Nevers to get honorary degree from Southeastern Louisiana

Published 3:57 am Saturday, May 4, 2019

Former Louisiana House and Senate member Ben Nevers will be honored with a Southeastern Louisiana University Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree as part of the university’s commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at the University Center.

That morning, the university will confer more than 1,000 degrees on students who are graduating with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

“As a stalwart proponent of education throughout more than two decades of public service, Ben Nevers truly deserves this recognition, which is one of the highest honors the university can bestow,” SLU President John L. Crain said. “Education at all levels in Louisiana has benefitted from his unwavering dedication.”

Nevers, of Bogalusa, was a Democratic member of the Louisiana legislature, serving in both the House of Representatives and Senate, from 1999 until 2016, at which time he accepted Governor John Bel Edwards’ invitation to serve as chief of staff. One of Nevers’ primary roles while serving as chief of staff was coordinating the state’s response to record levels of flooding in 2016. During his time at the Capitol, Nevers cultivated a reputation as a legislator respected by members of both parties.

A U.S. Army veteran, he was previously a member of the Bogalusa School Board. He also served as the president and CEO of Nevers Electrical and Contracting, a company he founded in 1980.

Nevers, who represented Louisiana’s District 12, was first elected to the Senate in 2003 after having served five years in the House of Representatives. A former member of the Northshore Legislative Delegation, his district covered areas in St. Tammany, Washington and Tangipahoa parishes, including SLU.

Education was a cornerstone issue of his legislative tenure. As head of the Senate Education Committee and chairman of the Postsecondary Education Review Commission, Nevers championed the importance of education in Louisiana.

He served as a member of various statewide educational committees, including the Louisiana Tuition Trust Authority, the Louisiana High School Redesign Commission, and the Blue Ribbon Commission for Educational Excellence.

Over the years, Nevers has served with several non-profit organizations that reflect his interests in agriculture, economic development, education, health care and infrastructure. He is a former president of the United Way, served on the executive board for the Istrouma Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the St. Tammany Right to Life Association, the Louisiana Farm Bureau, the Louisiana and Washington Parish Cattleman’s associations and Washington Parish Forestry Landowners Association.

Nevers is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2015 Mondale-Brooke Award for Fair Housing Leadership and Civic Participation and the 2016 Russell B. Long Legislative Service Award. In addition, he is a 2017 American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Hall of Fame Inductee. He has also been recognized with the President’s Award from the Louisiana School Psychological Association, the Louisiana School Board Association’s Legislator of the Year Award, and several awards from Louisiana Family Forum.