NSU names new event space after Lucile Mertz Hendrick


NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University formally named a new multipurpose meeting space in the Friedman Student Union after long-time administrator Lucile Mertz Hendrick (1909-2003) and unveiled a portrait of Hendrick created by NSU graduate student Edgar Cano Lopez that will hang outside the room. The space, Room 121, is the site of the former campus bookstore and has quickly become a popular meeting space for campus groups, according to Student Government Association President Nick Hopkins, who welcomed guests on behalf of the student body.

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.

Hendrick 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.

Several members of Sigma Sigma Sigma attended the portrait unveiling Monday, which coincided with the sorority’s Founder’s Day.

Lopez, the artist who created the finely detailed portrait of Hendrick, is earning a Master of Arts degree in Art.  He was born in Isla, Veracruz, Mexico, and grew up in Santiago Tuxtla, a small city in the Los Tuxtlas region of southern Veracruz.  He studied in the fine arts program at the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, initially focused on creating set designs for campus theatre and working part-time jobs outside of art. During his time at the Universidad, he began to develop his own techniques through his practice in lithography and drawing and later began to explore painting. He held his first solo exhibition in 2012 and has since accumulated a substantial body of work.

Lopez thanked the SGA for the confidence in him to create the painting and said he felt he developed a relationship with Hendrick during the process of completing the portrait. Viewers commented on the lifelike details of the painting that depict Hendrick seated at her desk at work.

“She looks like she could be speaking to us,” said Jacque Crew, a friend of Hendrick, who spoke about Hendrick’s love for people. “She retired at age 65 and over the course of 29 more years, she gave so much to this community, this university, children, families and sorority women. Her joy in life was in giving to others.”

NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio commented on the numerous friends and community members who knew “Miss Cissy” and her impact on many generations in the Natchitoches and NSU communities.

Jack Brittain represented his family in speaking about Hendrick’s long, close friendship with his grandmother, Ora G. Williams, and the devotion and support Hendrick provided to her and their family during Williams’ terminal illness.

The NSU Student Government Association’s ongoing portrait program was created to ensure that buildings and prominent spaces named after individuals features a portrait of that person and highlights individuals who made significant contributions to the university. The program also highlights the talents of student artists and alumni with the works commissioned to artists who are current or former students.

A dedication program for the Seven Oaks Stage at Iberville Green, originally scheduled for April 23, has been postponed to the fall semester due to anticipated inclement weather. The Seven Oaks Stage will be named to honor the first seven Black students to attend Northwestern State. Details on the rescheduling will be announced as plans are finalized.