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 or call 985-448-4005.


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

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.


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

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.


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

Nicholls Enrollment Increases For First Time Since 2009


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

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.

History-making Nicholls Alum to speak in Empowered Women Chefs Series



Photo of Meg Bickard
Meg Bickard

THIBODAUX, La. — The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University will continue its Empowered Women Chefs Series with guest Meg Bickard, the first female executive chef in the Commander’s Family restaurants, at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, 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; and Holly Goetting, executive chef of Charley G’s; Anne Kearney, owner of Rue Dumaine; and Suzanne Willett, owner of Felicia Suzanne’s.  

This week’s guest is Nicholls alum Meg Bickard. Bickard was hired by Commander’s Palace Chef Tony McPhail after graduating from the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. In just one year, she worked her way up from the hotline to become the first ever female sous chef at Commander’s Palace. Last December, Meg was named executive chef at Café Adelaide in New Orleans.

The Larose native will demonstrate how to make hand-pulled mozzarella ravioli.

Seating is limited, so please reserve your spot at

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

Donations Fuel Oilfield Simulator

Morgan City Oilfield Rodeo Donation 2016
Photo from left to right: Neal Weaver, Nicholls vice president of university advancement; Loreta Dupre, events coordinator for MCOFR; Joey Cannata, operations manager at Tanks-A-Lot; Bruce Murphy, Nicholls President; Mike Gautreaux, executive director of PETSM; John Doucet, Nicholls dean of College of Arts and Sciences. Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2016

CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator,

985.448.4141 or

THIBODAUX, La. — The Morgan City Oilfield Fishing Rodeo has donated $9,000 to Nicholls State University’s Department of Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management, which will use the contribution to purchase equipment for the program’s Well Control Simulation Lab.

“Education is the foundation of everything in our area,”  said Loretta Dupre, the fishing rodeo’s events coordinator and a Nicholls alum. “Every year we give back all the money that we raise to help support the growth of the oilfield industry and local community.”

Last August, the organization presented Nicholls with a $13,000 check that the university allocated toward renovating Gouaux Hall classrooms and labs, used exclusively by PETSM students. That raises their total donations to the university to $36,000.

Founded in 2013 by Morgan City-based deepwater container specialist Tanks-A-Lot, the nonprofit hosts its fishing rodeo each May with the purpose of promoting community spirit in the local oil and gas industry while benefiting notable organizations for future growth within the community. Tanks-A-Lot employees, many of whom are Nicholls alumni, and countless volunteers have worked to ensure each rodeo is more successful than the one before.

“The sole effort is to raise funds to support higher education, the oil and gas industry, and our area,” said Joey Cannata, operations manager at Tanks-A-Lot.

Nicholls will be the only university in the Gulf South to have a well control simulator, which will provide a virtual drilling experience inside the classroom, on its campus.

“All the big drilling companies use this equipment to train their employees,” said Michael Gautreaux, executive director of PETSM. “Thanks to this generous donation and other industry support, Nicholls students will have the unique opportunity to receive this training and experience in the classroom, giving them a competitive advantage.”

Nicholls Culinary students to cook up fundraiser for flood victims Friday

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will host a Jambalaya Lunch on Friday to benefit the Nicholls Flood Emergency Relief Fund for students affected by the historic flooding earlier this month.

As a service-learning event, students in the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute will put their culinary skills into action by preparing 1,000 pounds of chicken, sausage and andouille jambalaya.

One pound portions of jambalaya will be sold for $10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot behind the Ledet Culinary Building on Bowie Road.

“Nicholls is always looking for ways to provide experiential learning opportunities for our students, and the jambalaya lunch will allow culinary students to practice their culinary techniques while helping raise funds for fellow Colonels who lost their homes and belongings in the flood,” said Nicholls President, Dr. Bruce Murphy. “This service-learning event is a great way for the community to demonstrate support for both Nicholls flood victims as well as our aspiring chefs.”

Ingredients were generously supplied by Friends of Bourgeois Meat Market and the Nicholls Student Culinary Association.

Pre-orders will be taken for 10 pounds or more. To preorder, call 985-493-2700.

Those who can’t make it to lunch Friday are encouraged to donate directly to the flood relief fund, which will remain open until Aug. 31, at or send a check to the University Advancement Office.

Macik-Frey named dean of the Nicholls College of Business Administration

Photo of Marilyn Macik-Frey
Marilyn Macik-Frey

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University has announced Dr. Marilyn Macik-Frey as dean of the College of Business Administration.

The LaMarque, Texas, native served as the interim dean since November following the retirement of longtime dean Dr. Shawn Mauldin. She held the college’s assistant dean position prior to that appointment.

Nicholls conducted a national search to replace Mauldin and Macik-Frey was the overwhelming choice of the search committee, said Dr. Lynn Gillette, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“Marilyn has vast business experience, and she’s incredibly well-respected by the faculty in the College of Business Administration and across campus,” Gillette said. “I believe as dean she’ll be able to work with the faculty to foster innovation, develop new programs and improve the college to be even better than it already is.”

An eight-person committee made up of Nicholls faculty and community business leaders conducted the search for the replacement.

“There’s a legacy to the College of Business Administration that goes back for years and is deeply connected to the regional business community. I’m proud to serve as dean and keep that legacy alive,” Macik-Frey said.

The recipient of the Candies Family Endowed Professorship, Macik-Frey joined the Nicholls management faculty in 2007. Prior to arriving at Nicholls, she owned a rehabilitation agency, providing speech pathology services in cooperation with physical and occupational therapy partners. She worked as a regional manager for a national rehabilitation provider in south Texas and was the national director of reimbursement training and research for a health-care consulting company.

Macik-Frey earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and speech pathology from Stephen F. Austin State University, a master’s in communicative disorders from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, a master’s in business administration from Texas A&M-University Corpus Christi and a doctorate in business administration and management from the University of Texas at Arlington, where she concurrently taught at the Goolsby Leadership Academy.

Offering six undergraduate degree programs, a fully online business administration degree as well as an MBA and an Executive MBA, the AACSB-accredited College of Business Administration is among the most popular areas of academic study at Nicholls.

Nicholls launches crowd-funding campaign for students impacted by flooding

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University is asking for community support to help a number of Colonels who have been impacted by the 1,000-year flood that devastated Baton Rouge and surrounding areas over the weekend.

More than 40,000 homes have been damaged and 10 people killed by historic floods caused upwards of 2 feet of rainfall over the weekend.

“Over the past several days, our thoughts have been with the thousands of families impacted by the historic floods sweeping across our state,” said Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy. “Some members of our Nicholls community and their families have suffered damage, and affected students now face unanticipated costs and possibly the loss of college necessities like books, supplies, clothing and campus residence items.”

To assist the Colonels in need, the Nicholls Foundation is sponsoring an online crowd-sourcing campaign titled the ‘Nicholls Emergency Flood Relief’ to assist affected students.

“One of the things that makes our Nicholls family so special is the outpouring of care and concern for our community,” Murphy said. “By coming together, we can help ensure that our affected Colonels get through these challenges as they continue to pursue their dreams of a college degree.”

With an initial goal of $10,000, the fundraiser began today and will close Aug. 31. Any funds raised that are not claimed will be used to establish savings for future emergencies.

Students impacted by the flood can call the Office of Student Affairs at 985-448-4022 for more information.

To donate visit or send a check to the University Advancement Office.

Nicholls biology professor awarded for active learning techniques

Photo of Aimee Hollander
Aimee Hollander

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University Biology Assistant Professor Aimee Hollander was recently selected to receive the 2016 American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators Travel Award.

The award is given annually to biology instructors with “leadership potential and a commitment to education” who display success in the classroom by developing active learning techniques. Recipients of the award receive funding to attend the conference held in North Bethesda, Maryland.

Last spring, Hollander staged a faux crime scene that students evaluated over the course of multiple classes in an effort to show her biology students the different career opportunities that a biology degree could lead to. She also uses online blogs and social media to interact in different ways with her students.

“The ASMCU award granted me an opportunity to meet with professors and educators from all over the country that also teach microbiology and share innovative ideas that I can take back to improve the curriculum here at Nicholls,” Hollander said. “It was really rewarding to not only be able to share and be recognized for my success but to also learn from other institutions, including Harvard, University of Colorado and various community colleges.”

Hollander participated in a competition hosted by McGraw-Hill where she submitted an active learning technique. Her presentation, titled “Guess that Microbe,” was selected as best of the conference by more than 50 of her peers. ‘Guess that Microbe’ is a mock game show that Hollander uses in the classroom. As a result, she was awarded an Apple iWatch.

“Nicholls is committed to implementing progressive instruction and active learning strategies that truly influence student engagement. Aimee Hollander is a perfect example of that,” said Nicholls Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Lynn Gillette. “This recognition confirms that her methods are working and making an impact on students.”