Nicholls Awarded Nearly $500,000 For Coastal Research

In an effort to save the eroding coast of the state of Louisiana, students from Nicholls State University have been given nearly $500,000 to conduct coastal research, according to Houma Today.

This hefty amount that will be used to research the Louisiana coastline is among eight Louisiana research grants announced recently by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the Water Institute of the Gulf. These eight grants all together amount to a pledged $2.5 million.

The Water Institute of the Gulf is responsible for “vetting” grant proposals on behalf of the State of Louisiana. Afterward, they select recipients whose proposals will be funded by oil money, which is required to be spent on coastal restoration projects. In fact, the $495,368 research grant going to Nicholls students consists of funds originating from penalties and fines that have been levied against BP and other companies that were involved in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

An assistant professor of biological sciences at Nicholls, Dr. Jonathan Willis, said of the aim of their research, “our understanding of how ridges function and the ecological and sociological communities they support is limited. By resolving targeted data gaps and providing conceptual models of ridge function, we can facilitate planning for coastal ridge restoration projects.”

The students at Nicholls will focus their research on ridges in particular. Ridges are strips of elevated land created by the Mississippi River, area bayous, and other waterways when collected sediment overflows their water banks. In most cases, that process ended sometime after flood-prevention levees were built along the Mississippi River and some of its connected tributaries in the late 1920s, and as a result, many of these ridges have since eroded and can no longer buffer communities and wetlands from flooding.

The Dean of Nicholls College of Science and Technology and the director of coastal initiatives, Dr. John Doucet said of the research grant, “this funding is recognition of the strong reputation of Nicholls scientists and students and the important coastal work they’ve been conducting over the years. This grant award is a win for Nicholls and the Coastal Center but it is also a win for the communities of the Terrebonne-Lafourche-Barataria region.”

Students at the University will conduct their research through a portion of south Louisiana between the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers known as the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary, including all of Terrebonne and Lafourche. This area has lost 598,730 acres or 935 square miles of land to erosion and rising seas since 1935.

Contributing to the research will be multiple members of faculty and students from Nicholls’ Biology, English,Geomatics, and History departments. These contributors will be in the field conducting surveys, performing lab analysis, conducting historical reviews, using drones to take aerial video and photography, and interviewing estuary residents. Nicholls State University reports that the work will begin this upcoming fall and continue well through 2023.

With this multi-year research project beginning soon, Nicholls will be positioning itself as a leading center in the region for coastal education and research. In fact, the school will begin preliminary work in the next year on a $14.5 million Coastal Center that will serve as a hub for research on Louisiana’s eroding wetlands that will give guidance on how they can be preserved and eventually restored. Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in 2019 that Nicholls expects to receive bids by the year’s end to start groundwork on the 33,000-square foot building with the work being financed by $2.5 million from the state coastal agency. They are expecting to get to work and break ground early next year.

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The Sales Program at Nicholls Receives Critical Acclaim

Once again the professional sales program at Nicholls State University has been named one of the best in the nation by a national sales publication, according to a press release from the school.

The critical acclaim comes from the Sales Education Foundation, a non-profit that has been offering support, information, and guidance to universities and prospective students alike since 2007. The 2021 edition of Sales Education Foundation Annual Magazine praised the professional sales education programs of several universities, and Nicholls was one of the five Louisiana institutions to top the list. The other schools were Southeastern Louisiana University, Louisiana State University, The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and  Xavier University of Louisiana.

The publication praised Nicholls’ College of Business Administration for its specialization, sales lab, and job replacement rate of 80%. Specifically, SEF’s publication said of the school, “this program utilizes a professional, corporate-style training facility including five role-play rooms that enhance the sales and behavioral skills of students in the program. Nicholls also has a cross-disciplinary degree program with Finance to prepare students for a career in Financial Services Marketing.”

While students who are enrolled in the College of Business Administration can earn degrees in  Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Information Systems, Finance, Management, and Marketing, it’s the two latter programs that often attract students across the school’s various departments.

Laura Valenti, the assistant professor of marketing and a faculty sales advisor, told Nicholls press that the Marketing program often attracts students of various disciplines. The acclaimed program is known to attract more than marketing students with students earning degrees in human resources, mass communications, and music who have benefitted from the faculty, curriculum, and resources from the department over the years.

The College of Business Administration holds an accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the world’s largest business education alliance and the gold standard in quality accreditations for all Colleges of Business. In fact, less than 5% of Colleges across the world hold this accreditation, and the College of Business Administration at Nicholls State University has held this respected distinction for over 30 years.

Valenti said of her department, “this program is unique because it embraces the diversity of the Nicholls student. Personal selling is a universal skill set and all are welcome to learn in the sales class. The outcome is a student who in three months can approach the real world with the ability to sell themselves as well as a product or service.”

Also praised by the SEF was the school’s Annual Bayou Sales Challenge, a regional, intercollegiate sales competition hosted by the College of Business each spring. The annual sales challenge is famous in the state for offering an opportunity for students who are interested in pursuing a sales career to showcase their professional selling skills through role-play. The 2021 competition saw competitors from Florida State University, Louisiana State University, Nicholls State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The Bayou Sales Challenge began in 2003 after Nicholls’ state-of-the-art and interactive sales lab was built thanks to a generous donation from Northwestern Mutual. This past February marked the 17th year of competition as participating universities sent their top sales students to showcase their sales talent and knowledge in front of company representatives who served as judges of the competition.

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Nicholls Culinary Institute Gains Two Scholarships from Rouses Markets

It was recently announced that the Nicholls’ Chef John Folse Culinary Institute will be receiving two new scholarships from a Louisiana grocery store chain.

Having just celebrated its 60thanniversary last year, the Louisiana-based grocery brand known as Rouses Markets opened one of its first stores in Houma, so it’s only poetic that the two new scholarships offered to future culinary institute professionals at Nicholls will be named after influential members of the Rouses’ legacy. One scholarship will be named after Anthony Rouse, Sr, who pioneered the first Rouses Market in 1960, and the other will be named after Leroy Theriot who was the innovative butcher and meat manager at the original Rouses Market.

The current CEO of Rouses’, Donny Rouse, said of the two new scholarships, “We’re happy to continue our commitment to Nicholls State University and the next generation of culinary and grocery professionals with the endowment of these two scholarships.”

Both scholarships are categorized as “endowed scholarships,” which are those academic grants that are established for scholarship funds to be awarded for multiple years, depending on the initial donation size. The director of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, Chef John Kozar, told the University that each scholarship would be ideal to cover the sets of fees culinary students will sustain or incur throughout their degree program.

As Anthony J. Rouse, Sr. was and still is a prominent name in the local grocery industry, the Anthony J. Rouse, Sr. Food Entrepreneurship Scholarship will award $1,500 per academic year to any part-time Rouses Markets employee or any dependent of any Rouses employees who are culinary institute majors. The scholarship board for the Rouses Scholarship will be giving preference to applicants who have an interest in food entrepreneurship.

In a similar trend, the Leroy Theriot Meat & Charcuterie Culinary Arts Scholarship will give preference to any applicants with an interest in the art of butchery and butcher crafts. Before he was Rouses’ first meat manager, Theriot was a prominent butcher at Ciro DiMarco’s grocery before DiMarco left the shop to open the initial 7,000-square-foot Rouses in Houma. According to Rouses’, the Theriot scholarship “seeks to develop the next generation of meat science professionals.”

When speaking on the naming and intention of each scholarship, Rouses CEO Donny Rouse said, “Leroy Theriot set the standard for every butcher who has followed him at Rouses. And Pa knew success doesn’t just happen; it is made to happen and requires sacrifice, dedication, and a commitment to quality and service. He was a true entrepreneur.”

Chef John Kozar, who has a valuable stake in both the culinary students at Nicholls and the nearby grocery industry, said of the partnership between university and grocery chain, “Rouses Markets has been a Bayou Region icon for nearly a century. Many of our students and graduates work for the company, and we are thankful for their constant support.”

The sentiment was echoed by the executive director of the Nicholls Foundation, Jeremy Becker, who remarked on the strengthening partnership between Nicholls and Rouses, two titans of the Bayon Region. Becker called the installation of the two new scholarships exciting and also rewarding in that they will “not only benefit Rouses employees but also honor two very important people in the history of Rouses; it is a great example of Rouses investing in their employees, their community and Nicholls.”

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is the single post-secondary institution in Louisiana that offers a four-year culinary degree. The sheer impact that the faculty, current students, and graduates have made on the culinary landscape of Louisiana is immeasurable, and that impact will continue to grow thanks to Rouses Markets’ two new endowed scholarships.

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Nicholls Professor Awarded Grant to Improve Science Education

Students in the Bayou Region will soon be able to learn first-hand about DNA and molecular structures thanks to a grant awarded to a Nicholls professor, according to a press release from the school.

The Louisiana Board of Regents, the state agency that coordinates all public higher learning institutions in the state, has recently awarded Nicholls assistant professor of teacher education, Dr. Aimee Hollander, $69,056 for a project that will serve to educate local students and faculty about molecular structures through the creation and displaying of models.

In addition to being a Nicholls assistant professor, Dr. Hollander serves as the program director for the Center for Teaching Excellence and science secondary education, making her the perfect liaison to bring this valuable resource to Nicholls’ campus for both university and high school students and faculty to benefit from.

Now that it’s funded, the project aims to house an impressive collection of magnetic 3D molecular models at Nicholls’ Ellender Memorial Library so that it can be used by local biology and chemistry faculty for their courses. The models will be available for checkout to faculty at Nicholls as well as local schools, potentially impacting thousands of students. In addition to the models, the grant is also set to fund professional development for faculty so that the models can be used as effectively as possible.

The professional development will ensure that teachers know the full functionality and set of uses for the models, with the development being aligned to the Louisiana Science Standards. The State Standards require Louisiana educators to incorporate “the developing and use of models” to teach matter structure, chemical reactions, and information processing, so not only will the models available at Nicholls be useful but the professional development will be as well.

When it comes to certain subject matter in Chemistry, many students struggle with imagining abstract subject matter like DNA, due to its minuscule size. The conceptualization can often be a roadblock or a deal-breaker for students majoring in the sciences or those simply taking science courses as part of a general education degree plan. This can often lead to students seeking out videos of digital molecular models on Youtube, which can be helpful for some, but students that identify as tactile learners will have a lot more success with the physical 3D magnetic molecular models soon to be found at Ellender Memorial Library.

Housing the 3D models in the University library follows the long-standing collegiate tradition of the library being the centerpiece of all facets of research, information gathering, and in more recent years: educational resources. The internet is widely known to be a source of information, but with Youtube offering resources as well as uncertified curricula on its platform, many science majors might be tempted to take the “easy way out” and learn about Chemistry concepts from a content creator instead of their professor, which can have systemic problems and detrimental consequences down the line.

Ellender Memorial Library offers a maker space that will be able to be used in conjunction with the models to advance learning and modeling, which might lead to future 3D modeling competitions being brought to the Bayou Region some years in the future. These events are a unique blend of hybrid education and competitive spirit that students with interests in both the sciences and engineering can benefit from.

When asked about the impact of this grant in the coming years, Nicholls professor, Dr. Hollander said, “I have always wanted to provide my students with a more hands-on experience when learning biology and chemistry. These models will be accessible to regional teachers for use anytime during the semester and provide an experience that cannot be provided otherwise.”

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Four Nicholls Online Programs Received National Recognition

This past year has brought a large wave of Academic acclaim for the online degree programs offered by Nicholls State University, according to various press releases from the school. Just throughout the month of April alone, the school has received top national and state-wide rankings for its online programs for Health Sciences, History,Sociology, and English.

The national recognition for each online program comes from various academic outlets, and the awards and rankings serve as a testament to not only the strength of the Thibodeaux University’s notorious online degree infrastructure and program but also the University’s successful pivoting and refocusing on online learning in the past year due to the state’s stay-at-home measures.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences

The University’s online Bachelor’s Degree program for Health Sciences received critical acclaim and a top ranking in the state from, which ranked the school’s Allied Health Sciences program number 1 in both “Most Popular Online Bachelor’s Degree Trade Schools in Louisiana” and “Most Popular Online Trade Schools in Louisiana.”

Claire Bourgeois, the program coordinator for Nicholls’ Health Sciences program reacted to the acclaim by saying, “It is an honor to be recognized as the Most Popular Online Degree. This would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of our faculty members and students. The faculty always goes above and beyond to provide a quality education to a diverse group of students.” Nicholls’ Health Sciences Program offers students two concentrations for its online Bachelors degree program: Pre-Professional and Health & Wellness. More information about Nicholls’ Health Sciences program can be found here.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in History

Nicholls’ History online Bachelor’s Degree program for History received a Top 40 ranking from, with the site naming the program No. 35 in the nation and highlighting the school as having the best focus on modern history.

Dr. Paul Wilson, the department head for Nicholls History and Geography said of the program, “although we’re a small program, we do emphasize the importance of modern history to give students a greater understanding of the world around them.” also ranked the university’s in-person History program as No. 17 in the nation back in March 2021, particularly highlighting the graduate school’s preparation as one of the best in the nation. More information about Nicholls’ History program can be found here.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in English

Nicholls University’s online Bachelor’s Degree program in English was named one of the best undergraduate English and writing programs in the United States by College Cliffs.

Dr. Robert Alexander, Nicholls’ English, Modern Languages, and Cultural Studies department head credited the program’s success to the “faculty’s commitment to offering a variety of excellent courses in a timely manner so that students can progress efficiently toward their academic and professional goals.” compiled its Top 15 list by including online degree programs from the “most prestigious” schools across the nation, with Nicholls being one of only two Louisiana schools making appearances on the list.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology

The university’s online Bachelor’s Degree program for Sociology was recently named as the No. 18 online sociology degree program in the country from, with the school being one of only two Louisiana universities on the list.

Tina Granger, an instructor and Sociology program coordinator for the university attributed the program’s acclaim to the structure of the curriculum by saying, “we have uniquely structured our degree to provide individuals with real-world knowledge of the social forces, facts and global issues that shape our daily lives.” More information about Nicholls’ Sociology program can be found here.

While the University is no stranger to receiving various awards, critical acclaim, and national recognition in the springtime, it cannot be undervalued or understated that this awarding of four separate online degree programs from four separate outlets in the same month is a credit to not only the school’s academic achievement, but also it’s long-standing commitment to its student body, as evidenced by their flexibility in how to earn its highly-valued degrees- be it in person or online.

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Nicholls Partners with U.S. BOEM to Develop Database of Coastal Research

It was recently announced that Nicholls State University is partnering with the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to develop a database for coastal research conducted on the Bayou Region and Gulf Coast, according to a press release from the school.

It was outlined that the $400,000 project would take place over a four year period, wherein a database and repository would be created for scholars, agency officials, and members of the community to contribute to and benefit from. The project is titled, “Digital Curation: Streamlining Access to Research Across Gulf of Mexico Communities.” Aptly named, the project’s title also stands as a concise mission statement for the goals set forth by the partnership.

Nicholls’ dean of the College of Sciences and Technology and director of coastal research initiatives, Dr. John Doucet remarked on this momentous collaborating, saying: “The Digital Curation Project will improve how levels of government from federal to local find key resources for environmental impact statements and other reports related to the Louisiana Gulf Coast, The Digital Curation Project will improve how levels of government from federal to local find key resources for environmental impact statements and other reports related to the Louisiana Gulf Coast.”

Dr. Doucet went on to say, ““The project is an important addition to our growing portfolio of coastal services at Nicholls as the Louisiana university ‘Closest to the Coast.’ It shows our continuing commitment to coastal communities.” He will oversee the project alongside Dr. Gary LaFleur, R.E. Miller Endowed Professor of Honors Studies and executive director of the Center for Bayou Studies.

Overseeing the day-to-day project operations and student training as project manager will be Dr. Shana Walton, Nicholls associate professor of English, modern language and cultural studies. Walton remarked to Nicholls press that the Center for Bayou Studies is notable in that it alone is uniquely qualified to develop the database because much of the research is composed of qualitative reports based on structured interviews, surveys, oral histories, field notes, and observations. Because of this variety of qualitative reporting, the accurate coding of coastal research reports requires a deep knowledge of the surrounding region and its culture.

The project initially started its work back in October by conducting studies that had been commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and other agencies. In addition to the studies, the work involved archival material and projects, such as regional oral histories and information gathered, analyzed, and collected from local historical groups.

Dr. LaFleur remarked on the project’s meaning, saying: “this project represents a history of hard work laid down by Dr. Walton through her past BOEM projects, and Nicholls researchers taking the innovative step to work together within the Center for Bayou Studies.”

Not only will the project fund graduate fellows to help construct the database itself, but it will also allow for the professional utilization of that information. Additionally, opportunities will emerge for Nicholls faculty to develop their own research initiatives, allowing for undergraduates to take part in class-based projects.

This project opens the doors for accomplished faculty, graduate fellows, and inquisitive undergraduates to combine their eagerness for research and respect for their surrounding region. This pursuit of information, data, methods, and knowledge undertaken by the university and the U.S. Bureau stands tall as a perfect encapsulation of higher education at its best. The Center for Bayou Studies is housed at Nicholls State University, and it’s a multidisciplinary faculty collaborative focusing on the cultural and natural resources of the Bayou Region and its famed wetlands.

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