Nicholls Foundation Receives Largest Bequest Agreement for Scholarships, Professorships

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Foundation is pleased to announce that James and Mary Alice Van Sickle (BA ‘66) have created a bequest from their estate that will produce 10 endowed professorships and 10 or more scholarships.

While the Van Sickles did not wish to announce a donation amount, their gift is the largest legacy agreement with the Foundation’s Oaks Society. The scholarships and professorships will go to the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.

A Lockport native, Mary Alice majored in English education while at Nicholls. Today, she and her husband live in Cambridge, Mass. In 2014, she retired after a three-decade career in marketing for a landscape architectural firm in Boston.

“I have always felt that I received an outstanding education at Nicholls, which provided me with the life skills that would equip me to succeed in my chosen career,” Mary Alice said. “Nicholls instilled in me a true love for learning, and a curiosity about the world beyond the bayou. The bequest is my way of saying thank you. This beloved institution placed its trust in me so many years ago and provided me with a foundation of knowledge, which has nurtured me throughout my adult life.”

The professorships will honor Mary Alice’s mother, Mabel Bollinger Toups. Mabel Toups was a lifelong teacher in Lockport. The James R. and Mary Alice Van Sickle Endowed Scholarships will range from $2,500 to $5,000 per student. 

“I believe that there is no better preparation for living a full and rewarding life than through education,” Mary Alice said. “I hope these scholarship students will enrich their own lives through learning and will graduate with the tools that will lead to success in their chosen professions. The bequest will also allow teachers to expand their own learning opportunities through research and study, and to continue to inspire the love of learning in students by serving as positive role models.”

Jeremy Becker, Nicholls Foundation executive director, added, “It has been a pleasure to get to know the Van Sickles throughout this entire process. I am excited about the tremendous impact that their future gift will have for so many faculty and students at Nicholls.”

If you are interested in learning more about the foundation or making a bequest to become a member of The Oaks Society, please visit or contact Becker at 448-4006.


MEDIA CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

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