LSC/NSU members react to Holly Stave scholarship


Timothy Holdiness

“A scholarship is being created to honor Dr. Stave for her 22 years at LSC/NSU,” said Dankert.

In early August, social media controversy surrounded Holly Stave, an English professor for the Louisiana Scholars College on the campus of Northwestern State University of Louisiana in Natchitoches.

The controversy began in the comment section of a COVID-19 vaccination post by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards regarding the vaccination rates in the state remaining low and the delta variant being on the rise.

Stave commented saying, “At this point, vicious as it sounds, I wouldn’t care if every unvaccinated person died.”

“The people who were screeching that I wish people dead. I never said that. I never wished anyone dead, I don’t wish anyone dead,” Stave said. “I said I could no longer care. To me, that’s a profound difference between desire and apathy.”

Stave is currently on leave and will be retiring in December, two years earlier than originally planned.

Stave said, “I think what hurt the most was the misinterpretation of my words.”

Stave said that she had over 200 messages of support from former students within a day of the comment going viral.

“The university is losing a great professor, but she has taught and touted so many students’ lives, her influence at LSC will live on even if she is retired,” Katherine Dankert, an LSC class of 2008 English literature alumni, said.

“A scholarship is being created to honor Dr. Stave for her 22 years at LSC/NSU,” said Dankert.

“Under other circumstances, I think the scholarship would be wonderful. It is a demonstration of how much Scholars’ students care about her,” T. Davina McClain, professor of classics at Louisiana Scholars College said. “But in this situation, it is highly inappropriate, and it cannot be separated from what she said on social media.”

“I understand that the students’ affection for her has over-ruled their critical thinking in this instance,” McClain said. “Be that as it may, it is inappropriate, to me, to have a scholarship with her name on it.”

McClain said, “I’m very sorry for that and for such a career to have become tainted by a social media post that came out of frustration, anger and weariness.”

McClain expressed a scholarship that honors Stave’s causes would be fine, but not one in her name.

“I genuinely wish the circumstances were otherwise,” McClain said.

Eliane Spaar, an LSC class of 2009 humanities and social thought alumni, said that the members of the LSC Alumni Facebook group voted on the name.

“Lauren Michel, who was in the class of 2009 is a professional fundraiser and set it up, and we have $4,200 out of the $10,000 needed so far,” said Spaar.

“No one came up with anything else, plus I don’t think it would be the same,” Spaar said. “Stave changed our lives.”
Stave said, “I think that having the endowed scholarship in my name is deserved. I want it to be my legacy.”

There is uncertainty concerning whether it should or will be named for Stave.

“It is absolutely contrary to what Scholars’ stands for, not to care about others. In saying that, unfortunately, Dr. Stave did herself, the College and the university great harm,” said McClain.

“I don’t know that it’s actually going to be the Holly Stave scholarship,” said Marcus Jones, interim president of NSU.

Jones said that it could also be named for feminist studies or simply the Scholars College.

“Some alumni think it is a great way to show our appreciation for Holly, for what can be better than helping a student continue on their studies,” Dankert said.

Spaar said that the scholarship is still in the works and is looking for donations.