THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University will hold its largest spring commencement in campus history on Saturday, May 18, in Stopher Gymnasium. Administrators are projecting to confer more than 650 degrees, surpassing last spring’s record of 599.
Ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. for College of Arts and Science and College of Education graduates and at 2 p.m. for College of Business Administration, College of Nursing and Allied Health and University College graduates.
Dr. Sandra Woodley, who became the eighth president of the University of Louisiana System in January, will deliver the keynote address at both ceremonies. A Weaver, Ala., native, Woodley personally understands the challenges of first-generation and nontraditional college students. As the first in her family to attend college, she earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees while married with two children. Prior to assuming leadership of the UL System (which governs nine universities, including Nicholls), she gained strategic planning and budgeting experience at four other state system offices, mostly recently serving as vice chancellor for strategic initiatives for the University of Texas System.
During its commencement exercises, Nicholls will also award an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Travis Lavigne Jr., chancellor of Fletcher Technical Community College in Houma. Lavigne, who has worked in Louisiana post-secondary education for more than 40 years, has led Fletcher in developing accredited associate degree and certificate programs that meet the region’s workforce needs and help prepare students to transfer to a four-year university. He has worked closely with Nicholls to develop a unique, mutually beneficial relationship between the two institutions; the partnership has been touted as a model across the state. Since 1997, Lavigne has also chaired the Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission, which administers the TOPS program along with other scholarships, grants and loans. Under his leaderships, hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars are provided annually to Louisiana’s college students.