President Murphy Announces Intent to Transition from Nicholls State University    


Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University

THIBODAUX — Dr. Bruce T. Murphy has informed the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System of his decision to transition from the presidency of the University.  Dr. Murphy, who plans to engage in other strategic initiatives in higher education, is the fifth President in the history of Nicholls State University.  Dr. Murphy expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve the University and appreciation for the accomplishments made during his tenure.  Dr. Murphy has elected to transition from his presidency at end of the 2017 calendar year.

Dr. Murphy, who also holds the military rank and distinction of Lieutenant Colonel, came to Nicholls State in January 2014 following eight and a half years of service as Vice President for Academic Affairs of the Air Force’s Air University in Montgomery, Ala.  Dr. Murphy was successful in leading Nicholls from “Warning” status under the regional accreditor (SACSCOC) to full accreditation within six months of his arrival, as he brought laser focus in addressing concerns with the applicable Principles of Accreditation.  Subsequently, in its decennial review, President Murphy’s leadership and guidance were key to a reaffirmation of accreditation that resulted in a perfect evaluation by SACSCOC reviewers.

During Dr. Murphy’s tenure, a number of universities across the country struggled with enrollment.  Nicholls State was not only able to sustain student population during Dr. Murphy’s presidency, but the University has increased enrollment for four semesters in a row.  The past year has seen freshman retention reach an all-time high, which surpassed the University’s record for freshman retention set the previous year.  The University’s retention success under Dr. Murphy was evident when Nicholls State was cited as one of 52 institutions nationwide that stood out for substantially improving overall graduation rates while also achieving gains for black students, as noted in the Education Trust’s 2016 report “Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students?

In working to support the talented University faculty, Dr. Murphy’s management of fiscal affairs was critical to the University’s ability to provide salary adjustments to the faculty in 3 of the 4 years of his presidency.  This improved financial standing also allowed the University to address the salary inversion of over 20 faculty members.

Dr. Murphy also enhanced the University’s shared governance process in the establishment of his presidential cabinet (which included the faculty senate president), University Council (which included student government representation), space utilization board, and committees for budget review and personnel openings.  His engaged leadership increased transparency with broad representation in interactions between the presidential cabinet and the University Council inclusive of faculty, students, unclassified employee representatives, campus police and others. His efforts and strategic vision will continue to be of benefit after the conclusion of his presidency.


CONTACT: Jerad David, Director of University Marketing and Communications, 985.448.4303 or

Physicist, pitmaster to discuss science of barbecuing

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will host a Louisiana physicist, astronomer and competitive barbecue chef who will grill up a discussion on the laws of brisket on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Titled “Low and slow cooking: Understanding the physics of barbecue,” Dr. Andy Hollerman, a professor of physics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, will examine the process of how beef, pork and chicken go from cold cuts to the savory tradition associated with summer holidays. Samples will be provided.

“Physicists love to explore how science describes our everyday activities,” said Dr. Chad Young, department head of physical sciences and interim department head of applied sciences at Nicholls. “ Indeed, anyone can be a chemist or a physicist and Dr. Hollerman’s work as a chef is a perfect example. Physics at Nicholls has never tasted so good!”

Dr. Hollerman has taught physics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette since 1999 and has been a competitive chef since 2003. He and his wife, Lynn, operate the competitive cooking team, Glows BBQ, which is a reference to Hollerman’s work studying the physical properties of luminescent materials. They have also coordinated and judged several barbecue cook-offs over the last two decades.

“Making things glow in the dark, either in physics research, patenting non-burning tracer ammunition or cooking championship-caliber BBQ has been a passion for many years,” Hollerman says on his website.

The presentation will begin at 2 p.m. in Beauregard 104 and is free and open to the public.


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

New freshmen, graduate students boost Nicholls enrollment

THIBODAUX, La. – Nicholls State University welcomed 6,366 students to campus for the fall 2017 semester, an increase of 99 students or 1.6 percent over last year.

This marks the second consecutive year enrollment has grown at Nicholls, which is up 3.4 percent since Fall 2015.

Keying that growth is the largest incoming freshman class since 2013. The 1,222 freshmen make up a 7.4 percent increase from last year.

The incoming freshmen class is also one of the best-prepared in university history with an average ACT score of 22.2, the second-highest ever at Nicholls.

“This is a testament to the hard work of our faculty and staff in recruiting.  Their efforts motivated students to our campus,” Nicholls President, Dr. Bruce Murphy said. “Applications and campus visits are on the rise and with programs like Tour Tuesday presented by Entergy we expect this number to continue to increase year after year.”

Freshman retention rates continue to be among the best ever with 69 percent of last year’s freshman class returning to campus.

“We are pleased that first-year retention continues to remain high at historic levels,” said Dr. Lynn Gillette, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “There has been a campus-wide effort focusing on retention including intensive student advising, redesign in the teaching of our first-year students, enhanced academic support services, and the involvement of our entire campus community in meeting the needs of our students.”

Also contributing to the growth is a large enrollment increase in the graduate studies program. Through intensified recruitment efforts, the number of new students enrolled in graduate programs grew 23 percent, bringing total graduate enrollment up to 649.

Nicholls Online, the university’s online program for non-traditional students, saw a 10 percent increase from 398 students to 437 students, the largest enrollment since the program began. This growth comes on the heels of multiple national rankings placing the program as one of the most affordable online programs in the country.

Nursing, Nicholls’ most popular major, saw the third-largest jump in enrollment, after announcing they were expanding the program this summer.

“Continued enrollment growth shows that Nicholls is providing a high-quality education at an affordable price to serve the bayou region,” Dr. Murphy, said. “A larger freshman class, more graduate students and strong retention rates are indicators of long-term enrollment growth. There’s still plenty of work to do but we’re well on our way to our vision of being the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Bayou region. Our faculty, staff and community support has never been higher.”


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

Nicholls to perform ‘Nutcracker Suite’ at Ninth Annual Monster Piano Concert

Monster Piano Concert 2016
Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls State University Department of Music will host the Ninth Annual Monster Piano Concert at 7 p.m., September 19 in the Mary and Al Danos Theater in Talbot Hall.

More than 35 pianists – including Nicholls faculty, alumni, community members and local high school students – will perform “Concerto for Four Pianos” by J.S. Bach, the “Nutcracker Suite” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, as well as works by American and European composers in various settings.

This year, guest  composer and pianist, Hwaen Ch’ugi will perform his piece, “Salute From a New American.”

Nicholls is the only public music school in the state to have earned the designation of being an All-Steinway School and exclusively uses Steinway pianos for performances and music education.

Guests will be treated to hors d’oeuvres and an open bar before the show with coffee and dessert served during intermission.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for students and $50 for general admission. To purchase a ticket, call Kellie Gaspard at 985-448-4600. Proceeds will benefit the maintenance of the pianos.


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

Panel to examine free speech at Constitution Week discussion

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will explore issues surrounding the First Amendment and its role in society in a guest panel to celebrate the beginning of Constitution Week.

Titled ‘Free Expression and the Constitution,’ the discussion is being co-sponsored by the regional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Panelists are Nicki Boudreaux, instructor of mass communication; Dr. Linda Martin, assistant professor of mass communication; Dr. Joseph Thysell Jr., professor of government; and Mark Plaisance, a local attorney who successfully argued Miller Montgomery v. the State of Louisiana before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015.

“I think the topic of this year’s event is especially timely because there has been so much discussion about the role played by the media in our cultural, economic and political systems,” said Dr. James Stewart, department head of mass communications. “There are organizations creating fabricated content, violence at public rallies and attempts to keep speakers off of college campuses. The ability to communicate freely is fundamental to a democratic society.”

The panel will be held at noon on Monday, Sept. 18 in Le Bijou Theater, and is free and open to the public.


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

Nicholls accounting instructor recognized for teaching excellence

Stella Helluin
Photo by MIsty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University

THIBODAUX, La. — Stella Helluin, instructor of accounting at Nicholls State University, received the Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award from the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants.

Helluin is the faculty sponsor for Nicholls chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the national honor society for accounting and finance students, and co-chairs the University’s annual Honors banquet. She has worked with the LCPA for more than a decade.

“This award means a lot to me and I’m very humbled to be included in a group of wonderful individuals that have dedicated many years of their lives to educating others,” she said. “I truly believe that Nicholls has an excellent faculty and I’m proud to be part of such a caring institution.”

Before joining the Nicholls faculty in 2014, Helluin taught accounting and served as the director of St. Tammany Center at Southeastern University for nearly two decades.


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

Third annual Bayou Studies Symposium focuses on environment

THIBODAUX, La. — The third annual Bayou Studies Symposium at Nicholls State University will focus on the Cajun environmental landscape then and now from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13 in the Cotillion Ballroom.

Featured speakers include William Guion, founder of the Bayou Lafourche Historic Live Oak Tour, and Dr. John Doucet, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Alcee Fortier Distinguished Service Professor. Guion will discuss the process of documenting the state’s live oaks while Doucet will take a closer look at the changing ecosystem and how it was affected by the Cheniere Isle Hurricane of 1893.

“What we try to capture and share in the annual Bayou Studies Symposia are the voices of people from Nicholls and surrounding communities who study the culture and environment of bayou region and who are willing to share their findings with the general public as well as the academic community,” Doucet said. “As we face environmental changes and man-made disasters that affect these people of our region and their ancestral lands and livelihoods, it becomes increasingly important to study, conserve and preserve the culture and learn from our history.”

Posters by Nicholls faculty members will also be displayed.

Tickets are $50 and include hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. All proceeds will benefit Bayou Studies initiatives including student scholarships. For reservations, call Chastity Ricouard at (985) 448-4386.


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

Nicholls administrator elected to collegiate journalism leadership position

Dr. James Stewart
(Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Dr. James Stewart, department head of mass communication at Nicholls State University, has been elected to serve among the leadership of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Stewart will serve as vice president this year, president-elect in 2018-2019 and president in 2019-2020.

“I’m honored to have been selected to this post and I think it speaks to the quality of the Nicholls mass communication tradition,” Stewart said. “Sonny Albarado, another Nicholls graduate, served as national president of the Society for Professional Journalists in 2012-2013. For a such a small school, Nicholls has had an amazing running of success among its mass communications students.”

Founded in 1917, the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication represents 190 member programs at universities and colleges across the country.

Stewart is no stranger to journalism leadership roles. He currently serves as the editor of the association’s national publication, Insights, a position he has held since 2008 and was a member of their executive committee from 2004 to 2007.

He served as president of the Southwest Education Council for Journalism and Mass Communication in 2006 and was chair of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Small Programs special interest group in 1997.


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

Nicholls to explore slavery in south Louisiana with exhibit, guest lecture series

THIBODAUX, La. — Ellender Memorial Library at Nicholls State University will take a deeper look at the domestic slave trade by hosting a traveling exhibit from the Historic New Orleans Collection and a guest lecture series with an emphasis on south Louisiana.

The Historic New Orleans Collection collaborated with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities to produce “Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865” which will be on display at the library from Sept. 4 to Oct. 13. The exhibit is presented by Entergy Corporation, the National Park Service and the Kabacoff Family Foundation.

Dr. Ibrahima Seck, director of research at the St. John the Baptist-based Whitney Plantation, will hold a lecture, titled “A Journey Through Slavery at the Whitney Plantation” and discussion at the library from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 5.

A former indigo and sugar plantation, Whitney Plantation is now a public museum focused on paying homage to the people enslaved in Louisiana and across the South.

Dr. Seck will discuss the history of the Whitney Plantation in the wider context of the Atlantic slave trade and will touch many topics related to the cultural legacies of slavery in Louisiana and how those legacies contributed to shaping American culture.

Dr. Erin Greenwald, curator of Purchased Lives, will discuss the research behind the exhibit and the importance of coming face-to-face with the complex history of race and slavery in New Orleans. She will speak from 6 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 14.

Louisiana genealogist and historian, Jari Honora, who worked on the Georgetown Slavery Project and the PBS series, “Finding Your Roots,” will discuss methods of tracing enslaved ancestors and slave owners, and their descendants from 5 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 20.

Dr. Jeff Foret, professor of history and distinguished faculty research fellow at Lamar University, will discuss his research for his nonfiction book project from 12 to 1 p.m.. on Sept. 26. His book follows the story of Washington D.C. slave trader, William H. Williams, as he moved two dozen slaves from Virginia to Louisiana.

The final lecture will feature Meredith Melancon, a Louisiana historian, who will retrace the steps of the slave, Solomon Northup, as he moved from New Orleans to Rapides Parish to Avoyelles Parish from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 3.


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

Nicholls closed Wednesday

THIBODAUX — Due to the threat of conditions associated with Tropical Storm Harvey, Nicholls State University officials announced that all classes and events scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 30, have been canceled and the campus will be closed until conditions permit.

Classes and events are scheduled to resume on Thursday, Aug. 31.

The Nicholls Emergency Preparedness Committee has initiated a Phase I alert in accordance with the university’s Hurricane Emergency Plan, posted at

The Emergency Preparedness Committee will continue to monitor the status of the storm and take additional action if necessary.

All Nicholls departments will refer to the Hurricane Emergency Plan and begin enacting internal Phase I storm preparations. The community will be notified if and when Phase II storm preparations are implemented.

Residence halls will remain open and food service will be available. Students may communicate with their professors regarding specific class assignments on Moodle.

No students are being evacuated from campus at this time. On-campus residents should contact residence hall staff members for additional information.

Employees should contact their supervisors to determine if they need to report for duty. All employees should report back to work on Thursday, Aug. 31.

Updates will be posted at and Nicholls social media, and are also available on the Nicholls alert hotline at 1-877-NICHOLLS.


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