by Daniel Benitez & Erik Koike
It starts with a drop of ink, spreading and growing. The red and gray Colonels of Nicholls State University are growing too, this year being named the top regional university in Louisiana by the U.S. News & World Report in September 2019.
“For U.S News & World Report to say that were are number one in the state for public, southern universities, I think it’s a pretty big deal,” says Todd Keller, Nicholls Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Nicholls is located in Thibodaux, the 21st largest city in Louisiana, in other words, a pretty small town. With a population of just under 15,000, Thibodaux is not as known as other Louisiana cities like Alexandria, Lafayette, Monroe or even its neighbor, Houma. In fact, Houma more than doubles the population of Thibodaux with around 34,000. The institution itself has an enrollment of about 6,500, making it one of the smaller universities in Louisiana.
And while state funding has gone down in recent years, enrollment is increasing for the fourth year in a row according to the university’s enrollment office. And students is where everything begins. Together, they make up the spirit and culture of the school. In fact, the university has 107 programs of academic study and over 800 students involved in Greek life.
Ethan Adams, director of student rights and grievances, says Nicholls provides a beneficial education with a unique bond between its students and Thibodaux.
“Nicholls offers an opportunity for its students to get a world-class education from quality professors, while also still having a small community feel (to it),” Adams says.
Adams says the faculty at the university choose to stay and work in Thibodaux because of the region’s laid-back family culture.
“We have incredible professors that could be at ‘better’ universities, but they love living here, and so that’s why we retain them.”
Patrice Guidry, a nursing major from Lafayette, says Nicholls size allows faculty and staff to more personally help guide students in their college careers.
“I feel like it’s a school that’s not too small or too big, and I feel like it’s more family-oriented where everybody knows everybody,” Guidry says.
Jay Clune, university president since 2018 and a 1986 alumnus, has attempted to push the school forward with various campus renovations. From the announcement of a multi-million-dollar football facility, to the restoration of the front lawn of Elkins Hall, the revamping of the Bollinger Student Union and many more projects, Clune and his administration are trying to draw in more students to Nicholls through this work.
The university is stretching out to each corner of the Bayou region in southern Louisiana and using its physical location as “Closest to the Coast” as a way to actively engage, participate and lead coastal research and work. These areas of study and engagement draw many different kinds of students, from people who come from families with no college backgrounds, to out-of-state and international students.
This fall 2019 edition of Garde Voir Ci is focusing close to home, delving into the lives of Nicholls students, alumni and the community. Our staff will be continuously adding new content with videos, podcast series, feature stories, and more throughout the course of this issue exploring how much can be contained in A Drop of Red.