Nicholls Honors Students with Hall of Fame Awards



THIBODAUX —The Nicholls State University Alumni Federation held its Alumni Awards for Excellence Wednesday, March 26, on the Nicholls campus. The awards ceremony is held each year to honor alumni and students who have contributed to the university and greater community. The 2014 Nicholls State University Hall of Fame awards were also announced at the event, which recognize students with both scholastic and service-oriented excellence.

Pictured, front row, left to right: Nicholls President Bruce Murphy and Hall of Fame honorees Nicole Doherty of Jacksonville, Fla.; Jacob Foret of Houma; Lanie Detiveaux of Houma; Katherine Gianelloni of Donaldsonville; Brittany Chiasson of Napoleonville; Melissa Cloutet of Bush; Olabisi Akingbola of Nigeria; Rusty Bruce of Cut Off; and Erin Bonvillain of Houma. Back row, left to right: Hall of Fame honorees Brandon Naquin of Bourg, Tanner Thibodeaux of Thibodaux, Jason Ray of Thibodaux, Victoria Verdun of Natchitoches, Chelsie Bergeron of Pierre Part, Jordan Hanberry of River Ridge and Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Eugene Dial. Not pictured, Hall of Fame honoree Elizabeth Mateer of Rockwall, Texas.

Nicholls and Delgado Sign Culinary Agreement

Dinner of the Century 2014

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University and Delgado Community College signed a memorandum of understanding Sunday making it easier for culinary students to cross-enroll at Nicholls and Delgado, as well as to seamlessly transfer between both schools. The agreement was signed at the inaugural Dinner of the Century in New Orleans, a fundraiser benefiting the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University. Dinner of the Century celebrates dinners of the past. This year’s event commemorated the 200th anniversary of the “Defense of Fort McHenry,” the poem that would eventually become our national anthem, by recreating a dinner by President James Madison and his wife, Dolley.

Pictured, left to right: Deborah Lea, Interim Chancellor of Delgado Community College; James Madison, as played by John Douglas Hall; Dolley Madison, as played by Lynn Uzzel; Dr. Bruce Murphy, Nicholls president; and Chef John Folse.

Explore Creativity at Nicholls “Art Works” Fundraiser

THIBODAUX — The community is invited to spend a hands-on evening exploring the Nicholls State University Department of Art at the inaugural Art Works fundraiser.

Art Works will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 1 in the Ameen Art Gallery, 200 Talbot Hall on the Nicholls campus. The event benefits student art scholarships.

Attendees will be treated to studio tours, complimentary hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and a chance to participate in the artistic process, molding pottery or creating cyanotypes, a type of photographic print. Event-goers can also watch student and faculty demonstrations, including metal pouring and printmaking.

There will also be opportunities to purchase original artworks by students and faculty. The event will include a student art exhibition with all pieces on sale for $50 and a silent auction featuring one-of-a-kind artwork by students, faculty, alumni and local artists.

Tickets are $50, but in lieu of a ticket, you may donate a 4” x 6” piece of original artwork to be displayed and sold during the evening. All works must be received by Thursday, March 27, at the Department of Art, 221 Talbot Hall, or by the Old Estate Art Gallery, 202 E. Seventh Street, Thibodaux. Works may be in any media and must be signed on the back. Please include your name and contact information.

For tickets or more information contact the Nicholls Department of Art at 985-448-4597 or

Art Works is a part of Nicholls State University’s Presidential Inaugural Week festivities scheduled for Sunday, March 30 through Saturday, April 5. For more information visit

Nicholls to Celebrate Inauguration of Fifth President

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University will hold its first-ever inaugural celebration to install Dr. Bruce T. Murphy as the fifth university president.

Themed “Forward Together,” Nicholls Presidential Inauguration Week festivities are planned for Sunday, March 30, through Saturday, April 5, and will include musical performances, Colonels athletic events, fundraisers, service activities and special speakers to celebrate this historic moment for the campus community. The highlight of the week will be an Inauguration Ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3 in Peltier Auditorium on the Nicholls campus. The public is invited to attend.

Although this is a first-time event for the Nicholls campus, inauguration ceremonies are a long-standing tradition throughout the country and are filled with pomp and circumstance, similar to commencement exercises. In addition to honoring the university’s past, present and future, the weeklong celebration will provide opportunities for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to meet Murphy and his wife, Jeanne.

Murphy was selected to lead Nicholls by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System after a nationwide search. He assumed the presidency in January.

Before coming to Nicholls, Murphy was the vice president for academic affairs at Air University in Alabama for the past eight years. He previously served as founding dean of the School of Business at Point Park University in Pittsburgh; founding director of the graduate program in organizational leadership and chair of the Walker School of Business at Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania; and professor of military science and director of the Army Officer Education Program at Vanderbilt University. Before that, he taught leadership as an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Murphy, a retired lieutenant colonel, spent 23 years in the U.S. Army, serving in Germany, Panama and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the Presidential Inauguration Week and for a schedule of events, visit

Nicholls and Delgado to Enter Culinary Agreement

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University and Delgado Community College are working together to brand south Louisiana as a culinary education destination.

At the inaugural Dinner of the Century fundraiser, scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday, March 23, officials from both institutions will sign a memorandum of understanding making it easier for culinary students to cross-enroll at Nicholls and Delgado, as well as to seamlessly transfer between both schools. Scholarships will also be created to help Delgado associate degree graduates continue their education by working toward a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls.

“The agreement is an indication of Nicholls’ support of recent educational and industry partnerships in New Orleans, and it will help establish south Louisiana as a premier international culinary and hospitality hub,” said Dr. Al Davis, dean of University College. “We have a lot in common with the New Orleans area, and our program, which completes the educational picture, is less than an hour’s drive away.”

The agreement will pave the way for future initiatives such as additional online classes for culinary students through Nicholls Online and the Delgado Community College Distance Learning Program, and the sharing of faculty and resources between the institutions.

Nicholls is the only university in Louisiana to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in culinary arts. At its founding in 1994, the culinary bachelor’s degree was the first of its kind at a public university in the United States. Delgado’s two-year program provides the technical skills necessary to enter the culinary and hospitality workforce, while Nicholls’ bachelor’s degree program builds on those skills to train students in business and restaurant management.

“We are looking for students who want to continue their culinary education and develop the skills that will allow them to succeed at the next level,” said Chef Randy Cheramie, executive director of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

Currently housing about 300 students, the institute is set to undergo an expansion with a new $12.6 million building scheduled to open for the spring 2015 semester.

The 33,000-square-foot building will house four teaching kitchens, a demonstration kitchen and a kitchen and dining room devoted to LeBistro, the institute’s student-run fine dining restaurant. Construction is expected to finish in October, and the institute will be able to enroll up to 600 students upon completion.

Nicholls First Lady Jeanne Picariello Murphy to Speak

Jeanne Murphy Headshot 2013

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University’s new first lady, retired U.S. Army Col. Jeanne Picariello Murphy, is the featured speaker at the 2014 Bonnie Bourg Lecture Series.

Murphy will present her lecture, “When a Door Opens,” at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 25 in Peltier Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Nicholls hosts the Bonnie Bourg Lecture Series annually in celebration of Women’s History Month. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.”

Murphy, a former intercollegiate and international athlete, served on the U.S. Olympic Committee and led the U.S. delegation to the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. Murphy spent 10 years as a U.S. Army nurse. She later served as chief of health promotion for the U.S. Southern Command in Panama and spearheaded army health, wellness and support programs in Germany, Virginia, in the Pentagon and at the Army War College. During and after the Gulf War, she worked with combat troops in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. In 2005, she worked with the American Red Cross in Gulfport, Miss., during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Murphy is the wife of Nicholls President Bruce Murphy.

The lecture is part of the 15th annual Jubilee: A Festival of the Arts and Humanities, which is held every spring on the Nicholls campus. For a full schedule of Jubilee events, visit

Nicholls Geomatics Program Gets High-Tech Donation

NEI Donation and MOU signing for Geomatics 2014

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University geomatics students will have access to the latest advancements in surveying technology with the donation of a high-tech unmanned aerial vehicle by Lafayette-based Navigation Electronics Inc. (NEI), a GPS and GIS equipment provider.

The donation, valued at $70,000, includes the Trimble UX5 unmanned aerial vehicle, optical sensors, image processing software and training. The lightweight 5.5-pound model is capable of flying up to 16,404 feet and travels up to 50 mph.

Geomatics program head Dr. Balaji Ramachandran said the department uses unmanned aerial vehicles for various projects such as mapping Louisiana’s coastlines, monitoring infrastructure and studying flares on oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Interest in using unmanned aerial vehicles for these types of projects has increased because they’re much safer and less expensive than hiring a traditional pilot.

“We want students in the Nicholls’ geomatics program to be exposed to the latest technology, allowing them to have the best future job placement,” said William Poche, owner and vice president of sales at NEI.

This is the latest donation from NEI, which has also gifted the geomatics program with high-precision survey-grade global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receivers and software worth $150,000. The Harold C. “Charlie” Poche Jr. Laser Scanning Laboratory, housed in Nicholls’ geomatics program, is named for the former NEI owner and president, who died in 2000.

For more information about the Nicholls geomatics program, visit

CUTLINE: Lafayette-based Navigation Electronics Inc. (NEI) donated a high tech unmanned aerial vehicle to Nicholls State University’s geomatics program on Monday, March 17. Back row, from left: Nicholls Executive Vice President Larry Howell; Kelli Poche Guidry, owner and director of operations at NEI; William Poche, owner and vice president of sales at NEI; Dr. Balaji Ramachandran, head of the Nicholls geomatics program; Dr. Laynie Barrilleaux, Nicholls vice president of academic affairs; Dr. John Doucet, dean of the Nicholls College of Arts and Sciences; and Debi Benoit, Nicholls director of research and sponsored programs. Front row, from left: Barbara Poche, owner and president of NEI and Dr. Bruce Murphy, president of Nicholls.

Registration Open for Louisiana Swamp Stomp 5K Run and 1 Mile Walk

THIBODAUX — You can get a running start on your festival weekend at the Louisiana Swamp Stomp 5K Can-Can Run and 1 Mile White Boot Waddle Saturday, March 22 at Nicholls State University.

Registration and race packet pickup begins at 8:30 a.m. at the festival entrance on the corner of Madewood and Ardoyne drives on the university campus. The 1 Mile White Boot Waddle will begin at 9 a.m., and the 5K Can-Can Run will follow at 9:30 a.m. at the festival entrance.

Registration costs $30 for the 5K run and $20 for the 1 mile walk. Fees include a race day T-shirt and free entry to the Saturday Louisiana Swamp Stomp Festival. Early registration ends March 20, but race-day registration will be available.

This year marks the sixth annual Louisiana Swamp Stomp Festival, which will run Friday, March 21, through Sunday, March 23. The festival showcases south Louisiana’s unique Cajun, Zydeco and Swamp Pop music; a variety of regional foods; and presentations on local history, culture and economic development. The festival also hosts the annual Jumbo Gumbo & Bayou Best Cook-Off, carnival rides, an arts and crafts fair, and the Tresors du Bayou Educational Program, a popular attraction for thousands of primary and secondary school students.

The festival has been named one of March’s “Top 20 events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society.

For more information or to register for the race, visit

Nicholls Will Benefit from $400,000 in Donations

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University will benefit from nearly $400,000 in donations for student scholarships and the new Chef John Folse Culinary Institute building.

Four major donations were made to the Nicholls Foundation, a nonprofit fundraising organization benefitting the university, before the spring semester.

“Each of these gifts represents a commitment to the future of well-qualified students. Nicholls and the Nicholls Foundation are so blessed to have such generous donors who are willing to invest in higher education for the good of our region,” said David Boudreaux, executive director of the Nicholls Foundation.

The Harold J. Callais Endowed First Generation Undergraduate Scholarship in Dyslexia

Michael and Blanche Callais gifted $60,000 to the Harold J. Callais Endowed First Generation Scholarship in Dyslexia. Michael is the son of the late Harold J. Callais. The Louisiana Board of Regents will provide a $40,000 match, bringing the endowment to $100,000, allowing the Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disorders to award up to four scholarships a year to students who qualify. Through an additional gift of $5,000, the Callais family has enabled the scholarship to be activated in the fall semester of 2014.

John and Colleen Kotts Scholarship in Culinary Arts

John and Colleen Kotts endowed a scholarship in culinary arts with a gift of $20,000. The scholarship, which will provide financial assistance to highly qualified students enrolled in the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, will be available for the spring semester of 2015.

The Bartels Family Endowed First Generation Scholarship in Memory of Michelle Bartels Bourg

Ron and Jackie Bartels gifted $60,000 to endow the Bartels Family Endowed First Generation Scholarship in Memory of Michelle Bartels Bourg. The scholarship will be awarded to qualifying first-generation students who enroll at Nicholls. With a $40,000 match from the Louisiana Board of Regents, the permanent endowment will come to $100,000. The scholarship will be awarded to up to four students per year beginning in the fall of 2015. The Bartels created this endowment in memory of their daughter Michelle.

The Peltier Foundation

A $250,000 gift from the Peltier Foundation will be dedicated to the construction of the new Lanny D. Ledet Building, which will house the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. The building, currently under construction, is being funded through a state-private matching agreement.

You can support Nicholls State University by contacting the Nicholls Foundation at 985-448-4136 or by emailing For more information, visit

Bass Fishing Team Members Take Home Prize

PETSM Petroleum Engineering Technology Management Stock 2013

THIBODAUX — Members of the Nicholls State University bass fishing team took third place in the FLW College Fishing bass tournament held on Toledo Bend Lake in Sabine Parish Feb. 15.

Both petroleum engineering technology and safety management (PETSM) sophomores, Jess Robertson and Travis Leblanc competed against students from universities across Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. The duo caught five fish weighing in at 17.6 pounds, earning the team a $500 prize and the opportunity to advance to the 2014 FLW Southern Conference Invitational on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas Oct. 25-26. There they’ll have a shot at a cash prize, and the top 10 teams will advance to the FLW College Fishing National Championship.

FLW College Fishing is a nationwide competitive bass-fishing program open to all full-time college students at four-year universities. It consists of 15 qualifying events across the nation, five invitational tournaments and a national championship held each year.

The Nicholls State University bass fishing team was formed in fall 2013, and team members compete in fishing tournaments across the region. For more information about the team, contact faculty sponsor Alyson Theriot at 985-448-4339 or

CUTLINE: Bass fishing team members pose with Nicholls State University President Bruce Murphy after taking home third place in the FLW College Fishing bass tournament at Toledo Bend Lake. From left is team treasurer Allyson Marcel, a nursing sophomore from Houma; Dr. Bruce Murphy, Nicholls president; Trevor Leblanc, a PETSM junior from Houma; team president Tyler Rivet, a PETSM freshman from Raceland; Jess Robertson, a PETSM sophomore from Houma; and team faculty sponsor Alyson Theriot, assistant professor of education.