A search committee named three finalists who will advance to the next round of consideration for the position of Nicholls State University president.
Jay Clune, Marcheta Evans and John Doucet were chosen tonight after three days of student, faculty, staff and community meetings, as well as public interviews on campus.
On Tuesday, the University of Louisiana System board will interview the finalists in Baton Rouge and is expected to choose the university's sixth president.
“We had a productive three days introducing and, in most cases, reintroducing Nicholls State University to six qualified semifinalists,” said UL System President and CEO Jim Henderson, a non-voting member for the search committee. “The Board has a tough choice ahead of it. Our three finalists possess impressive leadership skills that will aid in coalescing the community to support the institution and ensure its bright future.”
Clune is a Nicholls alum and serves as the interim dean for the University of West Florida’s graduate school, though he’s held several positions at the university since joining the staff in 1997.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Nicholls in 1986, Clune joined the Peace Corps and volunteered in Guatemala for two years. He earned his master’s degree in Latin American studies from the University of Alabama in 1990 and his doctorate in history from Louisiana State University in 1997.
The Houma native said Nicholls was the foundation for everything he achieved in his life after attaining his degree in Thibodaux. He said development and marketing were the two issues he would like to address in his first year as president.
“I struggle to see how we’re going to raise the resources we need to move this university forward and I also struggle to see how we’re going to get the brand out there and let students and future students know what’s going on, as well as letting the region know what’s going on at Nicholls State University,” Clune said.
Doucet is also a Nicholls alum and joined the teaching staff at Nicholls in 1997 as a professor in biological sciences. He became tenured in 2002 and was promoted to department head in 2011. He’s served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences since August 2012 and served as director of the University Honors Program since 2005.
Besides being a published playwright, Doucet spent five years researching Usher’s syndrome, a genetic disorder that has appeared in Acadian descendants and causes hearing and vision problems.
Doucet said he wants to increase enrollment by recruiting first in the southeast Louisiana region.
“Just being out in every community, out in every hometown, out in every community along the bayous, that presence is going to be remarkable in my opinion in reminding students and parents of the value of Nicholls,” Doucet said.
Evans, an Alabama native, has served as vice president for academic affairs at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas, since 2013, and as provost since June 2016. She has held academic administrative positions in higher education since 2001 and has taught since 1993.
She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Alabama in psychology and history, her master’s in rehabilitation counseling and a doctorate in counselor education and supervision. She also holds a master’s in elementary education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Evans said on fundraising,, she would rely on students and faculty at Nicholls to help tell the university's story and show the community why the school is worth investing in.
“It’s really going to be putting the students out there, putting the brilliant faculty that you have here, helping me tell that story,” Evans said.
Among the first issues Evans said she would address if offered the position are faculty salaries and deferred maintenance.
“People need to feel as if they’re valued,” Evans said.
The finalists were chosen from six semifinalists who were publicly interviewed on campus. There were 15 qualified candidates who applied for the position.
In September, Nicholls President Bruce Murphy announced he is leaving his position on Dec. 31. Shortly after, he was named as a finalist in a Pennsylvania university’s search for a new president. The university’s board of trustees deadlocked 5-5 on whether to move Murphy and another applicant into the next round of consideration, and the search has been extended.
-- Staff Writer Holly Duchmann can be reached at 857-2205 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @holly_evamarie.