Endowed Professorship to Honor Nicholls State University Former First Lady Jeanne Picariello Murphy

THIBODAUX, La. – Former Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy, Colleen Hunter and “friends of Bridge” together contributed $80,000 to endow a professorship within the Bridge to Independence program to honor the memory of Murphy’s late wife and former Nicholls First Lady Jeanne Picariello Murphy. 

The Nicholls Foundation requires a certain amount of interest to be accrued before a professorship is awarded, which can take years. With an extra contribution from Dr. Murphy, the professorship will be awarded in the fall of 2024 to the current faculty advisor of Bridge to Independence within the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

During her time as Nicholls First Lady, Jeanne found opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to engage in ceramics courses and athletic events, leading her to coordinate with Dr. Mary Breaud, education faculty, and Robin Bell, former director of Campus Disability Services, where she became instrumental in the creation of the Bridge to Independence program and bringing Special Olympics to campus. 

During the creation phase of the program, Jeanne hosted meetings at the president’s residence where a group of 8 to 10, including Colleen, met faithfully over 2 years, working to write grants and the certified Comprehensive Transition Program application that the program currently operates under. After leaving Nicholls, she continued to research and faithfully sent weekly emails to enhance opportunities for the Bridge students and make long distance connections. This group continued to collaborate, becoming close friends who are still in connection with the program today. Colleen’s son is a two-time graduate of Nicholls in Interdisciplinary Studies and Geomatics with the support of Bridge to Independence. 

Dr. Mary Breaud, Nicholls associate professor of education said, “When I heard of Jeanne’s passing, I reached out to Colleen and the others in our original small group. The idea of creating an endowed professorship for the program faculty advisor was always a goal. I am always thinking of ways to promote the program and help it to be self-sustaining. When talking with Colleen and her late husband Bill after the mass held in Jeanne’s memory, they told me they would like to contribute to the endowed professorship, and we all agreed it should be in Jeanne’s memory and honor.”

Bridge to Independence serves students with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Bridge offers two pathways, a certificate pathway for independent living and workforce skills and a support pathway for students accepted to the university working on a traditional college degree. The Nicholls Bridge to Independence program is the first program of its kind in Louisiana certified by the U.S. Department of Education. 

The Nicholls Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 corporation, exists to support the mission of Nicholls State University by seeking gifts and grants and by managing those funds and other assets to support Nicholls through endowed chairs, professorships, scholarships and other enhancement efforts. To learn more about donating to Nicholls, visit nichollsfoundation.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, May 28, 2024


Media Relations & Publications Coordinator, 

985.448.4141 or payton.suire@nicholls.edu

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