Nicholls, SLEC Join State Agencies in Announcing New Coastal Technical Assistance Center

From left: Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards; Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson; Nicholls President, Dr. Jay Clune; South Louisiana Economic Council President and CEO, Vic Lafont; CPRA Chairman Chip Kline; and The Water Institute of the Gulf President and CEO, Justin Ehrenwerth. (Cain Madden/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University President Dr. Jay Clune joined Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and South Louisiana Economic Council (SLEC) President and CEO Vic Lafont on Friday to announce plans for the Louisiana Coastal Technical Assistance Center (CTAC). 

Housed on Nicholls campus, the new resource center will aid local companies competing for work on state coastal restoration projects as contractors, subcontractors and suppliers.

During a press conference held in the SLEC conference room in Babington Hall, Dr. Clune joined officials from Louisiana Economic Development (LED), the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), The Water Institute of the Gulf and SLEC in signing a memorandum of understanding for the creation of the center. 

“Louisiana plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually, over the next 50 years, in projects that protect and restore our coast,” Gov. Edwards said. “These projects will create substantial new opportunities for Louisiana businesses. The Coastal Technical Assistance Center will be designed to help small Louisiana companies compete for this important work all across our coastal region on an unprecedented scale. We want Louisiana businesses involved in our coastal mission as much as possible.” 

SLEC will oversee the center, which will assist companies in acquiring qualifications for participating in the public bidding process for coastal recovery projects. 

“The South Louisiana Economic Council has a record of deploying unique services for businesses during times of increased need,” Lafont said. “Representing Louisiana’s Bayou Region, we routinely see the efforts our state is putting forth to restore and ensure our coast remains working and vigilant. Our team is excited to be asked to lead this new initiative alongside LED, CPRA, The Water Institute of the Gulf and Nicholls State University – Louisiana’s closest university to the coast. Together, we will assist Louisiana-based small businesses in obtaining contracts with entities involved in the restoration and recovery efforts of coastal Louisiana.”

Nicholls State University will serve as the center’s higher education partner, providing technical support, research and in-kind services, such as future shared office and small business incubator space dedicated to the coastal mission. 

“The Coastal Technical Assistance Center will be a tremendous asset to South Louisiana,” Dr. Clune said. “We have the most environmentally threatened student body in the world, so it is critical for Nicholls to be involved in the restoration and conservation of coastal Louisiana. This is an exciting project that we believe will result in impactful solutions.”

Nicholls has positioned itself to be a leader in coastal restoration and preservation after partnerships with the University of New Orleans, Water Institute of the Gulf and Coastal Preservation and Restoration Authority. In the spring, Nicholls and CPRA announced the intention to build a Water Research Center for Coastal Restoration on the Nicholls campus. 

“CPRA’s investments will transform the coast,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline Jr. “By teaming up with LED, Nicholls, SLEC, and the Water Institute, we believe we have a real shot at transforming the economy of South Louisiana as well. CPRA is measuring success in restored land and reduced flood risk, but CTAC also gives us the opportunity to measure our impact in jobs and business development.”

LED and CPRA will provide a combined $750,000 to establish the center. Each agency will contribute $125,000 annually for three years, beginning with the current 2020 fiscal year. 

“We consider water management one of the key sectors for economic growth in our state,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “Based upon the groundwork laid by the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center in Lafayette, we have a blueprint for leveraging the maximum opportunity for Louisiana businesses in the coastal and water management sector. This is an exciting economic development initiative, and we’re most appreciative of the resource and management roles played by Nicholls State and SLEC, as well as the project leadership that CPRA and The Water Institute of the Gulf will provide.”

The Water Institute of the Gulf will assist CTAC in increasing employment and business opportunities in the water management sector. The Baton Rouge-based institute is a leading applied research center focused on coastal and deltaic solutions across the world. 

“Restoring and protecting our coast requires all of us working together,” said Justin Ehrenwerth, president and CEO of The Water Institute of the Gulf. “The Water Institute is honored to join the governor and our colleagues from CPRA, LED, Nicholls State and SLEC in supporting the creation of the Coastal Technical Assistance Center, which will continue growing our state’s collective capabilities in support of the coastal program.”


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

Nicholls to Host Panel About Free Speech for Constitution Week

THIBODAUX, La. — A panel of Nicholls State University professors will discuss the role of free speech on a college campus next week. 

“The First Amendment and The Academy: Free Speech on University Campuses” will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17 in the Bollinger Suite. 

The event is part of Nicholls’ Constitution Week Celebration. 

The national celebration happens every year from Sept. 17-23. Its purpose is to promote the study and education of the United States Constitution. 

Dr. James Stewart, department head of the Nicholls Mass Communication, said college campuses need to be mindful of free speech. 

“There’s been a lot of controversy for many years about who is speaking on college campuses,” said Dr. Stewart. “They also have universities stepping in to put policies in place to restrict speech.”

Panelists include mass communication professor Nicki Boudreaux, government professor Dr. Rusty Thysell Jr., social sciences department head Dr. David Whitney and history and geography department head Dr. Paul Wilson. 

“The key thing is to start a discussion to make students aware of issues related to free speech,” said Dr. Stewart. “Free speech is important, particularly in places like universities. Here, people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints should come together and have important discussions.


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

Nicholls Culinary Students Rank Top in their Class at Institut Paul Bocuse

THIBODAUX, La. — Three Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University students finished among the top five in their class at Institut Paul Bocuse this summer. 

Each summer, top students from Nicholls travel to Écully, France for a 4-month immersive and innovative culinary training. This summer, seven total students form the culinary institute made the trip. 

Students Taylor Mason, Emily Musselman (BA ‘19) and Sabrina Authement, a senior from Thibodaux, placed first, second and fourth in their class, respectively.

“It was a great learning opportunity,” said Mason, a junior from Leesville. “[Being at the Institut] was amazing, literally the only word to describe it.” 

Mason, a recipient of the Louisiana Restaurant Association Cenla Chapter Scholarship, thanked the chefs at Nicholls for helping, showing pride and encouraging students. 

“I couldn’t be more thankful for the chefs I have had teaching me,” she said.

Musselman said she found the experience rewarding, and that it opened her up to new possibilities. 

“I learned a lot about my career, and different things about the culture and other cultures. This was an alliance with 13 other countries,” she said. 

The Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance brings 14 universities from around the world for advanced culinary schooling and cultural experience. The Chef John Folse Institute is the only university in the United States that has a partnership with the Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance.

Louisiana’s only 4-year culinary arts program, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute produces the best of the best culinary graduates in the region. Nicholls culinary students receive unique opportunities through the Institut Paul Bocuse, a partnership with The Master’s golf tournament and global internship opportunities. Chef John Folse Culinary graduates have earned James Beard nominations, work in Michelin-starred kitchens and run elite hospitality programs all over the world. 


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

Record-high Retention Spurs Continued Enrollment Growth

(Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University freshmen returned for their sophomore year at the highest rate in university history, leading to a fourth consecutive year of enrollment growth. 

Nicholls welcomed 6,506 students this fall, according to 14th class day statistics. This is the first time Nicholls has had more than 6,500 students since Fall 2013. 

Boosting enrollment growth is a record-high freshman retention rate of 73.2 percent, breaking last year’s record of 71.4 percent. This continues a successful trend dating back to 2010 of retaining freshmen at rates of at least 68 percent, higher than the national average of 61 percent. 

“We don’t have 6,506 students if not for the hard work of our admissions team recruiting new students, and our faculty and academic advisors going the extra mile to put these students on the best path for them to succeed,” said Alex Arceneaux, executive vice president of enrollment services.

Beginning Fall 2018, the university placed an emphasis on retaining and graduating it’s black, non-student-athletes after data showed they lagged behind their peers. Nicholls implemented the Colonels Retention of Winners Network which partners freshmen black non-athletes with peers to help them navigate the challenges of college. After its first full year, retention of these students increased to 70 percent, also a record. 

“Once you get that student to return for their sophomore year, the chances of them eventually graduating increase dramatically,” said Dr. Sue Westbrook, provost and vice president of academic and student affairs. “So, to see this kind of success in year one is exciting. CROWN reflects the values of our university in a way that changes our students’ lives.” 

Incoming freshmen posted an average composite ACT score of 22.36. This is the third consecutive year where the new class has posted an average score of 22 or higher. 

Nicholls Online enrollment increased by 21 percent, the largest since the program was created in 2011. 

“Nicholls Online and its degree programs are regularly recognized on a national stage for providing a low-cost, quality education,” Dr. Westbrook said. “As our reputation grows, we expect our online enrollment to boom.”


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

Nicholls Named a Top Regional University by U.S. News & World Report

THIBODAUX, La. — For the third year in a row, Nicholls State University has been named one of the top universities in the South by the U.S. News & World Report in their Best Colleges 2020 rankings. 

Nicholls ranks 38th among top public regional universities in the South – the best in the state – and 84th among southern regional universities including private schools – third-best in the state. Last year, Nicholls ranked No. 41 and No. 100, respectively. 

“This is a direct reflection of the commitment our faculty and staff make every day to recruit, educate and graduate a better student for the Bayou Region,” said Dr. Jay Clune, Nicholls president. 

U.S. News & World Report defines a regional university as one that offers many undergraduate degrees, some master’s degrees but few doctoral programs. A public university is one that operates under the supervision of a state government and is funded in part by tax dollars. 

To calculate each school’s ranking, U.S. News & World Report studied graduation rates, retention rates, social mobility, academic reputation, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving rate. 

After the data is analyzed, each school is then broken up into national universities and regional universities, and the top 75 percent in each category is published.

Among the new rankings this year, Nicholls ranked No. 103 in social mobility among regional universities in the South and fourth among public universities in the state. Social mobility is calculated by comparing each university’s Pell Grant recipient graduation rates with the graduation rates of their peers. 

U.S. News & World Report is a digital news and information company that empowers people to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives. Focusing on Education, Health, Personal Finance, Travel, Cars and News & Opinion, provides consumer advice, rankings, news and analysis to serve people making complex decisions throughout all stages of life. More than 30 million people visit each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.


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


Nicholls Recent Grads to be Featured at Chauvin Exhibit

CHAUVIN, La. — The Nicholls Art Studio is proud to open its fall exhibition season showing off the works of spring 2019 graduates. 

You can view the students’ senior capstone projects on Saturdays and Sundays at the Chauvin Sculpture Garden. The exhibition will range from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 7 through Oct. 13. It is free and open to the public. 

The exhibition represents a range of media from talented artists and alumni who graduated in spring 2019 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art. 

Celeste Bourgeois, Bethany Plaisance and Erika Verberne created print and web designs. In this project, each designer re-imagined and re-branded the popular Baton Rouge music venue the Varsity Theatre. The final work included creating logos, signage, menus, advertisements and functional websites. 

Erin Dougherty, Maya Evans and Cherish Rosales, each exhibited photographic artworks. Projects include representations of hope and grace to challenging female body stereotypes. 

Adam Leblanc exhibited large-scale charcoal drawings. He used texture and atmosphere to create an image that is more than a portrait. 

The address for the Chauvin Sculpture Garden is 5337 Bayouside Drive, Chauvin, Louisiana. The sculpture garden is open from dawn until dusk every day. The Art Studio is open on weekends only. 

For more information, contact the Department of Art at 448-4597 or exhibitions coordinator Teresa Shannon at 448-4595. If you would like to receive notices for future exhibitions, email  


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

Nicholls Named Top 15 for Online Bachelor’s in Writing

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University ranked as one of the Top 15 schools for best online bachelor’s in writing program by 

Nicholls ranked No. 13 and was the only school in Louisiana in the Top 15.

Dr. Ellen Barker, head of the English department, said she is “pleased that we are consistent with the quality of the programs we have.” 

The website uses a “multicriteria optimization” algorithm and professional experience from their staff and Academic Advisory Board to rank schools.

Nicholls ranked No. 17 last year on the website in Best Online Bachelor’s in English and to rank No.13 this year shows Dr. Barker that they are “doing better.”

She said that competing with flagship institutions like the University of Iowa is a big deal.

“We’re doing a great job with limited faculty and adjuncts and [they] should be recognized,” she said.

The website pays special attention to the creative writing concentration saying it “builds the kinds of communication skills that employers value.” Dr. Barker said she agrees and has seen tremendous growth in students majoring in English concentrations, with creative writing having the highest growth from 13 students last year to 27 this year. 

Nicholls’ online bachelor’s in writing has an eight-week course format that provides flexibility to its students. The website mentioned that there are no set log-in times so students can do coursework at anytime that is convenient for them.

Founded in 2001, provides research and advice to assist learners through their education and careers and is a leader in school rankings.

Nicholls online Bachelor of Arts in English has received multiple accolades throughout the years including ranking in the top 25  Best Online Bachelors in English by Best Colleges.


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

Oh Là Là Set to Wow Audiences with Wide Array of Music

THIBODAUX, La. — In the third season of the popular Oh Là Là theater series, Nicholls State University will bring audiences musical performances that include a jazz quartet, decorated international pianist and Aretha Franklin tribute ensemble. 

The series, hosted at the Mary and Al Danos Theater, features The Four Freshmen at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25. Next up is War Bonds The Songs and Letters of WWII at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11. Artrageous will perform at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6. Up next, audiences can enjoy John O’Conor’s Beethoven Sonatas at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21. The series concludes with a Tribute to Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 8. 

“We are looking forward to another exciting season,” said Monique Crochet, executive director of external affairs. “We are very grateful to all of our current and new season ticket holders as they make our season very special. I’d like to say thank you to Cenac Marine Services and Mr. Arlen B. Cenac Jr. for once again being Oh Là Là’s theater season sponsor.” 

A tradition since 1948, The Four Freshmen offer audience-pleasing charisma and humor for any occasion. They do this with the jazzy sounds of the quartet to the charge of a big band and the lush sounds of a symphony orchestra. The Four Freshmen have headlined shows from Moscow to Manhattan. As the Wall Street Journal exclaims, “Long live The Four Freshmen. May they never graduate!” 

“WAR BONDS: The Songs and Letters of World War II” is a musical journey through a war that redefined the world. This multimedia living history cabaret includes personal letters from the front and headline news of the period. The production is a warm reminiscence and a harrowing reminder of a time that is similar to the present. Serena Ebhardt and David zum Brunnen of EbzB Productions created and perform the cabaret. 

Being a theatre arts community since the 80s, Artrageous brings their passion for the arts to each theatre. They aim to leave their audiences of all ages smiling and singing and dancing along. The troupe comprises 12 artists, singers, dancers and musicians hailing from the high desert of New Mexico. Their high energy performance is a combination of fine art, live music, singing, dancing, humor and interaction. They perform in a frenzy of movement and color with a message of the arts being an integral and valuable part of human existence. 

The Irish pianist and Steinway artist John O’Conor has been gathering masterful reviews for over 40 years. He studied in his native Dublin, in Vienna with Dieter Weber and being tutored by the legendary Wilhelm Kempff. In 1973, his career began with a unanimous first prize at the International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna. For his services to music, he has been decorated “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French Government; awarded the “Ehrenkreuz fur Wissenschaft und Kunst” by the Austrian Government; the “Order of the Rising Sun” by the Emperor of Japan; and has received many other awards. 

Soul of America, which pays tribute to Aretha Franklin, has performed with such greats as Ray Charles, James Brown and Aretha Franklin. The ensemble delivers a power punch packed performance of the greatest soul hits ever written in America. Close your eyes and feel the heat from this electrifying ensemble. Open them and be transported back to a time when the music Made In The USA ruled the airwaves and dance floors worldwide. Warning! Uncontrollable dancing in the aisles may occur. 

Upper-level season tickets are $125 and single tickets are $25, while lower-level season tickets are $150 and single tickets are $30. 

Cenac Marine Services/Arlen B. Cenac Jr. is the headline sponsor. This is the third year in a row they have sponsored the theater series. 

To buy tickets or become a sponsor, call Crochet at 448.4110 or email at


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

Nicholls Partners with Handshake to Help Students, Employers Connect

CAPTION: Kristie Tauzin Goulas interacts with students during Grad Day Expo in 2016. (Misty McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University invites employers to hire a Colonel as part of a new partnership.

The Nicholls Office of Career Services has joined Handshake, an app that allows employers and students to connect. The platform features opportunities for part-time jobs, internships and full-time employment.

“Handshake connects students to employers based on their profile, interests and experiences,” said Kristie Tauzin Goulas, director of the Office of Career Services. “For students, Handshake is our way to let them know what is out there. And not only jobs here in Louisiana, but with opportunities across the country.”

Three job-seeking college graduates created Handshake in 2014. The founders noticed an opportunity gap for students to connect with employers.

The platform resembles a social media app to help make the job search experience easier for students. It provides students with ways to sign up for career fairs, workshops, resume reviews and make daily appointments with Career Services staff. 

Students can also see upcoming career services events, including Colonels Suit Up with JCPenney on Oct. 6 and Nicholls Fall 2019 Career Day on Oct. 9.

Handshake is free, and employers can populate the app with job postings and other content.

For more information, visit or contact Goulas at 448-4509 or


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

New Scholarship to Benefit Grad Students

From left: Dr. Jay Clune, Nicholls president, Allison Clune, first lady, Michael Bourgeois, Christine Bourgeois and Jeremy Becker, Nicholls Foundation executive director. (Misty McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University has announced a new scholarship to benefit students studying to become school psychologists.

The Michael C. and Christine P. Bourgeois Endowed Upperclassmen/Alumni Scholarship will help students in the masters in education with a specialization in school psychology program. This is the first endowed scholarship specifically for graduate students offered at Nicholls

The Bourgeois donation totaled $60,000 with a match assistance from ExxonMobil, Michael’s former employer. This is the third scholarships the husband and wife have created at Nicholls.

“We’re both from the area and the first in our families to graduate from college. It is important to us to provide that opportunity to a younger generation trying to do the same,” the Bourgeois said. “Nicholls State University is so important to our geographic area. We want to be able to give back and help students afford their education.”

Applicants must be full-time graduate students, registered Louisiana voters in Louisiana and carry a GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants from  Ward Six in Lafourche Parish will receive first preference.

The scholarship will award up to two students $750 per semester for up to four semesters.

For more information, visit


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