Thibodaux nonprofit donates to Little Colonels Academy


Photo – Left to right: Dr. Tiffany Papa, associate professor of education; Ann Boudreaux, Lorio Foundation board member; Rita Dickey, Lorio Foundation board member; Jeremy Becker, executive director of the Nicholls Foundation; Dr. Sue Westbrook, provost and vice president of academic affairs; Dr. Jay Clune, president of Nicholls State University; Chris Terracina, Lorio Foundation board member; Cam Morvant, Lorio Foundation board member; Mistie Perry, assistant professor of education; Sara Dempster, instructor of teacher education; and Lauren Guidry, director of Little Colonels Academy. (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)


THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University is proud to announce a donation from the Lorio Foundation to improve facilities at the Little Colonels Academy.

The Thibodaux nonprofit donated $90,000 to the childcare center, which will be used to purchase new surfacing and playground equipment for the children, as well as other projects inside the classrooms.

“This is so important because it helps our students, it helps the community and it helps the faculty that have children who attend Little Colonels Academy,” said Dr. Sue Westbrook, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Little Colonels Academy is more than a daycare or a preschool, we are truly a school with a curriculum to help prepare these children for their future.”

Established in 1997 to honor the memory of Thibodaux resident Lloyd Lorio, the nonprofit has spent the last 20 years awarding annual grants to religious, charitable, educational and governmental agencies in the Bayou Region. They have donated more than $3 million to Nicholls since their inception.

“I toured LIttle Colonels Academy after they applied for the grant, and I was very impressed,” said Cam Morvant, co-founder of the Lorio Foundation. “I was impressed with what they’re doing and what they want to accomplish. Education has always been important to our foundation ever since we started. So when they came to us for this project, this was an easy grant to approve.”

Little Colonels Academy is an early childhood learning center housed on the Nicholls campus as part of the College of Education. The school provides quality care and unique learning experiences to children from 6 weeks to 4 years old, as well as a hands-on learning experience for Nicholls nursing and education majors.


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

Nicholls announces program to help freshman black men

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University has announced the creation of a program aimed at improving retention and graduation rates of undergraduate black male students.

The Colonel Retention of Winners Network, or CROWN, will provide social and academic support to freshman black male students. Freshman black men return to campus at a rate much lower than their peers. In 2017, the retention rate for African-American males was 54 percent, compared to 63 percent African-American females, 66 percent white males and 76 percent white females.

The goal of the program is to improve the student’s university experience by pairing them with a peer mentor who is an upperclassman. CROWN will also seek to improve the students’ time at the university through on-campus events and special sessions that provide resources and information on how to navigate their freshman year.

“There’s a gap between our freshmen black men who aren’t student-athletes and the rest of their peers in terms of returning year-to-year and eventually earning their degree,” says Dr. Sean Chadwell, CROWN administrator. “This program aims to help them be more successful in the classroom, as well as build a network of support on campus. Ideally, these students will return to campus the next year and be mentors to the next group.”

Incoming freshman will have the ability to sign up for the program. From there, the students will be matched with a black male upperclassman who will serve as a peer mentor.

“Mentors are there to show them the ropes around campus, help them avoid pitfalls and provide a level of accountability,” said Farren Clark, instructor of speech and CROWN mentor coordinator.

For more information visit


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

Endowed scholarship named for Assumption educator

Photo: From left: Jeremy Becker, executive director of the Nicholls Foundation; Jonathan Howell, wife Erica Howell, son Ethan Howell and their two daughters, Camille and Caroline; Larry Howell; Will Carothers, sister Ella Mabile, brother Alex Mabile and mom Cami Howell Mabile; and Nicholls President, Dr. Jay Clune. (Cain Madden/NICHOLLS STATE UNIVERSITY)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University is proud to announce the creation of an endowed scholarship honoring a longtime educator from Assumption Parish.

The Tina Howell Excellence in Education Scholarships award $250 per semester to Nicholls students from Assumption Parish majoring in education. Qualified students must be a sophomore, junior or senior and must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.

Tina Howell taught for 38 years, with 35 of those years coming in Assumption Parish, before passing away in 2015 at the age of 69. Her husband, Larry Howell, former executive vice president and interim president at Nicholls, honored her by creating a scholarship in her name in 2016. Since then, he’s added two more scholarships and donated $30,000 to make the scholarship endowed.

“Tina taught for so long and was loved by so many people. This is a way to carry on her name,” Howell said. “I know she’s smiling down from heaven knowing her name is helping students further their education.”

For more information, call 448-4048 or visit


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

Geomatics student receives coastal award for drone research

THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls State University student received a top research award from Louisiana Sea Grant for his research using drones to study the coast.

Brennon Dardar, a junior geomatics major from Cut Off, was awarded best undergraduate presentation at the State of the Coast conference in New Orleans earlier this month.

Dardar’s presentation, titled “Evaluation of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems as a Levee Monitoring Tool,” was reviewed by a panel of judges who graded students on their ability to communicate their research.

“We used the unmanned aerial vehicles to study the structural stability of levees, which are so critical to this area. Coming from a localized community here in southeast Louisiana, this was research that I’m passionate about,” Dardar said. “To be recognized for the all of the hard work that I put into doing the study, it means a great deal to me.”

Dardar was awarded a $350 check from the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana as a result.

Established in 1968 as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant Program, the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach.


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

Nicholls campers to perform Disney production

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls State University Office of Continuing Education invites the public to see the African savannah come to life on the Mary and Al Danos Theater stage as the Performing Arts Camp presents Disney’s The Lion King JR.

Seventy up-and-coming singers, actors and dancers between the ages of 7-17 will put on the 60-minute production with shows at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 24.

Directing the cast is Nicholls alumna Amy Good, who has directed plays for seven years and taught piano and voice lessons for nearly two decades.

Campers have worked daily from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. since May 29 on various topics related to theater including lighting, sound, hair, makeup, costumes, improv, comedy, music and much more.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Office of Continuing Education or by calling 448-4444.


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


Nicholls announces new alumni board, officers

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls State University Alumni Federation is pleased to announce the 2017-18 Alumni Federation board of directors and their officers.  

Paula Arcement Rome (BS ’02, MBA ’13) has been elected as president, Archie Chaisson III (BS ‘08) as president-elect, Cody Blanchard (BS ‘10) as vice president of marketing, Kristen Dumas Callais (BS ‘10, MSW ‘11) as vice president of alumni relations, David Heltz (BS ‘84) as treasurer and Sheri Haydel Eschete (BS ‘84) as secretary.

New board members are Dr. Tammy Cheramie (BA ‘90, MEd ‘93), David Ford (BA ‘12, MEd ‘16), Dr. Larry Howell (BS ‘72), Brooke Elizabeth Huddleston (MA ‘99), Lisa Daigle Kliebert (BA ‘06, BA ‘10, MA ‘12, Ed. Cert. ‘14), Shane Michael Kliebert (BS ‘06, MEd ‘14), Deanna Duet Lafont (BA ‘02), Grand Ordoyne (BIS ‘15) and Jennifer Smith (BA ‘09).

New alumni chapter presidents are Margo Badeaux (AS ‘84, BS ‘11, MBA ‘14) for the College of Business Administration alumni, Sara Dempster (BS ‘13, MEd ‘15) for the College of Education alumni and Hillary Charpentier (BS ‘15, MEd ‘17) for the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute alumni.

Electees will take over on July 1.

Nicholls Director of Alumni Affairs Katherine Gianelloni said this year’s election saw the highest participation from alumni ever with 30 candidates for the positions and more than 350 votes cast.

“These alums are fired up; they’ve already reached out with new ideas,” Gianelloni said. “It’s invigorating to see this renewed excitement at Nicholls.”


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

Nicholls receives high marks for online program

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls Online was ranked in the top five of online programs in Louisiana by an online school option resource. ranked online programs by their tuition and fees and academic strength. Nicholls Online came out No. 4 in the state.

“This stellar ranking of our Nicholls Online venue will certainly be attractive to all of our students, current and prospective, by providing more options to those wanting access to a quality education at affordable costs,” said Dr. Sue Westbrook, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This exemplifies what we’ve said all along, and that is Nicholls offers a quality education at low cost. The Nicholls Online venue allows for easy access to an affordable, quality education often desired by working students with families who are more non-traditional.”

The online resource used information made available online including degrees, tuition rates, details about the program coursework and data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Started in 2004, offers free, easy-to-use tools that allow prospective students to find schools based on attributes including degree programs, tuition, student recommendation rate and military benefits.


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

Dyslexia Center to host summer camp on Nicholls campus

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will host a summer camp for students with dyslexia and related learning disorders that aims to prepare students for the upcoming school year with fun activities.

The Louisiana Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disorders is presenting its Creative Scholars Camp from July 17 to July 21 with a couple of options for students starting the upcoming year in fourth through ninth grades, not to exceed age 16. The first option is a day camp and the second an overnight camp. Incoming fourth graders are only eligible for the day camp.

The Creative Scholars Camp aims to provide interesting and effective techniques to improve study skills, reading comprehension, writing and math skills for students with dyslexic characteristics. The program also provides opportunities for socialization and fun activities in the afternoon including a chance to cook at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, a visit from the Colonels Football and Basketball programs and astronomy games with Nicholls professors Drs. Chad and Kaisa Young.

“We push the socialization aspect such as team building and working with other students who have dyslexia,” said Karen Chauvin, dyslexia center director. “Our camp counsellors are all college students in our dyslexia center, so they serve as role models for the kids. Some of the counsellors were campers and came to Nicholls because of our camp.”

The day camp fee is $425 and the hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 17-20 and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The overnight camp fee is $595 and check-in is from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. July 17 and check out is 1 p.m. July 21. Both camps have a non-refundable $40 application fee.

Forms are available at


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

Nicholls professor honored for coastal restoration advocacy


(Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls State University professor was recognized for his contributions to coastal restoration by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

Dr. Gary LaFleur, associate professor of biological sciences and director of The Center for Bayou Studies, received a Coastal Stewardship Award during the organization’s State of the Coast conference on May 31 in New Orleans.

“It was a humbling experience and one that I appreciated. Several of my colleagues, including Dr. Quenton Fontenot, Dr. Allyse Ferrara and Dr. Earl Melancon, have received this award in the past, and I hold their work in high esteem,” said Dr. LaFleur. “It was an honor to have my students at the ceremony with me so that I could share the honor with them.”

For more than two decades, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana has honored individuals and organizations who “demonstrate outstanding commitment to the coast and have made significant contributions to the restoration and conservation of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands.

“Dr. LaFleur is a unique combination of scholar, teacher and advocate. He is able to focus beyond the science to the people and their culture that are affected by it,” the organization said in a news release.

Established in 1988, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is the state’s oldest, statewide nonprofit dedicated to coastal restoration.

“Here at Nicholls, we don’t always have the resources to match our peers, but it’s evident that we’re actively meeting the challenge that coastal erosion presents and we are one of the fundamental leaders in research and education on the coast,” Dr. LaFleur said.


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

Nicholls biology students win top research awards from fisheries meeting

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls biology students brought home numerous awards from the Louisiana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society annual meeting on May 24 in Baton Rouge.

Three Nicholls marine and environmental biology graduate students swept the abstract competition and earned the top oral presentation award. This is the second year in a row that Nicholls students have won the top abstract and oral presentation awards.

A Fredericksburg, Virginia, native, Alexa Rixner received the top award for oral presentation and third-best abstract for her research comparing bowfin diets and reproductive activity in the Barataria Estuary and the Atchafalaya River Basin. Gabrielle Sisson, of Alden, New York, received the top honor for abstracts for her look at the fishery-dependent stock of crawfish in the eastern Atchafalaya River Basin. Alexa Ballinger, of Thibodaux, placed second in the abstract competition for her research on the characteristics of crawfish across two hydrologically different southeastern Louisiana bodies of water.

“Nicholls Marine and Environmental Biology students receive the training to be as, if not more, successful than our peers at larger institutions,” said Dr. Quenton Fontenot, professor and department head of biological sciences.

The American Fisheries Society has more than 8,000 members including fisheries managers, biologists, professors, ecologists, aquaculturists, economists, engineers and geneticists from around the world. The organization’s primary goal is to promote scientific research and the sustainable management of fisheries resources.


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