Northwestern State University is naming three campus facilities in honor of individuals who played important roles in the institution’s development and history. The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System approved the naming of the facilities.
The stage on the Iberville Green will be named the Seven Oaks Stage in honor of the first seven Black students to attend Northwestern State, Steve Jackson, June Cofield, Doris Ann Roque-Robinson, Hyams J. Baptiste, James Johnson, Johnnye Britton-Paige and Pearl Jones-Burton.
A meeting space on the first floor of the Friedman Student Union will recognize the late Dean of Women Lucille Mertz Hendrick. The Academic Success Center in Watson Library will be named for former State Sen. Gerald Long and his wife, the late Rose Long.
Dedication programs for each facility will be held later this year.
The Seven Oaks Stage is on the site of the former Sabine Hall. Plans were developed over five years with input and support from several student organizations. NSU was awarded $10,000 from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation following a Lunchtime Likes competition in 2014. Students voted to use the award as seed money to develop an outdoor venue for concerts and other performances and chose the location at Iberville Green, a wide plateau next to Iberville Dining Hall conveniently close to university residence halls. The venue is open to recognized student organizations as well as departments and is designed for concerts and a variety of campus events.
Hendrick was assistant dean of women at Northwestern from 1959 until 1963 and was dean of women from 1963 until her retirement in 1974. A 1929 graduate of Louisiana State Normal, Hendrick was a charter member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority and remained active until her death. During her tenure as a college administrator, she was named Outstanding Dean of Women for Louisiana. In 1998, she was named to Northwestern’s Long Purple Line, the highest honor bestowed on a Northwestern alumnus.
She was awarded citations from several NSU student organizations, including the SGA, Purple Jackets and Panhellenic Council, who created the Lucile Mertz Hendrick Panhellenic Foundation Scholarship in her honor. Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority also created the Lucile Mertz Hendrick Outstanding Alumna Award in her honor.
Gerald and Rose Long celebrated his Northwestern State Golden Jubilee and their golden wedding anniversary with a $600,000 gift to the NSU Foundation that supports the Academic Success Center along with scholarships and professorships.
Gerald Long served three terms as state senator for District 31, which included all of Sabine and Red River parishes, a majority of Natchitoches Parish and parts of Grant, Winn and Rapides parishes. He was Senate president pro tempore in his final term. Gerald Long was elected to the State Senate in 2007 and re-elected without opposition in 2011 and 2015. He was named Man of the Year by the Professional Business Women of Natchitoches in 2005, Legislator of the Year by Rural Hospital Association in 2008 and awarded the Tourism Louey Award in 2012.
Mrs. Long touched many lives through her civic involvement, through leading Bible studies and engagement with child and family resource centers throughout Louisiana. The Longs mentored many middle school, high school and college students and coaches through Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She chaired the Louisiana Legends committee for Louisiana Public Broadcasting, and was recognized as the Public Broadcasting System’s Grassroots Advocacy National Volunteer of the Year. La. Gov. John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards renamed the rose garden at the governor’s mansion in memory of Mrs. Long.