Nicholls announces partnership with Bayou Lafourche Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University and the Bayou Lafourche Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau have announced a partnership aimed at increasing tourism across the parish.

The agreement pairs Nicholls with the parish’s leading tourism authority to promote campus events and programs that draw significant people to the region such as Nicholls athletic competitions, freshman orientations, commencements and summer camps.

“Lafourche Parish is home to one of the most enjoyable and unique cultures in Louisiana, and Nicholls is proud to be a part of that,” Dr. Bruce Murphy, university president, said. “Our vision is to be the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Bayou Region, and thanks to our new partnership with the Bayou Lafourche Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Nicholls looks forward to hosting even more events and programs that attract new faces to the region.”

The first of the bureau’s upcoming two headlining events is The Mardi Gras Invitational: Beads and Baseball on the Bayou. Held Feb. 23-26 at Didier Field, the six-team invitational will bring in players and fans from teams across Louisiana and New York.

The bureau will also sponsor the Welcome Reception for the Manning Passing Academy. Scheduled for June 22-25, the Manning Passing Academy annually brings more than 1,200 campers and their families from across the globe and has an estimated impact of more than $4.5 million on the local economy.

“A lot of our visitors and tourists come to Lafourche Parish because of Nicholls. That makes this a perfect partnership,” said Marguerite Knight, chairman of the bureau’s board of directors. “We’re really excited to get started with the Mardi Gras Invitational and to see our partnership grow.”

Nicholls generates an estimated $275 million annual economic impact, more than 3,000 direct jobs and more than 10,000 voters.

“Our research has shown that Nicholls plays an important role in the Lafourche Parish economy and to tourism,” said Timothy Bush, the bureau’s executive director. “Partnering with Nicholls allows us to work together to help bring visitors to our community and expand on our economic impact.


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

More undergraduates enrolling at Nicholls

THIBODAUX, La. — Undergraduate enrollment at Nicholls State University increased 2 percent this spring, with Nicholls enrolling 5,195 undergraduates, compared to 5,098 a year ago.

Overall enrollment, including undergraduate and graduate students, rose slightly to 5,763 students, up nine from spring 2015, according to 14th class day statistics. This marks the third consecutive semester that Nicholls has had an enrollment increase.

“This continued trend of enrollment growth and high retention rates during challenging times proves that Nicholls is providing a high-quality education at an affordable price,” Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy said. “Looking ahead to the fall, we’re receiving greater interest in Nicholls than we’ve seen in recent years with increased applications and more students accepting scholarship offers to become a Colonel. Thanks to the efforts of our dedicated faculty and staff, we’re well on our way toward reaching our goal of 8,000 students.”

Changes to freshman-level math and English courses continue to pay off as Nicholls posted an 87 percent freshman retention rate one year after setting a record-high rate last spring.

Nursing and biology, Nicholls’ most popular degree programs, saw the largest increases among programs this semester. Nursing enrollment increased by 8 percent, up to 736 to 684, while biology increased by 12 percent, with 394 students, compared to 351 a year ago.


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

New Orleans jazz musician to perform at Nicholls

THIBODAUX, La. — Renowned New Orleans jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr. will perform on campus Thursday as part of Nicholls State University’s celebration of African-American History Month.

Free and open to the public, the event will begin at 7 p.m. in the renovated Mary and Al Danos Theater in Talbot Hall.

The 82-year-old Marsalis, regarded by many as the premier modern jazz pianist, has been playing jazz for more than 50 years. He has played and recorded with other well-known jazz musicians, including Cannonball Adderley, Nat Adderley, Eddie Harris, Al Hirt, Fathead Newman, Courtney Pine and Marcus Roberts.

Though he has released nearly 20 studio albums, Marsalis has devoted much of his time to education. He has taught at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the University of New Orleans and Xavier University. Some of his students include Terence Blanchard; Harry Connick Jr.; Nicholas Payton; and four of his sons, Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason.

In 2007, Marsalis received an honorary doctorate from Tulane, and in 2008 he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

For more information on the Nicholls African-American History Month celebration and a full list of events, visit


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

Nicholls receives LDOE grant to continue Believe and Prepare

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will receive $65,000 from the Louisiana Department of Education to continue the Believe and Prepare initiative aimed at producing highly-trained educators better prepared to teach when they leave college.

In an effort to alleviate statewide staffing shortages and issues with teacher retention, the program connects universities with local school districts and places senior education majors in local partner school districts for a full academic year so they can learn alongside an experienced teacher. Nicholls has participated every year since the program started in 2014.

The residency is paired with coursework at the university aimed at providing prospective teachers with the skills to be ready for their first day of teaching when they graduate. Currently in its third year as a pilot program, Believe and Prepare will be implemented statewide in 2018-2019.

Nicholls, which has a long history of collaborating with local school districts, has seven candidates working in Lafourche and one in Terrebonne. That total number is projected to nearly quadruple next year.

“While the Nicholls College of Education has always prepared high-quality teachers, this program provides our candidates with a higher level of preparation with more intensity in the field,” said Dr. Leslie Jones, dean of the College of Education at Nicholls.”It’s that collaboration with the districts and real-life experience that take this program to a different level.”


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

Nicholls to celebrate African-American History Month

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will celebrate African-American History Month with special public programs including concerts, film screenings, book talks and other presentations that span the month of February.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Cleveland Hill, will kick off the month-long series at 9:40 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1 with a town hall discussing “The Crisis in Education,” this year’s national theme. Hill was the first African-American student-athlete at Nicholls and later became the dean of the College of Education at his alma mater, retiring in 2006.  The event will be held LeBijou Theater in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union and is free and open to the public.

Throughout the month, other notable campus guests will include John DeSantis, a local author and journalist who will discuss his recently published book, “The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike”; Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley, an award-winning spoken word poet; Ellis L. Marsalis, a renowned New Orleans jazz pianist; and Clarence Becknell, Zulu historian.

This year’s program will close with a presentation by the Nicholls NAACP Chapter Black History Program, which will recognize and celebrate the accomplishments, heritage and culture of African-Americans through monologues, poetry and musical performances.

For a full list of events, visit


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

Nicholls announces 2017 African-American History Month events

This year’s events are inspired by the national African-American History Month theme: The Crisis in Black Education. All events are FREE and open to the public unless otherwise noted


“I, too, am America” Display
Ellender Memorial Library, First Floor Display Cases
The “I, too, am America” display showcases the numerous contributions African-American scholars have made to education and scholarly endeavors including literature, music, science, medicine, history, art and beyond.

African-American Spotlights
At men’s and women’s basketball games in February
Video spotlights of Nicholls African-Americans athletes will be show on the video board during basketball games, posted on Nicholls Athletics social media outlets and, and aired during the Nicholls athletics show on WHNO.


Opening Keynote: A Town Hall Discussion with Dr. Cleveland Hill: The Crisis in Education
9:40 a.m., LeBijou Theater, Bollinger Memorial Student Union
A visible member of the Nicholls and Thibodaux communities, Dr. Cleveland Hill will host a town hall discussion to kick off the 2017 African-American History Month celebration. In 1968, Hill, a freshman from Moss Point, Mississippi, became the first African-American student-athlete at Nicholls. He finished his playing career in 1972 as the all-time leading scorer with 1,607 points and the all-time leader in rebounds with 1,174. After earning his degree and serving in the military, Hill returned to Nicholls first as an assistant basketball coach then as an education professor, retiring in 2006 as dean of the Nicholls College of Education. Refreshments will be provided by the Student Union.

African-American Themed Cuisine: Shrimp and Okra Gumbo by culinary student Teanna Sandifer
10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., Galliano Dining Hall • $7.41 plus tax for guests without a meal plan
Known as one of Louisiana’s most popular dishes, “gumbo” derives from the West African word for okra, the main ingredient. Teanna Sandifer, Nicholls culinary arts senior from Bogue Chitto, Mississippi, will be the guest chef for the African-American themed dish.


SPA Screening of “Hotel Rwanda”
6 p.m., LeBijou Theater, Bollinger Memorial Student Union
The Nicholls Student Programming Association will host a free screening of “Hotel Rwanda” (2004), the story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda. Hotel Rwanda has two resonant themes: that one man can make a difference, and more importantly, that we are all our brother’s keeper. Popcorn will be provided.


Discussion of “The Thibodaux Massacre” with Author John DeSantis
6:30 p.m., LeBijou Theater, Bollinger Memorial Student Union
Author and award-winning journalist John DeSantis will discuss his recently published true-crime book “The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike” (2016). Refreshments will be served. Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase autographed copies of the book at the event.


African-American Themed Cuisine: Hoppin’ John Stew by culinary student Josh Dimattia
10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., Galliano Dining Hall • $7.41 plus tax for guests without a meal plan
A humble dish of black-eyed peas and rice, Hoppin’ John Stew is a New Year’s menu tradition seen by some as a good luck ritual. The dish appears to have originated from slaves in the Low Country of South Carolina. Josh Dimattia, Nicholls culinary arts senior from Independence, Louisiana, will be the guest chef for the African-American themed dish.

RELATE to Education featuring Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley
7:30 p.m., Danos Theater, Talbot Hall
RELATE to Education is an open-mic event where participants share ideas based on a theme through poetry, storytelling, musical/vocal performance and dance. Hosted by students from the university’s Spoken Word Poetry course, question and answer is held between the performer and audience. Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley, a spoken word artist from Alexandria, Louisiana, and Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam Champion (2016), is the featured performer. Refreshments will be served.


Ellis L. Marsalis Jazz Performance
7 p.m., Danos Theater, Talbot Hall
Regarded by many as the premier modern jazz pianist in New Orleans, Ellis Marsalis has had an impressive career not only as a performer and composer but also as a leading music educator at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the University of New Orleans and Xavier University. His former students include the likes of Harry Connick Jr., Terence Blanchard and four of his six sons (including Brandford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis) among others.


History of Zulu Presentation
10 a.m., Carnival Room, Bollinger Memorial Student Union
Zulu historian Clarence Becknell will discuss the origins of the organization that has become internationally known for its rich traditions including its most sought-after Mardi Gras throw: the Zulu coconut.

Nicholls Department of Music’s 7th Annual A Festival of the Negro Spiritual Concert Series
7:30 p.m., Danos Theater, Talbot Hall • $5 entry fee
The Nicholls Department of Music will host A Festival of the Negro Spiritual Concert Series featuring historical songs once sung by slaves and plantation workers. The music event will feature distinguished guest artists, faculty and students from universities across several states as well as community members. Admission will be $5.


Town Gown Worship Service
7:30 a.m., Morning Star Baptist Church, 101 Brule Guillot Road, Thibodaux
Rev. Larry Frank Sr., pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church, will host a Town Gown Worship Service.


NAACP’s Kings and Queens Expo
Noon, Front of Bollinger Memorial Student Union
The Nicholls NAACP chapter will present a visual showcase of the past African Kings and Queens who were influential to African-American culture.


How is Your Heart, Sweetie? Glucose and Blood Sugar Testing by the Nicholls Nursing Department
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Lobby of Bollinger Memorial Student Union
Nicholls nursing students and faculty will provide free screenings for elevated blood pressures and glucose levels.

“One Room School House: The State of the African-American” Presentations
9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Multipurpose Room (third floor), Ellender Memorial Library
A multidisciplinary group of Nicholls faculty and community members will expand and extend the conversation on the national African-American History Month theme, “The Crisis in Black Education,” through a series of presentations:

  • 9 to 10 a.m. – “The Man Comes Home: Elements of the Russian Pastoral in the Works of Ernest Gaines,” Dr. Lance LaPlante, Visiting Assistant Professor of English – The presentation will examine the influence of writers such as Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky on the neo-pastoral elements in Ernest Gaines’ fiction and reinforced by the writings of the neo-agrarian philosophers Wendell Berry and Leo Marx.  This discussion will examine the African-American experience as reflected in the Russian peasant’s relationship to the land and love of place, usually in spite of the group’s negative relationship with and oppression by the established authorities, and how this relationship is the foundation of all of Gaines’ major works.
  • 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. – “Positive Youth Development Programs and Education,” Anika Keyes Fair, Nicholls Graduate and Community Activist — The founder/executive Director of Leaders of Our Communities will lead a discussion on how the lack of youth development programs and activities in the community can have an effect on education.
  • Noon to 1 p.m. – “Plantation Campus: Memorials to White Supremacy at Nicholls State University,” Dr. Shana Walton, Associate Professor of English, and Farren Clark, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication – This is a short, virtual tour of Nicholls State University, exploring historical naming practices across the campus. We will look at the history of Lafourche Parish plantations and the extent of enslavement, as well as how the slave economy persisted after the Civil War, including the history of lynchings. Our tour will include a look at the plantation whose land became the site for the university. The tour travels across the university to see how the campus became a memorial to plantation and slave culture including the state choosing to name the university itself, buildings and streets after plantation owners, slave traders, Confederate officers and plantations on Bayou Lafourche and the Mississippi River.
  • 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. – “What You May or May Not Know of the Segregated History of Education,” Jennifer Williams Anselmi, Instructor of History
  • 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. – “Health, A Public Concern,” Kayla Guerrero, Nicholls Graduate, Public Health Emergency Response Coordinator for Office of Public Health Region 3
  • 4 to 5 p.m. – “How to Become an Informed Citizen: Maneuvering Through Rules and Regulations,” Thibodaux City Councilwoman Constance Johnson
  • 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. – “Knowing Your Rights with the Police and Law Enforcement Lessons on Citizen Feelings,” Garyland Wallis, Attorney at Law for Wallis Law Firm and Terrebonne Parish Public Defender — Today’s conflicts between police and citizens are being played out in the national media. The interaction between the two is usually due to an imbalance in power; one side suggesting violations in another’s conduct and the other side either protesting that alleged label or feeling verbally assaulted by the show of authoritative tones by the uniformed law enforcer. A better understanding of what rights citizens do have when it concerns the police could possibly be one aide in balancing the power between the two. This conversation is one that gives aide in giving people back some of their power when confronted by the police and instructs the police on what citizens may be wary about when the two confront.


African-American Themed Cuisine: Yassa Chicken by culinary student Tira Griffin
10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., Galliano Dining Hall • $7.41 plus tax for guests without a meal plan
One of the most famous African recipes, Yassa Chicken is a traditional dish from Senegal that’s infused with multiple layers of flavor developed from marinating the chicken in an onion sauce. Tira Griffin, Nicholls culinary arts junior from Houma, Louisiana, will be the guest chef for the African-American themed dish.

Sojourner Truth Cantata
6 p.m., Danos Theater, Talbot Hall
Nicholls faculty members Dr. Valerie Francis, Dr. Michael Bartnick, Dr. Matthew Swihart, Dr. Jason Ladd and Dr. Shane Anderson will share the stories of freedom fighter Sojourner Truth in song and drama.

“A Spiritual Journey” by Pastor David Rhodes
6:30 p.m., Danos Theater, Talbot Hall
Pastor David Rhodes will lead an evening service.


SGA’s River Road Museum Tour
Noon to 4 p.m., River Road African-American Museum, 406 St. Charles Street, Donaldsonville • Open to Nicholls students only. Students must sign up in the SGA Office by Feb. 10.
The Nicholls Student Government Association will sponsor a free bus trip for students to tour the River Road African-American Museum, a premier facility focusing on the history and heritage of African-Americans along the Mississippi River. The bus will depart from the front of the Student Union at noon and return to campus at 4 p.m. To reserve your spot, call 985.448.4557, visit the SGA Office or email


Creative Writing Reading Series Presents African-American Voices: A Celebration of African-American History Month
6 p.m., Colonels Retreat, Bollinger Memorial Student Union
The Creative Writing Reading Series, organized by the Nicholls Department of Languages and Literature, invites students and faculty to read works pertaining to the theme. An open mic will follow the readings.


African-American Themed Cuisine: Boeuf aux Mangues Sauvages by Sodexo chef Norman Hunt
10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., Galliano Dining Hall • $7.41 plus tax for guests without a meal plan
This traditional Central African dish of beef in Ogbono sauce uses wild mango kernels to thicken the tasty stew. Norman Hunt, executive chef at Nicholls Dining Services, will be the lead chef for the African-American themed dish.

NAACP Black History Program
6 p.m., Peltier Auditorium
The Nicholls NAACP chapter will recognize and celebrate the accomplishments, heritage and culture of African-Americans through monologues, poetry and musical performances.


Nicholls awarded federal grant to help preserve archives

Ellender Memorial Library

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will receive a $6,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to benefit the Archives and Special Collections section in the Ellender Memorial Library.

On Wednesday, NEH announced $16.3 million in funding for 290 projects across 43 states; Washington D.C.; and Puerto Rico.

Nicholls received a Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions, which will help the university preserve and care for special collections likes books and journals, archives and manuscripts, prints and photographs, moving images and other records.

“These preservation activities support our mission of community service by helping preserve the unique and significant resources in our collection for use by students, faculty and the general public,” said Helen Thomas, assistant archivist. “The project will include a special emphasis on preserving materials in the Senator Allen J. Ellender Papers, which we consider the cornerstone of our special collections. We are grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for their support in our efforts to enable the long-term preservation and accessibility of our valuable resources.”


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


Upon reaccreditation, Nicholls launches into Student Advising and Mentoring Program


Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University
Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University’s accreditation was renewed for another 10 years by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges during their annual board meeting in Atlanta on Dec. 5. For the next decade, Nicholls will focus on carrying out its new Student Advising and Mentoring (SAM) Plan, which will empower students to work closely with faculty mentors for guidance in selecting a career path, becoming fully engaged on campus, graduating on time and ultimately securing a job upon graduation.

“Reaccreditation is critically important to the future of Nicholls and verifies the incredible quality of our academic programs and overall educational experience,” said Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy, who was elected to serve as a representative on the SACS Board of Trustees during the meeting. “To be reaffirmed for 10 years with no findings is rare among colleges. I am proud of everyone on campus who worked tirelessly to help Nicholls reach this achievement, and I look forward to our future accomplishments as we intensely focus on improving student success through advising and mentoring.”

Through the Student Advising and Mentoring program, faculty will be trained to have a larger and more meaningful role in advising by assisting students in aligning their career goals and interests with the right academic programs and extracurricular opportunities. In addition to ensuring that students are properly enrolling in courses, advisers will help students identify internships, undergraduate research opportunities, study abroad trips and on- and off-campus organizations that reflect their own personal and professional interests.

“We want our advisers to do more than just schedule classes,” said Dr. Lynn Gillette, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Through this program, our advisers will become proactive in identifying the opportunities and resources that each student needs for success beyond graduation. As a result, this program will continue to help Nicholls improve its student retention, graduation and job placement rates. The more that we can connect with our students, the better we are able to help them in making the best choice for their future.”

Earlier this year, Nicholls hired Dr. Liz Frederick as the SAM program director. Frederick previously served as program director, academic adviser and field experience coordinator for the University of Houston’s College of Education. Prior to that, she was Houston’s assistant dean of students.


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

Harvard innovator to speak at Nicholls Fall Commencement


Photo courtesy of Beth Kelley of Beth Kelley Photography
Photo courtesy of Beth Kelley of Beth Kelley Photography

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will award more than 650 degrees during its annual fall commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, in John L. Guidry Stadium.

Harvard Professor Dr. Kevin Kit Parker will serve as the keynote speaker.

A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, Parker is the Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics in the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard.

Parker joined the U.S. Army as a paratrooper in 1992 and, following the Sept. 11 attacks, served two tours in Afghanistan. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal with V device, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his service. He also conducted additional missions as part of the Gray Team, a special inspection unit charged with treating traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, he has conducted unorthodox research including designing camouflage using cuttlefish skin cells and using a cotton candy machine to make dressing for wounds. Earlier this year, the Disease Biophysics Group, led by Parker, created a tissue-engineered soft-robotic ray that swims using wave-like fin motions and turns according to externally applied light cues.

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 professors to discuss the history of the Star of Bethlehem

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University physical science professors, Dr. Chadwick Young and Dr. Kaisa Young, will explore the origin of the Star of Bethlehem in a presentation at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, in the Plantation Suite in the Student Union.

Also known as the Christmas Star, the Star of Bethlehem signaled the birth of Jesus and led the three wise men to Bethlehem, according to the nativity story.

Titled “O Star of Wonder: The Astronomy, History and Mystery of the Star of Bethlehem,” the Youngs’ presentation will offer insight into the genesis of the star while also surveying its significance on Christianity.

The event is free and open to the public.


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