Dr. Todd Keller Selected as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs

Todd Keller Headshot 2014THIBODAUX — Dr. Todd Keller has been selected as Nicholls State University’s interim vice president for academic affairs.

Keller previously served as director for the College of Nursing and Allied Health’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.

“In appointing an interim vice president for academic affairs, one of the qualities I looked for was a great relationship with the faculty,” said Nicholls President Bruce Murphy. “As a former Faculty Senate chair, Todd is well respected by his colleagues and has a reputation for being a highly competent, self-motivated campus leader. I look forward to his leadership over the next several months as Nicholls develops its strategic plan and works toward its next SACSCOC accreditation report while searching for a permanent provost.”

A native of Morgan City, Keller joined the Nicholls faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor of nursing, and has held a number of positions within the College of Nursing and Allied Health, including director of continuing nursing education; assistant to the department head; and coordinator of recruitment, retention, admission and progression.

Keller, a certified nurse educator, earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing from Nicholls; his master’s in nursing from the University of Phoenix New Orleans campus; and his doctorate of nursing science from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

Keller previously served in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman. His professional career also includes emergency nursing at Lakewood Hospital in Morgan City (now Teche Regional Medical Center) and intensive care nursing at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center.

He has lived in Thibodaux since 1990, and in his spare time enjoys reading and acting, directing and staging live theater.

Nicholls Foundation Presents George Bell and Friends

THIBODAUX — The public is invited to a Homecoming weekend concert featuring the musical sounds of Nicholls State University alum George Bell and Thibodaux native Thaddeus Richard beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2 in the Mary M. Danos Theater in Talbot Hall.

Tickets to A Homecoming Concert with George Bell and Friends, presented by the Nicholls Foundation, can be purchased for $25, and a cash bar will be available during intermission. Proceeds will benefit the Mary M. Danos Theater and a student scholarship.

Bell leads the jazz group George Bell and Friends on trumpet and flugelhorn. He plays with world-class musicians, including Herman Jackson on drums; Harry Anderson on bass; Richard on piano, sax and flute; Todd Duke on guitar; and Greg Ward on percussion and harmonica. Special guests include Aaron Fletcher on sax and Betsy Braud on sax and flute, with vocals by Kandace Washington.

Accomplished in his career as well as music, Bell, a 1981 Nicholls Hall of Fame graduate with a degree in political science, previously worked for longtime Louisiana U.S. Sen. Billy Tauzin of Chackbay before moving to Ohio to begin a career in hospital administration. Bell eventually returned to Louisiana, where he currently serves as administrator of Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City Campus.

For reservations, call 985-448-4134. Checks should be made payable to the Nicholls Foundation.

Nicholls Homecoming Festivities Planned for Oct. 26 — Nov. 2

THIBODAUX — Students, alumni, fans and community members are invited to celebrate new and old traditions during Nicholls State University’s Homecoming Week Sunday, Oct. 26 through Sunday, Nov. 2.

The festivities will begin with a Homecoming Kick-Off Barbecue at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26 in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union’s Cotillion Ballroom. This free community event will include a pep rally, introduction of 2014 Homecoming Court and live music by the band Stormy. Other events scheduled throughout the week include three home volleyball matches, a late-night breakfast and dance, a flag football tournament, a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the annual pirogue race — a Nicholls tradition — and a style show.

A favorite past Homecoming weekend tradition will also be revived. Nicholls will host a bonfire featuring music by Mark Dufrene at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30 on the campus recreation fields. Prior to the bonfire, the Student Programming Association will host the Alive at Five concert and featuring performances by Kaelan Levy, Mia Borders and Snapper and the Fishsticks starting at 5 p.m.

On Halloween night, Nicholls has organized a Trunk-or-Treat event beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the student union parking lot, followed by a haunted house in Ellender Hall at 7 p.m.

All events lead up to the annual Homecoming football game, slated for 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, at John L. Guidry Stadium, where the Colonels will take on the Incarnate Word Cardinals. Tailgating — featuring food, a kids zone and Cajun music by Soul Creole — will begin at 3 p.m. in the north end zone of Guidry Stadium.

Rounding out the week will be the George Bell and Friends Homecoming Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2 in the Mary M. Danos Theater. Tickets can be purchased for $25 by calling 985-448-4134.

For a full list of events of Nicholls Homecoming events and a look at this year’s Homecoming Court, visit nicholls.edu/homecoming. All Homecoming events are open to the public and free, unless otherwise noted.

Public Invited to Meet Election Candidates at Nicholls

THIBODAUX — The Nicholls State University Student Government Association will host a public meet and greet with candidates in the upcoming November election from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21 in the Plantation Suite of the Bollinger Memorial Student Union.

Candidates running for political offices in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Senate and Congressional races will be present to provide information about their election platforms and speak one-on-one with attendees. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information, call 985-448-4557.

Nicholls’ Annual Bite of the Arts Gala Presents “Beaucoup de Bocuse”

THIBODAUX — The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University will honor the 10th anniversary of the Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance with a French-themed celebration during its 18th annual Bite of the Arts Gala Thursday, Nov. 13.

The celebrated culinary event, themed “Beaucoup de Bocuse,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Cotillion Ballroom at the Bollinger Memorial Student Union with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. A three-course meal and a live auction will follow.

The Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance, founded by the celebrated French chef, unites 14 universities from across the world in the pursuit of top-notch culinary education. Nicholls’ Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is the only school in the United States involved in this partnership, and sends its top students to an intensive four-month training at the Institut Paul Bocuse in Ecully, France each year.

Guests will be treated to a multi-course French dinner prepared by distinguished visiting chef Peter Sclafani. A third-generation chef from New Orleans, Sclafani is co-owner and executive chef of Ruffino’s, the premier Italian-Creole fusion restaurant in Baton Rouge, and its sister restaurant in Lafayette, Ruffino’s on the River. The meal will be prepared and served with the skills and talent of about 300 Nicholls student culinarians.

The Bite of the Arts Gala also features the presentation of the culinary institute’s 2014 Lafcadio Hearn Award for significant contributions to the culinary profession. This year’s event will honor entrepreneur Thomas J. “T.J.” Moran, a legendary Baton Rouge restaurateur who opened the first Ruth’s Chris Steak House franchise in 1976 and went on to become the largest and most successful of the company’s franchisees, developing restaurants across the Southeast and Midwest. Over the years, he has used his popular culinary venues to support charitable organizations that benefit thousands of Baton Rouge residents.

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.

Call 985-449-7091 by Thursday, Nov. 6 to reserve your tickets.

New Nicholls Housing Program Helps Freshmen Succeed on Campus

THIBODAUX — This fall, Nicholls State University’s Office of Housing and Residence Life launched a new program aimed at increasing the success of first-year students living on campus.

Currently in its pilot year, the Living Your Freshman Experience (LYFE) is a residential program available to the 200-plus students in Ellender Hall. It is designed to help freshmen succeed by providing emotional and academic support, getting students involved in the campus community, offering career exploration programs and other support services in Ellender.

“Through the LYFE program, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to bring these resources to students. We are meeting the students where they are,” said Rachel Boguille, area coordinator in the Office of Housing and Residential Life.

Boguille said the goal is to create a stronger community and support system in Ellender by offering tutoring hours, special workshops administered by faculty and staff and training peer mentors who will live in Ellender with the students.

Those mentors, upperclassmen known as PULSE (Peers Utilizing LYFE Skills Education) leaders, will serve as role models and educators, providing on-site support for learning and educational success just a few steps away from students’ doors in Ellender Hall.

At the end of the year, Office of Housing and Residence Life plans to evaluate the program to determine if it has helped retain and improve the academic success of students living on campus.

Students, faculty or staff who are interested in participating in the program should contact Boguille at rachel.boguille@nicholls.edu. For more information about living on campus at Nicholls, visit nicholls.edu/housing.

Education Program Brings IPad-Assisted Tutoring to Nicholls

Education Technology Stock Tutoring 2014

Allison Gravois, a Nicholls State University education student, tutors a local elementary school student with the assistance of an iPad. It’s part of a pilot program at Nicholls overseen by associate professors of education Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur and Dr. Francis Crochet. Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy.


THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University education students are preparing for classrooms of the future, by using iPad apps to provide cutting-edge tutoring to struggling young readers.

Launched in August, the Technology Assisted Reading Interventions (TARI) project outfits education juniors and seniors at Nicholls with iPads and literacy apps. Students are then paired with struggling readers from local elementary schools to provide high-quality technology-assisted tutoring.

The project, funded by a $43,600 Louisiana Board of Regents grant, is being administered by Nicholls associate professors of education Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur and Dr. Francis Crochet.

“TARI is one of our innovative projects in the College of Education to improve K-12 learning as our candidates prepare to be effective educators,” said Education Dean Dr. Leslie Jones.

Vavasseur said the use of technology like iPads in classrooms has been a growing trend, particularly because tablets provide the opportunity for one-on-one interaction between the teacher and student. Carefully selected apps and eBooks, when paired with reading instruction, have been shown to support struggling readers and improve certain reading comprehension skills.

“Most of the iPad apps we have found are fun — they’re games, they’re interactive and there’s a lot of movement and animation. The kids are excited about learning, and our students are prepared to teach with 21st century technology,” Crochet said.

Nicholls juniors and seniors will also use their experiences to evaluate reading intervention apps and tools, and at the end of the course they will create and publish a free interactive eBook to assist future teachers in choosing and utilizing the technology in their own classrooms.

“The focus is using this technology as a tool to help struggling readers find success,” Vavasseur said. “The trend right now in education is one-to-one learning, with many schools aiming to equip every child with some kind of device. This trend has grown so fast, and our end goal with this project is to give teachers a resource to implement these strategies successfully.”

In the past five years, the Nicholls College of Education has been transformed by the use of technology. Innovative programs like Colonel Chat and Storytime with the Colonels allow education majors at Nicholls to provide one-on-one tutoring and interactive reading experiences with young students over video chat, reaching more classrooms without the limitations of distance.

For more information on the Nicholls College of Education, visit nicholls.edu/education.

Celebrate Family Day with Nicholls

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University students, their families and community members are invited for a day of fun for all ages at the annual Family Day celebration Saturday, Oct. 18.

The family-friendly festivities will begin at noon next to John L. Guidry Stadium and will lead up to the 3 p.m. kick-off of the Colonels football game against the Lamar Cardinals.

A campus tradition since 1983, Family Day will feature live music by the swamp pop band Cameron Dupuy & the Cajun Troubadours and food booths offering gumbo, jambalaya, po’boys, hotdogs, hamburgers and nachos. Other activities include an entertainment zone with inflatables and games for the kids, fun and educational activities and a 2:30 p.m. pep rally featuring the Pride of Nicholls marching band.

Discounted general admission tickets to the 3 p.m. Colonels vs. Cardinals football game will be available for $12. Buy your tickets at geauxcolonels.com between Monday, Oct. 6 and 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct.17 to receive the special price. Tickets are also available for $15 at the gate on game day.

For more information, visit nicholls.edu/family-day.

Nicholls Players Present “Much Ado About Nothing”


Much Ado About Nothing poster


THIBODAUX — The Nicholls Players, in association with the Nicholls State University Department of Mass Communication, will present Shakespeare’s classic play “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“Much Ado About Nothing” is a romantic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on love and a way with words. After returning from war, Claudio and his lady love Hero are to be married in one week. To pass the time, they conspire with the Spanish prince Don Pedro to make Benedick, an arrogant confirmed bachelor, and Beatrice, his favorite sparring partner, confess their feelings for one another. At the same time, the evil Don Jon conspires to break up the wedding by accusing Hero of infidelity.

The show, directed by Cheyenne Miller, will run Oct. 9-11 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. in the Mary M. Danos Theater in Talbot Hall on the Nicholls campus. Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $5 with a student identification card.

Nicholls to Host Culinary Career Panel

THIBODAUX — More than a dozen distinguished alumni of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute will take questions about working in the restaurant industry during Nicholls State University’s first culinary career panel, scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6 at the Nicholls soccer field pavilion.

The event is being hosted by the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, the Nicholls Alumni Federation, the Nicholls Office of Career Services, the Louisiana Restaurant Association and Spahr’s Restaurant.

The panel will feature an informal question and answer session with Nicholls culinary alumni who have gone on to exciting careers in the restaurant industry. Panel members include Michael Gulotta, chef/owner of MoPho in New Orleans; Drake Leonards, sous chef at Chef John Besh’s Lüke in New Orleans; Kelly Boffone, chef/owner of The PeaceBaker in Metairie; Holly Goetting, executive chef at Charlie G’s in Lafayette; Megan Ordoyne, chef du cuisine at Café Adelaide and The Swizzle Stick Bar in New Orleans; Greg Doucet, executive chef at Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro in Lafayette; Ben Thibodaux, chef at Tableau in New Orleans; and more. Food will be provided, and attendees will have a chance to network with and learn from current students and working alumni of the culinary institute.

Nicholls culinary students, prospective culinary students and culinary alumni are invited to attend. Admission is free — just show your Colonel Card or high school ID when you sign in.

For more information on the culinary career panel or the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute call 985-448-4091 or visit nicholls.edu/culinary.