Nicholls Professor’s Book Poses Societal Questions About Life Outside Earth

A professor from Nicholls State University is looking to the stars and answering large social questions in a new book, so reports a press release from the university.   Dr. James Gilley, a political science assistant professor from Nicholls wrote and recently published the book, Space Civilization: An Inquiry into the Social Questions for Humans Living in Space. The book focuses on furthering the conversation on social ramifications of life in space, as the international advancement of various space exploration programs moves forward.

All across the globe, several countries have launched various projects that take a serious, research-based look at settling Mars, due to the planet’s proximity and similarities to our own, and while many qualified experts are focusing on the technology involved in the transportation to the planet and the technology involved in sustaining life, the Nicholls professor’s book poses questions on the human component. Space Civilization poses questions on topics such as identity, conflict, and governance, as the societal impact of colonization is set to be just as important as sustaining out-of-orbit life.

Dr. Gilley believes that his book will appeal to social scientists, though he wrote the book with a broader audience in mind, with him believing that Space Civilization will appeal to anyone interested in just how human society would function in different ways in space, off-world, and just outside Earth. Many are interested in continuing that conversation, and he hopes that his book can satisfy that curiosity.

“While a few answers are explored, this book is meant to kickstart a larger conversation about what social and human questions we will face as we attempt to become a multi-planetary species,” Dr. Gilley explained.  “Until now, most of that discussion has focused on the nuts and bolts engineering and technical questions. But the fact that we are talking about having human beings live and work in space and on other celestial bodies makes this a much more interesting question. Humans are much less predictable, and that makes the human questions much more difficult to answer.”

The question of humans becoming Martians, or at least Mars-bound, isn’t necessarily a question of “if?” for many experts, but “when?” Dr. Gilley estimates that the possibility of Mars colonization could take place in as little time as 15 years, depending on how human society invests in the project. So, with such a quickly-approaching possibility advancing on us, questions such as governance and societal ramifications of off-Earth living demand complex answers.

Nicholls Professor, Dr. James Gilley’s Space Civilization: An Inquiry into the Social Questions for Humans Living in Space proves that smaller institutions like Nicholls can be at the forefront of such cutting edge topics. Speaking on the impact of such institutions, Gilley stated, “At four-year universities like Nicholls, the social sciences are often relegated to the role of simply teaching students. While I deeply believe that that is the core mission of any educational institution, we have more to offer. Nicholls can be at the forefront of big human discussion, and the political science department can attract high-quality students and faculty willing to research and discuss the big questions about humanity’s future.”

The Nicholl’s professor’s book was published in the fall of 2020 by Lexington Books, and is available via bookseller outlets like Amazon, as it focuses on the questions of social sciences that must be answered in the likely event that humanity begins to earnestly move towards becoming a multi-planetary civilization. SpaceCivilization highlights the most pressing economic, political, and societal questions of space civilization.

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Nicholls Professor to Present at NCTE Conference

This month a professor from Nicholls State University will be presenting during the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention, as reported by a Nicholls press release.

The Nicholls Professor, Dr. Anthony Kunkel, will be speaking on the power of poetry during the national educator’s conference by way of a roundtable discussion when the annual convention meets in Baltimore in late November. The discussion is titled, “The Power of Poetry to Enhance Inquiry in the ELA Classroom.”

When speaking to the Nicholls press, the Nicholls Professor stated that “students today process their world at a fast pace. Sometimes phrasing can get lost in text-speak and memes,” Dr. Kunkel said. “Kids appreciate poetry and lyrics even more today. But they are often ignored as a means to help students write to express themselves. With all the tech available today, we want to give future teachers a way to engage students on a very creative and relevant level.”

Dr. Kunkel is no stranger to the NCTE, as he presented on utilizing the medium of “visual poetry” in the classroom at the previous year’s gathering. His discussion touched on outlining the benefits of visual poetry, which challenges students to use phrasing, visual effects, and technology in addition to the traditional poetic forms. This informative talk invited other interested parties as the English Language Arts Teacher Educators organization invited him to join their talk.

Dr. Anthony Kunkel is a professor at Nicholls State University in the Nicholls College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, a college that produces approximately 80 percent of the teachers for the Bayou Region, which is made up of cities like Thibodeaux, Houma, and Morgan City. Many alumni from the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences are award-winners in the educational field, holding such titles as teachers, principals, administrators, and legislators.

In addition to producing impressive graduates and faculty, the college also oversees some of Nicholls State’s most impactful campus programs, including but not limited to their pre-K program, the Louisiana Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disorders, Little Colonels Academy, and the Bridge to Independence Program. The later is a transformative program for students with autism and other intellectual disabilities to engage in the full college experience while also gaining valuable leadership and social skills needed for independent living and future employment.

When Nicholls Professor, Dr. Kunkel presents at the roundtable discussion, it will be at the first virtual NCTE Annual Convention. Each year the convention hosts thousands of educators to come together to collaborate and discuss a wide variety of learning strategies, curriculum planning, and research that informs their teaching, and despite being held virtually, the convention’s remote location allows for the organizers to offer approximately 400 sessions for attendees to engage in, and all attendees will have access to the sessions for up to 60 days following the convention.

For the past century, the National Council of Teachers of English has been seen as a great friend to educators, as the organization offers and provides teachers with in-class materials to support their professional success as well as publishing journals and other publications to advance the voices of educators nationwide at both the local and federal levels.

Their mission statement, which was adopted in 1990, perfectly encapsulates their supportive goal-orientated, objective which is stated as: “promot[ing] the development of literacy, the use of language to construct personal and public worlds and to achieve full participation in society, through the learning and teaching of English and the related arts and sciences of language.”

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Nicholls State University Among Top Southern Colleges

For the third year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has named Nicholls State University as a top public regional university (Top Southern College) in Louisiana, reports a Nicholls press release.

The 2021 report from U.S. News & World was released in mid September of 2020, and it ranks Nicholls as 35th among top public regional universities in the South, and it names the school as the 80th best southern college regional university, including private schools. This ranking in particular makes Nicholls the second best in the state of Louisiana, with Xavier University of Louisiana ranking as 16th.

This recent ranking of 35th and 80th amongst Southern Colleges is an impressive improvement for Nicholls from 2019 in which the State University ranked 38th and 84th, respectively, and as many news outlets have reported in 2020, Nicholls is certainly on the rise across disciplines, departments, and campus.

President Dr. Jay Clune said of the report, “while these rankings do not define us, they are a public assessment of our improvement as an institution and impact on the Bayou Region.” This humble acknowledgment of the ranking was accompanied by Sr. Clune stating, “I am pleased to see continued improvement among the rankings in the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings. Their formula places an emphasis on the education, retention and graduation of students, and so do we.”

Now, for the second year in a row, Nicholls has specifically ranked among the top southern colleges for social mobility, a division that is calculated by comparing each university’s Pell Grant recipient graduation rates with those of their non-Pell Grant-receiving peers.

This annual report generated by U.S. News & World categorizes its list of universities into four regions: northern, eastern, western, and southern; “regional” is defined by the group as any university that offers a plethora of undergraduate degrees, some master’s degrees, and a few doctoral programs. Additionally, a “public university,” is one that is operating beneath the supervision of a state government, partially funded by tax dollars.

Each school included on the ranking is calculated by U.S. World & News studying each school’s retention rates, graduation rates, social mobility, academic reputation, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and their alumni-giving rate. This year, the alumni-giving rate also measured student debt and increased the weight of each score that factored student outcomes.

Essentially every measurable metric by which to assess a university’s “rank” is taken into account, so it’s no large surprise that Nicholls University is among the top Louisiana colleges ranked.

U.S. News & World Report is a company that aims to empower people of the United States to make informed decisions about the important, pressing issues that affect their daily lives. The digital news and information company doesn’t take this service lightly, as many families look to this college ranking report each year when deciding where their rising seniors should apply, and rightly so, as the rankings are highly accurate, informative, and highly-encompassing. That is to say that the rankings are good indicators that a family’s money put into a college is “going to the right place,” if the attended school is higher on the list.

Besides education, U.S. World & News also informs consumers on life-changing decisions regarding health, personal finance, travel, cars, and news & opinions. The organization, provides a diverse range of consumer-relevant advice, rankings, news and analysis that people regularly consult and look to whenever facing a complex decision throughout life’s many stages.

The Washington D.C.- based U.S. News & World was founded in 1933, and it has over 30 million people consulting the site each month for both research and guidance.

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Nicholls and Chevron Assist in Small Business Recovery

Nicholls State University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Chevron recently partnered to create a virtual competition to assist with COVID-19 small business recovery in several south Louisiana parishes.  These parishes included Lafourche, St. Mary, Assumption, and Terrebonne parishes. Part of the competition required each small business to submit a statement on how the pandemic has affected their operations and identify how funds would be used if they were to be selected as one of the winners.  SBDC has now awarded eight small businesses $5,000 each to go toward recovery efforts.

Among the winners are:  Big Mike’s BBQ, Conner’s Repair Service, Country Kids Learning Academy, The Cove, Dat Sauce, Root2Rise, White Car, and Workout360.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, it created a dark cloud of uncertainty over the Bayou Region and its future,” said Jimmy Nguyen, Assistant Director of SBDC. “Nicholls and SBDC established this contest to provide hope for these businesses to progress forward. With Chevron’s generous donation, it provided not only financial relief but a boost of human energy to help the region overcome these challenges and become stronger.”

“Chevron believes in contributing to the areas where we live and work and, especially during this challenging time, supporting Louisiana small businesses,” said Leah Brown, Public Affairs Manager for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit. “We’re proud to partner with Nicholls to help a diverse group of local companies. Through these funds and the incredible work of Nicholls’ Small Business Development Center, we hope to see these businesses recover and thrive.”

Big Mike’s BBQ is a restaurant with locations in Houma and Thibodaux. Due to COVID-19, they had to lay off more than 50 employees.  Plans to move the restaurant to an improved facility were thwarted for at least two years by the loss in sales.  Big Mike’s plans to use the small business recovery funding to optimize how it performs to-co and takeout services.

“Winning this grant will give us the opportunity to implement necessary changes to our business quicker than expected,” said Lewis. “It will help us to energize our efforts to recover from the disruption of COVID-19. We are honored to be chosen as a winner, it renews our vision and is confirmation that we are doing all the right things to improve our business and to serve our community.”

Dean and Michael Conner operate Conner’s Repair Service out of Morgan City. Their various services were affected by decreased crude oil prices, and many of their customers have had to make cuts, resulting in a loss of about 40 percent of sales. The Conners plans to hire a new employee to do sandblasting and painting.

“Being a winner in this competition gives us confidence that we are not alone in our mission to bring stronger green initiatives to the oil market and manufacturing back to our country,” said Michael Conner. “We are very grateful for this opportunity and appreciate the recognition for the valuable work we provide for South Louisiana.”

Bonnie Soulet and Casey Soulet are the owners of Country Kids Learning Academy in Bourg, Louisiana. This childcare center provides services to children from birth to age 10, and the pandemic has caused renovations to fall several weeks behind. The academy will use the funds awarded from the small business recovery program to purchase technology to support student learning.

Bonnie Soulet stated, “We look forward to providing these valuable opportunities for our students. This says a lot about our company and the fact that people believe in our business idea, our determination and our knowledge in the childcare and early childhood education industry.”

More details on the individual winners are available in the full article located here.

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Cross Enrollment Agreement Reached Between Nicholls and Fletcher

According to Nicholls State University, they have recently reached three agreements that will pave the way for cross-enrollment of their campus with Fletcher Technical Community College.  Although the agreements cover several areas, one main emphasis reached between the two institutions is to prepare students that are studying early childhood education to enter their chosen field.

Meeting earlier this month at Fletcher’s main campus in Schriever, were Dr. Jay Clune, Nicholls State’s President, and Dr. Kristine Strickland, Chancellor of Fletcher.  The collaboration of cross-enrollment between the institutions was designed with the goal of ensuring credits were mutually transferable for the betterment of students. These agreements pertain to various programs, of which early childhood education and petroleum engineering are noteworthy.

Nicholls Dr. Clune stated, “Chancellor Dr. Strickland and I decided early on that we were not going to compete.  We decided we were going to benefit one another, complement one another, be completely transparent with one another and share everything. There are so many things we can work on together to better the Bayou Region.”

Fletcher Technical’s applied science program in care and development of young children is anticipated to complement the birth-to-five/early interventionist program available through Nicholls State.  Another set of complementary programs will be that of Fletcher’s integrated production technology program and Nicholls’ petroleum engineering technology and safety management program.

“Across the board in the state of Louisiana, birth to five education as a major is a top priority,” said Dr. Scot Rademaker, who is the Dean of the Nicholls College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. “I think this agreement between Nicholls and Fletcher will help bolster that and help us prepare students ready to go into the early childhood education field a better understanding.”

Fletcher Technical’s Dr. Strickland commented, “This program is perfectly timed to align with that new emphasis and the importance of educating our youth. Investing in and focusing on early childhood is where we create opportunities for our children and their futures.”

“We know people want a pathway to achieve not only an associate’s degree but a baccalaureate degree and beyond,” Dr. Strickland said. “And it is through the strong foundation that has occurred over the years and continues in our partnership with President Dr. Clune and his entire staff that we can say to our community, that all the options you need for education are right here in your backyard.”

Details and instructions on the cross-enrollment program are available on Fletcher’s website at:  Instructions are provided for students with Fletcher as their home institution, as well as for students with Nicholls as their home institution.  Home school is identified as where the student is enrolled for the majority of credit hours.

Of importance is that students in the program are eligible to take one credit hour at the host institution for each hour at the home institution.  No more than six credit hours may be taken at the host institution per semester/session. Consideration for exceptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and both institutions must approve.

For more information or questions, interested students can visit Fletcher’s website above or contact the Fletcher’s Registrar’s office via phone or email:

Alexis Knight, Registrar

(985) 448-7939

Trey Clark, Assistant Registrar

(985) 448-7970

The deadline to submit a cross-enrollment application for Spring 2020 was January 13, 2020.  The Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 application will be available April 6, 2020.

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Nicholls Financial Analysis Team Heads to Regional Finals

The Chartered Financial Analysis competitive team at Nicholls State University competed in the Southwest U.S. Research Challenge at Rice University on February 22.

The competitive team for Nicholls included:

  • Breanne Cazenave, a senior accounting and finance double major from Luling
  • Megan White, a senior accounting and finance double major from Pierre Part
  • Preston Thibodeaux, a senior accounting and finance double major from Baton Rouge
  • Carlos Calderone, a senior finance major from Morgan City
  • Terry Dupre, an MBA graduate student from Houma

The other teams in the finals were Baylor University, Rice University, St. Mary’s University, Texas A&M University, Texas Christian University, the University of Dallas and West Texas A&M University. Among the teams that made it into the finals, Nicholls is the only school from Louisiana, as well as the only team that wasn’t located in Texas.

This year’s Chartered Financial Analyst competitive team was advised and sponsored by Dr. John Lajuanie and Dr. Shari Lawrence, who are both professors of finance.

“Our students are consistently able to compete against major universities. To be this successful, really speaks highly of our students and their abilities,” Dr. Lawrence said. “As a small teaching university, we have dedicated faculty who give our students a lot of 1-on-1 attention. This is not just myself and Dr. Lajaunie. It’s all of the teachers they have had at Nicholls to bring them to this point.”

The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Research Challenge is an yearly international competition that provides students at various universities with hands on mentoring and training in financial analysis. Students are expected to work in teams to research and analyze a company, even going so far as to meet with company management.

Each team is then responsible for writing a research report on their company with buy, sell, or hold recommendations. Then, the teams are asked to present and defend their analysis to a panel of professionals.

In the first round, teams are judged based on their written work. In the finals, teams are further tested on their analysis and ability to effectively communicate their research.

Teams are given twenty minutes to discuss their results, then ten minutes to present, followed by a ten minute question session. The team who comes in first place will advance to the nationals in New York City and April 20-21 for the opportunity to compete globally.

This year makes the fifth time since 2011 that Nicholls State University Financial Analysis has made the regional finals, including making it into nationals in 2015.

“This is yet another great group of students. This is a very, very intense, comprehensive exercise and our students have done an amazing job,” Dr. LaJaunie said. “We’re one of the smallest public schools that compete. We’re one of those schools that’s not supposed to make it. But I tell my team that they can beat any school we’re matched up against because we have a history of doing just that.”

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