Home Named in Honor of Former NSU President
On May 1, 2009, the President's Residence at 1 Normal Drive on the NSU campus received a new name: the Arnold Kilpatrick President's Residence.
Kilpatrick served as president of Northwestern from 1966 until 1978. In his 12 years as president of Northwestern, enrollment increased substantially, and a number of buildings were constructed or renovated. He helped secure funding for the construction of Watson Memorial Library, Bienvenu Biological Sciences Building, the Physical Education Majors Building and the Teacher Education Center, the Student Recreation Complex and University Post Office and for major renovation of Turpin Stadium, Prather Coliseum and the Friedman Student Union.
A Northwestern campus was established at Fort Polk while Kilpatrick was president, and Northwestern achieved university status when the name of the school was changed from Northwestern State College to Northwestern State University.
Kilpatrick, who served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, attended Northeast Louisiana Junior College and later earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern. He received master’s and doctorate degrees in education from Louisiana State University.
Kilpatrick died in 2005.
“I am so thrilled that Arnold is being honored this way,” said his wife, Juanita Kilpatrick. “He loved Northwestern, the field of education and young people. He enjoyed his years there and put all his energy into Northwestern.”
The Kilpatricks moved into the current President’s Home in 1970. Funds for the home were obtained by oil and gas revenues generated at Nicholls State University. Presidents’ residences at a number of Louisiana universities were constructed or renovated with those revenues that were earmarked for the specific purpose of building and maintaining homes for presidents of state colleges.
Some of the furniture for the home was provided by the NSU art department, which had furniture in a room used for social gatherings. The Kilpatricks were gradually able to acquire additional furniture.
Oscar G. Butler was the architect of the residence, which reflects the French Colonial style in keeping with the popular architecture of early Louisiana.
“I enjoyed working with the architects and (physical plant staff member) Loren Lindsey,” said Juanita Kilpatrick. “They were very easy to work with and were very helpful. They did a good job in designing a home which can accommodate presidents with different needs.”
When the Kilpatricks moved into the home, they had their two children with them, a daughter Lael, who now lives in Florida and Young, a longtime member of the Louisiana State Police.
Mrs. Kilpatrick said living on campus might have affected Young Kilpatrick’s career choice. When Arnold Kilpatrick became president, he was “too old for a babysitter and too young to be left alone,” so he was placed in the care of University Police who would sometimes take him on patrol.
The new home provided more space than the much smaller residence on University Parkway, which is now the NSU Alumni Center. It also allowed the Kilpatricks to better promote the university by socializing with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university.
“We were anxious to be able to move into a larger home that would allow us to do more entertaining. In the previous home, there was little room for people to move about.”
The Kilpatricks used the President’s Home to entertain guests regularly. This was before the university had a catering firm on campus, and when the cook in the President’s Home was ill, Mrs. Kilpatrick did the cooking for up to 40 guests. One appreciative guest was newscaster Paul Harvey, who told Mrs. Kilpatrick how glad he was to be served roast beef instead of chicken at a luncheon and mentioned the Kilpatrick’s hospitality on his daily radio show.
“I really enjoyed doing that. I was a school teacher so I was used to being busy,” she said.