NSU honors Navy vet, former administrator Tom Paul Sutherland


Northwestern State University recognized Navy veteran, educator and former NSU administrator Dr. Tom Paul Southerland during Thursday’s home basketball game.

Serving in the Navy in both theaters, then Lieutenant Southerland served in World War II from 1943 to 1946. He was one of three young men selected by NSU to attend the “Ninety Day Wonder,” officer training school in New York City.

Southerland first served in the Atlantic Theater as the commanding officer of a Rescue and Salvage Ship, then aboard a Submarine Chaser. In the Pacific Theater, he was the commanding officer of YP-239 and was commended for his service during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Following his military service, Southerland became a career educator working as a teacher and administrator before joining the Northwestern State faculty. He came to NSU after serving four years as assistant superintendent for instruction for the Rapides Parish School Board.

Southerland was the university’s dean of the College of Education from 1966 until 1975 and dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research from 1975 until 1978. In 1978, Southerland was appointed vice president for academic affairs and was named executive vice president in 1982. He was named vice president emeritus in 1987. He is a 2001 inductee in the NSU Hall of Distinguished Educators, received the President’s Distinguished Service Award in 2003 and, along with his wife Maxine Aycock Southerland, a home economics professor at NSU, was inducted into NSU’s Long Purple Line in 2008.

A video of Southerland’s presentation is available here:

During his tenure as Dean of Education, he designed and oversaw construction of the Teacher Education Center. He was instrumental in establishing admissions standards for teacher education and developing 14 new programs for the College of Education, as well as securing a specialist and doctorate program.

In addition to being named Louisiana’s Educator of the Year, Southerland was Natchitoches’ Man of the Year and President of the Natchitoches Rotary Club.

Joining him for Thursday’s presentation were his daughters, Lisa Southerland Allen and Jude Southerland Kessler, her husband, Rande Kessler (U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1977), and Southerland’s caregiver, Debra Cooper.

To nominate a Veteran for recognition at an upcoming NSU event, please contact Sid Hall, NSU’s Military Affairs Coordinator, at halls@nsula.edu or (318) 357-6951.

Southerland recognized:
Northwestern State University honored Navy Veteran and former administrator Dr. Tom Paul Southerland, seated, Thursday during the Demons’ basketball double header. Southerland was joined by his family, from left, Jude Southerland Kessler, Rande Kessler and Lisa Southerland Allen and congratulated by Dr. Vickie Gentry, NSU’s interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.