NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s Student Government Association unveiled the first three of what will be a series of portraits that honor individuals who made significant contributions to the university.
“The purpose of the portrait program is two-fold,” said SGA President Jacob Ellis. “The first is to ensure that buildings and prominent spaces which are named after individuals feature a portrait of that person. The other is to highlight the contributions of women and individuals of color who have contributed to the rich heritage of Northwestern State University.”
Portraits of Joe Delaney, Scharlie Russell and Jimmy Long will be installed in the Student Union, Russell Hall and the Student Services Center.
“Another goal of the program is to highlight the talents of our students and alumni,” Ellis said. “We wish to only include pieces that have a connection to the university by commissioning paintings and other art works that are created by those who are or who have attended NSU.”
Artist Chris Brown, a former Chicago Cubs minor league pitcher and Northwestern State Demon who is also the artist for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, painted the portrait of Joe Delaney. Artist Osvaldo Ferrer Miranda, who created the paintings of Russell and Long, is a graduate student in the School of Creative and Performing Arts who was previously commissioned to paint the official portrait of former NSU President Dr. Randall J. Webb that hangs in the Wellness, Recreation and Activities Center.
Delaney was a two-time All-American athlete for the NSU Demons as well as a track and field star. He played two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and was chosen as AFC Rookie of the Year in 1981. Delaney died June 29, 1981, while attempting to rescue three children from drowning in a pond in Monroe. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Citizen’s Medal from U.S. President Ronald Reagan and was inducted into NSU’s alumni hall of distinction, the Long Purple Line, in 2017.
Russell was the head librarian at Louisiana State Normal School and late Normal College, as NSU was then known, from 1910-1940. Russell Hall, formerly the school’s library and now home to the College of Business and Technology, was named in her honor after Louisiana Governor Richard Leche was sentenced to prison and his name stripped from the building. Russell Hall remains as one of only two buildings on the NSU campus to be named after a woman.
A member of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors from 2001-16, Long served eight consecutive terms in the House of Representatives from 1968 to 2000. Colleagues in the House and Senate adopted a resolution during his last term honoring Long as “Dean of the Legislature.” A recognized authority on education policy, he chaired the House Education Committee and was instrumental in the creation of the Louisiana Scholars’ College at NSU as well as the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts. Long died in a traffic accident on Aug. 9, 2016.
“We are tremendously grateful to our artists for sharing their talent with us and agreeing to be part of this project,” Ellis said. “We plan to continue the SGA Portrait Project and try to tell the full story or our beloved university through the narrative of the people who have helped shape it into the institution it is today.”