Northwestern State Alumnus Selected to Alumni Hall of Distinction

Thomas N. Whitehead (Gamma Psi–Northwestern State ’72) was one of six distinguished Northwestern State University alumni who were named to NSU’s Alumni Hall of Distinction, the Long Purple Line, in 2020.  After being postponed twice due to COVID-19, the group will be honored on October 22, 2021, at the Natchitoches Events Center, followed by a noon luncheon and induction program.

Honorees include state official Sujuan Boutte of Prairieville, businessman Harvey F. Marcus Sr. of Monroe, Louisiana State University Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron of Baton Rouge, NSU Vice President for External Affairs Jerry Pierce, Fed Ex executive John A. Smith of Memphis, Tennessee, and former NSU faculty member Thomas Whitehead (Gamma Psi–Northwestern State ’72) of Natchitoches.

The Long Purple Line was established to provide recognition and appreciation to individuals whose career accomplishments or service to their fellow man have enhanced the reputation and prestige of Northwestern State.

Thomas N. Whitehead (Gamma Psi–Northwestern State ’72)

Whitehead was a member of Northwestern State’s faculty for 30 years, serving as an associate professor of journalism and director of International Programs. He served as an advisor for various student media, providing training to students preparing for a professional career. He also oversaw the university’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which brought numerous leading figures to campus.

A strong advocate for preserving Northwestern State’s history, Whitehead co-authored the book “Northwestern State University at 125” which was published in 2009. He led efforts to make the university’s past more accessible through its Traditions website, which showcases digital collections of the university’s student newspaper, yearbook and alumni magazine and information on alumni honorees, past presidents and historic campus buildings.

Whitehead worked as a production location consultant for the film “Steel Magnolias.” He also worked as a local contact and executive assistant to the film’s producer Ray Stark. Whitehead was a co-author of the “Steel Magnolias Scrapbook.”

One of the leading experts on Natchitoches Parish artist Clementine Hunter, Whitehead worked on documentaries and co-authored and edited books about Hunter.

He is active in local historic preservation organizations and served on the Louisiana Film and Video Commission, the board of directors of Friends of Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the national advisory council of Kappa Alpha Order social fraternity. He is a member of the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the Honor Society of Phi Eta Sigma. Since retiring from NSU, he was worked as a governmental affairs and special events consultant.

Tom has served as the Alumnus Advisor to Gamma Psi Chapter since 2003 and a member of the Gamma Psi Housing Corporation since 2011. He is a member of the Northwest LA Alumni Chapter and the Natchitoches, LA Alumni Chapter. Tom was inducted into the Order’s White Province Court of Honor in 2006 and the Irwin Province Court of Honor in 2019. He is a member of the Loyal Order, Forever KA, and a three-year member of the KAOEF’s Crimson & Gold Society. In 1999, he was presented the highest individual honor an alumnus can receive, the Knight Commander’s Accolade, by then Knight Commander James R. Estes.