Roan named Nicholls athletic director

K. Matthew Roan has been named the Nicholls State University athletic director.
K. Matthew Roan has been named the Nicholls State University athletic director.

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University has named K. Matthew Roan as its next athletic director, pending approval from the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. He will be introduced at a press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Harold J. Callais Memorial Recreation Center; the public is invited to attend.

Roan, who currently serves as deputy director of athletics at Eastern Kentucky University, will start Nov. 15, replacing long-time athletic director Rob Bernardi who resigned in July. Head women’s basketball coach and senior woman administrator DoBee Plaisance has held the interim athletic director position since mid-July.

“From a highly qualified candidate pool, Matt stood out to me and the search committee for his extensive experience with strategic planning and budget management as well as his excellent communication skills,” Nicholls President Bruce Murphy said. “We are excited to welcome Matt to Nicholls and look forward to him leading the Colonel athletic program to new heights.”

A former team captain on the Southern Utah University football team, Roan assisted with football operations at the University of Kentucky while working on his law degree which he obtained from UK’s College of Law in 2012. He was then named deputy director of athletics at Southern Utah University before joining Eastern Kentucky in 2013.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 11, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator,  985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

Nicholls Players to perform Shakespeare classic in newly renovated Danos Theater

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Players will perform William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” next week as their first production in the newly renovated Mary and Al Danos Theater.

One of Shakespeare’s most notable works, the comedy portrays the events surrounding the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, including the adventures of four young lovers and a group of six amateur actors, who are manipulated by a group of fairies who inhabit the forest in which the play is set.

“The Nicholls Players are very excited and humbled to be the first full performance in the newly renovated Mary and Al Danos Theater,” said Anna Broussard, director of the Nicholls Players. “What’s ironic is that I produced a children’s version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for the Nicholls Performing Arts Camp in July of 2014. The day of our first rehearsal, Mr. Al Danos just happened to be touring the old theater, and stopped in to say hi. Now we are opening the Mary and Al Danos Theater with the full Shakespearean version, in perfect serendipity.”

Cast and crew of the Nicholls Players is made up of Nicholls students from various and some community members.

Tickets are $10 or $5 for students who present their Colonel Cards.

Showings will run at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, through Saturday, Oct. 15, with a 2 p.m. showing on Sunday, Oct. 16.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 10, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

Nicholls brings back A+ Scholar Extravaganza to raise money for scholarships

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will host the 2016 Nicholls Sponsor A+ Scholar Wine and Food Tasting Extravaganza from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12 in the Cotillion Ballroom to raise money for student scholarships.

A Nicholls tradition for almost two decades, Sponsor A+ Scholar Wine and Food Tasting Extravaganza raises money to help the university attract and support new students.

Tickets cost $50 for a single, $75 for a couple and $500 for a corporate package.

Guests will be treated to food and wine samples donated by more than a dozen area restaurateurs and beverage providers.

This year’s headline sponsors are Mark Plaisance, Attorney at Law, and Dr. DesLey Plaisance, director of graduate studies at Nicholls.

One of the most popular fundraisers averaging about 700 attendees each year, the gala has raised more than $300,000 toward student scholarships.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 5, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

New Orleans legend to speak in final Empowered Women Chefs Series demonstration

Susan Spicer
Susan Spicer

THIBODAUX, La. — The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University will continue its Empowered Women Chefs Series with New Orleans culinary legend Susan Spicer at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 7, in the Ledet Culinary Arts Building.

Launched in April, the Empowered Women Chefs Series is a new lecture and culinary demonstration series focused on encouraging women to pursue successful careers in the male-dominated restaurant industry. Funded by the Carl Perkins Non-Traditional Occupations Grant, the seven-part series provides inspiration and guidance for females 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; Holly Goetting, executive chef of Charley G’s; Anne Kearney, owner of Rue Dumaine; Suzanne Willett, owner of Felicia Suzanne’s; and Meg Bickford, executive chef at Café Adelaide in New Orleans.

This week’s guest is Susan Spicer, owner and chef of Bayona, Mondo and Wild Flour Breads in New Orleans. The Key West native, who also opened Bistro at Maison de Ville in 1986, received a James Beard Award in 1993, appeared on the finale of Top Chef in 2009, was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America in 2010 and into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012.

Spicer will demonstrate how to make sweetbreads in two different styles: one sauteed with lemon caper butter and the other grilled en brochette with shallots, mushrooms and tomato, garlic, herb vinaigrette.

Seating is limited, so please reserve your spot at https://www.nicholls.edu/culinary/women-chefs.

NOTE: If you would like to cover the event, please let me know, and I’ll take care of your reservation.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 4, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

Danos Foundation pledges $1 million to Nicholls

Mary & Al Danos Theater Grand Re-Opening 2016 (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University) 9/27/16
Mary & Al Danos Theater Grand Re-Opening 2016 (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)
9/27/16

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University announced a $1 million donation from the Mary and Al Danos Family Foundation to support the newly renovated Danos Theater and the academic programs that benefit from it.

The last wishes of the Mary and Al, the theater’s benefactors and longtime supporters, the donation will be drawn out over four years.

“A generous donation of this size means we’ll be able to continue to provide to the community exactly what Mary and Al Danos had envisioned,” said Nicholls President Bruce Murphy.

The four Danos children – Rene, Alyce, Andre and Marcel – presented the check during the grand reopening of the 5,500-square-foot, 240-seat theater, named in honor of their parents, and Talbot Hall. Nicholls students and faculty were featured during the event, titled an Opening Night Showcase of the Arts, with performances by the Nicholls Concert Choir, Jazz Band and Nicholls Players.

“Our dad always had everything planned and prepared. Even in his passing, he wanted to make sure this theater was taken care of. Our parents would be really proud of this,” the Danos family said. “This will forever be a special place in our hearts to remember everything they’ve done. We can’t thank Nicholls, Sen. Chabert and the community enough.”

A Larose businessman and leader on the Nicholls Foundation board, Al Danos initiated interest in the project by helping fundraise $1.5 million for the renovation of the theater, which first opened in 1971. State Senator and Nicholls alum Norby Chabert helped secure the remaining funds through the state and the project expanded to include the 73,000-square-foot facility.

“If there’s one thing Al and Mary had an appreciation for, it’s the performing arts,” Chabert said.  “I join them and their family, for thanking the Nicholls community for making this possible.”

Renovations feature structural and technological enhancements including new seating, curtains, flooring and state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment. In addition, the campus TV studio, KNSU radio station and two Talbot Hall classrooms received technological upgrades to enhance student learning. Those upgrades will allow the university to broadcast athletic events through ESPN3 starting in the spring.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 28, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

TaWaSi donates $20,000 to Nicholls

 

TaWaSi Donation 2016 (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University) 9/19/16
TaWaSi Donation 2016 (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)
9/19/16

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls State University Foundation has received a $20,000 donation from the local chapter of TaWaSi to create an endowed scholarship in culinary arts at Nicholls.

“The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and the graduates they produce are so important to the region,” said Cathy Stack, TaWaSi director. “By making this donation, we hope to inspire future chefs, help promote the program and show our support for Nicholls.”

Full-time students enrolled in the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and working at Bistro Ruth can apply to receive the $500 per semester scholarship. Preference will be given to students from Lafourche Parish, those who demonstrate a financial need and those working a part-time job.  

“This generous donation will make an impact on our program and students,” said Chef John Kozar, the program’s department head. “A scholarship like this, $500 per semester, that makes all the difference in the world to students as they finish up their degree.”

Raised through their annual antique show, the ladies’ club has provided grants to surrounding schools, food banks and other programs that make a positive impact on the local community.

This is the second endowed scholarship the group has created at Nicholls. In 2003, they started a $50,000 endowed scholarship for Thibodaux students.

Named in honor of New Orleans restaurateur Ruth Fertel, the completely student-run Bistro Ruth allows advanced culinary students to create and execute a menu, greet and service customers, and perfect their skills in a restaurant setting. The Bistro kicks off on Oct. 4. To reserve your seat call (985) 493-2700 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 22, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator,  985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

Nicholls to celebrate grand reopening of Talbot Hall, Danos Theater on Tuesday

 

 

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will commemorate the grand reopening of the Mary and Al Danos Theater and Talbot Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 27 with a night of celebration and artistic exhibitions.

The event, titled an Opening Night Showcase of the Arts, will feature musical performances, theatrical acts and artwork performed and created by Nicholls students and faculty, including the Nicholls Concert Choir, Jazz Band and Nicholls’ Players. A cocktail reception will be held at 6:30 p.m with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and performances following at 7 p.m.

The 5,500-square-foot theater was named in honor of Al and Mary Danos, benefactors and lovers of the arts.

“We are forever grateful to Nicholls for giving us a special place to remember our parents. Our parents’ legacy lives on at Nicholls, a place they loved so dearly. It’s something remarkable, and we’re very thankful for that,” the Danos’ children, Rene, Alyce, Andre and Marcel, said in a statement. “Daddy always loved when something was finished and we’re excited everyone gets to finally see this beautiful place that’s like no other in our community.”

Originally built for $1.6 million in 1970, the 73,000-square-foot facility has undergone $9.6 million in renovations, which began in 2014. Those renovations feature structural and technological enhancements including new seating, curtains, flooring and state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment. In addition, the campus TV studio, KNSU radio station and two Talbot Hall classrooms received technological upgrades to enhance student learning.

Tickets cost $100, and limited seating is available. All proceeds will go to the Danos Theater Maintenance Fund. To purchase a ticket, visit nichollsfoundation.org or call 985-448-4005.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 21, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

Nicholls names finalists for athletic director

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University announced four finalists for athletic director and will hold public interviews over the next two weeks.

The finalists are K. Matthew Roan, deputy director of athletics at Eastern Kentucky University; China Jude, assistant vice president and director of athletics at Queens College (NY); Christopher Walker, associate athletic director at Washington State University; and Kent Hegenauer, senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern Mississippi.

“The four finalists are the result of a months-long national search with an outstanding and diverse pool of candidates. We are looking for a professional with proven experience in intercollegiate athletics administration,” said Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy. “We encourage public participation in the search process and hope the faculty, staff, alumni and the community come out and get to know the candidates as we prepare to make this important decision for the future of our athletics program.”

Head women’s basketball coach and senior woman administrator DoBee Plaisance has held the interim athletic director position since July, when longtime athletic director Rob Bernardi announced his resignation.

Interviews will be held in Ridley Gros Auditorium, 140 Powell Hall, at 3:15 p.m. on the following dates:

  • K. Matthew Roan on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
  • China Jude on Monday, Sept. 26.
  • Christopher Walker on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
  • Kent Hegenauer on Monday, Oct. 3.

A former team captain on the Southern Utah University football team, Roan assisted with football operations at the University of Kentucky while working on his law degree which he obtained from UK’s College of Law in 2012. He was then named deputy director of athletics at Southern Utah University before joining Eastern Kentucky in 2013.

Jude, who spent nearly nine years in the Navy, became the first black head coach in the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s history when she took over as head volleyball coach in 1999. After similar roles at Coppin State University, the University of West Florida and the University of the District of Columbia, Jude took over as athletics director at Cheyenne University. One year later she took the top athletics job at Queens College.

Walker has more than 20 years of experience in athletics administration at the Division 1 level, beginning in 1996 as associate sports information director at Florida State University. He joined Southern Methodist University in 2000 as assistant athletic director of communications and broadcasting and later as assistant athletic director of development. In 2006, he took the associate athletic director for external relations job at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington before accepting his current role with Washington State in 2008.

Hegenauer graduated from the Indiana University in 1996 and quickly found himself in south Louisiana at Tulane University’s ticket office for two years. He left to become assistant ticket manager at Michigan State University in 1999, before becoming director of ticket operations at Texas Christian University in 2003 and the University of South Carolina in 2005. He was named associate athletic director at Southern Mississippi in 2008 and promoted to his current job in 2012.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 19, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

Nicholls Awarded $1.2 Million TRIO Grant

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University has announced the creation of the Bayou Educational Opportunity Center, a program aimed at expanding higher education opportunities for disadvantaged and underrepresented students.

Housed at Nicholls and fully funded by a five-year, $1.2 million Federal TRIO Grant, the Opportunity Center will partner with local school districts and adult education centers to provide readily accessible college guidance to qualifying high school seniors, adult education graduates and parents of low-income, first-generation college students.

“Our goal is to help more students understand and overcome the barriers to entry into higher education,” said Debi Benoit, Nicholls director of research and sponsored programs. “The Opportunity Center will inspire more students to prepare for the job market of the future.”

Created in 1964, the Federal TRIO Program is designed to assist disadvantaged individuals – like low-income, first-generation college or disabled students – progress through the academic pipeline. Educational Opportunity Centers are one of eight grant programs offered through the program.  The goal is to ultimately increase the number of adult students enrolled in higher education.

Participants will be connected to tutors and mentors who will help students improve their financial and economic literacy. A key function of the grant is to connect participants with local, state and federal scholarship opportunities, as well as other financial aid tools, like basic financial planning skills and assistance in the application process.

“A college education can change the trajectory of a person’s life. We are excited that we received this grant from the Department of Education to help more first-generation, low-income students in our region obtain a college degree,” said Nicholls Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Lynn Gillette.

As part of the grant, the Opportunity Center, which will employ a program director and two outreach coordinators, will work with a minimum of 1,000 participants over the course of the grant, which expires on Aug. 31, 2021. The center will partner with the Assumption, Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish school boards, Bayou Cane Adult Education School, South Central Louisiana Technical College, Fletcher Technical Community College and other community groups.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 15, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

Nicholls Enrollment Increases For First Time Since 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 13, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

THIBODAUX, La. — Fall enrollment at Nicholls State University is on the rise for the first time since 2009, boosted by record-high retention rates.

Nicholls enrolled 6,267 students this fall, according to 14th class day statistics, an increase of 103 students from last year. This marks the second consecutive semester that Nicholls has seen an increase. In the spring, enrollment was up 20 students from 2015.

Keying the growth has been a record-setting first-time freshman retention rate of 70 percent, up seven percentage points from last year. Nicholls recently implemented focused freshman-level math and English pilot courses that have led to improved pass rates and decreasing dropouts.

“Two consecutive semesters of enrollment increases is a strong indicator that Nicholls has turned the corner and is gaining momentum,” Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy said. “In addition to our positive enrollment trend, Nicholls is graduating more students than ever,  experiencing an increase in applications and quality measures across the board are very high. A record-high retention rate provides us with the foundation to build off this success as we work toward our goal of 8,000 students.”

Two of Nicholls’ most popular undergraduate programs, nursing and biology, also saw a boost of students from one year to the next. The largest program on campus, nursing experienced a 12 percent increase in students, up to 843 from 755 last year. Biology, the third-largest undergraduate major, increased by 10 percent, with 466 students this year, up from 425. Graduates from the two programs have a track record of success upon earning their degree. First-time nursing board pass rates exceed both national and state averages and our biology graduates are regularly accepted into medical and graduate schools.

Nicholls Online, which offers various undergraduate and graduate degrees, saw its enrollment jump from 328 to 398, a 21 percent increase.

“I am grateful to all of our faculty, staff, alumni and community supporters who have stuck with Nicholls through thick and thin,” Murphy said. “These successes would not be possible without your efforts. With the support of everyone across campus and in the community, I believe we are just getting started.”

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute saw a 3 percent increase one year after opening up our new Lanny D. Ledet Culinary building.