by Leah Jackson

A Natchitoches family with strong ties to Northwestern State University established two endowments to benefit the school.  Dr. Roy B. Gentry Jr. and Dr. Vickie Gentry, along with their children, announced the Gentry Family Department Enhancement Fund in Health & Human Performance and the Gentry Family Endowed Scholarship in Education.  The gifts acknowledge the family’s long history with the school and its impact on four generations of Gentrys.

The Gentry Family Department Enhancement Fund in HHP will be used to support faculty and/or academic degree programs in HHP. The Gentry Family Endowed Ed.D. Scholarship will give preference to an educator pursuing a doctoral degree in adult learning and development who demonstrates a financial need or a family or personal hardship challenge.

“We are pleased to provide financial support to academic programs at Northwestern State University that are very dear to our hearts,” said Dr. Vickie Gentry. “Roy taught exercise physiology and kinesiology in the Department of Health and Human Performance for 38 years. I taught physical education methods and motor development/learning courses in the department for seven years, and then moved into administration at NSU for 15 years.”

During her tenure, Dr. Gentry served as dean of the College of Education and Human Development and as the university’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs before her retirement in 2019. She said the professional development for faculty has always been important to her and her husband and she was inspired to create an endowment to support HHP faculty in reaching professional goals.

“In the early years of our marriage, when our budget was usually stretched, we were unable to attend professional meetings or to have the equipment or supplies as we would have liked,” she said. “We hope, in time, this endowment will grow and provide monies for faculty to thrive in the disciplines they love.”

The couple also chose to support the Doctorate in Education in Adult Learning and Development, a degree program approved by the University of Louisiana System and the Louisiana Board of Regents during Dr. Gentry’s service as dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

“As an administrator, I experienced students struggling to meet the expectations of this program and their responsibilities to families and careers,” she said. “We hope this endowment will provide funds to help students in meeting their financial obligations to obtain a doctorate in education at NSU.

Gentry said the endowments also pay tribute to Roy’s parents who supported them in their professional careers and their sons who earned degrees at Northwestern.

“Roy’s parents met at Northwestern Normal College. Roy Sr. earned an undergraduate degree in Agriculture in 1940 and played for Northwestern’s undefeated football team in 1939. Roy’s mother, Grace, majored in home economics. She was a beauty queen and a participant in Northwestern’s 1939 Homecoming Court. She lived up to her name over the years,” Gentry said.

Their sons, Cole, Cade and Birch earned degrees from Northwestern State University, as did their daughter-in-law Cristy. Cole majored in computer information systems, graduating in 2008. His wife Cristy earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in education in 2008 and 2017 and is a teacher at NSU Elementary Lab. Cade graduated in hospitality, management and tourism in 2011 and Birch, who holds a pharmacy degree from Northeast Louisiana University (ULM), also met requirements for a biology degree from Northwestern in 2018.  Grandsons Carson and Crawford are enrolled at NSU Elementary Lab and NSU Child Development Center respectively.

“We praise Northwestern for the opportunities it provided to our parents, to us and our children. We now seek to support future students and faculty in their quest for career development. We have been truly blessed and seek to give back to our university that has meant so much to us as a family,” Gentry said. 

“In being named Northwestern State University’s 20th President, Dr. Marcus Jones encouraged more alumni and families of NSU to tell their story,” Gentry added.  “The Gentry family story is not especially unique, as there are thousands of NSU stories about how families and friends met and developed at Northwestern. The Gentry family is proud of its legacy and strives to help future generations have a story to tell.”

 To make a contribution to the HHP enhancement fund in honor of the Gentry family visit

To make a contribution to the Gentry family Ed.D. scholarship, visit

Dr. Roy B. Gentry Jr. and Dr. Vickie Gentry, along with their children, announced the creation of two endowments to benefit Northwestern State University’s Department of Health and Human Performance and students pursuing the Ed.D. doctoral degree in adult learning and development.  Present for the announcement were, from left, Drake Owens, executive director of the NSU Foundation; Dr. Tara Tietjen-Smith, head of the Department of Health and Human Performance; Dr. Kimberly McAlister, dean of the College of Education and Human Development;  Dr. Greg Handel, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs;  Cristy Gentry, Cole Gentry, Drs. Vickie and Roy Gentry, Cade Gentry, grandsons Crawford and Carson Gentry, NSU President Dr. Marcus Jones, Director of Development Jill Bankston and Dr. Mike Moulton, HHP professor.

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