Enrollment Growth Continues

This fall Southeastern has achieved a solid increase in enrollment across both undergraduate and graduate students, reaching its highest number of students in three years. Undergraduate enrollment rose by 1.5 percent, while graduate enrollment experienced an increase of .7 percent.

“We are pleased to see an increase in fall enrollment this year,” said Chief Enrollment Management Officer Kay Maurin. “In the midst of peak enrollment and recruiting season this past spring, the university switched to an online environment. As a result, recruiting, advising, new student orientation, financial aid counseling and many other functions that impact enrollment also shifted to the online environment. I believe we were successful because we created a seamless transition to that environment for current and future students and continued to offer a top notch educational experience rooted in our core values of excellence and caring.”

With an overall enrollment of 14,461, an increase of 1.4 percent, Southeastern experienced growth in several categories. Southeastern’s commitment to adult education yielded a 15.2 percent increase in enrollment of new graduate students. Enrollment of students from Southeastern’s top three feeder parishes of St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Livingston increased by 2.3 percent.

“Our recruitment strategy is to remain mission centered. As such, our recruitment efforts focused on providing outstanding educational experiences for students on the Northshore and in the Southeast Louisiana parishes,” Maurin said.

Southeastern currently offers over 150 programs of study including many that are regionally and nationally ranked.

Support and Success Continues for Post-Secondary Inclusive Education Alliance

Southeastern has been awarded additional funding to expand an alliance of universities and colleges across the state that provides inclusive education opportunities for students with developmental disabilities, such as its Lions Connected program. Created by Associate Professor of Education and Director of Lions Connected Gerlinde Beckers, Louisiana Post-Secondary Inclusive Education was awarded $40,000 from the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council. Beckers received $40,000 last year to create the program.

“LA-PIE gives Southeastern the opportunity to assist other Universities in the state to establish inclusive post-secondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities, and it also gives us the opportunity to showcase our Lions Connected program,” Beckers said.

Dean of the College of Education Paula Summers Calderon said circumstances surrounding COVID-19 allowed Lions Connected to shine as a leader in the field of post-secondary inclusion.

“When schools and universities shifted to remote instruction in March, Dr. Gerlinde Beckers, Mr. Jim Zimlich, and the Lions Connected student mentors continued to provide quality instruction and support for our Lions Connected students. Teaching life skills in a virtual environment has it challenges. Have you ever tried to teach someone to tie shoes through Google Meet or Zoom?” Calderon asked. “The experience in spring 2020 has proven that our Lions Connected program is the example for other programs to follow. Southeastern and Lions Connected are in prime position to assist other programs in the state as they create and grow their post-secondary inclusion programs.”

In its first year, LA-PIE has developed a website that Southeastern hosts. The site features in depth information on the existing post-secondary programs. Beckers said that they also developed and currently maintain a LA-PIE Facebook that can quickly disseminate information.

Over the past year, the group discovered that only three of the four-year universities in Louisiana have inclusive post-secondary programs, but all three programs are accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. Conversely, only three of the 36 community, vocational, technical, or community colleges have inclusive post-secondary programs, and only one is accredited.

Prior to COVID-19 restrictions, Beckers said they disseminated information at several state conferences and hosted a town hall meeting on the Bossier City Community College campus in March with the hope to facilitate more programs in the northern part of the state. Currently, the majority of the programs are in the southern part of the state, Beckers said.

“As a result of our town hall meeting, we have worked diligently with Grambling State University and Louisiana State University – Alexandria in providing technical assistance as they develop their programs and funding sources,” she said.

Moving forward, Beckers said LA-PIE would continue to work to increase inclusive post-secondary programs in Louisiana through mentoring and technical assistance.

“Although we have transitioned to virtual, our goals and desires to improve the post-secondary outcomes for individuals with disabilities have not changed,” said Beckers.

For more information on LA-PIE, contact Beckers at gerlinde.beckers@southeastern.edu.

Recipient of Healthy Communities Grant

Southeastern has been selected as a recipient of the Healthy Communities Grant by Keep Louisiana Beautiful, the State’s premier anti-litter and community improvement organization.

This year’s grant, in the amount of $8,000, will support Southeastern’s reduce, reuse, recycle initiatives with the addition of four refillable water stations and 1,900 reusable water bottles given to students. In 2019, Southeastern’s Sustainability Center launched the campaign “I Choose to Reuse,” giving away water bottles with bookmarks on “how to green your day.” The campaign encourages students to reuse the refillable water station across campus and continues through Keep Louisiana Beautiful’s Healthy Communities Grant.

As the recipient of this grant, Southeastern’s sustainability team is excited to further its sustainable impact within its region.

“These fountains will help promote sustainability and sustainable action from students on campus, as well as visitors,” said Southeastern Sustainability Manager Alejandro Martinez. “This method positively impacts the recycling program and reduces unsightly litter by reducing labor needs and beautifying our campus.”

Martinez is excited for Southeastern to be the recipient of this grant.

“Southeastern has already reduced over 300,000 bottles from going to the landfill, and we know it is just the beginning,” he said. “Besides, this grant will help us to provide reusable water bottles to our students, faculty, and staff. These filling stations have already made a huge impact on plastic bottle reduction and a great impression with everyone using refillable bottles.”

Martinez said Southeastern is committed to conserving resources and reducing the impact they have on the environment and making the campus greener by encouraging recycling on campus and using alternative fuel and energy sources such as geothermal and solar.

Keep Louisiana Beautiful, Inc. is the state’s anti-litter and community improvement organization focused on education, enforcement, awareness and cleanups. Affiliated with Keep America Beautiful, the Keep Louisiana Beautiful mission is to promote personal, corporate and community responsibility for a clean and beautiful Louisiana. With a network of 40 affiliates in communities throughout the state, over 172,609 volunteers work toward a clean and beautiful Louisiana.

Southeastern Sustainability Manager Alejandro Martinez hands out reusable water bottles to students.

Southeastern Professor Receives Fulbright Scholar Grant to Research Sea Turtles in Spain

Southeastern Professor of Biology Roldán Valverde has been named a Fulbright Scholar, which will allow him to perform research and undergraduate level teaching in Spain next year.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Scholar Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and allows American scholars and professionals to lecture and research in a wide range of fields.

“Dr. Valverde has dedicated his professional life to the study of sea turtles,” said Dean of the College of Science and Technology Daniel McCarthy. “Not only is he an internationally renowned scholar for his scientific work, but he is also well known for his dedication to sea turtle conservation. He already serves as the scientific director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, so it is no surprise that Dr. Valverde received this prestigious award.”

A specialist in the reproductive and stress endocrinology of sea turtles, as well as the nesting ecology of sea turtles, Valverde will be working at the Universidad de Las Palmas de La Gran Canaria (ULPGC) in Spain. He will teach a class in Marine Ecology, a third year course in the undergraduate curriculum at ULPGC, and he is looking forward to the new experiences the grant will afford him.

“Taking part in this highly valuable opportunity will provide me with the energy and inspiration I need to develop new courses here in the U.S., such as marine biology, a course I think is going to be a hit, especially now that the oceans are in peril due to human activities,” Valverde said. “While at ULPGC, I am teaching a course in marine ecology. Marine biology and marine ecology share similar topics, and the latter can be very instrumental in the development of a course in marine biology in my department.”

As part of the grant, Valverde will also give four, one-hour seminars about his research specialty, an opportunity he welcomes to present his long-term research projects to students and colleagues alike.

“The presentation topics are ‘The Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles,’ ‘The Role of Vitellogenin in the Reproductive Physiology of Sea Turtles,’ ‘The Reproductive Ecology of Sea Turtles,’ and ‘The Evolution of Structure and Function of the Endocrine Stress Response.’”

While in Spain, Valverde will instruct students and colleagues on how to run testosterone and estrogen assays (the chemical analysis of a substance) to sex juvenile sea turtles. He will also instruct them on how to run the vitellogenin (the serum phospholipoglycoprotein precursor to egg yolk) assay.

“I developed this assay in my lab, and it is currently the only functional vitellogenin assay that has been used to measure this protein in wild sea turtle populations,” he said. “The implementation of this assay in Spain will help support studies of the reproductive physiology of sea turtles in that region of the world.”

In addition to his normal teaching duties, research, and serving as the scientific director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Valverde also collaborates with departmental colleagues to teach study abroad courses in Costa Rica. At the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Valverde’s mission is to oversee the scientific programs with emphasis on the biological stations in Tortuguero, Costa Rica and in the Bocas del Toro region in Panama.

“As a professor and as scientific director, my students and colleagues take advantage of the collaborative experiences and opportunities that I make available to them, which has helped me create a rich personal network to promote the advancement of our knowledge of sea turtle biology and conservation,” he said.

The Columbia Theatre Has Reopened With New Safety Measures

Southeastern’s historic Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts reopened on Saturday, October 3, with a new season and new safety measures in place. Columbia Theatre Artistic Director Jim Winter wants patrons to know they take their safety very seriously.

“No activity is 100 percent safe, but we are committed to providing you with the safest possible theatergoing experience,” he said. “We have installed bipolar ionization air filtration units throughout the building. We will also thoroughly sanitize the entire facility in between all shows and events and have implemented reduced capacity seating to allow for proper social distancing.”

Current state mandates require patrons and employees to wear masks at all times while inside the venue, Winter said. Entering and exiting the building have also been taken under consideration.

“The Hainkel Auditorium of Columbia Theatre features seven points of entry and exit for patrons and two stairways leading to and from the third floor loge and balcony seating,” Winter added. “The elevator will be limited to two people at a time, and Columbia ushers and staff members will be on hand to help patrons find the quickest and safest entry and exit points.”

Additionally, a plexiglass barrier has been placed at the box office so patrons can safely purchase tickets in person. Box office hours are Monday–Friday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased online or by phone at 985.543.4371.


Register today for a free certification workshop in Amazon Web Services (AWS)  Cloud Computing: Machine Learning – Specialty, sponsored by the College of Science and Technology and open to all Southeastern alumni. Sessions begin October 18, 2020.

Format:  24/7 asynchronous online instruction and scheduled live instructor-led support.  The workshop is three weeks in length and begins on October 18, 2020.

Workshop Description:  This intermediate-level workshop is designed for IT professionals seeking to add machine learning to their knowledge base and skill sets.  The workshop also prepares participants for the certification exam for AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty.

Topics include:  

  • Machine Learning (ML) on AWS
  • Learn how to apply ML 
  • Mapping to ML
  • Deep learning for foundational areas

Pre-requisites:  Python or other scripting language experience

Estimated time commitment:  20 – 40 hours

Pre-registration required:  Seating is limited.  Registration closes at 5:00 pm on Thursday, October 15, 2020.  Registrants gain portal access on Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 9:00 am.

Register here or contact us at WTI@southeastern.edu for more information.