The University of New Orleans Magazine, Spring 2016

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PRESIDENT JOHN NICKLOW Engaging and Transforming

Dear Alumni and Friends:

I am thrilled to be writing to you for the ďŹ rst time in the University of New Orleans Magazine as the President of this important institution. I ďŹ rst came to the University last summer when I was hired as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. I spent the next nine months overseeing our academic programs and enrollment management, and implementing various initiatives to improve student recruitment, retention and success. These activities are ongoing and have already gained traction. During that time, I also fell in love with the University of New Orleans and the city itself. The potential of this university is what drew me here as Provost and what persuaded me to pursue the President’s role. My experiences on campus over the past year have solidiďŹ ed what I initially surmised. This is an outstanding institution that is rich with opportunity to ourish as it fulďŹ lls its mission as the only public research institution in metropolitan New Orleans. The reason I can say this with conďŹ dence is because we have a talented and dedicated faculty and staff. Our students are diverse, bright and dynamic. Our academic programs are rigorous and relevant. And our alumni are leaders in a multitude of ďŹ elds throughout the region, the nation and the world. You may be familiar with some of our challenges. Like all public colleges and universities in Louisiana, our state funding has been reduced dramatically in recent years. We’ve also experienced declining enrollment, which is attributable to several external factors, including more stringent admissions standards imposed by the state. While we advocate for more support, we are strongly focusing our efforts on what we can control. We are employing innovative methods to support our current students. We are using data to better target our recruitment efforts, and we are implementing predictive analytics, as part of a more proactive advisement process, to identify which students might be in need of help so we can deliver that help in time. I ďŹ rmly believe that actions such as these will result in more students and higher retention rates, with more of our students remaining enrolled through graduation. In addition to improving student success, another of my top priorities is expanding the University’s partnerships with alumni, business, nonproďŹ ts and the community. The health of the city of New Orleans is inextricably linked to the public research university that bears its name. Our research, scholarly and creative output, community engagement and human capital help improve the quality of life in the region and beyond. At the same time, our people and programs derive enormous beneďŹ ts from their presence in a world-class city. It is said that every great city needs a great public university. By harnessing the support of our alumni and friends, the momentum of our city and the essentiality of our mission, I believe that greatness is, indeed, in our future. I look forward to working with you to make that a reality. With warmest regards, John Nicklow PRESIDENT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS

6" 1 ĂŠ{äĂŠUĂŠ 1 ,ĂŠÂŁ EXECUTIVE EDITOR Rebecca Catalanello EDITOR Adam Norris DESIGN AND LAYOUT Eric Gernhauser CONTRIBUTING WRITER Mallory Moore PHOTOGRAPHY Clem Barbazon Rebecca Catalanello Paul Catalanotto Paisley Ford Ron O’Rourke Hamp Overton Tracie Morris Schaefer Benjamin Weber Send Correspondence to: UNO Magazine Editor University of New Orleans Administration Building 103 2000 Lakeshore Drive New Orleans, LA 70148 phone: (504) 280-6832 email:

The UNO Magazine is published by the University of New Orleans. Articles represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of anyone but the authors. To inquire about alumni events or to join the UNO International Alumni Association, contact: Office of Alumni Affairs, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70148 QIPOF t GBY email: Š 2016 The University of New Orleans This public document was published at a total cost of $22,225. 35,000 copies of this public document were published in this first printing at a cost of $22,225. The total cost of all printings of this document, including reprints is $22,225. This document was published by the University of New Orleans, 2000 Lakeshore Dr., New Orleans, LA 70148, to promote the purpose of the University under authority of 17:3351(A)(12). This material was printed in accordance with the standards for printing by state agencies established pursuant to R.S. 43:31. Printing of this material was purchased in accordance with the provisions of Title 43 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes.


CONTENTS FEATURES 22 A President Engaged: A Photo Essay New President John Nicklow focuses on strengthening connections.

26 Sister of Soul DJ and alumna Melissa Weber brings the funk to the airwaves for more than two decades.


30 Collaboration in ‘Sacrilege’ Alumnus Paul Catalanotto’s new horror flick becomes working classroom for film students.



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CAMPUS SCENE Headlines & Happenings: Jazz at the Sandbar, InnovateUNO, Holi, Spring Commencement

NEWS & EVENTS Building MoMENtum to Succeed New university initiative seeks to improve academic success among African-American males. Student Named Inaugural Recipient of YLC Dumestre Scholarship Gift from alumni Mary Dumestre and Guy Johnson affords incoming student a full ride. UNO Retains Carnegie Status for Higher Research Activity UNO is one of only two Louisiana universities with the classification. Music Professor’s Commissioned Composition Premieres at Carnegie Hall Yotam Haber calls writing for famed Kronos Quartet among his ‘most treasured’ experiences. Respected Survey Research Center Celebrates 30 Years When UNO professor started it in 1986, it had no budget and no computers. Students Explore Difficult Incarceration Issues as Part of National Project The traveling ‘States of Incarceration’ show will be on exhibit in New Orleans next year. In Memoriam UNO Remembers John Altazan, George Ioup, Jack O’Connor, Susan Mann, Adrian Péré and Elizabeth Windell

FACULTY FOCUS Bates, Schilling Win UNO Excellence in Teaching Awards The English and mechanical engineering professors inspire with mastery, passion and rigor. Three College of Business Administration Professors Honored as Leaders in Their Field Hassan wins prestigious Islamic banking prize; Kennett-Hensel named president of leading marketing academic association; and Harmelink named business professional of the year.

DONOR SPOTLIGHT Carl and Cathy Wagner: Giving the Gift of the Globe Alumnus and retired administrator shares the transforming gift of international travel.

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT Leveraging Innsbruck Experience into a Fulbright Grant Dallas Rolnick became fascinated with the Brenner Base Tunnel while studying abroad.

ATHLETICS Brother to Brother Brothers Blake and Dakota Dean help lead a resurgence of Privateer baseball. Hurdling the Competition Nicholls, Fortenberry are rewriting the Privateer track and field record book.

ALUMNI AlumNotes News from UNO’s accomplished graduates. Finding Love at UNO Four couples share stories of how they discovered lasting love on the lakefront.






GRAMMY-winning trumpeter Maurice Brown performs with UNO students Glenn Hall on trumpet, Eric Merchant on guitar and Stuart Coles on bass, during the final spring 2016 performance of the Jazz at the Sandbar series. For 26 years, Jazz at the Sandbar has drawn top-tier jazz musicians to the University to collaborate with students before public audiences.



The UNO Jazz All-Stars perform at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell in the Zatarain’s/WWOZ Jazz Tent, including several original compositions. The UNO Jazz All-Stars are directed by music professor Steve Masakowski and include Ricardo Pascal, Miles Berry, Eric Merchant, Stuart Coles, Jua Ferdinand, Oscar Rossignoli and Glenn Hall. UNO was well-represented throughout the festival as alumni, faculty and students played on numerous stages over both weekends.


Biology student Suman Pokhrel (left) discusses his research with Christian Monroy during InnovateUNO. In its third year, InnovateUNO is a juried undergraduate research contest sponsored by the University of New Orleans Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. Students’ projects involve research, scholarly work, creative work or service learning and their presentations are made through posters, oral presentations, art displays, performances and screenings.





CELEBRATING IN COLOR ABOVE: University of New Orleans students throw colored powder in the air in celebration of Holi, the Hindu celebration to welcome spring. Hosted by the UNO Student Activities Council and the University’s Chakra Indian Student Association, the event has become a fun, annual tradition. LEFT: Students Jaelyn Culliford, Monze Garcia and Darius Miner enjoy UNO’s fifth annual Holi celebration in all its hues. ABOVE LEFT: Dancers from UNO’s Chakra Indian Student Association entertained during the messy, festive occasion.


The University of New Orleans’ diversity was on display during International Night 2016, when students, staff, faculty and community came together to enjoy cultural exhibitions, global cuisine, lively performances and an international fashion show. The event is sponsored by the International Student Organization and the Student Activities Council, making it the biggest annual student-run event on campus.






Leading prisoner advocate and former inmate Norris Henderson delivered a public lecture at the University in November as part of an ongoing series of events sponsored by UNO’s Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies that aim to bring a spotlight to issues related to incarceration in Louisiana and across the United States.


Twenty-six University of New Orleans students were named orientation leaders for 2016. The group — comprised of 12 freshmen, seven sophomores, four juniors and three seniors — is charged with assisting incoming students with the transition to UNO’s academic and student life.


University of New Orleans President John Nicklow congratulates Lorraine Edwards of the Office of Enrollment Services for 32 years of service to the University and her planned retirement. Edwards was recognized during an awards ceremony and reception honoring faculty and staff for their years of dedication and outstanding service. About 200 people attended the April event, hosted by the UNO Office of Human Resource Management.





The University of New Orleans entered into an agreement to collaborate with the Université des Antilles in Martinique and Guadeloupe, a 6,000 student university located in the Caribbean. The five-year-agreement enables faculty, student and research exchanges. Lambert Felix Prudent of Université des Antilles (second from left), and UNO President John Nicklow, sign the contract for partnership as Alea Cot, UNO assistant provost for international education, and Grégor Trumel, consul general of France in New Orleans, look on. 900 DIPLOMAS AWARDED AT SPRING COMMENCEMENT

The University of New Orleans conferred degrees on roughly 900 graduates May 13 in a ceremony both festive and solemn, signifying both achievement and hope for what lies ahead. Those receiving diplomas included 12 doctoral students and 311 master’s degree candidates. They hailed from 43 states and territories and 45 countries. And 115 of them graduated with honors. INSET: Academy Award-winning film producer Jon Landau delivered the spring commencement address, urging graduates to dream big, work hard, live with integrity and take time to appreciate the journey toward success. Landau’s film production credits include “Titanic” and “Avatar.”


University of New Orleans Dean of Students Brett Kemker presents Bridgette Blunt with the 2016 Edgar E Burks Memorial Award for Outstanding Student Leadership. Blunt was one of 90 student leaders recognized in April during the 31st annual Leadership Recognition Ceremony, hosted by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and sponsored by the Student Government Association.





BUILDING MoMENtum FOR SUCCESS The University of New Orleans has launched a new initiative focused on improving the student success of AfricanAmerican males. Known as MoMENtum, the program includes workshops on leadership and life skills, and pairs current students with a faculty or staff mentor who will provide support and guidance for the students. Spearheaded by Kim Williams, professor and director of the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration, and Nora Chapuis, director of Student Support Services, MoMENtum tapped the first nine student participants during an April kick-off celebration. “Look around you,” Williams told the students. “This is your support network. All of these faculty, staff and administrators are here for you, to make sure that you succeed.” Participating students were presented with gift bags that included a MoMENtum T-shirt, a UNO tie and a certificate of participation which, organizers say, will be replaced by their degrees when they graduate.

The students recited an oath in which they pledged to give their best academic effort, present themselves in a positive manner, and strive to learn, achieve and inspire. MoMENtum is one of a series of new student enrollment and retention initiatives undertaken since UNO President John Nicklow arrived on campus last year as the University’s then provost. During a 2015 retreat, a large group of faculty and staff analyzed student enrollment data and identified AfricanAmerican males and first-generation students as two groups that could benefit from additional support. “The faculty and staff of the University share President Nicklow’s commitment to increasing our retention and graduation rates among African-American males,” Williams says. “It is our hope that this initiative will help these students obtain their degrees, become leaders on campus and in their community, and serve as an inspiration to those they encounter.” The students and their mentors are: Elliot Alexander Jr. and mentor Warren Davis, associate vice president for facility services;

University of New Orleans student Dylan Wilson embraces Nora Chapuis, director of Student Support Services, during the kickoff event for the MoMENtum initiative.

Dorian Collins and mentor Zarus Watson, associate professor of education; Donté Domingue and mentor Taryn Chevis, director of operations, Office of Enrollment Services; Monquel Hawkins and mentor Cherie Trumbach, associate professor of management; Jeremiah Joseph and mentor Elyria Kemp, associate professor of marketing; Xakendal Taylor and mentor Yvette Green, associate professor of hotel, restaurant and tourism administration; Kenneth Terry II and mentor Warren Davis, associate vice president for facility services; Cordell Williams and mentor Kim Williams, professor of hotel, restaurant and tourism administration; and Dylan Wilson and mentor Joseph Beams, professor of accounting.

NEW CENTER SEEKS TO BETTER ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF THE MODERN STUDENT How can the University of New Orleans better support the learning styles of the modern student? That’s the question at the heart of the University’s new Center for Teaching Innovation. Announced in January, the Center for Teaching Innovation was designed as a faculty resource center that will promote new teaching methods in line with the needs of the 21st century student. Beth Blankenship has been named the center’s coordinator. “Student success is our number one priority,” UNO President John Nicklow says. “And the way to make sure our students are successful is making sure we have the best trained instructors with pedagogies that are designed for today’s students.” The center will build its portfolio of offerings over time. Blankenship says she will continue to hold various training 6



sessions for Moodle, the interactive web-based learning environment used for coursework by UNO faculty and students. In addition to providing technology workshops, she will also develop training modules on classroom practices. “We want to address the most important questions on the topic of instruction,” Blankenship says. “‘What’s the future of the 75-minute lecture? Is that going by the wayside? Is that something we need to at least have alternatives to? What are the learning styles of students we’re getting out of high school now?’” Many universities have similar centers, Nicklow says—and those that are most successful have the right level of outreach from the center and sufficient engagement from faculty members. “Our goal is to make better teachers,” he says. “We can do that by making sure our faculty members have access to the latest

The University of New Orleans’ Beth Blankenship has been named coordinator of the new Center for Teaching Innovation, a faculty resource center that will promote new teaching methods that support the learning styles of the modern college student.

knowledge, skills and technology.” In addition to offering in-person and virtual training sessions, Blankenship also says vendors will visit the campus to give presentations to faculty on the various teaching technologies that are available in the marketplace.

$90K GRANT AIMS TO MAKE LOCAL TEACHERS EXPERTS IN DELTA LAND LOSS Through a $90,800 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the University of New Orleans’ Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences will help prepare more than 20 teachers from south Louisiana to become experts on the lower Mississippi River watershed. The project is part of a nationwide effort to develop a cadre of water educators. The training will replicate a successful model for environmental education from the Center for Global Environmental Education, located at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. The center offers professional development, community outreach and K-12 education resources to promote stewardship of local environments. This summer, the Center for Global Environmental Education will offer a three-day training session in New Orleans entitled “Headwaters to the Delta Connection.” The grant to the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Science, also known as PIES, will be used in part to provide field exploration as part of the teacher training experience. In the field, participants will have the opportunity to master content related to water quality management, delta geology and coastal land loss. At the conclusion of the institute, teachers will be required to develop action plans for introducing concepts learned, including field trips and stewardship activities. Beyond the training institute, participating teachers will have access to resources and technical support for developing lesson plans as well as an online community where participants can share and access watershed education resources. In addition to funding field exploration, the award from the EPA will provide minigrants of up to $1,000 to ensure the participation of a diverse group of educators from south Louisiana. Mini-grants will go to as many as 23 participating teachers to cover travel expenses associated with attending the institute, future field trips for students, and other resources necessary to implement the watershed curriculum at their schools. The target audience for this project is

teachers of grades 3-8 in the greater New Orleans area, with priority given to teachers who work with high concentrations of economically disadvantaged students. Learning materials will be developed with these target schools in mind. In addition to EPA and Center for Global Environmental Education, another important partnership for the Headwaters to the Delta Connection teacher training institute is the Meraux Foundation, which promotes sustainability and an improved quality of life for residents of St. Bernard Parish. Over the workshop’s three-day span, participants will spend each day at a different location. For place-based education regarding the Mississippi River and its delta, teachers will spend one day at the Arlene Meraux River Observation Center on the banks of the Mississippi in rural St. Bernard Parish and another day at UNO’s Coastal Education and Research Facility in the marshes of eastern New Orleans. A third day at the Maumus Center in Arabi, La., also in St. Bernard Parish, will focus on urban water management education. The overall goal of the teacher training institute is to provide first-hand knowledge of the lower Mississippi River watershed and teaching tools to promote environmental literacy in south Louisiana schools and communities. Dinah Maygarden, director of coastal education at PIES and the grant’s project manager, says that approximately 1,000 students will be reached within the first year

Teachers will spend a day at the University of New Orleans’ Coastal Education and Research Facility (pictured) as part of a teacher training program made possible by a $90,800 grant awarded to UNO’s Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences.

of the teacher training experience. “Each professional development workshop of this kind helps to build connections among a network of amazing teachers who can bring the ideas, concepts and skills learned about our amazing river and its delta to their students,” Maygarden says. “This network grows into something pretty amazing as we continue to connect and reconnect over the years.” The Mississippi River is a vital part of the nation’s economic, ecological, recreational and cultural heritage. It is also a major source for drinking water, transportation, commerce and sediment used to rebuild vanishing delta land. Often, these important connections, however, are not effectively made through the traditional science curriculum. The Headwaters to the Delta Connection will shine a spotlight on the Mississippi River delta and its alarming rate of land loss, which is a major challenge for scientists and engineers along the lower river. By training educators who will influence students over many years, PIES is fostering the development of Louisiana communities who better understand the river and its ecosystem. UNO MAGAZINE




YOUNG LEADERSHIP COUNCIL AND UNO ANNOUNCE RECIPIENT OF 2016 YLC DUMESTRE SCHOLARSHIP Mahagony Keen had a goal to get into college—even if she wasn’t sure how she would pay for it. She ended up getting into 10. Now she is the grateful recipient of the inaugural 2016 Young Leadership Council Dumestre Scholarship, covering all expenses of a four-year education at the University New Orleans, including tuition, fees, housing, meals and books. Designed to recognize an exceptionally able high school senior who shows promise for continued excellence in postsecondary education, the YLC Dumestre scholarship is made possible through a private donation of Mary Dumestre and her husband, Guy Johnson, and is administered through the Young Leadership Council’s College Admissions Project, known as C.A.P. Keen, 18, a graduate of New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School (SciHigh), was selected from among 10 qualified scholarship hopefuls. “To be awarded the YLC Dumestre Scholarship is a dream come true and a reminder to keep pushing forward no matter what,” Keen says. She plans to study marketing at UNO. High school seniors who both participated in C.A.P. and were accepted to UNO

for the fall 2016 semester were eligible to apply. All candidates were required to submit an essay and application while top finalists were invited to sit for an interview with the scholarship review panel. Mary Dumestre and Guy Johnson, both UNO graduates who say they “owe our successes in life to education,” say they wanted to give back to the University as well as the New Orleans community. “We started saving for our son’s college education before he was born. He graduated debt-free and now is working in New Orleans, contributing to make this city a better place for all,” Mary Dumestre says. “If we can afford to send another child to college, one who otherwise couldn’t make it, we should. “New Orleans becomes a better place when our children are given the education they need to succeed in life.” UNO President John Nicklow says the University is grateful to Mary and Guy for their generosity. “They clearly understand the transformative value of higher education as well as UNO’s important role in enriching the lives of so many students throughout the greater New Orleans area,” Nicklow says. “We are thrilled that Mahagony will be joining us in the fall as the YLC Dumestre Scholarship

recipient.” Stephanie Powell, executive director of the YLC, says she was “deeply moved” by the family’s gift providing a debt-free college experience to a young New Orleanian. “The generosity of Mary and Guy likely has changed the course of this student’s life,” Powell says. “A college education is out of reach financially for too many of our young men and women. We have estimated that the all-inclusive cost for one-year at UNO, considering tuition, fees, books, housing, and meals, is approximately $20,000. Our greatest hope is that this generous scholarship not only makes an incredible difference in Ms. Keen’s future, but that it also inspires others to create similar scholarships or to contribute to a larger, long-lasting scholarship fund.” The College Admissions Project is one of YLC’s 15 volunteer-led community service projects, and is organized by project leaders Mark Clayton and Christina Hendrick. The project is currently partnered with International High School of New Orleans, SciHigh, and Lake Area New Tech Early College High School. It aims to increase the local college admissions rate by pairing high school juniors and seniors with a YLC volunteer to help navigate the college admissions process. Many of the students involved in C.A.P. will be the first in their family to earn a college degree. Mary Dumestre says it makes sense to help students such as Mahagony attain their educational dreams—especially when they involve Dumestre’s beloved alma mater. “We believe that our community benefits from every student UNO touches,” she says. “We were fortunate, as was our son, to have access to higher education. We are happy to be able to give this opportunity to Mahagony.” New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School graduate Mahagony Keen (second from left) has been awarded the inaugural Dumestre Scholarship. Keen is pictured with (from left) her father, Patrick Keen Jr., scholarship founders Mary Dumestre and Guy Johnson, and their son Dan Johnson.




UNO WINS $100,000 HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPUTER SYSTEM FOR RESEARCH The University of New Orleans is one of two universities to win the fifth annual Research Cluster Grant from Silicon Mechanics, a leading provider of servers, storage and high-performance computing solutions to the world’s most innovative organizations. UNO and the University of California, Merced, will each receive a computing cluster—a group of computers that are connected to work together as a system— with the latest high-performance processing technologies. It is valued at more than $100,000 and is to be used in future research projects. At UNO, the high-performance computing cluster will help build on the strengths of the medicinal chemistry, cybersecurity, advanced materials design, information assurance and computational biology programs featured at the University. The equipment will improve research in big data analytical methods for cybersecurity and digital forensic purposes as well as the development of tools for computational chemistry, cybersecurity and bioinformatics. “The cluster will be a boon to our research,” says Dhruva Chakravorty,

assistant professor of chemistry at UNO and the lead investigator on the grant proposal. “We will be able to process data at rates that previously would not have been possible. It will also enable us to analyze data up to 20 times faster. We expect this cluster to help us remain competitive for federal and state grants in the years to come.” Since 2012, when Silicon Mechanics initiated the Research Cluster Grant (RCG), the program has extended its reach considerably, providing more than $500,000 worth of much needed technology advancements to universities and institutions where access to important research funding to acquire high-performance computing technology has become more difficult in recent years. “Providing a solution to these universities where access to high-performance computing was either limited, outdated or was not previously available is ultimately what the RCG is all about,” says Art Mann, Silicon Mechanics’ senior director, Life Sciences Practice. “Knowing we are helping to advance collaboration between university departments and researchers, and being able to look down the road at advancements and findings these institutions are targeting is very exciting.”

UNO RANKED AMONG NATION’S BEST RISKREWARD SCHOOLS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS LendEDU, a national marketplace for student loans and student loan refinance, has ranked the University of New Orleans in the top 100 institutions in the nation for Best Risk-Reward for College Students. UNO ranked 81st out of more than 1,000 colleges, according to the 2016 College Risk-Reward Indicator (CRRI) Study. Evaluators defined risk as the average student loan debt per graduate and reward as the average early career pay, or the median salary for alumni with 0-5 years of experience. The CRRI is calculated by

dividing the measure of reward by the measure of risk and establishing a numerical value. UNO was one of only two Louisiana colleges to make the top 100; Louisiana Tech in Ruston was the other. The University of New Orleans has long received recognition for its value. For the past five straight years, UNO has appeared on U.S. News & World Report’s “Least Debt List” among national universities. The rankings are based on universities whose students graduate with the lightest debt loads.

SCHROEDER FAMILY TO FUND COLLEGE OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION SCHOLARSHIPS The University of New Orleans has received a $60,000 endowment from the Schroeder family to fund accounting scholarships in the College of Business Administration. The Schroeder family has a long history with the University that includes two alumni, R. Harold “Hal” Schroeder and his mother, the late Marlene S. Schroeder. Both graduated from the College of Business Administration with University of accounting degrees, while New Orleans Marlene’s husband, the alum R. Harold late Ronald H. Schroeder, “Hal” Schroeder, pictured, and taught marketing and his mother, the statistics at UNO, as well late Marlene as at Tulane University S. Schroeder, and Loyola University both graduated New Orleans. from the College “UNO has generated of Business Administration. the highest return of Marlene’s any investment I’ve ever husband, the made and continues to late Ronald H. pay dividends decades Schroeder, taught after graduating,” says Hal marketing and Schroeder, speaking on statistics at UNO. behalf of the Schroeder family and his mother’s estate. “Our family has strong ties to UNO and New Orleans, and we are pleased to begin giving back.” Schroeder has more than 35 years of experience in investing and financial reporting. He is currently a board member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the independent organization that establishes financial accounting and reporting standards for public and private companies, and not-for-profit organizations. Philip Harmelink, professor and chair of accounting, says the gift offers needed aid for deserving students. “We are very grateful for the Schroeder family endowment, which will provide valuable scholarship assistance for future accounting students.” UNO MAGAZINE




UNO RETAINS CARNEGIE STATUS FOR HIGHER RESEARCH ACTIVITY The University of New Orleans retained its status as a doctoral university with higher research activity, as determined by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education in its 2015 update. UNO is one of only two Louisiana universities in this classification, which is the second highest Carnegie status that can be achieved. Every five years, the Carnegie Classification releases an official update on its classifications, which were first published in 1973. Doctoral universities are placed in one of three subcategories: R1, Doctoral Universities- Highest Research Activity; R2, Doctoral Universities- Higher Research Activity; and R3, Doctoral UniversitiesModerate Research Activity. The University of New Orleans and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette are the only R2 institutions in Louisiana, while LSU and Tulane are the only R1 institutions in the state. “Faculty research and scholarly productivity are an integral part of the University’s heritage and a critical part of our future,” UNO President John Nicklow says. “This research also broadens and informs the knowledge that we share in the classroom with our students, so that they are equipped to solve today’s increasingly complex problems.” Doctoral universities are assigned to one of three categories based on a measure of research activity. The research activity scale includes: research and development

expenditures in science and engineering; research and development expenditures in non-science and engineering fields; science and engineering research staff; doctoral conferrals in humanities fields, in social science fields, in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, and in other fields such as business, education, public policy and social work. The Carnegie Classification has been the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past four and a half decades.

University of New Orleans is one of only two research universities in Louisiana to be classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as doctoral universities with higher research activity.

UNO MAINTAINS PRESTIGIOUS INTERNATIONAL ACCOUNTING ACCREDITATION The University of New Orleans Department of Accounting has maintained its accounting accreditation by AACSB International—the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business—a distinction earned by about 2 percent of the world’s business programs. “This is a tremendous achievement for our Department of Accounting,” UNO President John Nicklow says. “To sustain this level of excellence for such a long period of time is a credit to the department chair, Dr. Philip Harmelink, and our outstanding faculty members. Our accounting alumni 10



are enormously influential in the regional business community, and I hope all of them take great pride in their affiliation with this elite academic program.” AACSB International is the longest serving global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in business and accounting. There are 761 business schools in 52 countries and territories that maintain AACSB accreditation, which represents less than 5 percent of global business programs. Of that number, only 183 insti-

tutions maintain an additional specialized AACSB accreditation for their accounting programs. UNO’s accounting department granted its first bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1962 and, since that time, has awarded more than 4,000 degrees. The department has also granted nearly 800 master’s degrees in both accounting and tax accounting. Philip Harmelink, professor and chair of accounting, has overseen the department since 1990. The department has maintained a separate AACSB accounting accreditation since 1983.

UNO IMPERIAL BARREL TEAM WINS REGIONAL FOR 2ND STRAIGHT YEAR A team of University of New Orleans graduate students won the 2016 Gulf Coast Regional Imperial Barrel Award in Houston, Texas, for the second straight year and advanced to the international finals this summer. It’s the first time that a team has claimed back-to-back Gulf Coast titles in the nine-year history of the event. Organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Imperial Barrel program pits geosciences teams from universities around the world against each other in a competition to analyze an oil and gas reservoir. UNO’s team in April beat out 11 regional competitors from universities that included Texas A&M, Rice, the University of Houston, Tulane, the University of Alabama and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The team members are Ryan Jones, Zexuan Wang, Will Morrison, team leader Josiah Hulsey and Celeste Woock. The faculty adviser is Royhan Gani, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and the team is assisted by industry mentors Toby Roesler of Stone

Energy and Benjamin Kirkland of Nexen Petroleum. The $3,000 prize will go toward scholarships in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. “We continue to prove that our geosciences students are among the finest in the region,” Gani says. “It’s exciting that UNO’s team will once again be representing the Gulf Coast on an international stage.” In the regional, teams analyze a dataset in the eight weeks prior to the competition and deliver their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts. The judges select a winner based on technical

A team of University of New Orleans graduate students won the 2016 Gulf Coast Regional Imperial Barrel Award in Houston, Texas, for the second straight year, marking the first time that a team has claimed back-to-back Gulf Coast titles in the event’s nine-year history.

quality, clarity and originality of presentation as well as team’s ability to answer questions. UNO is one of 12 regional winners participating in the international competition held in Calgary, Alberta this summer.

INSTITUTE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & REAL ESTATE RESEARCH BOOSTED BY $600,000 GIFT A $600,000 donation from New Orleans real estate executive Robert W. Merrick will help support the University of New Orleans’ Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research. The institute, which is a public service division of the College of Business Administration, provides technical assistance and applied research in the areas of economic development and real estate for public, private and nonprofit organizations. The gift will establish the Robert W. Merrick Support Fund for the Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research. Each year, the institute holds the Dr. Ivan Miestchovich Economic Outlook and Real Estate Forecast Seminars—one for New

Orleans and one for the North Shore. The events draw hundreds of real estate professionals from around the region who rely on the expert information and sophisticated analysis furnished at the seminars. “This endowment will support the current employees and activities of the Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research,” says Robert Penick, the institute’s interim director. “It will allow the institute to continue to offer the valuable services that it provides to the University of New Orleans community and the New Orleans metropolitan area.” Merrick is the chairman and CEO of Latter and Blum, Inc. His support for UNO has taken many forms over the years. He has served as a

member of the UNO Foundation Board of Directors and contributed significantly to the creation of the Max Derbes III Professorship in Real Estate. Latter & Blum, Robert W. Merrick Inc. is the institute’s executive partner for the Dr. Ivan Miestchovich Economic Outlook and Real Estate Forecast Seminars. In 2014, Latter & Blum, Inc. also donated $100,000 to UNO to support a new graduate certificate program in coastal sciences and coastal engineering, as well as student scholarships. UNO MAGAZINE




MODEL UN DELEGATION ON A ROLL The University of New Orleans Model United Nations Delegation has done it again. Representing the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand during the national Model UN Conference in New York this March, the team earned four awards, including a Distinguished Delegation Award, two Outstanding Position Paper Awards and one Outstanding Delegation in Committee Award. The New York conference is the world’s largest and most prestigious conference of its kind, bringing nearly 5,000 students from around the globe to spend a week simulating the caucusing, resolution writing,

and negotiating of the United Nations. John Hazlett, director of the University’s bachelor’s degree program in international studies, says the team’s track record has generated snowballing participation among students interested in international affairs. “Many delegates from this year’s team plan to return to New York City next year,” he says, “and after six years of awardwinning participation, it seems sure that the program will continue to grow. Interested students should keep an eye out for open recruitment starting in September.” This year marked the seventh time that UNO has been selected to compete–and the

The University of New Orleans Model United Nation Delegation gathers in the general assembly hall of the UN in March. The team won four awards as it represented Australia and New Zealand.

sixth consecutive year the UNO delegation brought home awards. The 29-member UNO delegation was as diverse in countries of origin as it was in academic levels and disciplines represented. Students came from 10 different home countries, represented all levels of study and consisted of students from 14 different fields of study.

UNO RESEARCH CENTER LANDS NAVY GRANT WORTH NEARLY $1 MILLION The recently established Joseph Canizaro and James Livingston Center for Environmental Informatics at the University of New Orleans has landed a Naval Research Laboratory grant worth nearly $1 million. The money allows UNO researchers to investigate new high-performance techniques to mine and visualize large-scale data collected by the U.S. Navy, such as meteorological, oceanographic and open source intelligence information. The $999,994 award represents the first research grant secured by the new center, which focuses on the science of information applied to environmental science. The grant’s principal investigator is Mahdi 12



Abdelguerfi, professor and chair of computer science, as well as director of the Center for Environmental Informatics. “UNO researchers will build a big geospatial data cloud for the Navy,” Abdelguerfi says. “As a result, the Navy will be able to reduce its costs for future system development and ultimately decrease its time and manpower in planning and executing missions.” The Department of Computer Science and the Naval Research Laboratory have enjoyed a collaborative relationship over the past two decades, Abdelguerfi says. The partnership has resulted in the training of high-caliber undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom have gone on to excel as scientists

for the Navy and other federal agencies. The establishment of the Center for Environmental Informatics was made possible by a donation from real estate developer Joseph Canizaro and Major General James Livingston. The multidisciplinary center draws on the expertise of faculty members and research staff from a number of academic departments, including computer science, biology, mathematics, electrical engineering, and civil and environmental engineering. Center personnel work with collaborators from the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and others.

UL SYSTEM APPROVES MERGER OF COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS AND COLLEGE OF EDUCATION & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT The University of New Orleans’ College of Liberal Arts and the College of Education and Human Development are merging under a proposal approved by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. The plan was endorsed by the faculty in both colleges during a college-wide vote in January. The merged college will be known as the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Human Development. The merger will result in cost savings, greater administrative efficiency and new

opportunities for collaboration across traditional academic boundaries, according to UNO President John Nicklow. No academic programs will be altered due to the merger. “This merger represents an administrative reorganization that will allow the University to put our resources where they matter most, which are into the classroom.” Nicklow says. The College of Education and Human Development has three academic departments and 22 full-time faculty members; the College of Liberal Arts has 11 academic

departments with 111 faculty members. The merger, Nicklow says, will result in a more robust, unified college, benefiting students and faculty from the individual colleges. Kevin Graves, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Education and Human Development, says the merger will create a more efficient structure while also developing otherwise unexplored interdisciplinary opportunities. The merger becomes official as of July 1, 2016.

UNO MUSIC PROFESSOR’S COMPOSITION PREMIERED AT CARNEGIE HALL taking recordings of new music by living composers for the first time and realized that writing music was what I truly wanted to do. Writing for the Kronos Quartet has been among my life’s most treasured creative experiences.” Haber is an internationally-acclaimed composer. He is a 2005 Guggenheim fellow and a 2007 Rome Prize winner in music composition. At UNO, he directs the composition program and teaches advanced theory and upper-level seminars. He also creates and stages numerous workshops and contemporary classical performances. Haber holds a doctorate from Cornell University. He spent the spring semester composing in Berlin, courtesy of an ATLAS (Awards to

Louisiana Artists and Scholars) grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents, as well as an artist grant from the German Academic Exchange Service, known as the DAAD. The Kronos Quartet, one of the most influential groups of its era, has collaborated with many of the world’s most accomplished composers and performers over the last 40 years. Composer and University of New Orleans professor Yotam Haber (right) is acknowledged following the world premiere of his work “break_break_ break” by Kronos Quartet and Philip White on April 2, 2016 at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall.


A composition by University of New Orleans professor Yotam Haber premiered at Carnegie Hall in April, when it was performed by the celebrated Kronos Quartet. Haber’s “break_break_break” was commissioned jointly by the Kronos Quartet and Carnegie Hall, as part of the performance hall’s 125 Commissions Project. In order to celebrate its 125th anniversary, at least 125 new works are being commissioned from leading composers and premiered at Carnegie Hall between the 2015 and 2020 seasons. “The Kronos Quartet has been immeasurably influential to my music,” says Haber, an assistant professor of music. “As a teenager, I heard their breath-





UNO’S SURVEY RESEARCH CENTER MARKS 30TH YEAR AS A VITAL LOCAL AND NATIONAL RESOURCE The University of New Orleans’ Survey Research Center, which has earned a national reputation for conducting reliable independent research, marks its 30th year anniversary. Since 1986, the center has conducted 85 survey research projects, including its signature Quality of Life series, commonly known as the UNO Poll. “Our goal at the SRC is to continue to provide an ongoing picture of how voters view local government services and the general quality of life,” Survey Research Center Director Edward Chervenak says. “We do our best to keep tabs on public opinion in the greater New Orleans area and explore beliefs and values on a wide range of social, economic and political issues affecting residents in the region and across the state.” The SRC began three decades ago as a project in one of political science professor Susan Howell’s classes. Howell, the founding director of the SRC and now professor emeritus, started with no budget, no computers and no identity. Many universities had small survey operations and Howell thought UNO could benefit from the research and teaching opportunities that a survey center provides.

In the politicized environment of New Orleans and Louisiana, Howell says she also believed that UNO would benefit from the positive publicity of a survey not affiliated with a candidate or party. “The class project was a pilot survey on the aquarium tax referendum,” Howell says. “It was a success and the provost funded a survey of the upcoming 1986 New Orleans mayor’s race. We purchased 10 phone lines in a classroom. At the time, the students and I joked that we would look back and remember when the center was 10 phones in a box.” For the mayor’s race, UNO researchers followed the same voters throughout the campaign—a type of survey called a “panel survey.” Howell says it was the first of its kind in New Orleans, and became the launching pad for what the SRC would become today: An academic survey center with a reputation for neutrality and accuracy. The Quality of Life series also began that same year. Chervenak says the survey series functions as a public service because it gives the voters of New Orleans and Jefferson a voice between elections. It emphasizes evaluations of government services. And because it is conducted on a regular basis, it enables UNO researchers to track which government services voters think are improving and

Susan Howell

Ed Chervenak

which are deteriorating—valuable input to local government officials, should they choose to use it. The SRC’s work has been a boon for students, giving them the opportunity to participate in vital and relevant research. Undergraduate and graduate students are taught the proper ways to conduct scientific polls. More than 1,000 UNO political science students have participated in a survey as interviewers over the years and approximately 30 political science graduate students have held assistantships with the SRC. Many have gone on to secure employment at survey centers around the country, including the National Opinion Research Corp. and the Public Policy Institute of California. Some have even started their own survey centers at universities where they teach. The SRC has also given UNO’s political science department a regular presence in the local, national and international media. Faculty members are often sought out by news organizations to offer in-depth analysis on local, state and national politics.

UNO DOCTORAL GRADUATE JENNIFER GRACE HONORED WITH A DISSERTATION OF THE YEAR AWARD The American Association of Blacks in Higher Education recently honored University of New Orleans new Ph.D. alumna Jennifer Grace with one of its annual awards for dissertation of the year. Her research focuses on rerouting the school to prison pipeline. Grace’s dissertation investigated AfricanAmerican males who had been expelled from their K-12 educational settings, specifically by asking them to describe their experiences and open up about what they felt were key factors at play. Responses from the study participants touched on themes including race and racism, self-perception, family expectations and support, male role models and mentors, school environment and school discipline. Grace hopes her research will serve as a catalyst for future 14



study about factors affecting academic achievement by young African-American male students. Grace describes the honor as “truly amazing, surreal and humbling.” “This work has been especially meaningful to me as the students I have worked with during my career have grown to become a part of who I am,” she says. “It is a personal mission to continue produce research-informed best practices that negate systemic barriers to quality education for young men and women of color.” Brian Beabout,

associate professor and graduate coordinator of educational leadership at UNO’s College of Education and Human Development, says Grace’s recognition was well-deserved: “We are all very proud of Jennifer and her outstanding research in this area, which is so important to us here in New Orleans.” Since May of 2010, UNO’s Ph.D. program in educational administration has awarded 11 doctoral degrees to African-Americans. Jennifer Grace (Ph.D., ’16) was honored with a dissertation of the year award from the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education for her work examining school expulsions of AfricanAmerican males.

ENTERGY FUNDS NEW ENGINEERING LAB Entergy Corp.’s transmission business unit has donated $100,000 to the University of New Orleans to enhance what electrical engineering students learn in the classroom. Presented in honor of National Engineers Week in February, the gift will fund the new Entergy Energy Conversion Lab, where students will receive hands-on experience with power equipment such as transformers and rotating electrical machinery. Detailed wiring diagrams will enable students to connect machines to power sources, loads and meters, performing experiments that demonstrate operational and loading characteristics. Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans, Inc., and Jim Schott, vice president of transmission for Entergy Services, Inc., presented a check to university officials during February’s basketball game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul Olivier, Entergy manager of configuration and controls and a UNO alumnus, says the gift comes at an exciting time for the field of engineering. “The energy industry is going through a transformation, and we’re seeing big investments in the electric grid nationwide,” says Olivier, who serves on the school’s engineering advisory council, and is the outgoing chair of the group. “Engineers are at the heart of how we’ll build the grid of the

future, and our collaboration with UNO is part of that effort.” This isn’t the first time Entergy has teamed up with the University. In 2008, Entergy donated $1.2 million to UNO to create an endowed chair in power systems engineering. Dimitrios Charalampidis, professor and chair of UNO’s electrical engineering department, says Entergy’s gift provides resources that are “crucial to our educational and research missions.” “Partnerships like this help us steer education and research toward the needs of the real world,” he says. “So this collaboration doesn’t just help us equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to join the workforce immediately upon graduation. It also provides the industry with new employees who are well-prepared and can seamlessly contribute to current operations.” Schott says Entergy’s partnership with UNO is valuable to the company as well. “They continue to be a great source of new engineers for Entergy, and they offer a

Entergy Corp. officials present University of New Orleans representatives with a $100,000 check at the Pelicans game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. From left: UNO President John Nicklow; Patty Riddlebarger, Entergy’s director of corporate responsibility; Parviz Rastgoufard, UNO electrical engineering professor; Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans, Inc.; Emir Macari, dean of the UNO College of Engineering; Jim Schott, Entergy’s vice president of transmission; and Paul Olivier, Entergy’s manager of configuration and controls.

unique electrical engineering program, both for the city of New Orleans and the region.” UNO currently offers the only civil, electrical and mechanical engineering programs in the New Orleans area. It remains a valuable employee-recruitment source for Entergy. In the company’s transmission business unit alone, about 50 employees received their education at UNO.

UNO WINS FEDERAL GRANT TO IMPROVE EVACUATION PLANNING FOR CITY OF NEW ORLEANS University of New Orleans researchers are working to improve evacuation planning in New Orleans. Armed with a two-year $260,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration, researchers with UNO’s Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART) will make recommendations to the City of New Orleans and the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) on how the city’s most vulnerable residents should be evacuated during emergencies and disasters. UNO-CHART is an applied social science hazards research center that collaborates with Louisiana communities. UNO researchers will examine what can

be done to better serve vulnerable populations to ensure that no person or group is left out of the evacuation planning process. They will also study how technology and risk communication practices can serve community members who are often overlooked. Monica Teets Farris, director of UNO-CHART, and John Kiefer, professor and director of UNO’s Master of Public Administration program, are co-principal investigators on the grant. “In evacuation planning, people are defined as vulnerable if they may need additional assistance in the process, including the elderly, vision-impaired,

mobility-impaired, hearing-impaired or transient, or if they don’t have a car or have limited English proficiency,” Teets says. The researchers will submit a final report to the City of New Orleans and RTA that will include recommendations on: how to identify residents who need evacuation assistance; how to communicate risk; the current capacity to transport special needs populations; and an outreach strategy. The City of New Orleans approached UNO-CHART about this research opportunity, Farris says, because of the center’s experience and expertise in applied disaster research and because of its previous partnerships with the City. UNO MAGAZINE




UNO STUDENTS EXPLORE INCARCERATION AS PART OF NATIONAL PROJECT One of the prisoners asked the students to place a bouquet of flowers and a Bingo chip on the rocks at Metairie’s Lafreniere Park in honor of his Bingo-loving Grandma Betty. Another requested balloons be released in memory of his girlfriend who died with brain cancer. Another simply asked that a dozen pink roses be placed at his mother’s grave site. “She loved pink roses,” the man wrote in a note to a 17-student class at University of New Orleans. Students in Benjamin Weber’s class, “Policing and Prisons in Local and Global Perspectives,” collected stories and postcards from inmates at Louisiana State Prison in 16


FALL 2015

Angola over a series of months for a public history project called “Windows Through Walls: Angola Penitentiary Over Time.” They asked the prisoners—all from New Orleans—to tell them the stories of loved ones who died while they themselves remained incarcerated. And they asked the question: How would you like to commemorate them? In response, seven graduate students and 10 undergraduates crisscrossed New Orleans performing requested rituals of remembrance to honor these inmates’ relatives and loved ones, people who died while the inmates were serving time, unable to pay their respects in person.

UNO students release balloons at the corner of Orleans Avenue and N. Galvez Street at the request of a man who was incarcerated when his girlfriend died with brain cancer.

“What they’ve found is that behind that label ‘criminal’ are people with real lives and real families and real loss,” says Weber, a visiting scholar at the Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at UNO. The Ashé Cultural Arts Center last winter highlighted the students’ work so far in a display called “Stories from Prison/ Honoring Ancestors.” It included a display of

In a hand-written note, an inmate att Louisiana State Prison in Angola tells University of New Orleans students about his brother who died. Incarcerated at the time, the prisoner never got to pay respects to his brother in person. The students did it for them, laying flowers and singing a song at his request. Seven graduate students and 10 undergrads Benjamin Weber’s “Policing and Prisons in Local and Global Perspectives” class crisscrossed the city performing such requested rituals. Work from the class will be included d in the national exhibit on tour now,, called “States of Incarceration.”

the inmates’ writings and photographs of the rituals as they were being performed. The project is part of the national Global Dialogues on Incarceration initiative funded by the New School for Social Research in New York. The work that comes out of this class is included in a traveling exhibition, web platform and curricula called “States of Incarceration” that launched in April and will stop in 20 cities—all, like New Orleans, home to one of 20 universities known collectively as The New School’s Humanities Action Lab. The National Endowment for the Human-

ities in January awarded $250,000 to the coalition, which includes UNO, to support public dialogues around the project. Today, the United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world and at any other moment in its history. And Louisiana incarcerates more people per capita than any other state, according to figures collected by the National Institute of Corrections. States of Incarceration will open at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans in April 2017, alongside an exhibition of young people’s artwork reflecting on a future with fewer prisons

created t d through th h a series i off workshops kh ffaciliili tated by southern regional and local artists investigating the theme of incarceration. “The University of New Orleans is engaging in valuable scholarship, education and outreach on the topic of incarceration,” UNO President John Nicklow says. “The University is proud to be a member of this coalition and to play a key role in such an important national project.” Liz Sevcenko, director of the Humanities Action Lab, says the NEH grant will “enable us to explore how Americans have grappled with incarceration in the past and how it has profoundly shaped generations of people in each of our communities.” UNO’s participation in the Humanities Action Lab is led by Weber and Mary Niall Mitchell, the Midlo Endowed Chair in New Orleans Studies, and supported by the UNO Department of History’s Carl Muckley bequest and the Ethel & Herman L. Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies. Weber says the personal exchanges between students and inmates have provided invaluable context and meaning for the overall public history project they are working on: “They’ve been so profoundly moved.” For more information, visit Students Dan McCoy and Tiffany Campo visit the tomb of Deron Rashad Hitchens, Sr., on behalf of an inmate who could not do so himself. “Pray to him for me,” the inmate wrote, “letting him know I miss him.”





UNO AMONG REPORT’S BEST GRAD SCHOOLS FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND PSYCHOLOGY The University of New Orleans is among the nation’s best graduate schools for public affairs and psychology, according to recent rankings from U.S. News & World Report. UNO’s Master of Public Administration program is tied for No. 146, while its graduate program in psychology is tied for No. 177. UNO is one of only two ranked Master of Public Administration programs in the state—the other is LSU. Only two other Louisiana institutions are nationally ranked for their graduate psychology programs— Tulane University and LSU. According to U.S. News & World Report, the rankings are based solely on the results of a peer assessment survey. Deans, directors and department chairs representing 272 master’s programs in public affairs and public administration were surveyed. For psychology, academics at the 246 institutions that offer doctoral degrees in psychology were surveyed. Respondents were asked to rate the academic quality of each program. UNO is the only public urban research university in Louisiana.

UNO LAUNCHES NEW PUBLIC HISTORY LECTURE SERIES IN MEMORY OF BELOVED FACULTY MEMBER The University of New Orleans has launched a new public history lecture series in memory of historian Michael Mizell-Nelson, who died of cancer in December 2014 at the age of 49. Free and open to the public, the series is funded by Mizell-Nelson’s father, Merle Mizell. Mizell-Nelson was a beloved faculty member in the UNO history department, where he served as an associate professor and public history coordinator. The lifelong New Orleanian was a well-known authority on two quintessential New Orleans topics, the poor boy and the streetcar. Professor T. Mills Kelly of George Mason University delivered the first lecture in April, speaking on the topic of “Community-Based Learning in the Humanities.” Robert Dupont, associate professor and chair of history at UNO, says Mizell’s gift on behalf of his son is meaningful “not only to honor Michael’s memory, but also to continue his work in public history.” Mizell-Nelson co-produced “Streetcar Stories,” a one-hour documentary that aired on PBS affiliates around the country and was screened at the American Film Institute Festival and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He also devoted years to researching the name and origin of poor boys.

In collaboration with Tulane University, Mizell-Nelson helped create New Orleans Historical, a web and mobile platform that features stories and scholarship about New Orleans. Mizell-Nelson was a driving force behind the creation of the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank. Launched in 2005 in partnership Michael Mizell-Nelson with George Mason University, the memory bank uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the stories and digital record of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The website includes first-hand accounts, on-scene images, blog postings and podcasts. It is the largest free public archive of Katrina and Rita material. Mizell-Nelson also helped organize historical panel discussions at the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival and even his imprint on social media conveyed his devotion to his city and its cultural traditions; his Twitter handle was @poorboyologist.

UNO LAB RECEIVES FUNDING, SCHOLARSHIPS AND DATA TO SUPPORT SEA LEVEL RISE RESEARCH The University of New Orleans’ Coastal Research Laboratory has received research funding, scholarship money and data from several companies and professional societies affiliated with the oil and gas industry. The donations will be applied to research projects, under an initiative of the New Orleans Geological Society, to study the impacts of relative sea level rise on Louisiana’s coast. Mark Kulp, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and director of the Coastal Research Laboratory, says the donations of data and funding are essential to enabling the lab’s critical work. “The opportunity to use industry seismic data to image below the surface will significantly enhance our ability to understand processes that are occurring on the surface of the wetlands today, including relative sea 18



level rise,” he says. Schlumberger Limited, the world’s largest oilfield services company, donated 253-square miles of three-dimensional seismic data, covering Lake Borgne. Geophysical Pursuit, Inc., a Houstonbased data acquisition and licensing company, donated 382-linear miles of two-dimensional seismic data, covering Lake Pontchartrain. The data will be used for graduate level research projects to map geologic structures and sedimentary layers below the surface of the lakes. It will also be used to study the potential for active geologic fault movement as a cause of wetlands loss. The seismic data was originally acquired from 1990-2002 for use in oil and gas exploration, at an estimated cost of $25 million. Paleo-Data, Inc., a New Orleans paleontological consulting company, also donated

data that will be used in research projects to help determine the geological age of the sedimentary layers that are being mapped below the surface. The Southeastern Geophysical Society made a $2,500 cash donation to the Coastal Research Lab to fund research projects that will utilize the seismic data. Additionally, the New Orleans chapter of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists awarded two $1,250 scholarships to graduate students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences to support their seismic research. Joe Frank and Rachel Gaspard are the recipients. The Coastal Research Laboratory, housed within UNO’s Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences, assists with the planning, implementation and monitoring of coastal restoration projects.


UNO REMEMBERS JOHN ALTAZAN, FOUNDING DEAN OF THE UNO COLLEGE OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION John Altazan, founding dean of University of New Orleans’ College of Business Administration, died Jan. 10 at the age of 89. Altazan had a pioneering influence over the College of Business Administration, leading the first effort to obtain national accreditation and hiring the faculty who would be the program’s earliest architects. But Altazan’s main legacy, according to those who knew him, will always be the incredible and often life-changing influence he had on students. Roy Baas, former adjunct professor of finance at UNO who now teaches at University of Colorado Boulder, first met Altazan in the late 1960s. Baas was seeking to salvage his college career after essentially abandoning it to join the U.S. Marines and leaving his grade point average in shambles. In order to be admitted, Baas says, he had to meet with Altazan. Though a soft-spoken man with a broad smile, Altazan had an air of impressive assertiveness when the situation called for it. And students like Baas took note. “He read me the riot act and grilled me about my academic performance,” Baas says. Over the next two semesters, Altazan required Baas to meet with him regularly to update him on his progress. Within two semesters, Baas says, he’d dug himself out of that academic hole and went on to a successful commercial banking career


before eventually returning to UNO where he taught finance on campus and at the UNO-Innsbruck International Summer School in Austria. “He spent a lot of time with students who may not be progressing as needed to be successful,” says John Williams, who has served as dean of the College of Business Administration since 2010. Altazan’s devotion to such struggling students eventually earned his mentees the moniker “Altazan’s Allstars”—a group of people who credit their college degrees and, often, their careers to Altazan’s guidance. Baas, who went on to call Altazan a colleague as well as mentor, says that in his time in academia, he’s never seen anything like it. “I’ve stayed connected with a few students,” Baas says. “But John is connected with so many. It just dwarfs anything I’ve seen. And it’s real respect and affection.” Dennis McSeveney—professor emeritus of sociology, dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and associate provost emeritus—says that even in Altazan’s retirement, his impact was clear. McSeveney would often accompany Altazan to alumni functions, where former University of New Orleans President John Nicklow (left) and College of Business Administration Dean John Williams join Marie Altazan on May 9, 2016, to dedicate the Dr. John Altazan Plaza in memory of her late husband, the founding dean of UNO’s College of Business Administration, who served the University for more than five decades.

John Altazan, pictured here in 2002, holds a plaque presented to him that bears numbers from the original U.S. Naval Air Station barracks where Altazan and other faculty taught beginning in 1958, the year University of New Orleans was founded as Louisiana State University in New Orleans.

students would frequently approach to deliver words of gratitude. And, McSeveney says, Altazan often not only remembered his former students by name, he remembered the names of their siblings, their children and more. Altazan grew up in Port Allen, La., where he graduated from Port Allen High School as valedictorian in 1943. He went on to get a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration from Louisiana State University before obtaining a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois. Altazan taught international trade for a spell at Loyola University before he was recruited by UNO founding chancellor Homer Hitt in 1958 to join what was then known as Louisiana State University in New Orleans, teaching out of old U.S. Naval Air Station barracks. Wife and chemistry instructor Marie Hayes Altazan joined him. Those who knew Altazan say he was excited about the prospect of building a public university in New Orleans. They say he remained convinced throughout his 50-year career at UNO and until his death that the University was an essential asset to the city and state, especially in its ability to provide an affordable education to those who wanted to pursue professions otherwise unattainable without a degree. “He related to the unique position UNO was in,” Williams says. “He knew that UNO could be the lifeline into jobs in the New UNO MAGAZINE




Orleans area. He believed in that model.” Altazan served as dean of the College of Business Administration for 30 years until 1989. He continued to teach at UNO until his retirement in 2008, an occasion marked by a formal remembrance that prompted Baas to create a website where students and colleagues could post well-wishes and notes of gratitude. “I shall forever be grateful for your thoughtful mentoring,” Arthur Parham, senior tax advisor at Entergy who received degrees from UNO in 1974 and 1975, wrote at the time. “Your legacy is the nurturing that you provided to so many students and the success that these students have achieved. New Orleans is a much better place as a result of the values you instilled in so many of its citizens while they were students at UNO.” In addition to Marie Altazan, his wife of 58 years, Altazan is survived by two daughters, Alison Ramiro Guerra and Kerrin Altazan, and four grandchildren. In May, UNO administrators, faculty and alumni gathered with Altazan’s widow, children and other family to dedicate the new Dr. John Altazan Plaza in his memory. Nineteen newly planted fledgling trees dot the south entrance to Kirschman Hall, a reminder of the contributions of a man UNO administrators, faculty and alumni remember as a legend. Williams says that, given the qualities of trees, it just made sense: “They’re robust. They’re hardy. They build character. They’re vigorous. They have a dense root system. And they provide a memorable landscape. “Sound familiar? That was Dean Altazan.”

NOTED UNO PHYSICS PROFESSOR GEORGE IOUP George Ioup, whose service to the University of New Orleans spanned nearly a half century, died on Jan. 20, at the age of 76 after a valiant fight with gastric cancer. Ioup, a university research professor emeritus of physics, was a prolific researcher, a dedicated teacher and an academic innovator. He is survived by his wife and research colleague of 51 years, Juliette Ioup, a fellow professor in UNO’s Department of Physics. Ioup’s unflagging commitment to the University is illustrated by the fact that he retired in 2012 at the age of 73, yet continued to perform all of his teaching, graduate student mentoring and research duties on a gratis appointment. “He never stopped,” Steve Johnson, dean of the College of Sciences, says. “He was remarkable. There was no one like George.” Ioup earned an undergraduate degree in physics from MIT and a doctorate in physics from the University of Florida. In 1969, he joined the physics department at UNO, marking the beginning of a long and distinguished career that would continue for the rest of his life. During his tenure, he directed dissertation research for doctoral students, thesis research for master’s students and research for non-thesis master’s students. In 1976, he was awarded the Amoco LSU System Distinguished Undergraduate Educator Award. Ioup was also instrumental in developing the Ph.D. in engineering and applied science, one of the most successful doctoral programs at the University. “He was basically the main player behind the doctorate in engineering and applied science,” Johnson says. “It took 11 years to

get it approved by the Board of Regents and he never gave up. And I think that just tells you something about George Ioup his motivation and dedication and his passion.” In 2014, Ioup was awarded the Cooper R. Mackin Medallion for exceptional service to UNO. Ioup also developed and directed a program at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi that allowed Stennis employees to take UNO graduate courses in physics, engineering, computer science and math. The first contact Kevin Stokes ever had with Ioup was when he was an employee at Stennis and took a course taught by Ioup. “He really cared about and respected his students,” says Stokes, professor and chair of physics at UNO. “He was really interested in students not just learning the material but in helping them progress in their careers.” Ioup’s research specialty was signal and image processing, which he applied in areas such as underwater acoustics. He studied how whales could be identified in the Gulf of Mexico from their underwater clicks. In 2000, he co-founded the Littoral Acoustic Demonstration Center at UNO, which produced high-quality research on the effects of human behavior on the Gulf of Mexico and its animals. Ioup’s loyalty to the University and his students was unwavering. Despite the fact that he was in failing health, he still attended the fall commencement ceremony on Dec. 18, because one of his doctoral students was graduating.

LONGTIME HISTORY PROFESSOR JACK O’CONNOR John T. “Jack” O’Connor, who spent more than three decades as a history professor at the University of New Orleans, died on Feb. 17, 11 months after he was diagnosed with leukemia. He was 78 years old. O’Connor earned his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in 1965. He was an assistant history professor at the University of Wisconsin before joining the history department at the University of New Orleans in 1973. He taught courses in the French Revolution and Napoleon, 17th Century France and the Age of Louis XIV, among 20



others. In 1984, he received the UNO Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching. O’Connor’s favorite non-academic reading consisted of detective novels and cookbooks. Several friends received frequent messages from him featuring recipes. He was initially indifferent to ballet, but his daughter’s career, first as a dancer at American Ballet Theatre and later as a dance photographer, turned him into a dedicated and knowledgeable lover of the art. Some of his happiest days were spent attending ballet performances in New York City and

elsewhere. One of his most treasured experiences was seeing his daughter perform with A.B.T at the Palais Garnier in Paris in 1991. O’Connor is survived by his brother, Dennis L. O’Connor, his sister, John T. “Jack” Teresa A. O’Connor, O’Connor his ex-wife, Dolores J. Walker and their daughter, Rosalie O’Connor.

MARIE ELIZABETH WINDELL, FORMER LONGTIME LIBRARIAN Former longtime University of New Orleans librarian Marie Elizabeth Windell died Dec. 29, in St. Joseph, Mo. She was 96. A Missouri native, Windell came to New Orleans with her husband of 37 years, George Windell, the UNO history department’s first coordinator of graduate studies, in 1969. She served as an adjunct instructor of French history in the early 1970s before joining UNO’s library staff in 1979 following her husband’s death. At the library, Windell was responsible for conserving and making accessible the archives of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, which was given to the University. She directed the archival project and secured grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to help microfilm the antebellum case files. She also assisted students, scholars and other researchers in exploring the collection. A Missouri native, Windell graduated

Phi Beta Kappa from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., and pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. Before coming to UNO, she was the head of reference and research at the Hagley Library in Wilmington, Del. Windell was a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, the Society of Southwest Archivists, the Society of American Archivists, the Southern Historical Association and the Louisiana Historical Association, among others. She underwrote a lecture series in memory of her late husband and endowed the George G. Windell Memorial Prize in History for the best master of arts thesis in a given year. Windell moved to Plattsburg, Mo., following Hurricane Katrina and retired from the University in 2006. Preceded in death by her parents, husband, brother and sister-in-law, Windell is survived by several nieces, nephews and their children.

DIRECTOR OF COUNSELING SERVICES ADRIAN PÉRÉ an outreach coordinator for counseling Adrian Péré, director of counseling services opened up in 2007, Myers was services for the University of New Orleans, eager to get Péré on board. died Jan. 3. He was 51. Péré quickly became a go-to resource Known for his kind manner and for those involved in student services devotion to serving students, staff and before ascending to lead the faculty in times of need and department in 2009. Besides crisis, Péré leaves behind a actively promoting the community of colleagues and usefulness of UNO’s counseling clients who say he made a quiet, services, he would often deliver indelible mark on an untold timely and needed seminars and number of lives through his work talks that dealt with everything at UNO. from time management to Péré first joined the University diversity to life-school balance. as an intern while working He was instrumental in estabtoward his master’s degree in lishing the Safe Space Allies social work at Tulane University. program on campus in 2009 Rosamond Myers, assistant Adrian Péré in an effort to raise awareness, director and coordinator of understanding and support clinical training for UNO, says for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender that even then Péré immediately stood out students. for his compassion, attention to detail and Prior to seeking a career in social work, unflinching professionalism and ethics. Péré served as an ordained Catholic priest, “He was so outstanding, incredibly graduating from Notre Dame Seminary qualified, skilled and gifted,” Myers and Graduate School of Theology in 1993. says. When a permanent position for

UNO SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR SUSAN MANN University of New Orleans sociology professor Susan Archer Mann passed away on April 8 in Mandeville, La., after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 65. Mann spent more than three decades as a faculty member at UNO, including six years as chair of the sociology department. She was a founder of Susan Mann the UNO Women’s Center as well as the women’s studies program, and she served as its director for many years. She published extensively in the area of feminist theory and was the author of “Doing Feminist Theory,” published by Oxford University Press. Her early publications focused on social change and rural development. “Susan was a beloved colleague and a truly great person to work with,” fellow sociology professor Vern Baxter says. “Known as a superior classroom teacher, Dr. Mann received the campus-wide Seraphia Leyda teaching award as well as the teaching award bestowed by the College of Liberal Arts.” “It was a privilege to have spent my adult life doing work that I love,” Mann once wrote. Mann grew up in Salisbury, Md., and graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her master’s degree from American University and her doctorate from the University of Toronto. She is survived by her husband, Michael D. Grimes, her son, Joshua Sartisky, and her stepson, Michael H. Grimes. She asked that donations be made in her name to the UNO Earl K. Long Library and the American Cancer Society. UNO MAGAZINE




A President Engaged New Leader John Nicklow Focuses on Strengthening Connections to Raise University to New Heights BY ADAM NORRIS



On March 16, 2016, John Nicklow was selected President of the University of New Orleans, succeeding Peter J. Fos, who retired after four years at the helm. The seventh leader in the history of the institution, President Nicklow spent the previous nine months as UNO’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. Prior to that, he worked for 17 years at Southern Illinois University where he served as provost, assistant provost for enrollment management, associate dean of engineering and professor of civil engineering. Upon his selection, President Nicklow laid out his top three priorities: increase enrollment, grow the University’s research enterprise and expand UNO’s partnerships. He wasted no time getting to work. In his first several weeks on the job, President Nicklow met with students, faculty, staff, business leaders, elected officials, donors and alumni. He attended UNO baseball games and tennis matches, Jazz at the Sandbar performances, nonprofit fundraisers, student award banquets, crawfish boils and his first Jazz Fest. Here’s a glimpse at some of the early ways in which he engaged with students, connected with supporters and helped raise the profile of the city’s only public research university.




Everyone Say “Degrees!” Prior to the spring 2016 commencement ceremony, President Nicklow visits the auxiliary gym inside the Lakefront Arena where the graduates assemble. He takes advantage of his 6-foot-5-inch frame to get a wide-angle selfie with some of the graduates. “Commencement is the culmination of everything that we do,” he says. “It means that the students have persevered, that they have done well, that they’ve succeeded.”

Emphasizing the Arts President Nicklow visits with Charles Taylor (left), associate professor and chair of music, and Saúl Bitrán, a violinist with the renowned Latin American string quartet Cuarteto Latinoamericano, during a reception at the Mexican Consulate in New Orleans. Cuarteto Latinoamericano performed the final concert of UNO’s 2015-16 Musical Excursions series the following night. “I see the arts as a critical part of any institution but especially in New Orleans,” President Nicklow says.




Team Player President Nicklow throws out the ceremonial first pitch before a Privateers home baseball game against South Alabama. A former college football player, he says athletics help generate school spirit and positive engagement among students, employees, alumni and the community. He also says studentathletes are an asset to a college campus. “We are creating young men and women who are leaders and giving them additional skills that will help them be successful,” he says.

The Power of Alumni President Nicklow and his wife, Stacy (right), chat with Norma Jane Sabiston, former president of the UNO International Alumni Association, at an event organized by UNO’s new School of the Arts to welcome the new President at the Lakefront Airport. “The idea that New Orleans doesn’t work without the University of New Orleans— that’s because of our alumni,” President Nicklow says. “They are one of the major engines of this region and we have to be plugged in with them.”




The Ties That Bind President Nicklow checks out Dylan Wilson’s UNO tie as Donté Domingue, Cordell Williams and Dorian Collins look on, during the kickoff event for MoMENtum, a new initiative that is focused on improving student success among AfricanAmerican males. “When we bring students to campus, they are making a commitment to work hard, so we’re making a commitment to help them succeed,” President Nicklow says.

Slam Dunk As part of SUCbAUF (Students Unwinding with Crawfish and Unprecedented Fun), the annual on-campus crawfish boil, President Nicklow volunteers for the dunk tank and is repeatedly dunked by students, faculty and staff. “It keeps me young,” he laughs. “I enjoy what I do and I feel like we’re a part of a community here. The students were interested in having me out there, and I was happy to oblige and join the fun.”






The coolest woman in New Orleans doesn’t shout. When you hear her on the radio, her voice is low, steady and unassuming. “WWOZ-FM New Orleans,” she says quietly as the clock turns 8 p.m. on Saturday night. “It’s time for Soul Power with the Soul Sister. Look out.” Then she turns the mic over to a woman better known for her exclamation points. “Hey! Ugh!” screams Tina Turner over a rolling bass and scratchy guitar. “Things and stuff and stuff and things and, and stuff. Grease me!” DJ Soul Sister borrowed her on-air name from this wailing, hiptossing, funkified 1969 release by Ike and Tina Turner. Yet, each week for the last 20 years, Soul Sister—aka Melissa Weber—has spent her Saturday nights in a solitary radio studio, saying little as she sends the rarest of 1970s and 1980s vinyl funk, rare groove, disco and R&B 26






spinning across the airwaves to listeners from New Orleans to Europe to Asia. In a city crowded with musicians and music aficionados, Weber, a 2000 University of New Orleans alumna, has become perhaps the most celebrated DJ in New Orleans thanks largely to her reverent devotion to a genre of music that she believes has gotten short shrift in a landscape that otherwise thrives on live music. What started as a childhood fascination with her father’s records quickly developed into a teenage obsession that had her combing garage sales every Saturday in search of vinyl castoffs, soliciting her friends’ parents for their forgotten old record collections and, at 18 or 19, dashing off into flooded streets one rainy New Orleans afternoon to buy a starter DJ mixer kit from Odyssey Records. Now at age 40, she’s become a local onewoman dance party icon, once nicknamed by a listener as the “Queen of Rare Groove,” a sobriquet that stuck. For three years straight, Weber’s popularity made her a draw at Essence Fest’s main stage before 20,000 people at the Superdome, raising her profile as an underground artist, but, more importantly in her book: raising appreciation for the lesser-known tunes and artists of soul, funk and R&B. “As long as the sound is right, nothing else matters,” she says, describing what it was like to play on such a large stage after years of more intimate settings. “When I get in the zone, I’m literally in my head with the records, so what happens outside of me, I have no control of that. It’s none of my business. All I can control is the energy that I’m putting out through the music and hoping people dig it – and I’m kind of inspiringg people to dig it as well.” Each Saturday, Weber stuffs roughly ghlyy 400 records into canvas, leather and metal cases, trucks them to WWOZ for her two-hour show, ABOVE: Weber (far left) was a

senior in high school in 1992, the first time she met George Clinton (center) outside of the Saenger Theater after seeing him perform with his band Parliament Funkadelic. She says she dragged her friend and classmate Juana Davis (right) to the concert with her. Today, Weber is Clinton’s go-to opener any time he performs in New Orleans. RIGHT: Weber graduated from New Orleans’ Cabrini High School in 1993. But before she did, she created this flyer and passed it out to classmates in hope of increasing her collection of disco, funk and R&B vinyl.




then darts to the nearby Hi Ho Lounge on St. Claude Avenue for her popular Hustle Party, a late-night dance party she’s been hosting since it started at the now-defunct Leo’s in the Bywater in the early 2000s. In 2004, Hustle became a weekly tradition that lasted a decade at Mimi’s in the Marigny until moving to Hi Ho. Her work has won her honors like seven “Best DJ” awards from OffBeat Magazine’s Best of the Beat awards, the most recent this January. In 2009, she became the first person to win the Big Easy Award for the “Best DJ/ Electronica.” And though DJ Soul sister is a name—a brand—that that clubs promote and people flock to, there is little about Melissa Weber’s public personality that isn’t directly tied to the music she plays. “She’s not necessarily about self-promotion,” says Keith Spera, longtime New Orleans music critic who now writes for The New Orleans Advocate. “She’s about promoting the music that other people make. But the way that she presents it is what her art is.” It’s true: For Weber, it is undeniably an art form. When she walks into the Hi Ho each weekend, she doesn’t just get on the stage and start

spinning records. Weber has a recipe—one that she hopes will help people relax into the groove and appreciate the sounds of the artists she’s dug up from forgotten record crates. She instructs the staff to dim the house lights and raise the red lights. She provides the bartender with a DVD of old 1970s “Electric Company” PBS footage for the bar TVs. (Because, really, who can be transported by the sounds of The Dynamic Soul Superiors or Trouble Funk when the overhead visuals are of a sports show and a cheesy, triple layer hamburger close-up?) She takes to the darkened stage with a flashlight and two turntables, each cushioned to prevent skipping. She places her traveling album cases on metal chairs and runs her hands over the records, familiarizing herself with what is where. Just before 11 p.m., she sits back down at the bar, bows her head over a Ketel Citron and soda water, prays the Lord’s Prayer and asks for a safe space and for happy, positive energy to flow from her body to her ears and translate out through the music she selects. She doesn’t want anyone leaving her party (and she does call it “my party”) feeling harassed, heckled or hated. As she takes the stage and drops her first record, heads start to bob. Incense crowds out the odors of butter beans and tortillas served off the bar’s appetizer menu. Patrons—who on this night in December h happen to quietly include Beyoncé, Jay Z and B Beyoncé’s sister, Solange Knowles, a New O Orleans resident, and husband Alan Fergusson—amble through the door. By midnight, a trickle has swelled to a crowd of moving bodies. All ages, ages all skin colors. Heels and flip-flops. Hairdos Haird and hair-don’ts. None are wa watching her. They are listeningg and grooving. groov And Weber is too. They can barelyy see her. She almost never sees them. How w Weber Web found herself on this stage and iin the WWOZ studio sharingg herr alw always expanding collection of vinyl is one on of the truest stories of a person fo following their passion. As a sixs or seven-year-old she started taking possession of her father’s and cousins’ records, unhappyy to see them left out of their protec protective sleeves or, on occasion, used as coasters. So, in her room room, she’d adopt James Brown, Geo George Benson, Lou Rawls and Teddy Pendergrass, fixating over the album covers and lin liner notes, carefully placing th the needle of her childhood

record player on the albums. Her father, Benton Weber, a Sears service technician, wasn’t exactly an aficionado of music. But he enjoyed a spectrum of R&B. After the popularity of the song “Celebration” in 1980, he ended up buying his daughter the 1972 album that she says marked the official start of her personal collection: Kool and the Gang’s “Music is the Message.” It’s an album that to this day is in regular Soul Sister rotation on stage and radio, so beloved that its ice cube blue album cover graced the top of her cake at her 40th birthday, which she celebrated by hosting a dance party at Tipitina’s in September. Rose Weber, Melissa’s school teacher mother, never liked the word “funk.” Still, Weber was undeterred in her quest to collect the funkiest music in existence. As a student at Cabrini High School, she would often steal away to the library to thumb through the Rolling Stone Record Guide. Her senior year, she scribbled out a flyer with hand-written dollar signs across the top. “$$$ For your Parents’/Brothers’/Sisters’ Old 70s Albums!” She laughs now, unclear exactly where she would have gotten the money to buy all those records she envisioned getting her hands on. “Some parents took pity on me and gave me records,” she says. “I still have some of them.” One day in high school while listening to WWOZ, she heard a DJ preface a James Brown tune by telling all the young people to go ahead and leave the room. Weber was so indignant by the assumption that only older people would enjoy James Brown that she wrote the DJ a letter letting him know that the King of Soul’s reach is not limited, nor should it be assumed that it is. “I want to hear James Brown, too,” she said. Within a few years, Weber offered to stuff envelopes as a volunteer at the communitybased radio station. Station leaders soon took note of her calm, clear voice and asked her to do voice-overs. When a staff member suggested Weber fill in as a new jazz show host, Weber declined. “I like funk, though. That’s what I like,” she remembers saying. “I was more interested in the music—not just to be a voice.” That changed when Weber’s favorite DJ, Nita Ketner of the “Soul Show,” told Weber in the 1990s that she would be moving away. Ketner wanted to train Weber to take over her volunteer midnight to 2 a.m. spot. Soul Sister packed up her records and took to the studio. Today, Weber’s reach isn’t limited to her show and her Saturday night dance party. She hosts parties at clubs across town and

Now, she’s working toward a master’s degree in musicology. It’s hard, she says. But she ended her first semester with As. Her existing credentials—being Soul Sister and all—enabled her to co-teach one of her classes. But she hopes her studies will ultimately empower her to promote her favorite music from the perspective of a scholar as well as a fan ... spins records annually at a “crate dig” at her favorite local record shop, Domino Sound Record Shack. She’s an organizer of the Krewe of King James, which celebrates James Brown as it rolls in Krewe Delusion following Krewe Du Vieux during Carnival. Whenever George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic comes to town, Soul Sister is his go-to opener. She is her own publicist, having discovered that when she hands the keys over to others they have the tendency to characterize her music as “oldies” or “hip-hop,” neither of which get to the heart of what Soul Sister is all about. “She’s not a flake—and it’s a business in which people oftentimes are,” Spera says. “She’s very much a professional and takes her craft seriously and truly, truly loves the music she plays and loves what she does …That

always comes across.” But Weber isn’t done. She wants to do more. Last fall, she began graduate school at Tulane University. She’d been working there for about five years as manager of the Newcomb-Tulane College Office of Co-curricular programs, organizing educational events outside of the classroom, some of which may or may not include music. Now, she’s working toward a master’s degree in musicology. It’s hard, she says. But she ended her first year with a 4.0 GPA. Her existing credentials—being Soul Sister and all—enabled her to co-teach one of her classes. But she hopes her studies will ultimately empower her to promote her favorite music from the perspective of a scholar as well as a fan, to help de-stigmatize disco and provide more meaningful context to the history of the music and artists she loves and wants others to love. She’s already written a few articles and album liner notes. She has been asked to present papers at the Experience Music Project (EMP) Pop Music Conference in Seattle, which she researched and wrote in between her regular music gigs, grad school and a full-time job. “I wanted to be able to do the real work of a scholar so that I could really represent the music in a big way,” she says. Her experience at UNO, she says, set the stage for such academic rigor. Though Weber tended to live the life of a commuter student at the time, she says working for a university now leaves her wishing she’d done more at the time to be involved in the Lakefront campus. But she said she’s grateful for the opportunities she found within UNO’s classrooms. “I worked hard at UNO, man,” she says. “My professors were all hard-core and they were great … It was a challenging degree.” Weber has threatened to cut back on her schedule, maybe stop with her Saturday night dance party now that she’s reached 40. But months after that birthday has come and gone, she gives a sheepish smile when asked if that’s going to happen. A health scare a couple of years ago prompted Weber to substantially improve her diet and integrate exercise into her daily routine in a meaningful way. She’s dropped roughly 100 pounds over the year and, she says, she has more energy than ever before. So, you ask again, will she cut back the pace of the parties while she’s pursuing another degree? “I’m just not ready quite yet,” she says with a laugh. “I’m having too much fun, too much fun. There’s still tons more records.” UNO MAGAZINE






were crammed into the modest two-story Bucktown house. It was July and the upstairs rooms were registering 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Local filmmaker and University of New Orleans alumnus Paul Catalanotto had 11 days to shoot his feature-length horror movie, “Sacrilege,” a screenplay about a demonic music box that he and his wife co-wrote with a UNO graduate student. On the upside, Catalanotto was working with the largest cast and crew he’d ever directed—about 40 people altogether after the extras showed up. About 20 of them were film students from UNO willing to work on the crew for experience, exposure and, if the movie sells, class credit. On the downside, well, the heat. Alaina Boyett, a graduate student working toward her MFA in film production, could see the smoldering temperatures and the buzzing set affecting her work. As production designer for “Sacrilege,” Boyett was in charge of dressing every room in the house for upcoming scenes. But as people moved from place to place inside the house, they would disrupt the set in little and not-so-little ways, requiring her and her team to go back and fix it again and again.




Then there was the food: Nonperishable props were disintegrating faster than she’d planned. “I learned from the get-go to delegate tasks,” Boyett remembers. It was the kind of hands-on learning that could never be duplicated in a classroom. For Boyett, 28, and other crew members, the chance to collaborate with Catalanotto (MFA, ’09) gave them a rare chance to step into positions of significant responsibility on a larger-budget production while learning from professionals. It may have been close quarters, but it was a movie that, some believe, has a good chance of having some commercial success. Catalanotto’s first feature-length horror film “Proof of the Devil” (2014) sold nationally and internationally. Produced by Rohan Dhurandhar and distributed by a company called Genesis, the movie is available from WalMart, and other commercial outlets. At one point, it was advertised in New York City’s Times Square. Catalanotto then sold the screenplay for a “Proof of the Devil” sequel, which is being directed by Louisiana filmmaker Jason Hewitt and will be distributed by the same company. He says he has loved watching Hewitt’s work on the movie—and he’s excited to see the outcome, since he crammed everything he wanted to do but couldn’t afford to do in TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER PHOTOGRAPH





TOP: Boom operator Aaron Davis (left) and camera operator Barry Cunningham (right) both UNO students, film actors Jenn Forman, Greg Pearson and Kim Baptiste during a scene on the set of “Sacrilege.” INSET: Filmmaker Paul Catalanotto talks with actor Greg Pearson in between takes on the set of “Sacrilege,” a horror movie Catalanotto (left) wrote, directed and produced in collaboration with UNO film students last summer.

the first movie into its sequel. Soon after, Catalanotto decided it was time to make a movie that would be truly his own—one he would write, direct and produce. That’s where “Sacrilege” came in. He and wife Mary Catalanotto started writing and brainstorming before turning to Mark Twain Williams, a UNO screenwriting graduate student, for assistance. “You know, in the other one (“Proof of the Devil”), I had the comfort of Rohan producing,” Catalanotto says. “That was his baby. What he wanted was how I did it. I wanted to do something where that was really my stamp.” Cinematographer Hamp Overton, a UNO film professor, was intrigued by Catalanotto’s plan to make “Sacrilege.” Overton had been Catalanotto’s major professor and knew his work. He was impressed by the commercial success of “Proof of the Devil,” given its modest budget and 32



size. That film was made with about seven to 10 crew members and a cast of seven. “If you want to make another film,” Overton says he told Catalanotto, “maybe we could get students involved.” UNO’s film and theatre department usually offers a “Spring Film” class during Spring Break, one that gives students a chance to work side-by-side with professionals on a short production—a screenplay about 15 pages long. The advantage of offering the class during the break was that students could have full access to all of the department’s equipment for the purposes

of that production. But when the University shortened its Spring Break to three days in 2015, Spring Film was put on hold. If “Sacrilege” could be shot in the summer, Overton suggested, the film department could fill in that gap, give students even deeper experience on a 90-page feature film, while also connecting them with mentors and helping an alumnus on what promised to be a fun production. Catalanotto, 37, a Hammond resident, had been a lifelong fan of horror flicks. Growing up in Natalbany, La., just outside of Hammond, he and his mother made regular treks

BELOW: UNO graduate student Alaina

Boyett (left) and professional makeup artist Courtney Jarrell work with fake blood to create a gruesome effect during a scene. RIGHT, TOP: Actors Megan Few (left), Carmen Tonry and Jordan Salloum on the set of “Sacrilege.” RIGHT, BOTTOM: Cinematographer Hamp Overton, associate professor of film and theatre at UNO, asked filmmaker and UNO alumnus Paul Catalanotto if he might consider allowing film students to work on his next movie. Overton not only created a class that made the July 2015 collaboration possible, he volunteered his own cinematography on Catalanotto’s latest horror movie, “Sacrilege.”

to the local theaters. And she was the one, he says, who turned him on to scary movies. He watched “Nightmare on Elm Street” at age 6 or 7 with his family gathered around him, and kept looking for more. Even though Catalanotto has managed to carve out a living as a freelance filmmaker by making commercials, music videos and documentaries, his desire to portray the supernatural in a storytelling form has never subsided. In 2013, he even won a Christian Country Music Award for a video he produced for area Christian artist Hunter Erwin. Though Catalanotto considers himself

religious, he sees no paradox in his fascination with fear. “I think that’s why I like horror films so much,” he says. “I like the idea that there’s an afterlife and people I love are somewhere happy. So, scary movies, even though it’s a darker side of that, kind of play to that aspect too.” Overton himself had never before worked on a horror movie. He saw the prospect as liberating: “Who wouldn’t want to work on a horror film?” he says. “People aren’t watching it for a message about world affairs. They’re watching it to get scared and have fun.” When Overton and Catalanotto started approaching students to gauge their interest, they kept discovering other closeted horror film fans. Rebecca Llorella, 29, was one. Llorella was

preparing to graduate in May 2015 when Overton asked her if she might be interested in working on the production. Llorella had been a stand-out undergraduate. Graduate students called on her to staff their films. She was organized, hard-working and eager to get more experience. She could make a great second assistant director, Overton and Catalanotto thought—someone who could help the first assistant director organize the logistics of the shoot: times, locations, costumes, production report logs, making sure actors were happy and finding extras. Plus, Llorella says, “I do love horror films.” Like Catalanotto and even Boyett, Llorella says she grew up seeking movies with fright. Boyett loved the grit of movies like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” And Llorella says she was drawn to all sorts of frightening cinema: “The Excorcist,” “Halloween” and the UNO MAGAZINE



Catalanotto was blown away by the work the students did when they showed up at the set in Bucktown. Students served as camera operators. They were on sound. They were production assistants. They did makeup, design and more. “I guess the best thing to say is they did everything. Everything but direct or write.”

chainsaw movies, among them. Llorella never before had the opportunity to have so much responsibility on a film of this size. She jumped at the chance to work with Catalanotto on her first feature and her first horror film. “It gave me a boost,” she says. “It was definitely very, very exciting working with these professionals.” In addition to connecting Catalanotto with the students from his summer class, Overton volunteered himself as a cinematographer on the project. And thanks to a grant UNO’s film department receives from the local chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) to support mentor relationships, Overton involved other pros like Bill McCord and Stefan Solea in the class and production. Several other UNO alumni like well-known camera operator Loui J. Leroy provided their expertise for their project. Catalanotto said he was blown away by the work the students did when they showed up at the set in Bucktown. Students served as camera operators. They were on sound. They were production assistants. They did makeup, design and more. “I guess the best thing to say is they did everything,” Catalanotto says. “Everything but direct or write.” Students and Overton also noticed something about Catalanotto. In some ways, he may have been the perfect candidate for this project. As a director, they say, he was incredibly attentive to the needs of the cast and crew. He was prepared and ready. He kept all but one day to the standard 12 hours. There was no yelling or screaming. 34



On one occasion, he rewrote a scene to accommodate the schedule of an actor who had a conflicting audition. And he often sought input of the folks who were giving their time to be there—whether they were new to the industry or not. “He cared about everybody. To the point that sometimes, you were like, ‘Hey, Paul, focus on the film a little,’” says Overton with a laugh. Catalanotto says he did all he could do to stick to schedule in part because he was inspired by the students’ investment. “I just didn’t want to worry about these kids working crazy hours with me and then driving home,” he says. “They were giving me their all already and I didn’t want to ask for more. And so we kept it to 12 hours … regardless if I wanted another shot or not.” Llorella says the exposure and access she got working on “Sacrilege” is tangible. Leroy, for example, recently contacted her about a project. “We worked with people who have been in the industry a long time,” she says. “Being able to talk to them and gain access to them was incredible.” Boyett, who received her MFA in May, says the challenge and pace involved in working on “Sacrilege” simultaneously stressed her out and solidified her ambitions of working in the film industry—and, specifically in the art department. It was exactly the kind of experience she said she came to UNO to receive. “It was definitely a challenge, but overall a very rewarding experience that really let me sink my teeth into filmmaking,” she says. Catalanotto spent the spring putting the

TOP LEFT: UNO student Andrea Kuehnel served as first assistant camera during the filming of “Sacrilege.” RIGHT: Rebecca Llorella (left) graduated from UNO’s film program in May of 2015. Two months later, she said, she was thrilled to work beside professionals such as Wade Henderson (right) a unit production manager and producer, during the filming of “Sacrilege.” Llorella was tapped to work as second assistant director on the horror movie. It was the most responsibility she said she’s ever had on a movie.

final touches on “Sacrilege.” In the meantime, he kept up with the freelance work that he considers his bread and butter—work for which he says UNO’s comprehensive film program more than prepared him. Catalanotto graduated from UNO’s film program with a 4.0, but he skipped graduation for a freelance filmmaking gig. “What I learned at UNO is how to do it myself. You go to a lot of programs and you don’t get to touch the equipment if that’s not your discipline,” he says. “UNO has a different approach. They want you to experience all the facets of it. And because I got to try all aspects of filmmaking, I got to be pretty well rounded. That allowed me to be successful as a self-employed freelancer.” Catalanotto has one more reason he says he’s grateful for UNO. In his final year of his master’s program, he met the woman who would go on to become his wife. Now, with “Sacrilege” in its final stages, Catalanotto hopes he will owe UNO even more.

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facultyfocus Bates, Schilling Win Excellence in Teaching Awards Engaged. Supportive. Excellent. Those were words used by students and faculty who nominated the two University of New Orleans professors who won the 2014-15 Excellence in Teaching Awards. Paul Schilling, professor of mechanical engineering, and Randy Bates, professor of English, were honored for their enthusiasm for teaching, devotion to students and dedication to student success. Schilling and Bates each received a Randy Bates Paul Schilling $2,000 prize. Each year the UNO International Alumni Engineering, has taught at UNO for 16 years. According to Schilling, his teaching Association bestows two awards upon philosophy is to explain complex concepts faculty members who exhibit excellence in clearly and concisely, and to make himself teaching. The winners are chosen by a seavailable to students as much as possible. lection committee comprised of past award “Given the difficulty of the courses he recipients and an alumni representative. teaches and the grade distributions—which Schilling, professor and chair of meshow he is not an ‘easy grader,’ the outchanical engineering in the College of

standing teacher evaluation scores Dr. Schilling receives are even more meaningful and impressive,” Edit Bourgeois, professor of electrical engineering, wrote in a recommendation letter. Bates, a 16-year veteran of UNO’s College of Liberal Arts, primarily teaches poetry and nonfiction literature. He is also the nonfiction editor of Bayou Magazine, UNO’s biannual literary magazine. “Students speak time and again of his knowledge and mastery of literature, of his passion for what he teaches, of his supportive, nurturing character, of his guidance and inspiration, generously offered to each and every one of them, of his expert facilitation of writing workshops, and his invaluable mentoring,” Leslie White, associate professor of English, wrote in a recommendation letter.

Digital Exhibit Showcases History Professor’s Research into the Untold Stories of Slavery When most people think of North America’s history of slavery, they consider the plantation economies of the 18th and 19th Century South. But the practice of enslaving Americans didn’t always look exactly that way. In a new digital exhibit featured online by the New Netherland Institute, University of New Orleans assistant professor of history Andrea Mosterman chronicles 200 years of slavery in the first Dutch Colony in North America, known as New Netherland. In this region—which extended from Albany, NY, in the north to Delaware in the south and encompassed parts of what are now the states of New York, New Jersey, In an exhibit featured online by the New Netherland Institute, University of New Orleans assistant professor of history Andrea Mosterman chronicles 200 years of slavery in the first Dutch Colony in North America.




Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware—slaves often lived, worked, and worshipped beside free white settlers. And though the enslaved did not leave any written records, Mosterman pored over court records, land deeds, Andrea Mosterman church records and official correspondence from 1626 to 1827 to piece together the long untold stories of these earliest Dutch slaves. “Unlike their eighteenth-century counterparts, some of these enslaved people earned wages, owned property, married and baptized their children in the Dutch Reformed Church, obtained conditional freedom, and received farmland in Manhattan,” Mosterman writes. On view at, Mosterman’s exhibit delves into the use of slave labor and how it differed from slavery in the plantation economy, as well as the slave trade and aspects of slave family, culture and community. Mosterman also looks at legal issues affecting slavery at the time, explores how some slaves gained initial freedom, and delves into the legacy of slavery in the region. The New Netherland Institute has long worked to cast light on America’s Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America’s Dutch era.

UNO Marketing Chair Tapped to Lead National Educational Organization Pamela Kennett-Hensel, chair of the Department of Management and Marketing in the University of New Orleans College of Business Administration, has been named president of one of the fastest-growing marketing academic associations in the nation. The Marketing Management Association installed Kennett-Hensel as its president during its spring conference in Chicago, April 13-15. The 300-plus member organization is comprised mostly of academics and graduate students and its main focus is upon research and teaching in the marketing field. Kennett-Hensel joined UNO in 2000. Before that, she was on the faculty at the University of South Alabama. She also served as an instructor at Georgia State University. She has taught in UNO’s International Summer School program in Innsbruck, Austria, and in UNO’s Executive MBA programs in Kingston, Jamaica, and New Orleans. Her research interests include sports and event marketing and services marketing. Recently, she has been examining the long-term impact of Hurricane Katrina-induced stress on consumer behavior and the impact of corporate social responsibility on consumer relations. Pamela Kennett-Hensel

UNO Professor Wins Prestigious $47,000 Islamic Banking Prize University of New Orleans finance professor M. Kabir Hassan is the winner of the prestigious IDB Prize in Islamic Banking & Finance from the Islamic Development Bank, the development bank of the Muslim world. The prize is awarded for outstanding merit in the fields of Islamic economics, banking and finance. Hassan will receive a cash award of approximately $47,000. He was presented with the prize at the Board of Governors Annual Meeting in May in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he also delivered a lecture on his current research in Islamic finance. Hassan is the Hibernia Professor of Economics and Finance and Bank One Professor in Business in the Department of Economics and Finance at UNO. M. Kabir Hassan He focuses on the increasing need for empirical tests of the effectiveness of the Islamic finance and economic model on an international scale. The Islamic economic and finance model provides a framework for how economic transactions should be conducted. Islamic economic transactions strive to promote growth similarly to conventional or Western models while also aiming to adhere to religious and ethical standards, with the intention of benefiting society as a whole. It is important, Hassan says, to develop an understanding of whether the Islamic economic system hinders access to economic growth and prosperity or if it advances a long-run model of economic growth and fairness. “The IDB Prize is well-deserved,” says John Williams, dean of the College of Business Administration. “Dr. Hassan has enriched the College of Business Administration through his exceptional determination in teaching and advising UNO finance students and graduates.” Hassan earned his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has supervised more than 45 doctoral theses, presented more than 300 research papers at professional conferences around the globe and published more than 180 papers in academic journals. He serves as the editor or co-editor of several leading international financial journals. Hassan is deeply involved in both the finance and Islamic finance industry, providing consulting services to banks, governments, private organizations and universities around the world.

Harmelink Named Biz Professional of the Year by National Honor Organization University of New Orleans accounting professor Philip Harmelink has been named the 2016 Business Professional of the Year in the education category by Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor organization for financial information. Harmelink is the Ernst & Young Professor of Accounting and chair of the Department of Accounting. He has been a UNO faculty member since 1979. The UNO chapter of Beta Alpha Psi nominated Harmelink, who Philip Harmelink was in competition with nominees from chapters from all 50 states. Beta Alpha Psi executive director Margaret Fiorentino says the selection committee was impressed by Harmelink’s contributions to academia, his scholarship fundraising for accounting students and his support for the Beta Alpha Psi chapter at UNO. As a result of Harmelink winning the award, the UNO chapter of Beta Alpha Psi also receives a $2,000 prize. “This award is wonderful recognition of Dr. Philip Harmelink’s dedication to educating students and his tremendous efforts in achieving numerous scholarships each year for accounting students,” says John Williams, dean of the College of Business Administration. “Dr. Harmelink’s efforts have contributed significantly to UNO’s accounting department being recognized for its outstanding programs and graduates.” Founded in 1919, Beta Alpha Psi is an honor organization for financial information students and professionals. There are more than 300 chapters on college and university campuses with more than 300,000 members initiated since Beta Alpha Psi’s formation. UNO’s Department of Accounting holds an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accounting accreditation, which places it in the top 3 percent of all accounting programs internationally. UNO MAGAZINE



facultyfocus UNO Faculty Member Selected as University of Vienna Visiting Professor University of New Orleans education professor Linda Flynn-Wilson will serve as a visiting professor at the University of Vienna in Austria this summer. Flynn-Wilson will provide instruction for undergraduate and graduate students in special needs and inclusive education. In addition, Flynn-Wilson will serve as the UNO faculty representative to establish a special education conference called Behinderten Symposium, a collaborative effort between UNO and the University of Innsbruck. The conference will be a symposium with

researchers across the U.S. and Europe. Logistical support in conference preparation will be provided by Center Austria at UNO and Center New Orleans in Linda Flynn-Wilson Innsbruck. ordinator of an early intervention program Flynn-Wilson earned her Ph.D. in special for children from birth to 5 years old. education from the University of Illinois in Collaboration between UNO and Austrian 1990 with an emphasis on early childhood universities dates back to 1976 with the special education. She chairs UNO’s Departlaunch of an international summer school ment of Special Education and Habilitative program for UNO students at the University Services within the College of Education of Innsbruck. and Human Development and serves as co-

UNO Healthcare Management Professor Honored Donald Zimmerman, a professor of healthcare management at the University of New Orleans, was honored in March by the Nepali Ambassador to the United States for his work on caste-based human rights issues. Zimmerman was presented with a certificate of appreciation at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Zimmerman is the director of the undergraduate healthcare management program in the College of Business Administration at UNO. He’s also the co-chair of the board of directors of the International Commission for Dalit Rights, an independent and impartial advocacy, networking and development organization dedicated to promoting the rights of Dalits around the world. Dalits is the term for the nearly 300 million of the world’s most marginalized people who have been discriminated against based on their caste Donald Zimmerman status in South Asia, parts of Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere around the world. Zimmerman says he first became involved in Dalit issues several years ago through the work and interests of one of his Southeast Asian students. He says that sparked his own research on the subject. “As I learned more and more, I became convinced that the Dalit issue was, in fact, not just an issue of importance in South Asia, but a universal human rights issue faced by anyone who had experienced personal hardship due to their unchosen characteristics at birth,” Zimmerman says. He joined the International Commission for Dalit Rights in 2010 and became co-chair of its board of directors in 2013. Zimmerman joined UNO in 2015 as the director of the new undergraduate program in health care management. He previously led the Health Care Administration Program at the University of Maryland University College and the Center for Healthcare Management Studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ. He holds a doctorate from Stony Brook University in New York. 38



Lisa Verner Named New Director of UNO Women’s Center English instructor Lisa Verner has taken the helm as the new director of the University of New Orleans Women’s Center. Verner, who has served as an honors faculty member and academic director of various study abroad programs, has taught numerous women and gender studies courses over the past 14 years. She succeeds Beth Blankenship, who became the coordinator of the new Center for Teaching Innovation. The Women’s Center is a valuable asset to the University, says UNO President John Nicklow. It produces and supervises student activities and helps connect students with on- and off-campus resources such as UNO Counseling Services, the Family Justice Center and the NO/ AIDS Task Force. The center administers several scholarships for female students. It also coordinates a lecture series Lisa Verner known as Coffee Talks that addresses some academic aspects of women’s and gender studies. “The center serves as a safe, physical space for individual students and student organizations; it also offers individual services as well as group advocacy, not only for women but for members of the LGBTQIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and questioning) community,” Verner says. Verner holds a doctorate in medieval literature from Tulane University. She has served as the academic director of the summer study abroad program in Rome since 2011 and was academic director of the Japanese study abroad program in 2010. Verner says she hopes to deliver the kinds of advocacy, faculty mentoring and collaborations that students and student organizations desire and need. “The Women’s Center is always a safe and welcoming place for students to seek help and information,” she says, “but I would like to expand our reach into the student community.”

Film and Theatre Chair Wins National Theatre Education Award It’s always nice to be recognized for your work. But for educators, it can be especially gratifying when that recognition comes from former students. David Hoover, chair of the University of New Orleans Department of Film and Theatre, had just such an honor when he was named a recipient of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Prize for Teaching Innovation. The prize is awarded annually to an individual in each of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s eight geographic regions. Hoover is the winner for Region Six, which encompasses Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. He was nominated by a former graduate student who now serves as the Region Six chair for the festival. Letters of support for the honor came from former graduates who are professional actors, directors and educators. “This award is really a tribute to the hundreds of alumni we have working in the field,” Hoover says. “This is what fills me with pride and keeps me energized.” The award goes to those who have demonstrated their ability to discover new pathways for student success in the field of theatre.

Founded in 1986, the ATHE is a nonprofit organization representing college and university theatre departments and administrators, faculty, graduate students and theatre practitioners. Hoover is an award-winning director. In addition to his many directorial credits at UNO, his work has been seen in New Orleans at Le Petit Théatre du Vieux Carré, Tulane Summer Shakespeare Festival, Rivertown Rep, Le Chat Noir, Southern Rep and Tulane Summer Lyric. He has worked at other prestigious theatres in- David Hoover cluding The Guthrie, the Dallas Theatre Center, American Southwest Theatre Company, Shakespeare Festival of Dallas and The Lyceum. He is also a member of the Society of American Fight Directors, ATHE and the Southwest Theatre Association. Internationally he has been an adjudicator in London, lectured at the Université de Sorbonne in Paris and has taught extensively in Italy and Mexico. He is also the recipient of the Artist Fellowship Award from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the first award of its kind made to a director.

Uttam Chakravarty, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, says less vibration will improve passenger comfort, decrease maintenance costs and extend the life of the helicopter.

Professor’s Research to Create Less Choppy Chopper Rides Uttam Chakravarty has a goal: to reduce the vibration in a helicopter’s blade. Thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents, the University of New Orleans mechanical engineering professor should be able to do just that. It’s not just that Chakravarty likes helicopters. Less vibration will improve passenger comfort, decrease maintenance costs and extend the life of the helicopter,

Chakravarty says. Working with a collaborator from NASA, his work will enable him to determine the maximum level of vibration and analyze the behavior of the rotor blade while the helicopter is hovering and traveling forward. The researchers will develop an analytical model, estimate the vibration and consider how an active or passive vibration control system will minimize the vibration level of

the rotor blade. A passive control system would not require an additional power source while an active control system would need an external power source to reduce the vibration. Chakravarty, who holds a doctorate in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech, researches solid mechanics, composite structures, fluid-structure interaction and small-scale unmanned aerial systems. UNO MAGAZINE





Innsbruck, Austria



rarely did. Between raising seven children and working as a nurse, there just wasn’t time or money. But her advice to her children was constant: “There’s a big world out there,” her son remembers her saying. “You need to go look at it.” Carl Wagner obeyed. At age 70, Wagner has traveled so extensively, it’s easier for him to tick off the countries he’s not visited than to list the ones he has. Now, the University of New Orleans alumnus and former director of international education at UNO is giving back, eager to help more UNO students experience the life-changing power of traveling abroad. Wagner and his wife, Cathy, have pledged $50,000 to UNO to be used as scholarships for students who want to participate in the UNO-Innsbruck International Summer School in Innsbruck, Austria, but who otherwise can’t afford it. Ohoyo Taylor, a junior accounting major, is the first recipient. “I’m just so glad she has the opportunity,” says Wagner, who met Taylor during a recent visit to New Orleans from his home in Colorado. “She is just such a pleasant student, very bright and very charming. Everything she said to us told us they made the right choice.” When Wagner enrolled as a student at UNO in 1977, he already knew he wanted to travel. Though born and raised in Mobile, Ala., he’d served two tours of duty in Vietnam, and visited Europe and Central America several times. Upon his return from the military, Wagner enrolled at the University of South Alabama and began working toward a degree in languages. That’s when his sister, then a student at UNO, convinced him to join her on a 1974 UNO-sponsored summer trip to Munich, Germany. Wagner had no idea how that trip would transform him. It was there that he first met Gordon “Nick” Mueller, history professor and founder of the first international summer program. Mueller started the program in Germany, but moved it to its current home of Innsbruck two years later. By 1977, after a debilitating bout with the Avian flu forced him to withdraw from South Alabama, Wagner moved to New Orleans 40



and transferred d to UNO. UNO That’s Th ’ when h Mueller M ll Carl and Cathy Wagner this spring hired Wagner to be a student worker on the met University Innsbruck summer program, unexpectedly of New Orleans launching what would become, for Wagner, accounting student the ultimate marriage of passion and Ohoyo Taylor profession. (center), the first Within two years, Wagner was running the recipient of a program—a job that enabled him to travel UNO-Innsbruck International to Austria a couple times a year while also Summer School pursuing a master’s degree. “I was kind of at the right place at the right scholarship established by the time,” Wagner says. Wagners. Over the next few years, Mueller would rise to dean and, later, vice chancellor. His promotion left room for someone to assume the duties he left behind. And when it came to Innsbruck, Mueller determined Wagner was the person for the job. Travel and Innsbruck became such a part of Wagner’s life that even after he retired from leading the program in 2001, he returned nine years later as a student. And wife Cathy, meanwhile, has served as the Innsbruck program nurse since 2011. He’s lost count of all of his trips, but he knows they number at least 55 trips to Europe and 34 years as part of the Innsbruck program. “I’ve been given so much by this experience—by UNO, by Nick Mueller—for the opportunity to do this program for so many years,” he says. “And I love doing it.” Wagner says he’s hopeful that Taylor, the inaugural scholarship recipient, will immerse herself in great classes and weekend excursions. He hopes that the travel spurs her toward lifelong learning and interest in others—something he knows a little about. “You can only learn so much from textbooks,” Wagner says. “Going to those countries is a big eye-opener.” For her part, Taylor said she is certain the experience will inform her understanding of the business world. She also plans to work on a community service project while in Austria. And if the scholarship isn’t enough, the Wagners have another gift to give Taylor this summer: dinner at an expensive restaurant off-campus. After all, they’ll all be learning the Innsbruck way.


UNO Alum Leverages Innsbruck Experience into a Fulbright Grant BY ADAM NORRIS



Dallas Rolnick has been offered a yearlong Fulbright Grant that will allow him to conduct research on tunnel boring machines at the University of Leoben in Austria. Rolnick earned a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from UNO in 2015. But it was during a semester spent at Innsbruck, Austria, as part the UNO-Innsbruck Academic Year Abroad program that the topic of tunnel construction first piqued Rolnick’s interest, planting the seeds for his future Fulbright pursuits. While in Austria, Rolnick studied the Brenner Base Tunnel, a 64-kilometer rail tunnel currently under construction there. When completed, the tunnel will become the longest transportation tunnel in the world. Most modern tunnels that are more than a few miles long are excavated by a tunnel boring machine, rather than with conventional drill and blast methods, Rolnick says. Researchers at the University of Leoben have begun working to improve accuracy in the forecasting of tunnel excavations as well as to advance the capabilities of such tunnel boring machines. Rolnick has been invited to join a team in the fall of 2016 where he will participate in testing new sensor equipment on the Brenner Base Tunnel boring machines. If the equipment is successful, it will become standard on tunnel boring machines worldwide, Rolnick says. “Austria leads the world in tunneling research and construction and the University of Leoben is home to Austria’s premier tunneling program,” Rolnick says. “The Brenner Base Tunnel is a globally significant construction project. As an engineering student planning a career in tunnel construction, I couldn’t hope for a better opportunity.” Rolnick, whose undergraduate work at Innsbruck was supported by a research scholarship from the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation, successfully navigated the highly competitive Fulbright grant application process. His proposal was first approved by the National Fulbright Committee and subsequently selected by the host nation. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide and it awards approximately 8,000 competitive merit-based grants each year. Dallas Rolnick Applicants include graduating seniors and recent (B.S., ’15) speaks in bachelor’s degree recipients, master’s and doctoral can- April to University didates, and young professionals with up to five years of New Orleans professional study or experience in the field in which students interested in applying for a they are applying. Fulbright grant. Besides Rolnick, other University of New Orleans Rolnick has been graduates awarded Fulbright grants over the years offered a Fulbright include: Lindsay Holbert Allen who went to Vietnam grant to research in 2012; Caileen Marie Coleman, who went to Turkey tunnel boring in 2015; Cherie Fontenot, who went to China in 2005; machines at the Paul Fos, who went to Austria in 1985; and Donna University of Leoben in Austria. Franco, who went to Zimbabwe in 1993. UNO MAGAZINE



Blake Dean, 28, became the youngest active head coach at the NCAA Division I level when he accepted the position with University of New Orleans in June 2015.





In baseball circles,

finished second in school history in hits (332), RBI (260) and total bases (575), fourth in home runs (56) and fifth in runs scored (223). Honors came in by the boatload, including being named a mention of the Dean Brothers evokes memories of the comiFreshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball in 2007, claiming cally named Jay “Dizzy” and Paul “Daffy” Dean of the famed 1934 first-team All-America recognition by Baseball America in 2008 St. Louis Cardinals Gashouse Gang. On the Lakefront, however, and earning first-team all-state honors in each of his final three there’s another set of Dean brothers donning a University of New collegiate seasons. Orleans uniform as Blake and Dakota have joined forces to help While Blake was starring at LSU, Dakota was often in the stands put the Privateer program back on the national map. and became part of the family. So when it was time for the younger While there is no relationship between the major league stars and Dean to make his college decision, it was an easy one. Dakota’s the current UNO duo, the pair in the Privateer dugout are just as time in Baton Rouge, however, was short-lived as he was limited to serious about success on the diamond and have the same drive to 11 at-bats in just 10 games as a true freshman in 2014. compete for championships. There have been several brother com“When LSU came knocking, it was kind of a no-brainer for binations to play on the same team at the college and professional him,” Blake says about his brother’s initial college decision. “At the level, but what makes the New Orleans pair unique is that one is same time, he had a shadow cast over him to some degree to try the head coach and the other is a standout student-athlete. and do what I did. He went over there, got a few at-bats, but didn’t “It’s always been a dream of mine, and I guess a lot of people, to get a lot of playing time. He thought it was probably best for him play with your older brother,” says Dakota, who is six years younger to go somewhere he could get playing time and make a name for than Blake. “It’s great having him as my coach. He’s very knowlhimself. Going to junior college ended up being a good decision edgeable about the game. He’s had a lot of success when he played. for him.” It’s pretty awesome to pick his brain and see what he’s thinking Dakota enrolled at Northwest Florida State College for the about in different situations. I’ve learned so much from him.” 2014-15 school year and went on to star for the Raiders. In his lone Being on the same team for the first time in their lives, Blake and season there, he—along with current Privateers Aaron Palmer and Dakota Dean have been instrumental in what has become a renais- Ryan Leone—helped NWFSC go 42-13, finish second in the Pansance of baseball on the Lakefront as the Privateers surpassed their handle Conference, win the Region VII/Gulf District Tournament win total of a year ago just 19 games into the 2016 schedule and title and claim the school’s first-ever NJCAA Division I World secured their first winning season since 2008. Series championship. A big reason for that has been an infusion of youth at the helm of “I decided that I didn’t want to sit on the bench for two years the program. Born Feb. 25, 1988, Blake Dean became the youngest and wait my turn like a lot active head coach at the NCAA Division I level when he accepted of people have to do at big the position at the University of New Orleans on June 30, 2015. schools like that,” Dakota Dean’s ascension to the head coaching position came two years says. “I wanted to go home and after working with Privateer legend Ron Maestri as a voldo what I could do at Northwest Florida unteer coach in 2014 and as the top assistant in 2015. State. It just so happened that we won a national chamAge and perceived inexperience, however, have pionship, which that school had never done. It’s literally never been a factor in Blake’s career. After starring right up the road from our house, so that was a plus. I was at Crestview (Fla.) High School, he became a starter going back not only to be closer to my family, but to try from day one as a collegiate student-athlete at LSU. and get back on track at the Division I level.” Following his time with the Tigers, he spent two While Dakota was left to ponder his collegiate future, seasons playing professionally and got his first taste Blake was in the midst of a job interview at UNO as of college coaching at his alma mater in 2013, when Maestri had recently stepped down from his second he was a student-assistant on a team that advanced to stint at the Privateers’ head coach. As luck would have it the NCAA Men’s College World Series. for both brothers and the program, Blake was hired and “When it’s your first job, all eyes are on you—espeDakota soon signed to play out his career on the Lakefront. cially at my age,” Blake says. “It can make you feel like From that moment on, the atmosphere around Maestri you have a lot to prove. I try to be the best at everyField at First NBC Ballpark has been different. Instead of bething that I do, so I work hard to be the best. It’s intering viewed as a potentially easy victory, the Privateers have esting to have all the eyes on you being as young as taken the Southland Conference by storm in 2016. Before you are, but I just want to succeed.” the end of the regular season, UNO already doubled its Success has been a constant factor during win total from the previous campaign. Blake’s baseball career as he was a four-year allAnd while the Dean brothers are a big reason for the state honoree, a member of the USA Baseball turnaround, they both realize that it takes more than just a Youth National Team and a Louisville Slughead coach and one slugger to ensure sustained team sucger All-American in high school. From cess. there, he packed his bags for Baton Rouge “My brother has definitely helped,” Blake says. “Whatwhere he helped LSU post a combined ever I bring, I guess that helps a little bit too … At the 175 wins, three trips to the NCAA end of the day, we’re just two guys and there Regionals and Super Regionals, and a are quite a few more pieces to the pair of berths in the College World puzzle. These other guys have Series—including a National come in, bought into what Championship in 2009. we’re doing and have contribSix years younger than his Along the way, Blake uted as well.” brother, Dakota Dean was often in the stands when his brother, Blake, was playing for LSU.







Michael Nicholls of Bridgetown, Barbados, has tied or established a UNO record on six occasions. He also pulled off the Southland Conference sweep with league titles in the 60-meter hurdles during the indoor season and the 110-meter hurdles during the outdoor campaign.




University of New Orleans track and field program’s meets throughout the 2016 season are becoming repetitive. The names Michael Nicholls and Alexia Fortenberry are mentioned so often, it feels like reviewing the transcript from a broken record. That is because they did exactly that—break records. A 2013 graduate of West Jefferson High in Harvey, La,, Fortenberry has been a mainstay in the UNO headlines since her arrival on campus. Not only does she hold the school record in the women’s 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.14 seconds at last year’s Southland Conference Championship, Fortenberry finished her junior year holding each of the top 20 fastest times in the event in Privateer history. Nicholls, meanwhile, has made an immediate impact on the New Orleans squad in his first collegiate season as the freshman from Bridgetown, Barbados, tied or established a UNO record on six occasions. He also pulled off the Southland Conference sweep with league titles in the 60-meter hurdles during the indoor season and the 110-meter hurdles during the outdoor campaign. Both championships came in school-record fashion as he ran the 60-meter hurdles in 7.97 seconds at the SLC Indoor Championship on Feb. 16 and followed that up with a time of 13.91 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles at the outdoor meet on May 8. “We’ve had a lot of success and hurdles is an event that we’ve been able to attract good talent,” Privateers head coach Benjamin Dalton says. “We work really, really hard at it and we have student-athletes who buy in and focus every single day to be the best that they can be. We have the right environment here, the right competitive situation and the right training. So far, it’s been successful and I hope it just continues to get better and better from here. “(Fortenberry) came in as a local girl. She had talent, good training and good support. Every year, she’s gotten better and better. This year, she finally clicked and realized that every day you’ve got to want it in practice and that is really starting to come to fruition. Michael is just the real deal. Every single day, he wants perfection. Every single day, he brings everything he needs because he wants to be the one of the best in the world.” Nicholls’ efforts on the track during the outdoor season earned him Southland Conference Freshman of the Year distinction, making him the second athlete to earn the title in the three years that the Privateers have been a member of the league.




“When I was looking at schools online, I saw Alexia Fortenberry’s name,” Nicholls says. “I also called my friend (former UNO track standout) Dario Scantlebury, who is also from Barbados, and he said, ‘We have a hurdler here and she ran 13.2 last semester.’ I liked that. To see someone make such progress—going from 13.5 to 13.2—is amazing. I thought to myself, ‘You know what? I can deal with that. That’s where I want to go.’ “The indoor season was all new to me. Heading into outdoors, that is where I’m more comfortable, but I’m running at a higher height. Every time I hit the track I just kept trying to go faster and faster. I had some (slight injuries) here and there because I wasn’t accustomed to the (hurdle) height, but as the season progressed, the communication between Coach Ben and I got better. We were able to sit down, figure out what we needed to work on and it came to the point where I broke 13 (seconds). That was a big positive. After that, I knew the feeling and knew I could always go at that. We continued to work and the times just came down.” Not to be outdone, Fortenberry was back to her old tricks during the 2016 outdoor campaign. Following a recordbreaking sophomore season, she tallied the No. 2 time in school history twice as a junior and added six more times that currently rank in the Top 20 in the UNO women’s 100-meter hurdle record book. In addition to her performances at the SLC Championship and the LSU Alumni Gold—where she finished second and seventh, respectively—Fortenberry posted four 100-hurdles victories in 2016. “It all comes down to training,” Fortenberry said. “Coach does everything he can and he is the reason Mikey (Nicholls) and I have gotten to this point. We get on the line, (Nicholls is) pushing me and I’m giving him some details and pushing him. That really helps. I love him being here. He’s a great teammate. “It’s fun to set records and establish some standards. When you look down the line 10 years from now, people are going to think, ‘Wow, who is this Fortenberry? I need to beat this.’ I’ve enjoyed my time here so far and I’m looking forward to new and better things. We want to be among the best among the collegiate world and getting it done.” Nicholls will head to his native country to participate in the Barbados Olympic Trials June 23-24 and will take part in the World Junior Olympics in Poland July 21-22. “The Olympics are absolutely in his future,” Dalton adds. “We’re not going to World Juniors just to take part. He’s been there before. We’re going there to win. To be the best in the junior category this summer, that means the best in the world—that’s U.S., collegiate, everybody in his age category. That’s phenomenal for a 19-year old.”

Alexia Fortenberry, a 2013 graduate of West Jefferson High in Harvey, La., holds the University of New Orleans record in the women’s 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.14 seconds. She has each of the top 20 fastest times in the event in Privateer history.




AlumNotes Cheryl Champagne (B.A., ’72) and Pierre Champagne (B.S., ’76) Husband and wife alumni Cheryl and Pierre Champagne were together awarded the 2015 President’s Medallion for Distinguished Service by former University of New Orleans President Peter J. Fos. The couple have long volunteered their time in support of UNO through involvement in the UNO International Alumni Association, Privateer Athletic Foundation, UNO Friends of the Library and more. Bill Bozeman (B.A., ‘75) Bill Bozeman is president and CEO of PSA Security Network, an electronic security cooperative responsible for more than $2 billion of electronic security and life safety installations. Bozeman has 35 years of experience in the security systems integration business. He attended Louisiana State University and graduated from the University of New Orleans in 1975. Bozeman is a member of the Security Integration Hall of Fame and was recognized as one of the 25 Most Influential Security Executives. He is the recipient of the Paul Marcus award, presented to individuals who provide consistent leadership and direction to the PSA Security Network, and, in 2013, received the George Lippert Memorial Award, recognizing outstanding contributions to the Security Industry Association. Jim Letten (B.A, ‘76) Jim Letten, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has joined Butler Snow LLP, where he will work with the law firm’s investigations and white collar crimes group. He will also consult on criminal and regulatory investigations, government audits and civil fraud cases. He will continue to serve as assistant dean at Tulane Law School, a post he assumed after stepping down as U.S. Attorney in 2012. Douglas P. Verret (Ph.D., ‘78) Douglas P. Verret was elected to the Board of Governors of the Electron Devices Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He brings 34 years of experience working for Texas Instruments, before which he taught high school physics and math and later was assistant professor of physics and pre-engineering at Xavier University. He holds a Ph.D. in experimental solid state physics from the University of New Orleans and an M.S. in physics from Purdue University. His field of study was the optical


properties of metals. Verret holds 16 U.S. patents and five European patents in microelectronics technology. He was an editor of IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices from 1995 to 2000 when he was appointed editor-inchief, a post he held until 2011. Paula Currie (Ph.D., ‘86) Paula Currie was named a fellow of the American Speech-LanguageHearing Association, an honor awarded to those who have made significant contributions to the field of communication sciences and disorders. She is associate professor of communications sciences and disorders at Southeastern Louisiana University, where she has served as the department head and program director for communication sciences and disorders, as well as the assistant dean of the College of Nursing and Health Services. Currie holds a Bachelor of Arts in speech therapy

Rashida Govan (Ph.D., ’11) Rashida Govan, founder and executive director of Project Butterfly, was recognized by | The Times-Picayune as an “Everyday Hero,” for her work providing mentors for young women of color in grades 9 through 12. The organization has served nearly 200 students since it was founded in 2009, providing weekly educational support and college preparedness. In the program, the girls receive guidance through yoga, dancing, meditation, journaling, creative performance and more.


from Louisiana State University, a master of communication disorders from LSU Medical Center and a doctorate in languages and learning disabilities from the University of New Orleans. Judy Stuart (M.Ed., ‘77, Ph.D., ‘86) Judy Stuart has been awarded the inaugural James H. Smart Award by Furman University’s Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection. Presented annually to a Furman faculty or staff member, the award is designed to promote encouragement of vocational exploration and reflection by Furman students, and to recognize those who exemplify this work in their teaching, advising, mentoring, service, public engagement and other aspects of their roles at the university. Stuart is an associate professor and the coordinator of special education programs for the education department at Furman. Stuart also coordinates programs and advises students seeking an education major without certification. She holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from Louisiana Tech University and a master’s and Ph.D. in special education from the University of New Orleans. Patrick Scheuermann (B.S., ‘86) Patrick Scheuermann joined Geocent as executive vice president for aerospace and defense in Hunstville, Ala., and chief development officer for the corporation. Scheuermann comes from NASA, where he spent three years as center director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Scheuermann will provide oversight, leadership and strategic focus to the execution and growth of Geocent’s aerospace and engineering activities across the country and around the world. He is a native of New Orleans and holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of New Orleans. Lee Vail (M.B.A.,’87) Lee Vail has been named partner in the New Orleans office of Kean Miller LLP. He joined the firm in 2010 and practices in the environmental regulatory, process safety management, emergency response and intellectual property groups. He is a registered professional engineer and brings more than 30 years of process engineering, project management, process safety management and environmental regulatory experience in the petroleum refining industry to his work. In addition to holding a master’s

Cory Haik (M.A., ‘00) Cory Haik has been named chief strategy officer at Mic, a New York-based online news site targeted to millenials. In her new position, Haik leads editorial, product and sales strategies. Haik joined the organization from The Washington Post, where she worked for more than five years as executive producer and senior editor of digital news. Formerly of | The TimesPicayune and The Seattle Times, Haik last year was named by Washingtonian as “one of the most powerful women in Washington,” largely because of her work pushing digital experimentation at the Post. She has received a number of honors in her field, including being part of two Pulitzer Prizes awarded to the staffs of The Seattle Times and The Times-Picayune. degree from the University of New Orleans, Vail has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from LSU, a master’s in petroleum engineering and a doctorate in environmental engineering from Tulane University and a juris doctorate from Loyola University. Laura Devlin Jonau (B.G.S., ‘90) Laura Devlin Jonau was recognized as a Chevron/Saints Teacher of the Week. Jonau is in her 22nd year as a physical education teacher and currently teaches kindergarten through eighth grade at Edward Hynes Charter School.

Missy Herbert (B.A., ‘95) Missy Herbert joined Warren Averett LLC Certified Public Accountants and Advisors in Atlanta within its audit and assurance practice. She serves on the Employee Benefit Plan Task Force for the State of Georgia and is a member of the School Advisory Council for Teasley Middle School in Cherokee County. She is also a member of the Women in Pensions, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Georgia Society of CPAs. She authored an audit guide on how to audit employee

benefit plans, entitled Knowledgebased Audits of Employee Benefit Plans. Brent Giuffre (B.S., ‘95) Brent M. Giuffre is now medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary, La. Giuffre has more than 10 years of experience in emergency medicine and previously was medical director of emergency medicine at St. Charles Parish Hospital in Luling, La. Giuffre graduated from the University of New

Orleans, earned his medical degree at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans and completed his internship and residency training at Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge. He is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine and is a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Giuffre and his wife, Kendall, live in Zachary with their son, Grey. Felton J. Louis (B.S., ’95) Felton J. Louis, Jr., became director of Human Resources Information Systems Services and Data Quality at the University of San Francisco in March 2015. Rose Drill-Peterson (Ph.D., ‘98) Rose Drill-Peterson retired as director of the Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools, a network of charter schools that share support services such as finance, legal and public relations. Drill-Peterson had 46 years of educational experience working in and for Orleans Parish schools, including lobbying, grant writing, public relations and once serving as interim area superintendent.

Mack J. Marsh, Jr. (B.B.A., ‘90) Mack J. Marsh, Jr., has been appointed to the State Independent Living Council by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Marsh, of Cedar Park, Texas, is a project director for Access Empowerment, a nonprofit technology development nonprofit that, among other things, works to increase parking access for persons with disabilities. He previously served as the executive director of the Texas Association of Centers for Independent Living. Before that, he was a lifelong resident of Louisiana, where he ran a wholesale business and served as director of Louisiana Medicaid Infrastructure Grant. In 2001, Marsh suffered a spinal cord injury that resulted in quadriplegia. Since then, he has been deeply involved in raising awareness of—and trying to prevent—traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.

Stephen Saucier (B.A, ‘93, M.Ed., ‘00) Stephen F. Saucier has been named executive director of Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute. Previously, he was executive director of the North Carolina Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative, a statewide network of 35 science centers, museums and children’s museums dedicated to advancing STEM education. He also founded Executive Vision Consulting, a museum consulting practice focused on interactive museums. Saucier holds a master’s of education degree and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and biology from the University of New Orleans as well as a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. James Perry (B.A., ‘00) James Perry has been named president and chief executive of the Winston-Salem Urban League. Perry founded the Mississippi Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center before serving as chief executive of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center for 10 years. He serves on the National Fair Housing Alliance board of directors and has advocated for fair housing before Congress. At University of New Orleans, he studied political science before obtaining his law degree from Loyola University.

Melissa Ehlinger (M.U.R.P.,’10) Melissa Ehlinger was awarded the 2016 Distinguished Alumna Award by the University of New Orleans College of Liberal Arts. Ehlinger is a project-based consultant in economic development and urban planning. A New Orleans native, she holds a master’s degree in urban planning from UNO. Ehlinger was presented with the award at the College of Liberal Arts Honors Convocation in April. Prior to becoming a consultant, Ehlinger was senior vice president for strategy and business development at the New Orleans Business Alliance. During her tenure there, she was also interim president and CEO and was an integral part of crafting the alliance’s overall economic development strategy. She oversaw dayto-day business attraction and retention functions, as well as the organization’s research department. She has also worked with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, where she served as a project manager in residential and commercial corridor redevelopment, and was an attorney with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Ehlinger holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She also earned a law degree from George Washington University.


SPRING 2016 47

AlumNotes Robin A. Kemp (M.F.A., ’02) Robin Kemp was recently hired by McKing Consulting as a health marketing/communications specialist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. Robin’s duty post is the Office of the Director, Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support. In this position,

Kemp is responsible for translating scientific and policy language under the federal Plain Writing Act of 2010, as well as applying health literacy principles to a wide range of projects. Kemp has written for Gambit, New Orleans Magazine, CNN, The Weather Channel, and many other outlets. She is the author of This Pagan Heaven:

Poems (Pecan Grove Press, 2009). She is working toward completing a doctorate in creative writing at Georgia State University. Onika Miller (M.B.A., ‘02) Onika Miller, the former permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister for the Government of Jamaica, is now working in an ex-



New Orleans CityBusiness Highlights Nine UNO Alumni Working in Health Care

Crawfish Mambo 2016, New Orleans’ largest crawfish cook-off, broke records again in May. More than 4,500 people came out for 20,000 lbs. of crawfish. Close to 50 teams competed for the Best of Boil and Crowd’s Choice awards. The UNO International Alumni Association’s signature annual fundraiser enables the Association to offer professional development programming to help current UNO students and recent graduates compete in the job market.

In its recently released annual health care supplement, New Orleans CityBusiness highlighted nine University of New Orleans alumni who hold senior positions in some of the region’s best known health care facilities. The 2016 issue includes a question and answer feature where medical professionals from a variety of fields share views on their biggest concerns regarding health care in the region, how cost factors into treatment and predictions for the next five years. UNO alumni listed in the supplement are: Children’s Hospital president and CEO Mary R. Perrin; East Jefferson General Hospital medical director Dr. Raymond DeCorte; Ochsner Medical Center-Kenner chief operating officer Julie Henry; St. Tammany Parish Hospital chief medical officer Dr. Robert Capitelli; Slidell Memorial Hospital CEO Bill Davis; Touro Infirmary chief nursing officer Danita Sullivan; University Medical Center New Orleans chief medical officer Dr. Peter DeBlieux; Northlake Behavioral Health System CEO Richard Kramer; and River Oaks Psychiatric Hospital director of nursing Michelle Wells.



ecutive role at the Jamaica National Building Society. Miller became acting permanent secretary to the Office of Prime Minister in 2009 and served three prime ministers. She was also Jamaica’s youngest serving permanent secretary, according to the OPM website. She holds an MBA from the University of New Orleans and a

RIGHT: First place winner

was Dhose Bodacious Crawfish. BELOW LEFT: Crowd’s Choice was Geaux Creole. BELOW RIGHT: Best Booth went to Cirque Du Mambo by Waldemar S. Nelson.

The judges were (from left) Charles Divins of WDSU, Anne Cutler of WGNO, Susan Ford of Louisiana Kitchen & Culture Magazine, Ann Maloney of | The TimesPicayune, Kim Ranjibar of Where Y’at and New Orleans Living Magazine, Beth D’Addnono of USA Today.


Connect. Engage. Benefit. 2015 ACCOMPLISHMENTS Alumni First-Time Giving increased to 2015.

215% from 2014

More than 6,000 alumni and friends positively impacted the University and its students in 2015 through Alumni Association initiatives, events and volunteer opportunities. Alumni Association Membership increased by the same period!

35% over

Established a Board of Regents $100,000 Endowed 1st Generation Scholarship.




It’s easy to connect with your Privateer Family — just go online for the latest news from UNO and the UNO Alumni Association.

Join fellow Privateers by attending events, volunteering, and getting involved with the UNO Alumni Association.

As a UNO Alumni Association member, you can enjoy many great benefits that can help you in all aspects of life. UniversityofNewOrleansAlumni

Join Today!

AlumNotes bachelor’s degree from the University of the West Indies, Mona. Mitchell Ervin (B.S., ‘02) Mitchell Ervin has been named an NBA staff official after officiating 12 regular season games as a non-staff official. Prior to joining the NBA, he officiated in the NBA’s D-League for four years in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 NBA D-League Playoffs, including the 2014 and 2015 NBA D-League Finals. Ervin also officiated the 2014 NBA D-League All-Star Game in New Orleans. He had eight years of collegiate officiating experience prior to joining the NBA staff, with six of those years in Division I, having officiated in the Big 12, Conference USA, Big South, Sun Belt, Southland and SWAC. Ervin is a former middle school physical education teacher, football, basketball and track coach. Danita Sullivan (M.B.A., ‘04) Danita Sullivan joined Touro Infirmary as chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services. She has more than 10 years of experience. She is a member of the National Association of Healthcare

Quality, American Organization of Nurse Executives, Louisiana Organization of Nurse Executives and the New Orleans Regional Task Force on Economic Development and Healthcare Workforce. J.P. Martinez (B.A., ‘04) J.P. Martinez was named pitching coach for the Cedar Rapids Kernals in conjunction with the Minnesota Twins organization, where he already worked for a season as the pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League Twins—the Twins’ rookie level minor league baseball affiliate. Previously, Martinez was head coach at Pope John Paul II High School in Slidell, La., in 2013 and 2014, and the pitching coach for the St. Cloud Rox of the Northwoods League in 2014. He was selected by the Twins in the ninth round of the 2004 First Year Player Draft out of the University of New Orleans. He pitched five seasons in the Twins and Orioles organizations, posting a career 17-14 record and 3.36 ERA with 40 saves. Martinez resides in Metairie, La. Hannah Foster Kohut (B.A., ‘05) Hanna Foster Kohut has been hired as Alumnae Coordinator for Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Chicago. Established by the Sisters of Mercy in 1954, Mother McAuley has more than 26,000 alumnae worldwide, and is one of the nation’s largest allgirls schools. Jennifer K. Hew (B.G.S., ‘96, M.S.H.C.M., ‘06)

Cleveland Spears, III (B.S., ’05) Cleveland Spears, III, is the founder of Spears Group, a New Orleans-based public relations firm. Last year, he became the first AfricanAmerican to be named “Agency Executive of the Year” by the New Orleans Ad Club. His firm was also named “Firm of the Year” by the International Association of Business Communicators in 2013. He was recently profiled by Biz New Orleans, which playfully highlighted his collection of stylish socks.


Jennifer K. Hew has been promoted from assistant professor to associate professor in the LSU School of Dentistry at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. Hew studied chemistry and biology at the University of New Orleans before going to LSU to specialize in dental hygiene. She also holds a Master of Science in health care management from UNO. Sandy Laycox (M.F.A.,’07) Sandy Laycox has joined The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers as associate managing editor of Leader’s Edge magazine, supporting the magazine’s editorial, design and production process. Before joining The Council, Laycox was senior writer/editor for America’s Essential Hospitals, where she co-launched an award-winning digital magazine and wrote a history of the association. She also worked at The History Factory, producing corporate histories and editing corporate best practice case studies. Laycox is a graduate of the University of North


degrees from Loyola University. A. Murat Eren (Ph.D., ‘11) A. Murat Eren is assistant professor at the University of Chicago, where he has developed software called Anvi’o to help scientists visualize multiple large sets of genetic and molecular data in an easy-to-use, interactive display. Eren’s work was recently featured in the University of Chicago publication, ScienceLife.

Jamison Ross (M.M., ’13) Jamison Ross was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for his debut album, “Jamison.” The drummer, who received a Master of Music degree at UNO in 2013, released the album last year on the Concord Jazz label. Ross is known as a master drummer, having won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2012 while a student at UNO. Originally from Jacksonville, Fla., Ross was featured in the awardwinning film “CHOPS” while a student at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. He received two undergraduate degrees in music at Florida State University before getting his master’s at UNO. Carolina at Chapel Hill and has a master’s degree in creative nonfiction writing from the University of New Orleans. Peter Cho (Ph.D., ‘09) Peter L. Cho has been named interim executive dean of the 3,000-student Delgado Community College West Bank Campus. Cho has been on faculty at Delgado since 1995 and formerly served as department chair of the Arts and Humanities Division, and the arts and humanities coordinator for the Delgado West Bank Campus. He is chair of the Delgado Internal Giving Campaign and the school’s multiculturalism and diversity committee. Cho holds a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of New Orleans as well as master’s and bachelor’s

Jonathan Mayers (M.F.A.,’11) Jonathan Mayers served as judge and juror for the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine’s 28th Annual International Exhibition on Animals in Art. The Louisiana artist received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Louisiana State University and his Master of Fine Arts from the University of New Orleans. He is a founding member of the TEN Gallery + Collective in New Orleans and has exhibited works in Prospect3+, Surreal Salon, and Notes from the Artistic Underground. His work is included in the LSU Student Union Art Gallery Permanent Collection and the art collection of Université SainteAnne in Church Point, Nova Scotia. Jordan Baker (M.M., ‘13) Jordan Baker plays jazz piano with Garden District Trio on the group’s new album “Then and Now,” recorded and released by DHMP Records in 2015. His performance was described as “inspired” by OffBeat Magazine critic Geraldine Wyckoff. The album features jazz standards such as Cole Porter’s 1929 classic “What Is This Thing Called Love” and “Red Top.” Brett Roberts (B.A., ‘14) Brett Roberts made his directorial debut with “The Woodlands”, a short film screened at The Prytania in November. The Mandeville native wrote the script. He runs Static Films LLC with partner and co-director Michael Rees. Jerry Reyes (B.S., ’00, M.B.A., ‘17) Jerry Reyes has been named general manager at the Marriott Metairie at Lakeway. Before that, he was general manager of The Hotel Modern New Orleans. He has also worked with Loews Hotels and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Reyes is a native of New Orleans, and is currently working on a Master of Science degree in Hospitality and Tourism Administration at the University of New Orleans.



Thousands of interactions take place each day on a college campus. Two students sitting near one another in class exchange glances. A freshman stops a junior to ask for directions. A professor calls on his colleague for feedback on a grant proposal. Q Between the learning and the teaching, the socializing and the simple act of negotiating one’s journey down the path of higher education, some of these interactions are bound to spark romantic interest. Q

At the University of New Orleans, untold numbers of people

have met their respective mates in the course of academic and professional pursuits.


We asked for stories about UNO’s role in

your own romantic lives. Here are a few we got from alumni who met and, surprise, fell in love—sometimes in spite of their strongest intentions not to. Q Enjoy these snapshots of Privateer connections and share your own on social media, #unolove.

HOW THEY MET: Jessica Hart was getting frustrated with the timing and support thing,” Jessica says. “We knew that if we took time-consuming class registration process. She was 18 and it was turns, someone may not finish because life gets in the way … I’ve 1989, back when signing up for classes at UNO meant standing in never not graduated without him by my side.” line and waiting to get a card punched. But there was one upside: TODAY: Mitch is principal of Tchefuncte Middle School in Manthe cute guy in line behind her who struck up a conversation. Jes- deville. Jessica is the resource helping teacher at Cypress Cove Elementary School in Slidell. The oldest of their four boys, Jack, sica doesn’t remember what they talked about anymore. But she does remember this: A few days later she was standing inside the 19, is now a mechanical engineering student at UNO. Mitch, who still laughs about how many times Jessica rejected him Liberal Arts Building staring out at the before she said yes, likes to tell his children they’re “lucky rain and thinking about the fact that she to be alive.” And as Jessica recounts their love story, it’s had no umbrella. Who should appear? It clear she feels a debt of gratitude to the Lakefront campus was Mitch Stubbs, a.k.a. Cute Guy From that made it all possible. “My life and career,” she says, The Line, with umbrella in hand and an “wouldn’t be what it is without my alma mater.” offer to walk her to her car. WHEN THEY KNEW: It took two years before Jessica and Mitch would start THE COUPLE: dating. She was an education major. He Jessica (Hart) Stubbs was studying biology. She was a comand Mitch Stubbs muter. He was a resident assistant at (both B.S., ’94 and M.Ed. ’00) Bienville Hall. But about a year in, Mitch decided to change his major to education. They ran in similar social and academic circles. She liked his quiet humor and gentlemanly charm. He thought she was pretty and loved her wit. But every time he asked her out, she would decline. She always seemed to be dating someone else. One night, after going out with friends in the French Quarter, they had a frank conversation about their feelings for one another. By December 1993, one semester before they graduated, they were married. Since then, they have gone on to get two more degrees together. And we do mean together. Mitch walked Jessica across stage to retrieve her master’s degree from UNO in 2000 because she was so pregnant, she couldn’t see her feet to walk up the stairs. A few years later they continued the streak, getting their doctorates at The University of Southern Mississippi in 2012. “It was more a

No Umbrella, No Problem


SPRING 2016 51

HOW THEY MET: Her name badge said she was from Minnesota. And, yes, Hannah Marcotte, one of the student orientation leaders here to help new freshmen find their way, was, indeed, born in Duluth, Minn. But what the badge didn’t say was that she’d moved THE COUPLE: with her family to the New OrSteve Juliff (B.A., ’16) leans area before she could even talk. Still, Steve Juliff of Minand Hannah Marcotte (B.A., ’15) neapolis, Minn., was impressed. She seemed bubbly, energetic, smart. And, you know, she was from Minnesota. She didn’t know this at the time, but Steve was usually quiet and reserved. So strange, in retrospect, she would think, that he would initiate such a conversation with her at all. WHEN THEY KNEW: Hannah was an English major and a resident five months. “We just kind of knew,” she says. On Hannah’s Halassistant. Steve was a film major and, in January 2014, became loween birthday, Steve snuck into her apartment, decorated it a resident on her hall before also becoming an RA. Both stayed with lights and photographs and waited for her to come home so on campus through the summer. They started running together at that he could ask her to marry him. They set a date for Dec. 18, night and sneaking into the Privateer Place apartment complex to 2016, the day after Steve graduates. swim. He taught her the zombie video game “Left for Dead”—the TODAY: Hannah plans to begin pursuing a master’s degree in only one Hannah could get into. By summer’s end, they both knew student affairs this fall. She’s not sure where she will end up. they were in love. Steve had never dated anyone Alabama. Texas. Baton Rouge. They’re all possibilities. She says before. He was of the opinion that if you were going Steve has been patient and supportive and has made it clear to spend the time to date someone, it should be he’s willing to make a move wherever she plans to be. Some, she someone you could marry. Hannah, on the other said, have questioned their decision to marry before she finished hand, had had so many boyfriends through high graduate school. But if they weren’t marrying, they’d still be movschool and college that her family knew something ing together because, she says, they just know: “Why wait when was up when she stuck with this one for more than you know you want to be together?”

Minnesota Roots, New Orleans Love



HOW THEY MET: The joke was

Tom, Meet Dawn. Roger, Meet Venetia.

they were a couple. Enter Venetia that Roger Boneno and Tom Julian, Dawn’s cousin from Houston. VeGilbert were dating. They met netia traveled to New Orleans with her at The Sandbar on campus parents to celebrate Dawn’s graduation. and became best friends. They Tom’s family hosted a graduation party THE COUPLES: were both finance majors for Dawn, Tom and Roger. “That’s the involved in student leadership. guy who got all the awards,” Dawn told Roger Boneno (B.S., ’91) For four years, they hung out, doing the Venetia, drawing her attention to Roger, and Venetia Julian things college guys do. On Halloween night who scooped up several honors at comAND during their final semester, when Tom and mencement. Everyone knew Roger was Dawn Dewees Gilbert Roger were out at a bar, Tom struck up a going to be moving to Houston. He’d (B.S., ’91 and M.B.A., ‘94) conversation with a girl named Dawn Dealready landed a job with Shell Oil there. wees, another UNO finance major. Tom had Maybe Venetia could show him around and Tom Gilbert (B.S., ’91) seen her around campus before, but thought Houston, their families suggested. Roger she was out of his league and presumed immediately liked her. He still rememshe was dating someone. By graduation that December, though, bers her red outfit. But he’d also had a bit more to drink than usual—and perhaps he might have come on too strong when he asked to hold her hand. But his friends joke that he had a Dawn and Tom few qualities her Catholic, Italian family liked in spite of that. Roger was Catholic, Italian and he had a job. WHEN THEY KNEW: Within three months of Roger moving to Houston, he and Venetia were engaged. They married in May 1993 and, almost exactly a year later, Dawn and Tom married. They served as bridesmaids and groomsmen in each other’s weddings. They had their firstborn babies four days apart. TODAY: Both couples live in the Houston area now, each with their two children—the oldest both boys, the youngest both girls. Tom works in insurance sales. Dawn is a health care finance consultant. Roger is vice president at Sunnova Energy. And Venetia is a preschool teacher. Venetia and Roger 52 UNO MAGAZINE


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