Nicholls Student Athletes’ Graduate Rate At All-Time High

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University’s student athletes are graduating at some of the highest rates in the state, according to statistics released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) last week.

The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) report shows that 68 percent of Nicholls student athletes who began college in 2005 earned their degrees within six years. That’s an all-time high for Nicholls and a two-point increase over the previous year’s rate. Among Louisiana’s 11 public universities with Division 1 athletics, Nicholls has the fourth-highest overall GSR — tying with Northwestern State University and only trailing the significantly higher-funded Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech University and McNeese State University.

“I am very proud of our continued success in improving the graduation rate of student athletes,” said Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, university president. “For Nicholls athletics to rank among the top GSRs in the state — despite the fact that we are one of the lowest-funded athletics programs — is a great accomplishment and speaks volumes about our student athletes, coaches, staff and faculty.”

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.

When broken down by individual sport, Nicholls reported the highest GSRs in the state and in the Southland Conference for men’s tennis (100 percent graduating) and softball (90 percent). Among Southland schools, Nicholls also ranks first in men’s cross country/track (80 percent), third in men’s basketball (71 percent) and third in volleyball (86 percent). Additionally, several Colonel teams showed increases from their previous year’s GSR, which measured the graduation rates of 2004 incoming freshmen. Men’s cross country/track improved by 20 percentage points, golf by 15, men’s basketball by eight and football by seven.

“It is no coincidence that our GSRs increased for the freshman class of 2005 — the same year that Nicholls transitioned to selective admissions and first began offering advising and tutoring services specifically designed for student athletes,” Hulbert said. “The figures show that we took the right steps in raising the academic bar, and consequently, our efforts had a positive impact on our student athletes.”

For more information on GSRs, visit web1.ncaa.org/GSRSearch

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Nicholls invites community to Family Day

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University invites students, their families and the local community to its annual Family Day celebration on Saturday, Nov. 3. The festivities will begin at noon next to John L. Guidry Stadium and lead up to the 3 p.m. kick-off of the Colonels football game against McNeese State University.

A Nicholls tradition since 1983, Family Day will feature live music by the swamp pop band Treater and food booths offering gumbo, jambalaya, hamburgers and more. Other activities include an entertainment zone with inflatables, interactive displays and games as well as a 2:30 p.m. pep rally featuring the Pride of Nicholls marching band. Prior to the main festivities, Nicholls invites the public to tour its residence halls and the new Harold J. Callais Memorial Recreation Center from 10 a.m. to noon.

Discounted home-side tickets to the 3 p.m. Colonels vs. Cowboys football game will be available. Before Nov. 3, tickets can be purchased for $7 each at www.nichollstickets.com. From noon to 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, tickets will be sold for $10 each at home-side gate closest to the Family Day area.

For more info call 985-448-4965.

Company funds Nicholls Geomatics scholarships

CUTLINE 10/22/12

Morris P. Hebert Inc. (MPH), a Houma-based surveying and engineering company, donated funds for five $1,000 annual scholarships to benefit Nicholls State University geomatics students. “The geomatics program is an asset to Nicholls and the profession,” said Morris P. Hebert, MPH chief executive officer and president. “We’ve had great students work internships with us in the summer, and we’ve hired quite a number of them full time. We’re lucky to have the only program in the state here at Nicholls and want to continue to support it.” Hebert was part of the group that helped bring the geomatics program, now in its 10th year, to Nicholls. Pictured, from left, are Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, Nicholls president; John Hebert, MPH chief operating officer and vice president; Morris P. Hebert; Brian Hebert, MPH chief financial officer; Dr. Laynie Barrilleaux, Nicholls vice president for academic affairs; and Dr. Balaji Ramachandran, Nicholls applied sciences department head.

Nicholls joins national effort to increase college graduates

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University joined more than 480 public four-year colleges and universities in a national pledge to boost the number of college graduates.

Through Project Degree Completion: A Public University Initiative, the institutions have committed to awarding 18.4 million degrees over the next 14 years. This will help the nation reach its goal of 60 percent of adults possessing a college degree by 2025.

“Nicholls is pleased to join this nationwide effort and show our solidarity with other universities on this important initiative,” said Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, Nicholls president. “For years, we have been making great progress toward increasing the number of degrees awarded and graduation rates. Nicholls will continue doing its part to achieve this national public higher education goal.”

During the 2011–12 academic year, Nicholls awarded a recording-breaking 1,263 degrees. A recent report also showed that Nicholls increased its six-year statewide graduation rate by nearly 10 percentage points. Of first-time freshmen who enrolled at Nicholls in 2005, 41.88 percent of them graduated from Nicholls or another state institution within six years — the highest graduation rate among Louisiana’s regional universities.

Currently, the nation’s public colleges and universities produce a little more than 1 million degrees annually. Based on this figure, public higher education would produce an estimated 14.6 million graduates from 2012 to 2025. The initiative, however, seeks to raise the total by 3.8 million, resulting in 18.4 million graduates over the 14-year period.

“By signing this commitment, Nicholls is promising to continue working toward reducing the average time it takes a student to graduate and reaching out to re-enroll former students who started but didn’t complete their degrees,” Hulbert said. “Another important aspect of the pledge is its call for a renewed partnership with state and federal government. Critical to the future of higher education is a reversal of the political trends that have left universities with no choice but to raise tuition to make up for the loss of state funding.”

Each year, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, which have organized the pledge, will release reports showing progress toward the 2025 goal.

Nicholls culinary dinner celebrates steamboat bicentennial

THIBODAUX — The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the New Orleans steamboat at its 16th annual Bite of the Arts fundraising gala. The event, themed “Rollin’ on the River: Celebrating the Steamboat Bicentennial,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8 in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union.

In February 1812, the steamboat New Orleans docked in its namesake city after making the first-ever journey down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. To commemorate this historic voyage that helped spur the industrial revolution, guests will be treated to live Dixieland music and a three-course dinner prepared by Nicholls culinary students under distinguished visiting chef Regina Charboneau’s direction. A native of Natchez, Miss., Charboneau is the chef de cuisine for the American Queen, a paddlewheel steamboat offering overnight Mississippi River cruises. She is known for recreating American classical dishes and using fresh, seasonal ingredients from the Mississippi River region.

“Bite of the Arts is no doubt the culinary event of the year in this region,” said Chef Randy Cheramie, executive director of the Nicholls culinary institute. “Regina is a great chef, a terrific role model for our students and a force of nature. Blaine Kern Studios will once again be transforming the ballroom to fit our theme. It is sure to be a fun evening with good food, good wine and good friends.”

A cocktail reception with hor d’oeuvres and a silent auction will begin at 6:30 p.m. Dinner and a live auction will follow at 7:30 p.m. Wine will be served during the meal, and every couple will receive a commemorative event poster.

Individual tickets are $150 per person. Benefactor tables for eight are $2,500, and corporate tables for 10 are $5,000. All proceeds benefit the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, particularly student scholarships, faculty development and equipment. To order tickets, call 985-449-7114 by Monday, Oct. 29.

Nicholls CAN! Drive donates 12,500 plus food items

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University distributed more than 12,500 nonperishable food and household items to Houma, Dulac and Morgan City food banks — all thanks to the second Nicholls CAN! food drive.

The campuswide turnout far surpassed the drive’s goal of collecting 7,000 items. Donations are also up from last spring, when the initiative raised more 6,500 food items and $3,300 in cash. Jean Donegan, Nicholls art department head, along with other Nicholls CAN! committee members, spent much of this week counting and sorting donations from faculty, staff, students and participating local businesses.

“I’m really thrilled with the fantastic turnout and participation,” Donegan said. “Every academic college at Nicholls collected more items than they did last semester. This was truly a group effort that reflects the university’s concern for the community.”

On Friday, Oct. 19, representatives from three area food banks visited campus to collect the donations. “With the holidays coming up, we’ll definitely put these cans to good use,” said Kay Raymond, executive director of St. Mary Outreach Inc. in Morgan City. “We’ve been seeing a lot more people who are unemployed and struggling to find work.”

The Dulac Community Center has seen its demand increase about 60 percent, said John Silver, executive director. “We were hit hard after Hurricane Isaac, and we’re still serving up to 12 families a week. As a satellite location for Houma’s Good Samaritan Food Bank, we order food from them when we need to restock, so this donation will help lessen the burden we place on them.”

Reynold Pitre, manager of Good Samaritan Food Bank in Houma, reinforced that local food banks need help now more than ever. “People say they look forward to the day when we won’t need food banks, but I think there will always be a need,” he said. “We certainly appreciate this donation from Nicholls and what it does to encourage more people to get involved with their local food banks.”

Pictured, from left, are John Silver, executive director of the Dulac Community Center; Jean Donegan, head of the Nicholls Department of Art and Nicholls CAN! committee member; Reynold Pitre, manager of Houma’s Good Samaritan Food Bank; Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, Nicholls president; and Kay Raymond, executive director of St. Mary Outreach Inc.

Nicholls to host Take Back the Night rally

THIBODAUX — In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Nicholls State University invites the community to a Take Back the Night rally and candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23.

Sponsored by the Nicholls Women’s Resource and Services Office, the event will begin on the front steps of the university’s Bollinger Memorial Student Union. Participants will march around the Quadrangle and end with a candlelight vigil at the eternal flame. Refreshments, courtesy of the Lafourche Parish District Attorney’s Office, will be served following the ceremony.

This community event aims to bring light to the harm and long-term effects that domestic violence has on its often-silent victims. Participating community agencies includethe Nicholls Department of University Police, Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, Thibodaux Police Department, Lafourche Parish District Attorney’s Office, CASA of Lafourche, Chez Hope, The Haven and PACT Place. For more information, call 985-448-4080.

Vocalist to hold recital at Nicholls

THIBODAUX — The Nicholls State University Department of Music will host a guest artist recital for soprano Carol Lines at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, on campus in the Mary M. Danos Theater of Talbot Hall.

During the free public event, Lines — accompanied by pianist Megan Reilly — will perform songs from Hugo Wolf’s “Italienisches Liederbuch,” Samuel Barber’s “Hermit Songs” and Francis Poulenc’s “Fiançailles pour rire” as well as a set of humorous English songs by various composers.

Lines, an assistant professor of voice at McNeese State University, has appeared as a recitalist throughout Louisiana and as far away as Singapore. She has also performed as a featured vocalist with the Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Choral Society, Louisiana Sinfonietta, Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra and Chorale Acadienne, among others. Additionally, Lines served as an apprentice with the Des Moines Metro Opera and was selected by international audition to participate in the Cleveland Art Song Festival. Her CD, “When Hope Still Had Its Chance: The Songs of Keith Gates,” will be released this year.

Reilly, a freelance collaborative pianist and piano teacher in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, has performed throughout the United States and in Florence, Italy. She formerly served as staff accompanist at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., and at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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Nicholls crowns Homecoming, queen, king

THIBODAUX – During halftime of the Oct. 13 Nicholls State University football game, Dr. Stephen T. Hulbert, university president, crowns Brittany Chiasson, psychology junior from Napoleonville, as the 2012 Nicholls Homecoming Queen with King John Berger, business management junior from Thibodaux, at her side. Chiasson is the director of student rights and grievances for the Student Government Association as well as a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority and Circle K International. Berger is grand master of ceremonies and an executive board member for Kappa Sigma fraternity, vice president of judiciary for Interfraternity Council as well as finance chair and business senator for the Student Government Association.

Nicholls pirogue race tradition continues

THIBODAUX – Ethan Pitre, art senior from Cut Off, left, and Koryn Boyd, art freshman from Pointe-aux-Chenes, paddle their pirogue toward the finish line during the Nicholls State University Homecoming pirogue races held on Thursday, Oct. 11, on Bayou Lafourche. The tradition dates back to 1953 and has become a staple of Homecoming Week. Nicholls will host other Homecoming festivities throughout the weekend, leading up to the Colonels football game against Sam Houston State University at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, at John L. Guidry Stadium. For more details, visit nicholls.edu/homecoming