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Southeastern Louisiana University began as a grass-roots movement by the people of Hammond and the surrounding area who recognized the need for an institution of higher education in order to further the educational, economic, and cultural development of southeast Louisiana. What began as a junior college supported by local taxes has developed into a major university as Southeastern has grown to meet the evolving needs of southeast Louisiana.
Voters overwhelmingly approved a bond issue that created Hammond Junior College.
Operated under the auspices of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board, President Linus A. Sims opened the doors to 40 students with a faculty of three women and two men.
The two-year, co-educational institution offered basic undergraduate work in arts and sciences that culminated in a teaching certificate.
Voters supported the purchase of the Hunter Leake estate on Hammond's north end.
Hammond Junior College became Southeastern Louisiana College, formally adopted into the state educational systems under the control of the State Board of Education.
The purchase of sixty acres adjoining the original fifteen acre plot provided the space to develop a suitable campus.
A state bond issue provided for the construction of McGehee Hall and a gymnasium.
The State Board of Education authorized curricula for four-year programs in liberal arts, teacher education, business administration, music, social sciences, and physical education.
Voter approval of Act No. 388, an amendment to the 1920 Louisiana Constitution, granted Southeastern Louisiana College the same legal status as other four-year colleges. The amendment did not, however, require the state to fund Southeastern at the level of other institutions of higher education, despite strong local support.
The first baccalaureate degrees were conferred.
The State Board made available funds to purchase seven city blocks east and west of the campus, and 275 acres of land north and northwest of the campus, increasing Southeastern's total area to approximately 365 acres.
Southeastern was formally approved and accepted into full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) as a four-year degree-granting institution.
After World War II, returning GIs caused exponential growth of the college, necessitating construction of classrooms, a student union, a cafeteria, a health center, dormitories, apartments for married students and many surplus temporary buildings donated by the federal government. The U.S. Navy contributed two steel barracks for use as dormitories.
The State Board authorized Southeastern to offer master's degrees through the newly formed Division of Graduate Studies.
Southeastern began awarding the Education Specialist degree.
Governor John J. McKeithen signed into law the legislative act turning Southeastern Louisiana College into Southeastern Louisiana University.
D Vickers Hall, the Athletics Building and the C.E. Cate Teacher Education Building were constructed.
A group of faculty members launched Fanfare, a festival celebrating the arts, humanities and sciences. Since then, Fanfare has become an acclaimed month long event, drawing nationally and internationally recognized artists and providing recognition for those closer to home. In addition to providing entertainment for the Northshore, Fanfare has an educational outreach program that works closely with local schools.
More than 15,000 students registered to attend Southeastern for the fall semester.
Southeastern celebrated its 75th anniversary.
The Southeastern Village Complex, Fayard Hall and the Claude B. Pennington, Jr., Student Activity Center were completed.
Southeastern received full approval from the Board of Regents for its first new graduate degree program in more than a decade, a Master of Science in Integrated Science and Technology.
Southeastern hit a record enrollment of 15,662 students.
Southeastern also saw the return of football to Strawberry Stadium after an 18-year hiatus. The Lions completed the season 5-7.
Southeastern began implementing portions of the Board of Regents Master Plan admissions criteria, a full year ahead of schedule and before any other schools in the state.
Southeastern began its first year under the full Board of Regents Master Plan admissions criterion.
Fanfare proudly celebrated its 20th anniversary.
On August 29, just six days into the semester, Hurricane Katrina hit southeast Louisiana, devastating the parishes of St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Tammany, as well as the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Southeastern fared well and suffered no major structural damages (although the University campus did lose many trees). After the storm, Southeastern was able to play an instrumental role in the relief effort by providing housing for the National Guard, disaster relief teams from across the country and utility workers. The University also provided housing for its displaced faculty, staff and students as it re-opened its doors on September 6. In addition, the University re-opened enrollment and provided housing for many displaced students from other universities and community colleges in the disaster area; this also included the hiring of several displaced faculty from these institutions. By the 14th class day, in spite of Katrina, Southeastern had again enrolled a record-breaking number of students: 16,068.
Southeastern was given approval to offer its first doctoral level program: a doctorate in educational leadership designed to prepare a new generation of school principals, district superintendents and other administrators. The program is offered in consortium with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Southeastern dedicated a new campus fountain as a memorial to the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and to the citizens who responded in the wake of the sister storms that ravished the Gulf Coast region in 2005.
Southeastern launched a free shuttle bus service called Lion Traxx to transport students, faculty and staff across campus.
Southeastern began offering a 100 percent online bachelor's degree in nursing to registered nurses who hold associate degree or diploma programs. The program is part of a statewide adult learning initiative known as CALL (Continuum for All Louisiana Learners).
Dr. John L. Crain was invested as Southeastern's 14th president.
ACT scores among incoming freshmen reached 21.7, an increase over both state (20.1) and national (21.1) averages.
Southeastern announced an increase in admissions standards for the fall semester.
Southeastern's GRAD Act agreement was approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents.
Southeastern announced its 100 percent online family nurse practitioner program offered through the Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing, a partnership involving Southeastern, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and McNeese State University.
Southeastern began offering a doctor of nursing practice degree in consortium with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Southeastern began offering a new accelerated bachelor's degree in information technology program to meet local workforce demands.
Southeastern's football team competed in and won the first NCAA playoff game in school history.
Southeastern's School of Nursing celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The first phase of the $32 million Student Union renovation and construction project opened.
New Computer Science and Technology Building opens on campus. The 70,000 square foot facility houses computer science, information technology, engineering technology, industrial technology, and occupational safety, health and environment programs.
Southeastern named one of the lead higher education institutions of a public-private partnership to meet workforce demands created by the arrival of DXC Technology, the world’s leading independent Information Technology (IT) services and solutions company, in southeast Louisiana.
Southeastern opens two new residence halls, Ascension Hall and Twelve Oaks Hall, which feature a hybrid geothermal system that draws from 220 geothermal wells situated 300 feet underground to heat and cool 556 rooms. The system is the first of its kind for any university or state building in Louisiana and the second largest site in the country to use such a system. It is projected to reduce energy costs by more than 50 percent, and will also serve as a learning laboratory for real world experiences for students in various disciplines.
COVID marked 2020 above all else. Starting on March 12, Southeastern successfully pivoted from a normal vast majority face-to-face instruction to a completely online instruction model with the global lockdown due to COVID-19. Faculty, staff and students quickly adapted to an entirely virtual structure with the resilience that marks Southeastern. Fall 2020 offered more face-to-face classes, but was still predominantly online. During this time. Southeastern successfully grew overall enrollment and reached record breaking retention in multiple student categories.
As COVID continued to affect the campus experience during 2021, Hurricane Ida made a near direct hit on Southeastern. The Category 4 storm caused significant damage at Southeastern. Trees were down all over campus and several campus buildings had damage. Despite the damage and extended power outages, Southeastern was able to welcome students back and resume classes in less than three weeks.
Since 1925, many dedicated individuals have led Southeastern from a junior college to the vibrant university it is today: Linus A. Sims, 1925-1933; Y. L. Fontenot, 1933-1937; J. Leon Clark, 1937-1944; George W. Bond, 1944-1945; Gladney J. Tinsley, 1945-1951; Clark L. Barrow, 1952-1953; Luther Dyson, 1953-1967; J. B. Wooley, 1967-1968; Clea E. Parker, 1968-1980; J. Larry Crain, 1980-1986; G. Warren Smith, 1986-1995; Sally Clausen, 1995-2001; Randy Moffett, 2001-2008; John L. Crain, 2009-present.
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