Nicholls theater renovation project receives $100,000 donation

THIBODAUX – Al Danos, center, presents the Nicholls State University Foundation with a $100,000 check to be used for hiring an architect for the Mary M. Danos Theater renovation project. The theater in Talbot Hall — named after Al’s late wife, Mary, in April — is set to undergo approximately $1.6 million in renovations, including new lights, curtains, sound systems, seats and accessible accommodations. Pictured with Danos at the Sept. 18 presentation are, from left, Dr. David Boudreaux, vice president for institutional advancement; Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, university president; and Danos’ family members including grandson Luke David, daughter Alyce Danos, granddaughter Sarah David, granddaughter Ana Wilson, daughter René David and grandson Eli David. For information on donating to the Mary M. Danos Theater renovation project, call the Office of Institutional Advancement at 985-448-4005.

Sponsor A+ Scholar fundraiser set for Oct. 3 at Nicholls

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University’s 17th annual Sponsor A+ Scholar Wine and Food Extravaganza, featuring new food vendors and unique auction items, is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 3, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Cotillion Ballroom of the Bollinger Memorial Student Union.

One of the university’s most popular events, Sponsor A+ Scholar features food, wine and music with all proceeds benefiting Nicholls student scholarships. Since the fundraiser began in 1996, it has raised at least $450,000. During the fall 2012 semester alone, 32 students each received $250 scholarships thanks to Sponsor A+ funds.

“Now more than ever, we need the community’s assistance so that we can continue to attract highly qualified students to Nicholls,” said Dr. David Boudreaux, vice president for institutional advancement. “Your support of A+ helps make it possible for us to recruit and retain greater numbers of students.”

More than a dozen restaurants and vendors — including several new names to the lineup — will serve various dishes and wines while the local band Jazmine performs. The evening will also include a live and silent auction, featuring different types of items from previous years. Some of the live auction items include a blue Gucci purse acquired from the original Gucci store in Italy, a bone-in rib-eye roast prepared by students from the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and delivered to the winning bidder’s home, a blank canvas for artist Billy Ledet to paint a portrait of the winner’s choice and four tickets to LeBistro’s Russian service dinner.

Sponsor A+ Scholar tickets are $50 each or $75 per couple. Gold sponsorships, which include 20 tickets, are $500. Tickets can be purchased in the Office of Institutional Advancement in Picciola Hall or by calling 985-448-4005.

BP supports biology student research initiative at Nicholls

THIBODAUX – BP invested $50,000 in a Nicholls State University program that provides biology students with yearlong research and mentoring experiences.

Created to improve the retention of science majors, the Scholarship ‘N’ Action program targets first-generation freshmen and sophomores as well as minorities and women. Selected students are teamed up with faculty mentors and work on laboratory and field research projects in various biology disciplines. Dr. Raj Boopathy, distinguished service professor of biological sciences, said Scholarship ‘N’ Action enhances one-on-one mentoring, elevates the quality of research being done at Nicholls, engages diverse students in science and enriches the undergraduate research experience.

“This program broadens students’ horizons regarding science careers and produces well-qualified science teachers who have research experience,” he said. “Our program has several successful alumni who have gone on to graduate school and impressive careers. BP’s generous support will help make it possible for eight more students to participate in this year’s program.”

Al Ledet, a 1982 Nicholls graduate and facility manager of BP Preservation & Maintenance Facility in Schriever, said this donation is one of several investments BP is making to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“BP is very proud to partner with Nicholls to continue this program and help keep students interested in the sciences,” said Ledet, whose son Dylan is a pre-medicine major at Nicholls. “We hope that these long-term relationships will help build up the next generation of mathematicians, engineers and scientists.”

Previously, Scholarship ‘N’ Action was funded by the Louisiana Board of Regents through a five-year, post-Katrina stimulus grant. For the program to continue as its current level, Nicholls must raise $100,000 in private funds each year to cover student stipends, research supplies and travel funds. For more information on donating to Scholarship ‘N’ Action, contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 985-448-4005.

Nicholls dedicates much-anticipated recreation center

THIBODAUX – Nicholls State University administrators officially dedicated the largest and most anticipated campus facility in years — the Harold J. Callais Memorial Recreation Center — on Friday, Sept. 21.

Located near the intersection of Bowie Road and Ardoyne Drive, the 60,000-square-foot center will open to current Nicholls students at noon on Saturday, Sept. 29. The state-of-the-art facility features 42 cardio machines with integrated TVs and iPod adaptors, a 6,000-square-foot weight room, three group fitness rooms, an elevated walking/running track overlooking two sports courts, a racquetball court, a snack/juice bar and a wellness education classroom. More than 25 fitness classes will be offered each week.

“This facility will change the culture of our campus the day it opens,” said Dr. Eugene Dial, vice president for student affairs. “The rec center will be the new go-to place for students to socialize as well as develop lifelong fitness and wellness skills.”

The center is named in honor of the late Harold Joseph Callais — a Golden Meadow native, successful entrepreneur, Board of Regents chairman and generous benefactor of Nicholls. His son Corey said Harold, a longtime supporter of higher education, would have been impressed with the facility, especially the indoor track.

“After my dad had open-heart surgery at 34 years old, he walked two miles a day, every day,” Corey said. “I wish he were here with us to walk the first two miles around the track.”

Across the country, universities have increasingly invested in recreation facilities and other amenities that high school students look for when making their college decision. For Nicholls to remain competitive, administrators believed it was necessary to build a recreation center along with new housing options and a renovated dining hall. The $16 million rec center was funded by self-assessed student fees, which Nicholls began collecting in spring 2003.

“This facility is an incredible gift from past students to current students,” said Michael Matherne, director of campus recreation. “When we open the doors on Sept. 29, the current generation of students will reap the benefits of the seeds students planted back in 2003.”

Alumni who graduated from Nicholls between spring 2003 and summer 2012 — and therefore helped pay for the rec center — will automatically receive memberships starting on Saturday, Oct. 27, that will last for as many semesters as they paid into the program. Memberships will be available at later dates for Nicholls employees, retirees, affiliates and members of the Nicholls Foundation, Nicholls Alumni Federation, Colonel Athletic Association, PRO-NSU and Nicholls Facilities Corporation. For details on memberships, visit

or call 985-493-2742.

2012 Nicholls freshman class grows by 10 percent

THIBODAUX – A campuswide push to recruit students has led to a 10.4 percent increase in first-time freshmen enrolled at Nicholls State University for fall 2012.

Of the university’s 6,606 students, 1,253 of them are first-time freshmen — an increase of 118 from last year. The Office of Admissions attributes this growth to increased in-state and out-of-state recruiting; revamped Colonel Day, Scholars Night and Orientation programs; and an emphasis on campus tours.

“We know that Nicholls is an amazing place with caring people, and if we can get students to come on a campus tour, they see and feel that,” said Becky Durocher, director of admissions. “We are grateful for everything the entire university did to bring in the freshman class of 2012 — from maintenance workers who kept the campus looking beautiful to the faculty, staff and deans who met with potential students and their parents, even on the weekends. With declining state funding and budget cuts, we knew that each additional student recruited would help make Nicholls’ future stronger. Admissions staff spent the summer emailing, phoning and texting to close the deal with students, and the Office of Financial Aid helped students adjust their aid packages to help cover the necessary increase in tuition.”

Compared to last fall, this year’s freshman class includes 122 more minority students (a 6.61 percent increase) and 30 more TOPS recipients (a 4.4 percent increase). Well over half of the freshman class is on TOPS (57 percent). Overall, the Nicholls campus is growing more diverse with 28.71 percent minority enrollment.

As expected due to higher admission standards and larger graduating classes, total enrollment decreased by 2.5 percent, from 6,774 to 6,606 students. At the same time, two academic programs saw significant growth spurts. With 264 student majors, petroleum services more than doubled in size from last year. Nursing is also up by 26 percent in first-time freshmen enrollment, with the program now serving 18 percent of all Nicholls first-time students. Meanwhile, Chef John Folse Culinary Institute faculty are intensifying their recruitment efforts in anticipation of their new upcoming facility, which is poised to increase enrollment from about 300 to more than 500 culinary students.

Enrollment statistics also show that Nicholls students are progressing to the next level at a faster pace than seen in previous years. The percentage of students who progressed from freshman to sophomore status within a year, for example, increased from 44 percent to 45.6 percent. Such figures indicate that graduation rates will continue to rise. In three of the past four years, Nicholls has awarded record-breaking numbers of degrees — including 1,263 degrees in 2011–12, the most in university history.

“Such an accomplishment is remarkable considering that those were the same four years that this university was hit hardest by reductions in budget and personnel,” University President Stephen T. Hulbert said. “This is simply another example of how we have pulled together as a community and risen to the top to serve our students.”

Music of sixteen pianists fills Nicholls theater

THIBODAUX – Sixteen pianists perform on eight Steinway grand pianos during Nicholls State University’s fifth annual Monster Piano Concert, held in the Mary M. Danos Theater on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Approximately 200 people attended the event, which raised more than $10,000 for theater renovations.




Nicholls fraternities welcome new members

THIBODAUX – Nicholls State University students, Luke Robichaux, left, biology sophomore from Berwick, and Dillon Beadle, education freshman from Berwick, cheer as a new member joins their fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE). The excitement was part of Bid Day, held on Tuesday, Sept. 11, outside of Bollinger Memorial Union, where current members got their first glimpse of which men accepted a bid for their fraternity.

U.S. News & World Report ranks Nicholls in top 50 public southern regional universities

THIBODAUX – For the second consecutive year, Nicholls State University is ranked among U.S. News & World Report magazine’s best regional universities in the southern United States. Among public universities, the magazine rated Nicholls 50th in the region and third in the state.

“Being ranked two years in a row by a national publication is an honor I’m quite proud of,” Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, university president, said. “It is a testament to our increased efforts to recruit more high-achieving students, retain them at Nicholls and better prepare them to succeed in their workplaces and communities.”

Among all southern regional universities (public and private), Nicholls ranked 95th. U.S. News & World Report defines a regional university as one that mainly offers undergraduate and master’s programs but few or no doctoral programs. Rankings are based on several variables such as freshmen retention, average graduation rates, class sizes, ACT scores, acceptance rates and alumni donation

Nicholls drilling lab aims to help prevent offshore disasters

THIBODAUX – The family of the late Bubba Hale unveils his portrait at the dedication of the AADE Memorial Johnson L. “Bubba” Hale Jr. Drilling Fluids Laboratory on Friday, Sept. 7, at Nicholls State University. From left, Hale’s family members are son Paul, daughter-in-law Katie, daughter-in-law Melissa, granddaughter Stella, son Nicholas, granddaughter Rosalie, son Lyons, granddaughter Vivian, daughter-in-law Jennifer and brother Robert. Hale was a Nicholls alumnus and vice president of FlowChem Technologies.



Michael Gautreaux, Nicholls State University’s program coordinator for safety technology and petroleum services, gives a tour of the new AADE Memorial Johnson L. “Bubba” Hale Jr. Drilling Fluids Laboratory in Peltier Hall. The lab’s equipment, funded by the state Department of Education and private donations, will help students learn how to monitor drilling sites and prevent oil rig disasters.