by Leah Jackson

Northwestern State University has received approval Thursday to name four major existing and planned facilities on its main campus at Natchitoches in honor of individuals who made a significant positive impact on the university.

A $37.3 million state-of-the-art facility that will replace Kyser Hall as NSU’s primary academic center will be named for Dr. Robert Alost, who spent most of his distinguished educational career at Northwestern and was president of the university from 1986 to 1996.

The entire athletic field house complex that serves student athletes, coaches, and other personnel in all 14 intercollegiate sports in which the university participates will be named for former State Senator Donald G. Kelly.

A new $9.5 million annex to the field house will be named the David and Sherry Morgan Health Performance Center to honor those prominent alumni and generous donors, and the basketball court at Prather Coliseum will be named for retired coach Mike McConathy.

The request to name the facilities was approved this week by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.  Ceremonies to commemorate the honorees and the new and expanded facilities will be announced as plans for each are finalized.

Northwestern president Dr. Marcus Jones said, “Naming university facilities for individuals has been infrequent over the years.  These requests to honor Senator Kelly, Dr. Alost, David and Sherry Morgan and Coach McConathy reflect unprecedented private and state support in recent months for development and enhancement of campus facilities.”  

He stated that construction will start this fall on the Alost Hall academic center, which will be the largest capital outlay project in NSU history.  The university also received $8 million in state funding and nearly $2 million in private donations for the field house expansion.

Jones said the decision to name the fieldhouse the Donald G. Kelly Athletic Complex “is appropriate and long overdue.  Senator Kelly was the driving force in obtaining funding for construction of the athletic fieldhouse and the major expansion of Turpin Stadium.”

He expressed appreciation to David and Sherry Morgan “who provided impetus for the Health Performance Center annex to the field house with a $1.5 million gift for the project that is the largest private contribution ever received by the university’s athletic department.  That funding helped pave the way for the state capital outlay funding.”

Successful in numerous business enterprises, the Morgans have provided extensive financial support to the university over the years for scholarships and other programs. 

A new artificial turf field has been installed at the stadium, and the Prather Coliseum court has been refurbished with new designs and other enhancements.  Jones said naming the floor for McConathy “will help perpetuate the achievements of the winningest college basketball coach ever in Louisiana.”

McConathy retired last spring after compiling 330 victories at NSU and Bossier Parish Community College.  In 23 seasons at Northwestern, he guided teams to the only three NCAA Tournament appearances in school history.

The new 73,200-square-foot Alost Hall academic center will preserve the legacy of the former president whose tenure was highlighted by record enrollments, academic achievements, athletic success, physical plant enhancements and other major accomplishments.  Alost died in 2020 at age 85.

Kelly was one of the most respected and influential figures in state government from the 1970s into the 1990s.  He was a delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention in 1973 and was then elected to five consecutive terms in the Senate where he was a floor leader for Governors Edwin Edwards and Buddy Roemer and served on powerful budget and finance committees.

He is a former NSU football player and a member of the university’s N Club Hall of Fame and the Long Purple Line Hall of Distinction, the highest honor for NSU alumni.


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