Six distinguished Northwestern State University alumni who were named to NSU’s Alumni Hall of Distinction, the Long Purple Line, in 2020 will be honored Oct. 22, the program having been postponed twice due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Check-in will begin at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 22 at the Natchitoches Events Center, followed by a noon luncheon and induction program. For Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling (318) 357-5513.
Honorees are state official Sujuan Boutte of Prairieville, businessman Harvey F. Marcus Sr. of Monroe, Louisiana State University Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron of Baton Rouge, NSU Vice President for External Affairs Jerry Pierce, Fed Ex executive John A. Smith of Memphis, Tennessee, and former NSU faculty member Thomas Whitehead of Natchitoches.
The Long Purple Line was established to provide recognition and appreciation to individuals whose career accomplishments or service to their fellow man have enhanced the reputation and prestige of Northwestern State.
Boutte¢ has a broad range of experience spanning postsecondary financial aid for traditional and non-traditional populations, K-12, higher education, government and private industry. She has held several high-level positions in Louisiana state agencies. Since 2013, she has been executive director of the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, managing an annual budget of almost $400 million. Boutte¢ provides oversight of statewide college access and financial aid initiatives aimed at promoting, preparing for and providing college access to students and families including the Taylor Opportunity for Students Program (TOPS) and the Louisiana Go Grants. She previously served as the office’s deputy executive director, chief operations officer and chief research and planning officer.
Boutte¢ has served as assistant secretary of the Office of Workforce Development and workforce planning executive consultant with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. She was also an education instruction specialist for IBM.
At Northwestern State, Boutte¢ was director and founder of the Technology Training Institute, director of the Office of Public Service and coordinator of non-credit continuing education.
She earned a bachelor’s, master’s specialist and doctorate at Northwestern State and was a supervising teacher at the NSU Laboratory Schools for 12 years. Boutte¢ was named Natchitoches Parish Elementary School Teacher of the Year, the Natchitoches Kiwanis’ Outstanding Young Educator and a Turner Broadcasting National Faculty Member.
Upon graduation from Northwestern State College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting, Marcus moved to Monroe. In the summer of 1963, he began his career in public accounting with a local CPA firm. After working for that firm for seven years, he opened his practice in 1970. After about 10 years, he partnered with fellow Northwestern State alumnus John Robinson to form Marcus, Robinson and Hassell which has offices in Monroe and Winnsboro.
Marcus has been involved in a number of successful business ventures throughout Louisiana and Arkansas which include healthcare companies, restaurants, commercial and residential development and management.
Marcus has supported NSU for decades and has served on numerous boards and committees that enhance the university, including the NSU Foundation Board, The Mary R. Gallaspy Trust No. 2 Board and the College of Business and Technology Advisory Board. He has also been honored as a member of the NSU College of Business Hall of Fame.
Marcus is active in state and national professional organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Louisiana Society of Certified Public Accountants. In 2019, he received the certificate of recognition for 50-years loyal membership in the Louisiana Society of Certified Public Accountants.
He has supported and donated to countless athletic and academic programs at NSU over the years, including establishing a faculty endowed professorship, and joined NSU alumni Bill Tilley, Bill Stokes and Joe Singletary in establishing a four-year endowed scholarship through the NSU Foundation.
Orgeron led LSU to the BCS National Championship and a 15-0 record for the 2019 season. He was named National Coach of the Year by Walter Camp, Eddie Robinson and the Associated Press. He was also selected as the SEC Coach of the Year. Orgeron’s staff and team included the winner of the 2019 Broyles Award as nation’s top assistant coach, the Heisman Trophy winner, winner of the Biletnikoff Award given to the outstanding receiver and the Jim Thorpe Award presented to the top defensive back. LSU set a school-record with five first team All-America selections in 2019. LSU’s offensive line claimed the Joe Moore Award as the top offensive line in college football.
Orgeron is LSU’s 33rd head football coach, and the first Louisiana native to serve as head coach of the Tigers in more than 30 years. Orgeron was a defensive lineman for the NSU Demons and earned a degree in 1985. His coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Northwestern State and McNeese State. Orgeron was an assistant strength coach at Arkansas then worked as an assistant coach at Miami (Florida), Nicholls, Syracuse and Southern Cal, acquiring a reputation as one of the top defensive line coaches and recruiters in college football. He was head coach at the University of Mississippi for three years, then was on the staff of New Orleans Saints and the University of Tennessee before returning to Southern Cal. Orgeron joined the LSU coaching staff in 2015.
Recruited to Northwestern in 1957 as a football trainer, Pierce was a four-year letterman in that position. As a student, he was an N Club officer and sports editor of the university newspaper. He joined the staff of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans after receiving his journalism degree in 1961 and became executive sports editor at age 24. Pierce returned to Northwestern in 1965 as Sports Information Director. He later served as News Bureau Director and assistant to the president and has been vice president of External Affairs for more than 30 years.
He was co-chair of Northwestern’s Centennial celebration and 125th anniversary activities and has served as institutional representative to the NCAA and Southland Conference. He is a former president of the conference and was Northwestern’s liaison for the filming of “Steel Magnolias.” Pierce brought the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame to Natchitoches in 1972 and directed the program for nearly 20 years. During that time, he was named one of the 20 “Most Influential People in Sports in Louisiana” by The Times-Picayune.
Author of thousands of newspaper and magazine articles and a book of columns and co-editor of two other books, Pierce has received numerous journalism awards and honors for other civic, social and professional activities. He has been inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and N Club Hall of Fame.
Pierce and his wife Regina have established endowed scholarships in athletics and education at NSU. Together, they have four children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Smith is president and CEO of FedEx Ground and serves on the Strategic Management Committee of FedEx Corporation, which sets the direction for the FedEx enterprise. Prior to joining FedEx Ground, Smith served as President and CEO of FedEx Freight, the market leader in the less-than-truckload (LTL) industry, with operations across North America.
Smith has more than 30 years of experience in the transportation industry and joined FedEx in 2000. In previous roles, Smith also served as the senior vice president of operations for FedEx Freight and has vast experience across every area of the business, including operations, sales, transportation, fleet maintenance, facility services and safety. Smith serves on the boards of the Arkansas Trucking Association and the American Transportation Research Institute. He was named as the treasurer of the board for the American Trucking Associations in October 2019.
Smith graduated from NSU with a degree in geology. He was a four-year starter on the Demon football team as an offensive tackle. He was a two-time All-Louisiana selection and a pre-season All-Gulf Star Conference choice. He was the winner of the Demon Award given to the outstanding offensive lineman.
Whitehead was a member of Northwestern State’s faculty for 30 years, serving as an associate professor of journalism and director of International Programs. He served as an advisor for various student media, providing training to students preparing for a professional career. He also oversaw the university’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which brought numerous leading figures to campus.
A strong advocate for preserving Northwestern State’s history, Whitehead co-authored the book “Northwestern State University at 125” which was published in 2009. He led efforts to make the university’s past more accessible through its Traditions website, which showcases digital collections of the university’s student newspaper, yearbook and alumni magazine and information on alumni honorees, past presidents and historic campus buildings.
Whitehead worked as a production location consultant for the film “Steel Magnolias.” He also worked as a local contact and executive assistant to the film’s producer Ray Stark. Whitehead was a co-author of the “Steel Magnolias Scrapbook.”
One of the leading experts on Natchitoches Parish artist Clementine Hunter, Whitehead worked on documentaries and co-authored and edited books about Hunter.
He is active in local historic preservation organizations and served on the Louisiana Film and Video Commission, the board of directors of Friends of Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the national advisory council of Kappa Alpha Order social fraternity. He is a member of the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the Honor Society of Phi Eta Sigma. Since retiring from NSU, he was worked as a governmental affairs and special events consultant.
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