Political Science Online Program Named Best in South at Nicholls

It was recently announced via a press release from the school that the Best Online Political Science Degree in the American South is Nicholls State University’s Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, as determined by Intelligent.com, a highly-valued online educational resource that assesses collegiate programs across the country.

The reputable online educational resource Intelligent.com assessed over 325 programs from approximately 200 colleges and universities across the United States. Intelligent.com assessors sought out programs at these institutions of higher learning that taught strong analytical and decision-making skills and evaluated each program on several factors. Programs were evaluated on their flexibility in the delivery of their courses, their return on investment, the cost of attendance, their national rankings, overall student engagement, and the quantity and quality of resources available to students. Ultimately, each collegiate program was scored on a 100-point scale.

The Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Nicholls State University received an impressive score of 86.73, and thus it was named as being the “Best in the South.” This program was also the 28th best political science program out of all post-secondary institutions assessed by Intelligent.com.

Dr. David Whitney, associate professor and Department Head of Political Science at Nicholls reflected on this honor by saying, “we use our full-time faculty to teach all of the core classes, which is fairly upcoming for online programs. Another thing that sets us apart is the approach we take toward students in the online program. We do not distinguish between online and traditional students in terms of the investment and time we make towards their success.  Nicholls Online isn’t a side job or an afterthought but is an integral part of our degree program.”

In order to better justify their classification of the “Best Online Degrees of 2022,”  the editors of Intelligent.com accompanied their award listing by saying the following: “Online learning has become quite popular — 37.2% of college students have taken at least one online course, and 17.6% take online courses exclusively. The flexibility of distance learning has made it an especially attractive option for students who have other responsibilities in addition to their education, such as children or a full-time job. To help you find the best option for your specific situation, we’ve reviewed the top colleges for dozens of different online degree programs.”

As defined by Intelligent for their assessment purposes, political science is the study of the history of political systems, the analysis of how these political systems operate, and how political scientists can provide suggestions on how to shape public policy. In addition to this, political scientists develop strong analytical decision-making skills that can be applied to an array of occupations, including careers in public administration, market analysis, and many more.

Research that was conducted by Intelligent through the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the median salary for political scientists is $122,220 per year, making it three times as high as the median salary for all other United Stated occupations, which stands at $39,810. Additionally, they determined an estimated increase of 6%for this field in terms of job outlook, specifically indicating an increase in demand for market research analysts which was cited at a growth rate of 18%. The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the economy is expected to need 400 more political scientists by 2029 in order to manage regulatory issues, research political theory, and analyze public policy.

As per Nicholls State University, their Bachelor of Arts in Political Science Program is designed in such a way that it prepares students and gives them a complete, “comprehensive understanding of the essential aspects of politics” and “the analytical and critical tools necessary to evaluate political events and more importantly, to become actively engaged citizens.”

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Nicholls Farm has New Bridge Allowing Access for More Research

Thanks to a partnership with ConocoPhillips and the Lafourche Parish Government, Nicholls State University recently celebrated the rebuilding of the Nicholls Farm Bridge, a project that will have massive implications for the research conducted on Nicholls Farm. According to this statement from the school, the newly rebuilt bridge will be used to grant Nicholls Biology faculty members access to the land on the opposite side of Bayou Folse for research, ecological, and educational purposes.

The rebuilding of Nichols Farm bridge was a $300,000 project that was deemed “critical” by the University for its impact. Funding for the project was gathered over the past two years with the Lafourche Parish Government donating $200,000 towards the project and ConocoPhillips donating an additional $100,000 to see the project come to fruition.

It was in 1969 that Nicholls first purchased from Harvey Peltier the land that would eventually become Nicholls Farm, an integral part of the school’s plans to become the center for total restoration research in Louisiana. In just the past decade alone, Nicholls Biology has produced over 30,000 black mangroves at Nicholls Farm. These mangroves were eventually planted along coastal areas for the purpose of maintaining our coastal wetlands. A complete master plan for Nicholls Farm outlines plans for a classroom space, additional land, and areas to test coastal restoration projects, so the completion of this bridge is only one component of a much larger vision for the University.

Because of the bridge’s placement, Nicholls Biology faculty will now have access to the other end of Bayou Folse, allowing them to plant and grow several species of trees and coastal plants. These plants and trees will then be transferred to the Louisiana coastline to help defend coastal erosion.

Nicholls Biology department head Dr. Quenton Fontenot commented on his vision for the bridge at Nicholls Farm by saying, “our dream for the Farm is a place that brings people together for coastal restoration initiatives, and so to have the support of partners such as ConocoPhillips and the Lafourche Parish Government means we are going to be able to do that. Without that help the project is likely not finished today.”

As of the time of the university celebrating the completion of the bridge, the Biology Department already had several Louisiana irises ready to plant in the ponds on the other side of the bridge through a collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. One of the objectives for planting the irises is for seed harvest production. This is due to the versatility and essentialness of the plant, as it is native to the Bayou Region and sustainable in coastal habitats. These features make plants such as these native Louisiana irises absolutely vital to maintaining coastal wetlands and barrier islands.

John Harrington, the Coastal Wetlands director for ConocoPhillips, said of the essential need to protect the Louisiana coastlands, “the vast wetlands in southeast Louisiana are ideal for coastal restoration research. We are proud to support key partners like Nicholls State University to drive habitat-enhancement research and promote coastal resiliency and sustainability.”

A vital partner in this project coming to fruition is ConocoPhillips, which is one of the world’s leasing exploration and production companies when concerning production and reserves. They also have a globally diversified asset portfolio, and through their subsidiary The Louisiana Land and Exploration Company, they are the largest private wetlands owner in Louisiana. ConocoPhillips has long been a supporter of Nicholls State University and helps to steward their support of the coastal wetlands through their Houma office.

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Nicholls State University Announces Louisiana Supreme Court Justice as 110th Commencement Keynote Speaker

Nicholls State University has announced that Louisiana Supreme Court Justice John Weimer will be the keynote speaker at the 110th Commencement Ceremony, according to this news release from the school.

Born and raised in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice John Weimer returns to Nicholls State University to be the keynote speaker at the 110th Commencement Ceremony after having previously attended the school as a student and later having taught as a professor. Chief Justice Weimer was both an academic honors graduate and Hall of Fame graduate of Nicholls, where he also twice served as student body President.

Prior to his time on the bench, Chief Justice Weimer was also a full-time faculty member at Nicholls, teaching law and ethics classes for 16 years. During his time at the University, he received the Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence, was given the honor of being named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and served as director of the Free Enterprise Week Program at Nicholls.

Chief Justice Weimer left the classroom in 1993 when he was appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court as Judge pro tempore for Division D of the 17th Judicial District Court. In 1995, he was then elected to serve as Judge for Division A of the 17th Judicial District Court, and he was re-elected in 1996 without opposition.

In 1998, Justice Weimer was elected to serve on Louisiana’s First Circuit Court of Appeals, and later Judge Weimer was then honored with the Outstanding Judicial Award from Victims and Citizens Against Crime as well as with the Outstanding Jurist Award from Crimefighters, Inc; both of these statewide organizations are dedicated to victims of crime. Later, in 2006, Justice Weimer was named as one of the leading judges in America by a national publication,The Law Dragon.

Keynote speaker, Justice Weimer, was initially elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2001 when he was elected to serve as Associate Justice for District 6, which is comprised of the following parishes: Assumption, Iberia Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne, and a portion of the west bank of Jefferson, which includes Grand Isle. Twice, first in 2002 and again in 2012, Justice Weimer was re-elected to a 10-year term without opposition before becoming the 26th Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court on January 1, 2021.

Nicholls’ 110th Commencement Ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 14, consisting of four total ceremonies. Each ceremony will be held at David R. Stopher Gymnasium beginning first with the ceremony for The College of Science and Technology at 9 a.m, followed by The College of Liberal Arts at noon. At 3 p.m. The College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute will hold its ceremony, and The College of Business Administration and the College of Nursing will be the last ceremonies of the day, commencing at 6 p.m.

It will be during the Commencement Ceremony for the College of Liberal Arts when the University will award an Associate’s Degree of General Studies posthumously to the family of Kennedi Foret, an honors student studying marine biology who was the victim of a fatal car crash on December 19, 2021.

Additionally, during the ceremony, the University is set to award an Honorary Doctorate of Science to Dr. John Heaton (BS ‘81), the President and Chief Medical Officer of LCMC Health. Dr. Heaton is being honored for being one of the most respectful and well-respected clinicians in the state of Louisiana and for being a passionate advocate for patient safety and quality above all else.

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Nicholls Hosts Awards For Excellence

Recently, the many achievements of Nicholls State University alumni and other members of the Nicholls community were honored by the Nicholls Alumni Federation at the annual Awards for Excellence ceremony, as per the school.

Held on March 23, 2022, in the Bollinger Memorial Student Union’s Cotillion Ballroom, this year’s ceremony served as an opportunity for the Nicholls State University Alumni Federation to bestow its four Awards for Excellence to high-achieving supporters of Nicholls State University, be they graduates or not. In addition to the four winners of this year’s Awards for Excellence, the Federation honored the 2022 Hall of Fame recipients, which were made up of outstanding graduates from each of Nicholls’ colleges.

Preceded by a cocktail reception, the evening’s awards program saw the bestowing of the James Lynn Powell Award, the Harvey Peltier Award, the Corporate Mark of Honor, the Honorary Alumni Award, and several Outstanding Alumni awards to a member of each of Nicholls’ colleges.

Katherine Mabile, the director of Alumni Affairs for the Nicholls Alumni Federation, said of the evening, “we are so blessed as a university to have men and women such as these who have contributed so much to this institution and our community over the years. his university would not be here today without the passion and commitment of our remarkable alumni. It is an honor to recognize them through our awards ceremony.”

The James Lynn Powell Alumni Award is the single highest recognition given to a graduate of Nicholls State University. This year Michael J. Hebert, Jr, a native of Houma, was the recipient of this honor. Hebert is the chief of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as well as the National Jones Act Division of Enforcement (JADE). Hebert has spent over three decades in federal service, including nine years in the military, and in 2016, CBP charged the 2-time Nicholls Graduate with defining, establishing, and leading the newly-formed JADE division.

Today Hebert is responsible for the CBP’s coastwide trade enforcement strategy,, but he’s never forgotten his collegiate roots. Hebert returned to Nicholls from 2015 to 2018 to serve as an adjunct instructor of Petroleum Engineering and Safety Technology Management and criminal justice. Hebert had also contributed to the development of the criminal justice program’s curriculum.

The Harvey Peltier Award is the highest award given to a non-graduate of Nicholls. Similar to the criteria for receiving the James Lynn Powell Award, the recipient of this honor must be considered to be outstanding in their chosen field, contribute to the university and the community, and cannot be a Nicholls Graduate. This year’s Harvey Peltier Award was given to Mr. and Mrs. Salvador M. Brocato, III, two Nicholls supporters whose support began in 2017 when their son, Dominic Brocato, joined the Nicholls Football team.

Members of both the Nicholls Foundation and the Huddle Up Club, the Brocatos’ support for the university is felt across the campus. Not only were they the first to donate to 2020’s Boucvalt Family Athletic Complex Naming Campaign but they have also made remarkable contributions to the Nicholls Police, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, and the maritime management program, among many others.

The Corporate Mark of Honor is an award that’s typically awarded to an organization that has proven to be a strong supporter of Nicholls and its mission. This year, Nicholls State University President Dr. Jay Clune awarded the Corporate Mark of Honor to the Giardina Family Foundation, which has given to the Dyslexia Center, Nicholls Foundation, and other organizations across their years of service.

The Honorary Alumni Award is an honor bestowed to a non-graduate of the university who has shown a special interest in the school and who has given their time to Nicholls over the years. This year, Maria B. Cruse, MD., received the Honorary Alumni Award, as she has been highly involved with the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. Dr. Cruse was named an honorary culinary faculty member in 2011 and had a key role in the creation of the Culinary Guild.

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B&G Restaurateurs Donate to Nicholls State University Athletics

A sizable donation from two Morgan City restaurateurs is set to benefit over 350 student-athletes at Nicholls State University, according to a news release from the school.

Brenda and Gregory Hamer Sr, owners and operators of B&G Food Enterprises, have donated $100,000 to Nicholls State University Athletics. The Hamer family has a history within the Thibodaux and Houma region and with Nicholls State University itself, as their grandson, Garret LeBlanc, is a former Nicholls Football player.

Hillary Charpentier, director of the Colonel Athletic Association, said of the Hammers’ donation, “as the lowest funded school in the Southland Conference, donor dollars allow Nicholls Athletics to compete on the same or higher level than our peer institutions. Support like this has a direct impact on all student-athletes here at Nicholls. Our student-athletes must receive the support they need to compete and succeed at the highest level both on and off the field.”

Previously in 2021, the Hamers had donated $50,000 to the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute so that state-of-the-art kitchen and cooking equipment could be purchased and maintained for Nicholls Students. As a result, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute’s student lounge and culinary library was named the Gregory and Brenda Hamer Family/Taco Bell Student Lounge and Research Center. Gregory Hamer Jr, the couple’s son, was in the first graduation class of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

Gregory Hamer Sr. remarked to Nicholls press that he and his wife had plenty of reasons to support the university in saying, “we have one grandson who played for the football team, and we have another who plays for them now. We also have businesses in Morgan City, Thibodaux, Houma, and Matthews. It just makes sense for us to support Nicholls. We’ve been proud to support this university for years, and we’re happy to be able to help them with this incredible facility.”

As a sign of their appreciation, Nicholls Athletics has proposed that the Tight Ends Meeting Room be named after the Hamer’s grandson and former Nicholls Football player, Garret LeBlanc, and their business, B&G Enterprises, pending approval from the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.

The naming within the Boucvalt Family Athletic Complex is a part of a naming campaign that began in 2020 to raise money for current and future needs within Nicholls Athletics. The campaign’s initial goal was to name all areas within the facility, and each may be named after an individual, family, or business as per the guidelines set forth by the state of Louisiana, Nicholls State University, and the Donor Gifts Agreement. Funds accumulated from the naming campaign are used as both an endowment and for upkeep and maintenance within the athletic department.

Nicholls Athletic Director, Jonathan Terrell, commented on the recent donation by saying, “every student-athlete benefits from this. For them to be able to give from the heart is incredible because of how many people it’s going to help. We have this excellent new building, and with these dollars will be able to keep it in the best shape possible.”

B&G Food Enterprises, which was initially created in 1982 by the Hamers when they opened their first Taco Bell location in Morgan City, now operates over 150 Taco Bell locations across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas and is the largest Taco Bell franchise in Louisiana. Gregory Hamer Sr. is a Trustee of the National Restaurant Associationand the past chairman of the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Hamer Sr. also served as the president of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and was elected to the association’s Hall of Fame in 2002.

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Nicholls Received Donation to House Displaced Students

After Hurricane Ida struck the southeastern portion of Louisiana, hundreds of college students who had just started their 2021 Fall semesters were, unfortunately, displaced. Luckily, many colleges and universities across the state had opened their classrooms, dormitories, and facilities to these displaced college students, including Houma’s Nicholls State University. In fact, in order to provide living spaces for three dozen of their displaced students, Nicholls has been renovating their South Babington Hall thanks to a $125,000 donation from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, according to a press release from the school

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation, or the BRAF, was initially created in 1964 as a philanthropic organization offering relief and service projects across South Louisiana by working with local governments, partnering with nonprofit organizations, and issuing grants. The BRAF’s donation will be used to restore 18 dorm rooms that are located on the first floor of the building in order to provide living spaces to 36 Nicholls students. These students had previously lived off-campus, having been displaced by Hurricane Ida, but once the dorms are renovated they will have a place to call their home-away-from-home.

Lois Smyth spoke on behalf of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation as the director of their Donor Services, saying, “We understand that Nicholls State University received significant damages from Hurricane Ida, leaving many students homeless. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is pleased to support the work taking place in the Bayou region and it is our hope that this grant will assist with accommodating displaced students.”

Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune said of the donation, “While many of us are rebuilding our homes after Hurricane Ida, there are many more who do not have a home to return to. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Because of this gift, students will no longer have to worry about having a roof over their heads or where they are going to sleep. This is what it means to be Louisiana Strong.”

These renovations will consist of the installation of refreshed and refurbished lighting, the application of new coats of paint to the bottom floor, and repairs made to the various ceilings, flooring, and furniture in the various dorm rooms. While these renovations are expected to make up a large sum of the total $125,000 donation, the school reports that any additional funds will be used to update the building’s heating and cooling systems. Luckily, the renovations are only expected to last under a month, so students will be able to move in and enjoy the newly refreshed rooms before the semester is over.

Jeremy Becker, the Executive Director of The Nicholls Foundation, referred to these renovations as the “first step” to be made in helping students return to the campus, but there are still plenty more who could use the help as well. He had reportedly said, “This is a tremendous gift from BRAF and it will assist many students, but unfortunately the need is still great. We learn every day of more students needing not just assistance to attend Nicholls, but simply to have a place to call home. We will continue our fundraising efforts to meet that need as best it can be met.”

Recently, the Nicholls Foundation created the Campus Emergency and Hurricane Relief Fund in order to help students, faculty, and staff who have been impacted by storms like Hurricane Ida. The money collected from donations made to the fund will be used to help the community of Nicholls State University recover from the storm and get back on its feet. Donations to the Nicholls Foundation’s relief fund can be made here.

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