As region recovers, so does Southeastern
As the university with the largest percentage of students from areas impacted by recent
flooding, the uncertainty of so many variables for so many Southeastern students,
faculty and staff in mid-August was incalculable. Compounding the unknown factors
was the fact that the flooding ensued less than a week before the scheduled start
of classes for the fall semester.
“As a regional university, many of Southeastern’s students hail from the parishes
that were hardest hit by the flooding,” said President John L. Crain. “Almost half
of our students call four of the most impacted parishes home – Ascension, East Baton
Rouge, Livingston and Tangipahoa.”
Thankfully, the campus and immediate surrounding communities remained largely
unscathed but the flooding wreaked havoc on the usual timeline for the fall semester,
and the start of classes was eventually pushed back from Aug. 17 to Aug. 22, said
Faculty and staff volunteered to launch and man a phone bank in the Admissions
Communications Center while a myriad of additional communication efforts were employed
to reach out to students whose statuses remained unknown or who had indicated via
an online semester intent form that they needed special assistance.
“First we wanted to let our students know we were thankful to have reached them
and that they were safe. And then we wanted to assure them that Southeastern would
help them however possible,” said Crain.
In all, more than 5,000 calls were made.
Deadlines for financial aid, course selection and payment of fees were extended.
Additional payment options were made available. Special consideration was given to
those unable to move into residence halls prior to the start of classes or attend
the first days of class. Textbook Rental replaced nearly 200 textbooks that were lost
or damaged in the flood free of charge for students. Parking passes and Southeastern
IDs were also re-issued at no cost. In addition, over 100 alumni received re-prints
“Faculty and staff expended extraordinary effort,” Crain said. “Some were making
calls and helping make accommodations for students even while they were waiting for
water to recede in their own houses. It is times like this that the Southeastern Family
truly pulls together, and I am humbled to work alongside them.”
Beyond the more technical but necessary items such as adjustments to the academic
calendar and the corresponding changes needed to meet financial aid disbursement regulations,
members of the university also stepped up to volunteer their personal time and energy
to assist with clean-up efforts.
Students and student-athletes proved to be “Lion Strong,” volunteering well over
1,000 hours of service to help with recovery efforts throughout our region. They helped
rip out sheetrock, move water-logged furnishings, and whatever else needed to be done
in well over 100 homes.
Likewise, many faculty and staff helped friends and neighbors with recovery efforts
and have donated money and supplies for disaster relief assistance. The Southeastern
Food Pantry, which usually serves only the student population, opened its doors to
families of students and those in the community in need of provisions.
The Lion Ride Share program was conceived and implemented online in order to
help commuting students, faculty and staff members who lost vehicles in the flooding.
Additionally, the Southeastern Foundation established a Disaster Relief Fund
to assist in meeting the short term needs of as many students, faculty, and staff
as possible. Staff secured a grant from the Northshore Community Foundation to supplement
the funds donated by individuals.
One student who received grant funding wrote the following as a thank you:
“In August of 2016, the month I started my first semester of college, my home
was flooded. I lost personal belongings, including clothes, shoes, pictures of me
and loved ones who are no longer with us, etc. To be part of a wonderful university
that was able to collect money for students like me warms my heart. I cannot thank
you enough for your generosity. This truly means so much to me.”
Nearly 200 grants have been provided thus far to assist those needing help as
they continue to work toward recovery.
As the region embarks on the more long-term phases of recovery, students are
urged to take advantage of the services available to them free of charge through the
University Counseling Center. Counselors are available for sessions with those who
may be feeling overwhelmed by flood-related issues, especially now that the initial
shock of the natural disaster has passed. Students may access the center in the Student
Union Annex or call 549-3894 to make appointments.
“I am tremendously proud of our campus community members who went above and beyond
in the aftermath of the flooding,” said Crain. “There is no doubt their efforts made
a difference in the lives of those impacted and led to our strong fall enrollment
despite the enormous uncertainties and obstacles faced at the outset.”
Southeastern’s fall enrollment of new freshmen increased, rising 14.4 percent.
Prior to the flooding, Southeastern was anticipating its largest freshman class in
recent history, Crain said. Of note is an accompanying increase in ACT composite scores
among that freshman class (now 22.3 compared to 21.9 last year) , which translates
into more students who are better prepared to succeed in a university setting. Fall
total enrollment headcount is 14,499, roughly the same as last year’s.
Enrollment officers and counselors at Southeastern report the vast majority of
students who were unable to enroll this fall indicate they plan to sit out one or
two semesters with the intent of eventually re-enrolling, according to Lori Fairburn,
Director of Enrollment Services
“We are working with them every way possible to help them continue their higher
education and will welcome them to campus as soon as they are able to return,” Fairburn
Also showing enrollment gains this fall is Connect to Success, the admissions
bridge program that now boasts approximately 649 students, the highest in the program’s
five-year history. The partnership between Southeastern and Northshore Technical Community
College provides post-secondary educational opportunities for students in the region
who are seeking admission to the university but don't yet meet admission criteria.
NTCC students participating in the program take their courses on the Southeastern
campus, and have access to its library, Student Union, and other amenities and services.
Continuing to serve its mission as a regional university, the top feeder parishes
to the university remained consistent, with 3,263 students from St. Tammany Parish
and 1,957 from Tangipahoa Parish. Other parishes sending high numbers of students
to Southeastern include East Baton Rouge, 1,830; Livingston, 1,562; Jefferson, 1,288,
and Ascension, 1,261.
St. Tammany Parish partners with Southeastern, Comite resources to test experimental
A relatively low-tech method of imitating a natural marshland was implemented to help
clean freshwater ponds contaminated by stormwater runoff. This research is being funded
by St. Tammany Parish Government in cooperation with scientists at Southeastern and
the wetlands assimilation company Comite Resources, Inc.
The effort is intended to improve water quality throughout St. Tammany through
several water quality initiatives. Included is a project in the Del Sol subdivision
of Covington that utilizes an innovative, yet relatively low-tech method of imitating
a natural marshland that will help to clean freshwater ponds contaminated by stormwater
The $222,000 pilot project is a component of the newly initiated St. Tammany
Parish stormwater management plan, a project that was launched to help the parish
determine the most efficient and effective methods to retrofit other stormwater retention
ponds, turning them into water quality enhancers, according to parish officials.
“Improving water quality and our environment in the parish are crucial,” said
St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister. “As we continue to research and implement
the latest, most effective strategies to address pollution and stormwater runoff problems,
we will continue to make great strides in improving the overall quality of our water
throughout the entire community. Success will also make this pilot project replicable
throughout St. Tammany and mimicked throughout the country.”
The project is being funded by the parish and implemented by Southeastern Louisiana
University wetlands expert and Professor of Biological Sciences Gary Shaffer and graduate
student Zach Leggett, who are working with Racheal Hunter of Comite Resources, Inc.
based in Zachary, La.
Rainwater runoff enters the Del Sol pond from three directions, carrying with
it sediment, oils, tar, fertilizers and herbicides that accumulate in the subdivision’s
watershed and contaminate the pond.
Leggett and Shaffer are evaluating the cleaning effects of a man-made floating
marsh in the eight-acre pond. Leggett’s hands-on project is the focus of his master’s
thesis at Southeastern.
“The floating plants take out the excess nutrients and turbidity, or cloudiness,
in the water, including fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other materials that
can be harmful to water quality,” Leggett said.
In the fall, Leggett and his team constructed a star-shaped, eight-armed frame
of PVC piping with four-foot wide vinyl coated crab wire between the piping that acts
as a platform and serves as a supporting structure for marsh plants, such as maidencane,
arrowhead and spider lily. The plants attached to the netting, serve as a natural
filtering mechanisms for the pond water. The predominant water plant used in the structure
is maidencane, an inexpensive plant that is easily propagated in the university’s
greenhouses before being transplanted into the frame.
“The maidencane roots are full of gas, so the plants tend to float on top; this
makes it ideal for this kind of structure,” explained Shaffer. “Maidencane is a good
plant for this purpose; the roots grow about 20 inches deep and suck up the excess
nutrients in the water and help clean the pond. As an added benefit, the structure
also becomes a huge refuge for small fish and other species.”
While water quality tests are only in the early stages, Shaffer said the pond
has become much clearer with a huge reduction in turbidity, or cloudiness. In addition,
he said, the frames are full of minnows and juvenile fish, which greatly improves
the ecosystem function of the pond.
“We expect the turbidity and nutrient levels at the site will be significantly
reduced, which means we would be successful in our efforts to remove the contaminants
and clear the water,” said Leggett. “And it would tell us whether maidencane is the
ideal plant for this process.”
Hundreds of ponds in St. Tammany Parish are in need of water quality improvement,
according to Parish officials. The Parish’s floating marshlands project, if successful,
will play a significant and relatively inexpensive role in improving water quality.
The research project and its final report are expected to be completed in 2017
after the plants have completely covered the platform.
FLOATING MARSHLAND – Southeastern biological sciences graduate student Zachary Leggett ties plants to
a floating platform he constructed that will serve as a floating marshland to help
clean stormwater contamination in the Del Sol subdivision in St. Tammany Parish.
Columbia Theatre to host preview party for documentary film, Hamilton's America
Southeastern’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts and Louisiana Public Broadcasting
are hosting a preview party for Hamilton’s America, the story behind the revolutionary musical, and the PBS Arts Fall Film Festival.
The Oct. 6 showing is as a part of Fanfare, the university’s annual October arts festival.
Scheduled from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the downtown Hammond theatre, the event is free and
open to the public and will include a 30-minute excerpt of Hamilton’s America, as well as a preview of the remaining PBS Arts Festival line-up. Additionally, special
guests from Center Stage Performing Arts Academy in Gonzales will perform musical
theatre inspired by Hamilton’s America.
Although the broadcast film premiere is not scheduled until Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. on LPB,
the preview party will give the audience a sneak peek behind the scenes of the making
of the film.
For more information, contact Columbia Theatre at 543-4366.
University Housing, Residence Hall Association recognized by LACUSPA
University Housing and Southeastern’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) were recognized
by LACUSPA (Louisiana College and University Student Personnel Administrators) on
Sept. 22 with an award for Louisiana State Program of the Year for their Residential
Freshmen Success Banquet.
Held each spring semester since 2014, the banquet recognizes freshmen who earn
a 3.5 grade point average or higher during the prior fall semester. The event is by
invitation only and held in the Student Union Ballroom. Participants enjoy a seated
meal and a keynote address from a member of the academic administration. Dr. Shirley
Jacob, Dean of the College of Education and Dr. Karen Fontenot, Dean of the College
of Arts and Humanities, have each attended as the keynote speaker. Advisors from the
Center for Student Excellence along with members of the Residence Hall Association
serve as table hosts.
“Connection and support from faculty and staff outside of the classroom is so
important,” said Kay Maurin, director of University Housing. “We were thrilled to
be able to recognize outstanding academic achievement and visit with our residential
freshmen about their success inside the classroom”
Attendees also participated in interactive multimedia elements designed to educate
them about campus involvement.
“All of the elements from the program were student led,” said Blake Thomas, area
coordinator for University Housing and advisor to RHA. “I love the collaboration between
the students and professional staff that goes into planning this event.”
For more information about University Housing and RHA, visit southeastern.edu/liveoncampus.
CELEBRATING RECOGNITION - Pictured are, from left, LACUSPA President elect Dale O’Neill, director of Student
Involvement and Leadership at UNO and Outgoing President Alvina Thomas, Dean of Student
Success Services at Louisiana Delta Community College present Blake Thomas with the
LACUSPA Program of the Year Award.
Coca-Cola brings promotion to campus
HIGH HUGGABILITY - Southeastern student Kaitlyn Ford of Alexandria hugs a Coca-Cola machine in the
university’s Student Union. The machine propels a free Coke when touched. Hundreds
of students gave hugs to get free soft drinks while the promotional vending machine
made its one-day appearance on campus.
Southeastern Dance to present ‘Bayourella: A Story of Forgiveness’
Southeastern’s resident student dance company, Dance Performance Project, will present
“Bayourella: A Story of Forgiveness” as part of Fanfare, the university’s annual October
arts festival. The dance concert will be presented Oct. 5 – 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Vonnie
Borden Theatre located in D Vickers Hall on campus.
The production is directed by Dance Instructor Skip Costa. Selected choreographers
are Haley Jordan, Baton Rouge; Lindsy Brown, Hammond; Forrest Duplantier, Covington
The production will include original music performed live, original costume designs,
and a set that includes a 25-foot dock over the bayou.
“‘Bayourella: a Story of Forgiveness’” is an InterARTS™ performance approach
to movement creation being developed by Costa that fuses the elements of dance, music,
theatre, and visual arts for a true kinesthetic experience for the audience, usually
within a very emotional journey through the human condition,” said Dance Coordinator
Martie Fellom. “In this production, one of the aspects that Skip focuses on is the
complexity and cruelness of Bayourella’s step-mother’s life in order to define her
treatment toward Bayourella.”
Dancers performing in the production include Ashley Barbarin, White Castle; Brown,
Hannah Davis, Mahitha Koduri, and Olivia Lowentritt, all of Hammond; Haley Bruch and
Sean Gilvey, Mandeville; Alaura Cervini, Metairie; Brianna Denmark, Denham Springs;
Raven Gooden and Jordan, Baton Rouge; Kendra Hall, Metairie; Alexis May, Denham Springs;
Jasmine Mingo, Slidell; and Joshua Verdun, Ponchatoula.
Composers and musicians in the production include Nathan Bauerle, composer/music
director, Baton Rouge; Seth Guerra- composer/music director, Hammond; Isaac Callahan,
trombone, Albany; Andrew Dilmore, clarinet, Lake Charles; Heath Freaci, trumpet, Chalmette;
Ryan Lafleur, clarinet; Denham Springs; and Jeremy Stringer, percussion, Slidell.
Tickets for Bayourella are $5 and will be available in the D Vickers box office
the evening of each performance.
For more information, contact Dance Coordinator Martie Fellom at email@example.com.
Employee Benefits and Wellness Fair is Oct. 4
The Employee Benefits and Wellness Fair is scheduled tomorrow, Oct. 4, in the Student
Union Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Employees can make changes to current benefits,
add new benefits, and find new ways to save for retirement.
Additionally, the new dental carrier, United Health Care, will be able to answer
questions, blood pressure checks will be offered, and attendees can make their own
A blood drive is also scheduled, as is a canned food drive for the Southeastern
Food Pantry. Each item donated earns a ticker to enter for a door prize.
Columbia Theatre to present ventriloquist, comedienne
Southeastern’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts will present ventriloquist
and comedienne Lynn Trefzger in one performance only on Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m.
With a trunk full of zany characters that have accompanied her to stages throughout
the country, Trefzger and her many voices have appeared on ABC, TNN, A&E, and Lifetime,
said Columbia Theatre and Fanfare Director Roy Blackwood.
“Lynn Trefzger’s vocal illusion talents were first brought to national audiences
on TV’s ‘Star Search,’ and she has since performed with artists including Jeff Foxworthy,
Ray Romano, Drew Carey and Faith Hill,” Blackwood said. “Her off-the-wall audience
interplay is riotously funny, and her performances are tailored for both family and
Trefzger, Blackwood said, was also featured in a comedy/documentary about the
art of ventriloquism with Jay Johnson and Jeff Dunham called “I’m No Dummy” by NBC
Tickets for the performance range from $15 to $30 and are available at the Columbia
Theatre box office, located in downtown Hammond at 220 East Thomas St., online at
columbiatheatre.org, or via phone at 543-4371. Box office hours are from 11 a.m. to
4 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before performance times.
For more information, contact the Columbia Theatre box office at 543-4371.
‘Southeastern Salute’ to honor Tangi first responders
All Tangipahoa Parish first responders who worked tirelessly in response to the recent
flooding are invited to attend “Southeastern Salute,” an event designed to thank them
for their extraordinary efforts.
First responders and their families, who also made sacrifices while their loved
ones reported to work, are invited to the recognition event, starting at 1 p.m. on
Saturday, Oct. 8 in Southeastern Louisiana University’s Student Union Park. Free tickets
to the SLU-McNeese football game will be available for the first 250 guests who would
like to then partake in tailgating and cheer the Lions on to victory at 6 p.m. in
Co-hosted by Aramark food services provider, Southeastern Louisiana University
and Tangipahoa Parish Government, there is no cost to attend and no reservations are
required for the celebration featuring food and drinks, door prizes and family entertainment.
“The first responders in our area – law enforcement, fire, emergency technicians,
National Guardsmen and so many others – were nothing less than heroic in relief efforts,”
said Erin Cowser, executive director of Public and Governmental Affairs at Southeastern.
“This is just a small way of saying thank you for their dedicated service.”
Southeastern ranked nationally in financial aid study
Southeastern has been ranked 58th nationally among the best colleges for university-provided
part-time student employment.
The study was published in the newsletter “Student Loan Report” using information
compiled by Peterson’s Financial Aid Data. Southeastern was listed among the top
250 colleges and universities in the nation for its student part-time employment record.
According to the study, Southeastern provides approximately 1,093 on-campus jobs
for students who are not affiliated with the Federal Work Study program. Only three
Louisiana institutions made the list.
“Providing part-time employment for students benefits both the students and the
university,” said Lori Fairburn, director of Enrollment Services. “The students gain
exposure to a professional work environment and learn valuable lessons in time management,
multi-tasking, project planning and more, while earning money to help pay for typical
college expenses. The institution gains the benefits of having additional part-time
workers on the staff to augment operations of the office.”
“Student Loan Report” is an online newsletter that provides information to college
students and parents regarding news, issues and studies on student loans and student
debt. The report can be found on the web at studentloans.net.
Southeastern safety expert honored by Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance
A Southeastern specialist in workplace safety was recognized recently by the Greater
Baton Rouge Industry Alliance (GBRIA) for academic leadership in the field.
Lu Yuan, a certified safety professional and interim head of Southeastern’s Department
of Computer Science and Industrial Technology, received the Craft Workforce Development
Champion Award from GBRIA at its 9th Annual Craft Workforce Development Excellence
Awards banquet held recently in Baton Rouge.
GBRIA is a non-profit trade association with membership from 60 industrial plant
facilities located in eight parishes in the Baton Rouge area. The organization was
formed in 1970 to seek solutions to common issues with a focus on safety performance
and workforce development.
Yuan was nominated for the award by Chris Newton, coordinator of workforce development
at Cajun Industries, a nationally recognized leader in the construction industry.
“Dr. Yuan and the faculty in Southeastern’s Occupational Safety, Health and Environment
program are a step above others in providing training for careers in the demanding
field of safety,” said Newton. They routinely produce quality students through the
usage of accredited curriculum and industry experience. They use a real-world learning
model, where teams of students visit companies to shadow safety professionals and
review safety programs.”
“This award is for our entire OSH&E faculty,” said Yuan, who last year was honored
by the American Society of Safety Engineers with its Outstanding Safety Educator Award.
“It recognizes the great contributions the program has made toward workforce development
for industry in the region.”
Yuan said that as the state continues to expand its focus on development of industry,
the need for professionals in the field will only increase.
Southeastern’s OSH&E program is one of only 26 such programs nationally that
award graduates with the Graduate Safety Practitioner Designation from the Board of
Certified Safety Professionals. The program is accredited by the Applied Science Accreditation
Commission of ABET.
SAFETY AWARD PRESENTED – Lu Yuan, left, interim head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial
Technology at Southeastern, accepts the Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance (GBRIA)
Craft Workforce Development Champion Award from John Pacillo, operations director
of Mexichem Fluor and a member of the GBRIA board of directors. The award recognizes
the contributions Southeastern’s Occupational Safety, Health and Environment program
has made toward workforce development for industry in the region.
Center for Faculty Excellence celebrates College of Business
As part of The Center for Faculty Excellence’s “Celebrate” initiative, the month of
September was dedicated to the celebration and recognition of the College of Business.
Students, faculty, staff, and visitors left “Thank You” messages on the college appreciation
banner, which was presented to the College of Business on Sept. 20.
The College of Business has an impressive “resume” that includes a number of
expert faculty, innovative student programs, and initiatives in Latin America. Most
recently, the economics faculty at Southeastern has been ranked the third most prolific
in research in the U.S. Southern Region, according to a study published in the journal
Students, faculty, and staff are invited to stop by The Center for Faculty Excellence
tent on the first Wednesday of each month to write an appreciation message to the
Intro to Mindfulness Series continues Oct. 6
Got stress? Mindfulness, a series of meditations and discussions for faculty, staff
and students, can help.
The next meeting is Thursday, Oct. 6, at 4 p.m. in Sims Library, room 252.
Phi Kappa Phi announces Quiz Bowl
Get your student or faculty team together for the 15th Annual Honor Society of Phi
Kappa Phi Homecoming Intramural Quiz Bowl Tournament.
This event, offering “another” kind of competition during Homecoming Week, pits
student teams of 4-5 against other student teams and faculty teams against faculty
teams, in a double-elimination tournament capped off with the top student and faculty
teams competing against each other for Quiz Bowl Champions. First-place student and
faculty teams are awarded $100; second-place teams are awarded $50 each.
For more information or an application form for this Oct. 18 event, please email
Dr. Joan Faust at firstname.lastname@example.org.