Nicholls photography professor receives top educator award

(Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University professor of Art, Deborah Lillie, received the 2017 Honored Educator award by the Society for Photographic Education’s South Central Chapter.


Lillie, who has taught at Nicholls for nearly two decades, delivered a presentation on her artwork at the chapter’s annual conference in October in Waco, Texas on the campus of Baylor University. She also curated the nonprofit’s 2017 photography exhibition.

Throughout her tenure at Nicholls, Lillie has helped push the envelope of photographic education, expanding the curriculum from black and white documentary photography into the digital age.

Organized in 1963, the Society of Photographic Education seeks to advocate photography as an art through educational programs, services and publications.

Today, the organization has 1,800 members in eight regional chapters and three international chapters. Lillie has been a member since 1989 and has organized two conferences on the Nicholls campus.


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

Nicholls SHRM wins human resources competition state championship for second straight year

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University’s student Society for Human Resource Management chapter won the state championship at the Louisiana Human Resource Case Competition for the second year in a row.


During the Nov. 3 competition, the Nicholls chapter presented the top solutions for the mock case, which was held in Baton Rouge.

“The value of this event goes beyond what they receive in the classroom,” said Melanie Boudreaux, faculty sponsor and instructor of management. “The CASE competition helps our students tie together everything they learned in their classes, and it lets them actually apply the material.”

With 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


Clune named 6th president at Nicholls State University

Caption: (L to R) Allison Clune, Caroline Clune, Jay Clune and Gabrielle Clune

THIBODAUX, La. — The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors announced today the selection of Dr. Jay Clune as the university’s 6th president, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

For more information, visit: UL System Board Selects Nicholls President


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

Nicholls nursing receives donation to improve facilities, create endowed professorship

Mike and Blanche Callais present a check to Nicholls President, Dr. Bruce Murphy; Dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health, Dr. Sue Westbrook; and executive director of the Nicholls Foundation, Jeremy Becker.
(Jerad David/Nicholls State University)


Rachel and Leah Callais present a check to Dr. Bruce Murphy, Nicholls president, and Jeremy Becker, executive director of the Nicholls Foundation.
(Jerad David/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University announced a $200,000 donation to the nursing program and $80,000 for the creation of an endowed professorship in nursing thanks to the generosity of Mike and Blanche Callais and their daughters, Leah and Rachel.

Leah and Rachel Callais donated $100,000 each for two computer labs in Ayo Hall to support the nursing program. Their parents, Mike and Blanche Callais, have made a donation to create the Sister Mary Roland Bienvenu, RSN Endowed Professorship.

“The Callais family’s gift will have a significant impact on our nursing students,” said Nicholls President Dr. Bruce Murphy. “Our nursing program is one of the best in Louisiana and gifts like these will help to advance our mission and healthcare within the region. We’re exceedingly thankful for their willingness to support Nicholls.”

The Callais family’s donation will pair with more than $200,000 in renovations completed over the summer and another $155,000 donation from the Lakewood Foundation to expand the program and improve the facilities.

“We wanted to make this donation to honor our two late uncles and to help grow the nursing program for the future,” the Callais sisters said. “Our grandfather, Harold J. Callais, helped pass the creation of the Nicholls nursing program during his time on the Board of Regents. We learned from him the importance of donating to programs like Nicholls Nursing to help others.”

Supporting nursing and higher education runs deep in the Callais family. Harold Callais, Mike’s father, served as the chairman of the Board of Regents and was an ardent supporter of Nicholls and its nursing program. The endowed professorship is named for Sister Mary Roland Bienvenu, Mike’s great aunt, who served as an administrator at area schools and hospitals throughout her life.

“We recognize that Nicholls plays an important role in our area and that the nursing program is important for our future,” Mike Callais said. “We know there is a great need for nurses, particularly in the Bayou Region.”

Nicholls nursing program is one of the tops in the state, with 96 percent of Nicholls graduates passing the national licensure exam on their first try – higher than their state and national peers – and 100 percent of graduates employed or in graduate school after they leave Nicholls.

“The Callais gift is very generous and most appreciated,” said Dr. Sue Westbrook, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health. “The students use these labs for testing and enhancing learning through computer-assisted instruction throughout their degree program. This generous gift will benefit nursing students at Nicholls in perpetuity.”


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

Nicholls Xi Zeta receives Sigma Tau Theta Chapter Key Award

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls Xi Zeta chapter of the national nursing honor society, Sigma Tau Theta received a Chapter Key Award, the highest honor that a local chapter can obtain.

Established in 1991, the Chapter Key Award honors chapters that excel in membership recruitment and retention; publicity and programming; professional and leadership development; and local, national and international collaboration.

Nicholls is one of 88 chapters from three different global regions to receive the award.

Faculty advisor, Michelle Patterson, accepted the award during the 44th Biennial Convention in Indianapolis on Monday.

“I am so proud of our members who have made a tremendous effort in recent years to attain such recognition,” Patterson said. “To have Nicholls nursing faculty and Xi Zeta members recognized alongside esteemed national and international recipients speaks to the dedication of our chapter members as they strive for global excellence.

Founded in 1922 by six nurses at the Indiana University Training School for Nurses, Sigma Tau Theta has grown to more than 135,000 members in more than 500 chapters in more than 90 countries around the world.


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

Nicholls jazz band to host fall concert

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Blue Bayou Big Band will hold their fall concert featuring a number of contemporary jazz classics at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9 in the Mary and Al Danos Theater.

One of 13 ensembles in the Nicholls department of music, the jazz band features the talents of 20 Nicholls students.

Among the set list this fall are works written and arranged by Sammy Nestico, Bob Mintzer, Benny Golson, Thad Jones, Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie.

The band will be under the direction of Taylor Assad, assistant professor of music.

The concert is free and open to the public.


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

Tickets available for 10th annual International Students Banquet

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University invites you to join us in supporting our international student community at the 10th annual International Student Banquet at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12 in the Cotillion Ballroom.

This year’s fundraiser is themed, “The World Awaits” and features unique cuisine and vibrant entertainment from cultures rooted in countries across the globe.

“This is the premier event to showcase our international students,” said Marilyn Gonzalez, director of International Student Services. “These students contribute in so many ways to the Nicholls campus, not only in athletics but with diverse perspectives in the classroom.”

Tickets are $8 for students and $28 for adults and can be purchased at 2017 International Banquet Tickets or by calling 449-7038. Tickets will not be available at the door.

Proceeds from the banquet will pay for scholarships for international students.

“My philosophy is that we’re more alike than we’re different and the banquet allows us to paint the picture of how we want to see the world, as a melting pot of people sharing experiences and enjoying each other’s company,” Gonzalez said.


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

Nicholls to celebrate Veterans Day with celebration in the Quad

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University invites you to honor all veterans during a Veterans Day celebration in the Quad on Friday, Nov. 10.

Nicholls Veteran Services will hold a public ceremony at 11 a.m. in the Nicholls Quad and veterans will be served a free lunch in the cafeteria.

“Veterans Day might be one day of the year but for those who served, it is a year-round deal,” said Gilberto Burbante, veteran and coordinator of Veterans Services at Nicholls. “I say that because, for anyone who has laced up their boots, thrown on a rucksack and carried a rifle in a far-off land, we are constantly thinking about not only our own experiences and sacrifices but also about the young guy or girl who will now leave their own mark on our veteran legacy.”

This year’s guest speaker is Chris Castillo, who served with the Third Battalion Fourth Marines as part of the First Marine Division from 2002-2006. He served in Iraq during Operations Vigilant Resolve, Trojan Horse and Phantom Fury. The New Orleans resident has been recognized for his successful transition to civilian life by GI Jobs Magazine. He now runs Chris Castillo Films, a video production company.

Nicholls president Dr. Bruce Murphy, who retired as a Lt. Col. from the U.S. Army, will also speak.

Thibodaux JROTC will present the colors and the Nicholls chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia will sing the national anthem.

Nicholls has earned the “Governor’s Military and Veteran Friendly Campus” designation and has consistently been named a “Military Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs magazine.

“Our country’s veterans have given so much it’s important that those acts of valor, sacrifice and selflessness are acknowledged and Veterans Day gives Americans the opportunity to thank all generations of Veterans and hopefully encourages the younger generation to answer the call against tyranny, oppression and terror,” Burbante said.


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

Historians, veterans to discuss World War I and America

THIBODAUX, La. — A panel of veterans and historians will explore the lingering effects of the first world war during a discussion at Nicholls State University next week.

Titled, “World War I and America” the panel discussion will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9 in Le Bijou Theatre and is free and open to the public.

Moderated by Dr. Paul Wilson, associate professor and department head of history, panelists are Dr. Kurt Stiegler, assistant professor of history at Nicholls; Dr. Chad Parker, associate professor and interim department head of history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; C.J. Christ, veteran and director of the Regional Military Museum; Gilberto Burbante, veteran and coordinator of Veterans Services at Nicholls; and Micah Hebert, veteran and Nicholls student.

The discussion is held in conjunction with an exhibit honoring the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entrance into World War I held at the Nicholls library.

The exhibit runs through January 2018 and can be viewed from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday in the archives and special collections department of the library.


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

Nicholls food drive aims to end hunger in Bayou Region

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will collect food to donate to area food banks beginning next week and running until Nov. 13.

The annual food drive, Nicholls CAN, is a campus-wide movement to donate non-perishable food items to area food banks.

Annually, more than 5 million households in the United States required the services of a food bank.

Michael Williams, assistant professor of art, said the goal of the food drive is to collect one can per student, faculty and staff on this campus.

“That would give us more than 7,000 food items that could be making a difference in our community,” he said. “For many of our students and their families, the holidays are filled with anxiety because they don’t know if they will get a decent meal until they return to school.”

In Louisiana, an estimated one in four children doesn’t have access to food and people facing hunger need nearly $400 million to meet their food needs, according to

For information on how you can donate, contact Williams at


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