Jim Henderson, president of Northwestern State University, spoke to the Natchitoches Parish Voters and Civic League at its meeting Tuesday evening, Aug. 9, at the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home.
There’s so much promise in this 21st Century economy because of technology, but only for those who have benefited from an education. It’s become almost impossible for students in the underserved population to obtain the promise of a college degree. This is shameful, according to Henderson. He is working hard to change this paradigm at NSU. This is accomplished by giving students the empowerment they need to control their own economic futures. Henderson said the percentage of graduates mirrors the percentage of enrollments of students of color at NSU.
The college’s mission is founded on the aggressive vision of becoming the premier regional university in the country.
“Our goal is to see every student who walks across the stage at graduation get a marketable diploma. We want to ensure the credentials we give our students are more than just pieces of paper” said Henderson.
Some of the ways the college has become involved in the community include student athletes volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, literacy intervention programs with third grade students in the Parish and instilling students with pride in their university. Henderson has done this by adding splashes of purple across campus and creating a graduation experience with a light show “equivalent to a Def Leppard concert.”
Henderson said area churches can become involved with students through on-campus ministry. “Students need social and spiritual scaffolding that allows them to be successful,” he said.
“I’m excited about the future of NSU and the future of Natchitoches,” he said. “We are at the cusp of creating a truly remarkable university.”