Northwestern State University will honor five graduates by inducting them into the University’s alumni hall of distinction, the Long Purple Line. The 2017 inductees are the late Joe Delaney, Dr. James Henderson and Gerard F. Thomas Jr. of Natchitoches, Dr. Julian E. Bailes of Chicago and Lenn Dohmann Prince of Ruston.
Honorees will be honored at a luncheon on April 7 at 11:30 a.m. in the Friedman Student Union Ballroom. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (318) 357-4414 or go to northwesternalumni.com/lpl17.
NSU has named 120 alumni to the Long Purple Line since 1990.
Delaney, a Haughton native, was a two-time All-America running back in 1979-80 for the Demons, and joined Mark Duper, Victor Oatis and Mario Johnson on the Demons’ 1981 NCAA championship 4×100 meter relay team, earning All-America honors.
Delaney was selected in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft and was the 1981 AFC Rookie of the Year for the Chiefs and played in the Pro Bowl.
Delaney died June 29, 1983, trying to save three children from drowning in a pond at an amusement park in Monroe. One of the three survived.
His No. 44 Demon football jersey was retired at halftime of his final game at NSU. Since his death, no Kansas City player has worn his No. 37. He is immortalized in several ways at Northwestern State, including plaques at Turpin Stadium and the Ledet Track Complex, and with the permanent football team captains receiving Joe Delaney Memorial Leadership Awards annually. The Demons’ spring football game has been known as the Joe Delaney Bowl since 1989 and the Joe Delaney Distinguished Supporter Award goes each year to a leading backer of NSU Athletics. Delaney was posthumously awarded the Presidential Citizen’s Medal from President Ronald Reagan, presented at his funeral by then Vice President George H.W. Bush to the Delaney family. Delaney is enshrined in the N Club Hall of Fame, the Ark-La-Tex Museum of Champions, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame and the Chiefs’ Ring of Honor at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
His story was told in the 2015 ESPN film “Delaney.”
Dr. Jim Henderson
Henderson became president of the University of Louisiana System on Jan. 1. He oversees one of the largest university systems in the United States with more than 90,000 students on nine campuses.
Henderson was president of Northwestern State for two years. In that period, NSU increased overall enrollment and improved its retention rate. Enrollment in the fall 2016 semester increased by seven percent to 9,819, the highest total since selective admissions were implemented in 2005. Northwestern State worked to strategically develop new programs that give students access to high demand skills and give employers in the region a competitive advantage.
As NSU’s president, Henderson worked closely with students, faculty, staff, alumni and stakeholders to strengthen the university. He was honored at the spring 2016 commencement ceremony with a resolution from Northwestern State’s Faculty Senate for his “multiple creative and innovative efforts to revitalize the life of the university.”
Henderson was chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College from 2009 – 2014. In that time, BPCC grew its enrollment by more than 84 percent and increased annual certificate and degree completions by 90 percent. He was senior vice president, workforce and economic development/career & technical education for the Louisiana Community & Technical College System from 2005 to 2009.
From 2001 to 2005, he was director of administration and director of workforce development for the Louisiana Department of Labor.
Henderson was in the private sector for 10 years in hotel management.
Dr. Julian E. Bailes
Bailes has become a leading figure in the field of sports-related concussion research. A world-renowned neurosurgeon, Bailes is an advisor to the NFL Players Association, the NCAA’s Competitive Safeguards and Medical Safety Committee, the Southeastern Conference and Pop Warner football. In the recent movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith as Bailes’ colleague Dr. Bennet Omalu, award-winning actor Alec Baldwin portrayed Bailes in a film that brought sports concussion issues to a mainstream audience spurring discussions of the safety and future of American sports.
Bailes has testified in front of Congress regarding safety aspects of sports, particularly football from the Pop Warner level up to the NFL, and has taken bold positions related to safety of competitors. He has been instrumental in implementing return-to-play protocols in all 50 states and internationally.
Bailes is chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and co-director of the Northshore Neurological Institute in Chicago. Bailes is a founding member and director of the Brain Injury Research Institute, which focuses on the study of traumatic brain injuries and their prevention. His research has been instrumental in the understanding of the clinical evidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive, degenerative disease found in individuals who have been subjected to multiple concussions or sub-concussive blows.
He is a 2016 recipient of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award presented by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Lenn Dohmann Prince
Prince is a native of Opelousas who began studies at Northwestern State in 1972, where she was a member of the NSU Chorale and played French horn in the NSU Orchestra. She was a member of Delta Zeta Sorority and represented NSU in the 1974 Miss Louisiana Pageant as Miss Northwestern-Lady of the Bracelet. She graduated in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance education and later earned a master’s degree in vocal performance form the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
While living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Prince continued her vocal studies with teacher and pedagogue Jane Snow, performing in many vocal ensembles in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and with the Southwest Opera Chorus in Albuquerque. While working towards her master’s degree, Prince was awarded a scholarship from the University of Miami to study in Salzburg, Austria, during the Salzburg Opera Festival where she studied and was coached by numerous world-renowned opera performers and teachers.
After moving to Ruston in 1992, Prince was host for many years to Northwestern State’s north-central Louisiana recruiting reception in her home. She was also a member of the Ruston Masterworks Chorus and the soprano soloist for many performances.
Prince and her husband Danny own and operate several businesses in several states, including nursing and rehabilitation centers, pharmacies and therapy companies, as well as Port au Prince restaurant on Lake Claiborne and Port au Prince Cross Lake.
She was inducted into the Mrs. H.D. Dear Sr. and Alice Estelle Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts Hall of Fame in 2016.
Gerard F. Thomas Jr.
Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State in 1943. He was on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from 1943 to 1946. Thomas received a degree from LSU Law School in 1948.
He became a highly regarded attorney with the firm of Thomas, Dunahoe and Gregory practicing primarily in the field of negligence, workman’s compensation and general trial practice. Thomas was selected by his peers to appear in the publication, “The Best Lawyers in America.”
As an attorney, Thomas devoted countless hours to the profession through his activities in professional organizations. He was state committeeman for the American College of Trial Lawyers and American Trial Lawyers Association and president and state committeeman of the Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association.
Thomas served as a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association House of Delegates, chairman of the State Bar Association section on negligence, worker’s compensation and admiralty and president of the LSU Law School Alumni Association. He was a member of the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana from 1983 to 1987, serving as chairman in 1987.