“These accolades are yet another testament to the tremendous support Southeastern students receive from our faculty and staff,” said Southeastern President John L. Crain. “We care about each and every student.”
Every year, U.S. News and World Report publishes what many regard as the gold standard for college rankings in the United States. This year, 1,400 colleges and universities were reviewed, focusing on academic quality and measures, such as graduation rates, retention rates, and social mobility.
Graduation rates for first-generation college students were factored into the ranking’s overall methodology for the first time this year, and the new ranking “Top Performers on Social Mobility” was added.
The new ranking “evaluates which schools best serve underrepresented students” and analyzes enrollment and graduation rates of low-income students with Pell Grants.
“Economically disadvantaged students are less likely than others to finish college, even when controlling for other characteristics,” U.S. News said. “But some colleges are more successful than others at advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students awarded with Pell Grants. The vast majority of these federal grants are awarded to students whose adjusted gross family incomes are under $50,000.”
Southeastern was ranked 108th nationally in social mobility and in the top 125 regional universities in the South.
With an eye to the dynamic nature of business today, Southeastern’s new marketing concentration in professional sales provides real-world experiences in what many executives call the single most important function in any business—sales.
According to statistics produced by the Sales Education Foundation, sales as a discipline plays an important role in both the economy and the professional lives of today’s college graduates. A recent Harvard Business Review article stated that nationally, over 50 percent of college graduates will take on a role in professional sales at some point in their career. That percentage grows to 88 percent for marketing majors. However, only three percent of colleges in the United States offer a professional sales program. In 2017, Southeastern moved forward to enter this growing area with its own program.
Students who graduate from university sales programs, when compared to their non-sales educated peers, fare better in the workplace. They receive an average of 2.8 employment offers before they graduate; experience, on average, over 90 percent job placement; ramp up 50 percent faster with standard company training; have a current average starting salary of $60,000/year; and 77 percent report high career satisfaction.
Southeastern prides itself on working with regional companies to respond to industry needs—the development of curricula in industrial technology and welding inspection are recent examples. The professional sales program is no different.
“Our Marketing Degree Advisory Board was instrumental in confirming the need for graduates with specialized sales training. We also had many companies reaching out to us looking for students interested in going into sales positions,” said Dean of the College of Business Antoinette Phillips.
Once it was obvious that the need was high, Dr. Tará Burnthorne Lopez and Ms. April Field Kemp, marketing faculty members in the College of Business, worked to get the program started. The program helps students differentiate themselves in the job market by enhancing their analytical and tactical skill sets, focusing on consultative selling, relationship building, and developing trusted long-term partnerships with clients.
According to Phillips, “The professional sales concentration was approved to begin in the fall of 2016, but real momentum began in Spring of 2018 when the first Advanced Professional Sales course was offered, and Southeastern students began competing in on-campus and regional sales competitions. We had been teaching an Introduction to Personal Selling course for many years, but we wanted to offer a deeper level of sales training for our students.”
The core sales curriculum consists of courses in Personal Selling, Advanced Professional Selling, and Sales Management, and is supported with other marketing courses in Consumer Behavior, Marketing Research, and Marketing Strategy. Because the current goal is to prepare students for success in the sales profession, the program has been developed for marketing majors with a future goal of including those majoring in areas outside of business who wish to pursue a sales certificate.
“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. With the proliferation of technology, data analytics, and CRM applications, the role of the salesperson has become significantly more sophisticated as have the skills needed to be successful. The Southeastern professional sales program will help train the next generation of sales leaders,” said Phillips.
The success of an academic program can be seen in several ways—student interest, industry interest, and third party accolades. After only one year up and running, the professional sales program has achieved all three.
The strength and effectiveness of the program is already being recognized. This past year Southeastern’s sales concentration was named one of the top professional sales programs by the Sales Education Foundation. Student numbers were immediately strong and businesses from all over were looking to participate through support, sponsorships, and recruitment for interns and graduates.
“We’ve been very fortunate that the program started off so strong with so much support,” said Kemp.
As the program got off the ground well over 30 companies have shown interest in participating in some way, many making financial commitments.
Most recently Northwestern Mutual has sponsored the program at a significant level. Through a generous financial commitment, professional sales students will learn in a new Northwestern Mutual Training Room, to be located in Garrett Hall, with renovations to the existing space set to begin early this year. 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 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.
“The investment that Northwestern Mutual is making demonstrates that the program is on the right track. We are really appreciative of their support,” concluded Phillips.
By Mike Rivault
The Southeastern Channel is broadcasting and streaming Southeastern’s first two home football games this fall on ESPN+, making Southeastern the only school in Louisiana with students fully producing football games for ESPN.
“Being on ESPN is truly a dream come true,” said student play-by-play announcer John Sartori of Mandeville, who won a 2018 student Emmy for on-camera talent. “I will cherish every second of this coming season. The exposure we are receiving is truly second to none.”
The Emmy award-winning Southeastern Channel, honored by the Broadcast Education Association as one of the top four in the nation two years running for its live sports game broadcasts, produced the ESPN+ broadcast for the Lions’ home opener with Jacksonville State on August 29, and is also producing the September 21 Southland Conference contest with Lamar.
“The fact that our broadcasts are now being aired on ESPN is truly a tremendous honor,” said game broadcast director student Dylan Domangue of Houma, who was the play-by-play announcer for the 2018 winning broadcast. “Our broadcasts are student-led, so having our work on ESPN is a huge honor because our production is getting recognized alongside professionals.”
Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon said streaming on ESPN+ means increased exposure for Southeastern Athletics to more than two million paid subscribers.
“It’s an incredible honor that ESPN and the Southland Conference hold the quality of our student productions in such high regard,” Settoon said. “It’s extremely rare for a student-produced game broadcast to be selected for streaming on an ESPN platform. This is the culmination of many years of hard work by our students and Southeastern Channel supervising staff members.”
Game selections after the first four weeks of the season will be announced by the Southland Conference 12 days prior to kickoff, allowing the best matchups to be selected each week for various broadcast partners.
ESPN+ is the premium multi-sport, direct-to-consumer video service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segment in conjunction with ESPN. It offers fans thousands of additional live events, on-demand content and original programming not available on ESPN’s linear TV or digital networks.
Programming on ESPN+ includes hundreds of MLB, NHL and MLS games, thousands of college sports events (including football, basketball, and multiple other sports from more than 15 conferences), Grand Slam tennis, international and domestic rugby, cricket, and the full library of ESPN’s award-winning 30 for 30 films. In recent years Southeastern Channel game broadcasts have streamed live on the Southland Digital Network and aired on the Cox Sports Television Network.
“We are very excited to have Southeastern Louisiana home games added to our ever-expanding menu of football broadcasts across the Southland Conference,” League Commissioner Tom Burnett said. “The award-winning production efforts of the student-led Southeastern Channel will be seen by a wider audience of football fans to enjoy watching the Lions and other Southland competition.”
Settoon said that the Southeastern Channel provides unique sports broadcasting opportunities for students whose work can be seen on national networks.
“We’re one of the very few college television stations in the entire country—and the only one in the state or region—where students are able to do the play-by-play announcing, color commentating, sideline reporting, live game directing, and every other crew position for Division One Football and other sports events,” Settoon said. “Most college game productions relegate students to running camera or production assistant positions.”
The Southeastern Channel football broadcast from last season’s Lions vs. Abilene Christian game won fourth place in the nation for Live Game Broadcast given by the Broadcast Education Association.
ESPN+ is an integrated part of the ESPN App, the leading sports app and the premier all-in-one digital sports platform for fans. The ESPN App is a showcase of the company’s culture of innovation, delivering a rich, personalized experience that curates all of ESPN’s incredible content around each fan’s individual tastes. ESPN+ is also available through ESPN.com. Fans subscribe to ESPN+ for $4.99 a month or $49.99 per year and can cancel at any time.
The Southeastern Channel has won over 400 national, international and regional awards in the past 16 years, including 17 from the Emmys. The channel can be seen on Charter Spectrum 199 in Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, Livingston and St. Helena parishes, and its live webcast and video on demand can be viewed online via the channel’s website at thesoutheasternchannel.com. It’s also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
As part of ongoing efforts to ensure graduates and guests enjoy a safe and high-quality experience, beginning this December Southeastern will host two commencement ceremonies on the same day.
A ceremony for graduates of degree programs housed in the College of Education, College of Business, and College of Science and Technology will begin at 10 a.m. while a ceremony for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences will begin at 5 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held Saturday, December 14, at the University Center. This will be the arrangement for winter commencement ceremonies moving forward.
For spring commencement ceremonies, however, the assigned colleges will switch, with the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences students graduating at the 10 a.m. ceremony and graduates of the College of Education, College of Business, and the College of Science and Technology participating in the 5 p.m. ceremony.
Those earning master’s and doctoral degrees will participate in the ceremony with the college where their degree program is housed.
The decision to divide what was previously one larger ceremony into two smaller ones was based on input from student and faculty and staff focus groups, as well as feedback from guests, according to President John L. Crain.
“What a wonderful dilemma to have when record-high attendance and numbers of graduates participating in the ceremony necessitate such changes,” he said. “Southeastern has a proud tradition whereby we call every graduate’s name while they cross the stage. Hosting two ceremonies moving forward will continue that tradition.”
Several options were considered to address concerns of an ever-growing ceremony, according to Kay Maurin, assistant vice president of enrollment management, including the possibility of issuing tickets to limit the number of guests.
“After meeting with our students, it was clear that the preference was for our graduates to celebrate with the family and friends who supported them on their college journeys,” Maurin said.
In recent years, Southeastern instituted additional safety and security measures by making a prohibited items list available and providing bag checks for guest entry. The Southeastern Channel now also live streams Commencement so family and friends unable to attend can watch from homes or their mobile devices.
More information about the two Commencement ceremonies can be found at southeastern.edu/commencement.
The Southeastern Foundation recently announced its 2019-20 Board of Directors.
“Our board is a group of committed professionals who understand the value of Southeastern both to its students and the region,” said Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale. “They work hard to provide guidance for the Foundation in support of the University.”
Dawn Cantrell of Baton Rouge, a 1984 marketing graduate, will chair the board. This is her second year of a two-year term.
Three new members will join returning board members. New members include Vice President of Investment Advisors for Stirling Properties Barry “Beezie” Landry of Hammond, a 2000 accounting graduate; Jared Riecke of Covington, CEO of Riecke & Associates, LLC; and Jonathan Wong of Hammond, a 2002 business graduate, co-founder and team leader of Cate Street Seafood Station, The Boston Restaurant, and FitFam.
Returning Southeastern Foundation Board members include Thomas “Tom” Akers of Mount Juliet, Tenn.; Marcia Barr of Hammond, board secretary; Troy Broussard of Prairieville; Barry Brown of Frisco, Tex., past board chair; Toby Cortez of Ponchatoula; Stan Dameron of Hammond, investment committee co-chair; Helen Dufreche of Hammond, philanthropy committee chair; Marcia Galatas of Houston, Tex.; Jack Gautier of Hammond; Bill Kingsmill of Covington; Shelby P. LaSalle, Jr. of Mandeville; Rodney LeBlanc of Madisonville; Terri LeBlanc of Baton Rouge; Wallace Lewis of Hammond, Randy Moffett of Covington; Marcus Naquin of Hammond; Cynthia Nesser of New Orleans, governance committee chair; John Poteet of Hammond; Mike Sharp of Springfield, real estate committee chair; Tony Volz of Mandeville; and Robert Watkins of Robert, treasurer.
“I am proud to be a part of the Southeastern Foundation Board and serve alongside a diverse group of talented individuals who bring passion, experience and love for Southeastern to their work as board members,” Cantrell said. “Our board has been highly effective in fundraising, governance and financial oversight of the Foundation’s assets with a recent focus on strategic planning to position us to meet our long-term fundraising goals to help Southeastern students.”
Southeastern’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts recently announced its 2019-20 season, which offers everything from live music to theater.
The season also boasts entertainment from campus ensembles, said Jim Winter, artistic director of Columbia Theatre. Performances will be scheduled throughout the season. Dates and additional information are available at columbiatheatre.org.
The Columbia Theatre curtain officially opens with Southeastern Opera / Theatre Workshop’s presentation of Cabaret. The production is scheduled for September 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $21 for adults and $16 for seniors, Southeastern faculty / staff, and non-Southeastern students. Southeastern students are admitted free of charge with their ID.
Tickets are available at the Columbia Theatre box office, located at 220 E. Thomas Street in downtown Hammond, or by calling 985.543.4371.
Back by popular demand, Missoula Children’s Theatre will return the week of October 19 with a production of Jack and the Beanstalk for area youth. Upon their arrival on October 14, Missoula will hold auditions and cast approximately 50 to 60 area children. Rehearsals will begin that day, and a full-scale production will be presented October 19 at 2 p.m. For additional information, contact the Columbia Theatre administrative office at 985.543.4366.
Also in October is An Evening with Clarence Gilyard Jr. on October 23. The Die Hard, Top Gun, Matlock, and Walker, Texas Ranger actor will share his life experiences as a film, television, and stage actor.
Next on tap is a concert from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, which begins its series of performances at Columbia on October 25 at 7:30 p.m. with Romantic German Masters. The concert is the first of three LPO performances.
Additional LPO concerts include the Yuletide Celebration on December 6, a fun program of holiday musical favorites for the entire family featuring local student choirs, and Nature’s Awakening on February 28. Both concerts are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Jazz Ambassadors of the United States Army Field Band from Washington DC will make a return appearance for a free concert October 27 at 3 p.m. Known as America’s Big Band, the Jazz Ambassadors are the premier touring jazz orchestra of the United States Army.
On November 1, Columbia Theatre presents Durand Jones and the Indications.
“Durand is a Southeastern alumnus who is a rising star. His fantastic, soul-influenced band recently played on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and CBS This Morning,” Winter said. “We are thrilled to have him returning to his roots. My staff and I are currently working very hard to make November 1 a special night celebrating some of Southeastern’s most successful alums.”
In celebration of Jones’ return to Southeastern, Columbia Theatre will be serving Gnarly Barley, a beer brewed by Southeastern alumni Zac and Cari Caramonta; offering a special discount for alumni that night; and hosting additional surprise guest alumni for the curtain speech and lobby greeters.
Approximately one week later on November 7 at 7:30 p.m., Columbia Theatre presents One-Man Star Wars Trilogy. The show has been performed for over a million Star Wars fans in London’s West End, Off-Broadway, Dubai, and the Sydney Opera House. Charles Ross single-handedly plays all the characters complete with voice impressions, sings the music, flies the ships, fights the battles, and condenses the plots of three films into one comedic production.
On December 13 and 14 at 7 p.m., Columbia Theatre will present Hammond Ballet Company’s The Nutcracker. The classic holiday ballet features professional guest artists and excellent all-star local dancers.
Columbia will present Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks as the first performance of 2020 on January 25 at 2 p.m. Winter said the production weaves together music and drama to tell the story of Rosa Parks from her childhood in rural Alabama to her famous decision to “sit down and be counted.”
Aquila Theatre will bring its production of 1984 to Columbia on February 15.
“We are thrilled to present this world-class theatre company’s stage adaptation of George Orwell’s legendary novel that was decades ahead of its time,” Winter said.
Columbia presents a pair of performances in March. First up is The Songs and Stories of Neil Diamond on March 6 at 7:30 p.m.
“Come sing along to your favorite songs with show-stopping entertainer Jack Wright and his music and media presentation of Neil Diamond’s greatest hits,” Winter said.
Next up on March 27 at 7 p.m. is TheatreWorksUSA’s presentation of Pete the Cat. Based on the New York Times #1 best-selling children’s books by author James Dean, Pete the Cat is a fun, musically-driven series about exploring the world.
Rounding out the season is a performance by the band Che Apalache on April 4 at 7:30 p.m. Led by Joe Troop, Che Apalche features three powerhouse Latin American musicians and has been taking audiences by storm with their fusion of Latin and American roots music.
A compliment to the Columbia Theatre season, Fanfare will feature many “home-grown” artists. Fanfare will once again showcase music, theater, dance, lectures, children’s events, and art exhibits, highlighting the myriad of talent university faculty and students have to offer in Fanfare’s 34th season.
For Columbia Theatre season or individual ticket information, contact the administrative office at 985.543.4366 or visit columbiatheatre.org.
Over the course of the past five years, Southeastern’s Department of Athletics has experienced success across the board.
When current Athletics Director Jay Artigues was named to the position, he hoped to chart a path toward a very strong future. Almost immediately, with input from the department’s head coaches, a fresh mission statement was crafted that embodied the new vision for athletics at Southeastern: Committed to excellence in the classroom, in the community, and in competition. “We wanted to clearly establish what it means to be a part of the athletics program here at Southeastern. Whether you are staff, a coach, or an athlete, we all should be working toward the same goals, and I think we have achieved that focus,” said Artigues.
By targeting these three key areas outlined in the new mission statement, Southeastern has excelled in each. This success is visible both on campus and in the community. The impact has been stellar and has brought a holistic approach to the program and the anticipated results for student-athletes.
“I commend our coaches for committing to our mission…it starts in recruiting student-athletes that are committed to excellence in all three areas,” Artigues said. “The mission statement is posted in every athletic building on campus. I wanted our student-athletes and coaches to see it every day everywhere they went.”
Excellence In The Classroom
In the classroom, student-athletes are thriving. In the spring of 2017, Southeastern recorded its highest GPA in department history. The department continues to break records academically and foresees improving the overall GPA over the course of the next three semesters. This past fall semester, student-athletes achieved a 3.16 overall GPA with more than 50 percent recording an individual 3.0 GPA or higher.
“While we are about winning athletic competition, we are also about forming student-athletes for a strong and productive future. Our overall academic progress has been fantastic and I could not be more proud. This ensures that whatever these students may go on to do, they can do it with excellence after they have graduated from Southeastern,” said Artigues.
Excellence in the Community
Part of any education is not just the book learning that prepares one for a career, but it is the life education that teaches one to be a great person. With a specific focus on giving back to the community, Southeastern Athletics ensures that every student-athlete engages in service to the community each year. “We hope that this helps form the overall person that they will become,” said Artigues.
Southeastern now averages 15 hours of community service per student-athlete each year. The department routinely accumulates more than 5,000 combined hours of service annually. With record-setting numbers, Southeastern earned the Southland Conference Community Service Award in 2017.
Excellence in Competition
Student-athletes are excelling on the field, court, and track. Since the fall of 2013, Southeastern has claimed a pair of Southland Conference football titles, indoor and outdoor championships in men’s track and field, a baseball regular season title and a Southland tournament championship, a men’s basketball regular season title, and a women’s soccer tournament championship.
At the NCAA level, track and field athlete Alex Young earned a national title in the men’s indoor weight throw during the spring of 2016. Since then, the baseball, football, and softball teams have all churned out program records for most wins in a single season.
Excellence on the field requires a great deal of focus. In addition to strong recruiting and coaching, facilities play a huge part. Having good facilities that support the students are an important part of the recruiting process. Creating physical improvements throughout the department is a focal point for Artigues.
Excellent Infrastructure and Support
“I think it’s important to show every year that you’re making some sort of major improvement, one thing every single year,” Artigues said. “If we do that in every sport, you look up five years later and we’ve accomplished a lot. Tip your hat to the coaches and administration; everyone has pitched in and done a great job.”
Behind-the-scenes upgrades to the Dick & Glory Sharp Academic Center and the Doc Goodwin Athletic Training Room, along with the Naquin Strength & Conditioning Center, benefit all Southeastern student-athletes, cheerleaders, and members of the national champion Lionette dance squad.
Improvements have been made across nearly all facilities including Strawberry Stadium, the University Center, North Oak Park, the North Campus Athletics building, the Tennis Complex, Track and Field Complex, and Alumni Field. The academic center, located on the west side of historic Strawberry Stadium, has received additional computer stations, study rooms, informational signage, flooring, and furniture. An NCAA grant helped provide for additional academic counselors.
“We’re developing a holistic student-athlete,” said Artigues. “The academic center has paid dividends by recently generating the highest GPA in department history. It is no coincidence. We’ve committed to excellence in that area, providing the resources we need to be successful academically.”
Renovations have also allowed for the new North Oaks Nutrition Center to launch. The nutrition center is only one piece of an entire nutritional program for the Lions and Lady Lions, developed by North Oaks Dietetic Internship Director Leslie Ballard and Southeastern Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine Brandon Albin. The program is designed to not only provide sustenance through the nutrition center, but
also to better educate all Southeastern student-athletes on the best dietary practices.
“It’s important we also give the nutritional resources to be successful,” Artigues said. “They get their three meals a day, but it’s also important they have the proper nutritional information.”
“Our goal with this program is for the student-athletes to see better performance, fewer injuries, faster recovery, and overall better health,” Ballard said.
Over the past five years, the numerous facility upgrades were made possible by an increase in fundraising, sponsorship, and concession dollars, identifying internal funds and cost efficiencies, routine maintenance, and a variety of grant monies. Concession revenues have doubled since bringing the operations in-house, and developing a partnership with Peak Sports Management to handle sales has led corporate sponsorships revenues to quadruple.
Through a focus on classroom, community, and competition excellence, Southeastern athletics is reaping the benefits of success.
By Kemmler Chapple
Louisiana is a state rich with culture. A state that does not simply embrace the arts at its surface, but is deeply intertwined with them in its soul.
While the first thoughts of many may jump to iconic locales such as New Orleans, with its distinct architecture and multitude of galleries and museums, the deep-seated, vibrant arts culture of Louisiana’s Northshore region is one that should not be overlooked. Its jewels may be more hidden away within the local communities, but for those who embrace them, they shine just as brightly.
Tucked away on Southeastern’s campus, at 100 East Stadium, is one such gem: the Contemporary Art Gallery. An extension of the Visual Art + Design Department, the gallery serves not only students and faculty but the community as well.
The gallery is devoted to presenting contemporary art exhibitions, lectures, and workshops and to providing a forum for contemporary art for students, the city of Hammond, and residents of the Northshore.
“Part of our mission is to bring contemporary art to campus, to the gallery, to show students and the public what is going on in the art world today in terms of cutting edge, new ideas,” explained Dale Newkirk, the gallery’s director and curator in addition to the department head of Visual Art + Design. “We bring in regional, national, and international [art]. There is more of a national focus, but we have also had artists from Europe, Africa, and Canada. We try to bring in people that the university and the community would be exposed to that they normally wouldn’t have access to.”
Upon passing between the gallery’s sandy columns then stepping though its unassuming glass front doors, a façade that blends seamlessly with the traditional red brick and concrete architecture of the surrounding buildings, a shockingly large 7,000 square feet of modern gallery space greets visitors. The gallery is actually the largest art space in the area and one of only two devoted to showing contemporary art.
While some stop in for a respite from their busy day or to take advantage of the quiet, serene environment to read, the exhibitions—which switch out eight times per year—are at the foundation of what draws people in. Popular past exhibitions have included Real to Not Real, a paintings show comprised of 20 artists “working in the gap between representational and nonrepresentational visual languages, bringing the two together”; a cell phone photography show that featured over 300 images taken by people all over the world; and a national tattoo arts show. Many of the exhibitions are not only innovative, but they feature topics that are relatable to Southeastern’s students—meeting them where they are and thus helping to better engage them and draw connections between objects and ideas, creating more meaningful learning experiences.
The other part of the Contemporary Art Gallery’s mission is, in fact, to serve these students and open up new possibilities for them. Each semester an exhibition is held showcasing the work of graduating art majors. This exhibition serves as the students’ thesis show and is part of the capstone course in their curriculum, with students putting everything they have learned over the years into it. This dedication has paid off for many of the students active with the gallery throughout their college careers by landing jobs at galleries and museums across the country, allowing them to continue to follow their passion.
The gallery is also used as a learning tool by groups across campus. “A lot of the art faculty bring their students over to talk about the shows and do various projects with the artwork,” said Newkirk. “The drawing classes come over and draw in the gallery. Faculty will come over and talk about content of the work. But other departments come over as well. The English department comes over regularly to have students write about work. Foreign language classes use the space a lot, and some of the teachers are devoted to coming over and having the students engage by using the works as a vehicle for exploring language.”
For students, faculty, and the general public alike, the gallery also hosts several events a year that provide a deeper insight into the current world of contemporary art. Evening opening receptions celebrate each new major exhibition and allow attendees to be among the first to explore the works on view while mingling with fellow art lovers. Consisting of either a lecture or exhibition and tying in with both Fanfare and Homecoming activities, special programming is held each year in October for Southeastern alumni. The gallery additionally organizes an active and robust visiting artists program, which brings in about 10 artists each year. These reputable artists travel from all over the country to provide workshops and seminars at Southeastern.
The gallery also manages the Southeastern Fine Art Collection, which consists of over 350 works of art. These pieces are not only kept in the gallery’s collections storage room, but are installed around campus in public spaces where all can enjoy them. Portraits of former university presidents in the library and sculptures by world-renowned artists John Scott and Robert Warrens situated outside near popular student walkways are just a few examples of pieces that have been made highly visible. While the collection’s focus is on contemporary art of the Southeast, a wide variety of artworks and objects—from works on paper and ceramics to sculpture and video—comprise the entire collection.
Furthering its efforts to serve students and expose the entire community to the current world of contemporary art, admission to the gallery and its popular public events is free of charge.
While many unfamiliar with Southeastern’s campus may not realize this vibrant, impactful resource exists, its ever-flowing reach permeates the artistic soil of the Northshore area, and of those who engage with it. As Newkirk remarked, “It’s part of creating a richer life in this region.”
By Sheri Gibson
Above Image: Christian “Alex” White, a Southeastern history graduate student, is shown researching and recording artifacts discovered at Pass Manchac, some from over 3,000 years ago, at Southeastern’s Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies. The artifacts are included in the Manchac Swamp / Turtle Cove artifacts exhibition that appears at both the Center and at the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station at Manchac. The artifacts provide documentation and evidence of the lifestyles and cultures of different inhabitants throughout the swamp’s history described in Troubled Waters: Turtle Cove and the Manchac Swamp Ecosystem, a new documentary produced by the Southeastern Channel.
How history and science intertwine Manchac Swamp with Southeastern’s Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station is highlighted by a new display of swamp artifacts and a new documentary produced by Southeastern titled Troubled Waters: Turtle Cove and the Manchac Swamp Ecosystem.
“The Manchac Swamp has played a prominent role in the history and culture of the Northshore, and it continues to impact the lives of residents economically, recreationally and environmentally with the protection it provides,” said Southeastern Channel General Manager and executive producer of the show Rick Settoon. “It’s important for generation after generation to know its history. This documentary is a powerful, educational tool that shows what the Manchac Swamp was, what it is now, how it got to this point, and what’s being done about it.”
The documentary’s story of the swamp begins with its earliest indigenous inhabitants, Native Americans, and the earliest Europeans, 16th century French settlers led by the explorer D’Iberville. It follows the swamp’s role and involvement in conflicts from the French and Indian War to the West Florida Revolt and finally the Civil War.
“The fact that it was such an enormous and impenetrable, forested wetland that served so many different peoples and their cultures and helped serve the purpose of many of their livelihoods makes it an extraordinary part of our history in this region,” said Rob Moreau, director of Southeastern’s Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station and the show’s producer and narrator.
The program also reveals the post-Civil War industrialization and exploitation of the Manchac Swamp, including its eventual decimation by the cypress logging industry and cypress-eating nutria.
“The Manchac Swamp is a changed ecosystem vastly degraded from what it once was, a marsh now that is moving further towards open water instead of a dense cypress forest that is of highest ecological value,” Moreau said.
The program spotlights artifacts recovered from Pass Manchac that have been assembled into new exhibits at both Southeastern’s Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies in Sims Memorial Library and Turtle Cove, which continues to conduct scientific research and collect critical data from the coastal wetlands, along with managing swamp cleanup and reforestation.
The artifacts include arrowheads, pottery, and tools used by the earliest inhabitants to survive in the swamp. There are also Civil War items, maps, and leases along with saw blades, timber tools, and photographs of sawmills and massive cypress trees representing the magnitude of the swamp’s destruction during the logging years of the 1800s through the mid-1950s.
“The artifacts shown in the film and the two physical exhibits represent and bring into focus the human interaction with this natural environment,” Moreau said. “A big part of the history of the Manchac Swamp is the ultimate devastation brought upon it by humans. This provides a strong incentive moving forward for current and future generations to be better stewards of not only the Manchac Swamp, but our global environment as well.”
Settoon said Troubled Waters features historical drawings, archival photographs and footage of the Manchac Swamp from centuries past, including old black-and-white film of the early stages of the cypress logging industry with workers chopping down cypress trees and transporting them via pull-boat barges and rafts through the swamp to sawmills.
The program uses 3D and traditional animation techniques to bring to life scenes from different periods throughout the swamp’s history and includes interviews with Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies Director Sam Hyde, retired Southeastern History Professor Charles Dranguet, Turtle Cove Caretaker Hayden Reno, Southeastern Foundation Board Member Mike Sharp, and Entergy Director of Environmental Strategy Rick Johnson.
The documentary was written, directed and edited by Southeastern Channel Operations Manager Steve Zaffuto.
“It was very important to link these unique artifacts to the surprisingly rich history of the Manchac area,” Zaffuto said. “Through the use of interviews, location videography, and a few animated sequences, we were hopefully able to identify Turtle Cove as not only a vital center of environmental research, but also an interactive historical landmark.”
The show presents footage of educational activities, public outreach, scientific research and swamp restoration efforts at Turtle Cove along with the artifact collection being assembled and then unveiled at a Turtle Cove fundraising event.
“We like to think of ourselves as ‘stewards’ of the wetlands and as the ‘public voice’ of Manchac and all that it is—past, present, and future,” Moreau said of his Turtle Cove operation.
The artifacts were obtained from the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies, including the Wiley H. Sharp, Jr. Collection of Southeastern Indian Artifacts. Mike Sharp, retired Hammond banker and brother of the late Wiley Sharp Jr., suggested that the artifacts be organized into an exhibit at Turtle Cove to display the findings and help explain the history of the region. The display was unveiled at a fundraising event to support Turtle Cove’s operation and environmental restoration efforts.
“We are losing an enormous amount of acreage every year to storm surges, saltwater intrusion, pollution, and a variety of other factors, and these swamps and marshes provide barrier island protection from storms,” Sharp says in the documentary. “We want to educate the public in terms of the importance of research and the preservation and conservation of our priceless hardwood bottomland swamps and marshes.”
Click here to watch Troubled Waters.