Callais Sisters, ULS Foundation Create Endowed Professorships at Nicholls

Sisters Rachel and Leah Callais present checks to Nicholls State University to create endowed professorships in honor of their father, Michael. (Jacob Batte/Nicholls State University).

THIBODAUX, La. — Sisters Rachel and Leah Callais are donating $120,000 to Nicholls State University to create endowed professorships in coastal studies. 

Each sister is donating $60,000 and their gift will create two professorships named after their father, Mike:  

  • The University of Louisiana System Foundation and Charles M. Callais Endowed Professorship in Coastal Studies
  • The University of Louisana System Foundation and C. Michael Callais Endowed Professorship in Coastal Studies. 

“Our family has always been involved with the coast and the Gulf of Mexico, and that is why it was so difficult to drive around after Hurricane Ida and see the impact to our community. We know that someday it could all be gone, so we believe it’s important to preserve the coast, to do our best to keep it around and keep it alive,” the sisters said in a joint statement. “If it wasn’t for our dad then we wouldn’t have what we have, we wouldn’t be where we are and we wouldn’t know what we know. He showed us how to be a part of a community, how to live the right way and he instilled in us that we have to do whatever we can to help because it’s the right thing to do.” 

The Callais donation will be matched with $80,000 from the University of Louisana System Foundation. The ULS Foundation received $800,000 from the Chicago Community Trust in 2019 to support new STEM professorships. As part of the donation, one professorship must go to a male, and the other a female. 

In 2019, Nicholls and the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority announced a new Coastal Center was coming to Nicholls campus to study the effects of land loss in the Terrebonne and Atchafalaya Basins. Dr. John Doucet, director of coastal studies and dean of the College of Science and Technology said, these professorships will help the university attract and retain top coastal scientists. 

“Those professors will, in turn, develop solutions to restore and protect coastal communities where the Callais and other families live and work,” said Dr. Doucet said. “The Callais family settled in coastal marshland of the Lafourche Basin in the early 20th century. Over several generations, they have seen first-hand the changes and challenges of our coast that Nicholls will address through the Coastal Center.”

The sisters are longtime supporters of Nicholls State University. Most recently, they awarded $200,000 to the College of Nursing to create computer labs in Ayo Hall. 

For more information on the Nicholls Foundation, visit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, Feb. 7, 2022

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

985.448.4141 or

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