Two Nursing Programs Ranked Number One in the Nation

Two Southeastern online nursing programs have earned recognition as the top programs in the nation by, an online resource for prospective students interested in the nurse practitioner field. Southeastern was recognized for its online MS in Nursing—Family Nurse Practitioner and online Post-Master’s Certificate—Family Nurse Practitioner programs.

According to the website, only those programs deemed affordable were recognized, meaning that the program’s cost, factoring in both in-state and out-of-state tuition, placed it in the upper third of all online NP programs in terms of affordability.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments of students and faculty in the School of Nursing,” said Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Ann Carruth. “The online Nurse Practitioner programs combine quality and convenience. Full- and part-time options are available depending on students’ work schedule, and the faculty work closely with graduate nursing students to maintain Southeastern’s tradition of excellence.”

For more information on Southeastern’s online nursing programs, contact the School of Nursing at

The full rankings can be accessed here.

Strong Enrollment Growth During Summer Online

Southeastern’s summer semester has experienced its highest enrollment growth since 2014.

Overall student numbers are up 10.4 percent, with undergraduate student growth at 12.3 percent and graduate student numbers increasing by 1.3 percent. The number of continuing Southeastern undergraduate students enrolled in the summer semester also increased by 15.3 percent.

This is due in part to a reimagining of the established Summer Smart program to better meet the needs of students during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring safe and expanded access to coursework while reducing costs for all students. This new program is named Summer Online.

Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Kay Maurin said an additional 422 current students enrolled for summer course work compared to last year. She explained that the strategy for the summer was to be accessible and affordable and described the online offerings and the summer scholarships as enticing, with the needed courses in an accessible format and the cost to attend reasonable.

“We waived admission application fees and continued to offer the Summer Smart scholarship to undergraduates, while also expanding it to include graduate students,” she said. “We thought it important to provide financial incentives, especially during these challenging times. We care about our students, and we want them to be able to complete their degrees as efficiently as possible and with little to no debt.”

Maurin said the University is pleased with the growth experienced this summer.

“Because we were responsive to the environment created by COVID-19, we were able to quickly adapt and offer summer coursework in an accessible online format,” she explained. “Even though this global pandemic has changed the way we do business, it shouldn’t have a negative impact on an individual’s desire to pursue a college degree. That was foremost in our minds as we planned the summer semester.”

Southeastern’s summer program now provides one of the best values among four-year colleges in South Louisiana. Summer semester terms range from four to eight weeks.

College of Education Dean Appointed as President of Louisiana Association of Colleges of Teacher Education

College of Education Dean Dr. Paula Summers Calderon has been selected to serve a two-year term as President of Louisiana Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (LACTE).

LACTE is the state-level affiliate of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and represents the 20 institutions of higher education that prepare educators within Louisiana.

State chapters provide a vehicle for teacher educators to take a unified position on state-specific issues and to meet as partners with stakeholders such as state departments of education, teachers’ organizations, and the Board of Regents. Chapters can also provide networking, service, and research opportunities.

The presidents from state chapters are members of AACTE’s Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR). The primary purpose of ACSR is to serve as a collaborative network for chapter leaders across the states and to bring state-level perspectives to all AACTE activities.

Serving Others Through New Communication Sciences and Disorders Book Club

Southeastern Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Martha Sherrill has much experience with helping those who suffer from brain injuries.

Prior to Covid-19, Sherrill led an in-person support group for adult survivors of strokes and brain injuries at the North Oaks Medical Center in conjunction with their Rehabilitation Department. Survivors of strokes and brain injuries, as well as their caregivers, met as a group once a month to socialize, share experiences, and discuss different topics of recovery and rehabilitation. The pandemic put a quick halt to in-person meetings, which left the group with few opportunities to interact or socialize, particularly those with communication disorders such as Aphasia, an acquired loss of language due to stroke / brain injury.

As a result, a book club was created through the CSD program as a way to keep the social and community ties of the support group alive. It also gives participants a chance to work on communication strategies and skills in a supportive and friendly environment. The group meets every Tuesday at 12 p.m. through Zoom to socialize, share experiences, and discuss a chapter or two of the latest book and is free and open to any community members with stroke or brain injuries and / or caregivers.

“One of the things that makes this group special is that participants include former Southeastern faculty members who have suffered strokes / brain injuries and now have permanent language loss. There are also relatives of current Southeastern employees and others from our community and beyond,” said Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders Lillian Stiegler. “Most of the members are past the traditional ‘rehab’ period that occurs soon after a stroke / brain injury but can still benefit greatly from ongoing language stimulation and conversation practice. If Dr. Sherrill were not doing this project, most of them would be receiving minimal opportunities for social communication enhancement and enrichment. It is an extraordinary labor of love.”

The book club welcomes 12-16 group members per week, and thanks to Zoom remote technology, they have group members well beyond Hammond. Patients from Touro’s rehabilitation unit have been able to join them, as well as group members in Texas, Illinois, and Florida. The club will remain “virtual” for the foreseeable future and welcomes new group members at any time.

The CSD program is supporting the purchase of books for participants, and CSD student clinicians are given the opportunity to participate and learn from the group as well.

For more information, contact Sherrill at or at 985.549.3436.

College of Science and Technology Offers New Master’s Concentration

Southeastern’s College of Science and Technology is now offering a Master of Science in Integrated Science and Technology with a new focus area in data science.

“We are truly excited about ISAT’s new concentration in data science,” said Director of Graduate Studies John Boulahanis. “This program represents Southeastern’s real-world-ready commitment to the business community and to our students.”

Boulahanis said Southeastern’s world-class faculty developed the graduate program with a data science concentration in direct response to IT industry demand from both employers and employees.

“This is a win-win with an expedited return on investment,” he said. “Employers fast-track gaining highly advanced data modeling expertise in-house in tandem with their employees as they progress through the program. Employees accelerate advancing their careers and in achieving their organizations’ business goals.”

Boulahanis explained that the program is business friendly and designed for seasoned IT professionals. Students work closely with their data science faculty mentors, culminating in a student-driven thesis / research project directly related to an employer-based project.

The program has online and convenient class schedules with 33 credit hours and degree completion in two years or less. Scholarships are available and employer-provided education benefits are accepted, Boulahanis said.

Applications for admission are now being accepted. Students can begin the program during the fall, spring, or summer semesters.

For more information, contact Boulahanis at (985) 549-2610 or

College of Nursing and Health Sciences Launches New Degree Program

Southeastern’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences has added a new degree program. Students now have the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences.

According to Professor of Health Education and Assistant Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Ralph J. Wood, the degree prepares students to pursue a variety of career opportunities in public health, health care, population health, and other health science-related industries or graduate programs in occupational therapy, physical therapy, athletic training, and physician assistant.

“We started admitting students in January,” Wood said. “This is the perfect degree for students who want to pursue careers in public health and healthcare-related fields, such as health coaching and patient navigation.”

Course work in the program focuses on evidence-based public health strategies to prevent chronic disease and promote community population health. The core curriculum provides students with course work in epidemiology, human disease and treatment, research, population health management, and health communication. It also includes 21 hours in health science electives that can be chosen from biology, physics, chemistry, kinesiology, health systems management, psychology, nursing, microbiology, and family and consumer sciences.

“Graduates will be prepared with a solid undergraduate foundation to pursue further graduate study and / or professional degrees in occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant, dental hygiene, public health, and athletic training,” Wood explained. “Additionally, it provides students with the skills and competencies of the Certified Health Education Specialist.”

For more information about the program, email Wood at

Giving Back: Partnering for Increased Opportunities

Support comes to Southeastern’s students in many ways. A growing area of support is coming from industry and companies in the private sector who view their efforts as both altruistic and wise investing. This kind of support ensures that students in key fields are prepared to enter the workforce at a level the companies need, ready to make an impact from day one of employment. As companies find these partnerships a wise investment, Southeastern works to ensure its curriculum and programs meet the needs that fuel regional employment and economic growth.

The list of companies supporting Southeastern continues to grow and includes both regional and national organizations, some of which include North Oaks Health System; First Guaranty Bank; Sanderson Farms; United Rentals, Inc; Entergy; and more. In recent months, Southeastern has seen multiple companies provide several large strategic investments.

Northwestern Mutual, Inc. and Professional Sales

slu_northwestern_mutual_donationcrTop image, seated, from left: Northwestern Mutual Managing Director / Financial Advisor Paul Hodge and Northwestern Mutual Managing Partner of Louisiana and Mississippi Steven Dugal. Standing, from left: Southeastern Associate Professor of Marketing Tara’ Lopez; Brian Jones, Northwestern Mutual college unit director / financial advisor; Kolby Hodge; Lisa Dugal; Katy Simpson, chief marketing officer; Michael Bazile, chief operating officer; April Kemp, instructor of marketing; and Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale.

Students in Southeastern’s new Professional Sales Program will soon benefit from a state-of-the-art training room thanks to a $100,000 donation from Northwestern Mutual.

The new Northwestern Mutual Sales Training Room will be located in Garrett Hall, home to the College of Business.

Steven Dugal, managing partner of the Mississippi and Louisiana offices, as well as Paul Hodge, managing director of the Mandeville and Gulfport offices, are supporting
the initiative.

“We are excited to get involved in Southeastern’s Professional Sales Program. From our experience at other universities, sales students ramp up faster than non-sales students, have lower turnover, and are more prepared for the workforce” said Dugal, noting that Northwestern Mutual has been instrumental in donating to other similar, successful programs at universities.

Southeastern’s Professional Sales Program was created to draw high-ability students toward selling as a career, better prepare those students for early success in professional selling careers, and connect them with sales professionals in the region. According to research conducted by the Sales Education Foundation, more than 50 percent of business school graduates enter the workforce in a sales-oriented position.

“We know that professional sales is not only a starting point for careers, but is becoming more and more important across all sectors of the economy,” said College of Business Dean Toni Phillips. “The Southeastern Professional Sales Program will help train the next generation of sales leaders, and the investment that Northwestern Mutual is making demonstrates that the program is on the right track. We are really appreciative of Northwestern Mutual.”

An important objective of the program, Phillips added, is to connect sales program students with sales professionals and organizations through role-play competitions, internships, guest speakers, panel discussions, and career opportunities. The new facilities help directly achieve this.

Intralox and Engineering Technology

111119_136Using supplies donated by Intralox, students Zachary Kamm and Alex Milles work on a project to study and suppress vibrations.

In addition to the large donation from Performance Contractors in recent years, the Department of Industrial and Engineering Technology continues to see companies wanting to invest in Southeastern’s growing Engineering Technology program.

“We are seeing more interest from companies in key industries that see the needs they have both now and in the future. These partnerships help Southeastern, its students, and the company,” said Mohammed Saadeh, department head for Industrial and Engineering Technology. “Intralox, a global conveyor system company headquartered here in Louisiana, has become one of these great partners.”

Intralox donates supplies for senior projects of students in the Engineering Technology program, including Zachary Kamm, a senior who worked with a team of two other students, Alex Milles and Monroe McCarty, on a project to study and suppress vibrations. “Our project is a Vibration Analyzation System. This can have a great deal of implications on vibration suppression in equipment, machinery, and surroundings. Once the project is fully assembled we will be able to perform multiple experiments on it to find things such as the natural frequency of the system, as well as the theoretical values of a separate mass and spring constant that would attach underneath our cage to eliminate the vibrations,” explained Kamm.

The project and the experience these students will receive from this level of hands-on learning will be invaluable. Kamm stated, “If it wasn’t for Intralox’s financial support, we wouldn’t be able to build this project at all.”

“Our manufacturing business requires employees with strong academic and practical knowledge of the many mechanical, electrical, computer control, and logic systems we utilize daily. Providing Southeastern with resources to connect classroom learning with hands-on application, along with being able to align courses that are relevant to our business through participation in their advisory board, helps meet our current and future needs. Our Southeastern graduates have been instrumental to our ongoing success,” said Chris Verdigets, Intralox Hammond manager.

Smitty’s Supply Inc. and Business

Giving Back Article, slu_smittysMembers of Smitty’s Supply Board of Directors present a $250,000 donation to Southeastern. From left: Luiz Macedo; Charles Brister; Chad Tate, president; Ed Smith, owner / CEO; Steve Hoover; Katherine Rose, Southeastern senior director of Development & Advancement Services; Brad Berner; James Ballard; Joe Miller; and David Padgett.

Southeastern is also getting support in multiple areas in the College of Business thanks to a $250,000 donation from Smitty’s Supply Inc.

The contribution will benefit four specific areas—business, supply chain management, accounting, and the recently established professional sales program.

“This significant gift demonstrates Smitty’s Supply Inc.’s commitment and partnership with Southeastern,” said Senior Director of Development and Advancement Services Katherine Rose. “Smitty’s investment in Southeastern is transforming the lives of students.”

Four endowments were created as a result of the donation—the Edgar R. Smith III Endowed Professorship in Business, the Christina Smith Leto Endowed Scholarship in Supply Chain Management, Smitty’s Supply Inc. Endowed Scholarship in Accounting, and the Christina Smith Leto Sales Program Endowment. Part of the donation also includes funds to complete construction of the executive conference room in Southeastern’s Professional Sales Training Center.

“Supply chain management is one of our fastest-growing programs at Southeastern, and it offers students excellent career opportunities,” Rose said. “Our accounting program has a long history of providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to meet the needs and challenges of today’s businesses.”

The funds for the Professional Sales Program, Rose explained, will be used to complete the construction of the executive conference room in the Professional Sales Training Center and create annual funds to support unexpected program needs. Additionally, two of Smitty’s management team members have volunteered to serve as sales student mentors.

Southeastern creates economic opportunity. This opportunity is both for its students and for the companies and entities that will hire them. Generating a match between industry need and personal opportunity creates a growing economy. Giving back through partnerships is one of the many ways that Southeastern works for the benefit of its students and the region.

By Mike Rivault

Lion Up Recovery Scholars Series

The Lion Up Recovery program at Southeastern Louisiana University is hosting a Virtual Scholars Series this July. The Scholars Series will host pertinent topics related to recovery, including how collegiate recovery programs work, reducing stigma in the community, and more.

The most important aspect of this event is that it serves as a fundraiser for scholarships for students in recovery. All monies raised in ticket sales will go towards establishing sustainable endowments for current and future students enrolled in Lion Up Recovery.

The series will end July 24 with keynote speaker Executive Director for the Association of Recovery in Higher Education Tim Rabolt speaking about his personal experience with Collegiate Recovery at George Washington University.

More information about the Recovery Scholars Series can be found here. Those interested in attending the event may purchase tickets hereAll alumni, family, friends, and anyone who is interested in supporting the cause is welcomed.

Lion Up Recovery—a supportive environment within the campus culture that reinforces the decision to engage in a lifestyle of recovery from substance use—launched in the fall of 2019. Being the first such program to launch in the state, there was tremendous support from the University administration led by Dr. John L. Crain. The launch of the program was celebrated with a visit from Louisiana’s Commissioner for Higher Education Dr. Kim Hunter Reed and representatives from the Board of Regents that included Vice President for Student Affairs and Governance Erica Calais and Program Administrator Dr. Allison Smith.

Since the introduction of Lion Up Recovery, seven students in recovery have enrolled in the program, have all successfully completed their spring semester, and are one step closer to graduation. Some are quite close. Four of the students have plans to graduate in May of 2021. Combined, the students in the program had an average 3.86 GPA this spring semester.

Lion Up Recovery provides a full-time coordinator, Madison Evans, LPC; a weekly seminar; a space for students in recovery; over 12 open recovery meetings per week; sober tailgating; student participation in national and regional higher education conferences; Narcan training; Recovery Ally training; and more. The program has a year-round application process. Southeastern students can apply online at

To image: Lion Up Recovery board members. Pictured from left: Greg Snodgrass, Annette Baldwin, Dan Gilmer, Angie King, Christopher Flanagan, Madison Nyquist, Madison Evans, Angela Tyrone, Andrea Peevy, Emily Simcoe, Emily Meyers, Monica Sheleay, Felicia Kleinpeter, and Tom Bennett (Not Pictured: Dr. Chip Thirstrup. Randal Gomez, Stuart Carpenter)

Determined to Rise: The Woman’s Suffrage Movement in Louisiana

The Centennial Women’s Suffrage Project (CWSP) at Southeastern was created to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, securing women the right to vote. 

A traveling exhibit, Determined to Rise: The Woman’s Suffrage Movement in Louisiana, was organized by CWSP to celebrate the challenges and triumphs of the women’s suffrage movement in Louisiana and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. It will be displayed during the first two weeks of August at the Union Museum of History and Art in Farmerville, LA, and at the Shaw Center in Baton Rouge during the last two weeks of August. Visitors can view the exhibit free of charge.

women's suffrage exhibit panelscrtopDeveloped with grant support from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) Rebirth grant program, the exhibit consists of eight panels depicting photos of Louisiana suffragists, a timeline of significant events, the movement from the African-American woman’s perspective, laws that have changed since women gained the vote, and Louisiana women who have made their mark on history.

CWSP is currently accepting applications to host Determined to Rise from September 2020 through 2021. The exhibit consists of four double-sided retractable stand posters, 31.5” w x 89.75” h; a guest book for thoughts and reflections; a retractable literature stand; a suffragette costume and mannequin; a six-foot table; a table throw and runner; an LED TV; and panel identification cards. Each exhibit period will be for 2 weeks.

Those interested can sign up to host Determined to Rise here, or contact Angela Dunnington at for more information.

Women’s suffrage conferenceThe Centennial Women’s Suffrage Project has also participated in several events throughout 2020. These began on February 13 with a talk at the Old Governor’s Mansion as part of their Heritage Lecture series. The presentation was held in conjunction with the Mansion’s grand opening of their First Ladies of the Old Governor’s Mansion exhibition. On March 5, CWSP held its first annual Grit and Grace Conference and Equali-tea event to promote scholarship on gender equality, social change, and political activism. Beginning July 6, the group will host a Summer Institute on Teaching with Primary Sources, funded by a grant from the Library of Congress. This workshop aims to help local K-12 teachers design lessons and work with teaching primary sources dedicated to gender equality and the suffrage movement.

The Centennial Women’s Suffrage Project is a cross-disciplinary effort, founded by Carol Madere of the Department of Communication and Media Studies and Angela Dunnington of Sims Memorial Library. Other members are Samantha Cavell from the Department of History and Political Science; Amber Narro and Elizabeth Hornsby from the Department of Communication and Media Studies; Lisa Moody from the Department of English; Jordan Ahrend from the Department of Teaching and Learning; Elizabeth Sanders from Sims Memorial Library; Sheri Gibson from the Office of Marketing and Communications; Megan Sanders, graphic design specialist; and Stephanie Katz, media and photography specialist. For more information, visit

Fateful Encounter: A Southeastern WWII Love Story

The year is 1944. In New York City, the Metropolitan Opera House is playing its first jazz concert, featuring the talents of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. The film Casablanca wins three Academy Awards: one for Best Picture, one for Best Director, and one for Best Adapted Screenplay. In France, The Allied Forces land on the beaches of Normandy in a historical military assault. In a Thanksgiving address, General Eisenhower tells Americans, “Let’s thank God for Higgins Industries.”

SLU016-spring-2020_Inside_v1.inddRita Bush, 1946

A perilous time, this was a period marked by great fear and uncertainty. For Rita Bush, this was the beginning of a new chapter of her life.

It was the year that Rita began Southeastern. When she enrolled, she had no intention of becoming a music major. In fact, it was not until her professor, Ralph Pottle, who knew she played piano, stopped her one day and asked if she would like to switch her major to music. So that’s what Rita did.

On any given day, this event—a professor speaking to a student—may not seem like anything of significance. One could say it was pure coincidence Rita and Pottle crossed paths. However, that day, she says, “was life-changing.”

Had Pottle not stopped to ask her to consider becoming a music major, she “would not have met her husband.”

SLU016-spring-2020_Inside_v1.inddMilton Bush, 1947

When he was finally old enough, Milton Bush joined the Navy, where he then trained to become a pilot as a member of the Naval Air Corps. At the time, WWII was coming to a close. He was only in the Navy for a year before he was sent back home in 1945 once the war had ended.

After being sent home, Milton decided on a whim to accompany a friend on a visit to Southeastern. That day, he witnessed a performance by the college’s orchestra and fell in love. It was then that he decided he would attend Southeastern and major in music.

Once Rita and Milton met, the two became friends and traveled in the same friendship circle for a while. Rita recounted stories of her many evenings spent out with friends. Together, they would all go down to the train station and grab a bite to eat, enjoying the sweet freedom often only experienced in college.

“Life was very simple back then,” Rita said.

1946 Bandcr
The Southeastern band on parade, 1947

Rita explained that at the time, most people didn’t realize the significance of the war. To her, now looking back, it’s amazing how WWII changed the U.S. She recalled having to collect metal as part of an effort to support the government’s building of ships, airplanes, and other such equipment.

Southeastern itself accommodated veterans from the war. The director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies, Dr. Samuel Hyde, said that Southeastern “[tried] to make sure that everybody, no matter what they had done during the war, felt welcome.” He continued, “My understanding is that they worked to accommodate people and make college accessible to them in a way that had been unprecedented to them in this era.”

Despite the ongoing war, Rita said that in truth she felt no real hardship. Thankfully, the war came to an end as she began college, and her late husband never had to go off to fight.

Listening to Rita recount her story, I felt moved by the beauty of fate and the profound impact that a simple encounter can have. Fate had a way of affecting my life, so much so it is the reason I believe in it today. My own parents are Southeastern sweethearts. Fate is what led to my father, at the last second, getting a spot in Louisiana history, the very same class my mother was in. Had the class not become available, perhaps my parents never would have met, and thus I would never have been born.

Milton (standing) and Rita Bush (seated) at the Foundation for Entertainment Development and Education’s Tribute to the Classical Arts Luncheon, 2012. Milton, who became a conductor, performer, and teacher, was honored with the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the event. 

Had Pottle never run into Rita and convinced her to switch her major, would she ever have met her husband? Had Milton never decided to visit Southeastern and seen its music program, would he ever have met his wife?

Fate seems to have played a role in their lives too.

The two were married in 1952. Rita described the life her husband gave her as “just wonderful.” Sadly, Milton passed away on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. He was 93 years old.

Rita said that her husband had “such a good attitude.” It was one of the things that attracted her to him. “He was always the same,” she recalled. “He was always pleasant, friendly, and agreeable. I was very fortunate to meet my husband because I’ve had a wonderful life with him.”

Rita and her husband Milton are a reminder of the light that can be found even amidst the darkness. They are a reminder of the simple beauty of fate—and of the countless lives throughout generations that have been forever changed beginning on Southeastern’s campus.

By Isabel Naquin