Southeastern recognizes Alumnus of the Year, other honorees
Contact: Rene Abadie
Date: October 30, 2012
1) ALUMNI OF THE YEAR - Kathy Pittman, director of the Southeastern Alumni Association, congratulates disc jockey, reality TV actor and entrepreneur John Lejeune Jr. of Bogalusa, second from left, as the association's Young Alumnus of the Year and Murphy Oil Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Cossé as the 2012 Alumnus of the Year. With them is President John L. Crain, right.
2) AWARD RECIPIENTS – Southeastern President Crain, center, congratulates Judge James "Jimmy" Kuhn, left, who received the Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award, and Dennis James, who was presented the first Loyal Lion Award.
HAMMOND – The president and chief executive officer of Murphy Oil Corporation was honored by the Southeastern Louisiana University Alumni Association Friday (Oct. 26) as the university's 2012 Alumnus of the Year.
Steven Cossé, a native of New Orleans who earned the top position at the El Dorado, Ark.-based international company through 41 years of service, credited his alma mater with providing him the first big jump in his career, when he was hired as a junior accountant at Ocean Drilling and Exploration Company (ODECO) in New Orleans, a subsidiary of Murphy Oil.
"My job with ODECO was a direct result of the company's previous experience with other Southeastern graduates," said Cossé, a 1969 graduate who later earned his law degree at Loyola University in New Orleans. "The reputation of Southeastern's accounting program, I later learned from my boss, had a major influence in my getting the job."
Cossé rose through various positions at Murphy Oil, a company with more than 10,000 employees worldwide.
Cossé praised the quality of education and the values he received as a student at Southeastern.
"The hallmark of any learning institution is the quality of its teachers," he added. "At Southeastern I had many great professors. Not only did Southeastern give me a great jump in my initial career, but it also gave me lifelong values and for that I am forever, forever grateful."
At the awards event, the establishment of the Murphy Oil Endowed Scholarship was announced. The scholarship was funded by Murphy Oil and Cossé.
In other awards, John Lejeune Jr. of Bogalusa was recognized as the Young Alumnus of the Year. A North Shore entrepreneur, he started his own disc jockey business as a teenager, working dances at area high schools. He now owns and operates Rock-It Productions, a high-tech DJ company he founded shortly after his graduation from Southeastern in 2002, and later started See Hear Productions, a company that offers lighting, sound and staging for large events such as festivals. Lejeune was the co-star of the VH1 reality television show "Tough Love" that was set in New Orleans, has appeared in HBO's popular "Treme" series and is in an international print media advertising campaign with Chrysler. In 2007 he opened a Snap Fitness center in Bogalusa and added a second Snap Fitness franchise in Lacombe.
Judge James E. "Jimmy" Kuhn of Ponchatoula, a member of the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal and a 1968 Southeastern graduate, was presented the Distinguished Service Award. He has taught history and political science and history at Southeastern as an adjunct professor and has sponsored visits by representatives of the Army War College on campus.
The first Loyal Lion Award was presented by President John L. Crain to Dennis James, a former president of the Alumni Association and the Southeastern Foundation. Crain praised James for his willingness to assist the university whenever he has been asked.
The L.E. Chandler Award, which goes to the faculty, staff or alumnus for their work in assisting students, went to Amanda Robbins, assistant director for residential life.
Friendship Oak awards were presented to the following individuals and groups:
-- English Instructor Alan Marsh, in recognition of his playwriting accomplishments;
-- Theta Xi Fraternity and Phi Mu sorority in honor of their 50th anniversaries.