NATCHITOCHES – The Louisiana Scholar’ College at Northwestern State University selected the late Todd Huddleston, Class of 1991, as the inaugural recipient of the Jimmy D. Long, Sr. Louisiana Scholars’ College Distinguished Alumni Award.
“The selection committee, which includes three faculty from the Louisiana Scholars’ College, a current student and an alumnus, had to choose between very worthy applicants, but they felt that Todd’s contributions to the Scholars’ College, Northwestern State University and to Louisiana in general have been outstanding,” said Dr. Curt Phifer, a professor at LSC. “Long after he left the College and the University, Todd demonstrated extreme devotion to his students at Yonsei Martial Arts Academy of New Orleans, which he opened in 1999. He also contributed a great deal in time and energy to the Scholars’ College, maintained long-term contact with the faculty and most recently, bequeathed an endowed scholarship. All of Mr. Huddleston’s accomplishments, and more importantly, his giving spirit, strongly exemplify the spirit of the award’s namesake, Jimmy D. Long, Sr.”
The announcement took place during the Louisiana Scholars’ College 30th Anniversary Alumni Reunion Oct. 21, which coincided with NSU’s Homecoming festivities.
Huddleston, formerly of Metairie, was in the first graduating class of the Louisiana Scholars’ College, Louisiana’s only designated honors college that was established in 1987. He earned a degree in mathematics in 1991. As an undergraduate, he not only enjoyed the academic challenges of the Scholars’ College but discovered a tremendous comradery among residents of Bossier Hall, was involved with KNWD and the Student Government Association and was a member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
After graduating, Huddleston attended graduate school at the University of North Texas. He lived in Korea from 1992-99 where he taught English as a second language and studied martial arts. He attended Yonsei University to learn to speak Korean, then did radio and TV commentary on Korean culture and customs from a Western perspective.
Returning to the U.S., he opened the successful Yonsei Martial Arts Academy in New Orleans in 1999. In 2016, he joined the elite ranks of Grandmaster when he tested for his 8th degree black belt in Seoul, South Korea, and was appointed representative for Louisiana.
That year, Huddleston arranged a planned gift to the NSU Foundation to establish an endowed scholarship for a student in the Louisiana Scholars’ College. The recipient of the Huddleston Scholarship must maintain a 3.0 or better grade point average. Huddleston hoped his scholarship would help someone interested in studying abroad, just as he did.
Huddleston was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident Feb. 5, 2017. Derek Mitchell, also an LSC alumnus and longtime friend, accepted the award on behalf of the Huddleston family.
The Jimmy D. Long, Sr., Louisiana Scholars’ College Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented each year and a perpetual plaque has been placed in the Scholars’ College home, Morrison Hall at NSU, to recognize the awardees.
Long is widely recognized as one of the most prominent and respected political and state government figures in Louisiana history. He served 32 years – eight consecutive terms – in the House of Representatives, and for half of his tenure chaired the House Education Committee. During his final term, his colleagues dubbed him “Dean of the Legislature.”
Long, who attended Northwestern State University, helped obtain millions of dollars over the years for construction and renovation projects at the school and for highways, bridges and other major improvements in his legislative district. He served as a member of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors from 2001 until his death.
Long introduced legislation to establish the prestigious Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern and was also the author of a bill to create the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, a residential high school in Natchitoches for gifted and talented students.
Long was killed in a tragic car accident in August 2016.