THIBODAUX – More than 100 people turned out Thursday morning for a ceremony at Nicholls State University to dedicate the renovated campus cafeteria to the late Vernon F. Galliano, the university’s second president.
The ceremony included remembrances by Galliano’s son, Tim, about the years he and his three brothers spent growing up on the Nicholls campus. “We hope that his legacy at Nicholls is not as a brick and mortar president, but that he is remembered as being about people – the students and faculty. He always wanted a top-rated education for students. His belief in student-centered learning shows he was ahead of his time,” he said.
In 1963, at the beginning of his presidency, Galliano formulated a master plan that laid out what the campus would look like in the decade to come. He began his “decade ahead” plan with construction of the cafeteria building, completed in 1964.
Dr. Stephen Hulbert, current Nicholls president, said, “The Galliano years marked the evolution of Nicholls into the first regional university. It was the school of choice for generations. A true university president leaves the university better off then when he arrived. Dr. Galliano gave us the means to be successful today. I consider Dr. Galliano to be a steward of higher education.”
As it was in Galliano’s day, Nicholls is again in a growth spurt, Hulbert said, with plans for several building renovations and construction of new residence halls, a student recreation center and a culinary arts building. All will support students and academic progress, he said.
“Galliano Hall will be the jewel, the centerpiece for renovation and new construction on the campus. It will set the pace for the facilities on this campus,” Hulbert said.
The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a portrait of Galliano, created by Thibodaux artist Billy Ledet, which will hang in the lobby of the building.
Vernon Frederick Galliano, a native of Cut Off and a former Lafourche Parish president, served as Nicholls State University president from 1963 to 1983. During his presidency, the university’s enrollment soared from 1,585 to 7, 226, the number of Nicholls employees grew from 78 to more than 700, the university was racially integrated without incident and state appropriations rose from $1.2 million to $16.4 million. The value of the physical plant rose from $3 million to $40 million, and land acreage tripled from 167 to 543. As president, Galliano established a graduate program, Army and Air Force ROTC programs, the Department of Nursing and a football program. The institution gained regional accreditation in 1964 and university status in 1970. Most of the buildings on the campus were built during Galliano’s presidency, the very first being Acadia Hall cafeteria and student activities complex, which soon after Galliano’s death in 1996 was renamed in his memory.