Nicholls invites public to celebrate Blessing of the Fleet at Chauvin Sculpture Garden

THIBODAUX – The Chauvin Folk Art Festival and Blessing of the Fleet Celebration is scheduled for Sunday, April 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Nicholls State University Chauvin Sculpture Garden and Art Studio.

Free and open to the public, the picnic is held in conjunction with the traditional blessing of the fleet, an annual boat parade along Bayou Petit Caillou during which a local priest blesses shrimp boats before the start of shrimp season.

Located at 5337 Bayouside Drive in Chauvin, the sculpture garden, featuring folk art by Kenny Hill, provides a convenient location to observe the blessing of the fleet, which begins around 12:30 p.m

This year, the festival will include two screenings of the documentary “On Our Watch” at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Directed by Jonathan Evans and produced with support from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, “On Our Watch” is an award-winning, one-hour documentary that examines the origins of coastal erosion, subsidence and the impact of sea-level rise on south Louisiana communities.

Starting at 10:30 a.m., crowds will be entertained by the Cajun Music Preservation Society, a nonprofit operated by several members of Nicholls faculty and staff.

Festival guests are invited to bring a picnic lunch, meander through the many sculptures on display and visit the art studio. Guided tours through the sculpture garden will be hosted in both English and Cajun French.

For more information, contact Dr. Gary LaFleur, festival coordinator and associate professor of biological sciences, at 448-4175 or


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

Nicholls human resources team wins its third state competition


Left to right: Melanie Boudreaux, Paige Thomas, Josie Graham, Peyton Chiasson, Olivia Lege and Taylor Boudoin.

THIBODAUX, La. — Another Louisiana Human Resource Case Competition and another win for the Nicholls chapter.

The Nicholls SHRM chapter has now won all three state case competitions they have competed in, dating back to 2016, after sealing another victory today.  

During the competition, held in New Orleans during the state organization’s annual meeting, students were presented with a case similar to the viral incident that United Airlines faced last year. The Nicholls team presented a solution to the situation and long-term changes to practices and policies for the company. 

This spring’s team consisted of five upperclassmen business majors with concentrations in human resources: Taylor Boudoin, Peyton Chiasson, Josie Graham, Olivia Lege and Paige Thomas.

“This team received very little negative feedback from the judges who all mentioned how impressed they were,” said Melanie Boudreaux, faculty sponsor and Harvey Peltier, Sr. Endowed Professor of business administration. “Our students continue to outpace the competition, which only makes them even more prepared for the workforce when they graduate.”

Each student won $100 cash and the student chapter received $500.

With more than 120 active members, the Nicholls SHRM chapter is the largest in the state.

The Society for Human Resources Management helps to enhance the students’ real-world human resources experience through attending various events and workshops, including conferences, an etiquette dinner, resume workshops, and mock interviews, among others.


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

Nicholls dean to serve on ULS diversity and inclusion task force

Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University


THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls State University dean will have a voice in recommending changes to diversity and inclusion policies and practices for the University of Louisiana System.

Dean of Student Services Dr. Michele Caruso will serve on the 5-member ULS Workplace Inclusion Task Force that aims to update and strengthen existing workplace policies.

Together, the task force will review existing inclusion and diversity policies, complaints and cases from the system and its member institutions to create recommendations to change existing practices or create new, proactive policies.

“My goal is to make substantive changes and I’m confident it will happen,” Dr. Caruso said. “As a system, we have an obligation to do everything we possibly can to provide environments where our students can learn to be future leaders.”

In addition to Dr. Caruso, the task force includes ULS attorney Winston Decuir Jr., Northwestern State University Human Resources Director Veronica Biscoe, ULS Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeannine Kahn and Southeastern Louisiana University EEO and ADA Compliance Officer Gene Pregeant.

“It’s an exciting time for Nicholls because, in addition to having a member contribute on this important task force, our president, Dr. Jay Clune, has his own vision for diversity and inclusion to Nicholls,” Dr. Caruso said. “The final product is going to have a positive impact on the UL System and the students that we serve in terms of making inclusion the norm both at work and in the classroom.”


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

Nicholls students return to Augusta for the Masters

THIBODAUX, La. — Chef John Folse Culinary Institute students will serve meals for the likes of Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson next week during the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.

This will be the fifth year Nicholls students have worked during the prestigious international sporting event. Tournament organizers originally reached out to the Culinary Institute in 2014.

The tournament will be held from Thursday, April 5 through Sunday, April 8. The 67 students are expected to return home on Monday, April 9.

Chef Jean-Pierre Daigle, culinary instructor, said the tournament provides students with a unique and memorable work experience. The week-long tournament requires students to work long shifts, preparing up to 1,500 meals a day at various tournament venues.

“Going to the Masters benefits our students in several ways, first by reinforcing what Nicholls instructors have taught them, including organizational and mass production skills,” Daigle said. “The biggest plus for Nicholls students is the networking opportunity, as our students get the chance to work with chefs who often hire our students upon graduation.”

During the week of the tournament, students will hold a wide range of jobs — acting as servers, pantry assistants and other support positions. Some students will also have the opportunity to work in the Champions Locker, where the celebrity golfers are fed.


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

Give-N-Day raises more than $75,000 for campus groups

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls campus organizations, departments and athletic teams received more than $75,000 from more than 1,100 donations during the University’s inaugural Give-N-Day fundraiser.


Nearly a quarter of the 820 donors donated to multiple organizations throughout the day of giving, with two donors tallying more than 10 donations.

Donations were received from 26 states, representing all four corners of the U.S, including California, Washington, New Jersey and Florida, and as far away as Hawaii and United Kingdom.

Colonel Catholics benefited the most from Give-N-Day, receiving $6,460. The other top earners were the Nicholls Alumni Federation with $5,426, Nicholls College of Education with $4,395, Nicholls Bridge to Independence Program with $4,235 and the Nicholls Worth, with $3,885.

Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority received $3,420 from a Give-N-Day high 112 donors.  Four other organizations received more than 50 donations, including Delta Zeta sorority with 83, Bridge to Independence with 63, Colonel Catholics with 58 and the Nicholls Department of Nursing with 55.

“I’m ecstatic with the results of our the first Give-N-Day. This was a success,” said Jeremy Becker, executive director of the Nicholls Foundation. “We had tremendous student buy-in. They really enjoyed the process and their organizations are going to benefit. They’re already asking about next year.”


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

Q&A with Chef Nathan Richard on cooking with alligator

Caption: Chef Nathan Richard teaches Chef John Folse Culinary Institute students how to properly cook alligator. (Misty McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls culinary professor Chef Nathan Richard taught his Advanced Garde Manger class how to cook using alligator during a class on Tuesday, March 20.

Advanced Garde Manger is an in-depth look at the principles of cold and smoked meats, utilizing cuts of meat from products and animals that are native to South Louisiana, such as alligator.  

Chef Richard is the executive chef of Cavan in New Orleans and an adjunct professor for the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. Richard has previously served as the executive chef at Kingfish in New Orleans.

Chef Richard took some time to answer a few questions about cooking with alligator.


Q: What are some common misconceptions people have about cooking and eating alligator?

Chef Nathan Richard: One, it doesn’t always have to be fried. And you don’t always have to use the tail of the alligator.


Q: What do you think causes some people to avoid eating alligator?

CNR: Sometimes it’s getting past it being a lizard, or a reptile or wild game. Sometimes it’s a little too gamey for people and unapproachable, but nowadays people have become much more adventurous eaters, thanks to people like Anthony Bourdain, who have showcased eating unique foods.


Q: What do you think makes alligator special as far as food?

CNR: It doesn’t get any more local than what we have coming out of the bayou in local waterways out of Thibodaux. I think it’s something very unique to our area and it’s one of my favorite things to cook.


Q: Why do you think it is important that this tradition continues?

CNR: It’s something that is close to our culture. They have been hunting alligator since the 1950s. It has been used a lot and it’s one of those things that you can use all of the alligator, including the tail, feet, skin, ribs and more.


Q: How does this training benefit Nicholls students?
CNR: It gives them a new approach to cooking and using the alligator. You can use the whole animal, you can make keychains, backscratchers, etc. Not stuff we do in class, obviously, but it is good for the students to know how to not waste it. You don’t just use the tail. We use the ribs, tenderloins and more.


Q: What are some tips and tricks to cooking with alligator?

CNR: Low and slow. Tenderize it. It’s a very muscular animal and it’s very tough, therefore you have to tenderize it if you are going to fry it and if you are going to braise it, make sure it goes for quite a while.



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

Nicholls students to perform classical music, opera

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls 2018 Opera Workshop will dare to be different.

Nicholls students, alumni, K-12 students and community members will perform scenes from various operas as part of a performance that will touch on issues within the U.S. Productions include “Freedom Ride,” “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Little Women,” “Madama Butterfly,” “Treemonisha” and “The Consul.”

“This is opera on the bayou,” said Dr. Valerie Francis, Opera Workshop director and associate professor of music. “We want to show that our students can do more than just what the norm is. We want to show that our music department is preparing students for the classical world as well.”

The Opera Workshop Under Construction 2018: Scenes of Life form the Compers’s HEART of View, in its fourth fully staged production, will also serve as a tribute to Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti, whose opera “Help, Help, the Globolinks!” is celebrating its 50th year.

The children involved are coming from school districts within Thibodaux, New Orleans, Reserve, St. James and Lafourche parishes.

The performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12 and Friday, April 13, and at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, in the Mary and Al Danos Theater.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for seniors, students and children. Revenue will support future productions and other student activities at Nicholls.

“It is very important to support us as part of the Nicholls community and to support diversity and unique programs in the arts,” Francis said. “Our students are going to leave here and go to grad school, where they will be able to add operatic experience to their resume.”


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

Nicholls business student receives scholarship from automobile club

THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls State University junior has received one of seven Antique Automobile Club of America scholarships.

Morgan Duplechin, a management and marketing double major from Houma, received a $1,500 scholarship. Duplechin said the scholarship will put her one step closer to achieving her goals, as she eventually hopes to seek her Master of Business Administration.

“I have a long road ahead of me to obtain these degrees and this scholarship will help me immensely to pay for additional summer courses, which will allow me to graduate faster,” Duplechin said. “As I complete my education at Nicholls State University, I am very thankful to AACA for helping to impact my future at the university.”

Applicants for the scholarship must be AACA members who are 25 years or younger and accepted or currently enrolled in an accredited college or university.

The AACA, a nonprofit corporation, has served as the country’s premier resource for the collectible vehicle community since its formation in 1935. It produces the magazine Antique Automobile.


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

Nicholls named a leader for online education

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University has been named a leader in online education in Louisiana by an online higher education resource. evaluated public, not-for-profit colleges and universities on regional accreditation, tuition and fees, the percentage of students receiving institutional financial aid, number of available online programs and student-to-teacher ratio.

The website uses a Peer-Based Value metric that compares program costs to other programs with a similar qualitative score, and the qualitative score with other programs of a similar cost. Nicholls was graded a 95.45 out of 100.

“Our online programs are annually ranked among the best and most affordable in the country, so it’s no surprise to us that we would be a leader in Louisiana,” said Dr. Andrew Simoncelli, director of distance education and associate professor of mass communication. “At Nicholls Online, we keep our tuition affordable all while providing a high-quality education.”

Created in 2012, provides data and information about pursuing an affordable higher education.

“We wanted to honor the colleges and universities setting the bar for online learning,” said Dan Schuessler, CEO and Founder of “These schools are going above and beyond the industry standard to help make online education programs an excellent option and more affordable.”


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

Nicholls recognizes alumni, community with Alumni Awards of Excellence  

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Alumni Federation honored several in the community who have contributed the most to the University at its annual Awards for Excellence reception on Wednesday.

President and CEO of The National WWII Museum Stephen Watson received the James Lynn Powell Award, Thomas Meyer the Harvey Peltier Award, United Community Bank received the Corporate Mark of Honor and Dr. Matthew and Kacy Porche the Honorary Alumni Award.

“Every year, Nicholls State University and the Nicholls Alumni Federation choose to honor the excellence among our former students and the generosity of the surrounding community,” said Katherine Gianelloni, acting director of the Nicholls Alumni Federation. “These men and women exude Colonel Pride and we are proud of their commitment to our students and to Nicholls.”

Watson (B.S. ‘97, MBA ‘98) was born in Little Brechin, Scotland, and relocated to Thibodaux in 1994 to pursue his degrees at Nicholls State University. Watson joined the staff of what would become the National WWII Museum in New Orleans in 2002. He was promoted to vice president and chief operating officer in 2004 and then to president and CEO in 2017.

Meyer is a private wealth advisor with Meyer Financial Group and he started the Ben Meyer Foundation in 2015 named after his late brother, Ben. A loyal supporter of Nicholls State University, Meyer made a gift to enable the athletics department last year to purchase the new LED scoreboard for the John L. Guidry Stadium and purchased synthetic turf for the Ray Didier Field, and the field itself has been renamed the Ben Meyer Diamond.

The Corporate Mark of Honor is selected by Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune for being a strong supporter of the University and its mission. United Community Bank has made numerous contributions to the University, including student scholarships for mass communications, A+ Scholars Night, Bite of the Arts and Athletic Scoreboards.

Dr. Porche serves as a physician for the Nicholls athletic department, treating the injuries sustained by athletes. He and his wife, Kacy, are also supporters of Nicholls, having contributed to Nicholls during numerous fundraising events and they have also been donors to the athletic department.


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