Nicholls to Host Civil Rights Exhibit, Speakers

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University’s Ellender Memorial Library will host the traveling exhibit, “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963,” beginning Tuesday, Nov. 4, in the library’s archives.

The exhibit, which will be on display through Dec. 15, examines the relationship between two major human rights movements in America: The acts of resistance, organized rebellions and political pressure that resulted in President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which ordered the freedom of enslaved individuals in the United States, and the March on Washington for civil rights in 1963, which eventually led to bills that outlawed segregation and discrimination in employment and voting. Both grew out of decades of bold actions, resistance, organization, and vision. One hundred years separate them, yet they are linked in a larger story of liberty and the American experience – one that has had a profound impact on the generations that followed.

The library is sponsoring several free programs in association with the exhibit. All speaking events will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the library’s multipurpose room on the third floor.

Tuesday, Nov. 4: Author Lynette Ater Tanner will present on her book, “Chained to the Land: Voices from Cotton & Cane Plantations,” with an opening reception to follow in the Library’s archives.

Wednesday, Nov. 5: Dr. Keith Finley, assistant director for the Center For Southeast Louisiana Studies and instructor of history at Southeastern Louisiana University, will speak about civil rights.

Thursday, Nov. 6:
Nicholls adjunct history instructor Jared Wells will speak about the PBS documentary film, “Slavery by Another Name,” based on the seminal book of the same name by Douglas A. Blackmon.

Tuesday, Nov. 11: Dr. Paul Wilson, head of the Nicholls Department of History and Geography, will speak on the African-American experience during World War I and World War II.

The exhibit is being presented by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The exhibition is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is part of NEH’s Bridging Cultures initiative, “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,” which brings four outstanding films on the civil rights movement to communities across the United States. For more information, visit

For more information on the exhibit or related programs, contact Sarah Simms at 985-448-4626 or, or visit the Ellender Memorial Library’s website at

Nicholls Ceremony Honors Veterans

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University will commemorate Veterans Day with a public ceremony in the campus quadrangle at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Hosted by the Nicholls Veterans Organization, the event will feature an address by university President Bruce Murphy, a retired lieutenant colonel who spent 23 years in the U.S. Army, serving in Germany, Panama and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Dr. Stephen Michot, Nicholls associate professor of history, a Marine Corps veteran and a member of the Louisiana National Guard, will provide Murphy’s introduction.

Nicholls student veterans will also take part in the patriotic program along with the Thibodaux High School JROTC, the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity, and students from the Generations Teaching Generations program and MAX Charter School.

Earlier this fall, G.I. Jobs magazine named Nicholls a Military Friendly School for the sixth consecutive year, an honor given annually to the top 15 percent of American universities that offer the best support, flexibility and value for active duty military and veterans. The university has made recruiting and retaining military students a priority as well as helping the veteran population adjust to college life. Currently, 158 veterans are enrolled at Nicholls.

For more information on the Veterans Day program or Nicholls veterans services, call 985-448-4208.

Dr. Todd Keller Selected as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs

Todd Keller Headshot 2014THIBODAUX — Dr. Todd Keller has been selected as Nicholls State University’s interim vice president for academic affairs.

Keller previously served as director for the College of Nursing and Allied Health’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.

“In appointing an interim vice president for academic affairs, one of the qualities I looked for was a great relationship with the faculty,” said Nicholls President Bruce Murphy. “As a former Faculty Senate chair, Todd is well respected by his colleagues and has a reputation for being a highly competent, self-motivated campus leader. I look forward to his leadership over the next several months as Nicholls develops its strategic plan and works toward its next SACSCOC accreditation report while searching for a permanent provost.”

A native of Morgan City, Keller joined the Nicholls faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor of nursing, and has held a number of positions within the College of Nursing and Allied Health, including director of continuing nursing education; assistant to the department head; and coordinator of recruitment, retention, admission and progression.

Keller, a certified nurse educator, earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing from Nicholls; his master’s in nursing from the University of Phoenix New Orleans campus; and his doctorate of nursing science from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

Keller previously served in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman. His professional career also includes emergency nursing at Lakewood Hospital in Morgan City (now Teche Regional Medical Center) and intensive care nursing at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center.

He has lived in Thibodaux since 1990, and in his spare time enjoys reading and acting, directing and staging live theater.

Nicholls Foundation Presents George Bell and Friends

THIBODAUX — The public is invited to a Homecoming weekend concert featuring the musical sounds of Nicholls State University alum George Bell and Thibodaux native Thaddeus Richard beginning at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2 in the Mary M. Danos Theater in Talbot Hall.

Tickets to A Homecoming Concert with George Bell and Friends, presented by the Nicholls Foundation, can be purchased for $25, and a cash bar will be available during intermission. Proceeds will benefit the Mary M. Danos Theater and a student scholarship.

Bell leads the jazz group George Bell and Friends on trumpet and flugelhorn. He plays with world-class musicians, including Herman Jackson on drums; Harry Anderson on bass; Richard on piano, sax and flute; Todd Duke on guitar; and Greg Ward on percussion and harmonica. Special guests include Aaron Fletcher on sax and Betsy Braud on sax and flute, with vocals by Kandace Washington.

Accomplished in his career as well as music, Bell, a 1981 Nicholls Hall of Fame graduate with a degree in political science, previously worked for longtime Louisiana U.S. Sen. Billy Tauzin of Chackbay before moving to Ohio to begin a career in hospital administration. Bell eventually returned to Louisiana, where he currently serves as administrator of Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City Campus.

For reservations, call 985-448-4134. Checks should be made payable to the Nicholls Foundation.

Nicholls Homecoming Festivities Planned for Oct. 26 — Nov. 2

THIBODAUX — Students, alumni, fans and community members are invited to celebrate new and old traditions during Nicholls State University’s Homecoming Week Sunday, Oct. 26 through Sunday, Nov. 2.

The festivities will begin with a Homecoming Kick-Off Barbecue at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26 in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union’s Cotillion Ballroom. This free community event will include a pep rally, introduction of 2014 Homecoming Court and live music by the band Stormy. Other events scheduled throughout the week include three home volleyball matches, a late-night breakfast and dance, a flag football tournament, a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the annual pirogue race — a Nicholls tradition — and a style show.

A favorite past Homecoming weekend tradition will also be revived. Nicholls will host a bonfire featuring music by Mark Dufrene at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30 on the campus recreation fields. Prior to the bonfire, the Student Programming Association will host the Alive at Five concert and featuring performances by Kaelan Levy, Mia Borders and Snapper and the Fishsticks starting at 5 p.m.

On Halloween night, Nicholls has organized a Trunk-or-Treat event beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the student union parking lot, followed by a haunted house in Ellender Hall at 7 p.m.

All events lead up to the annual Homecoming football game, slated for 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, at John L. Guidry Stadium, where the Colonels will take on the Incarnate Word Cardinals. Tailgating — featuring food, a kids zone and Cajun music by Soul Creole — will begin at 3 p.m. in the north end zone of Guidry Stadium.

Rounding out the week will be the George Bell and Friends Homecoming Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2 in the Mary M. Danos Theater. Tickets can be purchased for $25 by calling 985-448-4134.

For a full list of events of Nicholls Homecoming events and a look at this year’s Homecoming Court, visit All Homecoming events are open to the public and free, unless otherwise noted.

Public Invited to Meet Election Candidates at Nicholls

THIBODAUX — The Nicholls State University Student Government Association will host a public meet and greet with candidates in the upcoming November election from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21 in the Plantation Suite of the Bollinger Memorial Student Union.

Candidates running for political offices in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Senate and Congressional races will be present to provide information about their election platforms and speak one-on-one with attendees. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information, call 985-448-4557.

Nicholls’ Annual Bite of the Arts Gala Presents “Beaucoup de Bocuse”

THIBODAUX — The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University will honor the 10th anniversary of the Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance with a French-themed celebration during its 18th annual Bite of the Arts Gala Thursday, Nov. 13.

The celebrated culinary event, themed “Beaucoup de Bocuse,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Cotillion Ballroom at the Bollinger Memorial Student Union with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. A three-course meal and a live auction will follow.

The Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance, founded by the celebrated French chef, unites 14 universities from across the world in the pursuit of top-notch culinary education. Nicholls’ Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is the only school in the United States involved in this partnership, and sends its top students to an intensive four-month training at the Institut Paul Bocuse in Ecully, France each year.

Guests will be treated to a multi-course French dinner prepared by distinguished visiting chef Peter Sclafani. A third-generation chef from New Orleans, Sclafani is co-owner and executive chef of Ruffino’s, the premier Italian-Creole fusion restaurant in Baton Rouge, and its sister restaurant in Lafayette, Ruffino’s on the River. The meal will be prepared and served with the skills and talent of about 300 Nicholls student culinarians.

The Bite of the Arts Gala also features the presentation of the culinary institute’s 2014 Lafcadio Hearn Award for significant contributions to the culinary profession. This year’s event will honor entrepreneur Thomas J. “T.J.” Moran, a legendary Baton Rouge restaurateur who opened the first Ruth’s Chris Steak House franchise in 1976 and went on to become the largest and most successful of the company’s franchisees, developing restaurants across the Southeast and Midwest. Over the years, he has used his popular culinary venues to support charitable organizations that benefit thousands of Baton Rouge residents.

Individual tickets are $150 per person. Benefactor tables for eight are $2,500, and corporate tables for 10 are $5,000. All proceeds benefit the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

Call 985-449-7091 by Thursday, Nov. 6 to reserve your tickets.

New Nicholls Housing Program Helps Freshmen Succeed on Campus

THIBODAUX — This fall, Nicholls State University’s Office of Housing and Residence Life launched a new program aimed at increasing the success of first-year students living on campus.

Currently in its pilot year, the Living Your Freshman Experience (LYFE) is a residential program available to the 200-plus students in Ellender Hall. It is designed to help freshmen succeed by providing emotional and academic support, getting students involved in the campus community, offering career exploration programs and other support services in Ellender.

“Through the LYFE program, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to bring these resources to students. We are meeting the students where they are,” said Rachel Boguille, area coordinator in the Office of Housing and Residential Life.

Boguille said the goal is to create a stronger community and support system in Ellender by offering tutoring hours, special workshops administered by faculty and staff and training peer mentors who will live in Ellender with the students.

Those mentors, upperclassmen known as PULSE (Peers Utilizing LYFE Skills Education) leaders, will serve as role models and educators, providing on-site support for learning and educational success just a few steps away from students’ doors in Ellender Hall.

At the end of the year, Office of Housing and Residence Life plans to evaluate the program to determine if it has helped retain and improve the academic success of students living on campus.

Students, faculty or staff who are interested in participating in the program should contact Boguille at For more information about living on campus at Nicholls, visit

Education Program Brings IPad-Assisted Tutoring to Nicholls

Education Technology Stock Tutoring 2014

Allison Gravois, a Nicholls State University education student, tutors a local elementary school student with the assistance of an iPad. It’s part of a pilot program at Nicholls overseen by associate professors of education Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur and Dr. Francis Crochet. Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy.


THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University education students are preparing for classrooms of the future, by using iPad apps to provide cutting-edge tutoring to struggling young readers.

Launched in August, the Technology Assisted Reading Interventions (TARI) project outfits education juniors and seniors at Nicholls with iPads and literacy apps. Students are then paired with struggling readers from local elementary schools to provide high-quality technology-assisted tutoring.

The project, funded by a $43,600 Louisiana Board of Regents grant, is being administered by Nicholls associate professors of education Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur and Dr. Francis Crochet.

“TARI is one of our innovative projects in the College of Education to improve K-12 learning as our candidates prepare to be effective educators,” said Education Dean Dr. Leslie Jones.

Vavasseur said the use of technology like iPads in classrooms has been a growing trend, particularly because tablets provide the opportunity for one-on-one interaction between the teacher and student. Carefully selected apps and eBooks, when paired with reading instruction, have been shown to support struggling readers and improve certain reading comprehension skills.

“Most of the iPad apps we have found are fun — they’re games, they’re interactive and there’s a lot of movement and animation. The kids are excited about learning, and our students are prepared to teach with 21st century technology,” Crochet said.

Nicholls juniors and seniors will also use their experiences to evaluate reading intervention apps and tools, and at the end of the course they will create and publish a free interactive eBook to assist future teachers in choosing and utilizing the technology in their own classrooms.

“The focus is using this technology as a tool to help struggling readers find success,” Vavasseur said. “The trend right now in education is one-to-one learning, with many schools aiming to equip every child with some kind of device. This trend has grown so fast, and our end goal with this project is to give teachers a resource to implement these strategies successfully.”

In the past five years, the Nicholls College of Education has been transformed by the use of technology. Innovative programs like Colonel Chat and Storytime with the Colonels allow education majors at Nicholls to provide one-on-one tutoring and interactive reading experiences with young students over video chat, reaching more classrooms without the limitations of distance.

For more information on the Nicholls College of Education, visit

Celebrate Family Day with Nicholls

THIBODAUX — Nicholls State University students, their families and community members are invited for a day of fun for all ages at the annual Family Day celebration Saturday, Oct. 18.

The family-friendly festivities will begin at noon next to John L. Guidry Stadium and will lead up to the 3 p.m. kick-off of the Colonels football game against the Lamar Cardinals.

A campus tradition since 1983, Family Day will feature live music by the swamp pop band Cameron Dupuy & the Cajun Troubadours and food booths offering gumbo, jambalaya, po’boys, hotdogs, hamburgers and nachos. Other activities include an entertainment zone with inflatables and games for the kids, fun and educational activities and a 2:30 p.m. pep rally featuring the Pride of Nicholls marching band.

Discounted general admission tickets to the 3 p.m. Colonels vs. Cardinals football game will be available for $12. Buy your tickets at between Monday, Oct. 6 and 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct.17 to receive the special price. Tickets are also available for $15 at the gate on game day.

For more information, visit