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Nicholls State University, located in Thibodaux, La., is a comprehensive regional university serving a diverse population of traditional and nontraditional students.
Tax-supported and co-educational, the institution first opened its doors on Sept. 23, 1948, as Francis T. Nicholls Junior College of Louisiana State University. In 1956, the Louisiana Legislature separated Nicholls from LSU and authorized it to develop four-year curricula. Thus, in September 1956, the former junior college began operation as Francis T. Nicholls State College and granted its first degrees in May 1958. Act 93 of the State Legislature in 1970 changed the name to Nicholls State University.
The university is named in honor of Francis Redding Tillou Nicholls, who was born on Aug. 20, 1834, in Donaldsonville, La. After graduating from West Point, he practiced law in South Louisiana. He rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Civil War, during which he was a prisoner of war and lost his left arm and leg. He returned to his Napoleonville law practice, and the Louisiana State Democratic Party nominated him for governor in 1876. His election is generally considered to mark the end of Louisiana’s political Reconstruction and the re-establishment of “Home Rule.” During his second tenure as governor (1888–1892), he successfully opposed the corrupt Louisiana Lottery Company. After completing two gubernatorial terms, he was named chief justice to the Louisiana Supreme Court. He retired to his Thibodaux home in 1911 and died in 1912.
Located in “Cajun Country,” Nicholls lies in the heart of the Mississippi River delta, allowing for easy access to the river, its tributaries, Louisiana’s wetlands and the Gulf of Mexico. The 287-acre Thibodaux campus is approximately 50 miles west of New Orleans and 60 miles southeast of Baton Rouge.
For more than half a century, the university’s strong general education program has prepared students to be leaders in a global society and has enhanced their ability to create a vision for the future. Nicholls capitalizes on the region’s geography and culture by offering distinctive academic programs in the culinary arts and geomatics. With its prime location along the banks of Bayou Lafourche, Nicholls also provides unique opportunities for instruction and research in the fields of marine and environmental science. The university has assumed a leadership role in an area known for its agricultural, fishing, petrochemical and oilfield-related industries. Nicholls continues to contribute significantly to the region’s growth in new technology, manufacturing and international trade.
By maintaining partnerships with businesses, local school systems, community agencies and other educational institutions, Nicholls actively participates in the south-central Louisiana’s development. The university maintains a strong commitment to the well-being of local residents. Through the expansion of health science programs, Nicholls collaborates with a nationally recognized health care industry in the Houma-Thibodaux area.
The university also proudly partners with Fletcher Technical Community College in Houma, located about 20 miles south of Nicholls. Both campuses work together to provide complete access to higher education in south-central Louisiana.