McNeese State University Encyclopedia

Patricia A. Threatt, Editor
Mary Jane Bloomquist, Jade Francis, Jennifer Garner, Miguele Guillory, and Jim Spears, Contributors
Last updated: January 16, 2019

The McNeese State University Encyclopedia is a compendium of narrative and descriptive essays about persons, places, events, institutions, and ideas relating to the history of the University. The Encyclopedia is planned as a cumulative and ongoing research and writing project. Contributors to the Encyclopedia gathered information from several sources. Please contact the editor with submissions, errors, or broken links.

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 Sahlmann, Fred. Fred Sahlmann taught piano, organ, harpsichord, and music theory at McNeese. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Sahlmann learned to play the piano at age five and performed in his first solo recital at age ten. Sahlmann received his Bachelor of Arts degree with performance certificates in both piano and organ and his Bachelor of Music degree from Elon University, his Master of Music degree from Teacher’s College of Columbia University and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree and a performer’s certificate in piano from the Eastman School of Music. In addition, he received a Fulbright Grant to study music at the Academy of Music in Vienna, Austria.

Sahlmann joined the faculty of McNeese in 1963. He was president of both the Lake Charles Symphony Board and the Louisiana Music Teachers Association. He has performed solo recitals at McNeese and with the Lake Charles and Rapides symphony orchestras. He has also performed in community concert series in Charleston, S.C., and Baton Rouge; a summer series in Shreveport; and with symphony orchestras in Roanoke, Virginia, and Marshall and Tyler, Texas. He also has appeared in recitals at the Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C., and in the Carl Fischer Hall in New York City. He is an original member of the chamber ensemble Pastiche, which was formed in 1995 on the McNeese campus and performs extensively in formal concert venues and in educational outreach formats on a national level. McNeese honored Sahlmann with professor emeritus status in 2006.

Sallier, Caroline LeBleu.  Caroline LeBleu Sallier was the wife of Charles Sallier, the namesake of Lake Charles.  The Salliers lived near the present-day site of the Sallier Oak and the Imperial Calcasieu Museum.  Caroline LeBleu Sallier was the daughter of Martin LeBleu, one of the first local settlers.  McNeese named Sallier Hall in her honor.

School colors [see Colors].

School songs [see Songs].

Sabatier, Ada M. Sabatier was born in Iota, Louisiana. She obtained her bachelor's degree at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and her master's degree at Louisiana State University.  She did graduate work at the University of Colorado, Columbia University, and Tulane University. Before joining the original faculty of Lake Charles Junior College in 1939, Sabatier taught at the Eunice, Crowley, and Thibodaux High Schools. At McNeese, Sabatier taught history and served as the counselor to women. In 1942, the United States Navy called her to active duty in World War II. She served as a lieutenant in the WAVE Officer Corps during the war and in the U.S. Naval Reserve until 1949. After the War, Sabatier returned to McNeese and taught until 1968. She died in 1989 in New Orleans.

See, Edward. See was the band director from 1948 to 1951.


SEED Center.
On August 16, 2013, the $13 million Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development (SEED) Center opened for business. The SEED Center is a partnership between the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, the city of Lake Charles and McNeese. Merging existing resources into one facility creates an economical, efficient and effective one-stop shop with the services, technology and experience to capitalize on economic development opportunities for all of Southwest Louisiana. McNeese furnished 7.67 acres of undeveloped property located across from the main campus and funding for the facility came from the Louisiana Recovery Authority, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, and the city of Lake Charles.

The facility serves as the central location for economic development for Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jefferson Davis parishes and as a catalyst for the creation, retention and recruiting of businesses and high quality, diversified jobs. The SEED Center is also the home of the McNeese Student Innovation Center. McNeese is only one of two universities in the country to offer the innovation curriculum developed by Doug Hall. The minor in innovation is open to all McNeese students.

The three-story, 52,000 square-foot facility offers a large meeting room, conference rooms and several modular rooms that can be configured to accommodate small- and medium-sized groups, a reception/information center on the first floor, along with classrooms for business and innovation training. Meeting rooms feature audiovisual equipment and the facility is wired for high-speed wireless Internet.

The programs and centers located on the first floor include the Southwest Louisiana Business Incubator and Entrepreneurial Center and several McNeese programs and economic development centers, including the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, Institute for Industry-Education Collaboration, the Student Innovation Center and Business Incubation Studio, which is a state-of-the-art center designed to inspire meaningful creativity, encourage student exploration of new frontiers and stimulate economic development, the Student Internship Program, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the Doré School of Graduate Studies and Extended Education.

The Willis Noland Conference Center recognizes the late Lake Charles businessman and community leader Willis Noland whose family donated the former Alliance building on Pujo Street for economic development initiatives. The conference center is designed to serve a variety of business and meeting functions.

The Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance is housed on the third floor and includes offices for the Chamber Southwest Louisiana, the Southwest Louisiana Alliance Foundation and the Southwest Louisiana Partnership for Economic Development. These regional economic development organizations, each with its own Board of Directors, have combined resources to strengthen the business recruiting and retention efforts for the five-parish area.

Also on the third floor are the offices SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center and the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission, a multi-jurisdictional regional planning and development commission dedicated to serving the five parishes and 18 municipalities in Southwest Louisiana.

Sestak, Thomas Joseph. Sestak was born on March 9, 1936 in Gonzales, Texas. He played football at McNeese 1957-1962. In 1962, the Buffalo Bills drafted Sestak where he played defense until the end of the 1967 season. Sestak played in three All-American Football League teams and in consecutive American Football League championships in 1964 and 1965. In 1970, Sestak was named to the All-Time All-AFL Team. Sestak died April 3, 1987 in Buffalo, NY.

Shearman, Thomas Broadus. Shearman was born in Mt. Olympia, Washington in 1893. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in1914. In 1943, he purchased the Lake Charles American Press. The Shearman family continues to publish the American Press today. In 1991, McNeese renamed the Fine Arts building in honor of Flora I. and Thomas B. Shearman, Sr.

Smith, A.D. Smith was a president of the State Board of Education. McNeese named Smith Hall after him.

Smith, James Monroe. Monroe was President of Louisiana State University and was instrumental in supporting local efforts to establish Lake Charles Junior College.

Smith, Norman (1921-1998). Smith was the McNeese band director 1954-1964. Smith was born in Missouri. During World War II, Smith was a B-17 pilot. After the war, Smith received a master's in Music Education from Southwest Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) in 1950 and a Ph.D. from Florida State University in 1968. Smith retired from McNeese in 1978 as Professor Emeritus.

Songs [see also "Jolie Blonde"].  In the early 1950s, McNeese's fight song was a popular radio beer commercial song called "Hellow Mellow Jax."  In the 1960s, Band Director Kelly Love used "On McNeese" as the official fight song and "Everything's Coming Up Roses" after touchdowns.  Although the Band had played "Jolie Blonde" at many football games since 1951, it was not the official fight song until 1970. In 1950, Kenneth Gaburo of the Music Department presented his new composition, the McNeese Alma Mater. Lyrics for McNeese songs available here

Southwest Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association. This association worked with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the federal government to establish Lake Charles Junior College because the Association wanted an exhibit area for livestock shows and rodeos.

Spring Court. The elected members of Spring Court are recognized for their academic achievements with Mr. & Ms. McNeese honored as student representatives of McNeese State University.  In 1998 the "Miss McNeese LaBelle" became known as the "Spring Court Queen." [also see Mr. McNeese and Miss LaBelle].

Spring Court Queen/Miss McNeese/Ms. McNeese:

1979 Kathy Stone 1995 Trinette Washington 2011 Erin Moore
1980 Melina Broussard 1996 Michelle Halio 2012 Miranda Crowell
1981 Cindy Hansen 1997 Natalie Poole 2013 Taylor Beard
1982 Kim Gaspard 1998 Nicole Abshire    
1983 Lori Sutton 1999 Ashley Hebert    
1984 Renee Fontenot 2000 Jennifer Guidroz    
1985 Pam Derouen 2001 Athena Payne    
1986 Barbra Frederiks 2002 Geneva Breaux    
1987 Renee Fruge 2003 Lakisha Barber    
1988 Pam Benoit 2004 Stephanie Rhodes    
1989 Julie Moore 2005 Sheila Vincent    
1990 Deana Broussard 2006 Barbara Caraway    
1991 Bridgette Lavergne 2007 Ashley Berken    
1992 Kelli Hardy 2008 Sabrina Seamon    
1993 Jana Bayard 2009      
1994 Kelly LeBert 2010 Morgan Murray    

Squires, Ralph Anthony, Jr. Dr. Squires was the Dean of Fine Arts from 1956 until his death from Hodgkin’s Disease in April 1962 at the age of 56. Squires was born in Morgan City, Louisiana on February 18, 1906 and attended Morgan City High School, the University of Southwestern Louisiana, and Chicago Musical College.  Squires studied piano in New Orleans, Paris, Boston, and Chicago and taught music at Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, Iowa and at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Squires served with the U.S. Army field artillery of the Tenth Mountain Division in Italy during World War II.  In 1960, Squires was a piano soloist for the Lake Charles Civic Symphony’s performance of George Marshall’s “An Irish Overture.”  After Squires' death in 1962, McNeese named Ralph Squires Recital Auditorium in the Shearman Fine Arts Center in his honor. 

Stream, William Gray.  Stream was a McNeese student who died in an airplane crash in New York City.  McNeese alumni and Matilda Gray Stream, William's mother, donated funds to build the William Gray Stream Memorial Alumni Center.

Student Body Presidents.

1939-1940 Clyde Ripley 1964-1965 Lee J. Monlezun 1992-1993

John Ieyoub


Warren Hinchee


Charles Poe


John Ieyoub


Horace Lyons  


John La Vern   


John Ieyoub

1942-1943 (fall)

Marion North


Jim Hopkins


Andy Benoit

1943-1944 (spring)

Gloria Miner


Wesley Shinn


Thomas Loupe


Jodie White Jr.


Clarke Borges 


Vera LeBrun


Bill Traylor


Ben Mount


Damian Hines-Franklin; Allen Joyner


Bill Alexander  


E. R. Bouquet  


Jared Manuel


Bert Talbot      


Robert Guillory


Heath Martin


Allen Commander

1973-1974 (fall)

Whitney Harris


Jody Redlich


Gilbert Manuel

1973-1974 (spring)

Robert Landers

2002-2003 Mark Steward


Allen Commander


David Dickens 


Mark Steward

1951-1952 Allen Commander


Joyce Patterson


Michael Paul Duff


Jimmy Whitehead


Bennett R. Lapoint


Mallory Wall


Gene Booth


Shannon Turner

2006-2007 Lance Horner


M. K. Woolbert 


David O’Bryan

2007-2008 Joshua Stewart (resigned); Morgan Verrette

1955-1956 (fall)

Roy Price


Steve Jordan   

2008-2009 Morgan Verrette

1955-1956 (spring)

Anthony Fulco


Janet Austin

2009-2010 Timothy Rye


Keith Lyons


John Chenet


Jessica White

1957-1958 (fall)

Stanley J. Chelchowski


James Hartley


John Tarasiewicz

1957-1958 (spring)

Kalil Ieyoub

1983-1984 James Hartley


Davante Lewis

1958-1959 (fall)

Fred Nodier


David Green

1958-1959 (spring)

Julie Christ


E. J. Alexander

1959-1960 (fall)

Frank Sadler   

1986-1987 E. J. Alexander

1959-1960 (spring)

Harold Guillory


Doug Stewart  


Louis Hobbie


Missy Young


C. H. Seiber


Phil Hines 


Donald C. Cornett


Paula Gant


William H. Ledbetter


Wesley Vaughan

Student Government Association (SGA).  The McNeese SGA is one of the largest organizations on campus.  The SGA serves as a governing and decision-making body for the students and speaks on behalf of the students to the McNeese Administration as well as to the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors and the Louisiana Board of Regents.  The SGA consists of three independent branches:  the executive, judicial, and legislative.  The executive branch serves as the administrative body of the SGA. The student body elects the president, vice-president, and treasurer on a ticket system.  These elected officials hire a staff of students to assist in drafting policies, planning events, and keeping the SGA running smoothly.  The executive branch also serves as a liaison between the students and the administration by voicing student concerns and issues regarding University policies and programs.  The SGA President represents the students at the state level by serving on the Council of Student Body Presidents and the Student Advisory Council for the UL System. The judicial branch of the SGA consists of nine justices appointed by the SGA President to a Supreme Court, which interprets the constitution and hears appeals and grievances brought on by students related to the constitution. The legislative branch is a unicameral Senate, composed of senators representing student organizations and colleges. The Senate authors and enacts legislation on behalf of the students, confirms executive personnel and presidential appointments to the Supreme Court, and appropriates monies to student organizations.

Student Union Board (SUB).  The McNeese Student Union Board contributes to the social, spiritual, recreational, cultural, and educational development of the McNeese community through programs such as "oozeball," step shows, and holiday parties.

MSU Encyclopedia Index

Technology Advancement Student Committee (TASC). Dr. Robert Hebert, McNeese President, formed a technology task force to review the technology needs of the McNeese campus. The task force assembled their findings into a report and presented it to the Student Government Association Senate in the Fall of 1997. The Senate formed a Student Technology Committee to review the technology proposal. The Committee formulated an additional proposal which the students and the university approved. McNeese would now assess students $5 per credit hour (capped at 20 hours) and put the funds in a restricted account used solely for improving student technology areas. The TASC committee regulates and recommends expenditures of the Student Assessment Technology funds.

Timeline. Click here for a short timeline of McNeese History.  For a more detailed history, see Dr. Joe Gray Taylor's McNeese State University, 1939-1987 : a chronicle, available online and in the McNeese Library.

Tritico, Anita (1929-2011). Tritico was a native of Crawford, Texas, and held a degree in communications from the University of Texas. At McNeese she was the Theatre's production coordinator for 31 years and advised the McNeese chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, the national honorary theatre society. Tritico also worked with the Lake Charles Little Theatre, serving on its Board of Directors, 1980-2011, and numerous other civic and arts organizations.

Vincent, Herman G. In 1952, Warrant Officer Herman G. Vincent became the youngest director of an Air Force Band. Vincent was bandmaster of the 67-piece First Air Force Band at Mitchell Air Force Base in New York. A graduate of Landry High School, McNeese State University, and Louisiana State University, Vincent also studied trumpet at the Juilliard School of Music. In 1979 he started the Community Band of SWLA and in 1981 he served as a judge for the Miss America pageant.

Virtual Tour.  Take a virtual tour of the McNeese campus here.

Ward, Ralph O. Ward was the men's basketball coach from 1952 to 1971.


Watkins, Jabez Bunting (1845-1921).  Watkins was born near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on June 25, 1845.  At 15, Watkins and his family moved to Fairfax County, Virginia.  Although J. B. Watkins did not participate in the Civil War, his home was near enough to the Battles of Bull Run to hear the cannons.  In 1864 Watkins traveled North to attend school at the University of Michigan where he received a law degree.  He also taught school in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Wisconsin.  From 1870 to 1873 Watkins practiced law in Champaign, Illinois.  In August, 1873, Watkins moved to Lawrence, Kansas and became a mortgage broker and investment banker.  In 1883 Watkins moved to Lake Charles and began buying land in Southwest Louisiana.  Watkins established the Watkins Banking Company and organized the forerunner of the Greater Lake Charles Chamber of Commerce.  In 1887, Watkins purchased the American, a New York newspaper used to promote the Southwest Louisiana area to people in the Northern U.S. One of Watkins' promotional campaigns brought a large number of farmers and other settlers from the Midwestern U.S. to Southwest Louisiana.  In 1890 Watkins built 100 miles of railway between Lake Charles and Alexandria and began to develop the area. Watkins brought the first railroad to the area. Watkins moved the American to Lake Charles and made it a bona fide newspaper in competition with the Daily Press. For several years, both the Daily American and the Daily Press provided news to Lake Charles, until 1910 when the two papers merged to become the Lake Charles Daily American Press.  Watkins died in February, 1921 in Lawrence, Kansas.  McNeese named Watkins Hall, a dormitory, in his honor.

Watkins, Sonny. Born in Leesville, Louisiana, Watkins grew up in Lake Charles and attended LaGrange High School where he was a standout basketball player and track performer. He played basketball for coaching legend Ralph O. Ward in the early 1960s, and then served several years as a prep head coach at Sulphur High School and Iota High School. He re-joined McNeese for two seasons and then led Jennings High School to the state playoffs and a 30-3 record.

Watkins was out of coaching for a dozen years, working with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's office, but came back to coach St. Louis High School to three district titles and to the state championship in 1989-90. Watkins was also named the state's Coach of the Year that season. In 1990 he was named Co-Head Coach of the Women's Basketball program at McNeese, and later he became an Assistant Athletic Director and took over the head position in 1997.

During his tenure as the McNeese Athletic Director, the University won 12 conference championships and won the Southland Conference all-sports trophy for 2001-2002. Watkins served on the NCAA 1-AA football selection committee and on the Southland Conference committee for championships and officiating. In 2004 he was recognized as one of the top athletic directors in the nation by the All-American Football Foundation. In June, 2007, Watkins retired from McNeese State University’s athletics program after twenty-six years, ten of which he served as McNeese State University’s Athletic Director.

Watkins, Thomas Henry.  Dr. Watkins was a local physician in the early 20th century. Watkins attended Tulane University where he studied medicine.  During school vacations, Watkins interned at Natchez Hospital and after graduation was an intern at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans. In 1895, Watkins moved to Lake Charles from Lorman, Mississippi.   Watkins was a successful surgeon and helped young doctors establish themselves in the community either with a loan, referring patients, or inviting them to assist him in surgery.  Watkins helped organize the Gulf National Bank and later became its president.  For 39 years, Watkins was the director of the Calcasieu Savings and Loan.  Watkins was also instrumental in building the First United Methodist Church located on Broad Street.  Watkins died of cancer in 1949 at the age of 77.  In 1967, McNeese named the Infirmary in his honor.

Waybright, David.  Director of the Cowboy Marching Band from 1983 to 1987.  Waybright is a graduate of Marshall University of Huntington, West Virginia where he earned a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in trumpet performance.  He earned a doctorate in instrumental conducting at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati


Welch, Steven. Welch was the head men's basketball coach from 1987 to 1995.



Williams, Philip C. Dr. Williams attended public schools in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974 as a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating with honors in history. He earned his law degree at the Columbia University School of Law in New York City, with a certificate of achievement with honors from the Parker Program in Foreign and International law. During the course of his legal profession, he practiced corporate law and served as administrative vice president and counsel for Sea World, Inc. During the 1980’s he and his wife Sandra were active writers, publishing a series of children’s mysteries, adult mysteries, and non-fiction works.

In 1994, Dr. Williams returned to Chapel Hill to earn his Ph.D. in Health Policy and Administration. He served for one year as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, then accepted a position at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, where he last served as Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs. He joined the staff of Methodist College in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 2003 as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.

In 2006 he became the 14th President of the University of Montevallo. In 2007 he was invited to serve as a member of the Governor’s Advisory Group on China, based upon his extensive work as an instructor to Chinese health care executives in Beijing since 1996. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Japan-American Society of Alabama. In 2008 he was elected to serve a two-year term as Alabama’s state representative to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. On July 1, 2010 he became the sixth President of McNeese. For more information on Dr. Williams' Investiture, click here.

MSU Encyclopedia Index

Zigler, Fred B.  Zigler was a Jeff Davis Parish businessman and philanthropist who established a foundation to give financial aid to college students.  Zigler was born in Mayville, North Dakota on May 27, 1899.  When Zigler was a boy, his family moved to Jennings.  Later, Zigler attended Gem City Business College in Quincy, Illinois and the Staunton Military Academy in Staunton, Virginia.  After completing school in 1915, Zigler returned to Jennings and entered into the G. B. Zigler Company, his father’s oil company.  Zigler became President of the company after his father’s death in 1936.  Zigler died on September 3, 1960. McNeese named Zigler Hall in his honor.

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