Nevers to receive honorary doctorate


Courtesy of University Communications and Creative Services

At the spring commencement on May 18, Ben Nevers, a former Louisiana House and Senate member, will receive an honorary doctorate for his work advocating for education.

Ben Nevers, a former Louisiana House and Senate member, will be honored with a Doctor of Humanities degree during spring commencement.

Dr. John Crain, president of the university, believes Nevers has worked tirelessly to support Southeastern.

“Throughout Ben Nevers’ time in public office, he was a tremendous advocate for students and education in the state of Louisiana,” stated Crain. “While serving as representative, senator and the governor’s chief of staff, he was always available to listen to Southeastern’s needs and help facilitate positive endeavors that benefited the students of Southeastern, as well as those who attend other universities, colleges and schools across the state.”

According to a university press release dated April 30, Nevers is a U.S. Army veteran, was a member of the Bogalusa School Board and served as the president of Nevers Electrical and Contracting, a company he founded in 1980.

Nevers served five years in the House of Representatives before he was elected to the Senate in 2003. His tenure in office was hallmarked by a commitment to education. He served as head of the Senate Education Committee and as chairman of the Postsecondary Education Review Commission. Nevers was also a member of the Louisiana Tuition Trust Authority, the Louisiana High School Redesign Commission and the Blue Ribbon Commission for Educational Excellence.

“Southeastern’s campus is within Senate District 12, which he represented,” said Crain. “As a result, he was instrumental in addressing budgetary issues, including obtaining state capital outlay funds for new campus facilities.”

A longtime Democratic member of the Louisiana Legislature, Nevers accepted an invitation from Governor John Bel Edwards to serve as chief of staff in 2016. He organized the state’s response to severe flooding the same year. Nevers retired in 2017.

Institutions in the University of Louisiana System may award honorary degrees only after approval by the Board of Supervisors. Faculty, staff, alumni or community members can make a nomination, but ULS institution presidents must make the recommendation to the board.

“Typically, honorary doctorates are awarded to individuals who have significantly influenced or benefited the institution,” explained Crain. “Given his long-standing support for education and Southeastern, I am pleased to have recommended Ben Nevers for this honor to our board, and I am pleased that the recommendation was approved.”

As a tradition on such an occasion, Nevers will give brief remarks to graduates after receiving his honorary degree.

“Our hope in selecting any individual who will speak at commencement is that they share in the excitement of the day by congratulating those who are earning degrees, but also by challenging them to continue the excellence of ideals they learned at Southeastern,” shared Crain. “Beyond that, Ben Nevers serves as a great role model for our students. He is truly a servant leader and is the kind of person that we need in public service. Hopefully, he can inspire some of our graduates to pursue public service.”

The spring commencement ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 18 at 10 a.m. in the University Center.