Nicholls Approves Plans for Greenhouse Renovation Project

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University has been working with Duplantis Design Group on plans to renovate a greenhouse on campus and will begin raising money for the project later this week.

Built in 1959 for $21,000 by boiler and greenhouse manufacturer, Lord & Burnham, the Nicholls State University Greenhouse blossomed under the supervision of former president, Dr. Donald Ayo. The greenhouse was used to grow exotic and local plants used for campus beautification, and the 2-story building included living quarters upstairs for students tending the plants overnight.

The project includes renovating the building into a classroom and kitchen space, adding hydroponic gardens, replacing the upstairs floor, raising the ceiling and adding raised garden beds outside of the greenhouse.

Out of use since 2014, the facility will provide education and research opportunities for multiple programs across campus, including the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, Bridge to Independence and the biology department.

“Not only do I want to restore the Nicholls Greenhouse to its former glory, but I believe we can use the herbs and vegetables that grow from its gardens as a source of revenue and agricultural education for our students, alumni and the Thibodaux community,” said Dr. Jay Clune, Nicholls president.

To kick off fundraising for the project, net proceeds from Dr. Jay Clune’s Investiture Gala will go toward the Nicholls Greenhouse Renovation Project as well as the Bridge to Independence program.


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

Nicholls alumna, New Orleans chef to speak at Nicholls

Chef Allison Richard

THIBODAUX, La. — The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute invites you to learn from a New Orleans chef, try some cajun cooking and tour its facilities as part of the Empowered Women Chefs Series.

Allison Richard (BS ‘07), executive chef at High Hat Cafe in New Orleans, will return to Nicholls for a cooking demo and tasting of the restaurant’s signature dish, BBQ shrimp. Richard will also speak about her experiences at Nicholls, in the industry and give advice to student chefs.

The event, free and open to the public, is set for noon, Wednesday, Oct. 24 at the Ledet Culinary Arts Building.

The Empowered Women Chefs Series is lecture and culinary demonstration series launched in April 2016 focused on encouraging women to pursue successful careers in the male-dominated restaurant industry. The series provides inspiration and guidance for women aspiring to work in the restaurant industry, where only 21 percent of the jobs are held by women. With the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute’s student body at approximately 65 percent female, the series hopes to provide aspiring women chefs with industry role models and with tips for navigating challenges in the industry.

Guest chefs have included Jacqueline Blanchard, owner of Coutelier NOLA; Nina Compton, owner of Compère Lapin; and Holly Goetting, executive chef of Charley G’s; Anne Kearney, owner of Rue Dumaine; and Suzanne Willett, owner of Felicia Suzanne’s.  

Since graduating from the institute, the Raceland native has worked with many well-known chefs over the years such as Chef Frank Brigtsen, Chef Susan Spicer and Chef Jeremy Wolgamott. Richard moved her way up in restaurants in New Orleans before becoming executive chef of High Hat Cafe.


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

Nicholls library to host anniversary exhibit

THIBODAUX, La. — Ellender Memorial Library invites you to walk through time with its newest archival exhibit celebrating the 70th Anniversary of when Nicholls State University opened its doors.

“Nicholls Goes Platinum: 70 years of Nicholls History” features photographs and artifacts from historical moments on Nicholls’ campus. Items on display include a photo of Nicholls first president Dr. Charles Elkins breaking ground on the campus in 1947, the class assignment board former registrar James Powell used to organize classes, the first ticket sold to a Nicholls football game and some of the early textbooks, student IDs, class schedules and diplomas.

“This exhibit will have a compilation of photos, memorabilia and artifacts that tell the story of Nicholls State University over the last 70 years,” said Clifton Theriot, library director. “We have displays dedicated to people, places and things important to Nicholls past, including events, like Western Week; the evolution of our mascot, Col. Tillou; and campus organizations, like ROTC.”

A grand opening of the exhibit will be held following the Nicholls Alumni Jazz Brunch at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23 – the day, 70 years ago, that Francis T. Nicholls Junior College opened.

The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, will be available to view from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, in the archives and special collections department of the library, located on the first floor. The exhibit will be open through December.


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

CPA, State Rep. Stokes to headline Nicholls Bayou Region Business Institute

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Bayou Region Business Institute will feature Louisiana Rep. Julie Stokes giving attendees an update on the state legislature.

The College of Business Administration offers the Institute for CPAs, as it provides 8 continuing professional education hours, but thanks to the topics discussed, the event also attracts participants in other sectors including financial services, law and insurance.

“As a state representative and a CPA, Rep. Julie Stokes brings a unique perspective to the Institute,” Business Administration Dean Dr. Marilyn Macik-Frey said. “She will discuss Louisiana legislative issues, in particular, her role as chair of the Legislative Audit Advisory Council and their work to improve the Louisiana sales tax system.”

Also slated to speak are Alfred Stacy IV, a retired partner at Bourgeois Bennett; Matt Zagotti, director of Tax at Ryan; Kara Altenbaumer-Price, senior vice president for corporate risk and governance at USI Insurance Services; and Michele Avery, director of forensic and valuation services for LaPorte CPAs & Business Advisors.

Other topics include a federal tax update for businesses, Louisiana sales tax overview, executive risk insurance and business valuations.

“We keep close contact with area CPAs through our Accounting Advisory Board to determine topic areas that are of most interest to this group,” Dr. Macik-Frey said. “Nicholls College of Business is proud to offer this educational opportunity to our regional business professionals.”

The institute is set for 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, at the College of Business Administration. The registration fee, which includes breakfast and lunch, is $265.

To register for the event, visit and print out and mail in the brochure. For additional questions, contact accounting administrative coordinator Gina Lagrange at 448-4176 or


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

Soprano singer, teacher to perform at Nicholls

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University invites you to see internationally-renowned soprano singer Jessica Victoria perform at the Mary and Al Danos Theater this Thursday.

Singer Jessica Victoria will be accompanied by Nicholls instructor of music, Dr. Richard Jeric, on piano.

“Jessica Victoria is a singer of high caliber, impeccable vocal technique and an exceptional God-given vocal instrument. The fact she is blind does not hinder her desire, enthusiasm or unique ability to share her vocal message with the world,” said Dr. Valeria Francis, associate professor of music. “Jessica is a marvelous example for our young singers, high school students and the community at-large. It’s my hope that we can host more singers like Jessica here at Nicholls.”

Victoria has performed with the Trujillo Symphony Orchestra, the New Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra and the Mid-Atlantic Orchestra. She has displayed her vocal talents at the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Jordan Hall and King’s Chapel in Boston and in Seren del Grappa, Italy.

Earlier this year, Victoria one of the finalists in the Joy in Singing International Art Song Competition. Victoria was a winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society’s Major Artist Auditions in 2016 and won the University of Toledo’s Art Song Festival Competition in 2013 and the Barry Alexander International Vocal Competition in 2011.

Victoria has also taught as a guest artist at the University of New Mexico, has lectured at the New England Conservatory, the Franciscan University of Steubenville and the University of Notre Dame and has delivered presentations on music and philosophy in Rome.

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.


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

Nicholls honors late scholarship benefactor

Left to right: Chris Riviere, Nicholls Foundation president; Dr. Jay Clune, Nicholls president; and Jeremy Becker, executive director of the Nicholls Foundation. (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Today, Nicholls State University and the Nicholls Foundation revealed a longtime anonymous benefactor of a scholarship that has helped Thibodaux firefighters and their children attend college for the past 20 years.

Maurice Adams first established the Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department Scholarship to help his fellow firefighters or their children pay for college. Adams, who spent more than two decades as a Thibodaux firefighter, passed away in 2016, but he left a substantial sum to the scholarship, allowing Nicholls to give that opportunity to more Thibodaux firefighters.

“He was the guy who, from top to bottom, garnered the respect of everybody,” said Chris Riviere, Nicholls Foundation president. “My friend had the foresight to say thank you to the guys and gals in the Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department, who dedicate their life for no pay to service our city. This scholarship is a wonderful thing and it’s a wonderful tribute.”

Riviere served on the Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department with Adams and acted as his attorney. He described his friend as a quiet man, an avid hunter, fisher and someone who was dedicated to being a firefighter. Adams was named an honorary permanent fire chief.

“Because I have been there with Maurice since day one, I have not only been able to see the good this scholarship has accomplished, but I’ve also been able to see the final product when a young student follows his or her path to a degree and succeeds in life,” Riviere said. “He wanted to be anonymous in his lifetime, but we believe the community needs to know the good he’s done so his light will shine forever.”

Eligible applicants must be graduating high school seniors with a 3.0 GPA who will enroll at Nicholls. They must also be an active member in good standing with the Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department or a dependent child of a member meeting the same criteria. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years, and recipients must maintain a 3.0 GPA.

For more information, visit


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

Former BTNEP Director to kick off alumni lecture series

THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls State University alum and former director of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program will discuss how the regional university has influenced coastal restoration throughout its history as part of the 70th Anniversary alumni lecture series.

Kerry St. Pe (BS ‘73) spent 40 years working in local estuaries, including 17 as the director of BTNEP, before retiring in 2014. His presentation will be titled, “Closest to the Coast: Nicholls Serving the People of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary.”

“From his long career as an environmental steward, Kerry will bring to our students, faculty and community an encyclopedia of experience regarding wetlands and coastal issues,” said Dr. John Doucet, Distinguished Service Professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We’re thrilled that he’s agreed to serve as the first anniversary alumnus speaker of our year of celebration here at Nicholls.”

The discussion will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26 in the Mary and Al Danos Theater. The event is free and open to the public.


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

Nicholls Ameen Art Gallery to explore place through two-artist exhibit

Deb Lillie, professor of art (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University’s Ameen Art Gallery will host a two-artist exhibit exploring what you create to make a home.

The exhibition will feature photographs by Colorado artist Gary Huibregtse and Nicholls associate professor of art Deborah Lillie. The show will also feature mixed media sculptures by Lillie in which photography is worked into found objects and pieces she has made.

“Both of their work is about where your home is, what your home is,” said Ross Jahnke, Nicholls exhibitions coordinator and professor of art. “It is about what you create around you to make a habitat for yourself and what we make around ourselves as a group that makes what we live with as a society.”

The gallery, which will run from Sept. 17 to Oct. 12, is free and open to the public. The Ameen Art Gallery is open between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. An artist’s talk will also take place at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 3, in Talbot 204.

Huibregtse is a professor in the department of art and art history at Colorado State University, where he has been the coordinator of the photo image making program since 1985 and was one of Lillie’s undergraduate professors. His photographic works have been exhibited nationally and are part of several prominent collections, including the Denver Art Museum.

In 1998, Lillie began teaching at Nicholls. She has been highly active in the Society for Photographic Education since 1989 and is a member of the conference planning committee for the 2018 South Central Chapter Conference in Baton Rouge. In 2017, Lillie was recognized by the South Central Chapter of SPE with the organization’s Honored Educator Award.

For more information, contact Jahnke at or 493-2501.


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

Nicholls Culinary Institute invites students to two open houses this fall

THIBODAUX, La. — The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute will host two open houses at the Lanny D. Ledet Building, the first on Friday, Sept. 14, and again on Friday, Nov. 16.

Prospective culinary students will be treated to tours of the 33,000-square-foot state-of-the-art culinary facility, cooking demos, tastings, presentations and meetings with professors, current students and the financial aid office.

On both dates, Executive Chef at Restaurant August in New Orleans Chef Ross Dover (BS ‘14) will teach prospective students with cooking demonstrations at 11 a.m.

Student-led tours run at 10 a.m. and noon.

Located in the heart of Cajun and Creole Country, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University offers an immersive culinary education combined with the full college experience at an affordable price. Nationally recognized faculty prepare students for a wide variety of career paths in the culinary and hospitality industry.  Upon graduation, 96 percent of Culinary Institute graduates land jobs.

Opened in 2015, the Lanny D. Ledet Building features six kitchens, three classrooms and a dedicated student study area and culinary library. It is also the home of the student-operated restaurant, Bistro Ruth, named in honor of New Orleans restaurateur Ruth Fertel, and the Bakery at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

To RSVP for a tour, visit


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

Nicholls panel to debate federal versus state authority

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will host a panel Tuesday examining the constitutionality of the long-time debate over the separation of state and federal powers.

The event, set for noon on Tuesday, Sept. 18 in the Le Bijou Theatre, kicks off Constitution Week on the Nicholls campus. Panelists are former 17th Judicial District Court Judge Jerome J. Barbera III (BS ‘72), Lafourche Parish Indigent District Defender Mark Plaisance (AS ‘82, BS ‘83), social sciences department chair and political science professor Dr. David Whitney and government professor Dr. Rusty Thysell.

“Constitution week is designed to help students realize exactly what the Constitution is designed to do and more importantly, encourages them to think about the principles it protects,” said Whitney. “Part of the mission of any university should be to encourage active citizenship and civic virtue. In order to successfully engage in the political process, it’s important to understand how government works and the design behind it.”

Panelists are expected to discuss the topic before opening the event up to questions.

The discussion is free and open to the public.


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