Northwestern State University

Northwestern State University of Louisiana (NSU) is a public university primarily situated in Natchitoches, Louisiana, with a nursing campus in Shreveport and general campuses in Leesville/Fort Polk and Alexandria. It is a part of the University of Louisiana System.

Northwestern State University
of Louisiana
MottoDedicated to one goal. Yours.
PresidentChris Maggio
Location, ,
United States

31°45′00″N 93°05′50″W
CampusRural, 916 acres (371 ha)
ColorsPurple & White[2]
NicknameDemons / Lady Demons
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I FCSSouthland
MascotVic the Demon

NSU was founded in 1884 as the Louisiana State Normal School. It was the first school in Louisiana to offer degree programs in nursing and business education. NSU, along with numerous other state colleges, gained university status in 1970 during the administration of President Arnold R. Kilpatrick, a Northwestern State alumnus who served from 1966 to 1978. Kilpatrick succeeded the 12-year president, John S. Kyser, a native of El Paso, Illinois.[3]

NSU was one of the first six colleges to enter into NASA's Joint Venture Program ("JOVE"). Students worked with NASA scientists to help analyze data and do research for the 1996 Space Shuttle Columbia shuttle mission. NSU also hosts the Louisiana Scholars' College, Louisiana's designated honors college in the liberal arts and sciences. The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, a state supported residential high school for sophomores, juniors and seniors, is also located on the campus. It was a brainchild of former State Representative Jimmy D. Long of Natchitoches, who also attended NSU.

NSU offers more than 50 degree programs. Fall 2018 total enrollment was 11,081, the largest in the university's 133-year history.[4] NSU also claims more than 70,000 alumni.


Northwestern State University stands on ground that has been dedicated to learning for well over a hundred years. Prior to the American Civil War, a portion of the present campus was the property of the Bullard family of Natchitoches. As early as 1856, the Bullard mansion was in use as a convent by the Religious Society of the Sacred Heart. The following year a school building was erected at the convent and in 1884 the town and parish of Natchitoches purchased the property. Three of the four great white columns that once supported the east gable of the mansion still stand on "The Hill" and serve as the unofficial symbols of the university. The campus, developed upon rolling hills and high river bottomland, is acknowledged to be one of the most spacious and attractive in the South. Long the home of a major Indian tribe for which it was named, the French fortified Natchitoches in 1714 as an outpost of their New World Empire facing Spanish Texas to the west.

In 1884, the Louisiana State Legislature by Act 51 created the Louisiana State Normal School for the preparation of teachers. Shortly thereafter, a freshman member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, Leopold Caspari of Natchitoches, offered the convent site as a campus for the school with the anticipated approval of the citizens of Natchitoches. The offer was accepted, and from 1885 to 1918 the Normal School offered two years of study for the training of teachers. Baccalaureate programs were inaugurated, and the Louisiana Constitution of 1921, changed the name of the school to Louisiana State Normal College. The resources and curricula of "Normal" grew steadily to meet the increasingly diverse requirements of Louisiana's expanding population. In 1944, the institution's excellent service in its broader role was accorded formal recognition by Act 326 of the Legislature, which changed its name to Northwestern State College of Louisiana.

Northwestern State maintained and strengthened its long tradition of leadership in public service and academic endeavor and became, in 1954, the first college under the jurisdiction of the Louisiana State Board of Education to offer the master's degree. The Specialist in Education degree was first offered in 1966 and the Doctor of Philosophy in Education degrees were authorized in 1967. On June 18, 1970, Governor John J. McKeithen signed a legislative act that brought the old campus its greatest distinction, changing its title to Northwestern State University of Louisiana. In 1980, the old campus quadrangle where the columns stand was entered into the National Register of Historic Places under the title "Normal Hill Historic District."

Although primarily a regional institution, Northwestern State also offers an opportunity for education at satellite locations, including Leesville, Shreveport, and Alexandria. In addition to academics, these centers are also developing student life programs. The Nursing Education Center, located in Shreveport, provides the educational environment for nursing majors enrolled in clinical courses as well as general education courses. The Center houses departments administering masters, baccalaureate and associate degree programs. The campus includes academic facilities, office space for faculty and staff, a bookstore, and facilities for activities and organizations.[5]

A. A. Fredericks was president of NSU from 1934 to 1941. He was later a member of the Louisiana State Senate and the private secretary on two occasions to Governor Earl Kemp Long. Fredericks obtained his teaching credentials from Northwestern Normal in 1912. The A. A. Fredericks Auditorium on campus commemorates his memory.

Eugene P. Watson of Natchitoches, for whom the NSU library is named, was head librarian and professor of library science from 1940 until his death in 1964. He founded Alpha Beta Alpha, the national library science fraternity. The group held its first biennial convention on the NSU campus in 1952.

The centennial history of NSU (1884–1984) was published by the NSU Press in 1985 by the historian Marietta LeBreton, who taught forty-five years at the institution, from 1963 until her sudden death in 2009.

Vic the Demon

On November 8, 1922, by proclamation of President V. L. Roy and Coach H. Lee Prather, all athletic teams became known as the Demons. The name was decided upon by a contest open to all students with a grand prize of $10. A committee was appointed by the President to narrow down the names submitted by the student body. The final selection was decided by a vote of the students. The two most popular choices were Braves and Demons. Among other names submitted by students were Sharks, Daredevils, Musketeers, Pelicans, Prather's Ground Hogs, Bloodhounds, Cyclops, and Serpents. The official winners were Aileen Ritter and Truett Scarborough.

On September 22, 1984, the Demon received his official given name by means of another contest sponsored by the Athletic Department. The contest was open to faculty, staff, and students. The objective: to find a name for the Demon. Over 300 entries were submitted to the committee. The grand prize was an all expense paid weekend at the Louisiana State Fair Classic. Ray Carney, an alumnus of the university, was the official winner with "Vic," which is short for "Victory".

Jim Croce

Singer-songwriter Jim Croce died in a plane crash hours after finishing a 1973 concert on the NSU campus.[6]


University rankings
U.S. News & World Report[7] RNP (South)
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[8] 399


In 1954, State Representatives Monnie T. Cheves and Curtis Boozman, along with State Senator Sylvan Friedman, pushed for passage of legislation to permit Northwestern State to confer master of education degrees. The measure, known as House Bill 343, was signed into law by Governor Robert F. Kennon. Originally known as "Normal", Northwestern State University was for many years the only state-supported teacher education institution in the state.[9]

College of Science, Technology & Business

  • School of Business
  • Department of Biological Sciences

Student media


Its student-run weekly newspaper, The Current Sauce, was founded in 1914. Its annual student-run yearbook is called The Potpourri.[10]

Radio and television

There is also a student-run radio station, The Demon (KNWD 91.7 FM)[11] and a faculty-administrated and student-operated local television station, NSU22, on which can be found bi-weekly student-produced newscasts.


NSU's literary magazine is called The Argus. It is student-run and published during the spring semester. The magazine content is provided by competitions in various fields of writing and artwork.


The Northwestern State athletic teams go by the Demons, with women's athletic teams generally called the Lady Demons, and its mascot is Vic the Demon. The university is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and competes in the Southland Conference at the NCAA Division I level. Northwestern State sponsors 12 varsity athletic teams, 5 men's teams and 7 women's teams.[12]

Greek life


National Panhellenic Conference affiliates

National Pan-Hellenic Council affiliates

Music sororities


National Pan-Hellenic Council affiliates

North-American Interfraternity Conference affiliates

Music fraternities

Academic and professional

Lady of the Bracelet pageant

The Lady of the Bracelet pageant (commonly referred to as LOB) is a long-standing competition which scholarships are awarded to female students. The first-place winner of the pageant is awarded the title of "Lady of the Bracelet" for one year.

The program is under the direction of the Director of Student Activities and the Assistant Director of Student Activities of Northwestern State University. Contestants compete in several categories including interview, evening wear, and swimsuit competition. In addition to being bestowed the title of "Lady of the Bracelet" for the following year, the first place contestant receives a full scholarship and goes on to compete in the Miss Louisiana pageant, which can ultimately result in a berth to the Miss America pageant. It is traditionally held on the first Friday in February.

In the early 1920s, the Potpourri, Northwestern State's yearbook, sponsored the first beauty pageant held on the university campus. The contestants were selected from photographs submitted to well-known producers for judgment and were chosen for their charm and beauty. In 1958, Miss Kahne Dipola was crowned the first Miss Lady of the Bracelet and she received a gold bracelet to wear when she represented the university in public. Over the years, the bracelet has been passed down to each holder of the title.

Through the efforts of Mr. Robert W. Wilson, Sr., the Student Union Governing Board purchased the first franchise from the Miss Louisiana Pageant in 1971, enabling Northwestern State's Lady of the Bracelet to enter the state contest. The Student Activities Board, formerly the Student Union Governing Board, has continued the tradition of sponsoring the Lady of the Bracelet Pageant for the enjoyment of the Northwestern State community. The Lady of the Bracelet pageant has gained state recognition for production, scholarship, and quality of contestants.


With an agreement signed between Northwestern State College and the Department of the United States Army, an anti-aircraft field artillery unit of the Reserve Officers Training Corps was established in the fall of 1950. In August 1950, the building to house the ROTC unit was authorized. The new military science program, under President Prather, enrolled its first students in the fall of 1950 with one officer and five enlisted men on the staff. By the end of the 1950-51 academic year 220 men had selected military training and the future of the program looked promising. In 1965, NSC under President Kyser signed an agreement with the department of Army stating that the Military Science Senior ROTC program would be provided with a university secretary, armory, and utilities. The NSU ROTC Department and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana mutually support Cadet Command by identifying quality soldiers with officer potential and in assisting them in transition from active duty under the college ROTC Green to Gold program. The NSU ROTC Demon Battalion has commissioned nearly 1000 Second Lieutenants into the United States Armed Services. Quite a few graduates have become distinguished Army Officers, including several General Officers.

A Hall of Fame was begun in 1983. Portraits and biographies of the Hall of Fame members are on permanent display in the ROTC office foyer. NSU ROTC cadets have been selected to attend specialty schools in Germany and at West Point. Cadets have also participated in ceremonies commemorating the Bataan March in New Mexico, and supporting the Habitat for Humanity and Loggers Conventions. During the past two years, several renovation projects have been completed. The cadets have been able to enjoy a TV lounge, kitchen area and game room to include a billiards, ping pong, and foosball. Notably, five NSU ROTC commissioned officers have been inducted into NSU's highest Hall of Distinction, the Long Purple Line.


NSU maintains an archive through the Cammie G. Henry Research Center. Collections cover a diversity of individuals and topics. Materials may be accessed on such figures as Ethma Odum, the pioneering woman television personality at KALB-TV in Alexandria;[14]James B. Aswell, Kate Chopin, Robert DeBlieux, Caroline Dormon, and the Cane River.[15]

Notable alumni

Notable faculty and administrators

  • James B. Aswell, president of NSU from 1908-1911, was the U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 8th congressional district (since defunct) from 1913 until his death in office in 1931.
  • Thomas Duckett Boyd (1854-1932), president of NSU from 1888 to 1896; president of Louisiana State University from 1896 to 1926, professor of English and history
  • Henry E. Chambers (1860-1929), historian and educator was affiliated with the education department at NSU from 1900-1902.[46]
  • Medford Bryan Evans (1907-1989), English professor and conservative activist, at NSU from 1955–1959
  • Julie Kane (born 1952), poet
  • J.E. Keeny (1860-1939), on NSU faculty from 1900-1904; later president of Louisiana Tech University[47]
  • John S. Kyser (1900-1975), historian and geographer, NSU president from 1954-1966
  • Marietta LeBreton (1936-2009), Louisiana historian
  • Jay Luneau (born 1962), Alexandria lawyer and state senator; adjunct professor at NSU[48]
  • James L. McCorkle, Jr. (born 1935), agricultural historian at NSU (1966–2003)
  • Donald Rawson (1925-2014), historian of the 19th century United States; professor (1960-1980) and Dean of the Graduate School at NSU (1980–1984)[49]
  • Ralph L. Ropp, professor of speech and head of the forensics department, 1923-1949; president of Louisiana Tech University from 1949 to 1962
  • James Monroe Smith (1888-1949), later president of Louisiana State University during the "Louisiana Hayride" scandals of 1939, taught at NSU in the summer of 1917.[50]
  • Dale Thorn (1943-2014), former NSU vice president for academic affairs; earlier press secretary to Governor Edwin Edwards[51]
  • George T. Walker (1913-2011), dean of applied arts and sciences and dean of administration in the 1950s; president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, 1958 to 1976[52]
  • Randall J. Webb (1943-2015), president of NSU, 1996 to 2014; former mathematics professor and dean of instruction and graduate studies; NSU graduate in mathematics, 1965 and 1966[53]


  2. Northwestern State University Visual Branding Guidelines (PDF). 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  3. Kyser, John S. "A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography". Louisiana Historical Association. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
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  6. "Jim Croce Biography". A&E Television Networks. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
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  10. " Is For Sale". Retrieved 31 March 2018.
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