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

Nicholls offers unique artistic experience with fourth annual Art Works Fundraiser

Art Works 2016
(Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)
Art Works 2016
(Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University students and faculty will sell their artwork, offer demonstrations and provide hands-on lessons during the fourth annual Art Works Fundraiser at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28 in Talbot Hall.

The event will include tours of the studios; a silent auction featuring one-of-a-kind artwork by faculty, alumni, local artists and students; an exhibit of local artists work; complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

This year, participants will also be able to peruse a section titled “Bon Temps” that includes hand-painted wooden chairs contributed by students, faculty and alumni. The chairs will be exhibited and sold in the lobby of the Mary and Al Danos Theater.

Attendees will also be able to see the process of developing photography in a darkroom, learn different graphic design methods for hand-lettering, create personalized selfies using Photoshop, learn how to use a letterpress and make their own cyanotypes.

“It’s magical to see the art as it gradually takes form. We’ll offer a glimpse at every step in the process, from the beginning to the work that goes into the art, and the final product. There is something for every taste and we’re excited to present our work to the public,” said Jean Donegan, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of art.

Tickets are $50 per person. All proceeds from Art Works will be used for scholarships, student development activities and art studio equipment.

For more information, call 448-457 or visit


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

Nicholls to host coastal research communication competition

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will host a science communication competition to advance graduate and undergraduate research on Louisiana’s most pressing coastal issues.

Titled Coastal Connections and sponsored by Louisiana Sea Grant, the public competition challenges students to concisely communicate their research. Three winners will receive a $500 travel award to attend a conference that aligns with their research.

Students submitted their research earlier this month, and a panel at Louisiana Sea Grant selected 11 finalists to publicly present their research at 4 p.m. on April 3 in the Mardi Gras Suite of the Bollinger Memorial Student Union. But there’s a catch. The students will have just three minutes to explain their research and can use no more than two static slides.

“This is an excellent opportunity for our students to not only get experience in communicating their research concisely but also for them to compete for the chance to expand their knowledge and meet scientists from all over the world,” said Nicholls biology assistant professor, Dr. Aimee Hollander. “Being able to communicate science and our research to the general public is increasingly important in this political climate because it can impact public policy.”

The finalists are Alexa Ballinger, Emily Bodin, Justin Brockmann, Kristen Chatelain, Richard Grabert, Kellyn LaCour-Conant, Ashleigh Lambiotte, Megan Nepshinsky, Drew Prejean, Alexis Rixner and Seth van Dexter.

A modified version of the Three Minute Thesis, the competition advances the academic and communication skills and encourages students to think about how they can effectively explain their research in layman’s terms.

Research will focus specifically on the impact coastal erosion has had on the bayou region. Louisiana has lost nearly 1,900 square miles of coastal islands and wetlands since the 1930s due to a variety of factors.

The three judges for the final competition are Dr. Bruce Murphy, Nicholls president; Craig McClain, director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium; and Simone Maloz, director of Restore or Retreat.


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

Nicholls to host performance of The Vagina Monologues

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University Student Services will hold a production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” at 7 p.m. Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25 at Danos Theater in Talbot Hall.

Called one of the most important pieces of political theater by the New York Times, “The Vagina Monologues”, which premiered in 1996, is a collection of monologues that express different aspects of femininity.

Tickets are $5 in advance for Nicholls students, faculty and staff, and $10 at the door. VIP tickets, which include admission to the play on Saturday, an invitation to the post-performance reception with the cast, and a commemorative mug and poster signed by the cast are available in advance for $30.

Proceeds go toward violence prevention and education as well as victim services at Nicholls.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 448-4080.


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

Nicholls alters MBA curriculum to become more accessible to students

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls State University College of Business Administration has adjusted its Master of Business Administration curriculum to remove barriers that have traditionally discouraged prospective students from applying.

Beginning in the fall, prerequisite courses in accounting, economics, statistics, management, marketing and finance are being folded into existing curriculum, cutting down the amount of time required to complete the program for non-business graduates.

That decision was made to help two types of prospective students: those without a business degree and those who earned their degree years ago and are thinking about returning to school.

“Over the years we’ve received numerous inquiries from interested, prospective students who don’t have a business background. However, more often than not they have shied away from the program because of the amount of work they would have to do before entering the program,” says Dr. Luke Cashen, professor of management and director of Nicholls’ MBA program. “This change will not only boost enrollment, but it’s a way for us to serve our students better by bringing all of them up to speed.”

Information sessions about the MBA program will be held in 105 White Hall at noon on Tuesday, March 21; noon on Monday, April 10; and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12.

For more information contact Dr. Luke Cashen at 448-4178 or


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