Fall 2017

  • Student Central opened in Chozen Hall providing a one-stop-shop for enrollment-related student support services.
  • Dining options were expanded, and Rowdy’s Dining Hall and the Food Court were renovated.
  • Enrollment increased for the first time in seven years.
  • During Fall Commencement Exercises, Dr. Daryl V. Burckel celebrated his investiture as the seventh president of the university and received the Presidential Chain from Dr. James B. Henderson, then president and CEO of the University of Louisiana System.
  • New regalia designs were premiered at Fall Commencement as graduates were able to “Geaux Blue” for the first time — students receiving bachelor’s degrees sported newly designed blue robes featuring the McNeese “M” on the front and caps with blue and gold tassels, while graduate students received black robes featuring blue piping down the front and the McNeese seal.
  • The College of Nursing and Health Professions awarded its first Health Systems Management degree.
  • During Fall Commencement, 519 students received degrees.

Spring 2018

  • The McNeese State University Pride of McNeese Marching Band and Cowgirl Kickers led the way through the streets of London for the London New Year’s Day Parade and Festival, a by-invitation-only event for participants.
  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) reaffirmed McNeese’s accreditation for an additional 10 years following a comprehensive review of McNeese’s academic and administrative programs.
  • The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) announced that McNeese State University’s Radiologic Sciences Program was reaccredited for an additional eight years, which is the maximum length of accreditation that can be awarded, following a comprehensive review of the baccalaureate degree program offered through the College of Nursing and Health Professions.
  • The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics announced that accreditation for McNeese State University’s Didactic Program in Dietetics and its Dietetic Internship was extended through June 2019.
  • Formed Town & Gown committee with the Lake Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau and received a $30,000 grant for campus branding initiatives.
  • McNeese hosted its 150th Commencement Exercises in the Spring of 2018. 731 students received degrees.
  • McNeese State University’s psychology graduate program in applied behavior analysis was the only program in Louisiana accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International and one of only 20 accredited programs in the nation.
  • All teacher education programs in the McNeese State University Burton College of Education earned reaccreditation for another seven years from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), the sole nationally recognized accrediting body for education preparation.
  • College of Education began collaboration with Lake Charles College Prep to provide curriculum consultation and teacher development.
  • McNeese State University captured three national individual championships, one team championship and one reserve championship at the 70th College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.

Summer / Fall 2018

  • Burckel implemented a multi-faceted review of McNeese’s vision, mission, core values and image:
    • Burckel launched the “MyMcNeese Branding Campaign,” a re-branding effort in partnership with Lamar Advertising, with the installation of a larger-than-life cowboy on the west side of the Shearman Fine Arts Center on the McNeese State University campus. One of the goals of the campaign was to reinforce that McNeese is part of the fabric of Southwest Louisiana and that its graduates are integral to the economic success and quality of life in the region.
    • Burckel and the executive leadership team re-wrote the University’s vision and mission statements:
      • Our Vision: FIRST CHOICE!
        • McNeese will be the first choice for Southwest Louisiana:
          • The first choice for students seeking a university degree.
          • The first choice for employers seeking university graduates.
          • The first choice for donors wanting to support the community.
          • The first choice for organizations seeking professional advice.
          • The first choice for faculty and staff seeking a collegial and productive work environment.
        • Our Statement of Purpose: We change lives through excellence with a personal touch!
          • We change the lives of students through a mix of research, instruction and student life activities, with a focus on student learning and mentorship. We provide a personal touch!
          • We change lives in SWLA by improving the level of education and the overall economic development in our region. We provide excellence!
          • We improve the quality of life in SWLA through a range of academic and cultural activities and public events. We change lives!
        • Our Pillars of Service: We support our state and our region through Three Pillars of Service:
          • Stewardship: We will be good stewards of state resources and provide cost-effective education to our community.
          • Engagement: We will engage with our community by providing employable graduates as well as by serving as a center for learning and artistic creativity.
          • Excellence: We will strive for excellence in all we do.
        • Our Core Values
          • Trust
            • Trust we will act with honesty and integrity.
            • Trust we will respect one another and the cultural differences among us.
            • Trust we will have the courage to do the right thing.
            • Trust we will do what is best for our students, our university and our state.
          • Mentorship
            • Mentor our peers and inspire them to maintain excellence.
            • Mentor our students and inspire them to achieve excellence.
          • Burckel charged faculty and staff with ensuring that everything we do is focused on being a “student-centric” university.
          • To enhance the student experience on campus, the position of Vice President for Student Affairs was reinstated. That position was tasked with redesigning the Student Services offices to better assist with student retention and promote campus life.
          • Burckel engineered an innovative plan to self-generate revenue and meet the needs of growing academic programs that support Southwest Louisiana’s economic boom. The “First Choice Fundraising Campaign” was a three-year initiative to partner with local business and industry with a goal of raising $1 million per year for three years. Funds raised through this campaign were used to hire faculty and upgrade labs in high demand academic areas while the university implemented a strategic plan to increase enrollment and retention over the next three years.
          • A partnership between McNeese State University and the Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy Foundation Inc. provided educational program services for faculty professional development and curriculum assessment at Lake Charles College Prep.
          • McNeese, in partnership with Bayou Teche, one of Louisiana’s most established and highly successful craft breweries, and long-time McNeese supporter Southwest Beverage Company, launched the first McNeese-branded craft beer, Joli Blon. The beer was first distributed at football games and then made available through local retailers.
          • The NBA’s Houston Rockets conducted their first week of camp in McNeese's new Health and Human Performance Education Complex. Tad Brown, then Rockets CEO, said the McNeese facility was state-of-the-art and one of the best facilities that the Rockets have ever used for training camp. He said the Rockets would consider returning to McNeese.
          • On Nov. 17, the men’s basketball team played its first home basketball game in the arena in the new $40 million Health and Human Performance Education Complex. Governor John Bel Edwards formally opened the basketball arena by taking the first shot before the tipoff. Academic classes began in the new building in Spring 2019.
          • During Fall Commencement, 569 students received degrees and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters was awarded posthumously to the late Lake Charles businessman, Mr. Billy Navarre.
          • Engaged Ruffalo Noel Levitz to work with Enrollment Management staff to evaluate, streamline and improve processes and procedures affecting recruiting, communicating with prospective students, processing applications and admissions.
          • Began partnership between faculty, the McNeese Bookstore and RedShelf, an e-textbook company, and the LOUIS Library network of e-textbook resources, to offer students options for textbooks and reduce students’ textbook costs.

Spring 2019

  • Work began to consolidate the donor record databases in the McNeese Foundation and Alumni Association into one robust record collection and maintenance databank to improve the overall fundraising efforts of the Division of University Advancement.
  • During the Spring Commencement, 760 students received degrees and Dr. Burckel reinstated the custom of having commencement speakers. Senator Dan “Blade” Morrish served as commencement speaker.

Summer / Fall 2019

  • McNeese State University’s women’s rodeo team was first in the nation after winning the team championship and two national individual championships at the 71st College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo.
  • McNeese State University’s Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) received the 2019 Service Excellence and Innovation Center Award for the state and region at the annual Louisiana Small Business Awards. The LSBDC at McNeese sets the standard for working with community and business development partners in Lake Charles and throughout the southwest.
  • The McNeese State University Counseling Center was awarded accreditation by the International Association of Counseling services (IACS), the accreditation association for university, four-year college and two-year community college counseling services. Accreditation by IACS is the highest standard available for campus counseling centers.
  • Burckel and the executive leadership team restructured and reorganized the College of Science and the School of Agricultural Sciences that was a part of that college and the College of Engineering to create the first College of Science, Engineering and Mathematics (SEM) in the state and to elevate the Agricultural Sciences programs to the College of Agricultural Sciences. They also established the position Executive Director of STEM Programs position to develop a more robust partnership program with area schools and industries.
    • Over 750 elementary and middle school students attended the McNeese summer STEM Academy engineering bioplastics, building model rockets and experimenting with materials to produce common products like Play-Doh.
    • Through a partnership with Code.org, the College of Science, Engineering and Mathematics hosted over 40 middle and high school teachers from around the state of Louisiana to introduce engaging ways to incorporate computer science education into their classrooms. McNeese was Louisiana’s only Code.org regional partner.
  • Burckel began collaborating with the City and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau on initiatives designed to encourage the campus community to get more involved in downtown Lake Charles events and likewise encouraging city residents to get more involved in campus events, with the ultimate goal of generating more community support for McNeese.
    • Rouge et Blanc returned to downtown Lake Charles with an agreement to alternate the location of the event between campus and downtown.
    • McNeese invited the community to campus for the first Pokes in the Oaks celebration held from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, in front of F.G. Bulber Auditorium. It featured live music, food trucks and lawn games.
    • McNeese hosted community tailgating events at various businesses in Lake Charles, featuring appearances by Rowdy and the Cowgirl Kickers.
    • The community was invited to McNeese for the 2019 Cowboy Classic Car Show, hosted by the McNeese Radio KBYS.
  • McNeese State University commemorated its 80th anniversary with a ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate the new Kaufman Plaza facing Ryan Street on Tuesday, Sept. 11.
  • To demonstrate the quality of a McNeese education, the University launched the “McNeese Grads Rise to the Top” marketing campaign, which spotlighted alumni making a difference in our communities, our state and all over the world. Billboards were placed at various locations in Lake Charles, Sulphur, Westlake and Jennings.
  • McNeese State University and Lamar State College Orange, a two-year institution in Texas, formalized an agreement to create seamless pathways for students to transfer to McNeese for a four-year degree.
  • McNeese State University ranked third best university in Louisiana according to Wallethub’s 2020 Best College and University report, which ranked McNeese in the top half of the country and third in the state behind Tulane University and University of New Orleans, based on 33 key metrics — including costs, financing, faculty resources, campus safety and career outcomes. McNeese earned above-average markings for its net cost and graduation rate.
  • McNeese partnered with Yellowfin Distillery, established by 2007 McNeese engineering graduate Jamison Trouth, to launch the new “Geaux Pokes,” a single estate vodka distilled by Yellowfin. Initially available at the distillery, the branded vodka was also distributed to retailers in the area, with a portion of every purchase going directly to McNeese.
  • McNeese’s online programs received recognition: psychology, business administration and criminal justice programs were recognized with top national and state rankings for online learning excellence for undergraduate and graduate students. The master’s degree program in applied psychology ranked 12th in the nation by Online-Psychology-Degrees.org, based on average cost of graduate attendance, recent U.S. News & World Report rankings and accreditation. The online MBA program ranked third in Louisiana according to the College Consensus, based on affordability, reputation, format and content. The criminal justice program was ranked top in the country by intelligence.com and thebestschools.org. Intelligence.com included McNeese in its Top 5 Best Online Probation Officer Degree Programs, with the special distinction of Best Public University, based on curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation and post-graduate employment. Thebestschools.org included McNeese’s bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in criminal justice in its Top 50 Best Online Criminal Justice Degree programs, with McNeese ranked as the only online bachelor’s degree program from Louisiana, based on curriculum excellence, faculty scholarship and strength of online instruction methodology. Intellegent.com also recognized the graduate psychology program, with top honors based on the variety of concentration areas offered and the program’s industry-leading faculty.
  • In honor of the 80th anniversary of McNeese State University, fall commencement exercises returned to an on-campus venue for the first time in 33 years, the arena in the new H&HP Complex, now known as The Legacy Center. Two ceremonies were held, and 624 graduates and guests were awed by the new stage, college banners, royal blue backdrop and special lighting. McNeese basketball great Joe Dumars was the guest speaker for both ceremonies and Senator Dan “Blade” Morrish received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters.
  • McNeese was recognized for having the Best Business Landscaping in 2019 by Lagniappe magazine’s Best of SWLA issue.

Spring 2020

  • McNeese State University and SOWELA Technical Community College established an MOU to make the transition easier for SOWELA students completing two-year associate degrees in business administration to pursue four-year bachelor’s degrees in business at McNeese.
  • com recognized McNeese’s graduate education program with top honors based on accreditation, cost, return on investment and online curriculum and resource quality.
  • Burckel worked with the Board of Directors of the McNeese State University Foundation to re-establish the McNeese Athletic Foundation to promote and raise funds to strengthen the financial condition of all athletic programs.
  • March 13 — Governor John Bel Edwards signed a proclamation halting gatherings of more than 250 people and closing all K-12 public schools statewide effective March 16 through April 13 to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state. The order would be extended through the end of the school year. COVID shutdown and transition to fully online operations.
  • March 18 McNeese transitions to remote course delivery.
  • Academic Signing Day moved online.
  • Band auditions moved online.
  • Master's degree in psychology with a concentration in applied behavior analysis recognized as one of the top programs in the country by Applied Behavior Analysis Programs Guide and Online Schools Report. Applied Behavior Analysis Programs Guide ranked the program at No. 15 in its “40 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate Online Programs 2020” list, based on small student to faculty ratios, affordable tuition and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam certification pass rates. Online Schools Report ranked the program in its top 20 “Best Online Master’s in Psychology,” based on McNeese’s online offerings, admission rates, cost and specialty trainings available.
  • com recognized McNeese’s graduate nursing program with top honors for its online nurse practitioner programs in family nurse practitioner and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner and its post-master’s psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner certificate, based on affordability, admissions, flexibility and program variety.
  • Students voted to pass a referendum for a self-assessed fee to build a new student union.
  • Due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, a virtual commencement ceremony was held in the Quad. The ceremony included remarks from Dr, Burckel Dr. Mitchell Adrian, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management and college deans. It was broadcast on the McNeese YouTube channel. Degrees were conferred on 759 graduates.

Summer / Fall 2020

  • McNeese and Visit Lake Charles signed a cooperative agreement to bring large national competitive youth baseball tournaments to the Lake Area for the next four years, allowing VLC to use the baseball stadium and facilities for four weeks each July through 2027 to accommodate and attract large national competitive youth baseball tournaments like the New Balance Future Stars Series (NBFSS). In return, VLC will contribute $600,000 over the next four years to the McNeese Foundation designated for improvements to the baseball stadium.
  • A collaborative project to rename the eight campus streets bearing parish names in recognition of outstanding McNeese alumni was launched. Students, faculty, staff and alumni submitted suggestions. The street names were changed to:
    • Mickey Smith Jr. Drive
    • Doug Fournet Drive
    • Brigadier General Elizabeth Arledge Drive
    • Ieyoub Family Drive
    • Willie Landry Mount Drive
    • Colonel Tony Polk Drive
    • Joe Dumars Drive
    • William A. Oliver Drive
  • After significant work across campus and throughout classrooms to meet current COVID-19 social distancing restrictions and modifications to course scheduling and delivery formats, all to achieve compliance with government imposed COVID restrictions, students were able to return to campus in stages, with on-campus classes resuming normal operations on August 17 and enrollment on track to exceed fall 2019 by 150 students.
  • Two weeks later, On August 27, Hurricane Laura, a strong category 4 storm, slammed into Southwest Louisiana with 150 mph winds that devastated the McNeese campus. The campus was closed, and classes resumed online on September 18.
  • Contractors began remediation work in campus buildings hours after the storm passed. Within days, temporary roofs covered all, or portions of nearly 140 buildings and engineering and architectural teams were completing damage assessments on two million square feet of building space.
  • Burckel developed an aggressive and unique recovery plan. He quickly gained the support of Gov. John Bel Edwards, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, the Office of Facility Planning and Control and the Southwest Louisiana Legislative Delegation. The McNeese campus was divided into seven quadrants including four academic, two athletic and the farm. Quadrants containing academic buildings and residence halls were given the highest priority.
  • The plan called for having multiple teams of architects, engineers and contractors working simultaneously. This model had never been used before on a state project.Within 60 days, damages were assessed, engineering teams were on board, bids were awarded to contractors for the four priority quadrants.
  • On October 9, Hurricane Delta made landfall on a track just a few miles east of Laura’s path and tore through Lake Charles and the McNeese campus. The strong Category 2 storm brought winds of over 100 miles per hour that ripped temporary roofs off and allowed rain to pour into campus buildings.
  • Buildings sustained additional water damage and mold spread into areas previously spared.
  • Damage to the McNeese campus and farm from the two hurricanes exceeded $200,000 million.
  • On December 11, three academic buildings - Frasch Hall, Frasch Hall Annex and Frazar Memorial Library - were released by the contractor, Keiland Construction, back to the University nearly one month before the target date of Jan. 8. The three structures encompass approximately 170,00 square feet and over 41,000 man-hours were deployed to facilitate the delivery of the three buildings.
  • On December 17-19, McNeese held six commencement exercises over three days for the 603 fall 2020 graduates. Due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings and social distancing requirements a ceremony for each college was held in Burton Coliseum. Burckel reinstated the custom of having commencement speakers.
    • College of Agricultural Sciences............................................. Mike Strain, Guest Speaker
    • College of Business............................................................ Mark Romero, Guest Speaker
    • Burton College of Education......................................... Kim Hunter Reed, Guest Speaker
    • College of Liberal Arts......................................................... Mayor Nic Hunter, Guest Speaker
    • College Nursing and Health Professions.................... Senator Ronnie Johns, Guest Speaker
    • College of Science, Engineering and Mathematics................... Jim Rock, Guest Speaker

Spring 2021

  • In February, a winter storm with record breaking low temperatures and ice hit Southwest Louisiana. Damage to the city of Lake Charles water plant caused low water pressure and McNeese was closed for several days. The freezing conditions also caused pipes to burst and minor flooding in some buildings.
  • Graduate programs in psychology and creative writing were recognized nationally by Intellegent.com, an online university guide for students and parents. McNeese received top honors in psychology based on its concentration in applied behavior analysis offered through the master’s degree program in psychology, while the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree was ranked in the Top 47. McNeese was also recognized as the third best college – among 46 public and private institutions – in Louisiana, based on accreditation and curriculum flexibility, as well as cost, return on investment, program strength, student engagement and resource quality.
  • McNeese State University and the McNeese State University Foundation submitted a proposal to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for a $2.75 million grant to create a Center of Excellence to support the local and national liquid natural gas (LNG) industry.
  • The master’s degree in psychology with a concentration in applied behavior analysis earned the top ranking in the nation in 2021 by BestValueSchools.org, based on accreditation, enrollment and affordability. The ABA program was one of only 22 universities in the world – and the only university in Louisiana – accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International.
  • The College of Nursing and Health Professions announced the addition of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in advanced practice psychiatric mental health nursing – the first such program in Louisiana, and the first DNP program in our state to focus specifically on psychiatric mental health advanced practice nurses and the needs of the people of Louisiana.
  • McNeese State University was the only university in Louisiana to receive the highest rating possible from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) for efforts to protect students’ free speech. McNeese received a “green-light” ranking from FIRE’s 2024 Spotlight on Speech Codes report. A green-light ranking means the school has no written policies that pose a serious threat to students’ First Amendment protections. FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that regularly issues warnings to universities or files lawsuits against them to ensure they comply with free-speech rights.
  • McNeese held five commencement ceremonies over two days, to confer degrees on the 603 graduates at the university’s 156th Commencement in Burton Coliseum. Mr. Paul Rainwater received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and served as Guest Speaker and Mr. Richard Ieyoub received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and served as guest speaker.
  • Burckel began a new tradition of holding a special graduation ceremony in the Doland Field House for student athletes, and their families, who were unable to attend the regular commencement exercises due to continuing spring competition schedules. The ceremony included many components of the regular ceremony including the President’s Remarks, a guest speaker and conferral of degrees by college deans.
  • On May 17, a thousand-year flood caused extensive flooding throughout the city and on campus. The flooding caused damage several buildings including the Alumni Center and Kaufman Hall and forced the temporary closure of Burton Residence Hall.

Summer / Fall 2021

  • Graduate psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner program was ranked in the Top 10 for both affordability and best online degree program by edumed.org.
  • Graduate psychology program was recognized as one of the best in the nation, with the applied behavior analysis concentration ranked in the Top 25 by appliedbehavioranalysis.com and the psychology program is in the Top 12 online programs by besthealthdegrees.com. The websites based the rankings on student/faculty ratio, affordability, accreditation, reputation and salary potential.
  • McNeese was named one of the 2022 Hidden Gem Colleges in the Southeast by College Raptor, a leading online college planning platform. McNeese was named one of three “hidden gem” schools in Louisiana, based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, student-to-faculty ratio, endowment per student and other data as reported to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • The online master’s degree program in psychology was ranked among the 15 Best Online Psychology Master’s Degree Programs for 2022 by BestHealthDegrees.com, and the psychology program in applied behavior analysis (ABA) continues to rank high in online ratings based on affordability, accreditation, reputation and salary potential using data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. McNeese was one of only 21 universities in the U.S. – and the only Louisiana university – to have its ABA program accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International.
  • McNeese was recognized as Business of the Year by Fusion Five at the organization’s inaugural awards banquet.
  • Two commencement ceremonies were held at Burton Coliseum for the 536 graduates. Willie Landry Mount was the guest speaker for the morning ceremony and Mr. B.J. Hebert was the guest speaker for the afternoon ceremony.

Spring 2022

  • McNeese was recognized nationally for 17 top-ranked online programs for 2022 by Intellegent.com., an online university guide for students and parents. Rankings were based on flexibility, faculty, program strength, cost, return on investment, student engagement and reputation. McNeese received top honors for bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice, general studies, nursing, psychology and sociology and master’s degree programs in creative writing, education, nurse practitioner and psychology. McNeese was also recognized as the eighth best college – among 24 public and private institutions – in Louisiana and again noted for its “best return on investment” for graduates.
  • McNeese was ranked fourth among colleges and universities in Louisiana as having both the Best Bachelor’s and Best Master’s Degree programs by UniversityHQ.org, an online resource for degree rankings and higher education planning. Several academic programs were also cited in several Top 100 Best Affordable Degree Program categories including counseling (#14), school counseling (#23), early childhood education (#31), nursing (#31), psychology (#40), criminal justice (#43) and RN to BSN (#56). Criteria – such as cost, return on investment and admission rates – were based on data from the National Center for Education, Payscale.com, U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • McNeese State University’s master’s degree program in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner was ranked among the 25 Best Online MSN in Psychiatric Nursing Degree Programs for 2022 by Top RN to BSN, an online nursing guide for current and prospective nurses, based on affordability, return on investment and reputation.
  • McNeese and SOWELA Technical Community College signed articulation agreements for four programs, making it easier for students to transfer credits from SOWELA to McNeese. SOWELA students who complete 60 hours and graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree in criminal justice, an Associate of General Studies degree in English literature, an Associate of General Studies degree in history or an Associate of General Studies degree in mass communications can transfer into the corresponding bachelor’s degree programs at McNeese.
  • Celebrated the 30th year of the Banners series following a two-year shutdown for the pandemic.
  • Two commencement ceremonies were held at Burton Coliseum for the 736 graduates. John Miller was the guest speaker for the morning ceremony and Mr. Dennis Stine received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and was the guest speaker for the afternoon ceremony.

Summer / Fall 2022

  • McNeese State University’s rodeo team continued its winning tradition at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming. The men’s rodeo team claimed the reserve championship – second place in the nation – after winning a national individual title championship and a reserve national individual championship Saturday night.
  • McNeese and Second Harvest Food Bank celebrated the grand opening of the first community kitchen in Southwest Louisiana located on the McNeese campus. The community kitchen will make a meaningful difference in the fight against hunger by preparing thousands of meals weekly for food insecure families. Meals will also be available for McNeese students.
  • The Cowboy Closet at McNeese opened and supports students by alleviating financial barriers of professional clothing for interviews, internships, and professional development activities.
  • The Future Focus Conference in September brought external stakeholders including elected officials, representatives from public and private K-12 education, business, healthcare and industry, and community members together with faculty, staff to develop a vision for the future of the University. The group worked together with one goal in mind-to ensure McNeese would be strong, on sound footing, and sustainable for years to come. Six Vision Themes were developed that became the foundation for a plan developed to guide decision making and planning for the next five years.
  • For the 12th consecutive year, the S. News and World Report has ranked McNeese as one of the top universities in the South in its 2022-2023 Best Colleges list.
  • The McNeese’s College of Business has earned reaffirmation of accreditation of the undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business for an additional five years from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. McNeese’s College of Business has been accredited by AACSB International since 1989.
  • The NBA’s Houston Rockets returned to McNeese and held a training camp in the Legacy Center utilizing the basketball arena, practice facility, men’s locker room and training rooms.
  • McNeese and SOWELA Technical Community College signed multiple agreements that allow students earning an associate degree to seamlessly transfer to McNeese in nursing, history, English, mass communication, and criminal justice programs.
  • McNeese’s College of Business has initiated an Undergraduate Certificate in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Business that is the first of its kind in the state of Louisiana and in the nation.
  • McNeese ’s Information Technology Office received an Innovation Award from EdScoop for efforts in rebuilding the online dashboard after the system crashed following two hurricanes in 2020.
  • McNeese students, faculty, and staff along with community leaders celebrated the official completion of the first phase of the Contraband Bayou Improvement Project and opening of the Richard R. Rhoden Bridge connecting the main campus to Student Central, student residence halls and apartments. This project is the centerpiece of the Bayou Greenbelt Project, a planned 23-mile recreation loop around the city of Lake Charles.
  • Burckel received one of three Positive Growth Community Recognition Awards from the Alliance for Positive Growth (APG) recognizing “local individuals who embody the recovery and resiliency spirit of the region.” APG is an organization of professionals in the fields of real estate, development, construction and other interested parties working together to promote strong, progressing growth in Southwest Louisiana.
  • Commencement Ceremonies returned to campus and were held in The Legacy Center Arena for 582 graduates. Mr. Scot Tyler was the guest speaker for the morning ceremony and in the afternoon Mr. Jeff Miller received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and served as guest speaker.

Spring 2023

  • Relocated University Police from temporary facilities used since damage from Hurricane Laura forced the closure of the University Police Building on Ryan Street. The new location is on the main campus at the foot of the Rhoden Bridge and close to the Frazar Memorial Library, academic buildings, and the location of the new student union.
  • McNeese’s graduate psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner program was ranked as one of the best in the nation for 2023 by nursepractitioneronline.com. Nursepractitioneronline.com based its rankings on affordability, years of experience of the faculty, and program availability and offerings.
  • McNeese and South Louisiana Community College (SLCC) have signed an agreement that allows students to seamlessly transfer to McNeese after earning an associate degree in business administration. The new agreement will welcome students from SLCC to complete the coursework for a bachelor’s degree in McNeese’s College of Business.
  • McNeese and Lamar State College Orange have signed an agreement that allows students to seamlessly transfer to McNeese after earning an associate degree in business to a program in McNeese’s College of Business.
  • To address a decline in student tuition and fee revenue due to a drop in enrollment following the 2020 hurricanes, Dr. Burckel and the leadership team held 12 Town Hall Meetings open to faculty, staff and community members to discuss plans to address the operating budget deficit and right-size the University for a smaller enrollment. The plans addressed the deficit from both the revenue and the expense side. These steps included critically assessing all vacant positions in the operating budget, eliminating some positions, consolidating administrative functions and identifying reductions in operational expenses.
  • “As a regional university, we must be stewards of the community we serve. Our partnerships with regional stakeholders, including the city, parish, area educational partners, convention and visitor’s bureau, chamber, legislative delegation, and the citizens of Southwest Louisiana strengthen McNeese and our region.” Dr. Daryl Burckel Remarks at the August 2023 General Faculty and Staff Meeting
  • McNeese State University was the only university in Louisiana to receive the highest rating possible from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) for efforts to protect students’ free speech.
  • 703 students received degrees during spring commencement exercises. Ms. Kristy Como Armand was guest speaker for the morning ceremony and Mr. Chuck Kleckley received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and served as the guest speaker in the afternoon ceremony.

Summer / Fall 2023

  • The McNeese men’s rodeo team claimed its second consecutive reserve championship – second best in the nation – at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, Wyoming, and also won two CNFR reserve national individual championships.
  • Construction began on a new $32 million state-of-the art press box at Cowboy Stadium. The Press Box and Sky Ranch was damaged beyond repair by Hurricanes Laura and Delta. The new facility will have 25 suites, a 1,700 square-foot sky club, and an open patio-type area. Football operations and media will be on the second level. Completion of the press box is expected by the 2025 football season.
  • A new facility housing the Student Health and Counseling Center and the new Ochsner CHRISTUS Urgent Care opened. The Urgent Care clinic is open to the public and will also serve McNeese faculty and staff and offer extended hours for students.
  • Burckel unveiled a new Five-Year Strategic Plan developed by stakeholders at the Fall 2022 Focus on the Future Conference. It includes:
    • Six Vision Theme Initiatives:
      1. Focus on Significant Academic Program Continuous Process Review
      2. Sustainable Recruiting & Retention
      3. Internal & External Communications
      4. Employee Training & Morale
      5. Physical & Digital Infrastructure
      6. Community Engagement
    • Goals and strategies for these initiatives will:
      • provide the highest level of academic experiences and student services,
      • strengthen our community relationships,
      • meet the future employment needs of our region, and
      • continuously improve the quality of life in Southwest Louisiana.
  • McNeese ’s online Master of Arts in psychology with a concentration in applied behavior analysis (ABA) in the Department of Psychology and Counseling has joined the Behavioral Health Centers of Excellence (BHCOE) as an “Academic Program Partner.”
  • According to Lightcast, a global leader in labor market analytics, McNeese contributed $614 million in total income to the Southwest Louisiana region in fiscal year 2021 through operations, construction, visitor and student spending, and the income and spending of McNeese employees and alumni.
  • The city of Lake Charles and Visit Lake Charles celebrated the opening of the 2023 fall semester by rolling out the blue carpet to welcome students back. The Civic Center, Millennium Park and other downtown buildings glowed in blue and gold lights each evening, downtown restaurants offered McNeese specials and businesses promoted McNeese gear and gifts. Many downtown businesses featured McNeese-themed window art and light displays. Videos, photos, posts and blogs were shared on social media channels to showcase the McNeese spirit and community pride for McNeese.
  • Tellurian made a $1 million pledge in support of the LNG Center of Excellence at McNeese. A portion of these funds will be used to provide students with scholarships for the new McNeese LNG Business Certificate. Tellurian presented the donation during the annual McNeese LNG Day, where a panel composed of three executives discussed the LNG industry and career opportunities with students.
  • For the 13th consecutive year, the S. News and World Report has ranked McNeese as one of the top universities in the South in its 2022-2023 Best Colleges list.
  • The NBA Houston Rockets held one of their training camps in the Legacy Center utilizing the basketball arena, practice facility, men’s locker room, and training rooms.
  • McNeese and Louisiana State University-Eunice (LSUE) have signed multiple agreements that allow students to seamlessly transfer to McNeese after earning an associate degree in business administration, health sciences, nursing, and radiologic technology.
  • A partnership with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, city of Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office provides McNeese Radio KBYS with access to a new broadcast tower built by the city of Lake Charles. McNeese Radio KBYS is now the official radio station for broadcasting emergency information to the public and staff will work closely with the Office of Homeland Security to provide timely updates during emergencies. Phillips 66 and the United Way donated toward the new equipment that will provide McNeese Radio KBYS with full power and greater coverage.
  • The Student Success Center, a one-stop shop for student support services, opened on the first floor of Frazar Memorial Library. The center houses the Office of Accessibility Services, the Write to Excellence Center, where students can receive assistance with writing assignments, the Tutoring Center for assistance in math and science, and a large general access student computer lab. Future plans include locating freshman advising and career and professional development services in the Student Success Center.
  • 537 students received degrees during the fall commencement exercises. Mr. Butch Alsandor was the morning ceremony guest speaker and Ms. Julie Stokes was the guest speaker for the afternoon ceremony.
  • The first graduates of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in advanced practice psychiatric mental health nursing offered by the College of Nursing and Health Professions were conferred at the Fall Commencement Ceremony. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program was the first doctoral program established since the Doctor of Education program was terminated by the Board of Regents in 1976. The Fall 2023 DNP graduates were the first to receive a doctoral degree from McNeese in over 40 years.
  • Executive and some administrative offices were relocated to the SEED Center from the Burton Business Center. Faculty and administrative offices and classrooms for the Burton College of Education that were lost due to the damage to Farrar Hall have relocated to the third and fourth floors of the BBC.
  • 12-12-2023 Daryl Burckel, McNeese State University’s seventh president, announced his intention to leave his role after nearly seven years of service and “return to the classroom full-time to finish my career where I started, educating students.” He will complete his seventh year as president on June 30, 2024.

Spring 2024

  • McNeese is working with EAB Moon Shot for Equity to identify challenges and barriers that prevent students from earning a degree. Moon Shot for Equity opens discussions on campus to determine how to put the students’ needs first. This shift in thought and processes can lead to a thriving student environment. For example, if universities know that students are entering college less prepared in math, then the university can ensure tutoring is accessible to students.
  • For the second consecutive year, McNeese was the only university in Louisiana to receive the highest rating possible from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) for efforts to protect students’ free speech. McNeese received a “green-light” ranking from FIRE’s 2024 Spotlight on Speech Codes report. A green-light ranking means the school has no written policies that pose a serious threat to students’ First Amendment protections. The 2024 report examined 489 U.S. colleges and universities and found that 85% of schools (nationwide) have at least one policy that could be used to improperly restrict students’ freedom of expression.
  • Construction began on the $13 million McNeese LNG Center of Excellence located on Sale Road near Ryan Street. This 24,000 square-foot complex will provide space for training, research, and education for the local and national liquified natural gas industry and McNeese students. Funding from a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Economic Development and commitments from private partnerships with the LNG industry, the city of Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, and the Port of Lake Charles are funding the project. Construction is expected to take 15 months.
  • Over $145 million in new repair, renovation, and construction projects are underway with funding provided from insurance, capital outlay, FEMA discretionary hurricane recovery funds, a one-time hurricane recovery appropriation, University funds, and student fees. Many of these projects are directly related to the damages to campus facilities caused by Hurricanes Laura and Delta.
  • The demolition of Memorial Gym and Farrar Hall is underway, and the new $32 million student union will be built on that footprint. The Student Government Association offices will be located there. The new student union is expected to open in 2025.
  • Other projects include a new $31 million press box and suites, new facility for the McNeese Autism Program, renovations to the President’s House, new academic labs across campus, phase II of the Contraband Bayou Project, phase II of replacing all external campus lighting with energy efficient LED lights, a new baseball field house, campus-wide repairs and upgrades to building heating and cooling systems, repairs and modifications to the exterior of the Burton Business Center, construction of new buildings at the McNeese Farm, and improvements to campus drainage and landscaping.
  • Renovations to the Shearman Fine Arts building began and are expected to take 24 months to complete. Faculty offices for the Department of Visual Arts relocated to the SFA Annex and the Visual Arts Annex behind Gayle Hall.
  • The Harold and Pearl Dripps School of Agricultural Sciences, the LSU Agricultural Center, Calcasieu and Cameron Rice Growers Association after LSU Ag Center and the Jefferson Davis Rice Growers joined forces to research varieties of rice that grow well in Southwest Louisiana. Research conducted at the McNeese Farm will focus on fertility, disease management, and insect control.
  • During the March 6 monthly Administrative Advisory Council meeting, Dr. Burckel announced that the current year budget was balanced, the deficit erased, and the remainder of one-time state appropriation funding will be carried forward and available as needed. Using a combination of higher than projected revenues, reductions in expenses, the reorganization and consolidation of some units and offices, and the movement of some units out of the operating budget that are self-sustaining, Dr. Burckel and his team needed just one year, not three, to balance the budget and return the University to solid fiscal footing.
  • 670 candidates scheduled to participate in the spring commencement ceremonies. The morning ceremony includes the College of Business, Burton College of Education and the College of Nursing and Health Professions. Dr. Burckel will present Doug Thornton with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and Mr. Thornton will serve as the guest speaker. The afternoon ceremony includes the College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science, Engineering and Mathematics. Dr. Burckel will present Judge James David Cain, Jr. with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and Judge Cain will serve as the guest speaker.