Nicholls issues Phase I alert, university remains open

THIBODAUX – Classes and all activities at Nicholls State University are currently continuing as scheduled.

With the approach of Potential Tropical Cyclone Three, the Nicholls Emergency Preparedness Committee has initiated a Phase I alert in accordance with the university’s Hurricane Emergency Plan, posted

The Emergency Preparedness Committee will continue to monitor the status of the storm and will take additional action if necessary.

All Nicholls departments will refer to the Hurricane Emergency Plan and begin enacting internal Phase I storm preparations at this time. The community will be notified if Phase II storm preparations are implemented.

Please continue to monitor for updates.


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

Nicholls named Top 10 school for students with dyslexia

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University has been recognized as one of the best values for students with dyslexia. published a list ranking the top 15 four-year public and private universities based upon the cost of attendance and the services offered. Nicholls ranked No. 10 and is the only school from Louisiana on the list.

“Nicholls is a good value to begin with and our students are getting the help they need to be prepared for the real world,” said Karen Chauvin, director of Louisiana Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disorders. “Students from all over the state and the region are choosing to come to Nicholls because they can see the success that our students are having.”

The publication assessed each university based on their assistive technology, academic tutoring, scholarships, tuition and fees, special courses, reading and writing workshops and on-campus writing centers.

Dyslexia, which affects between 3 to 7 percent of the global population, is a disorder that affects an individual’s ability to read, write, spell and pronounce words despite normal intelligence.

The Louisiana Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disorders, housed on Nicholls’ campus, is the only dyslexia-related program in the state. The Center offers teacher training, provides support to Nicholls students who suffer from dyslexia and offers assessments for people of all ages.

In the fall, the program set an enrollment record with 146 students and followed that up with a spring enrollment record of 132 students.

More than one-third of students in the program carry a 3.0 GPA or higher.

To learn more, visit


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

Nicholls receives grant, donation to add recycling bins to campus

Recycle Bins on Campus 2017
(Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University expanded its campus sustainability with the addition of eight new recycling bins.

The new recycling bins have been placed around campus in an effort to make recycling more accessible as part of the Public Space Recycling Bin Grant Program sponsored by Keep America Beautiful and The Coca-Cola Company. Nicholls will receive six recycling bins through the grant, and another two have been purchased by Shell. Student volunteers from the Biology Society, Nicholls chapter of TriBeta National Biological Honor Society and the Green Club will check the bins weekly and record their content.

“We have students here at Nicholls who are very concerned about the environment. Thanks to Keep America Beautiful, Coca-Cola and Shell, we’ll be able to make recycling more available to the campus community,” said Dr. Allyse Ferrara, professor of biological sciences. “We’re hopeful these bins will encourage students to recycle by showing them just how easy it is to do it.”

Bins have been placed near Jazzman’s Cafe, Galliano Hall, Stopher Gymnasium, Ellender Library, Colonel’s Retreat and the Bollinger Memorial Student Union.

Behavioral research has shown that two of the primary barriers that stop people from recycling are the lack of convenient opportunities and confusion about what and how to recycle. This lack of recycling opportunities is reflected in a national survey conducted for Keep America Beautiful in 2013, in which 92 percent of respondents said they recycle at home while only 41 percent indicated that they typically recycle in public spaces.

Grant recipients were chosen by Keep America Beautiful based on their potential to collect the most cans and bottles as well other considerations such as the extent of their need, recycling experience, and their ability to sustain the program in the future.

In total, the Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Public Space Recycling Bin Grant Program will provide 3,522 recycling bins to colleges and universities, along with 996 bins to local governments and nonprofit organizations.

A full list of the 2016 Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Public Space Recycling Bin Grant recipients, as well as Keep America Beautiful’s best practices guide, “Designing Effective Public Space Recycling Programs,” are available at


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

Nicholls announces top grantees for 2016

Top Ten Grantsman Group 2017
(Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La — Nicholls State University announced its top grantees for 2016. The leaders in grantsmanship collectively received more than $1.7 million to study topics such as accelerating recovery from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to creating the Bayou Educational Opportunity Center on campus.

The top 10 grant award winners at Nicholls are: Gina Bergeron, executive director of the Family Service Center, received more than $358,000; Debi Benoit, director of research and sponsored programs, received nearly $263,000; Dr. Sean Graham, assistant professor of biology, received nearly $237,000; Dr. DesLey Plaisance, director of graduate studies, received more than $183,000; Tori Rayne, director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, received $177,500; Dr. Ramaraj Boopathy, distinguished service professor of biological sciences, received nearly $143,000; Dr. Quenton Fontenot, professor of biology, received more than $106,000; Dr. Enmin Zou, department head of biology, received more than $88,400; Dr. Aaron Pierce, assistant professor of biology, received $77,100; and Dr. Shane Anderson, department head of music, received more than $72,000.

Nicholls professors receive Board of Regents grants

Top Research Faculty 2017
(Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University professors received more than $280,000 in grants from the Louisiana Board of Regents.

Dr. Sean Graham, assistant biology professor, received over $99,000 to study the effects of nutrients on coastal wetlands over the course of decades. Dr. Matthew Gamel, assistant math professor, received $85,000 to enhance the sophomore mathematics experience. Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur, assistant education professor, received nearly $40,000 to study how technology can be used in K-12 classrooms. Dr. Aaron Pierce, associate biology professor, received $36,000 to study how to improve biology graduate student recruitment. Dr. Uttam Pokharel, assistant chemistry professor, received nearly $20,000 to study organometallic polyacenes for organic optoelectronic applications.

The grants were funded by the Louisiana Education Quality Support Fund. Established in 1986 to improve the caliber of education in the state, the LEQSF has since provided more than $1.5 billion in educational enhancements and opportunities for Louisiana students ranging from K-12 to higher education.


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

Nicholls awards 672 degrees at 100th commencement

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University awarded 672 degrees to students during its commencement ceremony on Saturday, May, 13.

Five students received the President’s Medal of Honor for graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Those students include Jon Dugas, history; Geoffrey Hebert, finance and accounting; Katie Granier, psychology; Trey Becnel, biology – pre-physical therapy; and Macy Gaubert, birth-to-5 early intervention, special education.

Nicholls Concert Choir and Chamber Singers to celebrate Broadway, movie classics at spring concert

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls State University Concert Choir and Chamber Singers will pay homage to the golden age of Broadway and the silver screen in a joint concert at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2, in the Mary and Al Danos Theater in Talbot Hall.

Titled “A Grand Night for Singing” the concert features songs from Broadway hits The Sound of Music, West Side Story, Oklahoma, Les Miserables and Porgy Bess. Movie medleys are pulled from Singin’ in the Rain, Puttin’ on the Ritz, Good Morning Vietnam, Shrek and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Nicholls Professor of Music, Dr. Kenneth Klaus, will conduct with the assistance of two student conductors, Kristen Roberts, a junior vocal music education major from Schriever, and James Rodrigue, a junior vocal music education major from Houma.

The concert is free and open to the public.


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

Nicholls athletics receives substantial donation for facilities improvement

THIBODAUX, La. — Tommy Meyer, a longtime supporter of Nicholls State University and its athletics programs, has made a generous pledge that will enhance several Colonel athletic facilities.

“I cannot begin to overstate the importance of Tommy’s transformative gift and its positive impact on our department as we strive to provide a model student-athlete experience. The facilities in which our young men and women practice and compete are vital to this effort,” said Matt Roan, Nicholls Director of Athletics.

“We are humbled by Tommy’s ongoing leadership and generosity, and I am honored to call him a friend,” Roan added. “It is our hope Tommy’s gift will serve as a catalyst as we pursue various forms of support and creative partnerships to enhance the facilities of all of our 14 programs.”

A special dedication for Meyer and his family will take place at Didier Field on Sunday, May 7 prior to the baseball game against Stephen F. Austin. Game time is scheduled for 1 pm.

“Nicholls State University is an integral part of our community — a community I am blessed to be a part of,” Meyer said. “Helping upgrade facilities and impact programs is a way of supporting the overall health of the University. Generally, I am thrilled to be able to support Nicholls Athletics in this way and hope others will step up and support the upward trajectory of Nicholls Athletics. Personally, I am grateful to be able to honor my brother’s memory in this way. Ben was a Nicholls student who lost his life prematurely, but his legacy will live on through our tremendous student-athletes.”

A Thibodaux resident, Meyer is a private wealth advisor with Meyer Financial Group of Ameriprise Financial. In addition to his support of Nicholls Athletics, he is active in local youth sports and is the founder of the Acadia Music Fest. In January 2017, Meyer was named the Frank Kennedy Citizen of the Year by the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce. He is the father of Jack and Ana.

Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said: “Tommy’s generosity is truly remarkable, and this pledge reflects his ongoing commitment to investing in Nicholls. A gift of this magnitude will elevate the Nicholls experience for student-athletes and Colonel fans for years to come.”


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

Local environmentalist to serve as keynote speaker at Nicholls 100th commencement

Photo submitted by Jonathan Foret

THIBODAUX, La. — Environmental advocate and educator Jonathan Foret will serve as the keynote speaker during the 100th commencement ceremony at Nicholls State University.

Nicholls will award more than 650 degrees during the annual ceremony held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 13, in John L. Guidry Stadium.

A Nicholls alum, Foret grew up in Chauvin working on a shrimp boat and speaking Cajun French. After graduating from Nicholls in 2001, Foret taught English in Houma and Brooklyn.

Foret then joined the Peace Corps and served in the Kingdom of Tonga for two years as a community development coordinator where he taught the native Tongans English as a second language and how to use a cast net.

After a brief stop back in the United States to work with several nonprofits, Foret moved to Bangladesh to work with disabled individuals and later with the United Nations all across Asia.

He returned to his native Louisiana and received his master’s in public administration from the University of New Orleans. He spent a year as the grants and program administrator with the Louisiana State Museum before coming home to serve as the executive director of the Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center in Houma. Among Foret’s many achievements with the center, he created the Rougarou Fest, a family-friendly festival that celebrates bayou folklore each year around Halloween. The festival was ranked as one of the Top 10 Costume Parties in the country by USA Today, a Top 20 Event in the month of October by the Southeast Tourism Society and Best New Event in the state by the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals.

In the event of bad weather, commencement will be moved to Stopher Gymnasium and split into three ceremonies: the College of Education and College of Business Administration at 9 a.m., the College of Arts and Sciences at noon and the College of Nursing and Allied Health at 3 p.m. Tickets will be required only if the ceremonies are relocated to the gym.


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

Nicholls, SOWELA sign culinary program partnership

Nicholls State University President Dr. Bruce Murphy and SOWELA Technical Community College Chancellor Neil Aspinwall sign an articulation agreement Monday in the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Ars Building. Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University and SOWELA Technical Community College signed an articulation agreement Monday that will make it easier for SOWELA students who have earned their culinary associate degree to transfer into the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy and SOWELA Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall commemorated the agreement during a joint signing held in the President’s Dining Room in the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building. By signing the agreement, both schools have increased access for students from across the state to further their education.

“We’re proud to partner with a well-respected higher education institution like SOWELA. This partnership will play a role in creating opportunities for students that may not have considered attending Nicholls until now,” Murphy said. “A key part of our strategy right now is to keep branching out, keep going further and further and spreading the word about the kind of education that we offer here at Nicholls.”

“The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute has a tremendous reputation, and we’re always excited to be able to give our students additional opportunities when they graduate,” Aspinwall said. “This agreement will help our students transition to a more advanced degree, which will, in turn, provide them even greater opportunities.”

The agreement increases and sets in stone the culinary classes that will transfer over to Nicholls, making it easier for graduates from the SOWELA culinary arts associate degree program to transfer into the Nicholls culinary arts bachelor’s degree program.

Prior to the signing, members of the SOWELA administration and culinary staff were given a tour of the 33,000-square foot, state-of-the-art Ledet Building, which opened in 2015.

For more information on the Nicholls culinary arts program,


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