President Crain Retiring and the Search for the Next President

President John Crain recently announced his intent to retire at the end of this academic year. He became the University’s 14th president in Feb. 2009 after having served as interim president from July 2008. Prior to being named president, Crain served seven years as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Southeastern and before that as a faculty member in the Department of Accounting, including two years as president of the Faculty Senate and two years as department head.

To find Southeastern’s next leader, the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors Chair Liz Pierre announced the Southeastern Louisiana University Presidential Search Committee. The group is responsible for reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, and recommending finalists for the presidency. The finalists will ultimately be interviewed and a president selected by the full UL System Board of Supervisors.

“I look forward to working with my fellow Board members and these community members with deep and varied ties to Southeastern,” Chair Pierre said. “The University is a pillar for the area, and the non-voting committee members’ unique perspectives will inform us throughout the selection process.”

UL System President and CEO Jim Henderson will chair the committee as a non-voting member. The committee includes select System Board members and the Southeastern Faculty Senate president as voting members as well as non-voting community members to serve in an advisory capacity.

“During the past six years we have developed an open and transparent search process that engages the University community and results in the selection of a mission-focused leader not only qualified to lead a university, but well-suited to lead this university,” Dr. Henderson said. “Our goal: to choose the leader whose impact on the University and community will be felt for generations.”

The committee’s first meeting is public and will take place Feb. 15 at 1 p.m. in the Cate Teacher Education Center Lecture Hall, Room 1021-22 on Southeastern’s campus and will be streamed live on the UL System YouTube Channel. During that meeting the committee will vote to accept their charge and the search timeline after hearing from the University’s constituencies. Information regarding the search will be housed on the System’s website at

The Presidential Search Committee is made up of the following members:

  • Dr. Jim Henderson, Search Committee Chair and UL System President, non-voting
  • Liz Pierre, UL System Board Chair
  • Dr. Jimmy Clarke, UL System Board Vice Chair
  • Brad Stevens, UL System Board Parliamentarian
  • Ethan Estis, UL System Student Board Member
  • Jo Lethermon, UL System Board Member
  • Al Perkins, UL System Board Member
  • Julie Stokes, UL System Board Member
  • Dr. Erin Horzelski, Southeastern Faculty Senate President
  • Toby Cortez, Southeastern Foundation President, non-voting
  • Louis Nick Joseph, Community Representative, non-voting
  • Stephanie Stafford Kropog, Southeastern Alumni Association President, non-voting
  • Wallace Lewis, Southeastern Foundation Board Member, non-voting
  • Baileigh Picou, Southeastern SGA President, non-voting
  • Carla Tate, Community Representative, non-voting
  • Allen Waddell, Southeastern Athletic Foundation Chairman, non-voting

The First 70 Years of Southeastern Sports

Throughout most of Southeastern’s 97-year history, intercollegiate athletics have played a prominent role in campus life. Now, the athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and all others who have an interest in what sports has meant to the University have a thorough accounting of much of that history with the publication of 70 Years: Southeastern Lions Athletic History by Larry Hymel.

Hymel’s book is the first full accounting of Southeastern’s athletic history published. Through prodigious research conducted over about three years, Hymel recounts the wins, losses and so much more that occurred on the playing fields, arenas, courts, tracks and courses where the athletes who chose to wear the green and gold wrote their part of the story that was sports at Southeastern for the first 70 years of the school’s history.

Larry Hymel
Larry Hymel

Hymel, who has spent almost all of his adult life on the campus, brought to his task an intimate knowledge of the University’s athletic history.

Not long after graduating from Southeastern, Hymel was hired as the school’s first full-time sports information director, a position he filled for more than 30 years. He later served as director of the University Center and ended his long and distinguished career on the campus as alumni athletic coordinator.

He spent more than 40 years actively engaged on the Southeastern campus.

Through all those years, the athletes, coaches and administrators came and went, but Hymel was always there watching the school’s sports history unspool as the years spun by. Assessing the task he brought on himself, writing a thorough history of the first 70 years of sports at Southeastern, Hymel said, “there had never been a complete history of Southeastern athletics, and for many years one of my goals was to compile an accounting of the athletics history. When I started out on this project, I didn’t necessarily know that it would turn out to be a book. However, the more I researched the history of athletics, the idea of a book began to develop.”

basketball 1929He said he had a reason for limiting his tale to about the first 70 years of athletics at Southeastern. “I realized at one point that, I had to stop somewhere. … After all, the story continues to be told year after year. … It is still being told almost every day on the campus. Intercollegiate athletes became part of the school about 1930, when what would eventually become a university was a small little school that was really just getting established.

“By 1999, Southeastern had grown to become a large university with thousands of students and athletics had grown with it,” he said. “I had to stop somewhere, and 1999 seemed the perfect place to stop.”

The story starts in the fall of 1930 when then Southeastern Louisiana College fielded its first football team. That team beat Amite and Independence High Schools but later lost to other high schools and junior colleges. The long story ends in chapter 9 when Hymel sneaks into 2003 when Southeastern restored football after a long, painful time for many, when the campus was bereft of football starting in January 1986 when then University President J. Larry Crain announced that football would be dropped as an intercollegiate sport at Southeastern.


Hymel offers that the loss of football for so many years, along with shutting down the basketball team for one season, were among some of the low points in the history of sports in Lion land. However, those two chapters in sports history are offset by the many victories recorded by Southeastern athletes and the winning of conference and national championships.

Through his painstaking research, Hymel recounts the results of almost every football, basketball and baseball game. As more sports teams were added through the years, those contests found their way into his accounting of the school’s sports history. Eventually, Southeastern would field men’s teams in track, golf and tennis along with football, basketball and baseball. With the coming of Title IX in the 1970s, Southeastern, as did all other colleges and universities in the nation, hastened to bring intercollegiate athletic programs for women onto their campuses.

Hymel became sports information director in 1966 and from that point on he was, literally, “sitting on the bench” at almost all sporting events. About the years that came before his time on campus, Hymel said that he had to dig through old accounts of athletics to learn about the very early development of sports on the campus.

“What I learned was very important to telling the whole story, and those early, formative years proved to be of great interest,” he said. “Athletic involvement at SLU started slowly in the 1930s; was interrupted to an extent in the early 1940s when World War II drew so many young men away from the campus; and rebounded with some great teams, especially in football, when the veterans returned to the campus after the war.”

Hymel’s book recounts that Southeastern was a leader in encouraging women’s athletics on campus, and the 1976-1977 Lady Lions basketball team, under the leadership of coach Linda Puckett, won a national championship. Women’s softball was started in the early 1980s, and eventually the school added women’s volleyball, beach volleyball, track, tennis and soccer.

Much of the information in the book was gleaned from copies of The Lion’s Roar, the student newspaper for many years; LeSouvenir, the University yearbook; accounts of sporting events that filled the pages of local and regional newspapers over the years; and interviews that Hymel conducted during his years of research. He recounts that he spent many hours on campus at Sims Memorial Library poring over sources related to athletics now on file in the library.

For many local athletes, Southeastern afforded them a chance to continue their athletic careers hatched and then nurtured at area high schools.
A good example of that local touch involves the first Lady Lions softball team. Glenda Gauley, of Denham Springs, was among the first to try out for the school’s first softball team. She recalls in an interview with Hymel that the team did not even have uniforms for the first year, and the girls were only given matching shirts with numbers on them. Over the next two seasons, Gauley was the only pitcher the team had, and she pitched doubleheaders on numerous occasions.

Recalling those years at Hymel’s recent book signing, she said, “I never got tired. … I don’t remember the wins and the losses that much, what I remember is the joy of playing at the collegiate level and the fun I had with my teammates. Those were some great years.” She attended a book signing for the launch of the publication with Cindy Smith and Missy Smith, also from Denham Springs, who were on that first team. Cindy Smith scored the first run ever for the Lady Lions.

The interview with Gauley is just one of numerous such interviews in the book. Hymel interviewed many of the athletes, coaches and administrators who had a part in Southeastern’s sports history, and these interviews add a special feature to the long account of sports in the land of the Lions.

picture 11 2Readers will also find the names of a number of athletes who had distinguished careers during and after their playing days were over. Robin Roberts, now host of Good Morning America, was a star basketball player at Southeastern. Jim Corbett, who will long be remembered as a successful athletic director at LSU, had his start as a student at Southeastern. DD Breaux, the legendary gymnastics coach at LSU, was a gymnast and assistant coach at Southeastern. It also covers the exploits of outstanding athletes such as All American football player Huey Husser and his fellow Southeastern stars Ray Porta and Oscar Lofton.

Among the highlights in athletic history that Hymel cites were the undefeated football teams in 1946 and 1954; baseball and basketball teams that won conferences and advanced to national tournaments; and outstanding individuals in such sports as tennis, track and golf.

Hymel has won numerous writing awards during his long career. He was awarded the Mac Russo Award presented by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association in 1994, was elected to the Southeastern Athletic Hall of Fame in the same year, and was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame for Distinguished Service to Journalism in 2011.



Copies of the book are available at Southeastern’s University Bookstore, along with Bayou Booksellers in downtown Hammond, or through email at

In addition to Larry Hymel, several alumni and members of the Southeastern Family contributed to bringing this publication to life, including former staff member Vic Couvillion for editing, former staff member Judy Couvillion for general assistance, alum and current staff member Randy Bergeron for photographic assistance, faculty member Dr. Sam Hyde for historical expertise, and Sims Memorial Library staff for microfilm assistance. The book was Published by Southeastern alum Corky Barras at Jefferson Printing and includes a cover designed by Southeastern student Jacie Ferlandy.

Professional Sales Team Places Among Top in the World

Southeastern’s Professional Sales Team won second place out of 80 universities in the World Cup of Sales at the 2022 International Collegiate Sales Competition. Hosted each year in Orlando, Fla., by Florida State University, the ICSC is the largest and most prestigious university sales competition in the world.

Southeastern students who competed on the winning team include Gabriel Pevey and Zakiya Miller of Ponchatoula, Jesse Demars of Walker, Aniya Ally of Prairieville, Reed Godbery of Baton Rouge, Emily Stark of Kenner, Troy Marks of Prairieville, and Jolie Waddell of Mandeville. Southeastern’s Professional Sales Program has been named a top sales program in the country by the Sales Education Foundation.

“We are extremely proud of the sales team’s performance at the International Collegiate Sales Competition,” said Assistant Professor of Marketing and Co-Creator of the Professional Sales Program April Kemp. “Having success in these competitions helps bring recognition to what we are doing at Southeastern to prepare students for successful and fulfilling careers in sales. They also provide a great opportunity for our students to network with their peers and interact with employers from around the country.”

In addition to the second-place finish in the World Cup competition, Southeastern students individually received accolades as well. Out of 160 competitors and after four rounds of competition, Pevey brought home first place, and Miller received fourth place in the sales role play competition.

Sales competitions such as this one, said Kemp, allow students to test their selling skills against their peers through role-playing scenarios, case competitions, and speed selling.

The competition also offered a career fair attended by national companies who were there to hire the students.

For more information about the Professional Sales Program, visit, or email

Southeastern Instructor Appointed to Latino Commission

Southeastern Management Instructor Aristides Baraya has been appointed to the Latino Commission by the Louisiana Speaker of the House, the Hon. Clay Schexnayder.

Aristides Baraya

The main objective of the commission is to identify obstacles to the effective delivery of Louisiana state government services to Latin Americans, to propose methods to remove those obstacles, and to present proposals to the appropriate government entities.

“Dr. Baraya’s selection for this prestigious nomination is truly an honor for Southeastern,” said Southeastern President John L. Crain. “It recognizes his and Southeastern’s ongoing efforts to enhance the Hispanic community’s social and professional development.”

As Director of the Latin American Business and Development Initiative, Baraya works daily to develop the potential of Hispanic youth through the Hispanic Leadership Program his office has been developing with Hispanic high school youth from various parishes across the Northshore region. The program, he said, goes beyond the traditional instruction of leadership courses by providing Latino youth with the tools and resources to develop educational opportunities and become influential community leaders, giving Hispanic youth real-world learning experiences.

“The Hispanic community has made significant contributions to the development of our great nation and has an essential role to play in today’s US economic and social success,” he said. “Empowering social development and leadership to the Hispanic community will bring enormous opportunities to Louisiana.”

Baraya is a member of the Board of Directors of the Hammond Area Economic and Industrial Development District, a member of the Board of Advisors National Scientific and Academic Council of University for Distance Education, a member of the Southeastern Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, and the Southeastern faculty advisor of the Association of Latin American Students.

A resident of Hammond, Baraya was named one of Louisiana’s top 100 successful Hispanic citizens by “Vocero News of New Orleans,” and a participant of the U.S. Senate National Hispanic Summit.