Louisiana Higher Ed: NSU president now official, new cancer data and nurse needs 

Your weekly update on the higher education news that didn’t make the front page 

By: - September 9, 2022 4:37 pm

Dr. Marcus Jones was named president of NSU in November 2021 and was formally invested to the office Friday, Sept. 9. Jones holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from Northwestern State, a master’s in international business and trade from Grambling State University and a law degree from Southern University Law Center. (Courtesy of Northwestern State University)

The Louisiana Illuminator takes a weekly look at news from universities and colleges around the state. Have a tip or want to submit a Louisiana Higher Ed news item? Contact [email protected] 

He’s official 

Marcus Jones was officially inaugurated Friday as Northwestern State University’s 20th president. Jones, whose appointment to the position was announced in November, is the school’s first Black president. 

“My overarching ambition as president is to enable and empower the university to continue to enrich the souls and spirits of students who will stand at the forefront of innovation, problem-solving and servant leadership, who will address our future social, environmental and economic challenges and will respond to our global world with empathy, adaptability and kindness,” Jones said. 

Before taking the helm at Northwestern, Jones was the executive vice president and chief operating officer for the University of Louisiana System. Before that, he served in various roles at Northwestern, including a stint as the school’s vice president for university and business affairs as well as in the classroom. 

Jones’ investiture was attended by Gov. John Bel Edwards and Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. 

“Earning his undergraduate degree at Northwestern, his master’s degree at Grambling and his law degree at Southern, Dr. Jones is a testament to Louisiana’s public higher education institutions. Dr. Jones has served the NSU community for many years, and I have no doubt he will continue to succeed in his new role,” Edwards said.

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Cancer check-in 

The Louisiana Tumor Registry at LSU Health New Orleans has published its latest volume of “Cancer in Louisiana,” a collection of data on cancer rates in Louisiana. 

The publication includes data from 2015 through 2019. During that time period, there were an average of 26,426 new diagnoses of invasive cancer per year in the state. The most frequently diagnosed cancers were prostate, breast, lung, colorectal and kidney. 

An average of 9,385 deaths in Louisiana were attributed to cancer each year from 2015-2019. Mortality rates were highest for lung cancer at 27% of all cancer deaths, followed by colorectal, pancreatic, breast and liver/bile duct. 

Louisiana’s cancer mortality rates are significantly higher than the rest of the country, the report said.

The report also found that the survival rate for all cancers diagnosed in Louisiana between 2008-2018 declined steadily. 

In the seven-parish industrial corridor, known as “Cancer Alley,” cancer diagnoses for white men were significantly higher than the statewide rate. 

Cancer rates for children and adolescents statewide were lower than U.S. rates for boys and girls. but the rate for girls was significantly lower than the U.S. rate. 

The need for nurses 

LSU at Eunice received a $325,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield to address the state’s critical nursing shortage. 

“I know it doesn’t this doesn’t compare to some of the larger numbers, but it means so much to our programs,” LSU Eunice Chancellor Nancee Sorenson said at the LSU Board of Supervisors meeting Friday. 

The state anticipates a shortage of 6,000 nurses by 2030, according to the Louisiana Board of Regents. Schools across the state are looking for ways to graduate more nurses to meet the need. 

The grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield will be used to double the size of evening and weekend nursing classes at Ochsner Lafayette General, Sorenson said. The evening and weekend program is aimed at working adults who want to enter the nursing field.  

Sorenson said she plans to explore ways to increase the scope of other nursing programs at the university. 

More students stay at Nicholls  

Nicholls State University reports its freshman retention rate has increased 7% from the previous academic year. 

Despite unprecedented challenges from Hurricane Ida shortly after classes started last fall, Nicholls retained 76.5% of its freshmen from last year. 

“The students of the region we serve have been through so much in the last year with the ongoing challenges of COVID and Hurricane Ida. And against those odds, we have the highest retention rate in Nicholls history,” Nicholls Provost Sue Westbrook  said. “This speaks to the tenacity and hard work of not only our students, but also our professional academic advisers, student affairs staff and our faculty who have supported our students during this difficult time.”   

Of the school’s 2022 first-time freshmen, 47% are first-generation college students. 

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Piper Hutchinson
Piper Hutchinson

Piper Hutchinson is a reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator. She has covered the Legislature and state government extensively for the LSU Manship News Service and The Reveille, where she was named editor in chief for summer 2022.

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