Ben Nevers to Receive Honorary Doctorate at Spring Commencement

Former Louisiana House and Senate member Ben Nevers will be honored with a Southeastern Louisiana University Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree as part of the university’s commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at the University Center.

That morning the university will confer more than 1,000 degrees on students who are graduating with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

“As a stalwart proponent of education throughout more than two decades of public service, Ben Nevers truly deserves this recognition, which is one of the highest honors the university can bestow,” said Southeastern President John L. Crain. “Education at all levels in Louisiana has benefitted from his unwavering dedication.”

Nevers was a Democratic member of the Louisiana Legislature, serving in both the House of Representatives and Senate, from 1999 until 2016, at which time he accepted Governor John Bel Edwards’ invitation to serve as chief of staff. One of Nevers’ primary roles while serving as chief of staff was coordinating the state’s response to record levels of flooding in 2016. During his time at the Capitol, Nevers cultivated a reputation as a legislator respected by members of both parties.

A US Army veteran, he was previously a member of the Bogalusa School Board. He also served as the president and CEO of Nevers Electrical and Contracting, a company he founded in 1980.

Nevers, who represented Louisiana’s District 12, was first elected to the Senate in 2003 after having served five years in the House of Representatives. A former member of the Northshore Legislative Delegation, his district covered areas in St. Tammany, Washington and Tangipahoa parishes, including Southeastern.

Education was a cornerstone issue of his Legislative tenure. As head of the Senate Education Committee and chairman of the Postsecondary Education Review Commission, Nevers championed the importance of education in Louisiana.

He served as a member of various statewide educational committees, including the Louisiana Tuition Trust Authority, the Louisiana High School Redesign Commission, and the Blue Ribbon Commission for Educational Excellence.

Over the years, Nevers has served with several non-profit organizations that reflect his interests in agriculture, economic development, education, health care and infrastructure. He is a former president of the United Way, served on the executive board for the Istrouma Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the St. Tammany Right to Life Association, the Louisiana Farm Bureau, the Louisiana and Washington Parish Cattleman’s associations and Washington Parish Forestry Landowners Association.

Nevers is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2015 Mondale-Brooke Award for Fair Housing Leadership and Civic Participation and the 2016 Russell B. Long Legislative Service Award. In addition, he is a 2017 American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Hall of Fame Inductee. He has also been recognized with the President’s Award from the Louisiana School Psychological Association, the Louisiana School Board Association’s Legislator of the Year Award, and several awards from Louisiana Family Forum.

KSLU Student Newscaster Wins Multiple AP Awards

A Southeastern Louisiana University student has been recognized by the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press. KSLU newscaster and on-air host Connor Ferrill of Mandeville won first place in the Radio Newscast category at the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press Broadcasters and Media Editors college contest.

Ferrill also brought home second place in the Radio Reporter category and received Best of Show at the recent awards banquet in Jackson, Miss. A senior communication major, Ferrill has worked at KSLU for two years.

“We’re proud of Connor and what he’s accomplished,” said KSLU General Manager Todd Delaney. “We strive to create an atmosphere of professionalism and provide real-world experience to train tomorrow’s broadcast leaders today. Connor is a top-notch journalist who has all of the traits of a seasoned professional. I’m certain he’ll be highly successful in all of his future ventures and make Southeastern proud of his future accomplishments.”

As Southeastern’s public access radio channel, KSLU 90.9FM offers a wide variety of programming, including music and live broadcasts of sporting events, the award-winning and syndicated “Rock School” radio show, and the community talk show “Point of View.” Named the No. 1 college radio station in the region by the Southeast Journalism Conference, KSLU provides Southeastern students interested in broadcasting with an intensive learning environment.

For more information visit

Increasing STEM Awareness with New Mobile Lab

Area students now have the opportunity to feed their minds with hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities through a new “vehicle.” The Tangi STEM Coalition, of which Southeastern Louisiana University is a member, developed the “Brain Food Truck,” or mobile STEM lab, to increase accessibility to STEM activities for youth in underserved communities.

Areas to be served by the new mobile STEM lab include Livingston, St. Helena, Tangipahoa, Washington, and St. Tammany parishes, said Southeastern Assistant Director of Math Science Upward Bound high school program and project co-chair Wendy Conarro. The purpose of the truck, she said, is to present enriching STEM activities by providing content for summer camps, after school and Saturday programs.

“Thanks to the dedication of many volunteers and donors, the Brain Food Truck was introduced to the public at the 2019 Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, where Hammond High Torbotics Team members took a break from preparing for World Competitions in Houston to serve up STEM activities to families,” she said. “On the menu were Strawberry DNA extraction, building and testing magnetometers and Keva Plank contraptions, commanding a Dashbot, and creating paper circuit art.”

To help supply the Brain Food Truck, Southeastern Instructor of Industrial Technology Ed Rode led a work group of student volunteers during Southeastern’s The Big Event to assemble shelving to store supplies for over 40 STEM activities.

“We would not be this far along without the expertise of partners such as Mr. Rode who took the lead in assembling the intricately designed shelving provided to our project by the Nebraska Children’s Foundation, which has 20 such trailers rolling through their rural communities.”

The Brain Food Truck was funded by United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Intralox/Laitram, and Ponchatoula Kiwanis in honor of late engineer, Lee West. The project was also made possible by dozens of volunteers and hundreds of volunteer hours over the past nine months, Conarro said.

“Events such as the Strawberry Festival and the upcoming Hammond Community STEM Cafe will give us time to test the system while also providing enriching activities at a few local events,” said Troy Williams, project co-chair. “Ultimately, the Brain Food Truck will bring tested, standards-based, student-centered activities to communities who lack such opportunities.”

Conarro said the Brain Food Truck is being piloted this summer, after which they plan to secure funding for a fleet of mobile STEM labs to serve the Northshore region.

For more information or to make a reservation for the Brain Food Truck, visit Priority will be given to communities currently without summer STEM enrichment opportunities, Conarro said.

Nursing School of the Year for Advanced Practice

The Southeastern Louisiana University Doctor of Nursing Practice Program has been recognized by the Louisiana Nurses Foundation as the Nursing School of the Year in Advanced Practice. The award recognizes a school of nursing offering formal education for registered nurses seeking a graduate degree for advanced clinical practice roles, as well as nursing administration, nursing education and research.

This is the second time Southeastern has been recognized with a Nightingale Award for an advance practice program, with the master’s program being recognized as program of the year in 2013. Also, Southeastern’s undergraduate nursing program has been recognized with the Nightingale Award three times.

The competition is evaluated by a panel of out-of-state judges who review the nominations submitted by nursing programs throughout the state. The Nightingale Awards are the foundation’s highest recognition for quality, service, commitment and excellence among Louisiana registered nurses.

Ann Carruth, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said nursing programs are evaluated for the award by a wide range of criteria, including accreditation status, innovations in education and teaching, nursing examination passage rate, and comments solicited from graduates, faculty and area employers.

Above image, from left: Instructor of Nursing Lana Auzenne, Associate Professor of Nursing Donna Coffey, School of Nursing Department Head Ken Tillman, Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Ann Carruth, Associate Professor of Nursing Eileen Creel, retired Professor of Nursing Lorinda Sealey, Assistant Professor of Nursing Del Mars, and Southeastern nursing alumna Heidi Roshto

Southeastern’s program is an academic partnership between Southeastern and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette that offers Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. The partnership allows Southeastern and UL Lafayette the opportunity to provide stand-alone, but mutually supportive DNP programs to leverage teaching and learning resources, Carruth explained. Building on the strengths of its Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredited baccalaureate and master’s programs, Southeastern offers a post-masters DNP program seeking qualified advanced practice nurses and nurse executives.

“I am very proud of our DNP program. Students who are administrators and advanced practitioners create a two year-long project, partnering with an organization to implement policy, evaluate quality, translate research and best evidence. These projects require tremendous organizational commitment and multidisciplinary team effort,” Carruth said.

“In the end, students document data-driven analysis and evaluation of the project. We’ve had five cohorts graduate from our program. They have impacted health care throughout southeast Louisiana and beyond. It is an honor to be a dean working with such talented, dedicated faculty and students.”

The nursing school also operates a completely online RN to BS degree program that allows registered nurses with an associate’s degree or nursing diploma to complete courses leading to a bachelor of science degree.

New Residence Halls First in the Nation with Geothermal Energy, and a Monumental Step in Making Southeastern More Green

Southeastern’s newest student housing is one of the university’s latest and largest sustainability initiatives garnering national attention, and yet it is also only one part of a grand plan to create a more eco-friendly campus.

For over 500 Southeastern students, the 2018-2019 school year began by moving in to one of the two new, state-of-the-art residence halls. Ascension Hall and Twelve Oaks Hall, located adjacent to the former Zachary Taylor Hall, feature private and shared rooms, classrooms, meeting and common areas, and dining and retail venues. But while the roomy, contemporary spaces may be what awe most people who enter these additions, what’s below the surface is perhaps even more exciting.

Ascension and Twelve Oaks halls have a hybrid geothermal system. With this type of system, pumps move heat from the ground to the building when the weather outside is chilly. When cooling is needed, the process is reversed. The result is a sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and economical solution to heating and cooling.

An initiative of Southeastern Sustainability, the system is the first of its kind for any university or state building in Louisiana. The new buildings, which draw from 220 geothermal wells, are also the second largest site in the country to use a system like this.

In addition to environmental benefits, the system significantly reduces heating and cooling costs. It is projected to save over 50 percent on energy expenses as compared to a traditional system and build.

And students now get to feel the effects of this new technology in more ways than one; the system also serves as a learning laboratory for real-world experiences for Southeastern students in various disciplines.

This ambitious construction project is the latest in a long line of efficiencies executed on campus with the lofty goal of becoming 30 percent “off the grid” by 2025. Other current efforts include the use of wind turbines, incorporation of photovoltaic panels, and harnessing of solar thermal energy at several sites across campus.

With student organizations such as Reconnect and the Student Government Association leading the way, students are helping promote the use of refillable water bottles, the retrofit of water fountains into modern refillable water bottle fountains across campus, new additions of recycling bins across campus, and adoption of community garden plots on the grounds at the Sustainability Center.

What started out as a committee tasked with addressing litter concerns has evolved into a committee that is now a driving force behind making Southeastern more green.

“This is a perfect example of what makes Southeastern so special,” said President John Crain. “I convened a group to combat litter. They not only addressed that issue, but then
began exploring ways to expand involvement and nurture a culture of conservatism across campus. Southeastern’s students, faculty, and staff always go above and beyond. This is but one instance.”

For more information about Southeastern’s ongoing efforts to keep getting greener, go to or visit the university’s Sustainability Center and see the efforts in action.


Your Guide to Spring 2019 Commencement

Spring 2019 commencement is almost here! Whether you have a loved one graduating or simply want to be a part of this special Southeastern tradition, there are a few things to keep in mind to help the day go smoothly. A few changes have been made within the past year, including alterations to the list of allowed items, the addition of bag checks, an increased number of attendants to assist guests, and live streaming of the big event on The Southeastern Channel. Please continue reading below for further information, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Time & Place

Doctoral, Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s Degree Ceremony
Saturday, May 18, 2019, at 10:00 a.m.
University Center, 800 West University Avenue
Doors open at 8:00 a.m.
The commencement ceremony is anticipated to last until 12:30 p.m.

Live Stream

Watch the ceremony online on the Southeastern Channel’s live stream.

Parking & Seating

Complimentary parking is available in all campus parking lots to guests attending the commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18. Guests walking from South Campus to the University Center should utilize the tunnel for the safest route.

Accessible parking at the University Center is limited and is on a first-come basis. Please note that disabled plates and/or hang tags are required to secure space in lots reserved for accessible commencement parking.

A complimentary commencement shuttle will be available on Saturday, May 18, to transport guests from (the Gen Pershing and Univ/Oak Street parking lots) to the University Center. The shuttle will operate before and following the ceremony. One (1) bus will have wheelchair accessibility.

The doors to the University Center will be opened for guests at least one hour before the start of the ceremony. We kindly ask that you refrain from saving seats out of consideration for other guests. Seating is available on a first-come basis so groups should plan to arrive early to find seats together.

For suggested parking lots and a layout of the University Center, please refer to the below maps.




Etiquette & Prohibited Items

Commencement is a ceremonious occasion honoring your student’s accomplishments. Decorum and courtesy are important to you, as well as to all degree candidates and their families. Guests and graduates are encouraged to remain for the duration of the ceremony.

  • Once seated, all participants are expected to stay until the conclusion of the ceremony.
  • Cell phones and other electronic devices should be silenced.
  • Candidates should plan to meet their guests outside the University Center as guests are not allowed on the arena floor or stage.
  • Southeastern maintains the historic tradition of each degree candidate shaking hands with the President as his / her name is called. The last degree candidate is as important as the first so we ask guests to be considerate and keep celebratory applause to a minimum so that each graduate’s name can be heard.

Prohibited Items
For security purposes, all commencement attendees are asked to limit the handbags, camera bags, and tote bags they bring with them to only those that are absolutely necessary. All articles brought into the facility will be subject to search, and this may delay attendees from entering the University Center.

To ensure a safe and comfortable Commencement, the following items are strictly prohibited from being brought into the University Center:

Containers of any kind (including but not limited to coolers, thermoses, cups, bottles, cans, flasks)
Aerosol and spray cans
Animals (except for service animals for persons with a disability)
Balloons and beach balls
Alcoholic beverages
Signs, banners, and flags
Laser pointers
Noisemakers (including but not limited to whistles, air horns, bull horns, sirens, thunder sticks, etc.)
Confetti, glitter, streamers, and silly string
Fireworks, party poppers, and sparklers


Inclement Weather Policy

We are hopeful that Mother Nature will cooperate in the celebration, but inclement weather is possible.  To ensure a safe commencement, the following plans are in place:

  1. The ceremony is scheduled to take place rain or shine. Given the size of the gathering, it’s not feasible to move the ceremony to an alternate date.
    1. In the event of severe weather, the ceremony may be delayed, paused, or canceled. The safety of our guests is our highest priority.
    2. If a schedule adjustment is required prior to your arrival, information will be shared via email, social media (,,, website, and local news media.
  2. At the venue, instructions will be given via the stage announcer. Graduates and guests are asked to listen for announcements and remain seated until otherwise instructed.


The commencement ceremony will be fully accessible. Accessible seating will be available for individuals with disabilities or guests with limited mobility. ASL interpreters will be on site. Guests who utilize sign language interpreting services should sit in sections 114 and 115.

Seating Accommodations
If you or anyone in your party is in need of accessible seating or assistance, we recommend arriving early as the seating will be determined on a first-come basis. Accessible seating is limited to only those guests who require it. The seats will be for the person with accessible needs and for one companion. No pre-ticketing will occur for accessible seating.

Wheelchair Seating Locations
Wheelchair and wheelchair companion locations are scattered throughout the main level concourse 100 level at sections 104, 109 and 110.

Street-level entry to the building is through gate 4 on the north side of facility. Passenger elevators with priority for persons with disabilities are available at gate 5, near section 111 / 112.

The public restrooms are accessible and all contain diaper-changing stations.

The concession stand is accessible.

Messages and Emergency Information
In case of an emergency, the ASL interpreter will alert the deaf and those hard of hearing. Emergency messages will be announced from the stage via the announcer.

Additional Activities
Lion4Life Launch Party

Thursday, May 16 | 2:30-4:30 p.m. | Alumni Center
Register Online

Hotels & Restaurants
To plan your weekend in Hammond, go to  Enjoy your time in beautiful Hammond, America!

Night Out: Southeast Louisiana Historical Association Dinner and Lecture, 150 Years of Tangipahoa

The Southeast Louisiana Historical Association will hold its annual meeting in Hammond April 17. The event will take place at the Hammond Regional Arts Center in the Levy Building downtown at 6 p.m.

Southeastern professors Samuel Hyde and Robert Moreau will headline the event centered on continuity and change over 150 years in Tangipahoa Parish.

The Leon Ford Endowed Chair, Professor of History, and Director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies, Hyde will provide a short presentation on dramatic events from Tangipahoa’s past and details from his new book.

Moreau, a professor of biology and director of the Turtle Cove Research Station, will present details on current projects at Turtle Cove and highlight continuing, and newly emerging challenges to the Manchac Swamp ecosystem.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with refreshments and conversation. Dinner, with regionally appropriate foods courtesy of Chef John Jordan, will be served at 6:30 p.m., followed by Hyde and Moreau’s presentations. A book signing will follow the presentation with books available for purchase.

Hyde said SELHA is a town and gown organization devoted to promoting and preserving the history and culture of Louisiana’s Florida Parishes and surrounding environs. The organization is housed in the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies at Southeastern.

“New members and guests are welcome,” Hyde said. “A $25 membership fee entitles one to attend the April 17 meeting and dinner, along with a one-year membership in the organization and a copy of the annual newsletter ‘The Centerpiece,’ and the SELHA’s scholarly journal ‘The Southeast Louisiana Review.’”

Spouses or member guests may attend for a $10 fee, Hyde added. Those interested only in attending the April 17 dinner and lectures may do so for $15.

For additional information on tickets or the SELHA, contact the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies at 985-549-2151 or email

Celebrating 50 Years of Earth Day at Reconnect Farmers Market

The Southeastern Louisiana University student organization Reconnect is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with a farmers market on April 17 in front of the Student Union from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sponsored by the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department, the market will feature locally grown produce, pies, food, coffee, soaps, jewelry, live music and more.

In addition to the farmers market vendors, representatives from various student and community organizations will be on hand to celebrate Earth Day, including the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station, the Sustainability Center, biology graduate students, Dining Services, Reconnect, the Sierra Club, and the Citizens Climate Lobby. The first 300 participants will receive a free reusable water bottle.

A student environmental club, Reconnect participates in the Real Food Challenge, a national effort among college students to promote the use of locally grown, healthy and sustainable food products.

For more information, contact Associate Professor of Sociology David Burley at

Southeastern Librarian Earns State Award

A Southeastern Louisiana University librarian has been recognized with a state award by the Louisiana Chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Louisiana Library Association. Angela Dunnington, head of access services of Southeastern’s Sims Memorial Library, received the 2019 Academic Award for Outstanding Librarianship at the LLA annual conference held recently in Baton Rouge.

Angela Dunnington

A resident of Hammond, Dunnington was nominated by Sims Library Director Eric Johnson, as well as her peers.

“Angela has passion for librarianship, a strong desire to provide the best possible service that Sims Library can offer, the ability to work through thorny problems to find appropriate solutions, and an ongoing commitment to faculty and student assistance and instruction,” Johnson said.

Dunnington received a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Southeastern in 1995 and a master’s degree in library and information science from LSU in 1997. She has worked at Sims Memorial Library in various capacities since 2001 and has introduced new technology to library collections, led information literacy assessment projects, written grants, improved policies, and created a student/employee training course.

Perhaps most importantly, Johnson said, Dunnington frequently shares her expertise locally, statewide, and nationally. She has published and presented extensively and frequently mentors new librarians.

“It is an indescribable honor to be selected as this year’s Outstanding Academic Librarian. It has been an incredible journey to be part of academic libraries and higher education spanning 22 years,” Dunnington said. “I share this award with Southeastern librarians, staff and fellow colleagues who mentored and inspired me throughout my career. It is not every day a librarian gets to spend the majority of her career working at their undergraduate alma mater.”


Southeastern Guitarists Excel at Mississippi Guitar Competition

A Southeastern Louisiana University student and two alumni were recognized at the 2019 Mississippi Guitar Festival Guitar Competition at William Carey College in Hattiesburg.

Southeastern junior Graham Guillory of Covington placed third in the Young Artist division of the competition that included national and international students performing music for solo guitar. Guillory, a student of Instructor of Guitar and Coordinator of Guitar Activities Patrick Kerber, performed Dilermando Reis’ “Se Ela Perguntar” and Angel Barrios’ “Arroyos de la Alhambra,” two challenging works.

Co-sponsored by the Mississippi Guitar Alliance, the festival also featured a Jazz Guitar Competition in which two Southeastern alumni earned recognition. Zakkary Garner (’13) of Hammond earned first place, and Justin Burdette (’10) of Baton Rouge took second place.

Garner is currently teaching in the Tangipahoa School System Talented Music program. His CD “Humble Ambition,” featuring mostly original compositions, was released in late 2018. In addition to his teaching duties, Garner maintains an active performance schedule as a saxophonist, guitarist, and pianist. Since graduating from Southeastern, he has been featured at music festivals throughout the United States and Europe.

Burdette maintains a substantial teaching schedule with the Overtones Music Studio in Denham Springs. He performs regularly throughout the region as a soloist and with the popular King Creole Orchestra.

“It is certainly an understatement to say that I am very proud of and happy for these young guitarists,” Kerber said. “Music competitions are very difficult propositions, as musicians have to present what makes them happy – the joy of performing music – in the face of instant comparison and judgement. Their success in this event bodes well for their future academic and professional success.”