Nicholls Alumni Federation awards diverse group of high achievers

THIBODAUX – The Nicholls State University Alumni Federation honored those who have contributed the most to the university and the federation at its annual Awards for Excellence reception, held Sunday, March 20.

Tim Emerson, senior vice president of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Houma, received the James Lynn Powell Award at the Nicholls State University Alumni Federation’s annual Awards for Excellence reception on Sunday, March 20. The Powell award is the highest honor awarded to an alumnus or alumna. Pictured from left are Deborah Raziano, director of alumni affairs; Emerson; Glenn Chance, alumni federation president; and Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, university president.

The James Lynn Powell Award, the highest honor awarded to an alumnus or alumna, was presented to Tim Emerson, senior vice president of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Houma. A wealth management specialist with several professional certifications, Emerson is a member of the Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce, South Central Industrial Association, Nicholls State University Foundation, Nicholls Alumni Federation and College of Business Administration Alumni Association. He also serves on the United Way board and is a member and past president of Kiwanis of Houma. Emerson graduated magna cum laude from the College of Business Administration in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in finance.

“Nicholls means a great deal to me, so I am very humbled to receive this award, particularly when I look at the names of the past recipients and the economic contributions they made to this state,” Emerson said. “It is truly an honor.”

The Marie Fletcher Distinguished Service Award, the only alumni federation honor that carries with it a cash stipend, was presented to Dr. John Doucet, distinguished service professor, head of the Department of Biological Sciences and director of the University Honors Program. A researcher, administrator and educator, Doucet became Louisiana’s first certified public health geneticist in 2010. His contributions to academia include more than 150 extramural presentations, letters and workshops and more than 50 full-length publications, including stage plays and history books. Doucet has also secured more than $1 million in competitive research grants, and he is a three-time chairman of the board for Leadership Lafourche Inc.

“I am truly honored by this award,” Doucet said. “Praise, however, should be less for me and more for the alumni federation. By supporting this service award, the alumni federation reminds the public that professorship doesn’t end when teaching hours are over, a fact more important than ever in this day and age when the true value of higher education is forgotten in light of dramatic budget cuts to universities.”

The Harvey Peltier Award, the highest award presented to a non-graduate of Nicholls, was awarded to Gloria Callais, wife of the late Harold J. Callais, a Louisiana Board of Regents member and Nicholls supporter. Mrs. Callais and her family established the Harold J. Callais Endowed Chair at Nicholls to memorialize her husband, along with three endowed scholarships. The gift was the largest gift to Nicholls or the Nicholls Foundation at that time. Callais and her family also support Bite of the Arts, the John Folse Culinary Institute’s largest annual fundraising event.

“I was both honored and humbled to receive this fine award,” said Callais. “My late husband thought Nicholls was a wonderful university, and I learned so much about it through him. I love Nicholls as well, and I consider this award a prestigious acknowledgement.”

Two honorees received the Ramon J. Labat Award – presented to former or current civil service Nicholls employees who have shown exceptional professionalism. Recipients are Chris Clement, facility assistant maintenance manager B, and Jenny Schexnayder, administrative assistant 4 for the Office of Institutional Advancement.

Honorary alumni this year are Louise “Do” Bonin, former senior woman administrator for athletics and former head women’s basketball coach, and Jim Hunter, former head tennis coach for men and women.

A final alumni award, the Corporate Mark of Honor, was presented to the Stephanie Hebert Insurance Agency Inc., an Allstate business based in Houma, for Hebert’s consistent support of Nicholls activities and functions, including women’s athletics and the Sponsor A+ Scholar Wine and Food Extravaganza. Hebert also established an endowed scholarship for students with dyslexia.

The alumni federation also recognized current students who were named to the 2011 Nicholls State University Hall of Fame, which honors both scholastic and service-oriented excellence. Awardees, listed with hometowns, are Jeremy Benoit of Thibodaux; Cory Blanchard of Houma; Lawrence Briggs of College Station, Texas; Alexandra Champagne of Metairie; Stephanie Coleman of Prairieville; Miriam Davis of Youngsville; Stephanie Graebert of Norco; Leslie Guillory of Houma; Benjamin Jones Jr. of Thibodaux; Holden Ledet of Cut Off; Alexandra Morris of Lockport; Louis Raiford of Ponchatoula; Celeste Roberts of Schriever; Kristen Robichaux of Thibodaux; Cindy Soto of Independence, Mo.; Jacey Tanner of Houma; and Brittany Taraba of Swartz.

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