women to pursue successful careers in the restaurant industry.

The series will continue through the fall semester with other guest chefs including New Orleans restaurateur Susan Spicer and "Top Chef" fan favorite Nina Compton.

Only an estimated 21 percent of chef or head cook positions are held by women.

Currently, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute student body is about 65 percent female.

Blanchard told the audience that one of her biggest obstacles was being a manager. "A lot of the guys just didn't want to hear from me," she said.

Nicholls senior culinary student Crystal Lachney hasn't gotten to management level yet, but she has seen firsthand how intense it can be to work in a male-dominated kitchen.

During a recent externship in New York City, she said she had to work under an intense Iron Chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

"It was crazy," she said.

As a result of that experience, however, she's not nervous about heading into tense kitchen atmospheres going forward.

"My chef in New York City said if I could work for him, I could work for anyone," she recalled.

In addition to giving advice to students about the industry, Blanchard talked about knife skills and sharpening, and also gave a lesson in sashimi making.

While the Nicholls alum is focused on running her cutlery shop, she has not given up her dream of opening her own restaurant or wanting to make kitchen environments better for women in the future.

"There's nothing more empowering than setting a goal for yourself and surpassing it, especially in the machismo state we’re in" when it comes to kitchen environments, she said.

Staff Writer Kevinisha Walker can be reached at 850-1148 or kevinisha.walker@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @KevinishaWalker.

15 2016-04-21
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls conducting blue crab tagging project


Researchers at Nicholls State University hope to tag 30,000 female blue crabs Gulf-wide in the next two years to gain insight into their spawning habits and preferred migration routes.

Zack Darnell, an assistant professor in Biological Sciences who is heading up the study, said the bulk of the crabs — 12- to 15,000 — will be tagged in Louisiana waters, but the project spans from the Texas/Mexico border all the way to Apalachicola, Fla.

“We’re focused heavily on Louisiana because that’s where we are, and Louisiana is by far the largest crab-producing state in the Gulf,” he said. “We’re interested in the where, when and how of female blue crab migration.”

Typically, Darnell said female blue crabs reach sexual maturity somewhere between nine and 18 months of age. After mating, they head offshore in search of saltier water that provides ideal conditions for their offspring.

“Once they reach maturity, females mate right after they molt for the last time, and they only mate that one time,” he said. “From that one mating, they actually store the sperm and can use it to produce multiple egg masses.”

Three weeks to a month after that initial mating, they produce their first egg mass, which hatches after about 10 days.

“As soon as a week after those eggs hatch, they can produce another egg mass, and they basically keep doing that multiple times — all from that single time they mated,” Darnell said. “The females head to deeper water, and if they don’t get caught or eaten, they’re probably not moving back into the bays.

“At that point, their primary goal is reproduction, producing the next generation of offspring. Typically, the females stay offshore in the Gulf, where they’ll live out the rest of their lives.”

Darnell hopes the study sheds light onto common migration routes, as well as the timing of crab movement in the Gulf.

“We’re looking to see when happens during the year, and where they are migrating,” he said. “Are they using certain areas as corridors for migration — like deeper channels, or certain areas in the marsh as stopover points to feed while migrating to build up their energy. So basically we hope to find out where they’re moving and how fast they’re moving — and are they starting migration soon after mating, or waiting a while.”

The tagging system works for female crabs because they don’t continually molt throughout their lifetime, he said.

“Once they reach maturity, the females stop molting, so we’re able to tag them without having to worry about them molting and losing the tag,” Darnell said. “Males continue molting throughout their life, so they’re much more difficult to put a tag on.”

With the help of commercial crabbers, Darnell said graduate students working on the project are already at work tagging the female crabs, with about 500 completed so far.

People who find a tagged crab are encouraged to call 1-800-624-2857 to report where and when it was caught, or they can visit www.crabtags.org to input information on a tagged crab.

“We’re relying on commercial and recreational crabbers, and really anybody who comes across one of these crabs to call us or go on our website and give us the information on where they caught it, when they caught it, the tag number and whether or not the female was carrying an egg mass,” he said. “We don’t need the crab, but it would be useful to get a few of the crabs back so we can see whether they had spawned before, if they look healthy and well-nourished, or if they look like they’re not doing so good.”

Everyone who reports a valid tag will receive either a $5 or $50 reward, and people who make arrangements to return frozen tagged crabs to the researchers will receive an added incentive, he said.

“I’d expect people will be seeing tagged crabs for the next two or three years,” Darnell said. “We’ll be putting out a lot of tags, and hopefully getting lots of calls with recaptured crabs.”

If you have additional questions about the project, you can contact Darnell directly via email by clicking here.
15 2016-04-20
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls students use DNA technology to solve 'murder mystery'


An outline of Prince Charming's body lay on the floor today, surrounded by caution tape and a tissue, beer bottle, piece of chewing gum and half-eaten apple all marked as evidence.

The prince had been found dead in Room 13 of the Murder She Wrote Motel after the manager heard a loud argument, a woman screaming and shots fired, then saw a car speeding away from the parking lot. There was no blood, but four Disney princesses were now suspected of murder.

That's where the students in Nicholls State University professor Aimee Hollander's cell and molecular biology class came in. Their mission: Identify the killer using DNA samples from the suspects and crime scene.

Catherine Hebert, a pre-medicine junior from Houma, said she originally wanted to be a forensic pathologist, but now she's considering being a crime scene technician.

"I'm more interested in the actual crime scenes instead of just being in the lab," she said. "I want to see what happened."

The apple discarded next to the prince's body and the tissues deposited in the motel room trash can matched his DNA. But the gum found at the doorway and the beer bottle left on the dresser did not.

Hollander created stories for each of the suspects.

One is Snow White, Prince Charming's most recent girlfriend. She claims their breakup was a surprise, but others say she thought he was cheating on her with another princess. She was last seen with a "notoriously violent gang of dwarves" downtown.

Ariel left the last voicemail on the prince's phone, inviting him for a boil, and had a crush on him. She's been attending anger management classes after an arrest. She claims she was exploring ship wrecks with Sebastian the night of the murder, but a professor caught the crab for a study, making him unavailable to confirm her alibi.

A third suspect, Belle, was the last to text message the prince, saying, "You are a dead man." She says she was just joking because he had been talking about beating her in the Thibodaux Firemen's Fair 5K.

Tiana was the last person seen with Prince Charming. They were at a Nicholls softball game, and the prince may have had a crush on her.

Last week, the State Police Crime Lab manager spoke to the students about how crime scene technicians analyze evidence using scientific methods.

The students will complete the process and determine who the killer is next week.

"We talk a lot about DNA replication at the beginning of the semester, but it's kind of a cumulative, more fun lab to kind of apply it," Hollander said. "Many of my biology students don't know what they can do with their biology major after they leave, so I wanted to introduce them to other areas that they can apply their biology degree to."

Last year's lab involved Wendy as the victim, with other fast-food restaurant characters like Ronald McDonald as suspects.

"If I can make science fun, that is the goal," Hollander said. "In this class, we have folks who are pre-med, pre-dental, but then we also have environmental and marine, so I'm trying to do something that everybody will enjoy. It's kind of hard to find a middle ground, but when you're trying to solve a murder, I think anyone can get on board with that."

-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or bridget.mire@dailycomet.com. Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.

15 2016-04-18
Houma/Thibodaux

Doing their best to serve local students


In these days of fiscal worry and continuing cuts, it is easy to forget that our colleges and universities do more than juggle budgets.

But they do.

Their primary mission, in fact, is educating tomorrow’s leaders in just about every imaginable field — plus a few that probably haven’t even been imagined yet.

It is to that end that cooperation between our local institutions of higher learning is simply essential.

And the continued cooperation we see locally should be the template used across the state.

We are fortunate to live in a region where we have community and technical colleges that work so well with a four-year university to deliver the best possible services to the students and to the community.

If you walk past room 209A on Fletcher’s Schriever campus, 1407 La. 311, it might just look like an office.

But it is more meaningful than that.

The office is Nicholls State’s presence on the Fletcher campus. It is an outreach to Fletcher’s students, one that can help ease their transition to the university if that is where they hope to go.

“I’ve thought about Nicholls, but the unknown keeps me going all the way over there,” said one nursing student who is considering continuing her studies at Nicholls after she finishes her two-year degree. “Now I can just stop by here.”

The cooperative relationship between the schools is good for both of them, and, most importantly, it is good for the students at both of them.

By enhancing the connections between Fletcher and Nicholls, officials here have taken the appropriate view that they are there for the students — not the other way around.

For far too long, each school jealously guarded its own turf, often to the disadvantage of local students.

By harnessing what each does best, though, the schools can return a maximum amount of service to the students and to the businesses that hope to hire them.

This process didn’t just begin. Nicholls and Fletcher have worked for years to align their programs with one another, allowing students to take classes on both campuses and availing themselves of the best our region’s educational environment can offer.

So that office at Fletcher really is more than just a room. It is a continuing reminder that our colleges and universities are doing more than looking out for themselves. Instead, they are working to make things easier for the students they exist to serve.

Good job all around.

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.
15 2016-04-15
Houma/Thibodaux

Academic Summit kicks off in Thibodaux


International students from the University of New Orleans replicated famous scenes from the classic movie "Pulp Fiction." A Grambling student's artwork, examining the debate over the Confederate Flag, adorned a wall in Talbot Hall.

Those and other works of art, both still and performing, marked the beginning of the University of Louisiana Academic Summit, held on the Nicholls State University campus for the first time.

The summit is a two day gathering of the minds enrolled at the system's nine universities. On Thursday they demonstrated their art, on Friday, their research.

"We hope that all nine of our system institutions will inspire one another as our students share their research discoveries and service-learning projects. The summit gives us an opportunity to shine a light on how we are preparing students for successful futures through high-impact activities such as research, service-learning and the arts," said Nicholls State President Bruce Murphy. “While the two-day event is meant to showcase our students' work, it is also a demonstration of how valuable our institutions are to the future of our communities and the state of Louisiana."

Chef Randy Cheramie, Executive Director of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, will deliver the keynote presentation, "Fear of Frying."

More than 40 pieces of art are on display from the nine member universities on the second floor of Talbot Hall.

On Friday, more than 80 undergraduates will present their research with 44 oral presentations and 37 poster presentations.

"This annual event is an ideal opportunity to showcase the incredible academic work happening in our system," UL System Interim President Dan Reneau said. "Bringing our campuses together is an important step to encourage collaboration among students and faculty."

For a full schedule of the presentations tomorrow, visit www.nicholls.edu/continuing-ed/2016-academic-summit

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com.

Copyright © 2016 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
15 2016-04-13
Houma/Thibodaux

State Police crime lab manager is Schriever native


A Schriever native who manages the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab enlightened college students today on a potential career in forensic science.

More than 20 biology students at Nicholls State University listened eagerly to Adam Becnel speak about his 18-year career in forensic science and the scientific methods that crime scene technicians use to analyze evidence.

"This is a public service field where you realize that you're making an impact. If I don't use something right, then I have the ability to make a negative impact," Becnel said of the crucial role of evidence at court.

In his Tuesday lecture entitled "CSI: Cajun Country," Becnel delved into the forensic process for DNA evidence, which includes screening and prioritizing evidence, extracting and measuring DNA and ultimately creating enough copies of the evidence in order to build up a DNA profile.

Most of the time, however, it can be challenging to build a full suspect profile or pinpoint one single person responsible because there may be too much DNA involved from different people, he said.

Given that DNA techniques have increasingly grown more sophisticated over the last few decades, Becnel said it has become fairly common to reopen older cases including rape and a variety of other crimes.

"Usually, it's at the request of the agency that did the original investigation or some advocacy group that got interested in whatever case," he added. "If it was very recent, then from our viewpoint, we have no reason to go into it again."

Becnel also discussed local and federal systems for keeping track of DNA collected from suspects and convicted offenders, as well as the study of illegal substances to identify any drugs or chemicals present in the body.

In presenting photos that contrasted real and artificial drugs sold on the streets, he mentioned a recent example in Houma where a drug kingpin used his own pill press to fabricate drugs that looked like the real thing.

Becnel is a court-qualified expert in fire debris analysis, crime scene investigation, impression comparison, fingerprint development and physical comparison.

At the State Police Crime Lab, he oversees drug chemistry, toxicology, latent prints, firearms, and trace and crime scene functions, as well as laboratory technology usage. He also serves on the FBI's Scientific Working Group of Digital Evidence, the National Commission on Forensic Science and the North Carolina Forensic Science Advisory Board.

Becnel graduated from the University of New Haven in Connecticut with undergraduate degrees in chemistry, biology and forensic science, and obtained a master's of natural science from Louisiana State University.

Staff Writer Maki Somosot can be reached at 857-2208 or maki.somosot@houmatoday.com. Follow Maki on Twitter at @mdlbsomosot.
15 2016-04-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls to open office at Fletcher


Hoping to ease the process for transfer students between the two colleges, Nicholls State University and Fletcher Technical Community College announced that the university will open an office on the 2-year college’s campus.

The goal of the Nicholls Transfer Student Success Center, located in room 209A at Fletcher’s Schriever campus, 1407 La. 311, is to answer the questions of Fletcher students who are interested in transferring to Nicholls.

Dozens of students gathered in the main hall Monday morning as the two schools announced the center’s grand opening. Nicholls Director of Academic Services David Zerangue was already meeting with a handful of students just minutes after the ribbon cutting.

A Nicholls representative will stop by about once or twice a week in the first few weeks to provide information to inquiring minds about student aid, program requirements, housing and which classes will transfer between the two schools, among others, officials said. That person can also review transcripts and set up meetings between the prospective student and an official from the Nicholls program they’re interested in.

At age 36, Jolie Brady said the 2-year nursing degree fits what is going on her life, but she’s interested in moving on to Nicholls when her time is up at Fletcher. But it’s been hard to find out more about the school. She’s emailed advisors but says it’s intimidating to actually go to the school to learn more.

“I’ve thought about Nicholls, but the unknown keeps me going all the way over there,” she said. “Now I can just stop by here.”

Eventually Nicholls plans to hire a full-time representative to work primarily at Fletcher, University President Bruce Murphy said, though those details are still being worked out. Zerangue added that the university would like to hold specific days throughout the year where deans and department heads from Nicholls spend a few hours at Fletcher to answer more specific questions about their programs.

Having a Nicholls representative on campus means fewer unknowns about the 4-year institution located about 20 minutes away, said Lori Anthony, a nursing student at Fletcher.

“There’s always so many questions about transferring and going to Nicholls and everything,” Anthony said. “Now, we’ll have an ally that can answer the unknowns and we don’t have to drive all the way to Thibodaux between tests and midterms.”

Talks about the program started about a year ago, but really heated up when Fletcher Chancellor Kristine Strickland was hired in December.

Both Murphy and Strickland have prioritized enhancing the relationship between the two schools. They recently finalized an agreement matching the courses between the nursing programs and another is expected for criminal justice when Nicholls adds the department next year. Strickland said yet another, this time for continuing education, could happen in the coming months.

“We’re looking for whatever avenues might make sense for us in serving our communities,” Strickland said.

Murphy, who has made increasing enrollment to 8,000 students a priority, said this agreement falls in line with the university’s plan to increase transfer students to Nicholls. He said he hopes the center can help contribute about 200 students a year.

“In the old days, the horror story was you went to a college, tried to transfer to a university and the new college said none of your courses transferred. Our goal is to have everything you take (at Fletcher) transfer over,” Murphy said. “We want more students to graduate and to graduate on time.”

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.

Copyright © 2016 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
15 2016-04-08
Houma/Thibodaux

U.S. Congressman to speak at Nicholls spring commencement


U.S. Congressman to speak at Nicholls spring commencement
April 4, 2016 - Education

U.S. Congressman Garret Graves will deliver the keynote address for Nicholls State University’s spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 14 in Stopher Gymnasium.

A Baton Rouge native, Graves has represented Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District since January 2015 and sits on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as well as the House Committee on Natural Resources. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners, he attributes his passion for public service to growing up in an environment that highly valued individual responsibility, innovation and a strong work ethic.

Graves began his career in public service working for former U.S. Sen. John Breaux and U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin. He later served as a legislative aide for U.S. House and Senate committees focused on civil works, infrastructure and maritime policies. Prior to his election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Graves was the chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) as well as the state’s senior policy advisor on energy, environment, fisheries and disasters. During his six-year tenure, Graves guided Louisiana through three major hurricanes, record flooding on the Mississippi River system and the nation’s worst oil spill. Shortly after his election to Congress, Graves opened a Thibodaux district office on the Nicholls campus.

Following record-breaking numbers of graduates over the past four years, Nicholls will hold three commencement ceremonies to accommodate graduates and their guests. Ceremonies, which each require a ticket for admission, will begin at 9 a.m. for College of Education and College of Nursing and Allied Health, at noon for College of Business Administration and at 3 p.m. for College of Arts and Sciences. Nicholls will live-stream all three ceremonies at nicholls.edu/commencement. The full video of each ceremony will then be posted on the Nicholls website the next week.

By: Nicholls State University

15 2016-04-08
Houma/Thibodaux

Video: Nicholls Colonels visit Maria Immacolata



15 2016-04-04
Houma/Thibodaux

Luling woman’s ‘labor of love’ leads to highest honor at NSU


From the day she arrived at Nicholls State University in 1969 until her retirement in January of 2013, Debbie Raziano never left the college atmosphere.
Going forward, neither will her legacy. Raziano, a Luling native and the school’s longtime Alumni Affairs Director, recently received a major honor for her lifetime of work with the university. She was recently presented the James Lynn Powell Award at the NSU Alumni Federation Awards for Excellence, the highest award given to an alumnus of Nicholls. It is presented to someone considered outstanding in his or her field of work that supports both the school and the Alumni Federation.

The way she learned of her nomination was something of an ironic twist for Raziano, who often goes by the nickname “Raz.”

“When my former assistant called me and said she needed a copy of my current resume because I had been nominated, it really came as a shock,” Raziano said. “I was so touched and moved by it because for 32 years, I was the one making that phone call. All of a sudden I got the call and I went totally numb. The people who had received that award in years past were such giants … it made me ask, ‘why me?’”

So, why Raziano?

Her inexhaustible work ethic and love for her school and sorority was made clear by the volume of efforts she spearheaded. She simultaneously served as Nicholls’ Director of Alumni Affairs and as the National President of the Delta Zeta Sorority from 2004-2007. She served on numerous committees and boards and made a name for herself through her involvement in alum ni-related organizations on both the state and national levels. And since her retirement, she remains active, attending events and fundraisers on behalf of the school.

“I love Nicholls and all she stands for,” Raziano said. “I mean, when you look back, I’ve spend half of my life there.”

The funny thing was that Nicholls wasn’t her first choice. Raziano originally intended to attend USL, or what today is known as the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, but her father intervened, telling her the school’s reputation as a “party school” didn’t appeal to him as her eventual landing spot. He offered Nicholls as the alternative.

“I was there 10 days and I knew all I needed to know,” Raziano said. “It was such a peaceful place to be … I just embraced everything about it, from the faculty to the support of the students and to the family atmosphere, it was and still is a place people just love to be.”

So while it wasn’t her first choice, she quickly decided it was her best choice. She graduated with a degree in elementary education and spent six years traveling as a field representative for Delta Zeta, going city to city to establish new college chapters and to offer counseling to existing chapters.

“Most people travel for one or two years (for Delta Zeta). Some crazy people do it for six,” Raziano said with a chuckle. “I would go from school to school and some of them made that impression where they had some things we didn’t at Nicholls, and there were others that made be stop and say, ‘Gosh, it’s good to be a Colonel.’”

One of the more impressive institutions she recalled visiting was Texas A&M University, to where she made a trip that made a lasting impact.

“They were so steeped with tradition,” she said. “I thought, wow, if we could have some of those, it would really be a great thing.”

With that in mind, she established a number of what are now campus traditions, including the annual alumni crawfish boil and golf classic events.

As she wrapped up her traveling work with Delta Zeta, she was offered a job in Houston with a pharmaceutical company, but after two weeks of field work, she decided her ambitions were elsewhere.

Two weeks later, she was offered the chance to interview for her eventual position at Nicholls.

She attributes her impact at the school in large part to a work ethic she believes she learned from her parents, who established a number of eateries in the local community that include Creole Kitchen, Dixie Maid and — not surprisingly — Raziano’s.

“I really took that work ethic from them, and also the organizations I worked under,” she said. “I always felt that part of my job description was to represent our university and to do it well, and if I was invited to something, I felt I needed to be there.

“When you love something, it becomes very easy to do a good job. I’ve never felt like this was a real ‘job-job.’ It was a labor of love.”
15 2016-03-28
Baton Rouge

National report recognizes LSU for working to improve the graduation rate for black students


Between 2003 and 2013, LSU’s black graduation rate increased 9.5 percentage points, making the university one of 53 four-year public institutions to make gains in closing gaps in graduation rates between white and black students, according to a new report from The Education Trust.

The “Rising Tide II: Do Black Students Benefit as Grad Rates Increase” report looks at a decade of graduation rates data for students at four-year institutions. Researchers behind the report examined 232 institutions that improved overall graduation rates during the past decade and had at least 30 first-time, full-time black students and 30 first-time, full-time white students.

“This news underscores LSU’s commitment to increasing African American student access to and success at our university,” says LSU President F. King Alexander in a statement.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Nicholls State University are also among the 53 institutions listed as closing gaps in graduation rates. UL improved black graduation rates by 13.3 percentage points, while Nicholls’ improved by 15.2 percentage points.

In the report, researchers note that more than two-thirds of four-year, public colleges and universities have increased graduation rates in the past decade.

“Many institutions celebrate improvements in student success. But over-all gains often mask different outcomes for different groups of students. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than for black students,” the report reads.

Among the institutions examined, Latino and Native American students made faster progress on average than their white peers, while black students made less progress, the report reads. According to the report, LSU not only increased graduation rates among black students between 2003 and 2013, it also narrowed the completion gap between white and black students by 2.3 percentage points.

According to LSU, enrollment of African American students has increased by 51% since 2009, and the proportion of the student body identifying as African American increased from 8.8% to 11.7%.

In a statement, Alexander highlights programs such as Black Male Leadership Initiative and the University’s Office of Diversity as efforts the university has undertaken to support black students and students of diverse background.

“Every member of our faculty and staff have played a role in this achievement,” Alexander says. “There is still room for improvement, and we will use this milestone as momentum, but we should always take a moment to mark how far we’ve come.”

The Education Trust is a national nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is focused on closing opportunity and achievement gaps for American students at all levels.
15 2016-03-28
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State University recognized for higher African-American graduation rates


Nicholls State University is one of a handful of public universities that has worked to raise graduation rates among African-American students, according to a report released last week.

Titled “Rising Tide II: Do Black Students Benefit as Grad Rates Increase?” the report was conducted by The Education Trust, a national academic nonprofit focused on promoting academic achievement for minority and low-income communities.

The report showed that between 2003 and 2013, Nicholls increased graduation rates for black students by 15.2 percent. That narrowed the completion gap between white and black students by 3.3 percent.

In a statement, Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said the study highlights the university’s commitment to making sure its black students have the resources to be successful.

“This recognition is the direct result of our dedicated, caring faculty and staff who go the extra mile in encouraging students and helping them work through any challenges they may encounter,” Murphy said. “With the implementation of our new Student Advising and Mentoring program, Nicholls will continue to work toward further increasing graduation rates and meeting the specific needs of minority and first-generation students.”

The report examined 232 public four-year schools and noted three Louisiana universities for closing graduation rates between black and white students.

“Institutional leaders can’t be satisfied with overall gains — or even just with any increase for black students,” said José Luis Santos, vice president of higher education policy and practice at The Education Trust. “Leaders must strive for accelerated gains among black students so they can catch up to their peers. Thankfully, there are institutions across the country that are showing the way forward.”

The study follows several bits of good news for the university in recent months.

Total enrollment in the spring is up to 6,184, the first increase in five years.

Retention of first-year freshman is also on the rise, up to 88.3 percent from 83.4 percent last year.

Meanwhile, the university has also received 15 percent more applications than last year for the upcoming fall semester.

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.

Copyright © 2016 HoumaToday.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
15 2016-03-22
New Orleans

Luling resident Debbie Raziano receives prestigious Nicholls State award


Debbie Raziano, better known as "Raz," is a lifelong Luling resident, but bleeds red and grey for Nicholls State University. ... and pink and green for her beloved Delta Zeta, too.

Raziano excelled at Nicholls State and continues to prove worthy of her most recent award, the James Lynn Powell Award presented at the NSU Alumni Federation Awards for Excellence.

Powell was the long-time registrar at Nicholls State.

In his nomination letter, Dr. Laynie Barrilleaux stated, "Throughout the history of the University, there have been outstanding supporters of Nicholls as well as contributors to the Alumni Association, but in my 33-year history with Nicholls, I can think of no individual to surpass the support and passion for Nicholls that our dear Debbie Raziano has demonstrated."

The James Lynn Powell Outstanding Alumni Award is the highest award given to agraduate of Nicholls. It is presented to an individual who is outstanding in his or her chosen field and supports both Nicholls State and the Alumni Federation.

Anyone who knows Raziano knows that her dedication and contributions to Nicholls State and the Alumni Federation extended far beyond the requirements of her day-to-day career. Raziano served as director of the NSU's Alumni Federation for 32 years.

She lived in the true spirit of Nicholls State as she accomplished everything from planning and executing many alumni events to being present to cheer for the Colonels at various athletic games and fundraisers. She represented Nicholls State with Colonel pride everywhere she went and in everything that she did.

Many of the traditions that are so treasured on campus today, like the alumni crawfish boil and golf classic, are a direct result of her creativity and drive to make them happen, and that legacy continues with those events today.

Raziano served on numerous internal and external committees and boards over the years. Her involvement in alumni-related organizations like the Council for Advancement and Support of Higher Education (CASE) and the Association for Louisiana Alumni Executives (ALAE), and in her beloved sorority, Delta Zeta, on the local, state and national levels, played a major role in her becoming a "legend" to other alumni directors throughout the state. Her tireless love and work for Nicholls and the Alumni Federation is generally recognized by those who know her as amajor contribution in her field.

Since her retirement, Raziano continues to serve Nicholls State in any way that she can, including attending events and fundraisers and remaining active on the Art Works committee to help raise funds for Nicholls Art Department scholarships.

Raziano and her family were and are well known in the community. Many, including myself, frequented her parent's establishments: Creole Kitchen, Dixie Maid, where we always enjoyed a cone of ice cream and Raziano's famous for it's roast beef and teenage dances.

On receiving this honor, Raziano said, "Having been taught that life takes you where you should be, in 1969 I was an excited senior in high school, ready to begin the next chapter in my

life at USL (the present day University of Louisiana at Lafayette) until my dad told me I wasn't going there. Shocked and upset, I asked why. He told me that in the summer issue of Playboy Magazine, (ULL) was ranked as a top 10 party school among small universities. Thus his oldest daughter would not be going there. When I asked where I was going, he told me Nicholls State College (it was a college in 1969). My immediate response was, I'm not commuting, he agreedand the love affair with Nicholls began."

Raziano moved into Ellender Dorm and pledged Delta Zeta Sorority.

"Within 10 days I knew everyone I needed to know," she said. That's been almost 47 years, and I haven't looked back. I am humbled and honored to accept the James Lynn Powell Award. I accept it for all alums of Nicholls State University as they too are outstanding."

Raziano earned a bachelor of arts in elementary education where she was a member of the Louisiana Student Teachers Association, Judicial Board and senior class member in addition to her many duties and responsibilities of Delta Zeta. After college, Raziano served for six years as field representative for DZ where she traveled throughout the United States to establish new college chapters, assisted with membership and planned and organized workshops and providedofficer training.

The 1973 Miss Nicholls continues to be the face of NSU wherever she goes.

A smart dad knew exactly what was best for his oldest daughter.
15 2016-03-07
Houma/Thibodaux

Voice of Colonels fond of Nicholls, shrimp po-boys


Bryant Johnson has quickly adjusted to living in Louisiana.

The new “Voice” of Nicholls State University athletics and a California native has adjusted so quickly to a Louisiana lifestyle that Johnson already has a favorite eatery for shrimp po-boys, which he eats four times a week.

“I use the excuse to go down to Larose to (KLRZ-FM) to go to Harry’s Po-Boys and get it dressed every time," he said. "I’ve never seen food connect with a community like it does here."

While Johnson favors shrimp po-boys, it is his ability to connect with his radio audience that has quickly made him a favorite with Nicholls fans.

Johnson, who hails from Orange, Calif., replaced Mike Waggenheim as assistant athletic director for communications at Nicholls, in August and jumped into the 2015 football season.

Johnson got his start working for a radio station in La Crosse, Wis., as a political reporter, but when the station became affiliated with ESPN, he did onsite reports for the Green Bay Packers and the University of Wisconsin.

After getting a taste of sports reporting, Johnson, who graduated from Brown College in Minneapolis, said he knew the direction he wanted to take his career.

“(In politics) there were such expectations to report negative news, and I thought we were missing a lot of positive stories. When we added an ESPN station, it didn’t take me long to see what makes sports special because you are reporting good and happy news,” Johnson said. “Even in a loss, you can find something positive that happened. And it was a different way to interact with the community, so I was done with news.”

After his stint in Wisconsin, Johnson went to work in Washington state as the play-by-play man for Skagit Valley College. That led to a job in Colorado at KSPK-FM calling games for Adams State University.

While Johnson, 30 and single, enjoyed working for radio stations, once the Nicholls job was available, he saw it as a unique opportunity to work for a university while doing radio.

“There aren’t that many full-time positions calling games in Division I athletics. Most universities just do football and maybe basketball (in house) but to not have to work at a radio station, I didn’t know what I was missing,” Johnson said. “Working for the athletic department allows me to be in touch with the coaches and athletes. It becomes a big picture, especially with what is going (with Louisiana’s budget crisis). I am that liaison instead of someone just showing up to broadcast a game and go back to the station.”

Johnson also works with mass communication students providing them with hands-on experience by creating video packages and working cameras for live streaming of games at Nicholls.

Nicholls Athletic Director Rob Bernardi said Johnson stood out from other applicants.

“If you look back, we had Gary Gallup, Ken Berthelot and Mike Waggenheim and Mike was on par with anybody. Bryant is younger and doesn’t have their experience, but he will grow into that no doubt about it,” Bernardi said. “One of our priorities is to make sure we have a great radio announcer because that person is the voice or sometimes the face of the department. We had probably a dozen or more tapes to look at of people we were interested in, and he was head and shoulders above the rest.”

Besides locating his favorite po-boy stand, Johnson said, he is excited about his new surroundings. While he missed out on Mardi Gras due to the men’s basketball season, he plans to go to Jazz Fest.

“"The rest of the country could learn a lot from Louisiana," Johnson said. "The music and history is all woven together, and it is breathing and living; and you can see all the personality that exists here. I always admired Louisiana from afar, and you never know how things will work out. But to do this job and work in a place you admire is special.”
15 2016-03-03
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls enrollment jumps


By Karl Gommel karl@rushing-media.com
While dealing with financial uncertainty related to the state’s budget cuts, Nicholls State University received good news in the form of an enrollment increase.
The university’s spring semester enrollment is up 20 students from the previous spring, according to 14-day class statistics, Nicholls’ first in five years. Fall to spring retention for first-time freshmen reached an all-time high at about 88.3 percent, up 4.9 percentage points from 2015.
According to an audit by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office, Nicholls’ enrollment has been decreasing each year since fiscal year 2011, in line with declining state money each year. Dr. Neal Weaver, Nicholls vice president for Institutional Advancement, said although the increase is modest, it is a sign of promise for the university.
“It is a very, very small increase, but it’s the first time we’ve seen it go up in five years, so we’re certainly excited to see the momentum start to swing the other direction,” he said.
Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy told faculty and staff during a presentation last month that the university’s ultimate goal was to stabilize tuition rates and increase enrollment to 8,000 students. “This semester’s increases in both enrollment and freshman retention are strong indicators that Nicholls enrollment is on an upward trend” he said.
Weaver said the record retention rate is a product of multiple policies on campus, such as Nicholls not increasing its tuition this year. He also credited revamping the school’s freshman-level math courses and increased school pride from the football team’s progress with keeping freshman around for the spring. The spring enrollment increase, combined with 300 more applications than this time last year, has the university primed for even better numbers in the fall, according to Weaver.
“All of our numbers are running 15 to 18 percent ahead of where they’ve been the previous year. When you take a positive retention from fall to spring, combine that with the numbers that we’re seeing coming in for next fall, we really anticipate that we could see anywhere from a 3 or 4 percent increase in our student body going into next fall,” he said. •
15 2016-02-29
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State enrollment up after five-year decline


Enrollment at Nicholls State University increased for the first time in five years, adding 20 more students in the spring, according to data released by the university today.

The announcement is good news for the regional four-year university facing as much as $3.5 million in cuts if state legislators can’t fill an $850 million midyear gap during the ongoing legislative special session.

Total enrollment is now up to 6,184. In the fall, the school announced a 2 percent decline in enrollment from the previous year.

Since last fall, university President Bruce Murphy has been adamant that enrollment would increase next fall and that prediction may come true. In addition to the rise in spring enrollment, the university posted a record first-year freshman retention rate and has received an increase in applications.

According to the data, 88.3 percent of fall first-year students returned for the spring semester. That number is up from 83.4 last year and is an all-time high for the Thibodaux university. Nicholls officials credit English and math pilot classes for helping retain freshman students.

Meanwhile, the university has also received 15 percent more applications than last year for the upcoming fall semester. The school also offered more scholarships than the year before.

“Growing enrollment to 8,000 students remains one of our top goals at Nicholls. This semester’s increases in both enrollment and freshman retention are strong indicators that Nicholls enrollment is on an upward trend,” Murphy said in a statement. “From department heads and faculty to the support staff and facilities crew, our entire campus is working together to welcome students to the Colonel family and put their success first.”

Increasing enrollment to 8,000 is a primary objective in Murphy’s strategic plan. If the goal is reached, the university wouldn’t have to increase tuition or fees nearly as much as it has in the past, Murphy said.

Murphy has said the goal is to increase enrollment by more than 500 in Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management and more than 300 in the Culinary Institute. Nicholls also is aiming for more than 170 international students, besides increasing Nicholls Online and out-of-state student enrollments.

This fall, student enrollment in Nicholls graduate programs grew significantly, with 670 current graduate students compared to 603 last fall.

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.
15 2016-02-29
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State evaluating sports budget


Nicholls State University officials are analyzing their sports budget and its impact on the university, officials said this week, but any cuts to the department are expected to be minimal.

Lawmakers are currently in Baton Rouge for a special legislative session aimed at closing an $850 to $950 million budget gap by June 30. Once that is done, lawmakers need to find a way to fill a nearly $2 billion projected deficit for the next fiscal year.

Nicholls is facing up to $3.5 million in midyear cuts, which could result the university declaring financial exigency, similar to academic bankruptcy, and lay off or furlough faculty and staff members. Various scenarios submitted to the University of Louisiana System by the school have included temporarily closing for 14 days, freezing all non-academic spending and laying off 100 staff and furloughing faculty for 10 days.

What that impact will be athletics is unknown. The Nicholls State Athletic Department's budget is $8.2 million.

Last year, the department lost about $82,000. Athletic departments not making money is hardly a rare occurrence.

The state directs how much money schools can transfer into their athletics departments, capping it the scholarships plus three percent. Nicholls budgeted $2.2 million to athletics this year, about 25 percent of the department's budget and the smallest amount in the nine school University of Louisiana System. That number has decreased by more than $1 million in recent years as the school has faced cuts in years past.

The department is doing more with less and relying more upon self-generated revenues to operate. In recent years the athletic department has trimmed scholarships, cut travel and frozen equipment purchases.

Nicholls students pay $2.4 million in fees to athletics and the school received $1.6 million from other schools for “game guarantees,” an agreement where some of the bigger sports, such as football and men's and women's basketball, agree to play a game through a larger program

Donations and payments from the NCAA combine for another $1.4 million. Ticket sales only totaled $145,000.

But athletics puts about $2.6 million back into the university, University President Bruce Murphy said, totaling tuition, fees, housing and books for the 261 Nicholls student-athletes who are on partial scholarships or not on athletic scholarship at all.

“And well, what about the band, the cheerleaders, what about the fans that bring their kids over here? They bring those additional students that come here because of athletics,” Murphy said.

“All the schools are doing it, why are they doing it? There must be something to it,” he added. “It must do some good.”

Murphy tells a story about a student from Maryland researching Nicholls culinary school who didn't believe Nicholls was a “real university.”

“She said when she saw the football stadium, that's when she knew it was real,” Murphy said. “Some people think, 'maybe I'm one of them,' that it's part of the whole package of a university.”

Athletic Director Rob Bernardi wasn't available to comment.

In a televised address before the special session, Gov. John Bel Edwards talked of temporarily shuttering universities across Louisiana, which could result in no college football the next year, as a possible outcome of the state's ongoing budget crisis.

State Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, criticized the Governor's tactics and said the focus should be on repairing higher education for all students.

“It's way, way too far ahead to worry about athletics. Anything that happens there will be a direct result of what happens to the far more important thing,” Chabert said.

“It's unwise for a university to damage their program,” he added.

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.
15 2016-02-22
Houma/Thibodaux

Higher education cuts: Nicholls plan differed from president's statements


Despite Nicholls State University President Bruce Murphy saying Nicholls won't close due to state budget cuts, documents the university submitted to the University of Louisiana System tell a different story.

Asked to come up with a contingency plan for so-called best-case scenario cuts - $70 million to public colleges and universities, of which Nicholls portion is $808,803 – school officials said it would temporarily close.

The one-sentence response sent to the state on Feb. 12 reads: “Due to the timing of such a cut, this would result in an immediate shutdown of the entire campus for a period not less than 14 days which would disrupt all instruction causing delays to graduation, etc.”

In an interview today, Murphy said a short time table was the reason for the pithy response and acted surprised his school had received the attention it had.

“This was a staff drill, not a plan,” Murphy said.

It was that scenario that has placed the Thibodaux four-year university in the spotlight when University of Louisiana System President Dan Reneau told lawmakers the school could close.

Last week, in a televised statewide address, Gov. John Bel Edwards talked of temporarily shuttering universities across Louisiana as a possible outcome of the state's ongoing budget crisis. The shutdowns were one of several options Edwards laid out as the state tries to dig its way out of a fiscal swamp.

Lawmakers are currently in Baton Rouge for a special legislative session aimed at closing an $870 million budget gap by June 30. Once that is done, lawmakers need to find a way to fill a nearly $2 billion projected deficit for the next fiscal year.

The university has submitted other plans to the state dealing with different scenarios.

A Jan. 25 submission to the UL System offered two options for $2.5 million in cuts. The first option would freeze all non-academic spending and move over dollars allocated to things like student housing and maintenance. The second plan would lay off about 100 staff and furlough “all faculty for a period of not less than 10 days.”

Describing the impact, the document says, “Completion of the Spring 2016 semester is in jeopardy for successful completion. Regional accreditation concerns.”

Laying every response from the University of Louisiana System members along the floor, Murphy repeatedly pushed attention to other university responses.

“I'm telling you, (other universities) are saying the same thing, they just said in a different way,” Murphy said.

But Reneau told lawmakers earlier this week that Nicholls was the only university that suggested it would close in that scenario.

System spokeswoman Cami Geisman said other schools provided “more varied plans.”

Plans submitted by Louisiana Tech University offered a more detailed plan for cuts varying from salaries and benefits to technology. McNeese State University provided a full-page breakdown of where the cuts would come from.

Geisman and Nicholls outgoing Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Rodriguez, who recently resigned to take another job with the state, confirmed the reports from earlier this week.

“It was talking about basically having a furlough. That's what it would take,” Rodriguez said today. “That's just a projection.”

Murphy has characterized stories from the capitol suggesting the university would close for 14 days as “erroneous” and “false.” He promised industry leaders Monday at the Bayou Industry Group luncheon and students at an on-campus rally Wednesday that university wouldn't close.

He says the university has submitted several contingency plans and that reporters have cherry picked the doomsday reports.

Today he again emphasized the university would not temporarily close, even if faced with worst-case scenario cuts of $3.5 million, which includes $1 million for TOPS scholarships. If enacted, Murphy has said the university would declare financial exigency, similar to academic bankruptcy, and lay off or furlough faculty and staff members.

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.
15 2016-02-19
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State chief financial officer resigns, FOX8 reports


icholls State's chief financial officer has resigned from his post at the Thibodaux school, FOX8 is reporting.

The Nicholls Worth, the student newspaper, was first to report that Ronnie Rodriguez will leave Nicholls to take "another position within the state and will begin his new duties after April 1, 2016.

The school was in the news this week as education leaders told lawmakers that budget cuts could mean temporary closures at some campuses.
15 2016-02-18
Gannett

Closure not an option for Nicholls, university president says


University of Louisiana System schools delivered reports to System President Dan Reneau detailing the potential fallout from the initial “best case scenario” proposed $42 million cuts to higher education.

Nicholls State University Campus President Bruce T. Murphy on Monday said closure was not an option after Reneau disclosed to legislators that Nicholls State would have to close for several weeks.

Reneau’s and Murphy’s contrasting responses to the budget-cut scenario caused a minor flap in news media accounts. As it turns out, according to documents obtained by Manship School News Service, it was the only option Murphy presented to the system office.

The best case scenario cuts now total $70 million as a result of a $28 million reduction in TOPS payments. Murphy now says he has a more comprehensive report, clarifying closing as the "last option." As of Wednesday, however, Reneau said he has yet to see the new document.

On Feb. 10, the State Division of Administration requested for all schools to provide options for dealing with a $42 million cut across all higher education systems in Louisiana. The schools were told they needed the information in two days, according to Systems Chief Financial Officer Edwin Litolff.

Nicholls sent to the System Office, which passed on to the Division of Administration, a one-line statement of the effects of Nichols State share, $808,803, of the overall reduction, to its institution would cause. Because of the timing of the cut, said Murphy, the hit to Nicholls’ “would result in an immediate shut-down of the entire campus for a period not less than 14 days which would disrupt all instruction causing delays to graduation, etc.”

Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Louisiana at Monroe and Louisiana Tech University listed hiring freezes along with other reductions in order to deal with the cuts.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and McNeese State University provided line item proposals on the budgetary effects of cuts without listing the consequences of these cuts.

Grambling State University said the institution would be “forced to make personnel cuts, suspend athletic play for some sports, but most significantly the University will have extreme difficulty meeting its cash flow requirements such as: payroll and student recruitment travel, etc.”

Based on Murphy’s one sentence submission, Reneau stated Monday that Nicholls would have to close under Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne’s best case scenario, which includes Governor John Bel Edwards’ tax increases.

“This is all ‘what if’ drills,” Murphy told the Manship School News Service Tuesday. “This is a way to deal with it. We have all the same options as the other institutions, and the newer documents better reflects the situation as we’ve thinking about it all along. The first one was a quick response to a quick question.”

Murphy also indicated his administrative staff, who wrote the report, had less than 24 hours to complete it. While no other school suggested closure as an option, he added, the scenario was presented because “it is one way to (deal with the cuts),” but said he did not know at the actual number of the cuts would be.

Nicholls State administrators would present plans to the Legislature, Board of Regents and the University of Louisiana System administration only if they are asked, or if they are presented with a set-in-stone budget cut.

Nicholls' new proposal, which Reneau confirmed he had not seen as of Wednesday, outlines possible furloughs, layoffs, personnel and non-personnel expense freezes, transferring auxiliary funds and increasing tuition and fees. The proposal does not include temporarily closing down.
15 2016-02-18
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls president reassures students school will stay open



By Meredith Burns
Staff Writer


Published: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 9:07 p.m.





Nicholls State University students heard it straight from the president’s mouth today: The school has no intention of closing.

“As you know, these are some tough budget times,” Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said at a forum in a packed student union. “We’re going to get through these. We’re going to stay open. We’re going to have classes as scheduled for the spring and on into the future.”

The forum was organized by the Student Government Association to clear up reports from earlier this week the campus might shut down for several days to cope with budget cuts from the state.

“Basically this was to kind of give students a quick answer,” said Student Government Association President Lillie Bourgeois.

Murphy said news the university was planning to close came from a “false report” a student journalist took out of context.

“It was a false report. We have no intention of closing. We have no plan of closing,” he said.

In his brief speech, he encouraged students to contact their state legislators to share their views on higher education in Louisiana. He also pointed out that for every $1 the state gives Nicholls, it takes $1.13 back in expenses.

“You are funding the state in addition to your education,” Murphy said to students. “I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think you should do that and I think you ought to say something about it.”

While some students said the presentation cleared up their concerns, others were less confident.

“For me the thing is everything until they get out of the special session is hypothetical,” said Senior Vincent Sbisa. “He says we don’t intend to close. Well, I don’t intend to die tomorrow but it could happen. We really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

In Baton Rouge today, higher education leaders said the threat of mid-semester shutdowns and widespread layoffs is real, pushing back at suggestions they are exaggerating the impact budget cuts will have on their campuses.

Lawmakers meeting in a special session are deciding whether to raise taxes requested by Gov. John Bel Edwards to help fill deep gaps in this year's budget. Without those tax hikes, the Edwards administration says colleges could be hit with more than $200 million in cuts.

Commissioner of Higher Education Joe Rallo told the House Appropriations Committee if that worst-case scenario happens, many campuses likely will suspend operations and cancel classes. University system presidents agreed.

"We will lose locations. We will reduce services. It's a reality," said Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. "We will be in a position where we will not be able to sustain the institutions we have today."

Lawmakers, particularly Republicans who are showing resistance to tax increases, have bristled at headlines claiming campuses could close, students could be unable to graduate or finish courses and LSU's football season could be canceled because the student athletes wouldn't meet academic requirements.

"I promise you that hell will freeze over before LSU doesn't go into Tiger Stadium this fall," said Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro. "It's juvenile to even come up with something like that."

Pylant and several other committee members said the state has to look at structural changes before considering tax increases.

Higher education officials said they've consolidated and eliminated programs, reduced duplications and cut staff over the past eight years — and they noted lawmakers would have to make the larger structural changes being discussed, not the campuses.

For now, they said, they're just trying to survive the cuts without shutting their doors before the state fiscal year ends June 30, and without losing the faculty, students and student athletes who may not want to stick around while the debate lingers.

"When you run out of payroll, the lights go out and you have to figure out all kinds of alternatives which we are struggling through every day," said LSU System President F. King Alexander. "Right now, this is a crisis."

Under the best-case scenario, public colleges face cuts of at least $70 million over the next four months. And that's if lawmakers agree to all Edwards' proposed tax hikes.

Rallo outlined to lawmakers what he considers several "myths" that he said wrongfully suggest the reductions won't really be that harmful. He said tuition and fee increases haven't fully covered the $700 million in state financing cuts that have been made to campuses since 2008. He said the campuses aren't hiding money in large reserve pools.

Rep. Tony Bacala, R-Gonzales, said lawmakers are struggling with limited dollars, but he said he's hopeful they'll find a way to keep colleges from shutting their doors.

"We're really trying to save our colleges and universities," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.






Copyright © 2016 HoumaToday.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.

15 2016-02-16
Baton Rouge

Best case budget scenario could see Nicholls close temporarily


BATON ROUGE - Nicholls State University would be forced to close at least temporarily this year even if the best-case scenario presented to the Louisiana Legislature prevails.

A plan from the University of Louisiana System says the Thibodaux-based school could close for 12 days in the face of budget cuts.

Lawmakers continue to grapple with a midyear budget hole that exceeds $900 million. Even in the best case scenario, higher educations will take a $70 million hit.

Nicholls State is part of the University of Louisiana System, which also includes Louisiana Tech University, Grambling, Northwestern State, Southeastern, McNeese State, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the University of New Orleans.

Some lawmakers are arguing that even if all of the campuses aren’t forced to face temporary closures, midyear cuts are sure to cause great harm across the board, crippling universities for years to come.

Administration from Nicholls State University said the school has no intention of closing unless no other option is presented.

"Nicholls was asked to provide a list of hypothetical scenarios regarding how the campus might handle varying degrees of mid-year budget cuts. Nicholls submitted a financial planning document listing several options that the university is considering. One of those options includes temporarily closing the campus for several days," said a release from the university.

Nicholls says it is working closely with lawmakers to find solutions to facing the budget shortfall, and ensure students and faculty that closure is the absolute last option.
15 2016-02-16
Gannett

Even in best case, Nicholls may close temporarily


BATON ROUGE — Nicholls State University could be forced to close temporarily this year even under the best-case budget scenario presented to the Louisiana Legislature under a plan submitted to the University of Louisiana System.

"Surely it won't come to that, but that is the current plan presented," University of Louisiana System President Dan Reneau said.

But state Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, a Nicholls State graduate, said he won't have it.

Chabert was furious when he learned from Gannett Louisiana Newspapers of the plan for Nicholls State, which is located in Thibodaux, to close for 14 days.

"This is the first I've heard of it and I think it's unnecessary and a bad call," Chabert said. "Are you telling me that the university in the fifth largest market in Louisiana that serves 6,300 students is going to close? This isn't going to happen."

Nicholls President Bruce T. Murphy issued a statement saying closure would be a last option.

"Nicholls submitted a financial planning document listing several options that the university is considering," Murphy said in the statement. "One of those options includes temporarily closing the campus for several days. Obviously, that is the absolute last option that Nicholls would ever take. However, as the governor mentioned in his Thursday public address, temporary closure of universities throughout Louisiana is one of the many possible outcomes."

Reneau said since the plans are crafted by the individual universities within the system, Nicholls can choose alternatives to closure.

"It's a living document and a moving target," Reneau said.


THE ADVERTISER
'Best case scenario' for UL system is bleak

Chabert said he called Reneau and Murphy following his interview with Gannett.

"I told them in no uncertain terms this is unacceptable," said Chabert, a member of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee that will help determine the scope of the midyear cuts. "It's financially impossible for Nicholls to be in a worse financially position that Grambling (State University).

"I know for a fact that others in the system are in worse shape, and to say we're the only one that has to close is either a gross misunderstanding or a scare tactic used by those trying to further a political agenda."

Lawmakers are grappling with a midyear budget hole exceeding $900 million. Even under the best-case scenario, higher education is in line for an almost $70 million cut — $42 million plus another $28 million in TOPS. Reneau said Nicholls' best-case scenario plan didn't even include the TOPS scholarship cut.


THENEWSSTAR.COM
The end of TOPS as we know it?

Nicholls is one of nine universities in the University of Louisiana System. The others are Grambling, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the University of New Orleans.

Reneau said even though other campuses might not face temporary closures under the best-case scenario, all will suffer great harm from the midyear cut.

"We've already been sent a warning letter from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools about the risk of losing accreditation," Reneau said. "I've seen many a thing in my 50 years in higher education in Louisiana, but I've never seen it this bad, and it's real.

"This thing is really serious. The universities have already been crippled, but if some of these cuts come to pass, they could be crippled for the next 50 years."

Follow Greg Hilburn on Twitter @GregHilburn1
15 2016-02-16
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls gearing up for bass tourney



15 2016-02-16
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls home to a world of musical instruments


Enter the small room deep in the heart of Ellender Memorial Library's third floor, and it's evident from the Carl Orff xylophones at the opposite end the place is like no other in the building.

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Instruments
There, next to the xylophones named for the German composer and teacher who invented them, stands a Kurzweil synthesizer and in another corner an Irish harp, its wood frame ornamented with a relief carving of flowers and leaves. These instruments, however, account for only a fraction of the wide-ranging collection the room contains.

Tucked into cases or behind cabinet doors for safe-keeping are pieces that include a hurdy-gurdy and reproductions of Renaissance crum horns, a Renaissance lute and Baroque/Renaissance rosewood recorders. There are instruments with origins in countries all over the planet, such as an Indian string instrument called a sitar, Irish Bodhran frame drums, a North Indian tabla drum set and a German Hohner accordion.

Representing the U.S. is a mountain dulcimer, and, even closer to home, a Zydeco washboard and a triangle, or t-fer, played in traditional Cajun music, the preservation of which Anke Tonn has long championed.

Tonn has been curator of the library's musical instrument collection since 2013. The Hamburg, Germany, native who has made Louisiana her home for many years is Ellender Memorial's interim co-director. Music and science are her subject area specialties. Librarian though Tonn may be, she is not one to insist on the instruments' silence or even silence in the room.

To the contrary. As Talbot Hall is renovated, seniors have held recitals there, playing their own instruments. A baby grand piano taking up part of the room stands at the ready for accompaniments or recitals. Tonn has also arranged for a visiting group to play a concert there. On those occasions, she has opened the room to the public.

Though none of the collection may be checked out or taken from the room, students who demonstrate to Tonn their competency in the instrument family to which a piece belongs are encouraged to stop by and play, though some of the instruments need tuning.

“I'm here for the students,” Tonn said.

With the exceptions of the Irish harp and the baby grand, a recent music department acquisition and a donation respectively, all of the instruments, as well as an array of teaching instruments, were bought several years ago with a $40,000 grant written for the library.

The instruments are used for demonstrations and classes taught by Tonn or music department faculty, such as assistant professor of woodwinds, Michael Bartnik.

“It is a pretty impressive music collection,” Bartnik said.

Every fall, he takes his world music class to Ellender's third floor, where he'll take up a percussion instrument of some kind and encourage his students to jump in on an instrument of their choosing. At first, it's awkward until a rhythm's established.

By the end, students are laughing.

“It's a broader approach to understanding music,” he said.
15 2016-02-16
New Orleans

Nicholls State considering temporary closure as 'last option'


Nicholls State University in Thibodaux is considering closing for two weeks to absorb budget cuts aimed at higher education as a result of Louisiana's $940 million budget shortfall.

University of Louisiana System President Dan Reneau said Monday (Feb. 15) that Nicholls submitted the documents to outline how $70 million in cuts to higher education institutions would affect the university. Higher education officials have been told by Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne that in a best-case scenario, they will need to absorb $70 million in cuts to close the state's $940 million shortfall.

Nicholls State University President Bruce Murphy issued a statement in response to Reneau's comments.

"Nicholls State University has absolutely no intention of closing unless there is no other option," Murphy said. "Nicholls was asked to provide a list of hypothetical scenarios regarding how the campus might handle varying degrees of mid-year budget cuts. Nicholls submitted a financial planning document listing several options that the university is considering. One of those options includes temporarily closing the campus for several days. Obviously, that is the absolute last option that Nicholls would ever take."

Reneau said Murphy told him the response would be the equivalent of closing for 14 days. "I'm not saying it will close down," Reneau said, but he's saying it would be the equivalent of two weeks of closing."

Asked how it could affect students, Reneau said, "Hey, we've got three weeks to find out. Hopefully, it won't affect graduation."

Higher education officials are on edge as legislators decide over the next three weeks how to close the midyear shortfall with a mix of tax increases and budget cuts. The threat of closing universities was discussed during Sunday's Joint Committee on the Budget meeting, but there were no specific institutions that were mentioned as part of those closures.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a televised speech Feb. 11 that closing universities mid-semester could mean students would receive an incomplete grade in this semester's classes.

Legislators, upon hearing of the possible closure, said they were concerned that higher education officials are releasing information that causes unnecessary worry among students and their parents. They emphasized the closure was presented as an option if legislators don't raise revenue, saying it should be made clear that the Senate Education committee is working to avoid scenarios involving closures.
15 2016-02-16
New Orleans

Nicholls closure rumors are premature


A published report says Nicholls State is considering closing its doors for 12 days because of a lack of state funds. But Nicholls president, Doctor Bruce Murphy, says closing the campus for several days is the last option they would ever take. University of Louisiana System president, Doctor Dan Reneau, encouraged the Senate education committee to do what they can to keep college campuses open.

“Higher education’s at a tipping point. The next 50 years probably lies in your hands in the next three weeks,” Reneau said.

Lawmakers have until March 9 to come up with a funding solution that would spare higher education from deep budget cuts. Metairie Senator Conrad Appel is upset to see a headline that Nicholls plans to close, when that’s not the case.

“I don’t think there’s one person on this stage, whether they be Democrat or Republican, that sincerely thinks we’re gonna close a school, and yet the news media has got this. Every time I turn around, ‘Oh, we’re gonna shut down schools,’” Appel said.

Reneau says depending on the size of the cut in state funding, mid-year closures could occur as some universities. But Appel warns higher ed leaders that these kinds of threats could become a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

“And make sure these news media folks know that this is not Nicholls is planning closure. It’s Nicholls is planning closure if we don’t take sufficient action to solve their problem,” Appel said.
15 2016-02-15
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls loses $1 million to state scholarship program


Nicholls State University will lose $1 million with four months left in the fiscal year due to cuts to the state’s scholarship program.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is trying to lessen fears about cuts to the TOPS free college tuition program. He says Louisiana students who receive the aid won't see increased tuition bills this semester even if financing is reduced.

The state will pay for 80 percent of the cost, but the remaining 20 percent will be absorbed by the universities. That comes out to $1.04 million for the four-year Thibodaux university already staring down an additional $2.53 million if the Legislature can’t plug an $850 million midyear budget gap during a special session that begins Sunday.

“As the special session is set to get underway on Sunday, Nicholls administrators are discussing numerous contingency plans for the rest of this fiscal year and for next year,” said Nicholls spokeswoman Stephanie Verdin. “If additional state funding is withheld following the special session, the impact would be devastating to all Louisiana universities, causing irreparable harm to thousands of college students and future generations of Louisianians.”

Nicholls President Bruce Murphy has said the university would probably declare financial exigency, similar to bankruptcy, and lay off or furlough faculty and staff members if faced with $2.5 million in cuts.

The Edwards administration announced Thursday that TOPS may get $28 million less than the funding it needs to cover all eligible students this budget year because of Louisiana's deep financial troubles.
15 2016-02-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Locals lament uncertainty over free college tuition program


Payments to Louisiana's colleges from the TOPS free tuition program were put on hold Thursday because of uncertainties about the state's budget and could affect more than 2,000 students at Nicholls State University.

“That's not good," Nicholls Student Body President Lillie Bourgeois after learning of the decision. "This is kind of shocking.”

A senior, Bourgeois has received TOPS all four years.

“It's picked up the slack where I haven't had to pay for college," she said. "Without it, I would have been paying $2,000 to $3,000 each semester.”

The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance notified campuses that it is temporarily suspending TOPS payments immediately and until further notice.

Impact at Nicholls remains unclear, university spokeswoman Stephanie Verdin said.

“We do not have enough information to further comment on its potential impact,” Verdin said in a written statement Thursday night. “Nicholls will continue to provide high-quality education at the level which the people of Louisiana decide that they want it, as expressed through their representatives."

About one-third of Nicholls' 6,100 students receive TOPS. Tuition for a full-time, in-state student at the Thibodaux university costs $3,674 this semester.

Depending on when — and if — payments restart, campuses could face cash problems of their own. If TOPS is cut and payments are reduced, students and parents who thought this semester's tuition would be covered by state taxpayers could end up owing part of the money.

"This has been my fear since the day I started college. I've put so much time and effort into my education since August, and it would absolutely crush me if this were to stay in place,” Nicholls student Victoria Boquet wrote in response to a Courier and Daily Comet question posted to Facebook. “Without TOPS, college may not be an option for me next semester.”

Thibodaux High School teacher Kimberly Detro called the decision “unacceptable and appalling.”

“I see these kids come to school every day after working an after-school job and staying up until 2 a.m., all to make sure they make the grades to qualify for TOPS. They're working their high school years away just to ensure they qualify for something that makes college a possibility only to see it literally yanked from them,” Detro said. “Why do people who always try to do the right thing get the shaft, but our state rewards those who do nothing to better our society?”

If the Legislature doesn't release the TOPS scholarships, Bourgeois said, then some Nicholls students' families won't be able to afford college anymore.

“A lot of people stay in-state because of TOPS,” Bourgeois said. “Without this, students may go to another college instead of here.”

TOPS, the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, provides free tuition to students who meet certain academic benchmarks. Campuses submit tuition bills to the Student financial assistance office for reimbursement.

The program is highly popular across Louisiana, but its costs have mushroomed over the years to $265 million in this year's budget. And that's already an estimated $20 million short of the financing needed to fully cover tuition for eligible students.

Louisiana has a budget gap of at least $850 million that must be closed by June 30. Gov. John Bel Edwards has called a special legislative session that begins Sunday to decide how to balance the $25 billion budget.
The Democratic governor wants tax increases, but Republican lawmakers who make up a majority of the Legislature have shown resistance to tax hikes and said they'd like to cut government spending.

Officials said the state has temporarily stalled TOPS payments to colleges each year as it waits to receive full financing, so campuses are accustomed to some delays.

A New Orleans TV station reported Thursday that Edwards would close some universities if the Legislature didn't raise revenue to fix the mid-year deficit.

Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo denied the report, telling The Courier and Daily Comet that it was officials at some universities who said they would close if mid-year cuts are enacted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
15 2016-02-12
Natchitoches

Dr. Henderson on NSU and Challenging times


Click the link for a video commentary from our president, Jim Henderson.

https://vimeo.com/nsula/review/154799215/6bd3db31ad

Here’s what real leaders do in the face of challenging times. They lead, they explain, they inspire others to join in the efforts to move forward. If you are an NSULA alumnus, if you care about the future of this university and the positive impact it has on the future of our state, please share this video, tell your family, friends, and associates to contact their legislators and state leaders to encourage them to find viable solutions that have short term and long term benefit to the citizenry and our fine university.


15 2016-02-12
New Orleans

Cajun-born Jana Billiot named chef de cuisine at Restaurant R'Evolution


Jana Billiot's whole life could be seen as preparation for her latest job: chef de cuisine at Restaurant R'Evolution.

Restaurant R'Evolution is a collaboration between chef and Louisiana culinary authority John Folse and celebrity chef Rick Tramonto, who made his name in Chicago. The two had long been friends before, in 2012, they opened R'Evolution, which explores and updates the food of the "seven nations" that formed Louisiana's culture.

Billiot, 30, was born in Johnson Bayou, a tiny Cajun town in Cameron Parish.

"I graduated with nine people from the public high school," she said.

Her family hunted and fished. They kept a large garden. In high school, she worked for a seafood market, going out in the early hours on shrimp boats or to check crab traps.

She had seen Folse cooking on television. She didn't want to work behind a desk, and she's read about the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University. When Folse was in her area for a cooking demonstration, she introduced herself beforehand and asked about his school. Then Folse, when he started his demonstration, pulled Billiot up on stage and had her cook with him.

"I just went with it," she said.

While a sophomore at Nicholls State, she and five other students attended the Paul Bocuse Institute in France for four months. They studied cooking, baking, management and even art with 50 other students from around the world.

"It was eye opening," Billiot said.

As she was getting ready to graduate, a fellow student shared a copy of Tramonto's 2011 book "Amuse Bouche," with its recipes for elaborately plated tiny bites.

"I was impressed and intrigued at the same time," she said. "I had no idea this type of cuisine existed. I was a naive girl from the country."

She also had no idea that Tramonto and Folse were friends. With her mom and her boyfriend, she went to Chicago, knocked on the back door of Tru, Tramonto's flagship restaurant, and asked for an internship.

"We didn't travel very much," Billiot said.

She got the internship, and then a job. She eventually became the sous chef at Tru.

Billiot, though, was ready to return to the South. And one day, she overheard someone talking about Tramonto and Folse opening Restaurant R'Evolution. She asked to be hired for the new project.

"That was way too perfect," she said.

Restaurant R'evolution's John Folse, Rick Tramonto share opulent culinary stage
Restaurant R'evolution's John Folse, Rick Tramonto share opulent culinary stage
Folse guided Tramonto's journey into Louisiana cooking

Billiot was hired as the sous chef and began working with Folse and Tramonto on menu development long before R'Evolution opened. When Erik Veney, R'Evolution's former executive sous chef, left for Muriel's, Billiot was promoted to his spot.

Last Saturday (Feb. 6), Billiot officially became R'Evolution's chef de cuisine, the position directly below executive chefs Folse and Tramonto.

R'Evolution's original chef de cuisine, Chris Lusk, left to be the executive chef for John Besh's relaunch of the historic Caribbean Room at the Pontchartrain Hotel.

Billiot plans to put her own stamp on the R'Evolution menu, while staying true to the restaurant's grounding in the cooking of Louisiana.

"My roots are Cajun and Creole," she said. "I'm from that mud. It is who I am. I can't deny it."

Restaurnat R'Evolution: 777 Bienville St., New Orleans, 504.553.2277
15 2016-02-03
Houma/Thibodaux

Renovations to Talbot Hall at Nicholls State to be completed by summer


Renovations to the Nicholls State University theater and radio and TV stations are on pace to be complete later this spring, university officials said Tuesday.

Construction for the nearly $6.7 million project began in August.

Most of the project will be complete by the middle of May, Facilities Manager Stan Silverii said, with a final completion expected in June.

The Mary M. Danos Theater, which opened in 1971, will reopen toward the end of the summer as a 400-plus seat arena, with new speakers, lighting, curtains, flooring, walls and ceiling. Accommodations for handicapped visitors will also be made to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The theater was named in honor of Mary Danos after her death in 2011. Mary and her husband Al have been longtime Nicholls supporters. Al, who died in January, was the driving force behind the renovations.

The project will also include a new roof for Talbot Hall, renovations to the lobby and improvements to Nicholls' television and radio studios. The radio station is broadcasting, but the TV station is off the air until summer.


Officials said $900,000 will go toward updating technology in the hall, primarily in the TV studio.

The holdup between May and June will be the new seats for the theater, Silverii said, which will take about 22 weeks to deliver and install.

“That'll be the only thing left to put in at that time,” Silverii said.

Work on the lobby should begin within the next week. Right now the area is used to hold equipment and supplies.

Over the winter break the school renovated the three computer labs. Silverii said that was a priority so that students would have access to the labs for the spring semester.

About 60 percent of the roof has been removed and replaced, Silverii said.

Silverii said work is continuing on the KNSU radio station and TV studio. Both are being used to house supplies. A green screen for the TV studio will be installed soon.

“We're starting to look at the equipment requirements" for the radio and TV areas, he said.

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.

15 2016-02-02
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls hosting history events, has small minority faculty


When prominent civil rights activist and scholar Mary Frances Berry speaks at Nicholls State University Monday morning, she will be delivering her remarks on a campus where hiring of African American faculty lags far behind the strides the university has made in the last two decades in boosting African American student enrollment.

Berry’s lecture, “The Dream of Diversity and Opportunity in the 21st Century,” will kick off African American History Month at Nicholls. Following the event will be a jazz performance by the Galen Abdur-Razzaq Quartet. The Student Union snack bar will sell African American-themed snacks. Many more events are scheduled throughout the month.

While the number of African American students at Nicholls has increased from 11 percent in the early 1990s to about 20 percent of the more than 5,400 undergraduates enrolled this past fall semester, the number of African American faculty can be counted on two hands.

According to university statistics, 3.2 percent of the faculty (eight people) are African American. The number is below the already dismal showing for degree-granting, postsecondary institutions nationally. According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Digest of Education Statistics, in 2013, about 5 percent of full-time faculty across the country were African American.

The administration said there are a number of factors to explain the yawning disparity, but it is a point of pride to Nicholls that, through diligent recruiting and retention efforts, its student population is more diverse than it was twenty or so years ago. Regarding African Americans, enrollment has nearly doubled over that time period, bringing the number more closely in line with the racial make-up of the state from which it draws more than 90 percent of its students. According to 2014 Census information, about 33 percent of Louisiana’s population is African American. The proportion of African American students to white at Nicholls nearly mirrors the racial makeup of Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, from which almost half the school's enrollment is drawn.

The graduation rate of African American students has also more than doubled. From fall 2010 (for students who started in 2004) to fall 2014 (for students who started in 2008), the graduation rate has risen from 13.2 percent to 28.4 percent, according to university statistics. As of this past fall, 17 percent of graduate students at Nicholls were African American.

A handful of African American students interviewed Friday outside the Student Union echoed what Lutcher native and Culinary Arts sophomore Gabrielle Clayton said about her experience at Nicholls.

“They (the administration) made it feel like home,” she said.

Sitting with her was New Orleans native and Culinary Arts sophomore Jamie Honore, who said, when asked if she thought her school should hire more African American faculty, that she hadn’t noticed there was a lack. When asked the same question, Belle Rose native Jair Joseph, a petroleum services major, and two students with him, Seville Jacks, a business management major, and Trevin Brown, a computer information systems major, responded the same way except that Joseph added to a chorus of agreement: “We're used to it,” Joseph said.

That sense of matter-of-fact resignation that such an absence or near absence is simply the norm would likely have been disheartening for Nicholls sociology instructor Deborah Moorhead to hear. She and assistant professor Arrianna Smith-Martin, advisor to the campus chapter of the NAACP, said they believe the administration should do more to recruit African American faculty.

“People communicate by symbols,” said Moorhead, who is the chair of Nicholls’ African American History Month Planning Committee. “When you have people that look like me stationed at places like this, it’s a ready symbol that the place may be welcoming to you. The community expects some of their own, meaning people that look like me, to be employed in positions that can help their college students.”

It also sends a message that choosing the career path of teaching at a university is open to African American students, she said.

“I think the generation is changing as far as a definitive ‘yes, I need to go to an African American person to relate or I can go to a Caucasian faculty member to get some information,’” Smith-Martin said. “But I would give 90 percent of the time a student would be more comfortable approaching someone of their own race. So, yes, I would say having more African American or any minorities here at Nicholls would help students across campus.”

As far as recruitment, Moorhead said, the university should make a concerted effort to hire faculty so that it more closely reflects the racial make-up of the state’s population. Such efforts would include approaching historically black colleges and universities as well as looking to the surrounding area.

Moorhead said she doesn’t know what the university is doing to recruit more African American faculty because she does not sit on a hiring committee.

“I would like to see more fruit from whatever it is they’re doing…I think it’s obvious more people that look like me should be part of the institution. And I also think that the president knows that. I think he’s savvy enough to know that.”

Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Eugene A. Dial Jr. acknowledged the numbers were low.

“We certainly would like that to go up,” said Dial.

One of the disadvantages Nicholls has is that, as a small regional school, it has to compete with larger universities, which can offer higher salaries, Dial said. He added that, with the resources larger universities have, they should not be registering the low numbers in hiring they are.

There also needs to be a larger field of candidates, Dial said, which makes it that much more critical African American students obtain an undergraduate degree so that they are positioned to pursue advanced degrees necessary to become college faculty, if they choose. At Nicholls an added layer of challenge to seeing a student through to graduation is that many students, including but not limited to African Americans, are the first in their generation to attend college, Dial said.

Another issue, said Smith-Martin, is retention of African American faculty, particularly those who are not from the area, are not familiar with the culture or have no family ties.

“Living in Thibodaux is different from living in New Orleans,” she said.
15 2016-02-01
Houma/Thibodaux

Local colleges brace for major budget cuts


Some Nicholls State University students may not be able to graduate this year if proposed mid-year cuts to higher education are enacted.

Higher education leaders have been asked by Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration to draw up scenarios for cuts totaling $131 million statewide for the remaining five months of the budget year. Edwards wants lawmakers to raise taxes in a February special session to avoid the cuts.

But the administration has asked higher education leaders to prepare for the possibility lawmakers may not agree. Nicholls' share of that cut is $2.5 million.

The Thibodaux university would be forced to lay off or furlough faculty and staff, Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said. Nicholls would have to declare financial exigency, similar to academic bankruptcy, and cease travel, purchases and cancel non-academic events.

During Murphy's biannual State of the University speech, he told staff and faculty that “there's a light at the end of the tunnel” but times would be “dark before they reached the light.”

If professors can't finish the semester, the university's accrediting body may refuse accepting the class.

“You can't just say they're good guys so let's graduate them early,” Murphy said. “That would be the absolute worst-case scenario is saying that students wouldn't graduate on time.”

“The human part of that, we have people who are not making a whole lot of money and now their income would be zero,” Murphy added. “That's a severe crunch.”

Nicholls Faculty Senate President Brigett Scott has been with Nicholls through several cuts over the past decade. She described news of possible new cuts as “very disheartening.”

Though she hasn't thought about leaving Nicholls, Scott said she's heard other professors discuss leaving the state.

“You look around and see your colleagues and it's very stressful for everyone to continue to undergo this uncertainty about our futures,” Scott said.

A constant threat of cuts has created a distraction for teachers, she said, comparing it to a roller coaster. Teachers haven't received raises since 2006, and Scott said they're doing the best that they can with the resources available.

“As a faculty, we're very committed to our students, and we really want what's best for them,” she said.

Students are also feeling the heat. Nicholls' tuition and fees went up 37 percent between 2011 and 2013, the third highest rate for a public university in the country, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Though Murphy has been vocally opposed to raising tuition, some students are concerned the state might force the university's hand.

“It's putting a burden on the students and their families,” said Lillie Bourgeois, student body president. “Some of the students I've talked said they won't be able to afford it if the (tuition and fees) go up any more. They're already $20,000 in debt.”

A senior, Bourgeois if she were still in high school now she might seriously consider starting at a community college or going to school out of state. Her brother is a high school senior now with plans of enrolling at Nicholls, but Bourgeois said her family is paying close attention to what's going to happen during the legislative session.

“Even right now, out-of-state schools are giving him scholarships worth more than he would get from Nicholls," she said. "That's ridiculous.”

The Louisiana Community and Technical College System said it would have to lay off 1,200 employees, beginning in March, to meet its proposed reduction. Colleges would split a $20.2 million cut.

Cuts to the state's individual two-year colleges remain unclear, but Earl Meador, director at South Central Louisiana Technical College, said cuts would be “significant” and “painful” but that the they would find a way to pay for the rest of the semester.

“We're going to find a way to get through the term. What does it look like for summer and spring? That's unknown,” he said.

Officials wit the nine-campus University of Louisiana System, which includes Nicholls, said its proposed reduction "would severely hinder, if not cripple our institutions." In a statement, they said they cuts would require furloughs, force several campuses to declare the equivalent of financial bankruptcy, eliminate degree programs and threaten accreditations.

The LSU system would take on $65 million of the cuts, which would result in layoffs and program closures, University President King Alexander said.

The LSU Agricultural Center, with offices in Houma and Raceland, would have to declare a financial emergency, close five research stations and eliminate three academic departments, according to the document.

The Southern University System said its campuses would cut professors, eliminate classes, curtail recruiting efforts and cancel summer school in Shreveport and Baton Rouge.

State Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Rallo said plans submitted by all four public college systems show massive layoffs, canceled classes and decreased student services, among other reductions.

Louisiana's budget has a gap estimated at more than $700 million that must be closed before the financial year ends June 30.

The $131 million cut to colleges assumes lawmakers will agree to tap into Louisiana's "rainy day" fund, redirect some oil spill settlement money and make across-the-board cuts to protected budget areas.

That would still leave a gap the Edwards administration said would be split largely between colleges and public health services unless lawmakers agree to raise revenue.

“We'll get through it. That light is there," Murphy said. "We have a governor that seems to be a champion of higher education.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
15 2016-01-20
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls' St. Thomas Aquinas center earns high ranking


Among Best College Reviews' top Newman Centers on college campuses across the United States, Nicholls State University's campus ministry ranked in the top 10.

The independent Best College Reviews provides college rankings, reviews of college features and relevant information on colleges and universities in the United States.

The St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center at Nicholls was ranked among 49 other Newman Centers.

According to Best College Reviews' website, Newman Centers serve as places for young Catholics to further religious ideals and goals through prayer, study, religious services, community service and relationship-building activities.

"This list is interesting because knowing a lot of great ministry programs, a lot of the really good ones weren't included," the Rev. Andre Melancon said. "But it was humbling."

This is Andre's third year as campus pastor, and he said this is the first time the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center has been included on the list.

"Being recognized for what we do for our students is a real blessing," he said.

Best College Reviews' website states the Newman Centers were chosen because they have a Catholic population of greater than 100 students, have regular Mass offerings during the week, offer opportunities for spiritual growth, have community-building events and have a relationship with the local parish.

Nineteen-year-old freshman Madalyn Beyer frequents the St. Thomas Aquinas Center quite often.

Before she enrolled at Nicholls, her friends told her about the center and encouraged her to join.
"(The list) didn't surprise me as much as I thought it would, but I was like wow, we really do have something special," she said.

Assistant Campus Minister Cissy Atzenhoffer has been with the center since 2012, and she said the center's ranking took her by surprise.

"I didn't even know this list existed so I was pretty surprised when I learned because we're such a small university," Atzenhoffer said. "But we have amazing things going on at our campus."

Atzenhoffer and Andre agree that the center is the students' home away from home.

"Having a Catholic student center is a must. Students are looking for family and a place to belong," Andre said. "I really get to experience spiritual fatherhood because I'm with them all day, every day."

Andre added that the greatest recognition doesn't come from a list, however. "It comes from within the students."
15 2016-01-20
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls, Delgado partner to help more nursing students earn four-year degrees


Nicholls State University and Delgado Community College are partnering to produce more registered nurses with four-year nursing degrees to meet industry demands.

Both schools have signed a mutually beneficial transfer articulation agreement making it easier for Delgado’s associate degree nursing graduates to transfer to Nicholls’ Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.

Delgado’s licensed nursing graduates wishing to continue their education may transfer to the Nicholls RN to BSN program offered online through the Nicholls College of Nursing and Allied Health.

“Through this agreement between Nicholls and Delgado’s nursing programs, we hope to expand the education and future career options for Delgado’s registered nurses prepared at the associate degree level,” said Dr. Sue Westbrook, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health at Nicholls.

“There is a growing body of research that reinforces the connection between baccalaureate nursing education and better patient outcomes such as lower mortality and morbidity rates, lower hospital readmission rates and shorter lengths of hospital stay. These outcomes translate into cost savings for hospitals. As a result, health care employers are recognizing that education makes a difference and are creating more job opportunities for baccalaureate nurses in the acute care setting.”

The Institute of Medicine has recommended that 80 percent of nurses hold at least a four-year degree by 2020. Currently, over 60 percent of U.S. nurses hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

In addition to the nursing agreement, Nicholls and Delgado maintain a transfer articulation agreement in business.
15 2016-01-20
Lafayette

AADE donates $76,500 to UL's Petroleum Engineering Department


LAFAYETTE, Louisiana -- The National Chapter of American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE) and the Lafayette Chapter recently joined forces to donate more than $76,500 to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL) to go toward its Petroleum Engineering Department Equipment Fund.

The Petroleum Engineering Department Equipment Fund at UL is used to support the Mud Lab, which offers petroleum engineering students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience beyond classroom instruction.

The AADE Lafayette Chapter donated $38,934 to purchase equipment such as laboratory mixers, hot plates, hand-held balances, a Garrett gas train, a permeability plugging tester, interval timers, centrifuges and other required supplies. The National AADE Chapter agreed to provide matching funds to further expand AADE’s support. The AADE National Chapter donated $37,638 to purchase gas porosimeters.
15 2016-01-12
Baton Rouge

Update: Nicholls State joins Louisiana universities banning hoverboards from campus


Updated, noon Friday:

Nicholls State University announced Friday that it is banning hoverboards and similar self-balancing electric scooters from campus because of safety issues, including concerns about hoverboard-related fires.

The decision came after consultation with the Nicholls Office of Environmental Health and Safety, university President Bruce Murphy said in a notice sent to students, faculty and staff. "Your safety — and the safety of our campus community — is always our top concern," he said.

According to the policy, using, charging, possessing or storing hoverboards or electronic skateboards will not be permitted on campus grounds or inside campus buildings, including residence halls. Is says the university may reassess the policy pending the establishment of "adequate safety standards" for the devices.

Original story:

Two more Louisiana universities on Thursday joined the list of colleges nationwide banning hoverboards on campus, and three others are considering similar action following scores of injuries and fires related to the devices.

More than 30 universities have banned or restricted the hands-free, battery-powered scooters on their campuses in recent weeks, according to The Associated Press.

LSU notified students last week that the use, possession and storage of hoverboards and other electronic, self-balancing devices would be prohibited on campus until safety standards are developed and implemented across all models.

“These devices’ batteries can burst into flame — especially while being charged — resulting in a metal fire that can burn with intense heat,” LSU officials said in a Dec. 30 letter to students. “We are not willing to risk your safety and your community’s safety.”

Southeastern Louisiana University and University of Louisiana at Lafayette announced similar bans Thursday, urging students to leave the devices at home when they return to campus for spring classes, which begin next week.

Officials at Southern, Nicholls State and Tulane also are considering policy changes to ban hoverboards, spokesmen for the universities said Thursday.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating 28 fires in 19 states, including two in Louisiana, and more than 70 emergency room-treated injuries related to hoverboards, Deputy Communications Director Patty Davis said.

Davis stressed, however, that the number of injuries reported includes only those treated in the 100 hospitals across the country that have partnered with the commission to report product-related injuries.

“We use those numbers to make national estimates, but we hadn’t seen any hoverboard-related injuries prior to August, so not enough time has passed yet to make that estimate,” Davis said.

Some of those injuries have been serious, including concussions, fractures and internal organ injuries, CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said in a Dec. 16 statement. CPSC engineers are testing new and damaged boards to determine why some models caught fire during the charging stage and others caught fire while in use, Kaye said.

Hailey Smith, a freshman biology major at UL-Lafayette, said the college bans are overly restrictive. A dozen or more students were using hoverboards on the Lafayette campus without incident before the semester break, she said.

“If people would take care of their hoverboards more, not leaving them to charge all night like with cellphones, then they wouldn’t overheat,” Smith said. “I think, yes, we should have at least a few regulations here and there, but just banning all hoverboards or any smart technology used to get around campus is absolutely ridiculous.”

Smith and her roommate both received hoverboards for Christmas to help maneuver around campus.

“I just started at ULL and made a schedule that was not so walking friendly,” Smith said. “My mom gave me the hoverboard to help me get from one end of campus to another.”

Smith hopes family in Iota, about an hour’s drive from Lafayette, will keep her hoverboard for her until the university lifts the ban. Otherwise, she would have to make the 31/2-hour trek home to Shreveport to use it.

“I’ve been very cautious with the fact that some have been known to catch on fire,” Smith said. “But reading articles about it, it seems that it’s the ones that aren’t name brands, that are made by other companies without the proper parts, that are known to overheat.”

Southeastern spokesman Rene Abadie said the Hammond campus has not had any incidents involving hoverboards, but safety concerns did lead to the change in policy.

“Our main intention, as always, was the best interest of our students,” Abadie said.

Other universities issuing bans include the University of Alabama, University of Kentucky, George Washington University and American University, the AP reported Thursday.

At Ohio State University and at Xavier University in Cincinnati, students were told they can bring a hoverboard to campus only if it came with a seal showing the board meets certain safety standards, according to the AP.

The devices also have been banned by the three largest U.S. airlines and are prohibited on New York City streets. A new law in California requires riders to be at least 16 and wear a helmet when riding the devices in public.

Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen, and call her at (225) 336-6981.
15 2016-01-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State bans hoverboards from campus By Jacob Batte Senior Staff Writer Published: Friday, January 8, 2016 at 12:14 p.m. Last Modified: Frida



Nicholls State University has joined the growing list of U.S. and state universities that are grounding hoverboards.



University President Bruce Murphy announced today in an email to students that the school is banning the hot holiday present indefinitely due to concerns that the two-wheeled, motorized scooter is unsafe .

Dozens of universities have banned or restricted hoverboards on their campuses in recent weeks due to similar concerns. LSU, Tulane, Southeastern Louisiana University and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have enacted bans.

Beyond the risk of falls and collisions, colleges are citing warnings from federal authorities that some of the self-balancing gadgets have caught on fire.

“The university ban is being implemented due to several reports of hoverboard-related fires, which are currently being investigated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Murphy said in the email to students. “The campuswide ban will remain in place until adequate safety standards are applied to all of these devices and the university is able reassess the policy.”

Those who bring one of the boards on campus will be informed of the policy and asked to leave. But if they continue to bring it to campus they could face written reprimand or suspension.

“Students may not always agree with or like our policies, but they usually follow them,” said Eugene Dial, Nicholls vice president of student affairs. “We'd rather err on the side of safety than have an explosion.”
Student reaction has been measured so far. Student Government Association President Lillie Bourgeois said she supports the decision. Hoverboards made a brief appearance on campus toward the end of last year and were mostly a nuisance, she said.

“They take up the walkways ... and the explosion is kind of scary, not just for the person who owns it but also for the people around it when it happens,” she said. “I don't see any good coming out of hoverboards on campus.”

Bourgeois said other student leaders have agreed with her.

Campus photographer Misty McElroy's daughter received one for Christmas to McElroy's displeasure. But her father researched the item before he bought and found one approved by the Underwriters Laboratories.

“I guess it's like anything else, you just have to be careful,” McElroy said. “I had major, major, major concerns with this thing.”

On the first day she had it, McElroy's daughter fell off and had to be taken to the doctor.

“She didn't break anything. We have since gotten her some pads and a helmet,” McElroy said. “When we went to the doctor, he said, 'We've been waiting for one of you.'”

Ever since, they've taken great caution with the hoverboard. They never charge it unattended, or overnight, and only for an hour when the low battery light comes on.

“She loves it and takes care of it,” McElroy said. “She's gotten really good at it.”

At Ohio State University and at Xavier University in Cincinnati, students were told they can bring a hoverboard only if it came with a seal showing that it meets certain safety standards.

Hoverboards, of which there are several brands, have been banned by the three largest U.S. airlines, citing potential fire danger from the lithium-ion batteries that power them.

The devices also are prohibited on New York City streets, and a new law in California requires riders to be at least 16 and wear a helmet in public.

On Monday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported it's investigating 28 fires in 19 states tied to the motorized scooters. Fire officials from New Jersey to California have blamed the boards for fires that damaged homes. The federal commission also said there have been serious injuries caused by falls.

Dial suggested the university may allow hoverboards in the future.

“I'm sure in time they'll fix what's wrong with it and we can reevaluate it,” Dial said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.

15 2016-01-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls police dispatcher charged with disturbing the peace


THIBODAUX -- A Nicholls State University Police dispatcher faces a disturbing the peace charge after the staff at a Thibodaux apartment complex reported he yelled and cursed at them and that they were afraid of him.
The Courier reports the Sheriff's Office responded Dec. 11 to Bayou Reserve Apartments after getting a complaint that 41-year-old James Grayden was being aggressive at the main office.
The complex manager told Deputy Jeremy Milstead that Grayden asked why staff members had entered his apartment, claiming they had no right to do so. She said he yelled and cursed at the staff, refusing to leave.
Deputies arrested Grayden and charged him with disturbing the peace.
Nicholls State University spokeswoman Stephanie Verdin says the university "does not comment on employees' private matters."
It's unclear if Grayden has an attorney.
15 2015-12-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls to benefit from $7 million in state bonds


Nicholls State University will get $7 million from the state to pay off the debt run up by renovating the Student Union and cafeteria on campus, as well as repaving the parking lots.

The money is part of a $278 million bond sale and refinancing approved Thursday by the State Bond Commission.

Ronnie Rodriguez, Nicholls' chief financial officer, said the university sold bonds in 2006 to pay for the work. The refinancing approved by the state will allow the university to repay those loans early and free up some reserve dollars to meet other needs, such as a roof repair on the Student Union.

“It was kind of a win-win," Rodriguez said.

State Treasurer John Kennedy said the latest bond sale saves the state more than $1 million in interest payments. Kennedy's spokeswoman, Michelle Millhollon, said Nicholls saves $448,267 in interest payments by refinancing the debt on its project.

Nicholls' cafeteria underwent extensive renovations in 2006 and 2007. The dining facility underwent a floor-plan change, adding semi-private booths around the tables in the center of the dining area.

The work cost about $5 million for construction, $1 million for new kitchen equipment and $100,000 for furniture.

Work on the Student Union started late in 2005, with painting and new floors. The construction concluded in 2010 with a new food court and furniture.

Student fees were raised to pay for the construction.

Rodriguez said because interest rates were low, the time was right to refinance the bonds, which will result in the loans being paid off about a year early.

“You just don’t want to be out there refunding," Rodriguez said. "You've got to be careful how you use your credit. This afforded us the opportunity to get those things done.”
15 2015-12-14
Houma/Thibodaux

More than 650 graduate today at Nicholls State University


Treat others as you wish to be treated.


Enlarge |
Nicholls State University Colonels football player Terry Lucas kisses his son this morning at the school's fall commencement at Stopher Gymnasium in Thibodaux.

Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University
Photo Galleries

Nicholls State commencement
The old adage passed on by parents and teachers was the core message of Charles Rice's keynote address at Nicholls State University's graduation ceremonies today.

Held in the Stopher Gymnasium, the morning ceremony involved graduates from the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, Nursing and Allied Health, while the afternoon ceremony involved graduates from the College of Business Administration and University College.

Rice, the CEO of Entergy New Orleans and the city's former attorney and chief administrative officer, told the more than 650 graduates to be mindful of their impact on others throughout their careers.

"There are many versions of success. Many equate success to money, the car you drive, the house you live in or the power you wield. For me, success comes from the number of lives we touch," Rice said. "There are no shortcuts to success."

Rice offered four pieces of advice to the students: be nice to everyone, value people and diversify relationships, set goals and be true to yourself and others.

You never know how your actions today will come back to help or hurt you years later, Rice said. He recalled an experience when he took over as city attorney of New Orleans. He told everyone their jobs were under review except for one employee who, Rice said, had shown him and his wife kindness and professionalism two years prior.

"Because of that, his job was safe," Rice said. "You never know who will be able to help you ... so treat others the way you want to be treated."

Adding to that, Rice said it's important to diversify your relationships. People tend to hang around others with similar backgrounds and interests, he said, but "just because you may be the smartest person in the room doesn't mean you'll have all of the answers."

In closing, Rice told graduates to set goals and believe in themselves, but to also believe in others.

"My parents told me to always be true to myself, but that it is just as important to trust and believe in others," Rice said.

Noteworthy Nicholls graduates include:

•Cammie Claytor, who is receiving her master's in educational technology leadership. Claytor is a social studies teacher at Thibodaux High School and the president of the Lafourche Association of Educators. She was recently appointed to Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards' K-12 education transition team where she will serve with Nicholls Foundation member Matthew Block.

•Logan Parker, who graduated in Culinary Arts. The Farmerville native worked at Westchester Country Club in New York, represented Nicholls at Institut Paul Bocuse in France and won a cooking competition at the Dansereau House in Thibodaux. Parker also hosted cooking classes at local middle and high schools.

•Brandie Allen, who graduated with a degree in nursing. Allen first enrolled at Nicholls in 2006, transferred to Fletcher Technical Community College in Schriever before returning to Nicholls in 2012. Allen was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, an international nursing honor society, and will work at Terrebonne General Medical Center after graduation.

•Lucas Remisz, who graduated Saturday with a master's in business and accounting. The French exchange student from Paris will return to his hometown to participate in the ESCE International Business School in Paris.

•Alicia Boudreaux, who graduates with a degree in education. The Houma native was involved with the orientation team, was president of Tri Sigma Sorority and has already accepted a job with Mulberry Elementary School in Houma.

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.
15 2015-12-14
Houma/Thibodaux

More than 650 graduate today at Nicholls State University


Treat others as you wish to be treated.


Enlarge |
Nicholls State University Colonels football player Terry Lucas kisses his son this morning at the school's fall commencement at Stopher Gymnasium in Thibodaux.

Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University
Photo Galleries

Nicholls State commencement
The old adage passed on by parents and teachers was the core message of Charles Rice's keynote address at Nicholls State University's graduation ceremonies today.

Held in the Stopher Gymnasium, the morning ceremony involved graduates from the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, Nursing and Allied Health, while the afternoon ceremony involved graduates from the College of Business Administration and University College.

Rice, the CEO of Entergy New Orleans and the city's former attorney and chief administrative officer, told the more than 650 graduates to be mindful of their impact on others throughout their careers.

"There are many versions of success. Many equate success to money, the car you drive, the house you live in or the power you wield. For me, success comes from the number of lives we touch," Rice said. "There are no shortcuts to success."

Rice offered four pieces of advice to the students: be nice to everyone, value people and diversify relationships, set goals and be true to yourself and others.

You never know how your actions today will come back to help or hurt you years later, Rice said. He recalled an experience when he took over as city attorney of New Orleans. He told everyone their jobs were under review except for one employee who, Rice said, had shown him and his wife kindness and professionalism two years prior.

"Because of that, his job was safe," Rice said. "You never know who will be able to help you ... so treat others the way you want to be treated."

Adding to that, Rice said it's important to diversify your relationships. People tend to hang around others with similar backgrounds and interests, he said, but "just because you may be the smartest person in the room doesn't mean you'll have all of the answers."

In closing, Rice told graduates to set goals and believe in themselves, but to also believe in others.

"My parents told me to always be true to myself, but that it is just as important to trust and believe in others," Rice said.

Noteworthy Nicholls graduates include:

•Cammie Claytor, who is receiving her master's in educational technology leadership. Claytor is a social studies teacher at Thibodaux High School and the president of the Lafourche Association of Educators. She was recently appointed to Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards' K-12 education transition team where she will serve with Nicholls Foundation member Matthew Block.

•Logan Parker, who graduated in Culinary Arts. The Farmerville native worked at Westchester Country Club in New York, represented Nicholls at Institut Paul Bocuse in France and won a cooking competition at the Dansereau House in Thibodaux. Parker also hosted cooking classes at local middle and high schools.

•Brandie Allen, who graduated with a degree in nursing. Allen first enrolled at Nicholls in 2006, transferred to Fletcher Technical Community College in Schriever before returning to Nicholls in 2012. Allen was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, an international nursing honor society, and will work at Terrebonne General Medical Center after graduation.

•Lucas Remisz, who graduated Saturday with a master's in business and accounting. The French exchange student from Paris will return to his hometown to participate in the ESCE International Business School in Paris.

•Alicia Boudreaux, who graduates with a degree in education. The Houma native was involved with the orientation team, was president of Tri Sigma Sorority and has already accepted a job with Mulberry Elementary School in Houma.

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.
15 2015-12-10
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls professor known for work ethic, passion for teaching


Family and friends of R. Morris Coats remember the man’s hard work, kindness, sincerity and love for his job as an economics professor at Nicholls State University.

Morris Coats
Enlarge
Morris Coats
“We always joked that he wanted to take work with him everywhere because that was his hobby. That was his passion,” said his daughter, Kelsie Coats Pritchard. “He didn’t think of it as work.”

Coats, 60, a native of Jennings, died Dec. 3 following an apparent heart attack. He is survived by his wife, Anna Lisa Huval Coats, three children and one grandchild.

Coats’ journey into academia was foreshadowed early on.

His son, Mason, recalled one family story where Coats came inside from mowing the grass in the hot Louisiana sun. As he sat down to start his homework, he got lost staring at a pencil.

When his mother asked what he was doing, Coats said he was thinking about a future where a pencil would be the heaviest thing he would lift.

After majored in economics at Louisiana State University, he earned his Ph.D in Economics from Virginia Tech University and went directly into teaching.

Much of Coats’ work examined public choice, and policies, taxes, legislation and other factors affected if and how people made rational choices.

“He was always looking for something new to search out and understand, and he always was willing to review others’ work and see where his research would lead others,” Mason said.

While Coats opted for academia over manual labor, he was not one to shy away from hard work.

Throughout his 31 years at Nicholls, Coats was involved with various committees and organizations, and developed a reputation for working with students however long they were willing to work.

Finance professor John LaJaunie, who worked with Coats for 25 years at Nicholls, said Coats always tried to do what was right.

“He always tried to do the right thing no matter what, whether it was a committee assignment, whether it was holding the line on grades. He could have tremendous compassion for people but he always held them to a standard that called the best from them,” he said.

When LaJaunie would leave the office after teaching a night class around 9:30 p.m., Coats would often still be in his office working on writing, research or lessons that made economic theories more tangible for students.

“You can’t say this was a job for Morris. This was his passion, this is who he was,” LaJaunie said “He loved doing his research, he loved working with students, he loved working with colleagues.”

LaJaunie said sometimes that passion would lead to arguments, but it was always in an effort to make the place better.

“When you’d fight with him, it always made you think more closely about your position and why, and it usually led to better solutions,” he said.

In 2000 Coats received the Argent Bank Endowed Professorship in the College of Business. A scholarship has been formed to memorialize Coats, and his family and colleagues will work determine the criteria, LaJaunie said.

Coats, who played tuba and guitar, was also remembered for his love of music, quirky sense of humor and newsboy caps he wore with everything.

“He was just kind of different,” Pritchard said. “He was a person that marched to their own drum.”

While his children will remember their father’s love for his family, they expect the broader community will remember his dedication to Nicholls, his students and economics.

“He was not perfect, we all have our shortcomings, but Morris Coats gave a damn,” LaJaunie said. “He cared.”


15 2015-12-03
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls sees benefits from Manning deal


- The Manning Passing Academy is staying at Nicholls State University for six more years, and Colonels head football coach Tim Rebowe said he hopes to benefit from this relationship.

The university and Manning Passing Academy announced during the Thanksgiving break the signing of a six-year extension to keep the football camp in Thibodaux through 2021. Nicholls has hosted the camp since 2005 as through this relationship, the university has received an AstroTurf surface at John L. Guidry Stadium and improvements to the 20-acre field on which the majority of the camp takes place.

In a release from the university, Archie Manning said he is thrilled to continue his relationship with Nicholls.

“We are very excited to enter into a long-term agreement with Nicholls State University,” Manning said in statement. “The past 10 years have been terrific. Our staff, the campers and their families get to experience the true southern hospitality that Louisiana and Lafourche Parish are famous for. We feel that Thibodaux is the home of the Manning Passing Academy.”

“The ongoing partnership between Nicholls and the Manning Passing Academy is a win-win-win for Nicholls, the Mannings and the city of Thibodaux,” Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said in the statement. “Nicholls, along with our community partners, are committed to delivering the best experience possible, and we are grateful to the Mannings for choosing our university to educate and inspire young athletes each summer.”
The camp attracts more than 1,000 high school athletes and 100 coaches and counselors from professional and college football. Archie’s sons, NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli, work with each camper as well as some of the top college quarterbacks from all areas of the country.

Since 2005, Nicholls has sent a quarterback and a bevy of pass-catchers to work the camp. Rebowe’s first experience with the camp was last summer, but he sees it as a plus not only for the university but for his players who participate.

“It is great to see some of our guys getting to work with those quarterbacks. It does give me a little preview (for fall camp) with our receivers to see who can really go and catch the ball in different situations,” Rebowe said.

While Rebowe can get an early evaluation on his players, recruiting of campers is not allowed and that rule has been in place ever since Archie founded the camp 20 years ago.

However, having the camp at Nicholls for the next six years gives Rebowe a little extra to sell, especially to offensive skill players, in his recruiting efforts to improve his football program.

“I like having it and it showcases Nicholls and Thibodaux and what we got. It helps us with some little things, but it helps in recruiting,” Rebowe said. “We have so many athletes that come here and not just quarterbacks. There are so many receivers that come here too. Our coaches also get to work the camp with our players and I think it is a positive all the way around.”
15 2015-12-03
Natchitoches

Northwestern State's Basket Day tradition honors Native American artistry and culture


The annual Basket Day is set for Saturday at Northwestern State University’s Williamson Museum, a tradition that started 44 years ago.


A Chitimacha basket weaving demonstration by a member of the Native American Chetimachan tribe who come from St. Mary Parish near Bayou Teche.
CREDIT NORTHWESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY
Craftspeople from at least four Native American tribal communities in Louisiana and Mississippi will gather in Natchitoches to sell baskets, bead work, pottery, wood carving and other handmade traditional items.

Northwestern State anthropologist Pete Gregory directs the museum. It recently acquired a collection of hundreds of Native American baskets. Gregory says Basket Day is hosted by the university’s anthropology club as a way to show support for American Indian arts and culture.

Members of the Tunica-Biloxi tribe will perform songs in their native language. These songs, he says, are at least 1,000 years old, and the tribe is working to keep the language alive.

“They were down to basically no speakers and they went back to the anthropological linguist to get tapes that were made in the 1930s and all the texts written up about them,” Gregory said. “They started their own language program. They are teaching both young people and adults now to speak Tunica again.”

Gregory has taught at NSU for 54 years. He’s witnessed how craftspeople have passed on the basketry tradition for generations. He says native artistry is being nurtured now more than ever because there is more economic stability and education among people with tribal affiliations.

Members of the Choctaw use the Williamson Museum as a gathering place, and its collections have reflected the maintenance of tribal arts for decades.

Basket Day will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in NSU’s Kyser Hall, room 208. The Tunica-Biloxi song performance is set for around 11 a.m.

Basket Day is held each year on the same day as the Natchitoches Christmas Festival.
15 2015-11-24
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls, vendor promoting fresh foods on campus


Last Wednesday afternoon, sociology major Sarah Arnouville bought zucchini and eggplant, and mass communications major Andre Smith bought cabbage, squash, cucumbers, grapes and an apple. This of course wasn’t news except for this: both Nicholls State University students were setting themselves apart from the majority of their U.S. peers that at least one study shows have all but cut fruits and vegetables from their diet.


Enlarge |
Nicholls State University Dining Services Resident Dining Manager Nicole McQueen slices a pineapple for a shopper at a farmer's market in the Nicholls State University Student Union on Nov. 19.

Photo: Elizabeth Barrouquere/Correspondent Where Arnouville and Smith bought their produce was part of the story too and spoke to the lengths Sodexo, which provides NSU dining services, has gone to knock down at least one obstacle to fruit and vegetable consumption _ lack of availability.

Three times this fall semester, Sodexo and vendor Capitol City Produce have held one-day farmers markets on campus. Sodexo also holds farmers markets on other Louisiana campuses where it provides food services, including Dillard, Xavier, Loyola and Tulane universities.

At NSU two more are planned for next spring. The last before winter break was held Nov. 19. Business was brisk.

“We didn’t think it would be as big of an event as it turned out to be,” said Nicole McQueen, Sodexo’s NSU resident dining manager, who was on hand at the farmers market to answer patrons’ questions and keep tables stocked.

All produce was sold at cost, meaning market patrons paid what Sodexo paid Capitol City Produce. The mushrooms and nearly all of the vegetables were grown in Louisiana, primarily the Hammond area. Also available were Sodexo’s NSU executive chef Norman Hunt’s homemade goods, including sugar cane barbecue sauce, pickled green beans and pralines, profits for which are split between Sodexo and NSU.

Demand for on-campus venues that sell fresh produce is particularly high among international students bound to campus because they have no vehicles, but the appeal has been broader than that, McQueen said.

Smith, for example, is a Baton Rouge native who lives on campus.

“It’s easier to get to. The selection is better than Wal-Mart,” as well as the quality of the produce, he said. “The prices aren’t too bad.”

Graduate student Sarah Ballard, who hails from Connecticut, praised the farmers market for making local produce available to students. In her home state, November farmers markets are unheard of.

“It’s snowing,” she said.

In Thibodaux the day of the market, it rained, but patrons were not made to reckon with the puddles the morning downpour left behind. The whole spread stood under a canopy posted across from the student union store called The Grid.

That students are patronizing the farmers market is a positive sign, said Elizabeth Sloan, NSU assistant professor of dietetics and a registered dietician.

“Numerous studies show that when it’s there and available, they eat it,” she said.

Arnouville counts herself among the farmers market faithful. She frequents one in Houma, where she lives. When asked her opinion of a 2011 Oregon State University study that showed that most of more than 500 students surveyed failed to eat the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables and at times did not consume them at all, she said things have changed since the four-year-old study was done.

“I know quite a few students who like to buy fresh,” she said.

While the 2011 study was the most recent available specifically on college students, the outcome of a more recent study on adults bolstered that conclusion. Sloan pointed to a Center for Disease Control 2013 survey conducted in the U.S. and its territories. In Louisiana, where agriculture is a pillar of the economy, the survey showed that just 9 percent of more than 3,800 respondents met daily vegetable intake recommendations and only 7 percent met the recommendations for vegetable intake. According to USDA recommendations, adults 19-30 years old should eat at least two cups of fruit a day and 2.5 cups of vegetables, Sloan said.

One of the hottest item Wednesday? A root vegetable. More commonly known as sweet potatoes, they were gone by the afternoon.

While those and other vegetables cabbage, squash and cucumbers were grown in Louisiana, fruits such as apples, pineapple, grapes and cranberries were not. Fruits that are not grown locally or are not seasonal, however, are often in demand among students, Sloan said, and should be made available.

Sodexo’s NSU general manager Russell Barrios, who defines local produce as that which originates within 50 miles of Thibodaux, said that he strives to use and provide as much local produce as seasons and cost allow. Providing local is a goal in keeping with that of the university’s Sustainability Committee, whose members, including Barrios, are entrusted with the mission of finding ways to incorporate sustainable practices, such as recycling and buying local when possible, in day-to-day dealings. April to August Barrios estimated that about 70 percent of produce is local. In the winter months, the ratio runs about 60-40.

“Local produce does matter,” Sloan said, and the reasons are multi-fold. Buying local produce supports the area economy, reduces the amount of fossil fuel used for transportation and shortens the time between field and consumption. The sooner after harvest produce is consumed, the greater its nutritional value.

Campus food service providers and dieticians such as Sloan are tasked with changing habits which, research shows, were formed for many people when they were children. Parents are role models, Sloan said.

As for NSU’s dining services, it is doing a good job making fruits and vegetables available, Sloan said. Every venue on campus, from The Grid, to Jazzman’s Café to the Galliano Dining Hall offers fruits and vegetables in some form, she said.

Students are adults and can make choices.

“It takes a little bit of effort,” she said.

Still, obstacles remain. One that keeps students and others from making produce, particularly vegetables, as much a part of their meal as a hamburgers and fries is a lack of knowledge on how to prepare them. That’s where McQueen and Capitol City Produce sales representative Chris Ordoyne jumped right in.

Ordoyne was quick with suggestions on easy ways to prepare vegetables like eggplant. McQueen meanwhile made short work of peeling and dicing a pineapple for a buyer wary of the chore. If McQueen doesn’t know how to prepare a vegetable, she said, she’ll look up a recipe for a student on the spot.

“Some people will shy away from things because they don’t know what to do with it,” she said.

15 2015-11-24
New Orleans

Manning Passing Academy to remain at Nicholls State


THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — Nicholls State University and the Manning Passing Academy have signed a six-year contract extension to host the popular football skills camp on the Thibodaux campus through 2021. That's according to a news release from the school Monday.

Nicholls has hosted the four-day summer football camp since 2005, annually attracting more than 1,000 high school athletes and over 100 coaches and counselors from the NFL, colleges and high schools across the country.

Previously held each July, the 2016 Manning Passing Academy and future MPA camps will welcome campers June 23-26 to comply with NCAA recruiting regulations.

High school quarterbacks, receivers, running backs and tight ends travel from all 50 states and around the world to learn football fundamentals from retired NFL quarterback Archie Manning and his three sons.

15 2015-11-23
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls marketing students place third at international collegiate sales competition


THIBODAUX — Two Nicholls State University marketing seniors placed third out of 60 collegiate sales teams at the three-day International Collegiate Sales Competition hosted by Florida State University earlier this month in Orlando, Florida.

Nicholls marketing seniors Kaitlin Beier and Sara Trax outscored teams from 57 of the 60 participating schools including Louisiana State University, Auburn University, Texas A&M University, Kansas State University and Indiana University. Florida State University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire were the only teams to finish ahead of Nicholls. Beier also finished fourth overall in the individual sales competition.

“For Nicholls College of Business students to compete at this high level of competition showcases the quality of our professional sales concentration in marketing,” said Dr. Marilyn Macik-Frey, interim dean of the Nicholls College of Business Administration. “These students are performing at the highest levels and are getting noticed by top businesses. In the professional sales field, certain universities have a reputation for turning out the best in the country. Finishing third overall, Nicholls now shares that notoriety as a top-tier university in the area of professional sales.”

The International Collegiate Sales Competition combines challenges in the three most sought-after selling skills: business to business, direct to consumer and using the latest video conferencing technology to present solutions to international decision-makers. The event also includes a job fair sponsored by over 25 Fortune 500 companies along with mini educational seminars.

“These national and international sales competitions provide Nicholls marketing students with a valuable opportunity to experience real-world sales scenarios with some of the nation’s top businesses,” said Dr. Chuck Viosca, professor of marketing at Nicholls. “Perhaps more importantly, these competitions allow our students to network with and demonstrate their skills to prospective employers.”

Beier and Trax hope to achieve similar success at the National Sales Challenge currently being held at the Russ Berrie Institute for Professional Sales at William Paterson University’s Cotsakos College of Business in Wayne, New Jersey.

The National Sales Challenge, an intense series of selling competitions and workshops, brings together more than 100 students from 36 universities as well as 90 business executives who will host workshops and judge the sales competitions.

The Nicholls College of Business Administration hosts its own sales competition — the Bayou Sales Challenge — in the spring. The Bayou Sales Challenge is open to all Louisiana college students and features individual and team competitions held in the university’s Sales and Interactive Training Laboratory.

15 2015-11-23
Houma/Thibodaux

University president looks back on fall semester


The semester is coming to a close and University President Bruce Murphy discussed some of the fall 2015 highlights and changes facing Nicholls State University.

The beginning of classes this semester marked the opening of the new Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts building. Some of the 33,000 square foot building’s features include six kitchens, a full-size restaurant for Bistro Ruth class and lecture classrooms. The official groundbreaking for Ledet Hall was March 5, 2013, and a little over two years later, the grand opening ceremony took place on Aug. 20, 2015.

Another one of Murphy’s highlights of the fall semester was his trip to Cuba with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Since he returned, his mind has been whirling with ideas for student study abroad opportunities, faculty exchanges and Cuban cooking classes in the Culinary Arts department.

The Petroleum Engineering and Technology Services program has continued to grow this semester, despite a recent downturn in the local oil and gas industry.

“Unfortunately we don’t have the capacity to take in everybody. We have waiting lists for the PETSM program, we’re going be able to continue to expand the facilities,” Murphy said. “We’ve been improving the classrooms, knocking down walls and making them bigger.”

There are also plans for two new PETSM labs, a process control lab and a safety simulator.

“We’d like to get these state-of-the-art labs up and running because we think that once we do, the students will be prepared at a higher level for their jobs,” Murphy said. “The company will be able to save money, and won’t have to send them off to training.”

The PETSM program has also received several donations this year including some from companies like Capital One and organizations like the Morgan City Oilfield Fishing Rodeo.

The University broke ground on the $6.7 million renovation in Talbot Hall at the beginning of this semester.
“Next spring we’re going to have the opening of the Al and Mary Danos Theater. We think it’s going to open in April,” Murphy said. “Right now, there’s no stage or seats. It’s all going to be new.”

Al Danos, one of the Nicholls Foundation board members leading the way on this project, passed away earlier this year, and the foundation board unanimously agreed to change the name of the Mary Danos Theater to the Al and Mary Danos Theater in his honor.

Renovations and donations are not the only changes the University faced this year. School spirit has increased exponentially with the new leadership of the football team and changes to tailgating at games.

Tim Rebowe was announced as the new head football coach almost one year ago, and since then, the Colonels have broken their 23-game losing streak and added two wins to their record this season.

“There are a lot of people that say, ‘two wins?’ It’s not about the wins,” Murphy said. “I’ve been on the field and in the locker room— it’s a night and day difference. This team believes in each other and works hard to do the things that coach puts out there.”

Murphy credits the change in student tailgating as one of the reasons for the increase in school spirit at home games.

The new “N” zone tailgating spot in the end zone of the field was an idea the athletic department came up with. At first, students were hesitant about the idea, which explained the low turn out in the “N” zone for the homecoming game, but after fraternity and sorority leaders met with Murphy, the number of students utilizing the space increased for every game.

“That’s something that next year hopefully we can pick up where we left off and really build that,” Murphy said, “At first I was skeptical. Will they all fit? Are we allowed to do that? But, they are by large very well behaved and have spirit. They’re at the game. That’s what we want, we want to know what students want.”

Another more recent change the University is implementing is the change in Communicative Disorders and Athletic Training degrees. Both degree programs will be converted into concentrations and will no longer include clinical classes.

Murphy said the students’ degrees will not be any less competitive for graduate school, but will “be more the same to everybody else’s degree.”

“Once upon a time, all communicative disorders programs had clinicals, and then one by one they figured out that’s not necessary,” Murphy said. “I know there’s some pushback, but we really think this is the right decision to make.”

Nicholls was one of the last schools in the state to offer clinical classes for communicative disorders.
“One of the newspapers came out and said ‘students left in limbo’ we are not allowed to leave students in limbo. Our regional accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, has a specific provision where if you eliminate a program, you have to have a “teach out” for any students in it,” Murphy said.

15 2015-11-19
Houma/Thibodaux

Bassmaster College Series coming to Nicholls State



15 2015-11-18
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State proposes new degree programs


THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - Nicholls State University could bring back criminal justice and computer science degree programs.

Discussion of the new courses is paired with proposals to kill the communicative disorders and athletic training degrees. The two programs will remain concentrations in the Allied Health program.

The Daily Comet reports officials cited a low number of graduates, complications with future accreditation and low community impact for deleting those two degrees.

Likewise, they cited a workforce need for the creation of criminal justice and computing technologies degrees. The criminal justice degree was recently approved by the University of Louisiana System and now faces review by the state Board of Regents. The computing technologies degree will be reviewed by the UL System in December.

If the Board of Regents approves the programs, they could open up enrollment in the fall of 2016.


15 2015-11-18
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls hopes to draw students to high-tech field


If anyone can make the case for the importance of high-tech mapping to restoring the state's shoreline, it would be Coastal Restoration Scientist Darin Lee.


Enlarge |
A Dji Phantom drone hovers in the Nicholls State University Cotillion Ballroom during a Geographic Information Systems Day demonstration this morning. Students enrolled in the university's Geomatics program are trained to operate drones and other state-of-the-art technology used in mapping and surveying.

Elizabeth Barrouquere/Correspondent
“We can see what volume of sediment is being lost out of certain areas and how much volume is being gained,” said Lee, a wildlife conservationist who works in the Engineering and Operations Division of the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration. “It gives us an idea of how much sediment we have to go and get from other places... to nourish these locations. All of this is readily available because we have this geographic information.”

Lee was keynote speaker today at Nicholls State University's Geographic Information Systems Day, which drew students interested in the NSU's Geomatics program. According to NSU, geomatics is “the science and technology of surveying blended with the art and technology of mapping.”

Modern-day mapping isn't just about pinpointing location, Lee said. Those whose work involves coastal restoration can now compare data from maps and surveys over time, can determine if water is rising or land is sinking, whether a location has gained or lost wildlife habitat. Such detailed information can be used to track the progress of coastal restoration projects, make predictions, model solutions and be made available either as raw data or in visually compelling, accessible formats.
It was event coordinator Dr. Balaji Ramachandran's hope that Lee's remarks, a tour of the campus' state-of-the-art facilities and a demonstration of drone, one of the technologies used in mapping and surveying, resonated with the 25-30 potential recruits who attended. The need for mappers and surveyors skilled at using technologies that can include three-dimensional imaging is such that even if every student in attendance Tuesday graduated from NSU's program in four years demand would still not be met.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission estimates there will be a need for 40 professional land surveyors every year for the next 10 years.The same holds true for the nation, said Ramachandran. A degree in geomatics can prepare students for a wide-range of careers in a variety of industries from forestry to the oil and gas. Starting salary ranges between $45,000 and $60,000, but after four years' experience in the field and passing necessary exams, salaries can reach six figures.

Nicholls' Geomatics 12-year-old program is the only one in the state. NSU students' passage rate of exams necessary to become surveyors is 78 percent, and job placement after graduation is 100 percent, Ramachandran said. There are currently 42 students in the program.
15 2015-11-17
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State University proposes new degree programs


Nicholls State University could bring back criminal justice and computer science degree programs by next fall, pending approval from state education boards.

Discussion of the new courses is paired with proposals to kill the communicative disorders and athletic training degrees. The two programs will remain concentrations in the Allied Health program, but four faculty will be laid off and about 70 students will be forced to transfer or change majors if the proposals are accepted.

Officials cited a low number of graduates, complications with future accreditation and low community impact for deleting those two degrees.

Likewise, they cited a workforce need for the creation of criminal justice and computing technologies degrees. The criminal justice degree was recently approved by the University of Louisiana System and now faces review by the state Board of Regents. The computing technologies degree will be reviewed by the UL System in December.

If the Board of Regents approves the programs in enough time for the university to spread the word, they could open the programs to enrollment in the fall of 2016.

The criminal justice degree will be a plus-two degree, meaning students will receive an associate degree at a community college before completing their bachelor’s degree at Nicholls.

Nicholls originally developed the criminal justice associate degree curriculum and courses. But when community colleges, like Fletcher Technical Community College, opened their doors, the program shifted to the Terrebonne's two-year college.

Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said there is “absolutely” a need for a more educated law enforcement community.

“I think any amount of education you can provide the people in every profession, especially ours, can only benefit the individual and the community as a whole,” Webre said. “Society, the problems we deal with, the legal system, it all gets more complex with the advent of technology. It’s important for us to have a smarter, more educated workforce to deal with this level of criminal sophistication."

Nicholls has a computer science concentration in the Mathematics Department. The university offered a computer science program years ago, but low enrollment killed it.

“I do a lot of recruiting for Nicholls ... and we keep hearing students say they want computer science, and you fear you’re losing them,” said John Doucet , dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This will be unique and we’re hoping to attract students from the region who are interested in science and technology careers that involve coding and computers.”

Doucet said this time around the program will be more flexible to new trends in the industry by allowing a section of the curriculum labeled “emerging technologies” to change with the industry.

“They won’t be permanent courses ... so when the market goes beyond, we can make them part of the curriculum and move on to something else,” he said. “I think that’s very different. We’ll be focused on technologies and how things have changed.”

Within the computing technologies degree program are several focuses including petroleum computing, visualization technology, mathematics and scientific computing, and computing biology, among others.

“It’s a wonderful example of a need in the region and a need from the students,” said Provost Lynn Gillette.

The two programs would result in three new faculty hires. History professor Steve Michot would serve as one of the criminal justice faculty members, Doucet said. Nicholls would have to hire someone to replace Michot, while the two new degree programs would each add an additional full-time professor.

A few more programs may be proposed within the next year, including a bridge program for students seeking to beef up their resume for grad school and a short-term certification for coastal project management.

As the state begins to receive billions from BP oil spill fines and the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act is used for coastal restoration, it’s important the people working on the projects have a specialized knowledge of the challenges ahead, said Simone Maloz, executive director of Restore or Retreat, which is housed at the university.

“We’re about to be in the project and implementation phase (of the state’s Coastal Master Plan), so not only is the demand there, but from the product side it’s a need, too,” she said. “What a perfect fit in my head to do something like that at Nicholls.”

Both programs will be proposed to the UL System next year, but aren’t expected to be implemented at the university until 2017, Doucet said.

Other programs being discussed are a specialization in special education and internship dietetics.

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.

15 2015-11-16
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State professor knows origin of famous question


So what do the Marx Brothers, the St. Augustine High School Purple Knights and a bunch of Cajun football fans from Patterson have in common?


According to Nicholls State University's Shana Walton, you could say they were all Who Dats before Who Dat was cool.

Walton, a linguistics and cultural anthropologist who serves as an associate professor of English at the university, was approached to research the history of the “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints” chant after the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season. Her work was supposed to be part of the evidence used to argue that the phrase was a colloquialism and not subject to copyright amid lawsuits and counter suits filed by the National Football League, Kenner businessman Steve Monistere, and several area businesses who were using the phrase in advertising and on merchandise.

“I was contacted by a local law firm and I was asked if Who Dat could be of Acadian origin, 'Could WhoDat have been invented by the Cajuns?' And I said, 'No,'” Walton said emphatically. “But no one had done any research on that. So he took that back to the NFL.

“Next thing I knew I got a call from an NFL lawyer offering me a contract to do the research,” she said.

Walton was able to put together a team and attack the problem from three different points. One researcher dove into the dialect of New Orleans' Seventh Ward, finding instances of “Who Dat” usage going back decades before the Saints first took the field. Another researcher delved into the use of the phrase in the Southwest Athletic Conference, especially at Southern University in the 1960s and '70s. A third part of the research focused on the phrase as it grew from the Cajun dialect, specifically at Patterson High School in St. Mary Parish in the 1970s.

What Walton's team was able to document was that the Who Dat phrase generally, and specifically as part of a football chant, had been around for far longer than either Monistere or the NFL could legitimately lay claim to.

Her team's report, however, never saw the light of day. Before any of the cases went to trial, the NFL dropped its lawsuits, prompting others to do the same. The report was submitted to the court, and did make its way into the record of some of the other litigation over the use of the phrase. But none of those actions drew the same media attention as the NFL's lawsuit.

“I have no idea why they rolled over,” Walton said of the NFL's decision to withdraw its litigation. “I can tell you what the research did show There were three claims to authorship of the chant. One said the chant originated with St. Aug. One said it originated in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. And one said it originated at Patterson High School.”

But even those sources, Walton said, were not the originators of the “Who dat” term. That little two-word phrase, those six letters, can be traced back far enough to pre-date the United States.

“We started moving back in time, because the chant is actually part of a longer lineage of language play,” Walton said. “It started out as 'Who dat?' That language play goes all the way back to colonial America. You can find that documented in colonial newspapers. It is a way that Anglo-Americans have made fun of and mocked African-Americans. We found examples of use of it in newspapers all over the country.”


15 2015-11-13
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State University culinary alumni, students serve up annual fundraiser


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Nicholls State University culinary alumni, students serve up annual fundraiser



Jacqueline Blanchard, owner of Coutelier NOLA and Nicholls State culinary graduate, teaches a group of students before the Bite of the Arts fundraiser Thursday.

Jacob Batte/Staff
By Jacob Batte
Senior Staff Writer
Published: Friday, November 13, 2015 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 13, 2015 at 1:00 a.m.
It's 6 a.m. Thursday and Nicholls State University culinary students are working feverishly away in the kitchen of the Bollinger Memorial Student Union.

The first guests of the 19th annual Bite of the Arts gala, a fundraiser for the John Folse Culinary Institute for which the students are preparing, won't arrive for another 13 hours.

But the students, who started prepping the food on Tuesday, are hoping to execute a menu characterized as ambitious by the school's professors.

The theme this year is “Building Upon Success,” a play on the school's brand new facility, the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building, a $12.6 million, 33,000-square-foot building that opened earlier this year.

Most of the school's income comes from its fundraisers — Bite of the Arts and the Dinner of the Century, usually held in the spring. Officials estimate the fall gala brings in about $80,000 to $90,000 each year.

Every year a visiting chef or chefs are invited to choose the menu and guide the students in preparing the meal, but to play on theme even further, culinary officials instead chose a team of Nicholls alumni.

Jana Billiot, executive sous chef at Restaurant R'evolution in New Orleans; Jacqueline Blanchard, owner of Coutelier NOLA in New Orleans; Johnathan Lynch, chef de cuisine at Cafe Firenze in Los Angeles; Leslie Ogden, hotel manager at Hotel Le Marais in New Orleans and Manada Rouchon, assistant executive pastry chef at Sucre in New Orleans were selected.

Being chosen was “like an achievement,” Lynch said.

“I always wanted to be someone who could come back here,” he said.

Of the students, Lynch said he could see himself in how they listened and reacted to his instructions.

“I'm in a position to tell them I was in their shoes, and I know how to prepare them in a way for the kitchen, restaurant, the food experience. Really, this is such an honor.”

“It's a great opportunity to impart a lot of what I learned since I left,” Blanchard added. “They're humble kids. They're salt of the earth and really hungry and trying to make the best impact on the industry. That's a good reason why Nicholls has such a great reputation.”

The menu this year included charred pumpkin bisque, alligator gumbo, fried chicken arancini, dry-aged New York strip loin, blood orange barbecue-glazed ribs, seafood-inspired charcuterie and a build-your-own crudo bar with sashimi and local oysters as the appetizer. The three-course meal started with ricotta cavatelli with duck confit, followed by a Gulf grouper with brassicas and kumquat preserves while dessert consisted of milk chocolate pistachio feuilletine with hazelnut gelato.

“We have many different flavors going on,” said Matthew Rawlins, student executive sous chef. “It's nice to be able to work with the chefs, the people we all looked up to when we got started. For me, when I was a freshman, Jon Lynch was just a rumor. Chef Jacky was another one that we had heard about.”

The visiting alumni prepared the night's menu but the food, from the appetizers to the three-course meal, was prepared and served by the school's students.\

“I love it. I love being there with the students,” Billiot said. “They've got a lot of talented kids here and I'm really excited about the future of the industry here with these students.”

This year's student executive chef is senior Arlo Spear. Randy Cheramie, the culinary institute's executive director, said he was the perfect choice to handle such a complicated menu.

“He's a rock. You can pile things on him and he just says, 'Yes, chef, we'll get it done.' I don't think he knows how to say no, but he can handle it,” Cheramie said.

Spear, who wants to be an executive chef and eventually own his own restaurant, credited the success to his team and to the visiting chiefs.

“It's all about the inspiration we can derive from them,” Spear said. “We see how they have grown since they left school and it shows us that we can elevate ourselves to that point as well.”

After spending the better part of the last 72 hours focused entirely on Thursday's meal, Spear he would sleep well that night, but only if everything came out just right.

“I want to make people happy,” he said. “I want to make everyone in the dining room happy and I want to make all of my distinguished visiting chefs happy, and my team ... I want them to be proud of the food that they brought out and the service they provided.”

Senior Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.
15 2015-11-10
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls student-athletes graduating at high rate



For the second consecutive year, Nicholls State University student-athletes have posted the highest graduation rate among the Southland Conference schools in Louisiana, according to statistics released Wednesday by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).


The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) report shows that 73 percent of Nicholls student-athletes who began college in 2008 have earned their degrees within six years. Along with leading the Louisiana institutions within the Southland Conference, Nicholls’ overall GSR ranks fourth among Louisiana’s 11 public universities, which have Division I athletics, trailing only LSU, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette.

"The latest graduation rates demonstrate that Nicholls is committed to ensuring that our student-athletes reach their academic goals while participating in intercollegiate athletics,” Nicholls athletic director Rob Bernardi said. "I commend our coaches, student-athletes and academic support staff for the academic success of our student-athletes.”

Five Colonel teams – baseball, football, men’s tennis, women’s cross country and track, and volleyball – earned top-ranking GSRs among Louisiana’s Southland Conference schools, while four programs – men’s tennis, softball, women’s soccer, and volleyball – ranked third in Louisiana. The Colonel football team also posted the second-highest score in the Southland for the second straight year.

Designed to more accurately predict the academic success of athletes, the GSR measures the proportion of student athletes who graduate and includes incoming transfer students, a regular occurrence in college athletics, in its calculations. For more information on GSRs, visit web1.ncaa.org/GSRSearch.

15 2015-11-10
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls student-athletes graduating at high rate



For the second consecutive year, Nicholls State University student-athletes have posted the highest graduation rate among the Southland Conference schools in Louisiana, according to statistics released Wednesday by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).


The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) report shows that 73 percent of Nicholls student-athletes who began college in 2008 have earned their degrees within six years. Along with leading the Louisiana institutions within the Southland Conference, Nicholls’ overall GSR ranks fourth among Louisiana’s 11 public universities, which have Division I athletics, trailing only LSU, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette.

"The latest graduation rates demonstrate that Nicholls is committed to ensuring that our student-athletes reach their academic goals while participating in intercollegiate athletics,” Nicholls athletic director Rob Bernardi said. "I commend our coaches, student-athletes and academic support staff for the academic success of our student-athletes.”

Five Colonel teams – baseball, football, men’s tennis, women’s cross country and track, and volleyball – earned top-ranking GSRs among Louisiana’s Southland Conference schools, while four programs – men’s tennis, softball, women’s soccer, and volleyball – ranked third in Louisiana. The Colonel football team also posted the second-highest score in the Southland for the second straight year.

Designed to more accurately predict the academic success of athletes, the GSR measures the proportion of student athletes who graduate and includes incoming transfer students, a regular occurrence in college athletics, in its calculations. For more information on GSRs, visit web1.ncaa.org/GSRSearch.

15 2015-11-10
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State professor knows origin of famous question



So what do the Marx Brothers, the St. Augustine High School Purple Knights and a bunch of Cajun football fans from Patterson have in common?



Enlarge

Cover art from some sheet music around the turn of the 20th century shows that the Who Dat phrase has a long lineage.



According to Nicholls State University's Shana Walton, you could say they were all Who Dats before Who Dat was cool.

Walton, a linguistics and cultural anthropologist who serves as an associate professor of English at the university, was approached to research the history of the “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints” chant after the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season. Her work was supposed to be part of the evidence used to argue that the phrase was a colloquialism and not subject to copyright amid lawsuits and counter suits filed by the National Football League, Kenner businessman Steve Monistere, and several area businesses who were using the phrase in advertising and on merchandise.

“I was contacted by a local law firm and I was asked if Who Dat could be of Acadian origin, 'Could WhoDat have been invented by the Cajuns?' And I said, 'No,'” Walton said emphatically. “But no one had done any research on that. So he took that back to the NFL.

“Next thing I knew I got a call from an NFL lawyer offering me a contract to do the research,” she said

15 2015-11-09
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State University renovates graphic design lab



Nicholls State University has renovated its graphic design lab in Talbot Hall with the help of a $20,000 donation from the Lou and Dane Ledet family.


A $30,000 Nicholls instructional technology grant paid for the rest of the project. The renovation included new iMac computers, peripherals, two high-quality inkjet printers, laptop stations, an audio and video editing room and a critique and sketch area.

15 2015-11-06
Houma/Thibodaux

http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20151104/HURBLOG/151109888/1223?Title=Bank-donates-20-000-to-Nicholls-scholarships


Bank donates $20,000 to Nicholls scholarships





Capital One Bank donated $20,000 to the Nicholls State University Foundation to pay for book scholarships for 33 petroleum services students. Pictured (from left) are Neal Weaver, foundation executive director and vice president for university advancement; Robbie Naquin, tri-parish market president for Capital One Bank; and Nicholls President Bruce Murphy.

15 2015-11-06
Houma/Thibodaux

Budget decisions are painful but necessary



Recent years have brought cut after cut to the budgets at Nicholls State and universities around the state.



The most obvious impacts of those cuts have been reductions in services to the students — the reason the universities exist in the first place.

At Nicholls State, those cuts have taken the form of reduced library hours and the elimination of programs.

Most recently, Nicholls State officials announced that the university will cut its athletic training and communicative disorders programs.

“In our tight budget time, academic programs must attract an adequate number of students and align with regional workforce needs to be viable,” a Nicholls State spokeswoman said.

That is a good point. It's a real shame that the university is doing away with the communicative disorders program, particularly since it offers clinical experience -- one of the few that do -- and gives the surrounding community such a valuable resource.

But every decision about what to provide or cut at a regional university must be balanced against how many students take advantage of the offerings and how attractive it makes future graduates to potential employers.

These are not solitary considerations, of course.

While the populist notion of running public services like businesses is sometimes used, government-run services such as universities are not businesses.

They don’t exist simply to churn out future employees.

They are primarily places of learning. They are institutions where tomorrow’s leaders in a variety of fields lay the groundwork for their lifelong road to education.

15 2015-11-05
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls police get body cameras, go into use by Dec. 1




Nicholls State University's police department is the latest local law enforcement agency to introduce body cameras.



University Police Chief Craig Jaccuzzo said he purchased eight Digital Ally cameras at $800 each and plans to buy another eight by early next year. The money comes from the university's operating budget.

Nicholls joins the Thibodaux, Houma and Lockport police departments and Terrebonne and Assumption sheriffs' offices in introducing body cameras. Jaccuzzo said he's wanted the technology for about four years but struggled with securing money.

"It strengthens the credibility of our officers and discredits or gives credit to reports of an officer performing duties unprofessionally or not within the guidelines we set," he said. "It provides us the evidence for probable cause for an arrest or evidence for the prosecution to use during a trial."

Jaccuzzo said he's using recommendations from the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services Office to create a policy for camera usage. No one will be allowed to edit footage, and only the lieutenant and investigator can upload videos.

"If it is edited, it's a blatant violation of our policy, which they would be disciplined for," Jaccuzzo said. "You can't lose the integrity of the evidence or the integrity of (the cameras) or it would be useless for us to have them."













Nicholls State University Police Chief Craig Jaccuzzo tries on a body camera today at the police station.





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15 2015-11-03
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls athletic training, communicative disorders programs to be cut



Low enrollment and a dwindling regional market are being cited by Nicholls State University officials as to why they’re recommending cutting their athletic training and communicative disorders programs, resulting in several layoffs and more than 70 students being left in limbo.



“In our tight budget times, academic programs must attract an adequate number of students and align with regional workforce needs to be viable,” Nicholls spokeswoman Stephanie Verdin said.

A budget review committee formed by Nicholls President Bruce Murphy and filled with his cabinet, faculty and other staff asked the administration to review those two programs, as well as several others, before Provost Lynn Gillette and the department heads recommended cuts.

Athletic training, which had graduated fewer than 40 students over the last five years, wasn’t worth the $12,000 it would cost for re-accreditation, officials said. And new standards set to go in effect in 2022 require a master's degree in athletic training, which Nicholls doesn’t offer, to be certified.

Gillette said students can still pursue other degrees that serve as pre-athletic training to prepare them for grad school.

Communicative disorders will become a degree concentration in the Department of Allied Health Science but will not include clinicals that students say made the program so attractive in the first place.

Nicholls won’t incur a huge amount of savings from the two programs. Their combined cost of $412,000 is 0.7 percent of the university's $56 million budget.

15 2015-11-02
New Orleans

Nicholls State to cut 2 programs, 70 students in limbo


THIBODAUX — Low enrollment and a dwindling regional market are being cited by Nicholls State University officials as to why they're recommending two programs be cut.

The programs include their athletic training and communicative disorders programs, which would result in several layoffs and more than 70 students being left in limbo.

Nicholls spokeswoman Stephanie Verdin tells The Daily Comet academic programs must attract an adequate number of students and align with regional workforce needs to be viable.

Nicholls won't incur a huge amount of savings from the two programs. Their combined cost of $412,000 is 0.7 percent of the university's $56 million budget

15 2015-10-30
Regional/National

The 25 best college professors in America


Mathematics, Nicholls State University

What students say:

"Kelly Champagne is a wonderful instructor! She goes through the lessons quickly and efficiently making sure no one is left behind. I've never been a big fan of math but she makes it really easy and she explains very thoroughly."

"Best teacher I have ever had. If you are struggling at all this is the teacher to take. She will help in anyway possible. As long as you want to learn she will be there to teach you. I have had

15 2015-10-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Culinary student to participate in prestigious cooking competition - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001460/showcase/culinary-student-to-par


One culinary arts student has been selected to represent Nicholls’ Chef John Folse Culinary Institute in the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Regional Competition being held in Chicago, Illinois in January 2016. Johnene Breaux, a senior and native of New Orleans, was selected to attend the competition amongst 10 other culinary students. In the selection process, students had two hours to present their dish. Four separate dishes were prepared by each cook, in which plates were presented to the judges in 10-minute intervals. Breaux won over the judges after successfully preparing and presenting andouille-crusted scallops with boursin cheese grits, sautéed asparagus, lemon beurre blanc and a scallop hush puppy. “This was a competition I wanted to try for last year but didn’t have the time, plus my skill level wasn’t where it is now,” Breaux said. “This is my last year of school, so I thought it was best to give it a try.” This is the seventh year that Nicholls culinary has been involved in the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Regional Competition. The San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition hosts over 40 of the leading culinary schools across the U.S., in a spirited cooking competition that spotlights the best and brightest. Culinary students will compete before the food media, distinguished guests and renowned chefs. Nicholls’ students won the first five times they competed in regional competition. Chef Randy Cheramie, executive director and instructor of Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, will mentor Breaux as she begins to practice making a 10-plate meal. “We offered a simple pantry to the students, but we also insisted the students to, for the overall parameters of the competition, make a dish with some kind of Louisiana flare,” Cheramie said. “Mainly because of where we are from and because our cuisine here, Cajun Creole cuisine, is known as probably one of the two greatest art forms to come out of the new world.” The competition features eight different student cooks from eight different schools. According to Cheramie, being able to be comfortable and handle the media attention is one thing that comes with participating in this prestigious competition. “Part of the scoring is how each cook presents themselves,” Cheramie said. Being a successful chef in today’s world means being a part of media and knowing how to handle an interview. Breaux and Cheramie will begin practicing next week. The two will conduct sessions starting off once a week and eventually progressing to multiple practice sessions during the week. “We practice so when we get there, there’s not much thinking, just doing,” Cheramie said. “I promise she’s not going to have anything to hang her head about, she’s going to be proud of her dish, and I’m going to be proud of her because we will have done our work and will be ready.” Breaux will practice with a shrimp and also a scallop dish. Once comfortable and familiar with both, she will decide on which plate she feels better suits her presentation. A graduate of John Ehret High School in New Orleans, Breaux always knew that she wanted to be in the kitchen. Breaux’s favorite dish to make is pasta with shrimp. Learning how to stay calm under pressure for any competition is one aspect she believes she will learn and benefit from during the competition. “I plan on competing in other competitions, so this will be great experience learning how to stay calm, stay positive and stay on top of everything,” Breaux said. “I’m representing Nicholls State University and if I win, that’s big. I just want to stay calm.” Regional winners move on to the final, where they will compete for the coveted San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef title and a one-year paid apprenticeship with a celebrity chef from the panel. Getting to the national competition in California keeps the motivation flowing for Breaux. “I’m very excited for the experience and that I won an opportunity to go to Chicago,” Breaux said. “Everyone’s excited for me and I’m proud of myself, but I want to make it to Napa Valley, California and win the big prize. That’s my goal.” - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001460/showcase/culinary-student-to-participate-in-prestigious-cooking-competition/#sthash.Ujk9SoPv.dpuf
15 2015-10-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls STEPs hosts events for breast cancer awareness - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001445/news/nicholls-steps-hosts-events-for-breast


Health Services at Nicholls State University is sponsoring a Breast Health Awareness Campaign called Nicholls STEPs (Screening, Treatment and Educational Programs) for breast health and is providing multiple events in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

This month, Nicholls STEPs and nursing students are aiming to bring awareness to methods of prevention and detection of breast cancer. Morgan Dantin, junior nursing student from Pensacola, Forida, is a supporter of the STEPs program.

“Many people take breast health for granted and don’t think they will get breast cancer, but breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. Men can get it as well. The best way to beat cancer is by researching and educating the population,” Dantin said.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation awarded Nicholls a grant to help. This was so the University could provide screening, treatment and education programs to the students.

This international organization has a multitude of volunteers who work through different events and strive to eliminate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research. Nancy Brinker established the foundation in 1982 in memory of her sister, Susan G. Komen, who lost her battle with breast cancer at age 36.

“With the STEPs program, they are providing education, especially to those who are medically underserved, about doing monthly breast screens and how to do them. When people in the community are given this knowledge, it gives them the chance to be able to detect breast cancer while it is still treatable and even helps prevent deaths,” Dantin said.

Professionals from the University Health Service department on campus will counsel referrals on self-breast examination techniques. Students can schedule an appointment for counseling sessions. Information on breast cancer and breast health will be available at all times. The health professionals are encouraged to include breast health instructions and educational materials during visits to the clinic. All educational materials, including videos, will be offered to residential assistants to use for their monthly programs that take place in the residence halls.

A Race for the Cure will be held near Guidry Stadium on Oct. 24. 75 percent of the money raised will stay in the community to fund STEPs. Sydney Amedee, junior nursing major from Vacherie, will be attending the 5k this weekend.

“It is important to raise awareness and support those in the community fighting or surviving breast cancer. Race for the Cure offers just that to our community here in Thibodaux,” Amedee said.

Weekly programs have been set up in the student union. The programs are providing breast self-exam information and models. There will be a Komen Breast Cancer information table this week in the union from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001445/news/nicholls-steps-hosts-events-for-breast-cancer-awareness/#sthash.aXLITyjx.dpuf
15 2015-10-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls makes steps to bring back computer science degree - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001447/news/nicholls-makes-steps-to-bring-back-


Nicholls State University hopes to see the return of the computer science degree under the College of Arts and Sciences within the next two years. Computer science is currently listed as a concentration under the department of mathematics where students can choose from 26 computer science courses that are mostly electives. Only three of those courses are required. In past years, computer science was its own separate major, but was removed as a degree due to low student enrollment. However, a need has been expressed for its return. Lynn Gillette, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said that when he came to Nicholls in July, the University was interested in finding ways to increase enrollment and improve retention, specifically through new programs. “We asked for feedback from our recruitment team as to where there was a great need and what were programs that students were interested in, and what degrees are highly sought after by local businesses,” Gillette said. There were three programs that were mentioned more than others: engineering, criminal justice and computer science. Both criminal justice and computer science degrees are scheduled to join the curriculum. Since computer science already has foundations in the University, there is hope that students can enroll as computer science majors as soon as the fall of 2016 or the spring of 2017. The given timeline is Gillette’s ideal intent, but the approval process may take a few months at most. “This all depends how soon we can get approval,” Gillette said. “Right now we are in the process of writing a letter of intent to send to the Louisiana Board of Regents. We have to get consent anytime we create a new major. If that were to get approved, we can move forward in taking the necessary steps.” If the board approves the letter of intent, the admissions team would be responsible for getting the word out to the public via a press release and marketing. The major will be available to all incoming freshmen and any older students desiring to major in computer science are also welcome. The new program will be different from the original, in that the University is seeking to “attract students that match the current need at present.” The target is to focus on computer processing; however, the specific courses and requirements for the degree have not been decided, as it is too early in the process. Although the University does anticipate hiring new faculty members to teach the new courses, there are a few current professors who will be teaching the some of the computer science classes. The Committee for Courses and Curricula will be “serving as a review board for proposed courses and curricula changes and make recommendations for accepted changes,” and once granted accreditation, the committee will oversee the changes to the academic handbook of listed courses. Les Theriot, student representative on the Committee for Courses and Curricula and treasurer of Nicholls State University Student Government Association, said that some courses are gradually becoming available again. “For example, we’re working on CMPS 424 ‘Design and Analysis of Algorithms,’ which is geared towards computer programming,” Theriot said. The computer information systems major is more “business-oriented,” and will still be separate from the computer science major, so students will have to choose between the two programs. - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001447/news/nicholls-makes-steps-to-bring-back-computer-science-degree/#sthash.k8DhwOho.dpuf
15 2015-10-23
Houma/Thibodaux

One Shell at a Time: NSU joins effort to use oyster shells to save Louisiana's coast



Take a good, hard look at the plate of charbroiled oysters in front of you the next time you sit down to enjoy the Louisiana delicacy. It is a lot more than just a delicious meal; it’s also the basis of an effort to restore the Bayou State’s shorelines, one that is now expanding to the Barataria region.

Launched in June 2014 by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, a non-profit organization dedicated to driving rebuilding action, the Oyster Shell Recycling Program repurposes shells, which will be utilized to construct oyster reefs off the coast of the state. The project, supported by funding from Shell, began with just 12 New Orleans-based restaurants and in 16 months, has grown to include 25 Big Easy restaurants and Nicholls State University, the first organization outside of the city to join the cause.

The recycled shell is vital to the functioning of wetlands ecosystems unique to Louisiana, the coalition’s director of communications, Jimmy Frederick, said. Currently, there is a 60 percent shell deficit in the state simply because most of the oysters harvested don’t return to Gulf waters.

“That means we’re really losing a lot of habitat for oysters and the idea behind this is that we try to get as many oyster shells back into the water that we possibly can,” he explained. “One, for shoreline protection and also to help sustain the oyster fishery a little bit better.”

Since its inception, the coalition has become the largest program of its kind in the country and has collected more than 800 tons of shells, product that in Spring 2016 will be used to construct a half-mile oyster reef in Biloxi Marsh, acres of wetlands situated near the Gulf of Mexico at the crook of Louisiana and Mississippi. The coalition is currently drawing up design and engineering plans with the help of The Nature Conservancy, an organization that aims to protect ecologically important lands globally. That reef, Frederick explained, is vital to protecting the rapidly disappearing coastline and sustaining a species that accounts for approximately one third of the nation’s oyster supply.

“The main idea is that we start protecting the shoreline of the Biloxi marsh by using this oyster reef to break the wave action,” Frederick said. “It’s called a living shoreline because eventually it will build sediment behind it, it will create land over time and it will also allow oysters to have something to hold onto when they are growing. It’s not exactly tied to new oyster production, but over time, it will definitely help the oyster to grow and from there we can expand it.”

Shells at New Orleans restaurants are picked up throughout the week by coalition partner Phoenix Recycling and brought to a storage site in Buras owned by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Volunteers will gather Nov. 9 and 20 at the Buras site to bag the first of the shells that will eventually be deployed to Biloxi.

Because Buras is an almost three hour drive from Thibodaux, Nicholls stores its contribution of shells, direct from dishes created at the university’s Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, at the nearby Nicholls Farm. In both locations, shells are laid out to cure, a cleansing process that takes about six months, according to Dr. Allyse Ferrara, a Nicholls biology professor spearheading the university’s program involvement.

“We thought we could start something in this area where we could have a source of shell that is closer to Barataria-Terrebonne for use in restoration projects,” Ferrara said. “Since 60 percent of shell is lost to the state and never returned, we figured we could help make a dent in that … When you get the shell, there’s going to be little bits of muscle from the oyster, any tissue that is left from the oyster, you can have algae or other things on the outside of the shell. That material has to rot away before it can be used in a restoration project because the baby oysters, the spat, will settle on the shell and they are stuck there basically. That’s where they are going to be for the rest of their life. If they were to land on a piece of cheese or something, that cheese could rot away and then the spat would be dislodged and would be lost.”

The university’s efforts are kept small at the moment due to repairs that must be made on a bridge allowing access to the back of the expansive farmland. Once completed, Ferrara said Nicholls would be able to increase its storage capacity and hopes to get local restaurants on board as well.

Frederick said the coalition hopes to continue expanding the program into other areas like Baton Rouge and that Nicholls’ desire to be part of the effort is the first step in doing so.

“It really highlights the fact that even the smallest little thing such as something as great as eating oysters can really help our coastline,” he explained. “Nicholls has been very kind to us, they’ve been an incredible partner over the years for us. They really add a new dimension to our efforts to restore the coast and hopefully get more and more people involved because it is really an opportunity for every Louisianan and every person that is involved in the coast to help restore the coast.”•

15 2015-10-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls introduces new branding to urge pride


By MELISSA DUET Staff Writer




Those that call Nicholls State University home are noticing big changes to the university’s branding, an effort aimed at generating more pride and support from students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Under the direction of Vice President of University Advancement Dr. Neal Weaver, who joined the university administration at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, the Office of University Marketing and Communications created new logos that provide more consistent branding across the campus.

“We’ve kind of had a bit of a reorganization at the campus,” Stephanie Verdin, director of university marketing and communications, said. “[Weaver] noticed some inconsistency in how the campus promoted itself. We had several different logos and the tagline we were using was ‘People Creating Possibilities.’ There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of traction behind the tag line.”

Weaver asked the office to create a new slogan that would create more cohesive branding and what was developed includes two logos, which highlight an overall sense of pride as well as one specifically for the athletics program’s goals for the future.

The One Pride, Colonel Pride logo is the university’s main logo for recruiting students, engaging alumni and donors and increasing an overall sense of unity , an aspect Verdin said was one of the top priorities for students who participated in focus groups with the office to provide feedback on what they would like to see in the new branding.

“A lot of the students said it was really the people that make this place special,” she explained. “The other theme was pride. They said they didn’t necessarily choose Nicholls because it was close to home or more affordable. They said, ‘We came on a tour here and we really felt at home. We could have a full college experience here and get more out of our education here than elsewhere.’...Immediately, we knew our campaign was going to focus on telling the stories of the people that make Nicholls a great place.”

The “one” in “colonel” is colored differently to further emphasize the togetherness and support the students appreciate about the Nicholls experience.

A RENEW logo is part of an athletics marketing campaign for the 2015-2016 season and is a way to connect the community with new head football Coach Tim Rebowe. The logo is designed specifically for sports and spirit usage.

“The community is very excited for Coach Rebowe’s inaugural season and this is something Coach Rebowe came up with as a play on his last name,” Verdin said.

The two logos, unveiled at Welcome Back Day on Aug. 19, use the university’s signature red and grey and have a similar feel, an important aspect in creating a consistent brand with great impact, Verdin said. Both also have variations that incorporate the iconic “N” with a sword through it as a means of relating to anyone affiliated with the university.

“Traditionally, the sword was for athletics use only,” she said. “When you see it you automatically think of Nicholls no matter when you came to school here or how you are affiliated with the school. We wanted that to be embraced by the whole university.”

The new branding is slowly being incorporated into university products, as well as promotional pieces throughout the campus and city of Thibodaux.

New campus light post banners went up last week and several more will grace the light posts along Canal Street, Tiger Drive and throughout Downtown Thibodaux at various times throughout the year. These banners were paid for with $10,000 the university’s Student Government Association committed for the effort. The logo also appears on newly-installed wall graphics in Polk Hall, and the campus bookstore, as well as other area retailers, are adding merchandise with the new logos to their stock.

“For many of us who were students here for many years or who have worked here, pride has been something many generations have been trying to get our hands around,” Verdin said. “Most universities of our size have that same issue. I feel like we are starting to see that momentum building. The community is really starting to get behind this.”

15 2015-10-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls crowns new Homecoming royalty



University supporters converged on Nicholls State University’s campus Oct. 3 to be part of the 2015 homecoming festivities, a momentous occasion that concluded with a packed stadium for the Colonels’ battle against McNeese State.

The students kicked off the week-long celebration Sept. 27 with the Homecoming Kick-Off Block Party, which debuted the university’s organization-nominated royalty and included live music from popular New Orleans cover band Bag of Donuts.

Activities continued throughout the week with events including a flag football tournament, homecoming breakfast and dance, a tradition at the university since 1983, and pirogue races.

A bonfire and concert featuring the Bucktown All-Stars and Flow Tribe also entertained students on Oct. 1.

On Saturday, the community gathered for a pre-game tailgate and pep rally before heading into John L. Guidry Stadium for the football game, the fourth game of the season under new head Coach Tim Rebowe. Nursing senior Elizabeth Clement and Nursing junior Trace Juneau were crowned as Homecoming Queen and King during halftime. Clement is a member of Phi Mu Fraternity and is the Student Alumni Association President. Juneau is a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

“When they called my name, I’m pretty sure I was in shock at first,” Clement said. “I couldn’t stop shaking, I hugged Trace and it was a really good thing to experience.”

She said after seeing the participation over the last week, she hopes the support surrounding the university continues into the future.

“I definitely think we are growing right now and I hope we keep moving forward,” she said. “I’ve heard great things about us in the community and our athletics department is definitely transforming themselves. All together, the students are just getting a sense of colonel pride and I hope we keep being proud of our university.”

Other members of the court were Austin Blanchard, Marcus Fox, Richard Grabert, Ross Kinchen, Stuart Percle, Brent Cheramie, Briana Berthelot, Camille Comeaux, Celia Ordoyne, Kaylee Cole, Paige Morvant and Sarah Zeringue.

15 2015-10-01
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls, Cuban university could see partnership in future



With common industries and interests between their two countries, a Cuban university and Nicholls State University could join a partnership, Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said.

Bruce Murphy

Enlarge

Bruce Murphy



Murphy visited the country two weeks ago with a delegation of university and college presidents with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

It was the first group of higher education officials to visit the country since President Barack Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba last December, Murphy said. He was the only representative from Louisiana on the trip.

“It was very enlightening, very eye opening,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he spoke to the faculty shortly after his return and encouraged them to think of ways to partner with universities or schedule trips for students.

“They have issues with coastal restoration, like us. They have an interest in petroleum and sugar, so we’re facing a lot of the same issues. Maybe out students can go over there and their students can come here and see what we can learn from one another,” Murphy said. “I’d really like to encourage some of our faculty and staff to go over there and learn, as well.”

The delegation met with Cuban officials including the ministers of higher education, health and exchange, and the leaders of all 28 universities in Cuba. They talked about the interests and similarities between the two countries, Murphy said.

Cuban officials approached Murphy, curious about Nicholls’ Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management program and the Sugar Institute, he said.

15 2015-09-21
Houma/Thibodaux

New theater, Talbot Hall renovations ready for next fall at Nicholls State



Renovations to Talbot Hall and the Mary M. Danos Theater are underway and university officials say they hope the building is ready to open to the public before next fall.



Construction for the nearly $5 million project began last month, project manager Dane Fontenot told the members of the theater's construction committee, made up of theater and music department personnel and Danos' family, including daughter's Alyce Danos and Rene' David.

They'll begin replacing the roof soon and work on the exterior is expected to begin around the Christmas holiday, he said.

“We're hopeful that by fall classes we'll have fully functioning theater complex and we can open it and grand style...and continue the tradition of bringing some outstanding performances here to the campus,” said Neal Weaver, Nicholls State University Vice President for University Advancement.

The Mary M. Danos Theater, which opened in 1971, will get new seating, speakers, lighting, curtains, flooring, walls and ceiling. Accommodations for handicapped visitors will also be made to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The theater was named in honor of Mary Danos, after her death in 2011. Mary and her husband Al have been longtime Nicholls supporters. Al, who died in January, was the driving force behind the renovations.

“This theater project, he would go on vacation and still work on it,” Alyce Danos said. “I feel his presence, his spirit in this room because I know how happy he is for this day to come.”

“This project would not be here without Mr. Al. He gave, not just financially, but emotionally,” Weaver added.

15 2015-09-21
Houma/Thibodaux

Capital outlay to fund Department of Athletics renovations - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001331/news/capital-outlay-to-fund-department-o


There are several ongoing and upcoming projects for Nicholls State University’s Department of Athletics, which supplements University funding with state funding through the capital outlay bill for larger projects. Didier field is currently undergoing renovations, which will include a new ADA-accessible press box, concession area, entry way and lighting upgrades. Athletic Director Rob Bernardi said it was time for renovations. “Our facilities are dreadfully old,” Bernardi said. “The baseball field has been there, literally untouched since 1980.” Athletics, while it is part of the University in the same way any academic department is part of the university, raises almost 60 percent of its budget on its own. Nicholls provides around $2 million of the $6 million athletic budget. The department supplements their budget with revenue from ticket sales, sponsors, private donations and concessions. The football team also receives revenue from playing away against non-conference teams. “We are pretty aggressive about trying to meet our own budget needs and not relying on the University,” Bernardi said. Bernardi said Nicholls would like to be playing at home against teams in the Southland Conference, however they take advantage of the non-conference season to travel and play for revenue. When the football team traveled to the University of Louisiana at Monroe last week, they received $275,000 and will be paid $450,000 to play at the University of Colorado next weekend. Assistant Vice President for Facilities Mike Davis said capital outlay projects like the upgrades to Didier Field are usually funded through by the state’s capital outlay bill, House Bill 2. “Two years ago, there wouldn’t have been much to talk about because athletics had not been getting any money to do any improvements,” Davis said. “They were just very fortunate to get some funding for it this time.” The Didier Field renovation is a roughly $2 million project, and all of it, with the exception of $100,000, came from state funding. Davis said there is another plan already in architects’ hands for the construction of a new field house for baseball that will include new locker rooms, coaches’ offices, meeting rooms and training rooms. Renovations to Barker and Chabert Halls are also scheduled. Nicholls submits a capital outlay request each year to the state, which the board of regents and eventually the legislature review to decide which projects to fund. Davis said sometimes it is difficult for the public to understand how the state can afford to start new projects if there is a funding problem for higher education. “We still have to keep the physical plant running over here, that’s why you see us building a new building or a $7 million dollar renovation to Talbot Hall, even though there are funding issues in higher education. You’ve got to be able to keep these facilities modernized and able to provide for today’s students. If not, you just as soon close,” Davis said. “One of the elements in growing the University is to have a really competitive athletic program,” Bernardi said. Bernardi said a key factor in drawing students to the University is to have good facilities that draw students to the athletic program. Davis said in the last few years the University has received capital outlay money for upgrades to athletics, but it also has received funds for the Talbot Hall renovation and the culinary building construction. “There’s many, many requests on that list of which these athletic projects are just some of what’s on that list,” Davis said. “Of course, whichever projects - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001331/news/capital-outlay-to-fund-department-of-athletics-renovations/#sthash.vzn58wtK.dpuf
15 2015-09-21
Houma/Thibodaux

Bistro Ruth hosts first dinner in the new Culinary building - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001349/showcase/bistro-ruth-hosts-first-dinner


The staff of Bistro Ruth, a Nicholls State University’s student-run restaurant, received guests in the new Lanny D. Ledet building for the first dinner of the semester on Sept. 15, 2015. The guests arrived to a buffet service organized and prepared by the Bistro staff of 36 students. The staff worked weeks in advance to prepare for the dinner. “The students had to come in the Friday before classes started. Then they came back Monday, the first day of class, and presented their menus,” Donald Kasten, coordinator of bistro activities, said. “We give the students a little background on who our guests are and the theme of the night, but they also bring their own ideas and inspiration to the table.” Even with weeks of preparation, the Bistro staff ran into trouble before service began. “The back of the house was really far behind at the beginning of service, but right before service started they pulled it all together and placed the food out before the guests arrived,” Justin Webb, culinary arts junior from Allen, Texas, said. “Everyone was nervous, but they all turned out to be stellar. I’ve worked in restaurants for four to five years now.” The Bistro’s student staff didn’t allow a few setbacks to ruin their night and managed to end on a good note. “There are some things that could’ve gone a little more smoothly had there been a little more time. Other than that, our night went pretty smoothly considering it being the first night. I give props to my entire team. Tonight set higher expectations for future nights,” Christopher Adkins, culinary arts junior from Maurepas, said. The Bistro program at Nicholls trains students to deal with and create food for the public, although much of the staff has previous experience with working in a restaurant. This semester, the junior level class contains 23 of the 36 Bistro student workers. They work with Lanny D. Ledet building’s state-of-the-art culinary facilities and 96-set dining room. “The Bistro is a much more controlled environment compared to other restaurants. It’s a better learning experience. You learn how to prepare and organize a lot,” Nicole Theriot, culinary arts junior from Houma, said. “This is a brand new building with beautiful equipment.” Bistro Ruth was named in honor of Ruth Fertel who donated $1 million to the construction of the Lanny D. Ledet building. “We’d love to have more students come. It’s $40 for community members or students who pre-book. When we have a night with cancellations or if we have sluggish reservations then we open up tickets to students at a rate of $20,” Kasten said. Bistro’s next dinner will be held on Sept. 22 at 5:30 p.m. Reservations and advance payments are required. - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001349/showcase/bistro-ruth-hosts-first-dinner-in-the-new-culinary-building/#sthash.7mQUYhQc.dpuf
15 2015-09-08
Houma/Thibodaux

Academic programs to move out of University College - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001284/news/academic-programs-to-move-out-of-universit


Some academic programs are switching colleges, and students in these programs are experiencing fee increases this year. Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management, interdisciplinary studies and culinary arts are moving from University College and joining to other colleges on campus. PETSM and interdisciplinary studies will now fall under the College of Arts and Sciences and culinary arts will be under Nursing and Allied Health. “It’s going to help in a couple different ways,” John Doucet, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “For interdisciplinary studies, most of the course work comes from Arts and Sciences, so interdisciplinary studies will have more interaction with the rest of the faculty and studies who are majoring in the Arts and Sciences.” “PETSM is a really career-oriented curriculum. Most of the instructors have ties or still participate in the work force; this means the program needs strong academic direction, and the program has certainly received that under its previous dean, Al Davis,” said Doucet. “What we stand to do is to continue in that direction and also dramatically grow the program enrollment wise.” University College will also experience some changes. While students might not notice changes, faculty will see a change in infrastructure. “I think what they were wanting to do is move all the academic programs out of University College, so that there is no need to replace the dean for that college,” Sue Westbrook, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health, said. Programs being moved are not being restructured, but instead are being given a figure and college to report to. Culinary arts, for example, will now be under Westbrook’s jurisdiction. “I think University Administration saw that in Allied Health sciences we have a program called dietetics, where we prepare students to become registered dieticians. That being said, they saw that dietetics and culinary worked collaboratively on various projects in the past,” said Westbrook. Students who major in PETSM and culinary arts have also incurred fee increases, of which 90 percent goes to their field and 10 percent goes to needs-based assistance. Any student taking 16 credit hours or more also incur extra fees per hour. All fees are going back to their respective colleges since dramatic growth is occurring in those fields. The 10 percent for needs-based assistance may help increase enrollment. “One way is to add a moderately small fee to each student majoring in a degree like PETSM,” Doucet said, “so the accumulated value can be used to hire another professor. If you hire another professor, you can have more classes. More classes mean more graduates, and with more graduates the state fulfills its need for employees. Plus, graduates tend to make 100 percent more than non-graduates over the course of their career.” Some students and departments have expressed concerns over the fees. “Since culinary already has to pay a good bit just for the labs, an extra fee increase isn’t easy for some people,” Megan Wenger, culinary arts sophomore from Portsmouth, Virginia, said. Departments like music and honors programs are also facing difficulties since the extra credit fees make students reconsider a longer college career and even their majors. “People form these different programs based on the way things are, and things change,” said Bruce Murphy, president of Nicholls State University, said. “We aren’t trying to drive people away, we are trying to make it fair and equitable for the students, faculty and University.” The main priority of these fees is the growth of the programs and the University as a whole. “Why do we need to grow? Because Louisiana needs more college graduates, not fewer,” Murphy said. “Louisiana has fewer, per capita, college degrees. So we need more students to come here and we are using the fees to control and contain the cost somehow and make it easier to come.” - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001284/news/academic-programs-to-move-out-of-university-college/#sthash.z1126JfC.dpuf
15 2015-09-08
Houma/Thibodaux

Cell phone usage could be a distraction to students - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001297/showcase/cell-phone-usage-could-be-a-distractio


In today’s society, we bring our cell phones everywhere we go and do not hesitate to use them at any time throughout the day. One of the most common forms of communication is texting and email— cell phones make both quick and easy to access. They have become part of our every day lives by letting our families know how our day is going, documenting our lunches, or browsing social media in between classes. However, at some point, there comes a time when cell phones need to be put away in order for students to be able to concentrate on their classes and homework. Researchers from the Health and Human Services at Kent State University surveyed more than 500 college students about cell phone usage compared to their overall grade point average. The study used undergraduates equally distributed by class and major. The students gave their cumulative college GPA and information about how much time they spend on their cell phones during and outside of class. Their study proved cell phone use is negatively linked to GPA. The higher the cell phone use, the lower the GPA. This information did not surprise students at Nicholls State University, and it will not stop them from using their cell phones on a regular basis. “I definitely get distracted by my cellphone,” Kristen Ahern, general studies major, said. “Sometimes I can’t focus on my homework because I’m too wrapped up in social media, but there comes a certain point when I tell myself I have to put it down in order to get stuff done.” Just because the majority of students have issues controlling how often they are on their phones does not mean that every one is being affected negatively by their technology. “I use my cell phone to help me with my homework,” Cody Morales, Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management major, said. “If I need help on a problem, I can just look it up on my phone.” Some students use different strategies in order to get their homework done, like studying and paying attention in class. “When it comes to cell phones and class, I feel I have enough self-discipline to put mine away,” Marcus Fox, business marketing major, said. Fox feels that in this day and age the majority of students are addicted to their cell phones or would find it extremely difficult to live a day without it. “Needless to say, homework gets done much quicker without any distractions— social media and cell phones are the number one temptation,” Fox said. - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001297/showcase/cell-phone-usage-could-be-a-distraction-to-students/#sthash.kOVAEkg6.dpuf
15 2015-09-08
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls' enrollment declines fifth straight year



Nicholls State University has fewer students for the fifth straight year, but officials say the decline wasn’t as steep as their projections.



Enrollment declined 2 percent, from 6,298 to 6,164. Last month, Nicholls President Bruce Murphy estimated total enrollment would be between 6,050 and 6,100.

Murphy said he believes this year’s decline will be the last.

“Although Nicholls enrollment has slightly dipped, our final total of students is more than we anticipated and budgeted for,” Murphy said. “To reach our goal of increasing enrollment to 8,000, we’ve made some internal changes, adjusted how we market Nicholls to potential students and raised the bar even higher for our customer service. We’re seeing positive trends in this fall’s enrollment statistics, with all indications pointing to future growth.”

Murphy’s strategic plan is heavily focused on increasing enrollment to 8,000 through priority programs.

During his State of the University address, Murphy said the goal is to increase enrollment by more than 500 in Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management, more than 300 in the Culinary Institute and more than 170 international students, besides increasing enrollments for Nicholls Online and out-of-state students.

This fall, student enrollment in Nicholls graduate programs grew significantly, with 670 current graduate students compared to 603 last fall.

First-time freshmen increased by two to total 1,212. The average ACT score of the incoming class increased from 21.8 to 22.3, the highest in Nicholls history. The number of freshmen qualifying for state TOPS scholarships rose from 758 to 812.

15 2015-08-31
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls works to establish stronger brand recognition - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001257/news/nicholls-works-to-establish-stronger-br


Nicholls State University is working on establishing a strong identity by eliminating older, unused brands and making a major logo accessible to everyone. Rebranding for Nicholls involves creating one look by reducing the selection of logos and making the logo of the “N” with a sword useable by more than just the athletic department. This is also the first year the University uses the Colonel Pride marketing campaign and the Renew athletic campaign. A large part of creating one look is the use of the logo of the “N” with the sword since it received very little change throughout Nicholls history. Stephanie Verdin, director of University Marketing, said that she hopes the “N” with the sword will encompass Nicholls under one brand. “Our university logo has changed drastically over the years, but the “N” with the sword has been the one consistent mark we had,” Verdin said. The athletic department is not being left without their own unique design. This year the athletic department is implementing the Renew campaign with its own logo and design. Koree Hollins, freshman on the football team, said this is a way to try something new in the athletic department. “I guess we are trying to spice it up a little bit and bring some flare back to the athletic department,” Hollins said. “It’s a way to get the teams rolling and just have something new since we have new things going on around here.” Advertising will promote these brands and make sure the community recognizes them. New brochures and banners will be created with similar design and colors limited to red, grey, black and white. These colors will also govern regular branding. Bruno Ruggiero, director of printing & design services, said a consistency of design can be seen throughout the rebranding process. “You can get that one look through the use of design, paper, placement, color and type-faces you use for the brochure,” Ruggiero said. “You’ll see a consistency through all the design pieces we do on campus, not just recruitment pieces.” The brands that will be in circulation and used by students will be monitored so that they do not conflict with this brand image. Printing & design services will contact any department, individuals or branders if brands are found to be wrong. “The whole point of the branding effort is a way to have a stronger presence, and the only way you can have that is to develop a very strong brand through consistency and enforcement,” Ruggiero said. “No one should take it against them; it is nothing personal. We are just trying to achieve consistency with the look and the brand of Nicholls State University.” Student Government Association voted to allocate $10,000 to purchase new banners for Nicholls and the Thibodaux area to promote the rebranding efforts. 82 banners will go to Nicholls while 90 will go to the city of Thibodaux. If anyone is interested in using the new logos they can download them at nicholls.edu/branding. - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001257/news/nicholls-works-to-establish-stronger-brand-recognition/#sthash.fH2Uwx1w.dpuf
15 2015-08-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls alumna cooks across the country



Jacqueline Blanchard was beaming as she walked through the new Bistro Ruth in Nicholls State University's new Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building.



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Jacqueline Blanchard, a Nicholls State alumna, recently opened Coutelier NOLA, a Japanese knife shop, in New Orleans.



An alumna of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, Blanchard could remember when students were working in lesser facilities, but at the soft opening on Aug. 13 she said she was floored by the new school.

Blanchard is described by some of her former teachers as one of the "superstars" to come out of the school and spent the last decade working for some of the top chefs in California, Colorado, Louisiana and New York, and now she has opened her own business.

The Paincourtville native said she's always known her future was in the culinary industry.

"It's been the only thing I've known... pretty much the only thing I've ever done," she said in a phone interview Friday.

Though she evaluated other colleges like Johnson and Wales and the Culinary Institute of America out of high school, Blanchard said Nicholls was a "no-brainer" because of the program's unique bachelor's degree, affordability and location, being just 35 minutes away.

"South Louisiana, it has so much to offer culturally with the food. No other program focuses on food or region the way they do there. The history and the stories, there are stories behind the foods, all of it and it's all incorporated into the program, which I love," she said. "It's not a culinary factory for cooks. You really get nurtured because you get that one-on-one that you wouldn't get at a much larger university."

15 2015-08-26
New Orleans

State-of-the-art culinary facility opens at Nicholls State


Chef Jean-Pierre Daigle was showing off the newest state-of-the-art equipment in one of the teaching labs at the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. The CVap ovens, he explained, can do anything that you can do with an immersion circulator.

"It's a crčme brulee monster," Daigle said.

Nearby, a roiling sea of suds foamed in the new power soaking dishwasher.

Never heard of a CVap oven? (It's short for controlled vapor technology.) Or an immersion circulator, for that matter? The teaching lab is in the new Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building, which had its grand opening Aug. 20.

The school offers the only four-year culinary arts degree in Louisiana, at the cost of state tuition, and it's one of only a handful of such schools in the United States. Now, the enrollment in the program can double, from 300-plus to 600.

"This is the greatest back-to-school gift anyone could ever receive," said Hillary Scott, a senior representing students in the program whose remarks were featured in the grand opening program. "Gone is the motto of 'work with what you have.'"

"No more chiseling the freezer door open every morning – literally," said the institute's executive director, chef Randy Cheramie.

The wait for the facility has been 15 years.

"I am very thankful for our old facility, and I am sure a day will come when I will recall our days in the Gouaux Hall kitchen with fondness ... no more of chef Marcelle (Bienvenu) teaching 'Fruits, Vegetables, Farinaceous Foods' in a pastry kitchen with table-top propane burners."

The 33,000-square-foot facility represents $4.5 million in private funds and $8.1 million from the state, authorized before the cutbacks to higher education. Cheramie and Scott were on the program along with state and local dignitaries, Nicholls State president Bruce T. Murphy, Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, Folse himself and Rev. Andre Melancon, who blessed the building.

Folse told the crowd about the day in 1994 that he and Donald Ayo, then president of Nicholls State, went before the Board of Regents meeting at then-USL in Lafayette to convince them Louisiana needed the first degreed culinary program on a public university campus in America.

"Nicholls State University on the banks of Bayou Lafourche was the obvious choice for such a unique program," Folse said.

"Nicholls State is located in the heart of Cajun Country, where food and unique ingredients and a strong culture of cooking exists, located only 45 minutes from New Orleans. The swamp floor pantry gave rise to one of the greatest culinary cultures in the world. New Orleans, with its plethora of restaurants and world-renowned chefs, could not be more welcoming and in need of our graduating culinary students."

After long debate, Folse was called on for a few more questions. He thought they were leaning toward denying the request. Then one Board member asked a final question.

"'Chef Folse, can you share with us the difference between a cook and a chef?' My answer was immediate: 'About $80,000 a year.'"

The board approved an associate's degree program and, a few years later, their bachelor's degree.

The standing-room-only crowd at the grand opening included the queen of Creole cuisine herself, chef Leah Chase, a good friend of Folse; Folse's Restaurant R'evolution partner chef Rick Tramonto and other chefs who flew in from around the country; philanthropist Randy Fertel; Culinary Arts faculty in their white jackets, and many other faculty, community members and students.

The sister and parents of the late New Orleans cooking teacher Lee Barnes stood in line to talk to Chase after the ceremonial ribbon cutting. Bettina and Robert Barnes were with Barnes' sister, Martha Sue Smith.

Smith's son is a freshman in the culinary program.

"To be able to walk into this building!" Smith said. "What I love about this program is, the professors treat the students like their children. Their intent is to help them get through."

During the reception afterward, chef Folse said his first thought upon waking up in the morning was, "It's a whole new world ... The facility can compete with any restaurant in the world."

The program is one of 14 partners in the Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance, in which top culinary and hospitality students and immerse themselves in French culture and technical skills. Nicholls State sends three students a year. And the program's 500 alumni include executive chefs and restaurant owners from New Orleans to New York and Las Vegas.

15 2015-08-24
Houma/Thibodaux

Cheers -- Now we're cooking



The Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building officially opened this week on the campus of Nicholls State University.



The building is the newest addition to campus, a new home for the highly successful Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

The university's four-year culinary program christened the $12.6 million, 33,000-square-foot building when students started classes on Monday.

The new digs give the program a fitting home. It is a quickly growing program that is turning out food professionals who will lead their industry.

"The unique culinary and cultural contributions set us apart from any other culinary program in the world," Folse told the audience at the building's grand opening on Wednesday. "We've now opened to our student body a facility that no other program in this country can compete equally with, but we can certainly compete head to head with them."

In addition to class space and cooking areas, the building houses Cafe Ruth where the public can enjoy the fruits of the students' creative labor.

Jeers -- No relief yet

As the first week of the shrimp season winds down, shrimpers are saying they are having good luck on the water but less luck in the market.

"They're beautiful shrimp. We're getting a lot of big ones right now compared to other seasons," said Carol Terrebonne, an owner of The Seafood Shed in Golden Meadow.

15 2015-08-24
Lafayette

Nicholls State celebrates new cooking school


THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - Nicholls State University has celebrated the grand opening of the new culinary arts building that was more than two years in the making.

The Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building, the new home of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, is located on eight acres in Thibodaux.

The Daily Comet reports (http://bit.ly/1U474EZ) visitors packed an air-conditioned tent set up just outside the facility Thursday to attend the grand opening.

On Monday, students began using the new kitchen and bistro, which will open to the public Sept. 14. A soft opening was held last week.

The culinary department started moving into the $12.6 million, 33,000-square-foot building on May 20, shortly after construction finished.

The Ledet Building is equipped with six kitchens, three classrooms and a dedicated student study area.



Information from: Daily Comet, http://www.dailycomet.com

15 2015-08-21
Baton Rouge

Nicholls State University celebrates new culinary arts building with grand opening


BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -
Nicholls State University lifted the lid on their brand new culinary arts building with a grand opening on Thursday.

The 33,000-square-foot facility is the product of a three-year, $12.6 million project designed to boost enrollment at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. The new building also aims to give students access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology to simulate real-life working environments.

The building, named the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts building, is equipped with six kitchens, three classrooms, and a dedicated study area including charging stations, cookbooks, and reference materials. The building also houses its own student-operated restaurant, named Bistro Ruth.

The grand opening ceremony featured statements and speeches by University President Bruce Murphy, Chef John Folse, Louisiana Senator Norby Chabert, and Thibodaux Mayor Tommy Eschete.

“We’ve waited a long time for this,” says Chef Randy Cheramie. “How thrilling it is to finally have a first-class, state-of-the-art facility in which to teach not only classical cooking skills and food management practices, but to also have this wonderful space in which to teach the history and tradition of South Louisiana culture and cuisine.”

Prior to moving into their own building, the culinary department shared Gouaux Hall with the university's Biology department.

Emily Johnson, a senior with the culinary program, hopes that the next generation of students will blossom with all of the opportunities the new building will provide. "The hospitality industry is huge," said Johnson. "Every kitchen in the industry is different, and instructors are now better prepared to teach students the ways of the world."

Prior to moving into their own building, the culinary department shared Gouaux Hall with the Biology department.

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is currently the only four-year culi

15 2015-08-21
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls culinary building opens



The excitement was evident as students, faculty, staff and guests mulled around the new Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building last week during a special preview event prior to tomorrow’s official grand opening celebration.




The building, the new home of the university’s Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, has been a project years in the making with $12.6 million invested in creating a state-of the art facility for students to get a taste of working in the restaurant industry.

The 33,000-square-foot facility was designed by Thibodaux’s Duplantis Design Group, PC and New-Orleans based Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, and was constructed over two years beginning in 2013 by Alexandria’s Ratcliff Construction.

At the main entrance, a retail space where fresh breads and pastries fill glass cases invites visitors in, while Ledet and Folse’s portraits hang on surrounding walls, serving as a inspiration to all those who pursue a career through the institute. Ledet, manager of Gheen’s Golden Ranch, who died in 2012, oversaw the meal planning and staff of the property’s “Big House” and was a global ambassador for local cuisine.

Le Bistro, the institute’s student-run restaurant once located at the Carmel Inn, now resides inside the facility as well, renamed Bistro Ruth in honor of the “First Lady of Steak” and Ruth’s Chris Steak House founder Ruth Fertel. The restaurateur received the institute’s Lafcadio Hearn Award in 1999. Portraits of her donated by the Fertel Foundation hang in the 96-seat dining room. A Chef’s Table and President’s Dining Room are also available for those wishing to have private gatherings.

“Being in [the building] for the next semester is kind of like a light at the end of the tunnel for me,” culinary senior Hilary Scott said. “I remember coming to Nicholls and as a freshman hearing them say, ‘Oh, by your sophomore year, this new building is going to be done.’ Then in my junior year, ‘Oh, this new building is going to be done.’ Finally getting to see it built and actually being in here is just phenomenal.”

The facility also features a handful of classrooms and a teaching and demonstration room, where instructors can show off cooking methods that are projected to classroom televisions with the use of three cameras.

Individual kitchens have also been created for pastry, meat fabrication and stocks, soups and sauces, complete with industrial equipment specifically for the room’s function. A fourth general skills kitchen is currently unequipped, providing space for the program to expand in the future as funding allows.

“In the past, it was a lot of making it work with what you had,” Scott said of the previous workspace, which shared the university’s Gouaux Hall with several other programs. “This new building is very specified for each thing. There’s a different kitchen for each class, there’s different equipment for each class. … It’s very organized and very easy for people to get acquainted with what they are working with.”

Although Scott is finishing her time with the institute, she said she’s excited to be part of this new chapter and looks forward to seeing what the future holds for the program.

“For incoming freshmen especially, in talking with some of them, they are so excited to use industry products,” she explained. “They are used to cooking in their mom and dad’s kitchen and now they get to see [what a real restaurant is like.]…Being able to see the whole picture, it really gives students more of a perspective as to what it’s going to be like in the real world. That’s the closest you are going to get to simulating working in a restaurant.”

Nicholls will celebrate the grand opening of the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Aug. 20.

15 2015-08-21
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State celebrates new cooking school



Hundreds of visitors flocked today to the northeast corner of the Nicholls State University campus to celebrate the grand opening of the new culinary arts building that was more than two years in the making.



The Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building, the new home of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, is located on eight acres near La. 1 and Bowie Road in Thibodaux.

Visitors packed an air-conditioned, white tent, set up just outside the facility facing the new Bistro Ruth. Only standing room was available for anyone who didn’t show up more than 20 minutes early.

“We’ve got more people than we’ve got tent,” Neal Weaver, Nicholls’ vice president for university advancement, said shortly before the opening ceremony.

On Monday, students began using the new kitchen and bistro, which will open to the public Sept. 14. A soft opening was held last week.

The culinary department started moving into the $12.6 million, 33,000-square-foot building on May 20, shortly after construction finished.

Speakers highlighted the program’s unique location. John Folse, the institute’s namesake, said being located on the banks of Bayou Lafourche gives the school the “greatest pantry of raw ingredients that God could have given anybody.”

“The unique culinary and cultural contributions set us apart from any other culinary program in the world,” he said.

The Ledet Building is equipped with six kitchens, three classrooms and a dedicated student study area.

Senior culinary student Hillary Scott called the building the “greatest back to school gift any of us could receive.” The facility, she said, allows the country’s top culinary school degree program to take the next step.

15 2015-08-21
Houma/Thibodaux

Culinary Excellence



15 2015-08-21
Houma/Thibodaux

Former football player calls for dialogue on domestic, sexual abuse



Don McPherson, former NFL quarterback and NCAA College Football Hall of Famer, told Nicholls State University students today that there needs to be a genuine and sustained conversation on how to curb domestic and sexual abuse.



“This is not just a women's issue. When you say it's not a man's issue, men can say it doesn't concern them, but it is our issue,” McPherson said.

McPherson said many people are taught during their childhood to not discuss things such as drugs, sex, and domestic and sexual violence. This upbringing leads people to not discuss topics that promote positive social interactions.

“We were raised not to talk about it. When you did talk about it, it was met with scare tactics. This is your brain on drugs,” McPherson said referencing an anti-drug commercial, “There needs to be a conversation that is genuine, honest and sustained. There needs to be a change in language and interactions, and the discussion has to happen before something happens.”

For over 30 years, McPherson said he has used his status as a former professional and college football player to address complex social justice issues. He's created programs, supported community service providers and provided educational seminars and lectures throughout North America.

McPherson turned his focus to men's violence against women in 1995 as the director of Sport in Society's Mentors in Violence Prevention Program. He has founded several outreach and mentoring programs, and regularly speaks at college campuses as a critic of gender roles.

He said the standard constructions of masculinity and feminity limit men's emotions and overall well-being as well as contribute t

15 2015-08-21
Lafayette

New culinary building opening at Nicholls


THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University is opening its state-of-the-art Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building, the new home of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, Aug. 20.




The new 33,000-square-foot culinary facility is the culmination of a three-year, $12.6 million project designed to double enrollment at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and provide Nicholls culinary students with advanced equipment and cutting-edge technology that will simulate culinary and hospitality industry working environments.

The Ledet Building is equipped with six kitchens, three classrooms and a dedicated student study area. It is also the home of student-operated Bistro Ruth, a 96-seat restaurant named in honor of New Orleans restaurateur Ruth Fertel.

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute opened in 1995 as the only four-year culinary arts degree program in Louisiana. The institute enrolls about 300 students from across the nation and globe.

15 2015-08-21
Lafayette

Culinary Excellence


For Nicholls State University students seeking career training at Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, school will not be “as usual.” This week marks the grand opening of a new 33,000 square foot, state-of-the-art, culinary teaching facility unmatched in the United States.

The top-of-the-line kitchen equipment might be rivaled, but according to a prepared statement, Nicholls State University is the first public university in the nation to offer a four-year culinary arts degree and remains home to the only United States culinary program in the prestigious Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance.

Among 14 partners in 14 countries, the Institut Paul Bocuse, located in Écully, France, is a worldwide alliance that invites top culinary and hospitality students to immerse themselves in French culture while learning technical skills. Simply put, Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, now housed in the The Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building, has bragging rights.

The new facility is the culmination of a three-year, $12.6 million project designed to double the current student capacity from 300 to 600. Terry Trahan Jr., publications coordinator for Nicholls State University Marketing and Communications, said the culinary program began in 1994 when Chef Folse and then university president shared bowls of gumbo at Folse’s restaurant. They decided a college curriculum was needed to blend the food and culture of South Louisiana into a Bachelor of Science program.

Now thirteen industry-based faculty and staff provide students from around the nation and globe with not only the cooking tools for preparing grand feasts, but the educational basis to create and manage their own restaurants or food industry support services by combining a culinary study with a minor in business.

Alumni Part of Celebration

Former student Jacqueline Blanchard, referred to as “one of our prizes,” by chef-instructor Marcelle Bienvenu, returned for the early open house last week. Blanchard said after spending years working in California, she and her chef boyfriend returned to New Orleans with hopes of opening their own restaurant one day.

In preparation, they have opened Coutelier NOLA, a professional chef tools and cutlery business in uptown New Orleans. Blanchard said they hope to establish themselves professionally by providing a service to area chefs which includes Japanese knives, a wetstone sharpening service and other niche cooking tools and products for chefs and cooks.

Fellow student Justin Sargent of New Iberia also returned to share in the excitement of the new building.

“I’m jealous. We used butane burners on tabletops,” Sargent said. “Who wouldn’t want to come here. Very few kitchens you go to work in have everything new.”

Sargent, was introduced to the food industry when he was 16 years old. His step-mom, Kristal Sargent, put him to work washing dishes at Clementine Dining and Spirits. After graduating from New Iberia Senior High in 2008, Sargent enrolled and graduated from Chef John Folse Culinary Institute in 2012.

One of seven children, Sargent said they all worked with the catering and restaurant where his step-mother was manager.

“Cooking was the only thing I knew, I just love it,” he said. “We learned the Cajun and Creole part of cooking at home, but when you start off at school, you learn the basics. We (students) have a food history class that tells about all the cultures. Here you learn to fuse your Cajun culture with all of the other cultures.”

Sargent said they did a whole class on eggs. Chef Marcelle Bienvenu said she remembers the day Sargent did his first egg-over-easy.

“He said, ‘I have to call my mom and dad, and take a picture,’ ” Bienvenu said. “He became one of our best students. I think working at Clementine sparked his interest.”

The new Ledet Building is equipped with six kitchens, three classrooms and a dedicated student study area complete with a collection of more than 1,000 cookbooks.

It is also the home of a student-operated Bistro Ruth, a 96-seat restaurant named in honor of New Orleans restaurateur Ruth Fertel, founder of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

The Bistro Ruth course allows students to rotate through real world stations in an actual kitchen environment alternating hospitality services in the front of the house and a full array of duties in the kitchen. Students experience everything from executive chef responsibilities of menu planning and supervision to cleanup and prep.

A private Chef’s Table that seats six and President’s Dining Room that seats 12 offers elegant dinner service inspired by global culinary traditions and menus. Fees are based on the room rental, not a per person cost for menu choices.

Trahan said when dining at Bistro Ruth, guests choose an entree, but in the private rooms, the option to taste every entree is available. The rooms can be reserved for private dining and overlook the kitchen preparations of a selected menu which changes nightly depending on the student executive chef. Regular items are also part of the Bistro Ruth menu.

Bistro Ruth is usually open Tuesdays and Thursdays during the semester, but anyone interested in dining should check online for menu styles and hours. The culinary website lists dates and menu service for the evening. Reservations are generally required.

The Bistro concept, Trahan said, to his knowledge is unique to Nicholls’ program. A retail bakery kiosk and coffee shop is also open to the public featuring products from the institute.

“The program started in 1994 when Chef Folse and then university president were sharing a bowl of gumbo. They decided to blend the food and culture of South Louisiana into a college curriculum,” said Trahan.

“The program has continued to grow ever since,” he said. “The facility has evolved to meet the needs. Each of the kitchens is dedicated for specific purpose. One is the pastry kitchen, the most popular. There is a meat fabrication/butchering kitchen, cold foods, salads, refrigerated foods, open skills, all the things that come with being a good chef.

“We have a strategic plan in place to increase enrollment for the university and the culinary program is an important component to meet that goal,” Trahan said. “We also have actual alumni coming back as adjunct instructors bringing their real world experience back into the classroom.”

The seafood kitchen is where John Folse teaches about soups, gumbo and sauces. Trahan said the special skills kitchen and pastry kitchen still have naming rights for any philanthropists interested in being associated with the program.

Joining the Program

“The admissions process is like regular Nicholls enrollment, ACT score and application to the university,” said Chef John Kozar, MBOE, Department Head and Assistant Professor. “Once you’re accepted, you just choose the Culinary Institute as your major.”

“Everyone down here (in Louisiana) cooks,” he said, “At the culinary institute, in addition to cooking, students are learning how to manage the kitchen, order food, manage the staff. You may not be cooking as much as a ‘chef,’ you’ve done that. You may still create but you are the manager, not just a cook.”

Kozar said their curriculum includes getting a business minor with the culinary arts degree and they are part of the College of Nursing. This gives students access to dietetics and the nutrition departments, he said, in addition to traditional humanities studies expected from a four-year degree.

“People who come out of this program are prepared for the world,” Kozar said. “Some graduates have said, ‘I don’t want to cook’ and they don’t have to. They can be health inspectors, nutritionists or instructors or many other careers.”

Bienvenu and Kozar said the first thing students learn is Culinary 101, the variety of careers they can pursue with a degree. They begin by studying food history and cultures around the world.

The public is invited to the grand opening at 10 a.m. Thursday at the intersection of Highway 1 and Bowie Road on the campus of Nicholls State University

15 2015-08-21
New Orleans

Making a meringue mess with Chef John Folse


Louisiana Chef John Folse and his cooking students are at their new home. At Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, their new building is state of the art. It’s 33,000 square feet. It cost $12.6 million and took three years to build. With this new facility, the school will be able to accommodate about 400 culinary students. That’s twice as many as before. The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute opened in 1995. It’s the first four-year culinary program in the state. WGNO News with a Twist features reporter Wild Bill Wood went back to school to make meringue with chef himself.
15 2015-08-19
Houma/Thibodaux

Candidates for La. governor back plans to divert river water




The four candidates competing to become the next Louisiana governor said they supported moving ahead with controversial plans to divert Mississippi River water into disappearing estuaries to help address the state’s land loss issues.

The three Republicans and lone Democrat met this afternoon at a forum at Nicholls State University to discuss what they would do as governor to repair Louisiana’s eroding coast. About 1,900 square miles of coast have eroded into the Gulf of Mexico since the 1930s.

“We’ve got to acknowledge that there’s a greater good to be served even though there may be temporary consequences and inconveniences that we would all rather not have to endure,” Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards said about diversions.

The $50 billion, 50-year master plan was devised by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration to slow land loss by diverting the Mississippi River’s mud and water into injured estuaries. The plan is opposed by many fishermen because diversions would alter water conditions and likely make it difficult, and perhaps impossible, to harvest shrimp, crabs and oysters where freshwater is flushed into estuaries.

Edwards, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle each backed planned diversions as a long-term solution to coastal restoration.

Edwards said the restoration benefits of diversions need to be weighed against socio-economic factors. Angelle said dredging and land-building efforts should be used in areas where fisheries will be most affected.

“My belief is it’s not an either or situation. I think we can do both,” Angelle said.

Vitter acknowledged the potential negative effects.
15 2015-08-19
New Orleans

Nicholls State University focusing on specific programs to help increase enrollment


THIBODAUX, La. —Nicholls State University officials are remaining optimistic with enrollment projected to decline for a fifth straight year.



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President Bruce Murphy said he expects around 6,050 to 6,100 students for the fall semester. The estimate is about a 14 percent drop from 7,096 in 2010.

Murphy said his strategic plan is focused on increasing enrollment to 8,000 through priority programs. He said the goal is to increase enrollment by more than 500 in petroleum engineering technology and safety management and more than 300 in the culinary institute.

In addition, he said he wants to bring in more than 170 international students and increase enrollments online and from out-of-state students.

The Associated Press said official enrollment numbers will be released after the 14th day of class on Sept. 3. More information about Nicholls can be found online.

15 2015-08-17
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls enrollment projected to drop again



Nicholls State University’s enrollment is projected to decline for a fifth straight year, but officials are cautiously optimistic that it is about to turn around.



President Bruce Murphy said he expects around 6,050 to 6,100 for the fall semester, about a 14 percent drop from 7,096 in 2010.

“I think we’ll be OK. We haven’t turned the corner yet, but we’re not going to have a significant decrease,” Murphy said.

Exact numbers for how many students will be on campus are still in flux because students often drop or add classes in the first few weeks. Official numbers will be released after the 14th day of class on Sept. 3.

Murphy’s strategic plan is heavily focused on increasing enrollment to 8,000 through priority programs.

During his State of the University address, Murphy said the goal is to increase enrollment by more than 500 in Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management, more than 300 in the Culinary Institute and more than 170 international students, besides increasing enrollments for Nicholls Online and out-of-state students.

Culinary Executive Director Randy Cheramie said his program is expected to double enrollment within the next three years at the recently opened $12.6 million Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts building. Cheramie said the building has room to expand if it gets to that point.

PETSM has been the fastest-growing program on campus. Last year it grew 50 percent. This year students will face higher fees for the program, which Murphy said will be used to hire new faculty for

15 2015-08-17
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls enrollment projected to drop again



Nicholls State University’s enrollment is projected to decline for a fifth straight year, but officials are cautiously optimistic that it is about to turn around.



President Bruce Murphy said he expects around 6,050 to 6,100 for the fall semester, about a 14 percent drop from 7,096 in 2010.

“I think we’ll be OK. We haven’t turned the corner yet, but we’re not going to have a significant decrease,” Murphy said.

Exact numbers for how many students will be on campus are still in flux because students often drop or add classes in the first few weeks. Official numbers will be released after the 14th day of class on Sept. 3.

Murphy’s strategic plan is heavily focused on increasing enrollment to 8,000 through priority programs.

During his State of the University address, Murphy said the goal is to increase enrollment by more than 500 in Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management, more than 300 in the Culinary Institute and more than 170 international students, besides increasing enrollments for Nicholls Online and out-of-state students.

Culinary Executive Director Randy Cheramie said his program is expected to double enrollment within the next three years at the recently opened $12.6 million Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts building. Cheramie said the building has room to expand if it gets to that point.

PETSM has been the fastest-growing program on campus. Last year it grew 50 percent. This year students will face higher fees for the program, which Murphy said will be used to hire new faculty for

15 2015-08-17
Shreveport

Nicholls State shows off new $12.6 million cooking school


THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - Randy Cheramie (SHEHR' uh mee), executive director of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, says it's a dream come true.

The Lanny D. Ledet (luh-DAY') Culinary Arts Building, the institute's new home, is located on eight acres near Louisiana Highway 1 and Bowie Road in Thibodaux and is being counted on by Nicholls State University officials to help spur enrollment growth.

The Daily Comet reports (http://bit.ly/1gGjHct) the culinary department started moving into the $12.6 million, 33,000-square-foot building on May 20, shortly after construction finished.

For the last several years, the institute had been split among two buildings.

The Ledet Building is equipped with six kitchens, three classrooms and a dedicated student study area.



Information from: Daily Comet, http://www.dailycomet.com

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

15 2015-08-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls shows off new cooking school



As he sat down in a chair in the Nicholls State University student restaurant today, Bistro Ruth, Randy Cheramie let out a sigh of relief.



“It's a dream come true. What can I tell you?” said Cheramie, executive director of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

The Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building, the institute's new home, is located on eight acres near La. 1 and Bowie Road in Thibodaux and is being counted on by university officials to help spur enrollment growth.

The culinary department started moving into the $12.6 million, 33,000-square-foot building on May 20, shortly after construction finished.

For the last several years, the institute had been split among two buildings: the 9,000-square-foot Gouaux Hall and the restaurant at the Carmel Inn and Suites in Thibodaux.

Former culinary arts student Jacqueline Blanchard, who has worked in restaurants in New York and San Francisco since graduating from Nicholls, said she was “floored” by the new building.

“I don't have a ton of words yet because I'm still trying to soak it all in,” Blanchard said. “The whole program is unique and it's finally got the facilities to match.”

The Ledet Building is equipped with six kitchens, three classrooms and a dedicated student study area. It is also the home of student-operated Bistro Ruth, a 96-seat restaurant named in honor of New Orleans restaurateur Ruth Fertel, the founder of Ruth's Chris Steak Houses. A painting of Fertel overlooks the main dining room just above a window pane wall allowing guests to see the students prepare their meals.

15 2015-08-13
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls' new cooking school building to celebrate grand opening Aug. 20



Nicholls State University will celebrate the grand opening Aug. 20 of the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building, the new home of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.


A public gathering and ribbon cutting is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Ledet Building, on the Nicholls campus at La. 1 and Bowie Road in Thibodaux.

The opening of the 33,000-square-foot cooking school is the culmination of a three-year, $12.6 million project designed to double enrollment at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

It will also provide Nicholls culinary students with advanced equipment and cutting-edge technology that will simulate culinary and hospitality industry working environments, university officials said. The Ledet Building is equipped with six kitchens, three classrooms and a dedicated student study area. It is also the home of student-operated Bistro Ruth, a 96-seat restaurant named in honor of New Orleans restaurateur Ruth Fertel.

The grand opening will include remarks by Nicholls President Bruce Murphy, Chef John Folse, Nicholls culinary faculty and students, and state and local officials. The ceremony will also include a remembrance of the late Lanny Ledet, the building's namesake and Nicholls business alumnus. Following the ceremony, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute will host a reception and welcome self-guided tours.

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute opened in 1995 as the only four-year culinary arts degree program in Louisiana. The institute currently enrolls about 300 students from across the nation and globe.

15 2015-08-13
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls president discusses state of university



Nicholls State University's budget will remain the same while three programs are being shifted in the university's structure, Nicholls President Bruce Murphy told faculty and staff during his biannual State of the University speech Wednesday.

Bruce Murphy

Enlarge

Bruce Murphy



Murphy announced that Interdisciplinary Studies and Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management will be moved to the College of Arts and Sciences, and Culinary Arts will be moved to the College of Nursing and Allied Health. They have been part of the University College.

"Those programs, when you look at where they were, it didn't make the most sense from an academic structure," said Lynn Gillette, provost and vice president of academic affairs.

Gillette said the university is not ruling out making similar moves in the future, but nothing is on the table right now.

Murphy also touched on the university's confederate symbols. There are no immediate plans for any changes, but he encouraged the faculty to have discussion about the them in their classrooms. If that leads to a broader discussion, he said, the university will consider changes. He said he plans to do the same with student leaders.

Murphy also discussed increasing Nicholls enrollment, which had declined to 6,300 last fall, to make up for loss of revenue.

"If we can increase enrollment to a magic number, 8,000, we will be in a much better position. We will be able to fund annual faculty salary increases," Murphy said. "We'll be able to do things we cannot do now, things that are just too tough to do."

Nicholls won't raise tuition this year, but students taking more than 15 credit hours, Culinary Arts students and Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management students will incur fee increases.

15 2015-08-12
Baton Rouge

Nicholls State sixth most expensive of 9 University of Louisiana System universities




THIBODAUX, Louisiana — Nicholls State is the sixth most expensive of the nine University of Louisiana System universities — down from third most expensive — after being the only one to not raise tuition this year.

Only student fees for select programs are increasing an estimated 1.6 percent at Nicholls, while increases at other universities range from 20.2 percent at Louisiana-Lafayette to 8.2 percent at Grambling State.

In-state students at Nicholls will pay $3,674 per semester, while out-of-state students will pay $9,139.




The Daily Comet reports (http://bit.ly/1P0RJ6r) Nicholls President Bruce Murphy has criticized the practice of raising tuition and fees to offset fewer state dollars. Murphy has instead turned his focus to increasing the university's declining enrollment from about 6,300 last fall to 8,000.

15 2015-08-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Costs aren't rising much at Nicholls



In recent years, Nicholls State students — and their counterparts across Louisiana — have come to expect the worst.



But this year brought a welcome reprieve.

Nicholls State's tuition and fees are up slightly, but the rise was the lowest in the entire University of Louisiana System — which also includes Louisiana Tech, the University of New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana, McNeese State, University of Louisiana at Monroe and Northwestern State.

In fact, Nicholls was able to avoid raising tuition. And fees are going up just 1.6 percent.

That's a hike, but it isn't nearly what some other students around Louisiana will have to pay, and the increase isn't as much as it has been in recent years.

As universities have struggled to make up for dwindling state dollars, students and their parents have been the hardest hit.

As the state government has repeatedly cut the money going to Louisiana's public universities, those schools had to get the money from somewhere to stave off deeper cuts than they have already had to make.

That meant steeply rising tuition and fees for most of Louisiana's college students.

The burden has been great on the students, who are in the process of helping themselves and the future of our state by pursuing higher education.

Unfortunately, because of an obsolete state Constitution, officials facing decreasing revenues have had little choice but to cut health care and higher education spending.

Because just about every other sector of the state budget is protected in the Constitution, our governor and Legislature have little flexibility during lean fiscal times.

15 2015-08-12
Houma/Thibodaux

Costs aren't rising much at Nicholls



In recent years, Nicholls State students — and their counterparts across Louisiana — have come to expect the worst.



But this year brought a welcome reprieve.

Nicholls State's tuition and fees are up slightly, but the rise was the lowest in the entire University of Louisiana System — which also includes Louisiana Tech, the University of New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana, McNeese State, University of Louisiana at Monroe and Northwestern State.

In fact, Nicholls was able to avoid raising tuition. And fees are going up just 1.6 percent.

That's a hike, but it isn't nearly what some other students around Louisiana will have to pay, and the increase isn't as much as it has been in recent years.

As universities have struggled to make up for dwindling state dollars, students and their parents have been the hardest hit.

As the state government has repeatedly cut the money going to Louisiana's public universities, those schools had to get the money from somewhere to stave off deeper cuts than they have already had to make.

That meant steeply rising tuition and fees for most of Louisiana's college students.

The burden has been great on the students, who are in the process of helping themselves and the future of our state by pursuing higher education.

Unfortunately, because of an obsolete state Constitution, officials facing decreasing revenues have had little choice but to cut health care and higher education spending.

Because just about every other sector of the state budget is protected in the Constitution, our governor and Legislature have little flexibility during lean fiscal times.

15 2015-08-10
Baton Rouge

Nicholls State sixth most expensive of 9 University of Louisiana System universities




THIBODAUX, Louisiana — Nicholls State is the sixth most expensive of the nine University of Louisiana System universities — down from third most expensive — after being the only one to not raise tuition this year.

Only student fees for select programs are increasing an estimated 1.6 percent at Nicholls, while increases at other universities range from 20.2 percent at Louisiana-Lafayette to 8.2 percent at Grambling State.

In-state students at Nicholls will pay $3,674 per semester, while out-of-state students will pay $9,139.




The Daily Comet reports (http://bit.ly/1P0RJ6r) Nicholls President Bruce Murphy has criticized the practice of raising tuition and fees to offset fewer state dollars. Murphy has instead turned his focus to increasing the university's declining enrollment from about 6,300 last fall to 8,000.

15 2015-08-10
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls has lowest cost increase in UL system



Nicholls State is the sixth most expensive of the nine University of Louisiana System universities — down from third most expensive — after being the only one to not raise tuition this year.



Only student fees for select programs are increasing an estimated 1.6 percent at Nicholls, while increases at other universities in the system range from 20.2 percent at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette to 8.2 percent at Grambling State.

In-state students at Nicholls will pay $3,674.34 per semester, while out-of-state students will pay $9,139.98.

The UL System also includes Louisiana Tech University, University of New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana University, McNeese State University, University of Louisiana at Monroe and Northwestern State University.

Since Nicholls President Bruce Murphy was hired in the fall of 2013, he has criticized the practice of raising tuition and fees to offset fewer state dollars. Tuition increases make the university less of a public good, he said. He has instead turned his focus to increasing the university's declining enrollment from about 6,300 last fall to 8,000.

So far, fall projections have been mixed. Earlier this summer, Murphy acknowledged enrollment could be down again. But on Thursday, a university spokesman said officials are optimistic about enrollment projections.

Students across the state have become accustomed to increased costs in recent years. As the state has cut back higher education spending — $700 million from 2008 to 2013, the largest per-student cuts of any state — colleges and universities have put that cost on the students and their families.

15 2015-08-06
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls petroleum engineering program gets donation



Nicholls State University received a donation Tuesday to enhance its new petroleum engineering labs.


The Morgan City Oilfield Fishing Rodeo, founded in 2013, donated $13,000 to the university's Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management program. The money will help renovate Gouaux Hall classrooms and labs.

"We recognize the value of educating our community, especially our oilfield industry," said rodeo events coordinator Loretta Dupre. "We give back all the money raised each year, with most of it benefiting education."

The rodeo donated $10,000 to the PETSM program last year to upgrade its technology. The rodeo has also donated to Relay for Life, the American Legion Freedom Fest, Boy Scouts of America and South Central Louisiana Technical College.

15 2015-08-04
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls gets good news ... for now



Nicholls State got some good news last week when a national credit rating agency removed it from its credit watch list.



The move means that Standard & Poor no longer considers Nicholls State's credit situation at risk of worsening. Nicholls was on the watch list along with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of New Orleans Research Foundation, LSU's Bogalusa Community Medical Center Project and the Delgado Community College Foundation.

In fairness, their presence of the list wasn't the fault of the schools or their administrative officials. Instead, it was an indication that the agency thought they were at risk of having their state money further slashed in budget cuts that have carried on for years.

The fact that they were removed is good news ... for now. But there is no guarantee that future years will bring continued good fortune for the state's higher education system.

"What would it have meant if they had not taken us off? It would have been harder to borrow money," said Nicholls President Bruce Murphy. "It's good news, when you look at it, because it could have been bad news."

So, while Nicholls, its students, its faculty members and its supporters in the region can breathe a sigh of relief that its credit picture hasn't gotten any worse, it hasn't gotten any better either.

And with each year bringing the danger of further budget cuts at the state level, the fiscal outlook for Nicholls is just as precarious as it was.

The good news, though, is that the financial experts think it is out of danger for the time being.

15 2015-07-31
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State University credit warning lifted



A national credit rating agency says Nicholls State University’s bond rating won’t be dropped after the state avoided higher education budget cuts, but future concerns remain.



Nicholls was one of five institutions removed from Standard & Poor’s negative credit watch, along with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of New Orleans Research Foundation, LSU’s Bogalusa Community Medical Center Project and the Delgado Community College Foundation.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration announced the credit decision Wednesday. The move by S&P indicates the institutions aren’t facing the short-term possibility of a rating downgrade.

“Obviously this is good news for us, great news for higher education,” said Kristy Nichols, Jindal’s commissioner of administration.

The credit agency had put the institutions on a negative watch in April as higher education was threatened with hefty financing cuts because of state budget problems. But lawmakers scaled back tax breaks and raised taxes to avoid the cuts, giving colleges a largely standstill budget this fiscal year.

“What would it have meant if they had not taken us off? It would have been harder to borrow money,” said Nicholls President Bruce Murphy. “It’s good news, when you look at it, because it could have been bad news.”

Concern is still lingering about the future. Officials estimate the Legislature will face another $1 billion shortfall again next spring and, as one of two undedicated entities, higher education is expected to face the chopping block again.

15 2015-07-20
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls students study wildlife offshore in all day trip




For 24 hours in June, six Nicholls students went offshore in a rare opportunity to study aquatic life deep in the Gulf of Mexico.


Jordan Logarbo holds up a fish during a trip offshore in June. She is one of six Nicholls State University students who were part of a summer course with the Louisiana University Marine Consortium.
LUMCON

The students took part in the trip as part of the Louisiana University Marine Consortium, or LUMCON, Introduction to Marine Zoology class. The summer field course introduces students to various animals in the Gulf of Mexico with an emphasis on how they adapt to changing Louisiana habitats.

Each year students normally are only able to study species inshore. That changed when the research vessel, The Point Sur, owned by the University of Southern Mississippi, docked in Cocodrie for the summer.

With two research vessels at its disposal, LUMCON was able to set time aside for students to go offshore.

"I've taught the class several times. It's rare to get the class offshore, a rare opportunity," said Nicholls biology professor Gary LaFleur.

The students were Jordan Logarbo, Michelle Folse, Sarah Barrios, Tiffany Barnhart, Logen Pietraroia and Andrew Cumberland. Lafleur and Deaton Lewis, University of Louisiana at Lafayette professor, accompanied the students.

The vessel trawled in water 60 feet deep about 50 miles south of Cocodrie, LaFleur said. "One of the goals in this class is to try to collect a range of species. Really, you want to get as many and as diverse as possible. You purposely look for invertebrates as well as vertebrates. You get pretty good diversity in the bays, but you definitely increase your diversity offshore," he said. "We were able to double the amount of species that our class collected."
15 2015-07-15
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State angler competing in Bassmaster College Series Classic Final Four


Tyler Rivet is one of only four anglers competing today in the semifinals of the Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket in Stevens Point, Wis.


The Nicholls State University student is in the Final Four competing for a spot in the 2016 Bassmaster Classic, after a whirlwind week that saw he and fishing partner Allyson Marcel finish in third place out of more than 70 teams in the College National Championship competition to qualify for the bracket series.

Marcel lost in a heads-up competition on Sunday to University of Minnesota angler Trevor Lo, but Rivet took down another Minnesota fisherman, Chris Burgan, to advance to the Final Four.

Rivet capitalized on a morning bite Sunday, and now faces Josh Bensema of Texas A&M in today’s semifinal match.

“Bensema said he was losing big fish so I’m definitely going to need better quality if I want to contend,” Rivet said in a press release. “Both of my best spots are morning areas so I need to choose wisely on where I go first.”

15 2015-07-15
Lafayette

Water Institute Research Project on Blue Crabs Awarded Funding from NOAA Fisheries


The Water Institute of the Gulf, in partnership with Nicholls State University, has been awarded funding under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Saltonstall-Kennedy (SK) Grant Program for a project that will focus on linking shifts in blue crab population dynamics to changes in the coastal landscape. The principal investigator on the project is Tim Carruthers, Director of Coastal Ecology. Collaborating partners include the Institute's Kelly Darnell and Ann Hijuelos, as well as M. Zachary Darnell of Nicholls State University. The proposal will be funded in the full amount of $283,578 beginning on September 1, 2015.

With a focus on maintaining fishing opportunities and jobs, the study will raise awareness and increase understanding of the connection between blue crab populations, marsh fragmentation, and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) distribution. The outcomes will inform discussion of management issues and decision-making for the blue crab fishery.

"Blue crabs are critical to our region economically, environmentally, and recreationally," said Carruthers. "This project aims to help resource managers better understand how this important population has been changing, and may change in the future, in our dynamic and complex coastal landscape."

The goal of the SK program is to fund projects that address the needs of fishing communities, optimize economic benefits by building and maintaining sustainable fisheries, and increase other opportunities to keep working waterfronts viable. This year's recommended projects fall into four broad themes and touch on every aspect of marine research, including socioeconomics, fishing gear and bycatch, aquaculture, fisheries management, and the effects of climate. The four themes are:
• Maximizing fishing opportunities and jobs,
• Improving key fisheries observations,
• Increasing the quality and quantity of domestic seafood, and
• Improving fishery information from U.S. territories.

NOAA Fisheries recommended 88 projects for a total of $25 million under the 2014-2015 SK Program. This is the most significant amount of funding ever granted by NOAA under this decades-old program.
15 2015-07-14
Houma/Thibodaux

No tuition hike at Nicholls State, but higher fees are on the way



Nicholls State University students won't see a tuition increase in the coming academic year, but higher fees are on the way.



Enlarge



University officials said most students will see a 1.6 percent increase in tuition and fees in the 2015-2016 academic year stemming increases to the energy surcharge and student self-assessed fees.

This year's overall tuition and fee increase is the lowest among schools in the University of Louisiana system.

"The rising cost of tuition and fees at Nicholls has been a major concern of mine for the past year," Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said in a statement. "I have been very vocal about not wanting to raise tuition and only wanting to increase fees if students can see the direct results of their money in terms of better classrooms, services and academic experiences."

Students in two academic programs and those taking more than 15 credit hours will see additional fees.

Tuition and fees for the Spring 2015 semester for an in-state student taking 12 or more hours was $3,617.34. For out-of-state students, tuition and fees for the Spring 2015 semester was $8,740.74.

Culinary arts students will be charged up to $250 per semester and those majoring in petroleum engineering technology and safety management will also see a $150 each semester.

Money generated from the two fees will go directly back into the programs, paying for additional faculty, facility improvements and equipment, said Nicholls spokesman Terry Trahan

Students will also see a new fee that kicks in if they enroll in 16 or more credit hours.

15 2015-07-08
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls benefits from Manning Passing Academy




Entering its 20th year, the Manning Passing Academy has become something special for Nicholls State University.



While the focus of the camp is to help high school quarterbacks and receivers improve their skills to become better football players, it has also improved Nicholls' image on a national scale, which is priceless for the small regional university.

The Manning Passing Academy — now in its 11th year at Nicholls — once again takes over the Thibodaux campus with 1,200 campers and 120 coaches beginning on Thursday and ending on Sunday. There will also be the Iberia Bank Air-It-Out Papa John's Quarterback Challenge at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at John L. Guidry Stadium.

While it remains a camp, the success and admiration of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning, in both college football and NFL has led the camp in becoming a national event.

While the Mannings aren't in need of any extra publicity, Nicholls has benefitted from its association with the Manning Passing Academy as the university is mentioned by national-media outlets that cover the event each summer.

Nicholls athletic director Rob Bernardi said he has heard and seen a myriad of ways the university gets attention when the camp is here, which is always a positive.



















Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (right) offers some advice to Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott during last year's Manning...





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15 2015-07-07
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls petroleum program poised for future growth



Nicholls State University is preparing physical and personnel expansions to increase enrollment to offset shrinking revenues.



The Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management program began expanding three classrooms last month in the recently vacated Gouaux Hall, which until recently housed the university's John Folse Culinary Institute.

And now, Nicholls President Bruce Murphy is considering increasing PETSM student fees under a new state law to add more teachers.

"This is a very high-demand program, but we've run out of room to grow," Murphy said.

The program experienced 50 percent growth in enrollment this fall, an increase of 153 students, bringing the total to 459 students. PETSM Director Michael Gautreaux said he expects the upward-trending enrollment to continue in the immediate future.

Expanding Gouaux Hall allows for the program to be able to handle that increased enrollment.

The $54,007 renovation is being paid for with a combination of Nicholls, industry and Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy dollars. Thibodaux-based contractor Thomassie Construction is handling the work.

The expanded classrooms will double capacity to 48 seats. Construction is expected to be complete before the fall semester.

"We've always had problems with waiting lists for high-demand courses and students can't get access to the classes they need. This will help mitigate and close those gaps," Gautreaux said.

The classroom will be equipped with state-of-the-art cameras and voice recorders so students working offshore can access the lectures they can't attend in person.

15 2015-07-07
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls ranks high in tuition increases



Nicholls State University raised its tuition and required fees by the third-highest percentage in the country among four-year public colleges from 2011-12 to 2013-14, according to information compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.



The university's costs went up 37 percent, from $4,737 to $6,468, according to the report The Chronicle posted Thursday on its website.

Bruce Murphy said he's not questioning why the university's tuition and required fees increased so much before he was hired as Nicholls president in the fall of 2013. But he noted no tuition hike is planned for the coming year and the emphasis has to be on increasing enrollment.

"I don't think we need to raise tuition. I think we need to stabilize it," he said.

Since the 2010-11 academic year, Nicholls' tuition increased by 10 percent each year, as allowed by the state if certain requirements are met. Murphy said the 37 percent increase also includes student-imposed fees. Such fees were used to build the university's recreation center that opened in 2012.

As the state has cut back higher education spending — $700 million from 2008 to 2013, the largest per-student cuts of any state — colleges and universities have put that cost on the students and their families.

"You've got to play the cards you're dealt," Murphy said.

But Murphy has noted several times this year that tuition increases make the university less of a public good.

Students need to see they are getting benefit from higher costs and that's why putting money back into academic programs from increased fees is important, he said. This year state lawmakers passed House Bill 151 to allow colleges to raise fees to generate revenue for high-cost programs.

15 2015-07-07
Houma/Thibodaux

Growth is the way of the future




Nicholls State University is in the business of catering to local students.



Those students, in recent years, have begun turning toward the more advanced studies that will be required in the oil industry for the foreseeable future.

So it is a natural fit for Nicholls State to offer more of those courses of study, encouraging our students to get the skills and training they need to join the lucrative job market in the oilfield.

A perfect example is the Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management program, which is looking to expand to meet the expected jump in student interest.

It has already begun expanding classrooms in Gouaux Hall, which was made available when the John Folse Culinary Institute moved to its new building.

Now, it is in the process of raising fees in the program to pay for more instructors, a sign that it is a growing field.

Just this fall, the program's enrollment went up by 50 percent, bringing its total to 459 students.

That is an impressive growth, and more should be expected in the years to come.

"This is a very high-demand program, but we've run out of room to grow," said Nicholls State President Bruce Murphy.

The classroom expansions will help meet some of the need, giving more students the opportunity to enroll in classes that had filled up quickly in the past.

And hiring more instructors will also help the situation.





Nicholls State University is in the business of catering to local students.



Those students, in recent years, have begun turning toward the more advanced studies that will be required in the oil industry for the foreseeable future.

So it is a natural fit for Nicholls State to offer more of those courses of study, encouraging our students to get the skills and training they need to join the lucrative job market in the oilfield.

A perfect example is the Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management program, which is looking to expand to meet the expected jump in student interest.

It has already begun expanding classrooms in Gouaux Hall, which was made available when the John Folse Culinary Institute moved to its new building.

Now, it is in the process of raising fees in the program to pay for more instructors, a sign that it is a growing field.

Just this fall, the program's enrollment went up by 50 percent, bringing its total to 459 students.

That is an impressive growth, and more should be expected in the years to come.

"This is a very high-demand program, but we've run out of room to grow," said Nicholls State President Bruce Murphy.

The classroom expansions will help meet some of the need, giving more students the opportunity to enroll in classes that had filled up quickly in the past.

And hiring more instructors will also help the situation.























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15 2015-07-06
Houma/Thibodaux

Manning Passing Academy enters its 20th year



When Archie Manning began the Manning Passing Academy, he was hoping it could become a good regional camp.



But as the camp enters its 20th year, it has far exceeded anything Manning expectations.

Once again, the Manning Passing Academy takes over the campus of Nicholls State University, welcoming 1,200 campers and 120 camp coaches for the four-day camp. The camp begins on Thursday with most of the activities taking place on the 25 football fields behind John L. Guidry Stadium.

The Manning Passing Academy also features the Iberia Bank Air-it-Out Pappa John's Quarterback Challenge beginning at 6:30 p.m. July 11 at Guidry Stadium.

What started as an idea from Manning's middle son, Peyton, who at the time was a junior at Tennessee, on helping improve high school quarterbacks' passing skills has mushroomed into a nationally recognized summer event. Over the past 19 years, the camp has hosted high-school athletes from across the country and Canada, had Heisman-Trophy winning college quarterbacks as camp coaches and is covered by national media, which is a far cry from when it began in 1996.

15 2015-06-29
Baton Rouge

Nicholls won't raise tuition


THIBODAUX, La. - The president of Nicholls State University says students won't incur a tuition increase this year, but some could pay higher fees.

The Daily Comet reports that Bruce Murphy, president of the university in Thibodaux, said on Friday that a fee increase is a possibility.

He said the decision hasn't been made yet but some selected programs might see fee increases.

Lawmakers this year granted colleges and universities the authority to raise fees on individual programs.
15 2015-06-29
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls president: No tuition increase this year



Nicholls State University students won’t incur a tuition increase this year, but some could pay higher fees, Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said today.



The authority to raise fees on individual programs is new for colleges and universities. State lawmakers passed House Bill 151 this year, which is a “way to generate revenue for high-cost programs,” state Higher Education Commissioner Joseph Rallo said.

Since Murphy was hired in the fall of 2013, he has criticized the practice of raising tuition and fees to offset fewer state dollars. Tuition increases make the university less of a public good, he said. He has instead turned his focus to increasing the university’s declining enrollment from about 6,300 last fall to 8,000. Early projections call for fall enrollment to decline for a third consecutive year.

Any increase in fees would be put directly back into the program, Murphy said.

“We’re looking at that very carefully,” he said. “We haven’t decided yet, but we might for some select programs.”

Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management, one of the university’s fastest-growing degree programs, is running out of room to grow. Nicholls has already identified a new building for the program, Gouaux Hall, which housed the recently departed John Folse Culinary Institute. But the program needs more teachers before it can handle any more students.

“It’s a very high-demand program and we’ve run out of room to grow. It has great industry support. What if we increased fees for those students? It could allow us to hire additional faculty,” he said

15 2015-06-25
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls mourns loss of former standout




Shock and disbelief resonates throughout Nicholls State University's baseball family with the death of Darryl Hamilton.



Hamilton was a standout outfielder for the Colonels from 1984-86 and was drafted in 1986 by the Milwaukee Brewers leading to a 13-year career playing for five Major League Baseball teams.

Hamilton played with the Brewers, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies and New York Mets. He finished his career with a .291 batting average and played in the 2000 World Series with the Mets.

When Major League Baseball decided to have interleague play between American and National league teams, Hamilton was the first player to record a hit in an interleague regular-season game when he was with the Giants.

After his baseball career, Hamilton got into broadcasting and eventually became an analyst for the MLB Network since 2013.

What seemed to be a charmed life all came to an end on Sunday when Hamilton was killed in his Pearland, Texas, home in what Houston police termed a murder-suicide.

The Houston police confirmed to the Houston Chronicle that Hamilton, 50, was shot several times, and his girlfriend, Monica Jordan, 44, was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Also in the home was the couples' 14-month old son, but he was unharmed in the incident.

The news of the tragic event traveled fast and really hit the Nicholls baseball family hard.

Nicholls head baseball coach Seth Thibodeaux was much in touch with Hamilton on a regular basis, and he said the news of his death has sent the Nicholls community into a tailspin.



































Former Nicholls baseball player Darryl Hamilton's No. 11 is displayed on the outfield fence at Ray E. Didier Field in Thibodaux.





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15 2015-06-23
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls duo reaches national bass tournament



A gut feeling and a little luck got Tyler Rivet and Allyson Marcel into a national tournament.



Rivet and Marcel are leading members of Nicholls State University’s bass fishing program. They serve as president and vice president of the organization.

The program was started by Rivet in 2013 and has progressed with 20 members even though some don’t participate in tournaments.

However, the program has sent teams to previous national championships, and thanks to a change in their luck and fishing depth, Rivet and Marcel will be one of 90 tandems participating in the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship and Classic Bracket presented by Bass Pro Shops on July 9-14 at Lake DuBay in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

Rivet and Marcel qualified for the national tournament by bringing in a three-day total of 26 pounds at the Carhartt Wild Card Tournament on June 3-5 in Paris, Tenn. The total weight was good enough for 13th place, which was the cutoff for a spot in the national tournament.

While scouting Lake Barkley at the Wild Card Tournament, Rivet said one area he noticed had tree stumps under the water. After figuring the depth needed to fish around those stumps, he and Marcel began catching tournament-worthy bass.

15 2015-06-15
Houma/Thibodaux

Cooking school to play key role in Nicholls State University's growth



15 2015-06-02
Houma/Thibodaux

Academic programs at Nicholls State could change



15 2015-06-01
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State names Lynn Gillette new provost



15 2015-06-01
New Orleans

Nicholls State inks agreement to increase international appeal & enrollment


THIBODAUX, LA (WVUE) -
Nicholls State University wants to increase its international identity, along with boost enrollment and a giant in the offshore industry is partnering with the school to achieve those goals.

Edison Chouest Offshore is a global player headquartered in Galliano and at Nicholls in Thibodaux the company was part of a big announcement that is designed to boost Nicholls' international appeal.

“We have students from the region who come to school and they stay in the region, that's good, that's very good for a stable workforce, but I thought what we need to do is have more internationalization,” said Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy, Ph.D.

Wednesday, Murphy and Kirt Chouest of Edison Chouest inked an educational partnership agreement. So large is Chouest that it employs 14,000 people.

"With budget issues that the state universities are facing they have to come up with creative ways to try to increase what we call their customer base, their students, and therefore increase their revenue and help with their budgets,” said Kirt Chouest, General Manager of Edison Chouest Offshore.

The new agreement provides incentives for out-of-state and international Chouest employees, as well as their families to enroll at Nicholls. The company has numerous workers in other countries.

Nicholls will waive international/out-of-state fees for eligible workers and their family members. Also, they will have the opportunity to participate in an internship program and network with Chouest team members.

Online courses are also a part of the plan.

“We are very interested in expanding and robusting our online offerings,” Murphy said.

And parish leaders said they expect the new educational partnership to benefit Lafourche Parish as a whole.

"There's a lot of international to Chouest and if these young people can come here, and be indoctrinated into our culture, as well as our education here at Nicholls this is a terrific situation,” said Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph.

The relationship between Nicholls and Edison Chouest precedes the Wednesday morning announcement. The company said 80 percent of its employees with higher education degrees who work at the Galliano headquarters earned degrees from Nicholls.

Previously, Chouest was instrumental in Nicholls State University developing a four year maritime management course of study.

"That will only help the program grow even bigger than it is,” Chouest said of today's announcement.

Nicholls which currently has a enrollment of 6,500 students, including 170 international students has a goal of 8,000 students.

For more information on the new educational partnership, visit nicholls.edu/chouest.

15 2015-05-28
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State, Edison Chouest announce partnership



15 2015-05-28
New Orleans

Nicholls State inks agreement to increase international appeal & enrollment



15 2015-05-28
New Orleans

Edison Chouest and Nicholls announce educational partnership



15 2015-05-26
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls president: Tops changes don't go far enough



15 2015-05-19
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls celebrates 96th commencement



15 2015-05-15
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls concludes provost interviews



15 2015-05-14
Houma/Thibodaux

Provost candidate cites his experience



Nicholls State University kicked off the final phase of its search for a new academics head this afternoon, interviewing its Arts and Sciences Dean John Doucet.



Doucet is one of three finalists for provost and the first of three scheduled public interviews. On Thursday, Lynn Gillette, former president of Sierra Nevada College, will be interviewed at 1:15 p.m. and Carol Blackshire-Belay, former interim provost of Naropa University, will be interviewed at 2:45 p.m. Both interviews will take place in the Cotillion Ballroom in the Bollinger Student Union

15 2015-05-05
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls faces credit watch due to budget



15 2015-05-01
Houma/Thibodaux

Student earns college degree before high school diploma - See more at: http://thenichollsworth.com/7001195/showcase/student-earns-college-degree-befor



15 2015-04-21
Baton Rouge

Home ARTICLES Comments Share Email Print Reprints View one page Enlarge Text Related Links After oil spill, local


GULF OIL SPILL -- 5 YEARS LATER
Nicholls researcher works to revive oyster crop from oil spill damage
By Jacob Batte
Staff Writer
Published: Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 5:59 p.m.
Nicholls State University
Nicholls State University biology professor Ramaraj Boopathy, who goes by "Raj," has spent the past two years researching ways to restore oyster habitats in Barataria Bay and Cocodrie that were destroyed by the spill.

A Nicholls State University professor says he has found a way to speed the dilution of oil that covered several productive Louisiana oyster reefs after the BP spill.

Using a private $57,000 grant, biology professor Ramaraj Boopathy, who goes by "Raj," has spent the past two years researching ways to restore oyster habitats in Barataria Bay and Cocodrie that were destroyed by the spill. Harvesting oysters in both areas has been shut down by the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries due to heavy amounts of oil.

"Those are not edible for human consumption because of the oil in them. I'm looking at using natural sediment bacteria that can degrade this oil," Boopathy said.

Oil from the spill, combined freshwater diversion projects, turned the already low-oxygen areas into a dead zone.

His research is two-fold. First, he studied how long it would take the oil to degrade without any human interference. Simultaneously, he studied what would happen using anaerobic respiration. The process injects electron acceptors, in this case nitrate and sulfate, instead of oxygen.

Using several samples from oyster reefs off of Grande Terre, Boopathy said the nutrients removed 90 percent of the oil within a little more than a year. Without the nutrients, it would take nearly a decade for the reefs to recover.

"If you don't do anything, it'll be another eight or nine years. When you apply these chemicals, we already see 90 percent in a year-and-a-half. It can get it within a two-year time," he said.

Oyster farmers and producers say they're intrigued by Boopathy's work but want to see it in action before getting too excited.

Golden Meadow oysterman Nick Collins said Boopathy's research won't affect any of his leases but said he hopes it will contribute to the revival of the industry.

"That sounds awesome. I hope it works out," he said.

Intrigued by the research, Steven Voisin, CEO of Motivatit Seafood, a Houma oyster processor, said he plans to speak with Boopathy soon.

"It's good there's money being spent to resolve these issues," Voisin said. "I support anything that can help us get back in the right direction."

In the process of finishing and publishing his initial report, which he hopes to complete within the year, the question now becomes how to inject the nutrients back into the environment.

Following a peer review, Boopathy said he'll seek another grant and will team up with an LSU researcher to engineer a plan.

Just putting the nutrients in the Gulf of Mexico won't work, he said, as the tide will wash them away.

"The challenging part, when you deliver this chemical, it's going to wash away over time. We need to put it in a capsule and let it slow release," Boopathy said.

The engineering challenge, he said, is creating a large capsule big enough to not wash away, that could slowly shoot the nutrients into the sediment.

Boopathy was recently recognized for his efforts during the university's annual Research Week.

Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.

Copyright © 2015 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.

15 2015-04-21
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls' last surviving original faculty member dies




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Nicholls' last surviving original faculty member dies
By Jacob Batte
Staff Writer
Published: Friday, April 17, 2015 at 8:24 p.m.

Bonnie Bourg, Nicholls State's last surviving original faculty member, died Friday at age 88, university officials said.

Her friends described her as a caring, versatile pioneer for the university.

When Nicholls opened its doors in 1948, Bourg joined the charter faculty as an instructor of health and physical education. At 21, the Houma native was the youngest faculty member and rode a parish school bus to campus each day, like many of her students.

"She was an extremely accomplished person. Yes, that's the word for Bonnie. She was very accomplished," said Claire Joller, her friend and former student.

During her 40 years in various positions at the university, Bourg wrote the Nicholls alma mater, founded The Nicholls Worth student newspaper, brought the first nationally chartered Greek social organization to campus and served as adviser to the student government and the yearbook. Bourg went on to serve as the university's dean of women, dean of the freshman division and vice president for student affairs — becoming the first female administrator at Nicholls.

"She would start something as a volunteer and prove it was worthwhile and then the administration would hire a professional to take it over and carry it through," said Nicholls historian Al Delahaye.

Bourg recruited Eugene Dial, Nicholls vice president of student affairs, to the university. The two became so close over the five years they worked together that Dial got married on her back porch and eventually bought a home across the street from her.

"She was always helpful for people. She didn't care where you were from, who you were. She was a kind and giving person," Dial said.

Joller said Bourg had wide-ranging interests and made an effort to learn as much as she could about every topic.

"She was interested in everything. She was very widely traveled, a very involved person with people," Joller said. "She was a gracious, cultured woman."

A big fan of show tunes, musicals and golf, Bourg was a well-rounded individual, Joller said.

Bourg was also a "true daughter of the Catholic church," Joller said. She was a founding member and former director of the local Marian Servants of the Word.

Bourg retired from Nicholls in 1990 as vice president emerita for Student Affairs.

"Dr. Bonnie Bourg's contributions to the Nicholls campus are immeasurable," Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said in a news release. "During her multifaceted career, she left her mark on every aspect of student life and started traditions that will live on for generations. Her extreme dedication to students remains an inspiration to the Nicholls family today."

During her fall 1990 commencement speech, Bourg said, "I'd like to leave two things of mine with you. First, my passionate love for this university and second, my undying and unalterable belief that for Nicholls State University the best is yet to be."

Bourg's legacy, Delahaye said, is "one of great dedication and phenomenal achievement."

"All of the students loved and respected her," he said.

Upon her retirement, a campus committee established the Bonnie J. Bourg Lecture Series in her honor. The annual event brings to campus nationally distinguished women in various fields.

"Bonnie will be missed by not only Nicholls. She influenced the lives of thousands of thousands of people in this region," Dial said.

Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.

Copyright © 2015 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.

15 2015-01-16
Houma/Thibodaux

Nicholls State moves forward with strategic plan


Nicholls State moves forward with strategic plan
By Jacob Batte
Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 5:59 p.m.
Benjamin Oliver Hicks/Staff
Nicholls State University President Bruce Murphy is shown in his office in Thibodaux Thursday.

Nicholls State University needs to increase enrollment, student retention and its graduation rate while also cutting back “unsustainable programs and events,” Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said Thursday.

“We’re here to change lives. We’re here to make a difference,” Murphy told more than 100 administrators and faculty during his biannual State of the University speech.

Thursday marked one year since Murphy took over at Nicholls. Hovering over the beginning of Murphy’s second year are threats by the governor’s office to cut higher education spending by as much as $380 million.

Murphy, however, isn’t fazed by the reports. Until the budget is approved, nothing is certain, he said in an interview Thursday.

“We’re a developing contingency plans. We haven’t identified any areas, but we’re thinking about those plans,” Murphy said. “Whatever happens, Nicholls is still going to be here. We may have to cut back on what we’re doing, but we’re going to be great at what we do.”

If the proposed cuts, which are more than seven times the budget of Nicholl, are passed, the president will face a financial challenge that would likely define his tenure at the regional university. Nicholl’s budget this year is about $53 million.

Higher education cuts in Louisiana totalled around $700 million from 2008 to 2013, the largest per-student cuts of any state.

Over the last three decades, Nicholls has leaned heavily on self-generated revenues, namely tuition and course fees.

In 2009, Nicholls received 60.6 percent of its money from the state budget. In 2013, the college received less than 30 percent. The difference has been made up in cuts to faculty and staff, courses, programs and continual increases in tuition — about 10 percent each year since 2010.

The answer has often been to increase tuition and fees, but that’s not healthy for higher education, Murphy said. The more expensive universities and colleges become, they become less of a public good. Instead, increasing enrollment can offset some of the necessity to increase tuition.

“This region cannot live without Nicholls,” Murphy said.

The goal, he said, is to increase enrollment up to 8,000 students.

Early projections are that fall semester enrollment will dip from the approximately 6,300 students. That would mark two consecutive years enrollment has declined.

Previously, Murphy has pointed to niche programs such as the John Folse Culinary Institute and the Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management training as areas that can help the college.

However, the growth of both programs is capped by the number that the facilities can hold. Nicholls Online, which began in 2013, doesn’t face the same restrictions.

“There’s tremendous potential for growth with the online program,” he said.

The strategic planning process, Murphy said, was both his greatest accomplishment and his greatest challenge in his first year as president.

The University Council began work on a strategic plan in the fall. The council’s goal is align the university’s plan with available resources in the university’s budget and make recommendations to the president.

During his presentation, Murphy introduced 15 concepts, such as increasing enrollment, creating a sustainable budget, expanding Nicholls’ marketing reach, and the “champions,” or administrators who will head up each effort.

Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Rodriguez, for example, will lead budgetary efforts, while Neal Weaver, the vice president for university advancement, will attempt to raise more money and expand the university’s marketing efforts.

Murphy’s administrative staff features a bevy of new faces at the beginning of his second year.

Rodriguez and Weaver started in October, while Alex Arceneaux, Murphy’s chief of staff, began in November. Todd Keller currently serves as the interim vice president for academic affairs, though the position will be converted into a provost. Murphy said he hopes to fill the position by the end of the semester.

“I’m satisfied we’ve got one team that’s on board with what we’re trying to do here,” Murphy said.

Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.

Copyright © 2015 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.