The University of New Orleans Magazine

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All in the Design

Senior design projects transform engineers into entrepreneurs




Dear UNO Alumni and Friends, Every effective leader should have an understanding of where an organization stands and where it needs to go. I believe that the University of New Orleans now has the compass to successfully navigate the future with our new 2015-2020 strategic plan — what we’re calling UNO 2020. UNO 2020 is the result of a lot of hard work by many different people including faculty, staff and students. The final product will provide essential guidance to us as we harness the full potential of our institution, a studentcentered urban research university. Broadly speaking, our goals are as follows: ensure high-quality academic programs, provide a supportive environment for our students, maintain a high-quality faculty and staff, strengthen our research and creative activity, effectively manage and maintain our facilities, and broaden our image as a premier university while expanding our connection to the community. This is an intentionally ambitious plan, but I am confident we can utilize the abilities of our faculty, staff and students, and the support of our alumni and political and business leaders to achieve our lofty goals. In truth, we are already excelling in many of the areas that are specified in UNO 2020. Flip through this issue of the UNO Magazine, read some of the stories and you’ll see what I mean. Students in electrical engineering designed and built actual products — amazing ones — that have the potential to be marketed and sold. A team of naval architecture and marine engineering students produced design plans for the world’s largest accessible tall ship. And you will read about InnovateUNO, the second edition of our annual undergraduate research, scholarship and creativity showcase. UNO is also a thriving hub for the arts. Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff unveiled his newest original play on campus. You’ll also learn about assistant professor Yotam Haber’s remarkable work that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala. To learn more about how the University engages students in a variety of ways, read our interview with outstanding staff member Dale O’Neill who oversees the more than 140 student organizations that we have on campus. And thanks to a generous donation from the Brown Foundation, UNO students, faculty and staff will be able to connect even better to our community through a new Office of Service Learning. When you are reading about some of these topics, I hope that you will be struck by the enormous talent, energy and enthusiasm that we have on campus. And I hope that you will see that UNO is a valuable institution that is worth supporting. With Warmest Regards, Peter J. Fos, President

VOLUME 37 • NUMBER 2 EXECUTIVE EDITOR Patricia Murret Editor Adam Norris Art Director Jason Jones Design and Layout Emily Frock Photography Joseph Solis Send Correspondence to: UNO Magazine Editor University of New Orleans The Athletics Center – UNO East Campus 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. Letters to the editor are welcome and should be submitted via email or typewritten and signed. Letters must include the writer’s name and telephone number for verification. All letters are subject to editing for brevity. 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 phone: (504) 280-2586 • fax: (504) 280-1080 email: © 2014 The University of New Orleans

This public document was published at a total cost of $19,360. 35,000 copies of this public document were published in this first printing at a cost of $19,360. The total cost of all printings of this document, including reprints is $19,360. 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.






Headlines and Happenings NEWS & EVENTS

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15 Plans of a Lifetime

NAME students help design the United States’ first accessible tall ship and the largest one in the world.


32 Monumentally Meaningful 21

UNO’s state-of-the-art towing tank gets a face lift.

38 All in the Design



Parviz Rastgoufard, Entergy Endowed Chair for Power Systems Engineering

Dale O’Neill, director of student involvement and leadership, wins a national award for her work. PHILANTHROPY

36 Jewel of the South

Students grow from engineers to entrepreneurs through senior design projects.

“Chef of the Year” Ricardo Fredricks


World-renowned playwright Mark Medoff tops the marquee at UNO as he writes—and rewrites—his next world premiere. UNO music professor Yotam Haber’s work is a meditation on the civil rights movement.

InnovateUNO Annual undergraduate research showcase brings out the best of the University.

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26 All the World's a Stage


Oscar-winning film has deep roots and a recent past at the University of New Orleans FEATURES

Research Advances

Community Minded

A generous grant from the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation will help the University to create an ongoing service learning program.



Championship Preparation


Dazzling Diamond


Basketball approaches the season with enthusiasm. UNO celebrates its rich baseball heritage with a new park — and a new name.


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Homecoming Alum Notes

Meet Sheba Turk and Bobby Savoie.




International Night 2014 draws more than 300 guests for an evening of cultural performances, a pageant show and international food. Here, Nattaya Tassawat and Apichaya Thongsoon show visitors traditional clothing from their native Thailand.

campus scene

Want to learn more? Visit our University newsfeed on Pres Kabacoff, visionary urban developer, receives an honorary doctorate from the University of New Orleans at December commencement.

Theatre UNO, the University’s award-winning theatre troupe, performs a stage adaptation of the classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird. Carl Dolce, who served as superintendent of the New Orleans Public Schools from 1965-69, visits the University of New Orleans Earl K. Long Library, to get his first look at the Orleans Parish School Board Collection, which documents more than 170 years of public education in New Orleans.

The Campus Beautification Club cleans up campus as the University prepares to become a tobacco-free campus on Aug. 1.




Rising New York ensemble Contemporaneous joins Visiting Assistant Professor Yotam Haber for a week-long residency and concerts in the Performing Arts Center. Contemporaneous premieres four new works by UNO student composers Jonathan Gibson, Meijah Lieteau, William Memmott and J.P. Smith — and performs works by Haber, Shawn Jaeger and Bryce Dessner, who is most well-known as the guitarist for the indie-rock band The National.

Eight percent of the student body hails from other countries. At International Night, undergraduate student Paloma Monserrat poses in traditional Hindu garb before walking the catwalk.

During alternative fall break, the UNO Service Coalition and a group of students help Habitat for Humanity to build houses for New Orleans’ lower-income residents.

World-renowned trumpeter and master of the fluegelhorn Randy Brecker, who has received five Grammy Awards and a dozen Grammy nominations, teaches a master class to UNO students in the University's acclaimed jazz studies program.

Katheryn Warzak, a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in screenwriting, receives the second Joseph Patrick Uddo Scholarship in Screenwriting, in honor of the filmmaker and New Orleans native who died in 2008.

campus scene

The 2013-2014 Musical Excursions series reopens with a performance by award-winning pianist and prodigy Fei-Fei Dong in the UNO Recital Hall in the Performing Arts Center. A native of China, Dong won the 2013 Gina Bachauer Piano Competition at The Juilliard School and ranked among the top six finalists in the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The Original Harlem Globetrotters bounce through town and show their love for the “Heartbeat of the Crescent City.”

Gregory Agid, an outstanding graduate student in jazz studies receives the ASCAP Foundation’s Louis Armstrong Fellowship before a sold-out crowd in the Allen Room at Lincoln Center in New York City. Renowned jazz critic Stanley Crouch, who delivered a lecture at UNO in November as part of the Jazz and Heritage Foundation’s Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series, gives the award.




UNO political scientist Ed Chervenak unveils the 2013 results of the “UNO Poll” to the media. Results of the annual Quality of Life survey conducted by the UNO Survey Research Center indicated a continued high approval rating by Orleans Parish residents of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The College of Education and Human Development celebrates “50 Years of Excellence,” with presentations by alumni serving as key leaders in the education community.

President Peter J. Fos visits Washington, D.C., to meet with Louisiana’s congressional delegation. While there, he meets with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), (seen here), U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.), U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), as well as their legislative staffs.

Former Privateer Johnny Giavotella signs autographs at a meeting of the New Orleans Privateers Dugout Club. Giavotella now plays for the Kansas City Royals.

Freshman Karl Saluri of the New Orleans Privateers Track and Field team breaks school records with 7,497 points in the decathlon at the Texas Relays — and ranks fifth in the nation.





The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lake Borgne Surge Barrier outside New Orleans is built and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

UNO Announces Partnership with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The University of New Orleans and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a partnership with the goal of encouraging and enhancing study in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines for UNO students and faculty. UNO and the Corps of Engineers will collaborate on research projects of mutual interest which may include soil testing, water quality testing, coastal dredging, land loss prevention and surge modeling. “This partnership is an important step forward for the UNO College of Engineering in its commitment to being a resource and collaborator with local, state and federal entities,” says Norm Whitley, dean of the College of Engineering. “The 8


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a critical player in the future of the city of New Orleans and all of south Louisiana … We are excited about working with the Corps on the important environmental and infrastructure issues that challenge our community's existence and prosperity.” “We are proud to establish a partnership agreement with the University of New Orleans,” says Col. Rick Hansen, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District. “This mutually supportive relationship underscores the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs in the future of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the nation.” Some examples of how the agreement will be enacted include:


• The Corps of Engineers will hire UNO students to work on projects through internships and other cooperative agreements at the Corps of Engineers New Orleans District. • The Corps of Engineers and UNO faculty will identify specific areas of research where UNO students can obtain academic credit for work on Corps projects. • The Corps of Engineers will involve UNO faculty on specific research projects through cooperative agreements. • The Corps of Engineers will loan or donate equipment to UNO. • The Corps of Engineers will establish a list of volunteer professionals—including Corps employees, contractors, vendors and other associates—to support mentoring and specialized teaching activities for UNO students.

UNO Transportation Institute Partners with Port of New Orleans

The Merritt C. Becker University of New Orleans Transportation Institute and the Port of New Orleans announced a partnership that will focus on transportation research, community outreach and workforce development. In support of these projects, the Port will provide an in-kind match of organizational resources worth approximately $215,000 to the UNO Transportation Institute. “This new partnership connects UNO students, faculty and staff with the Port of New Orleans, enabling cutting-edge freight research, outreach activities and workforce development,” says John Renne, associate professor and director of the UNO Transportation Institute. “This partnership is a good example of what Governor Jindal is asking of Louisiana universities — to become more engaged with industry to create research and educational opportunities in sectors with strong job growth.” The partnership “will promote economic development throughout the entire maritime community on the lower Mississippi River,” says Gary LaGrange, Port President and CEO. “By collaborating with stakeholders and utilizing the academic expertise of university leaders, we will enhance our community outreach efforts, strengthen the region's competi-

tiveness and address future workforce needs through research and education initiatives. We look forward to continuing and growing our long-standing relationship with UNO.” The UNO Transportation Institute is a partner in two maritime-related University Transportation Centers, established by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The purpose of these centers is to advance U.S. technology and expertise in transportation through research, education and outreach while addressing vital workforce needs for the next generation of transportation leaders. In order to fulfill its obligation as a member of these University Transportation Centers, the UNO Transportation Institute, in partnership with the Port of New Orleans, will engage in a number of projects including: • Investigate the best practices of liquefied natural gas bunkering. • Analyze the maritime industry’s progress on e-Navigation, a concept designed to bring about increased safety and security in commercial shipping through better organization and exchange of data. • Hold a maritime workforce summit to educate high school and college students about maritime careers and connect employers with those seeking jobs in the maritime industry.

• Develop a web-based K-12 maritime curriculum that will educate students about the history of the Port of New Orleans, its current operations and its international economic impact. • Work to establish the state’s first chapter of the Women in Transportation Seminar, an international organization dedicated to building the future of transportation through the global advancement of women. UNO Named One of Princeton Review’s Best Value Colleges for 2014

The University of New Orleans has been selected one of the Best Value Colleges for 2014 by The Princeton Review. The Princeton Review chose 150 undergraduate schools, 75 public and 75 private, to profile in its annual book The Best Value Colleges: The 150 Best-Buy Schools and What It Takes to Get In. The University of New Orleans and Louisiana State University are the only Louisiana colleges to be included on the list. According to The Princeton Review, the schools are picked primarily based on the surveys it conducted in 2012-13 of 2,000 undergraduate institutions on the topics of academic quality, cost of attendance and financial aid. The company analyzed student survey data that it collected over the past three academic years.





First class of GE SWEAP program gets to work.

The Princeton Review also took into account the percentage of graduating seniors who borrowed from any loan program and the average debt those students had at graduation. First Class of UNO GE Capital Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program Gets to Work

The GE Capital Technology Center in New Orleans launched its first Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SWEAP) class with 13 students from the University of New Orleans. These students will apprentice with GE Capital while earning their degree and will receive formal industry mentorship and training in addition to their hands-on work experience. The first class of apprentices comes from UNO's Department of Computer Science. More than a quarter of the apprentices are from outside Louisiana, including Illinois, Ohio, Mississippi, and even Yaoundé, Cameroon. For most of the students, this apprenticeship is their first experience developing software at an enterprise level. According to GE Capital officials, the students’ interests in web development, mobile applications, data science, artificial intelligence, and cyber security are already sparking creativity and pushing the GE Capital employees look at different, simpler ways of solving problems. The apprentices understand the importance of learning technical and professional skills to transition effectively from campus to corporate life. “SWEAP is a good fit for my career because it allows me to grow professionally, meet other people who are passionate about technology and tailor my skills for the corporate world,” 10


says Brice Djilo, a UNO student and SWEAP apprentice. In addition to providing apprentices with industry mentorship from GE Capital technology professionals and real-world experience, the partnership with UNO will include GE Capital's investment in UNO’s computer science curriculum to ensure that the pipeline of talent remains vibrant in the future. By the end of 2014, GE Capital plans to hire another class of software apprentices for the program. The training that students receive will position them for better engineering opportunities with GE Capital or other employers in the area. “This co-op position is allowing me to develop skills in a friendly environment and gain some experience before graduation,” says James Bates, a senior SWEAP apprentice. “I was surprised by how excited everyone here at GE Capital is about the SWEAP program. The team here at the technology center is really committed to the idea of making this program succeed, and in turn, making sure we succeed.” UNO Unveils Mentoring Program Designed for First-Generation Students

A new mentoring program at the University of New Orleans is designed to help first-generation students surmount hurdles, stay in school and achieve success. “What we’ve learned is that our first-generation students are not being retained at the same rate as their non-firstgeneration contemporaries,” says student success counselor Nick Fuselier. “This isn't just a UNO population problem. This is a national problem faced by first-generation students.”


The first member of a family to attend college faces a unique set of challenges, studies show. First-generation students may be unfamiliar with the jargon, traditions or expected behaviors of college life, face family separation or financial issues or simply lack a common home life experience. Studies also show that these students are more likely to have less disposable income and work more hours while in college than some of their peers, to have greater need for professional mentoring and leadership opportunities and to describe themselves as “on my own” when navigating the financial aid process. A review of retention rates for the 2012-2013 academic year at UNO showed that 62 percent of first-generation students returned for the following semester while 70 percent of non-firstgeneration students returned, says Fuselier. The eight percent gap pointed to a need for support. In response, the University’s First Year Experience office this spring launched a mentoring program that pairs first-generation students with a graduate student, faculty or staff member and hosts group meet-ups at least once a month. Fuselier says he hopes the program will provide first-generation students with a tremendous resource and support network. Mentors will provide information and coaching — and help any students feeling isolated to earn a sense of community membership. For starters, all members attend a review workshop that covers topics ranging from financial aid, scholarships and student housing opportunities to time management, personal finances and faculty-student relationships, says Fuselier. Such topics are addressed during New Student Orientation and reviewed in UNIV-1001, a one-credit course attended by all first-year students. The workshop

Undergraduate Caitlin Murphy meets with mentor Lindsey Jakiel.

allows a closer review wherein firstgeneration students can draw on current questions, experiences and hindsight as they ask probing questions among peers. The program is already so successful that this summer, First Year Experience hopes to add an additional one-day orientation experience for first-year, first generation UNO students. In the fall, FYE hopes to create a First-Year Interest Group, a learning community and support group for first-year, first generation students. Between 25 and 30 percent of the UNO population during the 2012-2013 academic year were first-generation college students, says Fuselier. The figure does not include transfer students. “One of the main problems with firstgeneration students is ‘You don't know what you don't know,’” says Fuselier. “We wanted to provide those students a go-to resource ... who can answer questions about UNO, help them with post-college career goals, provide positive reinforcement and encouragement, and serve as a guide.” UNO Opens UL System’s First Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room

The University of New Orleans is the first member of the University of Louisiana System to have a prayer and meditation space open to all people, regardless of faith or belief. “Students and student organizations of all faiths will now be able to reserve this space to pray and meditate,” says Dale O’Neill, UNO director of student involvement and leadership. “This was truly student-driven ... and it's truly student-centered.” In a special ceremony, UNO President Peter J. Fos led the inauguration of the Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room, located on the second floor of the University Center. He publicly thanked the University’s Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and Office of Diversity Affairs for making the reflection room a reality. The Muslim Student Association, the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship and Baptist Campus Ministry played a special role in ensuring that the Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room came to fruition, says O’Neill. Over time, student organizations and individual students have expressed a need and an interest in having a quiet and sacred space for reflection and worship.

University Honors 55th Anniversary of “The 55”

Fifty-five brave African-American students helped the University of New Orleans to open as an integrated institution in 1958, paving the way for thousands of others to follow in their footsteps. Louise Williams Arnolie was among those trailLouise Arnolie blazing students. “What I went through, Louise Williams Arnolie and 54 classmates I did not go through were the first African-American students to alone,” said Arnolie, recalling peers and class- attend the University. Arnolie led a battle to desegregate the privately managed cafeteria mates. “What we went through, we went through and was the first of the initial group to graduate from the Louisiana State University as a team.” at New Orleans, or LSUNO, as UNO was Arnolie was a member then known. of the first cadre of She persevered in her studies and was the students to enroll in 1958 first African-American student who enrolled at UNO, then known as Louisiana State University in 1958 to graduate from the University. Despite adversity, Arnolie completed her in New Orleans, or LSUNO. A lawsuit brought college education in four years. Arnolie has shown leadership all her life, in federal court by civil rights activists Alexander from her days as young LSUNO student Pierre Tureaud, who was fresh out of Booker T. Washington High School until now, said President Fos. After an attorney for the New graduating from the University in 1963 with Orleans chapter of the a bachelor's degree in business education, National Association Arnolie went on to a successful 32-year for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), career with the New Orleans District Office of the Food and Drug Administration. For and Ernest V. “Dutch” Morial, who later became her pioneering role during her college years, she earned the NAACP Trailblazer Award. a two-term New Orleans Arnolie's efforts were also recognized by the mayor, ensured that the Louisiana State Senate in 2005 with State University was the first Resolution 116. public university in the South to open as a fully integrated institution. Though they were granted full rights to an equal educational experience under the law, “the 55” endured severe challenges, they told students at an open forum in the University Center last fall. As a student, Arnolie helped lead a successful effort to end segregation in the original school cafeteria, which was owned by a private contractor. She persevered in her studies throughout a difficult period and was the first African-American student who enrolled in 1958 to graduate from the University. Despite adversity, Arnolie completed her college education in continued on page 10





NEWS & EVENTS UNO Researchers Develop Process to Make Microscopic Gold ‘Peas in a Pod’

University researchers have developed a process for the fabrication of complex microscopic gold structures that mimic peas in a pod. The research, which will appear in a prestigious European chemistry journal, is significant because it could lead to new advances in a variety of areas including cancer treatment. The process was developed by Shiv Adireddy, working under the direction of John Wiley, a professor of chemistry and the associate director of UNO’s Advanced Materials Research Institute. These very tiny — also known as nanoscale — structures are about 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. They consist of chains of particles (the peas) surrounded by a ceramiclike sheet (the pod). While the Wiley research group had previously shown the formation of peapod structures with one type of pea, the ability to make more complex multicomponent peapods, especially with those with gold, represents a major scientific advance. “The importance of these materials comes from the high level of control that we can exhibit at the nanoscale,” says Wiley. “With very small objects, it can be quite difficult to direct their assembly into specific architectures. Over the last two years, my group has developed some special ways of arranging small objects into useful packages. If we are going to make important devices that are very small — whether it’s optical, electronic, sensors or medical devices, then this level of control is needed.” According to Wiley, gold’s importance comes from its use in a variety of areas as a good conductor and a receiver for light. Recently researchers have used gold nanoparticles in cancer therapies where they shine light on gold nanoparticles, the particles resonate and, in turn, kill the cancer cells, Wiley says. The research will be published in Angewandte Chemie, International Edition, one of the world's leading chemistry journals. According to the journal’s editor, the UNO researchers’ results are “highly important” or even “very important,” a review that is bestowed upon less than 10 percent of submitted manuscripts. Adireddy earned a doctorate from UNO in December 2013 based on this research. Wiley has been a faculty member at UNO for 20 years and holds the distinguished title of president’s research professor. The research into peapod structures was started in 2011 under the Louisiana Board of Regents Post-Katrina Support Fund. 12



Members of “the 55” donned traditional cap and gown in December for commencement, where they had front–row seats and received a standing ovation. continued from page 9

four years. Through their perseverance and their dignity, Arnolie and her classmates paved the way for thousands of others, said President Peter J. Fos. Their bravery helped the University of New Orleans to enjoy the diverse campus that it does today. Newsweek has honored UNO as one of the state’s most diverse universities and today around campus numerous cultures, races, languages and creeds are represented. “One of our greatest strengths is our diversity,” said President Fos, adding that two key principles have always driven the University. “One is academic excellence, which we still have today. The second is access to all.” In December, President Fos unveiled two plaques, one bearing Arnolie’s likeness and another bearing the names of her classmates. The plaques will forever hang on the wall in the Louise Williams Arnolie deck, President Fos said, reminding all who enter that Arnolie and her fellow “55” once helped to change the world here. More than 200 friends, family, UNO community members, members of the media and city officials attended the emotional event, including La. State Rep. Jared Brossett (D-Dist. 97) and New Orleans City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson. U.S. Senator Mary D. Landrieu (D-La.) and

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu sent letters thanking Arnolie for her leadership in breaking down color barriers and pursuing equality and justice. In Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (R-La., Dist. 2) entered a statement into the Congressional Record honoring the 55 AfricanAmerican students “whose bravery and determination resulted in the University of New Orleans being the first university in the American South to open as a fully integrated institution of higher education.” All members of “the 55” who were present received leatherbound copies and applauded as Arnolie was honored with city, state and federal proclamations. Student Government President Brandan Bonds moved crowds with an emotional speech in which he thanked his predecessors, saying that without their sacrifice, he and other UNO students today may not have been afforded the opportunities they have today. Arnolie and fellow members of “the 55” also sat in front-row seats at commencement, where they were publicly honored by President Fos. The celebration, which came 55 years after “the 55” first set foot on campus, brought thousands to their feet in applause. “This is the day that the Lord has made,” said Arnolie. “I am appreciative, I am humbled and I am honored.”

UNO President Peter Fos, along with several prominent UNO alumni, is interviewed live on Angela Hill’s talk show on WWL Radio. Fos and his fellow alumni discussed the current state of higher education, the value of a UNO degree and how their college experience helped shape their future success.

NEWSWORTHY UNO’s faculty members frequently serve as a valuable resource to the news media, offering their expertise on a number of newsworthy topics.

Jerry Howard, associate professor of biological sciences, talks to WWL-TV reporter Paul Murphy about the droves of raspberry crazy ants—so-named for their erratic movements—that invaded the southern United States. Howard is an insect ecologist.

Raphael Cassimere, professor emeritus of history, and his wife, Inez, are interviewed by WDSU-TV anchor Norman Robinson on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The Cassimeres were active participants in the civil rights movement in New Orleans.

Ioannis Georgiou (at left), associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, shows radio host Tom Ashbrook their route during a boat ride to Lake Borgne. Ashbrook, the host of the NPR program On Point, was in New Orleans to record a coastal-themed episode of his show. Georgiou gave Ashbrook and his crew an up-close look at the environmental challenges facing south Louisiana.

Paul Frick, professor of psychology, speaks to reporter Miles O’Brien for the NOVA program “Mind of a Rampage Killer,” which aired nationally on PBS. Frick’s research focuses on different pathways through which youth develop severe antisocial and aggressive behavior.




student spotlight

INNOVATEUNO Annual undergraduate research showcase brings out the best of the University On a recent morning in New Orleans, undergraduate student Alex Dolmseth headed to the historical neighborhood Tremé, a camera, clipboard, cell phone and map in his hands. The map Dolmseth carried showed property conditions of Tremé, which he developed as part of an ongoing critical survey project designed to give communities and governmental institutions a way to freely access urban data that would otherwise be expensive or hard to obtain. “The Tremé has played an essential role in creating the cultural and

diverse city that New Orleans is today,” says Dolmseth.

professor of planning and urban studies, sponsored the project.

Dolmseth recently won first place at InnovateUNO, a juried undergraduate research, scholarship and creativity showcase that debuted at UNO last year and sends winners to the University of Louisiana System’s annual Academic Summit, a similar competition at the statewide level. His project, “Looking Back at the Future of Tremé: Using GIS and Smartphone Applications to Evaluate Historic Property Conditions and Land Use for Expanding Community and Economic Development,” won first prize in the oral competition.

Through, Thompson and her team have previously worked on projects in the Hoffman Triangle neighborhood, where they inspected street conditions and working lights around the neighborhood and collected data that suggested a correlation with reported crimes. As a result of this investigation, government officials addressed the situation fixing the broken lights in the neighborhood. Other projects have helped the City of New Orleans to assess blight and identify a critical need for grocery stores in poorer neighborhoods.

The Historic Faubourg Tremé neighborhood, or Tremé, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Orleans and the first neighborhood for free African-Americans in the United States. In his InnovateUNO project, Dolmseth outlined work he had done as an intern with, a collaborative public participation geographic information systems (GIS) project supported by the University’s Department of Planning and Urban Studies. Michelle Thompson, founder of and an assistant 14



Together with Thompson and local historian Dabne Whitemore, Dolmseth used GIS and smartphone applications to develop a survey of historic conditions in Tremé. Now, the three are working on developing an easy-to-use, self-guided walking tour of the area that will be accessible through iTunes. In his InnovateUNO presentation, Dolmseth outlined the relationships between smartphone mobile applications,

or “apps”, and their use as economic growth tools for city neighborhoods. He also described how residents of the community can expand their role in community engagement. The Tremé app he is developing will introduce people to historic places and entertainment venues in Tremé and educate them on the distinctive architecture of the neighborhood, says Dolmseth. Whitemore explains the tour as a way to “look at the architecture of the houses in the Tremé and get a feel of the history in this place.” Thompson looks at the project as a way to show the positive side of Tremé. For a while, she says, the neighborhood has been subject to criticism and suffered a bad reputation, but she wants to show people that it is indeed a wonderful place with both historic and economic value. “I think undergraduate research is very important,” says Steve Johnson, dean of the College of Sciences and UL System Undergraduate Research Council representative. “It’s important at all universities, but I think it’s especially important at UNO, because it engages undergraduates and gets them involved in the university, it allows them to become engaged with their faculty mentors. They also become engaged with fellow undergraduates and also graduate students in the research experience, so it’s a very critical thing and something that I’m very passionate about.”

The aim of InnovateUNO is to improve undergraduate student success through engagement in research, scholarship and creativity and to help students build skills for further academic and career success. The showcase, held each spring at the University’s Earl K. Long Library, is also designed to help students gain interest in advanced scholarly research and encourage them to build skills needed to attain grant funding.

Research is described broadly, in terms of any project that involves creativity or scholarship, says Johnson. Winners of this year’s InnovateUNO competition included a marketing presentation testing the effectiveness of sports ads; an exploration of the effects of Christianization among indigenous communities of Kongo and the former British colony of Lower Canada; a laboratory evaluation connected to ongoing coastal restoration projects; nanotechnology projects and graphic art and sculpture exhibits. Students involved in a project that

Opposite page: Assistant Professor of Planning and Urban Studies Michelle Thompson, undergraduate student Alexander Dolmseth and historian Dabne Whitemore discuss Dolmseth’s research project in Tremé. Below left: For the past two years, undergraduate Nooraldeen Alkurd has submitted poster presentations related to nanochemistry. This year, he won fourth place. Below right: Undergraduate Kashanda Foley unveils her work with the LSU Health Sciences/New Orleans Schools Science Partnership Program, an education initiative aimed to encourage more STEM students.

involves research, scholarly work, creative work or service learning present their work in a poster, oral presentation, art display, performance or screening at InnovateUNO. InnovateUNO and the UL System’s Academic Summit include a juried art exhibit competition, as well as a service learning component and categories for more traditional academic research, such as psychology, education, biological sciences, chemistry, humanities and history. “I think this is a good opportunity for us to get experience at the undergraduate level in research and presenting research,” says Glenna “Marty” Richmiller, who, together with fellow marketing major Charles McMasters, presented findings on promotions done for New Orleans Privateers men’s basketball games.

Undergraduate marketing students Jeremy Sanders and Stephanie Morgan used Starbucks Coffee as a case study for their presentation “The Effect of Scarcity on Consumer Purchase Intentions,” which won first place in February in the poster contest at InnovateUNO.

Hear faculty and students share their experiences with Innovate UNO and see more photos at




faculty focus

Ricardo Fredricks, instructor and chef in the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration, was named 2013 “Chef of the Year” by the American Culinary Federation New Orleans Chapter.

Ricardo Fredricks Named ‘Chef of the Year’ by American Culinary Federation New Orleans Chapter University of New Orleans instructor and chef Ricardo Fredricks was named 2013 “Chef of the Year” by the American Culinary Federation New Orleans Chapter. Fredricks, who has worked at UNO for 26 years, teaches courses in the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration. The New Orleans chapter of the American Culinary Federation is comprised of

70 professional chefs. Past recipients of the award include Duke LoCicero, Café Giovanni; Andrea Apuzzo, Andrea’s; and Bernhard Gotz, Sheraton Hotel. The award recognizes an outstanding culinarian who demonstrates the highest level of professionalism in promoting the professional image of New Orleans chefs by planning, organizing and participating in programs and activities that give back

to the profession and the community. “This is a fantastic honor for Chef Ricardo Fredricks and UNO’s Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration program,” says John Williams, dean of the College of Business Administration. “It's even more impressive when you consider New Orleans’ status as a renowned culinary city with world-class restaurants and top chefs.” Prior to coming to UNO, Fredricks worked in restaurants, hotels, catering companies and resorts. He holds a master’s degree in hospitality management from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a bachelor's degree in business from UNO. He also graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Fredricks is certified by the American Culinary Federation as a culinary educator and chef de cuisine. Additionally he’s certified to evaluate chefs during their practical certification examinations. The American Culinary Federation is the largest professional chefs organization in North America with more than 20,000 members who belong to more than 200 chapters in four regions.

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Plans of a


Lifetime By Adam Norris

Senior naval architecture and marine engineering students David Bonneval, Jason Thompson, Ahmed Islam, Brittan M.S. Breaux and Egidijus Jankevicius review the progress of their project.


he sea has long been a source of romance and adventure, in both literary and literal environments. And few seafaring vessels evoke more majestic images than tall ships with their towering masts and billowing sails. For many mariners, the three-mast ships represent an enduring part of sailing’s heritage. A new chapter of that rich heritage is being authored, in part, by a group of students in the University of New Orleans School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. For a senior project during the spring semester, five undergraduate students are charged with designing a first-of-its kind tall ship, using the principles of universal design, which refers to a philosophy of designing and building environments that are usable to everyone,

regardless of age or ability. Of all the tall ships in the world, only two are accessible to people with disabilities and both are based in Europe. The UNO students’ design plans are the first critical step in creating the United States’ first accessible tall ship and the largest one in the world. America’s Freedom Sailor, a New Orleans-based nonprofit organization, approached UNO’s School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering about designing the vessel, and the project has turned into an all-consuming endeavor for five senior students who are receiving much more than academic credit. The team members spend about 30 hours per week working at professional internships and frequently even more time working on the America’s Freedom Sailor project, including nights and weekends. “That’s one of the coolest things about this project is that it’s a first,” says Brittan M.S. Breaux, a native of LaRose, La. “There’s been tall ships before and there’s been universally designed ships but there’s never been a universally designed passenger tall ship. And it has its own unique mission.” Breaux has undertaken this project with Ahmed Islam, Bangladesh; Jason Thompson, Greenville, S.C.; Egidijus Jankevicius, Lithuania; and David Bonneval, New Iberia, La. The students are being advised by several UNO professors, as well as a diverse network UNO MAGAZINE



The United Kingdombased Lord Nelson was the first accessible tall ship and is one of only two in the world. (Courtesy: Jubilee Sailing Trust)

It's a big challenge, so we're trying to come up with solutions for every single detail ...possible.

of professionals, including: shipbuilders, former tall ship captains and U.S. Coast Guard officials. UNO is also collaborating with the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, which provides expertise on the accessibility of the vessel. The driving force behind the project is Jan Olijve, co-founder and executive director of America’s Freedom Sailor. Olijve is a native of the Netherlands and a lifelong sailor who previously cofounded an organization that promoted standardized accessibility throughout 18


Europe. Olijve is an evangelist for the healing powers of sailing, especially for those people who have encountered obstacles and limitations as a result of physical disabilities. For years in the Netherlands, Olijve took handicapped people sailing and encouraged them to take part in the operation of the vessel. “The majority of disabled people are not fully participating in life,” Olijve says. “The people that will come on our boat will work. This is not a cruise ship. They come with clenched hands and I open their hand and I put a rope it and I close it and I say ‘pull.’ Then five or 10 other people pull and you see the sail go up. Fifty minutes


later and the sail is up and you see a big smile. The next day they tell you ‘we don’t need you anymore.’” Olijve says the demand for such a vessel is enormous. The Jubilee Sailing Trust is a United Kingdom-based charity that promotes the integration of people of all physical abilities through sailing tall ships. In 1986, it built the world’s first accessible tall ship, the Lord Nelson, which is booked for life, according to Olijve. “It has to do with changing lives,” Olijve says. “As a sailor, I believe in the boat concept. With a small qualified crew, you can make miracles on a boat.”

This is no theoretical class project. In a close approximation of a professional environment, the students are the naval architects and America’s Freedom Sailor is their client. Every two weeks, the students meet with representatives from America’s Freedom Sailor, solicit input and deliver progress reports that will culminate in a final presentation at the end of the semester. “We will present the product to our professors and professionals in the industry and we will produce a report which is essentially a concept design package that can be taken to shipyards to get bids on what it would cost to build this,” says Egidijus Jankevicius. “Our client’s goal is to get bids from different shipyards, compare the bids and choose one, and have the ship built.” All of the senior design students will make presentations at a public meeting of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. Held at the Southern Yacht Club, the annual event routinely draws a sold-out audience of approximately 150 professionals. “It’s very well attended by very senior people in the industry — the owners of shipyards, the owners of design firms and significant government customers, the Navy and Coast Guard. It’s a big deal,” says Chris McKesson, a research associate in the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and an adviser on the tall ship project. In most senior capstone projects, getting a good grade is the main goal. But these students realize that there is more at stake. In order for this tall ship project to start building momentum, their design

Student Ahmed Islam reviews a portion of the design plan for the world’s first universally designed tall ship.

Senior design students discuss their project in the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering computer lab.

plans must be exacting in their precision. “It’s important to get everything perfect because when (the design plan) goes out to the real world, to the shipyards, it’s a completely different story because of all of the engineering aspects have to be met,” Ahmed Islam says. “It’s a big challenge, so we’re trying to come up with solutions for every single detail that are possible.” The final design is far more than a schematic of a 255-foot vessel. The students must submit other vital information, including: a weight estimate, sail and rigging plan, hull form, stability estimate, risk estimate study and cost estimate. Ashley Salmen, co-founder of America’s Freedom Sailor and chairwoman of the board, says the organization hopes to select a shipbuilder by the end of 2014 and see the vessel finished by 2017. She

says that will give the new tall ship a yearlong trial period before 2018, when New Orleans celebrates its tricentennial and international attention will be focused on the city. “There are more than 70 million Americans with disabilities,” says Salmen, a New Orleans native and UNO alumna. “The time is now to have a specialized sailing vessel that exposes all Americans to the unparalleled joy and freedom of sailing. And as a major port city, New Orleans is the perfect place to launch this project.” Fulfilling that vision of making sailing accessible to everyone has been challenging. In many cases, the students are trying to find solutions without precedents. The initial plan was to build the ship around a ramp but that idea had to be scrapped in favor of an elevator and lifts. Hundreds of hours in a computer lab have forced team members to reconcile concepts with realistic implementation. The end result, the students say, will be worth the struggle. “For me that’s one of the reasons I’m in this career. The satisfaction of knowing you helped someone and helped society,” says Jankevicius. And while the students are focused on delivering the best design possible before the end of the semester, they do allow themselves to contemplate what it would be like to see a fully finished America’s Freedom Sailor gliding down the Mississippi River. “We’ll probably grab a stranger and say ‘Hey, I designed that,’” Brittan M.S. Breaux says with a laugh. “If you were on the Riverwalk or downtown, it would be hard to fight back the feeling to be like ‘Hey, I was on that team and I am very proud of it.’”




campus leaders

Dale O’Neill Interview by Patricia Murret

Leading the Way

Dale O’Neill joined the University of New Orleans as coordinator of leadership programs in the Division of Student Affairs in 2009. In a mere five years, she has expanded student involvement and leadership programs on campus so much that the University established the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and made her director. In March, she received the 2013 Outstanding Mid-Level Professional for Student Involvement award from the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). Whether she’s meeting one-on-one with student leaders, heading up campus community service efforts, spearheading diversity initiatives or working on her dissertation, Dale O’Neill is always leading the way. Tell us about your job. We’re the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and we oversee about 140 student organizations on campus. People think it’s an astounding number. That spans anything from academic professional organizations, like the College of Business Executive Council, or honor societies, like Alpha Lambda Delta — to more traditional fraternities and sororities. We have a vegetarian club, we have an anime club, we have a bike club, we have a runners’ club, probably a club for almost every single major. We have tons of religiously affiliated groups: Baptist clubs, Catholic Club, Jewish Club. Our largest clubs are those connected to diversity: Latin American Students’ Association (LASA), Vietnamese American Students Association (VASA), our Muslim Students Association, Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. There is no reason why someone shouldn’t get involved, because there is so much to choose from — it’s just making sure that they have the time, the gumption, to get involved. I’m from New Orleans. When I was in high school, UNO was a commuter campus — people came to class and then left. But I think UNO has changed so much and I don’t think the general public realizes it. People who work here realize it and students realize it: It is not the same campus it was 10 years ago. We do have a growing student life and that is reflected in all of our student organizations. These organizations are all student-started and I think that’s a testament to our students’ diversity and initiative. I always tell students at orientation: “Some students go to class and go home. Some students go to class and they get

involved and they take on leadership positions. You want to be the student that when you walk across that stage when you graduate, you feel like you’ve had the optimal college experience and that you really did everything possible to make UNO a part of who you are and a part of your community. You want to feel that not only did you do awesome in school, but you also made great friends and really contributed to your community.” What does your day look like? I’m in meetings all day long … working with the students and making sure that they’re visible, making sure that all the hard work that they do is known throughout campus, getting them organized and making sure they have all the support they need. Greek Life has grown more than 30 percent in three years. And I think what’s really helped … is just giving them one-on-one time and support. Our office oversees Student Government and Student Activities Council, which is a group of students who plan events campus-wide for students. They’re very good at getting the pulse of campus. It’s important to have a close relationship with students so that we provide them services to help them have the best college experience. That’s probably the hardest part of our job. Students change so much day to day. What worked for college students three years ago won’t work today. I serve on the University’s Diversity Committee. I also oversee the Emerging Leadership Program, which is a leadership certificate program for freshman and sophomore students. We meet on a weekly basis and talk about leadership topics, like diversity in leadership, conflict resolution, being a relational leader, all that good stuff. I supervise our student leaders, who plan and implement leadership programming — our Leadership Cabinet. I meet oneon-one with student leaders to have them think about what the image of their organization is on campus, what their goals are and how they want to reach those goals. I want to give them oneon-one time to talk about where their organization is and where they want to go. I also directly advise all of our leadership programs — all the different retreats and workshops that we do to enhance students’ leadership skills — and I oversee our community service programs. Tell us about community service at UNO. When I got here … there were no community service programs on campus — none — and I just thought: How can we be the University of New Orleans and not provide any community service opportunities to students? Now, we do monthly community service projects

through Service Coalition, which is a student group. I drive a 15-passenger van. We visit nonprofits around the city once a month. Anyone can go. We also do an alternative fall and an alternative spring break… four or five consecutive volunteer days with one organization. Typically it’s Habitat for Humanity. We’ve also done coastal restoration cleanup. It’s really good for our students. Some of our students work and go to school. They may be interested in community service but they can’t do it on a weekly basis — they can do five consecutive days of community service right then and there. Usually what happens at other schools is that the school will bring students to another part of the country to do service work. At UNO, we do that but we stay in New Orleans. Our students are primarily from New Orleans and we’re teaching them they have a responsibility as citizens of New Orleans to give back to the community. I always say: “Because we are the University of New Orleans, we have an obligation to serve the city of New Orleans.” UNO is so unique being in New Orleans because the city is focused on being rejuvenated. Our students, having grown up in Katrina, really understand hard work and problem-solving and making things better — our students get that. And if they see a problem, they come to me and say: “How can we fix this?” So, it’s not just a problem, but: “How can we make this so it’s no longer a complaint, but something fixable?” Five years ago, we went to rebuild a house after Katrina and it was in the 9th Ward. We brought about 24 students and I remember one student saying: “Dale, you know I live a block away?” And she showed me her house. I thought: “This is why we do this — to teach students that you need to help your neighbor.” What is the preparation for this job? I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Louis University, a Jesuit Catholic school a lot like Loyola of New Orleans, then I went back and got my master’s in college student personnel. That’s basically student affairs — it’s an education degree. I’m actually getting my dissertation in higher ed in the education administration program at UNO. I’m able to put what I learn in a classroom into my work as an administrator. I started in 2009 as a coordinator of leadership programs and solely did our big retreats, like Leadership Retreat, Privateer Camp, Privateer Plunge, Transfer Retreat. I slowly began to oversee Leadership Cabinet and Emerging Leaders, and then with time I inherited community service programs, and then with time I inherited Greek Life, and then




I became director. Dave Meredith, director of enrollment services, asked me: “What is the thing you’re most proud of?” And I think that the things that I am most proud of are the programs I created when I got here: Privateer Camp, our Freshmen Leadership Retreat, and then the Privateer Plunge, an extended welcome week through the first six weeks of school, which I created with Christy Heaton, associate director for orientation and first-year student success. Research shows that students, if they’re going to transfer, they decide the first six weeks of school. Our idea was to get as much programming and as much student life packed into the first six weeks, so that students really love UNO, get really ingrained and don’t want to transfer. Transfer Retreat for transfer students is another thing that I’m really proud of. We noticed a lot of initiatives for firstyear students — but nothing for firstyear transfer students — so we created something special, just for them. Building student leaders — you take

that part of your job very seriously. What kinds of things do you do and what kinds of things are you trying to instill? A lot of times people think of leadership and they think how wonderful being a leader is. One of the things that we talk about in our leadership programs is the notso-glamorous side of leadership. Sometimes you have to make decisions and you have to do what’s best based on your core values and what’s best for your organization. We look at the notso-nice part of being a leader and what students might do in various situations, so that when students are confronted with an issue, they have a core sense of values, they know how to best tackle the problem. And ultimately we try to help them realize what their core values are so they can make the best decisions based on their efforts. We focus on conflict resolution a lot because no one likes conflict resolution and unfortunately all of our students are going to have to difficult conversations some time in their lives. Having students realize that

“Our students are primarily from New Orleans and we’re teaching them they have a responsibility as citizens of New Orleans to give back to the community. I always say: ‘Because we are the University of New Orleans, we have an obligation to serve the city of New Orleans.’”

Along with Christy Heaton, associate director for orientation and first year student success, Dale O’Neill created the award-winning Privateer Plunge: six weeks of programming designed to introduce new students to all things UNO. The Plunge kicks off with a “Welcome Back Luau” every August.




conflict resolution is not a bad thing is important … showing them that when you have these difficult conversations with people, you should be coming from a place of care and love, showing the individual that your end goal is to resolve it. If you can do it well, it’s an amazing leadership and professional trait that will take you very far. The other things we focus on are inclusivity and diversity. We live in the city of New Orleans. I want to make sure that these students, when they graduate and are living in a culturally diverse city, that they know and have respect for people of different backgrounds, not only just backgrounds, but different opinions. We teach students: you may not agree with someone, but you have to respect them. Even if you don’t agree with their opinions, at least you have to respect the fact that they have a right to have their opinions. If you had to name a driving force in this office, what is it? I know what drives me. I went to a very expensive school and I had an amazing time, because I had all these different resources, I had all these different programs. I want to make sure our students still get those experiences, even if they may not go to a $40,000 a year school. I think our students deserve that, because they’re so hardworking and very humble, very gracious students. To be student-centered is really a tagline — I think everyone thinks they’re student centered — but what does that really mean? Personally, I don’t want anyone to say they have questions or they don’t know where to go. Even if it’s academic-related or financial-related, I will help a student find out the answers they need. I always tell our office that of all the offices on campus we should be the most welcoming and inclusive to students. I think the whole office has that mindset — we try to help students with their questions and find their answers for them. It is not all rainbows all the time. There is hard work that happens. We have a lot of late nights. A lot of times, I have to have not-so-nice conversations with students. But I get to see them come in as nervous freshmen, lacking self-confidence, and then I get to see them grow into adults by the time they graduate … responsible, self-confident, comfortable being in new situations, stepping out of comfort zones, being challenged. Our students are awesome and that gives me drive. I have the instant gratification of seeing how my work makes a difference.


Community A

generous grant from the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation will help the University of New Orleans to implement and sustain an ongoing service learning program on campus.

“We are immensely grateful to the Brown Foundation for its leadership and support,” says President Peter J. Fos. “We are fully committed to making service learning an important part of our campus identity and a significant benefit to worthy projects and partners in our community.” Service learning is a method of teaching that combines classroom instruction with meaningful community service. Students apply lessons from their community work to the classroom, where teachers emphasize critical thinking and personal reflection while encouraging a heightened sense of community, civic engagement and personal responsibility. In January, the Brown Foundation presented the University with a $300,000 grant over five years that will help the University establish a new Office of Service Learning. The goal of the office will be to engage undergraduate and graduate students in academic work that intersects with the needs of community organizations. The University of New Orleans already has a strong history of student and faculty volunteerism, says President Fos. This grant will enable the University to strengthen the bonds with community organizations by bringing service learning into coursework and providing incentives for students and faculty to get involved. UNO’s service learning program will include scholastic awards and course credit for students, as well as scholarships for prospective students who have a track record of community service. The program will encourage faculty involvement through stipends, administrative assistance and training. Office of Service Learning staff members will help faculty to identify and involve community partners, as well as develop

procedures for evaluating the service component of each course. The mission of the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation is “to alleviate human suffering,” says Edwin Hunter, chair of the foundation’s religion and education committee. The foundation is involved in funding medical and environmental research; housing for the homeless; organizations who care for the sick, hungry or helpless; religious and educational institutions; and organizations and groups concerned with improving local communities. The foundation’s efforts are concentrated on Louisiana and Mississippi with a focus on South Louisiana, the New Orleans area and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Ongoing service learning programs at UNO will benefit from this gift and serve as models for future endeavors. Each year, graduate students studying strategic marketing use their skills to help organizations such as the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, the state’s largest and most accessible source of assistance for entrepreneurs and the only statewide nationally accredited program that provides business consulting to entrepreneurs at no cost, says marketing professor Elyria Kemp. The grants will also help to support the UNO Service Coalition, a student-run community service resource, says Dale O’Neill, director of student involvement and leader-

ship. Moreover, the UNO Service Learning Council has designed a pilot project that will connect UNO’s student-driven recycling program to academic work. Students in math and statistics, marketing, documentary film, history and English/professional writing are all involved in enhancing the recycling effort through research and other academic activities that will result in an enhanced, sustainable recycling program. The University has committed funding to assure that essential support from the Brown Foundation is sustained by the academic programs of each college and is fully integrated into the University’s efforts to recruit and serve students, as well as to engage with partners in greater New Orleans, says President Fos. The University will enhance and build upon existing service learning initiatives at UNO, as well as create new projects that will allow the new service learning program to flourish. “With this substantial gift from the Brown Foundation as our keystone, the University will be positioned to deliver substantial benefits to our community partners, as well as provide significant learning experiences that create socially conscious leaders,” says President Fos.




The highly acclaimed film Twelve Years a Slave is based on the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, edited and annotated in 1968 by a UNO professor and fellow LSU historian. Twelve Years a Slave has been required reading in UNO classrooms for 45 years.

12 years

A Slave By Patricia Murret





An Oscar-winning film regarding life in slavery in Civil War-era Louisiana has deep roots and a recent past at the University of New Orleans. Twelve Years a Slave, the movie version of a memoir by former slave and musician Solomon Northup, won Best Picture at the 86th Academy Awards in February. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor in the role of Northup, the film co-stars Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt. The historical drama made its world premiere in September at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and won the People's Choice Award. Over the next six months, which culminated at the Oscars, the film garnered international press and brought home a series of heavy-hitting awards. In addition to winning an Oscar for Best Picture, the film in February received Oscars for John Ridley for adapted screenplay and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o for supporting actress. Twelve Years a Slave also won Best Film at the British Academy Film and Theatre Awards, or BAFTA awards. The film is based on the 1968 edition of the 160-year-old memoir, which was edited and annotated by late UNO Professor of History Joseph K. Logsdon and fellow historian, Sue Eakin, for LSU Press. For the last 45 years, the book has been required reading in UNO classrooms.




12 years The Power of History

“Joe would be delighted that the Northup story will now be told to such a large audience who will then, hopefully, read the historical memoir,” says the professor’s widow, Mary. In addition to being a tenured history professor and department chair at UNO, Logsdon was the first vice president of the local branch of the NAACP and the UNO college chapter adviser to the NAACP. At the time of his death in 1999, Logsdon had just been named the University’s first Ethel & Herman Midlo Endowed Chair of New Orleans Studies. An endowed scholarship in his name is offered annually to top history students. Logsdon and Eakin, who was then a history professor at Louisiana State University at Alexandria, “contributed the first scholarly edition of the 19th century book, which brought it to the attention of many,” says UNO Associate Professor of History Michael Mizell-Nelson. Northrup’s early edition — entitled Twelve Years a Slave: A Citizen of NewYork Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853 from a Cotton Plantation Near the Red River in La. — led to the early sale of more than 30,000 copies during the period surrounding the Civil War. Several future republications,




including the work annotated by Logsdon and Eakin, merely expanded circulation. “It's important because it shows you the power of history. Even though the book was published in 1853 — and unfortunately it came out a year after Uncle Tom’s Cabin, because if it had come out the year before Uncle Tom’s Cabin it would have been even more powerful — if you read it, it's really electrifying,” says civil rights activist, former NAACP official and UNO Professor Emeritus of History Raphael Cassimere Jr. “A lot of times movies will stray from the truth for excitement. This book has so much intrigue and excitement, if you could stick to the script, it would be a blockbuster, I think.” Eye-Opening Research

Twelve Years a Slave, in both the book and movie versions, tells the tale of a free man working as a musician in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Northup was kidnapped by strangers who promised him work at a circus then sold him into slavery on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. New owners brought Northup to a cotton plantation in rural Louisiana, where he lived in slavery for a dozen years before being rescued by a Canadian carpenter, who recognized Northup’s descriptions of Saratoga Springs and

helped to set him free. While early critics questioned the validity and accuracy of Northup’s original memoir, Logsdon and his colleague helped to set the record straight, visiting Louisiana courthouses, plantations and other sites mentioned in the book, says Cassimere. Cassimere, who over the years was Logsdon's student at UNO and Lehigh University and then his colleague in the UNO history department, recalls that sometime around 1963, Logsdon was teaching a Louisiana history class still taught today at UNO. A student from an old Louisiana family brought in a copy of the original 1853 book with notes written in the margins by deceased relatives. In the notes, the writers agreed that many of Northup’s comments were true. “Joe got interested and wrote to LSU Press about writing an edited upgrade, only to find out that Sue Eakin had tried to do the same,” recalls Cassimere, who says the LSU Press editor suggested that the historians work on the book together, which they did. The pair became fast friends and remained friends until the end of their lives, says Cassimere, adding that Eakin — who had stumbled on the 1853 edition at a Louisiana plantation — spoke at Logsdon’s funeral in 1999. She died 10 years later.

Oscar-winning film writer John Ridley told The New York Times for an article in September that he relied heavily on Logsdon and Eakin’s compilation in writing the film's screenplay. Logsdon’s name appears with Eakin’s on the 1968 publication of Twelve Years a Slave. His research files on Northup may also be found in the Special Collections Department of the University of New Orleans Earl K. Long Library, says Mary Logsdon, who said the two historians did extensive research to verify the story’s validity. According to Cassimere, a secretary in the UNO history department typed the manuscript for publication. He recalls the first time he read the book. “I was a student at the time. And boy, I read the book in a night,” says Cassimere, who estimates, half-joking, that he is personally responsible for the sale of at least 10,000 copies of the Eakin-Logsdon edition. The book was required reading for years in an American history class he taught at UNO and to this day the book is one of the first things his former students mention when they recall his class, Cassimere says. Among other former students, Harry Connick Sr., who served as Orleans Parish District Attorney from 1973 to 2003, took Cassimere’s class for leisure learning in recent years, and remarked that the book “opened his eyes to a lot of things.” Mystery Remains

Despite the excellence of Logsdon and Eakin's sleuthing, Cassimere says that investigative opportunities remain. The winter before Logsdon’s death, a man in upstate New York called him to say that his family believed that Northup has been killed by one of his kidnappers, who feared that the former slave would testify against them in court. Logsdon died before he was able to pursue the story completely, Cassimere says. Mystery has always surrounded Northup’s death, says Cassimere. Northup had always said that he would like to be buried near his father, but the whereabouts of his body or circumstances of his death have never been revealed. Northup is not buried with either of his parents or with his siblings. Local lore at the annual Solomon Northup Festival in Saratoga Springs also has it that Northup’s great-

12 years grandson visited the area, searching for a burial site and information on the whereabouts of his ancestor, the historian says. The Northup relative expressed then that he and his family had no knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Solomon’s Northup’s death or burial site. Hollywood South

Neither Logsdon nor Northup could have guessed that the former slave’s painful journey through Louisiana would one day circle back to the Pelican State, where teams of producers would ensure that the humble musician’s story made movie marquees around the world. The motion picture released by Fox Searchlight Pictures was filmed in New Orleans and rural Louisiana, then edited and produced at the UNO Nims Center Studios in Harahan, which helped to launch “Hollywood South” a dozen years ago with production of the blockbuster film Runaway Jury. Operating under director Roger Benischek, the Nims Center Studios have since drawn scores of major motion picture productions to Louisiana with the emergence of state tax credits for the film industry, now estimated to bring the state more than $1 billion in annual revenues.

Among those films included are The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt and Dallas Buyers Club, which competed this year against Twelve Years a Slave for Best Picture and helped Matthew McConaughey win an Oscar for Best Actor. The nearly 100,000-square foot Nims Center Studios boast five stages totaling more than 50,000 square feet, four green screens, 45 production offices, editing suites, a mixing room, state-of-the-art sound and film equipment. The UNO Nims Center is home to Cineworks, the only full-serve film processing lab in Louisiana and the only post-production studio offering a full range of digital processing services. Last spring, the studios were renamed the Robert and Jeri Nims Center for Entertainment Arts and expanded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration to include a 5,000-square foot incubator facility where young and talented film industry entrepreneurs will be able to work and take advantage of the studios’ technology, industry internships and project development opportunities. Photos by Fox Searchlight Productions




Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff, whose 1980 Broadway smash hit and subsequent film Children of a Lesser God earned him an Academy Award nomination and raft of awards, as well as national headlines, was a visiting artist-in-residence at the University of New Orleans during the fall semester. He has authored more than 30 published plays and more than a dozen screenplays, while directing a number of them to awards and acclaim.

All the


a stage World-renowned playwright Mark Medoff tops the marquee at UNO as he writes — and rewrites — his next world premiere By Patricia Murret

World-renowned playwright and screenwriter Mark Medoff sat this fall in the University of New Orleans Robert E. Nims Theatre, watching intently, making notes and tapping on his laptop. His eyes rarely left the stage as he analyzed the moves and intentions of the actors.

The Tony Award-winning playwright and Oscar Awardwinning screenwriter, whose breakthrough work was 1980 Broadway smash hit Children of a Lesser God, was an artist-inresidence during the fall semester. His latest original script, Parsifal Worthy, made its world premiere in late November on the UNO stage, starring UNO actors. “One of the major things about it being a new play is the amount of rewriting I do in the play, at rehearsals, overnight,” said Medoff, who appeared at rehearsals night after night, critically reviewing his work from a red plush seat in the University’s Robert E. Nims Theatre. “It's a collaboration thing. I can have a play at home for years by myself but it's very different once a director and actors are in it. It becomes a collaboration between them and me. I learn all kinds of things — that I couldn’t living at home — as actors try to inhabit the people that have been living in my head,” the playwright said, “… and try to transfer the page to the stage, as it were.” Writing as Rewriting

Medoff, who has taught at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., for nearly 30 years, flew to New Orleans in September for auditions for the UNO premiere of Parsifal Worthy. He helped select the cast and began tailoring scripts for university actors before rehearsals started. The rewriting process continued until two weeks before show time, with help from the UNO cast and Medoff ’s third and youngest daughter, Jessica, who served as the play’s guest director. “Yesterday, we pretty much took the latter half of the play apart,” Mark Medoff said one evening in October, as he watched actors scramble to perform new lines. “I wrote things. We cut things. So that’s what we (are) seeing ... is how I complicated their lives overnight.” The world premiere of Parsifal Worthy at UNO featured an all-student cast: Nick Giardina, David Brown, Sarah Beth James, Rick Jackson, Meghan Shea, Tiffany Anderson, John Neisler, Sam Malone, Emily Felps, Blair Pourciau, Vinnie Matthews, Betsy Borrego, Franny Harold and Sabrina Rivarde. It also featured the work of set designer Kevin Griffith; costume designer 30


Left: Medoff’s Parsifal Worthy, starring UNO actors Tiffany Anderson and John Neisler, made its world debut in November in the Robert E. Nims Theatre on the University’s Lakefront campus. Right: Jessica Medoff, center, directed Parsifal Worthy.

Tony French; lighting designer Diane Baas; props director Sarah Beth James and stage manager Kit Sternberger. Griffith, French and Baas are UNO theater faculty. The opportunity to work with a playwright of Medoff ’s caliber as he reworked his masterpiece is unparalleled for most UNO students, said Department of Film and Theatre Chair David Hoover. The UNO actors brought the famed playwright's polished script to life. An Unparalleled Opportunity

Mark Medoff is an American playwright, screenwriter, film and theatre director, actor and professor, who made national headlines as a young man in 1980 with his signature play Children of a Lesser God. The play, a romantic drama about a deaf woman and a speech pathologist who is also her former professor, centers around the struggles and victories the couple face as they combine their deaf and hearing worlds into one. Inspired by the life of deaf actress Phyllis Frelich, the playwright developed, work-shopped and debuted Children of a Lesser God at New Mexico State University, where he then worked in the English department. Within one year, Children of a Lesser God had made its way to Broadway, where it ran for two years and 887 performances. The run made Frelich a star — and earned her a Tony Award for Best Actress — while garnering Medoff not only high praise and the talk of the town, but also a Tony Award for Best Play, a Drama Desk


Award for Outstanding New Play and the London West End Society’s Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. In all, the play received three Tony Awards and three Laurence Olivier awards, including one for Outstanding New Playwright, spurring Medoff to transform the script into a much-heralded 1986 film. The film version of Children of a Lesser God, starring actors Marlee Matlin and William Hurt as a employees at a school for the deaf, won Matlin an Oscar Award for Best Actress, augmented her career and brought Medoff nominations for an Oscar Award, BAFTA and Writers Guild of America Best Adapted Screenplay Award. The same year, Medoff was nominated for a Cable ACE Award — known today as an Emmy Award — for his HBO Premiere movie, Apology. Since 1976, the award-winning playwright has published more than 30 plays, a number of which he has directed, as well as more than a dozen screenplays. Medoff ’s screen credits include adaptations of his plays When You Coming Back, Red Ryder?, Clara's Heart and City of Joy. Two films — Homage, which Medoff wrote and produced, and Santa Fe, a play co-written with screen writer Andrew Shea — were invited to the Sundance Film Festival. The Hands of the Enemy also made its way to Los Angeles, starring actor Richard Dreyfuss and including a role for his oldest daughter, the playwright said. A prodigious writer, Medoff continues to produce at a clipped pace. A feature film Refuge appeared in movie theaters around the nation in 2010. Wager, a play

play — which takes place two days before Christmas, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — is “a holiday play about a man who still believes that we should do unto others as we'd like others to do unto us.” “It is loosely based on a short story by Dickens called The Chimes which I've modernized and I can't even tell you what's really left over from the original short story,” said Medoff, intently watching actors perform a pivotal scene as he spoke. “Most of it just comes out and I have no control over it until I go back and look at everything analytically or someone looks at it and tells me what I'm doing.” At New Mexico State, Medoff teaches several courses where he deals a great deal with the “classic hero,” a word and a role that he sees as genderless, the playwright said. This play is centered around both a male and a female hero. Parsifal Worthy, played by award-winning UNO actor and graduate student John Neisler, has two daughters he is trying to raise in the absence of their mother, Penelope, who was murdered years earlier, the playwright said. The main character’s name is an allusion to the errant knight Percival found in classic literature. “I wanted to write something about the classic fallen hero, if we define the traditional hero as someone who wanted to sacrifice something from himself for something larger than himself,” Medoff said. “As we discover through the play, his wife has returned from death and is here to help him through a difficult time in his life, where he discovers someone he works with has murdered his wife,” said Medoff, as he watched Neisler endure a court scene and dangle from scaffolding in the role of Parsifal Worthy. “He is a person with anger management issues and he’s trying to control his anger. He’s someone who’s trying to do the right thing all the time and that's a terrible burden,” the playwright said. “He has an anger he is trying to suppress. He has to struggle, like many of us do, to maintain civility, which is difficult, especially in the presence of someone who is corrupt.” When the character Parsifal Worthy realizes the amount of ill others do, he

It usually takes me two or three productions to get it as far as I'm going to get it.

that Medoff originally published in 1974 at age 27, debuted as a newly transformed work in September. The playwright shows no signs of stopping. Jessica Medoff, his third daughter, is an opera singer, actress and director who plans one day to be the guardian of her father's work, “a very sweet idea,” Medoff said. She has performed under his direction more than half a dozen times and continues to act professionally while embarking on her directing career. Jessica Medoff recently played the lead in Carousel under her father's direction and last January, he also directed her in Annie Get Your Gun. Like her sisters, Jessica Medoff has been around the stage — and involved in the theatre community — for most of her life. “She's really just setting out on this path, but she's really ready to do it,” Mark Medoff said, watching his daughter direct UNO actors and notate his script with laser focus. “She's a really good director. It’s been extremely rewarding and gratifying to work with her on a play of mine.” An Artist and a Teacher

Medoff has been a professor at New Mexico State for nearly 30 years, where he has had a profound impact. In 1974, he received the University’s highest faculty honor, the Westafer Award, according to his NMSU bio. In 1980, he received the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, New Mexico’s most prestigious lifetime artistic honor. Twenty-five years later, he received in 2005 The Kennedy Center Medallion for Excellence in Education and Artistic

Achievement, an award given to a practicing artist who is also a career teacher. Medoff co-founded NMSU’s Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts and American Southwest Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director. He has taught in the English and Theater Departments and funded the Mark and Stephanie Medoff Theatre in the University’s Center for the Arts. Though the theater is available for their use, Mark and Jessica Medoff came to UNO this fall at UNO Film and Theater Department Chair David Hoover’s invitation. Years ago, Hoover chose to study a Medoff play while writing his own graduate thesis at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. Hoover corresponded with the playwright for a year about one of his scripts, then worked for him at New Mexico State for two years before eventually making his way to UNO, where he has starred for more than 20 years as an artist, director, actor and professor. Under Hoover’s direction, the UNO theatre department has won more Kennedy Center American Theatre Awards — and produced more award-winning actors — than any other university in the state. Hoover has helped to grow the theatre department into one of the University’s most popular and successful programs, added scholarships and spearheaded renovations to the Robert E. Nims Theatre, where he often performs and directs. A Holiday Play

Parsifal Worthy, which starred both UNO undergraduate and graduate students, is a “family-friendly” comedy, said Hoover. The




contemplates suicide. He is about to jump from the roof of a theater when a strange woman named Penelope, played last fall by UNO graduate student Tiffany Anderson, appears on a bicycle and stops him. “She is either in his mind or she’s been sent by some unnamed force but in any event she’s some inexplicable presence not unlike the ghost in A Christmas Carol,” said Medoff, recalling a famous holiday play set during the same three days surrounding Christmas. “I stole from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol where Marley's ghost comes to Marley and tells him the common welfare should be his business.” The play also includes a member of Ebenezer Scrooge’s family and a reference to figgy pudding, two elements found in A Christmas Carol, Medoff said. Penelope, it seems, can work magic “although she has some disagreements with whatever mysterious force sent her to Parse’s rescue,” Hoover said. Together, Parse and Penelope “take a journey of redemption, from rage at and disappointment in humankind to a reaffirmation of faith in faith.” From the Page to the Stage: An Ensemble Cast

Rife with comedy, the show featured a large ensemble cast of “highly entertaining characters, some good, some bad, some really bad,” according to a play synopsis. The ensemble characters offered support and obstacles in reuniting Parse and his family. “Periodically, I write a play with a lot of roles in it for younger actors,” said Medoff. “Having been a teacher for 40-some-odd years, I’m constantly dealing with young people and in a university setting. I’ll write a play with a lot of roles, whereas

anything I write for a community production can’t have 20-some-odd characters in it. We’ve got 15 large roles, virtually all played by graduate students and undergraduate students in the program here.” The playwright watched his daughter create complex scenes with 29 people on stage, each engaged in a private act or dialogue, then quickly disband them and move to the next scene. Recreating the same scene on a film set, one person would be operating the camera, zooming in on several characters while 29 people stood around, watching, he said. “I like working in the theatre better than film because of the intimacy,” Medoff said. “I love the process.” Medoff, who has another play coming out in 2014, said that he deliberately writes a lot of women’s roles. The playwright nodded toward a UNO actress learning to walk with crutches as though severely disabled. “I love watching people work hard,” Medoff said. “One of the appeals of having my children in the theater and on the set from a young age is that they saw people working extremely hard and being kind to each other.” “The process of working with him was not about being handed something down from on high. Instead, he approached us as co-partners in the creation of his work,” said Neisler, reflecting post-season. “That was a revelation to me and other actors. I would say that, really, the most impressive and surprising thing about him is how unaffected he is as a person and how completely not precious he is about his work when it is in process. He embraces theatre for what it is and that is a collaboration.” The play radically changed while in process at UNO and every actor and

member of the crew played a part, said Neisler. From the outset, Medoff queried actors on even their smallest movements. “He let us know that our contribution mattered and that made us work all the harder to find this thing together,” said Neisler. “Suddenly between the playwright and the director there was this environment created between us: ‘Please come have fun! Come contribute ideas.’” The play is his third holiday show, said Medoff, who has been writing seriously since he was 15, when a high school English teacher “told me that I could do something I do better than anybody in my class.” He studied theatre at Miami University, then a professor sent him to New Mexico, a place he had never considered or even heard of, he said. He fell in love with the region — and New Mexico State University — and has since refused opportunities to move to New York or Los Angeles. New Mexico State and the Las Cruces community, particularly community theaters, have been good to him, Medoff said. New Orleans also treated him kindly, the playwright said. He came to the Crescent City for a change of scenery and the chance to polish his play in an exciting city with a strong theater community. While at UNO, he taught several master classes to students in the film and theatre department. Medoff is not sure where Parsifal Worthy will hit the stage next, but believes he will workshop the play again before he sells it. “Everything takes me years and after we do it here I'll probably do it one more place — then anybody who wants it can have it,” the playwright said. “It usually takes me two or three productions to get it as far as I'm going to get it.”

Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff has published more than 30 plays and a dozen-plus screenplays.




International Alumni Association

invites you to

Mambo with Us! The 3rd Annual Crawfish Cook-off & Music Festival on the Lake brings the best of New Orleans culture to UNO’s lakefront campus.

Saturday, May 10, 2014 from 11am – 7pm

Mambo features all-you-can-eat boiled crawfish cooked by 20-plus teams competing for the “Best of Boil” Championship title, PLUS performances by five live local bands. Don’t miss the fun! For details, tickets, entry forms, and other information, visit UNO MAGAZINE



Monumentally Meaningful By Adam Norris

Forty Years of Baseball Comes Full CIrcle By Brandon Rizzuto and Jason Plotkin

Composer Yotam Haber and members of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra receive an ovation at the premiere of “A More Convenient Season.� Photo courtesy of University of Alabama at Birmingham.






irmingham, Ala., in the 1960s. Few intersections of time and place are more evocative in American history. And few events capture the zeitgeist quite like the bombing the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham on September 15, 1963. The act, perpetrated by white supremacists, killed four African-American girls and marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.

Juanita Jones, center, comforts her sister, Maxine McNair, whose daughter Denise died in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on Sept. 15, 1963. At left is Clara Pippen, mother of the two women.

Five decades later, Birmingham is a city with a much different identity but a well-known past that serves as a frequent reference point. In advance of the 50th anniversary of the church bombing, Alabama philanthropist and arts patron Tom Blount commissioned a work to mark the seminal event. The man entrusted with this monumental task was neither an Alabamian nor a Southerner. It was Yotam Haber, a Dutch-born composer who grew up in Israel, Nigeria and Milwaukee, Wis., and joined the University of New Orleans music faculty in 2013 as a visiting assistant professor. In September 2013, Haber’s work, “A More Convenient Season,” made its world premiere at the Alys Stephens Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, exactly six days after the 50th anniversary of the bombing. The title of the work comes from Martin Luther King Jr.’s famed “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” in which he scolded people of goodwill “for setting a timetable for another man’s freedom.”

Photo by Vernon Merritt.




“I am very grateful that Alabama came to me, an outsider, for this incredibly meaningful project.”

In a review by the Birmingham News, Michael Huebner wrote: “With ‘A More Convenient Season,’ Yotam Haber has not only composed a monument to Birmingham’s civil rights legacy. He has made an important contribution to a larger body of works that focus on historic world events.” The project’s genesis can be traced to Rome, Italy, where Haber spent a year in 2007 as a Rome Prize Fellow in Musical Composition. Haber used that time to research the liturgical music of Rome’s Jewish community and wrote a work that employed archival recordings of cantors alongside a live singer and an orchestra. Blount was in the audience during the performance and he was inspired to bring Haber’s work to Alabama. On Blount’s invitation, Haber visited Alabama and was deeply moved by what he learned about the state’s civil rights history. He agreed to create a work about that history. It took Haber two full years to complete the project. No stranger to the rarified strata of orchestral music, Haber holds a doctorate in composition from Cornell University and was a 2005 recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, given to those who demonstrate exceptional creative ability in the arts. He was the artistic director of the New York City-based 36


MATA Festival, which showcases the music of young composers from around the globe. Still the Birmingham commission was unlike any other work he had undertaken. “I really wrote that piece almost thinking that I wasn’t writing a regular work of music but almost making a work of public art,” Haber says. “Because so often through the process of writing that piece I said to people ‘what would you like this piece to be about?’ And ‘what has been said too much about this history?’” Haber spent about a year and half researching the civil rights movement in Alabama, visiting the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, reading FBI files, listening to archived recordings, and speaking to people who lived during the era. He held conversations with the heroes, the foot soldiers and the bystanders of the movement. “(In ‘A More Convenient Season’) I tried to talk about larger subjects such as courage in the face of injustice,” Haber says. “‘What can we expect a normal person to do in the face of injustice?’ We don’t need to do grand, heroic gestures. All of us are capable of doing very small acts of courage. And that’s what the piece is really about, rather than one single bombing.”


The final result was a three-movement 75-minute work that features an orchestra, an all-girl chorus and four solo singers accompanied by a film from documentary filmmaker David Peterson that goes in and out during the performance, as well as recorded electronics that are played alongside the singers and the orchestra. It also incorporates live electronics, meaning that some of the sounds that the singers and chorus make are manipulated in real time. The electronics were the work of experimental musician Philip White. The film includes news footage and home movies from the civil rights movement. Archival recordings from the oral history project at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute are both played and sung by the chorus and the soloists. “There’s no invented language,” Haber says. “It’s very much connected to a real history.” While “A More Convenient Season” is clearly about the events of the civil rights movement, Haber says he did not want to manipulate the audience’s emotions by telling them how to feel throughout the performance. “People would ask me ‘what is your piece going to solve?’” Haber says. “I wish that I could have said something meaningful to that but the fact is it’s ultimately a work of art. So the most that I could

The world premiere of “A More Convenient Season” took place in September 2013 at the Alys Stephens Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Watch a video interview with Yotam Haber and hear his music at

Photo courtesy of University of Alabama at Birmingham.

wish for my own work to accomplish is to hold an audience captive in a room for an evening and allow each person sitting there in the dark the time to meditate on a subject in their own way with free will.” The world premiere in Birmingham featured the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and chorus members from local universities and churches. For Haber, it was the culmination of two years of study, introspection and creative output. For the members of the audience, it was a chance to contemplate an event and a climate that roiled the nation a half-century ago. “It was the most meaningful performance of my life,” Haber says. “I don’t think it’s common for composers to have written works that touch people in such profound ways that they feel compelled to come up to you afterward and say that. And ultimately it’s because the work is about something that happened to this community.”

(From left to right) Martin Luther King Jr., speaks at the funeral for Carole Denise McNair, 14, Addie Mae Collins, 14, and Cynthia Dianne Wesley, 14, three of the four girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. King said, “At times life is hard, as hard as crucible steel.” Eight thousand people attended funeral. Photo by Matt Heron. The family of Carole Robertson attend graveside services for her in Birmingham, Ala., on Sept. 17, 1963. Seated from left to right: Carol Robertson’s sister, Dianne, and their parents, Mr. Alvin Robertson Sr. and Mrs. Alpha Robertson. Photo by Horace Cort. The 16th Street Baptist Church, seen from inside a destroyed car, on Sept. 17, 1963, two days after the bombing. Photo by Matt Heron.

In addition to the Birmingham premiere, “A More Convenient Season” was performed twice more in Los Angeles in January 2014. The West Coast performances took place at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater and were presented by the California Institute of Arts Orchestra and Choir. Haber says there has been talk about

bringing the work to New York or possibly adding more performances in California or the South. He says he hopes “A More Convenient Season” will have some longevity but, regardless of its fate, he is thankful for the life the work has lived. “I am very grateful that Alabama came to me, an outsider, for this incredibly meaningful project,” he says.




jewel of the south College of Engineering's state-of-the art towing tank gets a face lift.

The University of New Orleans School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (NAME) is the only one of its kind in the Gulf Coast region and one of the few in the nation. Established in 1980 at the request of the local shipbuilding industry, the program produces well-prepared graduates while supporting the field through applied research. NAME students and faculty — and shipbuilders from around the region — test their designs in the University’s state-of-the-art-towing tank. The UNO towing tank is a multi-use simulated ocean environment that is used by engineers and engineering students to analyze the performance of scale-model ships and offshore structures. The data gathered is used to predict the performance of full scale-vessels on the ocean.

“When they’re doing tests on this, the walls have to be completely smooth,” says restoration project manager Jason O’Rourke. “The wave maker can’t have any rough surfaces. If a wave hits a rough wall, the rough spots cause little eddies, so you’re not getting a true wave.”

The UNO towing tank is 120-feet long and 15-feet wide with a variable water depth up to 7 feet and when kept at a typical depth of 6 feet, contains over 80,000 gallons of fresh water. The water is chemically treated to prevent algae and manage pH, and a filter keeps the water clear.

The towing tank is sealed with a specialized rubberized paint made for marine or underwater applications, says Warren Davis, a facility services administrator, who described the special paint as a rubberized finish stretched over a surface with giant rollers.

A computer-controlled wave maker produces regular waves and a variety of random waves that can be tuned to simulate conditions in practically any of the world’s oceans. Specially designed pumps generate currents. Engineers measure the waves using wave probes and other instrumentation, including a variety of motion sensors located on the tank. A wave-absorbing “beach” prolongs testing and reduces wave reflections.




A towing carriage driven by cables at speeds up to 10-feet per second is used to tow models through the tank at carefully controlled speeds, says George Morrissey, facilities director for NAME. The model ships are attached to the carriage though a device that measures the force applied to move the model. Position sensors measure trim and draft. Other equipment allows for improvements and repairs. “We recently purchased a 3D laser PIV system that can precisely measure the flow of water around our models in three dimensions,” says Morrissey. “We have a model shop with computer-controlled cutters to produce models and parts of models from computer drawings. Also we have a rapid prototyping machine that can ‘print’ plastic parts for use in model construction.”

Last fall, UNO President Peter J. Fos and the Office of External Affairs highlighted the towing tank in a letter to state legislators, asking them to pass HB 671, which would allow the University to increase student fees and apply proceeds to much-needed maintenance around campus. The new law, proposed by La. Rep. Frank Foil (R-Baton Rouge) and championed by Sen. Conrad Appel (R-Metairie), enabled the University to collect from the state approximately $762,000 in deferred maintenance funds. Some of that money went to resurfacing, repainting and repairing the University’s towing tank — and already NAME engineers are saying the changes will help to improve designs.




All in the

Design from engineers to entrepreneurs

by Patricia Murret





ast fall, a University of New Orleans blimp circled near the ceiling of the UNO Recreation and Fitness Center, where approximately 500 guests had gathered for Get to Know UNO, the University’s signature fall open house.

“We needed something to really demonstrate what our students are capable of doing and we decided that we would create a blimp,” says Kim Jovanovich, assistant dean of the UNO College of Engineering. “Eventually, this thing will have the ability to drop bookmarks. We’ve thought about using it at basketball games at halftime. We’ve thought about putting a camera in it that can look down and take pictures.” UNO boasts the only civil engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering program in New Orleans, as well as a School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. The electrical engineering program is divided into two concentrations of study in computer and power engineering. Each student in the College of Engineering must pursue two senior design classes and partake in a year-long engineering project before graduation. The approximately 12-foot-long blimp with a 4-foot diameter is a special fixture in the UNO engineering department, where last year, a group of seniors developed a vision for it and took their designs through proof of concept as part of a senior design project. This year, five electrical engineering students adopted that blimp as part of their own senior design project. The radio remote-controlled blimp will be handed down to future classes with aims of continuous Image at left: Entergy Endowed Chair for Power Systems Engineering Parviz Rastgoufard, at center, worked with (from left) Donald Leonard, Ray Fellows, Derek Doredant, Darryl Alexis and Dustin Duhe (not pictured) to build a 20-foot-long blimp for a senior design project required all of electrical engineering students.

improvement, says Jovanovich. Future iterations will expand capabilities, possibly enabling the blimp to become a fun addition to recruitment efforts, athletic events at Lakefront Arena or other venues where students and prospective students are assembled. “We built this,” says Donald Leonard, an electrical engineer and December graduate from Raceland, La., describing the work he and his peers did for their senior design project. “We not only deal with the engineering aspects, we deal with the business aspects — whether it could be sold or anything like that.” A Visionary Program

Parviz Rastgoufard, the UNO College of Engineering’s Entergy Endowed Chair for Power Systems Engineering, has a vision: A state-of-the-art program in which undergraduate engineering students shepherd their own designs from project to product and serve as a vital part of the city economy. “The big picture is: We’re going to improve the economy, we’re going to keep the brains here, we’re going to encourage faculty to come here and work with us, we’re going to encourage angel investors and we’re going to use it as a recruiting tool,” says Rastgoufard. Reversing the brain drain in New Orleans is critical to the city and state, Rastgoufard says. By partnering with local engineering firms and energy leaders to create new and needed technology, the University is not only training tomorrow’s workforce and helping steer students to high-paying excellent jobs. The University is also opening a window to high-level research and development opportunities in which undergraduate and graduate students create products that can be patented and help propel technology. At a recent forum hosted by Entergy Services Inc., four teams of UNO engineering students dressed in professional attire unveiled senior design projects before their peers and a jury of engineering leaders from leading New Orleans engineering firms and the local energy giant. They delivered information on proof of concept, an economic analysis, technical documents and data and a marketing plan in bite-size chunks to judges, while fielding hard-hitting questions on viability, marketability and testing of their constructions. The year-long senior design program has been a core part of the engineer-

ing curriculum for many years, says Jovanovich. But since arriving on campus in 2007, Rastgoufard has worked to advance the program into a bona fide product pipeline by adding “entrepreneurship” and “undergraduate research” to the traditional design with the potential of generating graduate research projects worthy of state and federal grants managed by the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. The senior design courses at UNO now require small groups of engineering students to brainstorm ideas; select a feasible project; collaborate on design plans; build the product; refine the design; create a business plan that addresses community need, sales potential and marketability; build a website to sell the product and finally, partake in a year-end symposium. At the December symposium, engineering students present their designs, products and business plans with a sales pitch to fellow UNO engineers, as well as engineers from the greater New Orleans community. “When I see the students’ projects almost converted to products — that’s a very good feeling,” says Rastgoufard of the senior design projects unveiled in December. “With a little push, each of projects is going to be a product ... We’ve got four groups of graduates that are very close to producing a product out of their own companies.” From Project to Product

Witness the Ars Electrica’s dPMU Distribution Phasor Measurement Unit created by five seniors, three of whom have worked for Entergy as interns in a UNO-Entergy Cooperative. The cooperative, forged in 2009, has allowed several dozen UNO students to work at the electric utility company headquartered in New Orleans. On the job, students have an opportunity to see needs of the company and others like it, says undergraduate student Jason Van Huss, of Metairie, who graduated in December with a degree in electrical engineering. “It not only gives our students experience, but what Entergy gets is they test the students while they’re in co-op and then they hire them,” says Rastgoufard. “Normally it takes six months to train a new employee. That’s six months’ salary. So they save on that and they save on hiring the right person while the




The Ars Electrica’s dPMU Distribution Phasor Measurement Unit created by five UNO seniors for Entergy Corporation collects data on the utility system and measures characteristics along the power system.

student feels out the company as well. It’s a very beneficial relationship for students, industry and the university.” Van Huss and his peers — Sean Duvernay, of Harvey; Rania Haddad, of Lebanon; Andrew Brignac, of Norco and Luis Mayora, of New Orleans — created the dPMU, a device that collects data on the utility system and measures characteristics along the power system. The equipment will help Entergy to monitor voltages and settings and let Entergy leaders know in advance about the likelihood of an anticipated brown-out or blackout, for example. The dPMU will also help Entergy leaders assess whether energy is being distributed properly or evenly at various substations around the city — and signal any aberrations. “It’s a digital record of electrical voltage and current,” explains Mayora in laymen’s terms. “What you’ll get out of it is the magnitude and phase shift.” Currently, Entergy uses PMUs, or phasor measurement units, which collect data on the utility system within its service territory, according to Rastgoufard. UNO graduate and undergraduate students previously spent three years analyzing data collected by transmission PMUs located at various substations in the Entergy power system. Whereas the large-scale PMUs currently used by Entergy require space, hardware, customized panels and infrastructure costing as much as $60,000, the dPMU created by UNO students performs the same functions, operates wirelessly, could be made for approxi42


mately $1,500 and sold for approximately $3,000 apiece, says Van Huss. Entergy currently has 60 PMUs operating along 15,000 miles of energy lines. A switch could lead to enormous savings. Rastgoufard gives this analogy: People with heart problems who want to monitor their health install an instrument to gather 24 hours’ worth of data for review and analysis. The dPMU digital recorder created at UNO collects 6,000 samples per second of voltage and current and then performs calculations, determining system health and communicating the information to electric utility personnel via wireless technology. The newer technology will also help improve development of the SmartGrid, a new meter designed to give individual users and homeowners more data about the energy they are using, says Van Huss. The new wireless dPMUs can also timestamp data, allowing engineers to assess data at stations miles apart and collect and aggregate up to a year’s worth of data. Instilling Entrepreneurship

A QuadCopter developed last year by UNO engineering students looks very similar to the Amazon drone now appearing in the news. “A lot of the work that Parviz and the instructors try to encourage is really high-tech and ambitious,” says Chris Adams, a 2010 UNO engineering graduate who now works full time at Entergy as a power engineer. Adams participated in the UNO-Entergy Cooperative — his senior design project


Diaal Dean Joudeh demonstrates the 3-D printer he created with Haytham Hamad and Ahmed El Kenawi using five motors, an Arduino processor, ramps and stepper motors. The team used the 3-D printer to replicate twoinch plastic soldiers and detailed figurines of the Eiffel Tower, as seen below.

in 2010 involved developing equipment that recognizes fingerprints. Jacob Borison, of St. Bernard Parish; Patrick Campbell, of Slidell; Joseph Welch, of Modesto, Calif. and Michael Kenney, of St. Bernard Parish, working as a company called SKIT Inc., developed the Kitchen Cloud. “What we developed is a platform for digital-based kitchen inventory management,” says Borison. “Last semester when we were talking about this, we felt like the kitchen needed some help in the inventory department ... We thought it would be cool to bring the kitchen into modern times.” The digital kitchen manager his team developed can be operated via smartphone or any other Internet-connected device, runs off a server, database and UNO-designed software and communicates with Kitchen Cloud software. Users can sync the device with their kitchen inventories; assess whether they have ingredients required by a recipe; weigh ingredients; add inventory; manage their shopping lists; link to social media accounts and share recipe recommendations; find nearby stores carrying needed ingredients, sync with Google and other online databases and more. The 2½ inch-high sleek and compact design can fit anywhere in the kitchen, says Borison. The team believes they have a large market in school cafeterias, which feed 35,000 public school students in St. Tammany Parish and 900,000 students in New York. Creating Creators

A QuadCopter developed last year by UNO engineering students looks very similar to the Amazon drone now appearing in the news.

and stepper motors. The team estimated in their economic analysis that the printer, targeted at hobbyists and home consumers, could be produced at a fixed cost of $2,700. They would need to sell approximately 15 printers before they began turning a profit, says Hamad. The sale of 50 3-D printers could yield more than $26,000. His team believes that low manufacturing cost, along with their printer's unique shape and opportunities for plastic recycling, creates a niche for them in the market. Rising Spirits, Rising Success

A third senior design team believes that 3-D printing will reshape the world in the next three years. “Instead of waiting for someone to create a product for you, you can create your own,” says Haytham Hamad, of Jerusalem. “We all need to think creative about giving people the tools to be the makers of things.” Hamad, together with Diaal Dean Joudeh, of Palestine, and New Orleans and Ahmed El Kenawi, of Egypt, used a hot print plate, extruder and nozzle to create an environmentally-friendly 3-D printer capable of printing life-size objects as big as two feet from plastic filaments. The limits of 3-D printing lie in the user’s imagination, says Hamad, who says a printer the size of a shipping container can print legal-sized materials to build buildings and houses. His team created a 3-D printer from five motors, an Arduino processor, ramps

Engineering student Donald Leonard worked for one year on the UNO blimp with friends and classmates Darryl Alexis, of Pascagoula, Miss.; Derek Doredant, of Metairie; Dustin Duhe, of Westwego and Ray Fellows, of Terrytown. “We noticed when we received the blimp that the wiring in the gondola needed some improvement,” says Leonard. “We drew a wiring diagram of the gondola’s first configuration, removed and replaced all wiring, connected wires and soldered them to avoid accidental disconnection during flight.” Once they had developed a new prototype, the engineers spent months testing sensors, motors and radio controls. They captured technical readings of the blimp’s performance along the way, hoping to pass the information along to future generations. The polished product, which boasts a New Orleans Privateers logo on the basket, belies a number of false starts and reworked plans. Originally designed to be controlled

by an iPhone web application, it is now operated by an electronic speed controller, says Duhe, a computer engineer. Duhe originally programmed the blimp to operate on Arduino, a microcontroller board wherein a computer chip or processor functions as “the brain of the blimp” and controls the blimp’s motors and direction, says Leonard. “There are other (radio controlled) blimps on the market but none that have the ease of use which we have created,” says Leonard, who says the blimp could be used for advertising purposes. “We tried to have some fun doing this as well.” In November, Alexis steered the blimp deftly through the UNO Recreation and Fitness Center using a radio remote control complete with joysticks. As prospective students and guests watched, Alexis demonstrated how the blimp’s interior motors turn two sets of propellers — one vertical and one horizontal — at the blimp’s base. The joystick allowed him to manipulate the motors and propellers one by one and thus controlled the blimp’s movement, allowing it to tilt, dive and turn. Propellers turning in alternate directions helped provide stability. “How high can it go?” asked an 8-yearold bystander, eyes trained on the ceiling. Alexis shrugged, calculating the distance before the receiver could no longer receive signals. “As high as a helicopter.”




faculty focus Parviz Rastgoufard Entergy Endowed Chair for Power Systems Engineering When a hurricane hits, power companies and their customers want to know what the impact will be. Thanks to a $2 million endowment and other research contracts from Entergy Services, Inc., UNO researchers are getting closer to having those answers. “The relationship between UNO and Entergy is very valuable and I think the value is added not only in terms of educating students through traditional studies, but also involving them on projects as interns and co-ops,” says Parviz Rastgoufard, who forged a multi-million dollar agreement with the utility in 2007, and established a collaborative relationship that would radically enhance the University’s engineering program. “Here, we have a relationship with a company that allows students to get hands-on practical experience. I think it’s appropriate to show students how the system works in real life, in addition to what they learn in classrooms.” Rastgoufard, former chair of the Tulane University Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, specializes in power systems engineering, which focuses on the production, transmission and distribution of electricity through power systems to industrial, commercial and residential customers. On arriving at UNO in 2007, he reached out to the city’s largest utility and forged an agreement that brought the University a $1.2 million endowment that would garner another $800,000 in investments from the Louisiana Board of Regents. The endowment established a new power systems engineering program at the University, with a goal of preparing electrical engineering students for related careers and helping to build critical industries. It also made him the University’s new Entergy Endowed Chair 44 UNO MAGAZINE


for Power Systems Engineering. Over the last seven years, the UNOEntergy Collaborative has brought an additional $1.5 million in research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, a power systems engineering undergraduate program, approximately 15 graduate research projects, 20 undergraduate internships, more than $250,000 in new equipment and software support, untold job prospects, a new relationship with industry and an overarching culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s also spawned an annual educational forum that brings representatives from as many as 40 companies and 10 universities to campus. The annual forum brings together the newly established UNO Engineering Forum and Southeast Symposium for Contemporary Engineering Topics on the UNO campus each fall in an effort to bridge the gap between industry and academia.

the Entergy power systems grid and connect to the equipment that needs to be tested then assess real-time impact of a lightning bolt or flash, which travels at an extremely high speed in an extremely short period of time. The sophisticated equipment can also help UNO researchers to understand the potential impact of a major storm or hurricane on power plants, petrochemical companies and other major users, from 24 to 72 hours in advance. Providing precise, accurate information to Gulf Coast industries before storms hit can help to save millions of dollars in operational costs — and help provide health, comfort and safety to residents, Rastgoufard says.

The UNO-Entergy partnership has trained more than 15 UNO electrical engineering graduate students, who are all now employed as power systems engineers around the nation, says Rastgoufard. Among Entergy’s many gifts is an SGI/ Twenty-plus undergraduate students have Hypersim real-time simulator, a state-of- enjoyed internships at Entergy through the the-art “supercomputer” valued at sev- UNO Cooperative established in 2010. eral hundred thousand dollars, used to “Bridging the gap between industry test the viability of electrical equipment and university — I think that’s what we before implementation on the Entergy need,” says Rastgoufard, touring a new power systems grid. power systems laboratory at the UNO UNO engineers use mathematical Center for Energy Resource Management equations to create software that mimics (CERM). “And this is a piece of that.”

Forward Kevin Hill is one of three upperclassment who will return next season.

When the New Orleans Privateers basketball team’s 201314 season came to an end at Sam Houston State in early March, the team huddled in the locker room and recognized three graduating seniors along with the accomplishments the squad had achieved throughout the year. The next day — not 24 hours after arriving home — the Privateers were in the weight room with Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Pete Longoria, already lifting and conditioning for next season. The Privateers’ offseason program is known among players and coaches as “championship preparation,” and the team hopes it will yield championshipcaliber results in the program’s second season in the Southland Conference. “We are working each and every day to prepare ourselves to compete for the regular and postseason championship in the Southland and are striving to add another piece to the proud UNO basketball heritage and legacy with a trip to the NCAA Tournament,” says Head Basketball Coach Mark Slessinger. Slessinger is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament, having twice

athletics overall record and an 8-10 mark in their first season in the Southland Conference. In one of the biggest victories of the season, Slessinger’s team upset the University of Texas at El Paso Miners, led by former Privateer coaching great Tim Floyd, in a 71-69 thriller in nonconference on the road. “That win was just an example of hard work and dedication, combined with the right effort and attitude from start to finish in one of college basketball’s most storied arenas,” says Slessinger. “Coach Floyd was so gracious to have us down to play and has been an incredible source of support for us.” Student-athletes guided by Slessinger are also buying into the mission, wholeheartedly signing on to the offseason objective. “We know that beating UTEP was big and that winning eight games in our first year in the Southland was even bigger, which is why all of us as a team are working hard this offseason to get better — to make a run at winning conference and getting into the NCAA Tournament,” says forward

Privateers Embrace Offseason with ‘Championship Preparation’

See Head Coach Mark Slessinger’s postseason wrap-up at The Privateers will begin the 2014-15 season in November! For ticket and game information, stay tuned to

earned the conference bid while an assistant coach at fellow Southland Conference member Northwestern State. In 2006 the Demons upset the No. 3 seeded Iowa Hawkeyes, 64-63, in the first round of the tournament, bringing national attention to the north Louisiana school. “My number one goal since arriving here on campus has been to provide a positive and enhancing academic and athletic experience for our student-athletes, and going to the NCAA Tournament not only can do that for your program, but it can also create a lot of national exposure for your university,” says Slessinger. “This is a great university in an even greater city, and we hope to be able to showcase this great university and all it has to offer on that national stage.” Slessinger, who is now entering his fourth season at the helm of the basketball program, has guided the Privateers from dark times to brighter days, finishing the 2013-14 season with an 11-14

Kevin Hill. “Last season is last season and we have a great team that understands that it is necessary to take advantage of every minute of every day to get better.” Hill, a native of Westwego, La. and a product of John Ehret High School, finished his sophomore campaign on a tear, averaging a double-double over the season’s final four games. Hill is one of three upperclassmen who will be leading a young and talented team in 2014-15. “I can see the transformation in myself and my teammates. In the weight room, I am stronger and I feel my agility improving, and I see it in the rest of the team when we do individual work and play pickup games,” adds Hill. “Playing Division One basketball is the greatest thing in the world — I can’t think of anything better. And having the chance to do that here at UNO and represent where I am from makes it all the more humbling and exciting.”



Dazzling Diamond

Newly reopened — and newly renamed — Maestri Field at First NBC Ballpark is a showpiece for the athletic department. Nearly one year after breaking ground at Maestri Field, the University of New Orleans celebrates its rich baseball heritage with a new park — and a new name. “We are thrilled to see Maestri Field at First NBC Ballpark become a reality,” says New Orleans Director of Athletics Derek Morel. “We are confident our new baseball facility with be an integral part of the advancement of Privateer baseball as a proud member of the Southland Conference.” Since its opening in 1979, the University of New Orleans baseball facility, located on the University’s east campus at the corner of Press Drive and Leon C. Simon Boulevard, has been known as Privateer Park. In March, the New Orleans Privateers and First NBC Bank announced a philanthropic partnership which renames the home field and newly refurbished facility Maestri Field at First NBC Ballpark.

A new philanthropic partnership between the University of New Orleans and First NBC Bank has led to the renaming of Privateer Park. The newly renovated baseball facility officially opened in March as Maestri Field at First NBC Ballpark.

Watch an opening day video at 46



Stadium upgrades include a new grandstand with chairback seating for nearly 800 spectators and a new press box. The press box includes an area for game-day operations, two radio booths and a private suite with bathroom and wet bar, as well as an elevator to the press box. The approximately $3 million renovation project got underway last May under the direction of Kevin J. Smith Construction and concluded in March with an official ribbon-cutting and inaugural game versus Sam Houston State. The game against Sam Houston State was also the team’s first conference game as a member of the Southland Conference, marking the university’s first conference affiliation since 2010. In recognition of the multi-year gift commitment to the Privateer Athletic Foundation, First NBC Bank garnered the naming rights for the facility through December 2023. “We are privileged to establish this partnership with First NBC Bank. We have enjoyed working with Mr. Ashton Ryan and his team on the First NBC Cup (baseball series between UNO and Tulane) partnership for several years and look forward to this extension of our relationship,” Morel said at the ribbon-cutting. Morel highlighted the community partnership as “yet another demonstration of First NBC’s commitment to amateur and collegiate athletics in the New Orleans metropolitan area.” The field is named for Head Baseball Coach Ron Maestri, who coached the Privateers baseball team to 518 wins in 13 years and served as the University’s athletic director for 21 years. Following eight years as executive director and chief operating officer of the New Orleans Zephyrs, Maestri pulled his No. 21 jersey out of retirement in July 2013, to once again lead the Privateers. Since arriving home, Maestri has championed a turnaround of the University’s baseball program. “It’s good to be back,” says Maestri. “I am honored.”

Far Left and Above: Stadium upgrades include a new grandstand with chairback seating for nearly 800 and a new press box. Left: The Privateers opened the baseball season with new uniforms bearing a new athletic mark and lettering to communicate a new identity. Below: In February, Assistant Baseball Coach Justin Garcia, a former pitcher for the Privateers, proposed to Kelsey Brock, of Slidell, at Maestri Field. She said yes. Engagement photos by Assistant Baseball Coach Blake Dean.





Students, faculty, administrators and alumni work all year to plan homecoming activities designed to inspire Privateer Pride and foster bonds between students and alumni. “Homecoming is about reconnecting. It’s a chance to bring the whole community — alumni and friends in the community, students, faculty and staff — together to have fun and celebrate the University that’s given so much to them and to the region at large,” says Pam Meyer, executive director of the UNO International Alumni Association. “Reconnecting with our alumni is the Alumni Association’s top priority. And what better opportunity is there than homecoming?” Alumni arrived in droves this year to enjoy diverse festivities, ranging from a Greek pre-basketball game social and cocktail reception honoring the University’s 2013 Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumnus, Bobby Savoie, to an alumni tailgate held at the UNO baseball team’s home opener at Zephyr Field. The game marked the 40th anniversary of the 1974 Division II College World Series team and the 30-year anniversary of the 1984 Division I College World Series team. Both teams returned to see UNO Head Baseball Coach and Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer Ron Maestri return to the diamond. “The UNO International Alumni Association wants everyone to feel welcome,” says Meyer. “Their goal is to have something for everyone. Homecoming should be part reunion and enjoying old friendships and memories, but it’s also a chance for us to build pride and re-engage our community in celebration of UNO’s future.” A campus-wide coordination team, led by the University’s Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and UNO Student Activities Council, helped ensure this year’s homecoming brought something for everyone. “2014 UNO Homecoming Week was jammed packed full of events to bring UNO faculty, staff, students and alumni together to celebrate the institution’s strong academics, Privateer Pride of athletics, uniqueness of our campus body and the love of our city,” says Dale O’Neill, director of the University’s Office of Student Involvement and Leadership.







Alum Notes 1960s Richard Edgar Zwez (B.A. ‘65)

has recently published a novel New Orleans Spirits: A Tchoupitoulas Life through Creative Space, a branch of The book “is about life in the Tchoupitoulas area of New Orleans and beyond,” says Zwez. “It’s a realistic novel, but it has humor in it.” The book is available at Maple Street Books, Octavia Books and online through or the website This is his 12th book. He writes in Spanish and English.

1970s Errol P. Laborde (M.A. ‘71, Ph.D. ‘83) has published a new book,

Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival, which examines the history, spirit and culture of carnival through the photographs and anecdotes of New Orleanians. Laborde has unimpeachable Mardi Gras credentials. He has written three books on the topic and played a lifelong role in preserving the carnival culture. Laborde started the Twelfth Night tradition of the Phunny Phorty Phellows’ Streetcar Ride, which kicks off carnival season each year. He helped create the city’s Lundi Gras celebration, transforming the meeting of kings Zulu and Rex at Spanish Plaza into a major event. He also helped start the annual Mardi Gras Mask-a-Thon. Laborde is both editor-in-chief of Renaissance Publishing and a producer and regular panelist on a weekly news discussion program broadcast on public television. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis and traveling with his wife, Peggy.

Louis L. Robein, Jr. (B.A. ‘72) a New Orleans-area attorney with Robein, Urann, Spencer, Picard and Cangemi, APLC, has been appointed to the board of directors of the nonprofit Volunteer and Information Agency (Via Link), which connects people and organizations to information and resources to enable them to help themselves and others. Robein has previously served on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee. His practice areas include public and private sector union representation; Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and employment discrimination litigation. He has been repeatedly named in The Best Lawyers in America in the area of labor and employment law and has received an “AV” Preeminent peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell, an independent rating service.


Gilbert R. Buras (B.A. ‘76) was one of five Louisiana residents in 2013 to receive a Monte M. Lemann Award. The award is presented annually by the Louisiana Civil Service League to individuals outside the classified civil service system who have made contributions to the advancement of the merit system of public employment in Louisiana. Buras has served as special counsel to the New Orleans Civil Service Commission since 2000. He helped draft a federal consent decree that brought modern assessment practices to hiring and promotion decisions in the New Orleans Police Department. After leaving city government in 1986, Buras was employed by a labor law firm representing civil servants in the appeals process and litigated labor cases on behalf of the New Orleans Fire Fighters Union, Local 632, the Kenner Fire Fighters Association and the American Federation of State, County and Muncipal Employees Patricia Lambert Thompson (B.A. ‘77) was elected by special

election and sworn in as Fourth Ward Justice of the Peace in Mandeville. Her term runs through 2014 and she will be eligible to run next fall for a full six-year term in office. Thompson works for Witt-O'Brien Associates, a disaster response and recovery firm. She is a former assistant district attorney in St. Tammany, Jefferson and Orleans parishes and previously worked for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. In 2008, the Louisiana Supreme Court appointed her justice of the peace pro tempore for the parish's Third Ward to fill a vacancy. She is a graduate of the Loyola University School of Law

Dorothy L. Tarver (B.A. ‘77) was

hired as a partner of Taggart Morton, LLC. In 2013, she was named a 2014 Rising Star in Health Care Law by Louisiana Super Lawyers and a 2014 Top Rated Lawyer in Medical Malpractice law by American Lawyer and Martindale-Hubbell.

Lynn Luker (B.A. ‘78) is chairwoman of the National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms. In addition to owning her own firm, Luker and Associates, LLC, she regularly teaches at Tulane and Loyola universities. Luker also serves as the vice chair of the civil law and litigation section of the Louisiana State Bar Association.

1980s Randy A. Duke (B.S. ‘80) has been appointed Jefferson Parish deputy auditor. Duke is a certified-


SHEBA TURK Gives the 411 on The 504 By age 24, Sheba Turk hosted her own television news show. “With ‘The 504,’ we thought it would be really cool to talk to people on the street, people who wouldn’t really necessarily be the news story of the day but they have some cool stories,” said Turk in September. “It’s still definitely unfolding but…from the start I said I wanted it to be a show where you hear the voices of everyday people.” As a morning news reporter for WWL-TV, Turk covers official announcements, crime stories and the occasional feature. For the most part, her morning news coverage addresses stories and facts that the public needs to know. As the new host of “The 504,” however, Turk has full creative license. She works daily with 20-something co-producer Caegan Moore to conceive the show’s story lines, book interviews, obtain background footage and edit nightly stories before they air. The interview show, which airs nightly at 9 p.m. on WUPL, was only several episodes into development in July 2013 when host Melanie Hebert announced her departure from the station. Hebert then served as both host of “The 504” and morning news anchor for WWL-TV morning. Station management decided that Turk would replace her in both positions. “I’ve always wanted a TV show. That was my thing. It was my dream,” says Turk, marveling at the overnight career transformation. “So I was like, ‘Wait, what!? Already!?’” A Voice for All On her nightly show, Turk aims to be “a voice for everyone, especially though the underserved and children,” she says. She and Moore work to brainstorm and develop episodes that balance lighthearted and serious content. One of her first features focused on 4-year-old Anala Beevers, who recently joined MENSA, a society for people who score in the 98th percentile or higher on the standardized intelligence test. The child, who lives on New Orleans’ West Bank, scored in the 99th percentile on the standardized IQ test. Another segment focused on human sex trafficking featured an interview with Clemmie Greenlee, a woman who said she had been forced to prostitute from age 12 to 42 and described her pain, plight and struggle for survival. With the show, she and Moore aim to appeal to a wide demographic, including their own 20-something crowd, Turk says.

She's done fashion segments, had a life coach help her organize her life with a to-do list and addressed voter registration through the eyes of young people. She’s instituted “Money Mondays” to help 20-somethings start addressing financial issues and understand budgeting. She receives regular Thursday visits from radio personalities Stevie G and Tpot of B97 FM’s “The Afternoon Swirl.” When it comes to talking about the economy, she does student loan stories. A Liberal Arts Background Turk’s speedy rise in local news has roots at the University of New Orleans, where she cobbled together her own broadcast journalism preparation before graduating in 2012 from the College of Liberal Arts. An Introduction to Journalism course taught by Kim Bondy, a New Orleans native and former CNN television reporter and producer who now works as executive producer for Al-Jazeera Tonight, got her hooked. In a simulated newsroom environment, Bondy introduced her students to the basics of news gathering and reporting, requiring students to come to each class and pitch a news story idea for her to critique. Students Skyped and met with journalists, including New Orleans television news anchors and print journalists. They also received classroom visits from Hoda Kotb, a former WWL-TV anchor and current Today show anchor, and veteran news anchor Soledad O’Brien. Bondy taught her students the basics of news writing, including how to write a news lede, the gripping first line of a story designed to tell an audience the angle of a story. Turk followed up the experience by pursuing filmmaking and editing courses that helped her to produce a news reel she could show to stations where she was interning. “She just really showed me what writing stories was about and what journalism really was,” says Turk. “And she definitely was my inspiration for: I’m definitely going to be a journalist: I’m going to try this thing out.’”

public accountant with 26 years of experience as an auditor in government and private industry, most recently as audit director for the Louisiana Supreme Court, a position Duke held since 2007.

James Meza (Ph.D. ‘81) received

the Weiss Award from the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice, an annual humanitarian award given to community leaders who have made civic contributions in the New Orleans metro area. Since Meza became Jefferson Parish Schools Superintendent in 2011, the school system has improved from a D rating to a B rating. In early 2014, the school board voted to extend his contract for another year. Prior to entering the Jefferson school system, Meza was a professor and dean for 21 years at the University of New Orleans, where he received the title of professor and dean emeritus. Meza has served as executive director of the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and interim state superintendent. He serves on the board of directors for Holy Cross School and was a founding board member for Ben Franklin High School and Edward Hynes Charter School.

Gregory C. Alexander (B.A. ‘83, M.A. ‘86) will see his debut novel,

The Holy Mark, published this spring. Originally published as a short story in Emory University’s Lullwater Review in 1998, the novel is about a disgraced and exiled Catholic priest from a powerful New Orleans family who ponders his future and reflects on his 25 years in the priesthood. Alexander, a native New Orleanian, taught English for 12 years at local Catholic schools and has been writing literary short fiction since the mid-1990s. He lives in River Ridge and works as a human resources professional.

Elizabeth A. Utterback (B.A. ‘83)

Follow her at Sheba Turk WWL TV on Facebook or @ShebaTurk on Twitter.

was named one of New Orleans Magazine’s Top Female Achievers 2013 and has since been promoted to WYES-TV New Orleans executive vice president and chief operating officer. Her Emmy Award-winning department is responsible for all station programming, productions, promotion and community outreach. She oversees WYES’ local documentary series and is executive producer for 11 nationally known WYES cooking series, featuring chefs such as John Besh, Paul Prudhomme and Justin Wilson. Utterback has received the University of New Orleans Chancellor's Medallion and the College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumni

Award. She is married to Terry Utterback, whom she met at WYES on her first day of work more than 32 years ago.

Michael J. Gravois (B.A. ‘84) is

the author of 21 books for teachers published by Scholastic Teaching Resources and has written numerous articles for Instructor Magazine. He holds a bachelor's degree in theatre from UNO and a master's degree in education from Rutgers University. A former fifth-grade teacher, Gravois is now an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis, where he teaches theatre and education classes. Gravois is also a resident company member at Playhouse on the Square, a professional theatre in Memphis, Tenn., where he has performed in dozens of shows including God of Carnage, The Drowsy Chaperone, I Am My Own Wife, Rabbit Hole and The Pillowman. He is also an accomplished director (The Diary of Anne Frank and Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol) and scenic designer (Tuesdays with Morrie, Three Days of Rain and God of Carnage). Aesop's Fable-ous Christmas Tree is his first play. He is working on a companion piece titled Aesop's Fable-ous Barnyard Bash.

Robin L. Cooper (B.A. ‘88) is the new vice president of development for WYES-TV and heads all public television fundraising activities for the station. As director of individual giving for WYES, Robin has been responsible for overseeing development initiatives involving all contributions from individual donors, increasing giving to record-setting amounts. Currently, she is also heavily involved in WYES’ capital campaign for Phase II. Robin joined the staff of WYES in 1989 as an associate producer, then went on to produce and direct a variety of programs for the station before she became WYES’ membership manager and created more than 20 successful local cooking marathons. A New Orleans native, Robin lives in Mississippi. Norma E. Grace (M.P.A. ‘88)

has been elected to the Bureau of Governmental Research Board of Directors. Grace, a former vice chancellor of technology and economic development at UNO, is an extremely active leader in the greater New Orleans community, serving on a variety of boards, including the New Orleans Federal Alliance and its Joint Development Committee and the WYES 2013-14 Community Advisory Board. In addition, she serves on the Gala



Alum Notes Committee for the 2014 Alliance Francaise 30th Anniversary and the United Way of Southeast Louisiana Public Policy Committee. When not volunteering, Grace enjoys putting her French language to use and traveling. She is married to Bob Sternhell, who helped create UNO’s Masters of Public Administration program before starting a technology business, Solutient Enterprises, where he currently serves as CEO and owner.

Eileen K. Byrne (B.S. ‘89) was

promoted to president and CEO of UNO Research and Technology. She was previously the vice president and chief financial officer and oversaw the UNO Technology Park’s board of directors. Byrne was a 2013 New Orleans City Business Woman of the Year. re-elected for another three-year term on the board of directors of the Fore!Kids Foundation, which produces the Zurich Classic of New Orleans PGA TOUR event. Gaines is the CEO of system retail services and marketing for Ochsner Health System, where he oversees the system’s marketing and communication functions and is responsible for the area of retail healthcare. Gaines attended the University of Minnesota’s Graduate School of Business and received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of New Orleans.

1990s David P. Cedro (B.S. ‘91, M.S. ‘93)

joined EPL Oil & Gas in 2008, where he serves as senior vice president, chief accounting officer, treasurer and secretary and oversees all accounting, human resources, technology, procurement and New Orleans-area administration. Cedro is a certified public accountant and member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Louisiana Society of CPAs. Previously, he held accounting and financial management positions with the Shaw Group, Inc., Bayou Steel, Ernst & Young and Arthur Andersen. He serves on the board of directors for the New Orleans Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the University of New Orleans Energy Accounting and Technology Conference. He is also a member of the UNO Accounting Department Advisory Council.

Linda Wainright (B.S. ‘91) worked in public accounting as a CPA for 15 years before entering graduate school to earn dual master degrees UNO MAGAZINE

Alan G. Gauthreaux (B.A. ‘92)

is an author and historian who currently documents the experience of Italians who arrived in Louisiana in the late 19th century. Gauthreaux explores these immigrants’ arrival at local ports, their acclimation process, the challenges they faced, the scandals they endured and their significant, cultural contributions.

David Bourg (B.S. ‘92) and Kenneth Humphreys (B.S. ‘92)

David M. Gaines (B.A. ‘89) was


in counseling and pastoral studies. After graduate school, she moved to Duluth, Minn. to enter religious life as a Benedictine sister and took the name “Sister Ann Marie.” Today, Wainwright is a sister in her first monastic profession and is completing clinical pastoral education for chaplaincy training.

founded the engineering firm MiNO Marine in 2006 following careers with larger companies. They now employ 24 people — largely fellow alumni from the UNO School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering — and are planning to build a new, larger office in Jefferson Parish. The firm has developed a niche designing supply boats, as well as lift boats that carry cranes needed to pull old oil and gas infrastructure from the ocean. Customers value MiNO’s ability to quickly send engineers from its New Orleans office to shipyards in Houma and across south Louisiana. “We’re not just producing studies that go off to some other ivory tower office and get reviewed. We’re boots on the ground, in shipyards helping solve day-to-day problems,” Bourg said, adding that location will play a greater role as the firm takes on more project management work at regional shipyards.

Trudy B. Robichaux (B.S. ‘93, M.S. ‘95, Ph. D. ‘00) was honored as one

of New Orleans City Business’ 2013 Women of the Year. A three-time UNO alumna of the College of Engineering, she is the president of Robichaux Automation and Control, Inc., a small business where she works with husband Dennis Robichaux (M.S. ‘95, Ph.D. ‘01) and father-in-law Joseph Robichaux (B.S. ‘64, M.S. ‘67).

Istvan L. Molna (M.U.R.P. ‘94) is

a new member of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He was recently promoted by Entergy New Orleans to project manager in the utility’s business and economic development division. An economic development professional for more than 20 years, Molnar has previously worked for Jefferson


Parish, New Orleans Downtown Development District and Greater New Orleans, Inc., the regional economic development organization. He is a member of the Industrial Asset Management Council, the International Economic Development Council, the Southern Economic Development Council and the Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association and is a member of the board of directors for the Regional Loan Corporation. He and wife, Pam, enjoy traveling and spending time with their children, Steven and Elizabeth.

Meredith M. Miceli (B.A. ‘94)

has been named partner at Curry & Friend, PLC., where she works primarily with the firm’s medical malpractice and health care defense team. Prior to joining the firm, Miceli gained 15 years’ experience representing local private and public health care providers and hospitals in matters including large-scale health care-related class actions. An active volunteer in the community, she is a board member of the ALS Association and is involved as an advocate for CASA New Orleans and as a weekly reader for WRBH Radio for the Blind. She is also a member of the Faulkner Literary Society.

Tara L. Benedict (B.S. ‘95) is

the new director of the St. Charles Library. Benedict has worked at the St. Charles Parish Library for the past 11 years, beginning as a systems administration librarian in 2002 and becoming associate director in 2006. She has been an assistant director since 2012. Previously, Benedict served as a librarian at Ochsner Medical Center. She is a member of the American Library Association, Louisiana Library Association and library honor society Beta Phi Mu. Locally, Benedict has served on the United Way of St. Charles Strategic Planning Committee and worked as a senior project mentor and member of the senior project panels with the St. Charles Parish School System. She is also an active member of the New Sarpy Elementary PTO.

Nicole A. Chatelain (B.A. ‘96) has been hired as a special

projects manager by the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS). After graduating from UNO, “Nikki” earned a postbaccalaureate degree in media arts from Tulane University and an M.S. degree in mass media arts and journalism from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. A Metairie native, Chatelain worked in administration

at Tulane University and LSU Health Sciences Center before joining teachNOLA’s inaugural cohort and teaching 5th grade for three years. Prior to joining LAPCS, she served as the administrative coordinator for the LSU School of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Initiative.

Edmond J. Russo (M.S. ‘97)

is the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Galveston District’s new deputy district engineer for programs and project management, the highest attainable civilian position in the district. In his new role, the 21-year veteran of the Corps oversees projects and services spanning 50,000 square miles of the Texas coast from Louisiana to Mexico, encompassing 16 congressional districts (valued at approximately $350 million) to sustain navigation economics that are vital to the nation, while managing coastal risk reduction, ecosystem restoration, regulatory functions, emergency operations, military construction, and international and interagency services mission areas. Russo serves as vice chair and secretary of the Environmental Commission, Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses, which supports international development and distribution of technical information on contemporary topics for sustainable navigation infrastructure management practice.

Dan J. Tague (B.A. ‘97, M.F.A. ‘00), a multimedia artist and

activist, continues to explore the role of money in society through his art, which incorporates folded American dollars, print making and photography to create thoughtprovoking messages about the role of money in our society. In August, he was commissioned to create a new piece for the Sunday Review in The New York Times. Tague was then interviewed by the BBC for a feature on his work. Tague’s solo exhibition, The Almighty Dollar, appeared at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans in October and his Crescent City Connection was included in an exhibit at the Dishman Art Museum at Lamar University. His work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, curator Dan Cameron, the Louisiana State Museum, collector Virginia Speed, Sanam Vaziri Quraishi Foundation and the West Collection of Contemporary Art. Tague lives and works in New Orleans.

Bobby Savoie

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year He has served on the boards of the National World War II Museum, the UNO Foundation, Loyola University, GNO Inc., the Ochsner Health Foundation, the U.S. Small Business Technology Foundation and the J. Bennett Johnson Science Foundation. He won NASA’s 2011 Distinguished Public Service Medal — its highest civilian honor — and was named a Junior Achievement Hall of Fame 2011 Laureate.

Robert “Bobby” Savoie, chief executive officer of Geocent, has been named the University of New Orleans 2013 Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. He received his award at a reception during homecoming in the Arbor Room at Popp Fountain in New Orleans City Park. Savoie earned a doctoral degree from UNO in engineering and applied science in 2009. He serves as CEO of Geocent, a Metairie-based information technology and engineering services company. Under his leadership,

Geocent has grown by more than 400 percent and added more than 200 professionals in the past five years, while attracting millions of dollars in federal investment and research to greater New Orleans and the state. Prior to Geocent, Savoie served as chief executive of successively larger companies while continuing to work as an engineer and consultant, primarily in nuclear power, defense and non-proliferation for the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, several national nuclear laboratories and NASA.

Presented annually by the UNO International Alumni Association, the Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumni Award honors alumni whose accomplishments distinguish themselves in their fields, reflecting credit upon UNO and on alumni who have contributed significant service to their communities and to UNO. Previous honorees include Judge Jay Zainey, Peggy Scott and Errol Laborde, Kim Bondy, Clancy DuBos, Gary Solomon and Jim Clark. Savoie received his award at a reception that honored students enrolled in the Students4HIGHER program, a private nonprofit initiative founded by UNO alumni Barry and Teresa Leblanc. Launched in 2010, the program helps qualified students enrolled in a public university earn an undergraduate degree in four years through a combination of scholarships, mentorship and internships.




Alum Notes Charles W. Bosch (M.S. ‘98) is a new vice president and senior trust advisor at Regions Bank. Previously, Bosch spent 13 years with Whitney Bank as trust relationship manager. He is a member of New Orleans Estate Planning Council. Carolyn Goldsby Kolb (M.A. ‘98, Ph.D. U.R.P. ’06) provides

a delightful and detailed look into the heart of her city, New Orleans, with her new book: New Orleans Memories, A Writer’s City. A former Times-Picayune reporter and current columnist for Louisiana Life and New Orleans Magazines, Kolb takes her readers on a virtual tour of her favorite people and places with this book of essays divided into sections on food, Mardi Gras, literature and music. Kolb, a former director of the New Orleans Jazz Museum, received a Master’s in History and a Doctorate in Urban Studies/Urban History at the University of New Orleans, and is currently an adjunct faculty member at Tulane University where she teaches Louisiana History. She and her husband have one grandchild and two children.

Scott A. Hemmzverling (M.S. ‘99) is the associate director

of human dimensions for The Water Institute of the Gulf, which focuses on research related to climate adaptation and community resilience. His applied research examines how regional cultures and economies are affected by environmental disruptions like ongoing storm threats, coastal land loss and landscape, and climate change. Prior to joining The Water Institute, Hemmerling worked as a geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette. He has worked closely with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) on coastal community resilience issues and was part of the Master Plan Delivery Team and the Cultural Heritage Working Group for Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan. Hemmerling lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, Nicole, and daughter, Phoebe.

2000s Boris Zakic (M.F.A. ‘00), an

award-winning artist, has taken a sabbatical this academic year from Georgetown College in Kentucky, where he has taught art since 2000 to focus on his own art work. In 2013, Zakic created a large-scale



public installation entitled Painting as part of the New Albany Public Art Project: Bicentennial Series, which will remain on display through 2015. In January 2014, Galerie Hertz in Louisville hosted a month-long exhibit of his paintings entitled shhh, flicker. His newest body of work will be on exhibit in September 2014 at the Louisville Visual Arts Association’s gallery in downtown Louisville. Zakic, who was classically trained in Eastern Europe, integrates classical old-world realism with modern styles like photo-realism and gestural abstract expressionism.

Bridget L. Galatas (M.S. ‘01)

recently chaired the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women annual fundraising luncheon. Go Red for Women aims to build healthier lifestyles and raise money for heart and stroke research. Galatas is the Gulf States CFO at United Healthcare.

Johan F. Sperling (B.S. ‘01)

joined Jensen Maritime 12 years ago as a naval architect. In that time, he’s seen the company quintuple its staff. Today, as vice president, he oversees the Seattlebased company, which thrives in its relationship to parent company, Crowley Maritime Corporation. A Swedish native, Sperling originally came to the U.S. on a tennis scholarship and subsequently served a tour in the Swedish Army. In his free time, he still plays tennis and golf and enjoys watching team sports. He enjoys reading, especially adventure/thriller books. He and his wife are avid travelers.

Toya A. Barnes-Teamer (Ph.D. ‘03) has been named to

the executive leadership team of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Annual Event. Barnes-Teamer is the vice president of student success at Dillard University where she’s served for seven years. She is actively involved in the greater New Orleans community, serving on boards of directors including the United Way Campaign Cabinet, Goodwork Network, Longue Vue House and Gardens, and the Bureau of Research. She lives in New Orleans with husband, Rod Teamer.

Tymeka J. Lawrence (M.S. ‘05) worked as an electrical

engineer until 2006, when she and her husband founded Brock Beauty, Inc. and launched their initial product, Hairfinity, a vitamin supplement that promotes hair


growth. Hairfinity’s success led them to develop other natural hair and skin care beauty products which are now distributed around the world and enjoyed by a celebrity clientele including Meagan Goode and Keshia Knight Pulliam. As president of Brock Beauty, Lawrence manages product lines and development. High school sweethearts, she and her husband have been married for six years. They reside in Slidell, La. with their four children.

Laurie W. Howenstine (M.U.R.P. ‘05) a New Orleans native, was

hired at Baldwin, Haspel, Burke & Mayer in 2009 to grow and diversify the firm’s real estate closings, commercial leasing, land development and zoning law. Before joining the firm, she worked with various property programs for the City of New Orleans, handling real estate closings, condominium conversions, re-subdivisions and acquisitions. Howenstine is a member of the Women’s Business Enterprise Council South, New Orleans Metropolitan Area Realtors and the Louisiana and American Land Title associations.

Stephanie M. Bernard (M.S. ‘06) has built an impressive and

delicious résumé working with Commander’s Palace, Palace Café and Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, overseeing its pastry program and now as pastry chef at the newest Dickie Brennan restaurant, Tableau. Last fall, Bernard was part of the Evolution of Creole Cuisine, a team of chefs put together by Dickie Brennan to bring the taste of New Orleans to Manhattan in the form of a multi-course dinner served at the historic James Beard House.

Jerry V. Graves (M.P.A. ‘07, Ph.D. ‘12) began a new position

as the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority’s director of land stewardship in which he’ll be managing Louisiana Land Trust properties and implementing alternative land use strategies. Graves, who left his job as St. Bernard Parish chief administrative officer to accept this role, worked previously as a planner and director of community development in St. Bernard. He left parish government in 2010 to work as a planner for James Lee Witt Associates.

Kathleen R. Ledet (B.A. ‘07)

produced Can't Stop the Water, a documentary about the Native American Cajun community of Isle de Jean Charles, La. The film

premiered at the New Orleans Film Festival, where it was named a Must-See Film. Ledet is both a UNO alumna and current arts administration graduate student.

2010s Kris L. Gabik (B.A. ‘10) was recently honored by the March of Dimes at their Spotlight on Success Gala, held June 14. Gabik, an entrepreneur, founded 84 Flash, a digital branding strategy, public relations and social media optimization company. Active in the community, she serves on the French Quarter Festival Marketing Committee, the Son of a Saint Advisory Board, the Children’s Hospital Sugarplum Ball Committee, as well as the advisory board of the UNO Department of Marketing & Logistics. James P. Westfall (M.M. ‘10)

Vibraphonist James Westfall and his band, the Wee Trio, released their fourth album in 2013, The Wee Trio Live at the Bistro. Westfall is also a co-leader of the electro-pop band Bionica, which releases its second album in early 2014. Westfall also serves as vice president of the Ninth Ward Opera Company and often performs duets with his wife, vocalist Kathleen Westfall, director of the opera company. Westfall also serves as an adjunct instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of New Orleans. When Westfall is not making music you can find him competing in BBQ competitions on the Gulf Coast.

Trenton R. Thomas (B.A. ‘12),

known to friends and fans as T-Ray the Violinist, is crafting new genre-busting music for his forthcoming debut project, The Road Less Traveled, which explores “the misconception that the violin is not an instrument of mainstream R&B and hip-hop.” Thomas has already collaborated with a range of renowned local artists, including singers Charmaine Neville and Cash Money and hip-hop DJ/producer Raj Smoove, among others. He is also featured as a cast musician for the locally-produced musical play, Hip Hop Is Alive, which debuted at the New Orleans, Atlanta and Chicago Fringe Festivals. He’s also been heard experimenting live with local DJ RQaway around town.

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Undergraduate student Izabella Urbina of Honduras performs “punta,” a traditional Honduran dance, at International Night 2014. The annual event draws hundreds of guests and celebrates the University’s diversity. UNO students hail from 97 countries.




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