The University of New Orleans Magazine

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MAN WITH A PLAN UNO Alumnus Bob Becker Spearheads Renaissance of

New Orleans City Park

Dear UNO Alumni and Friends, I am always thrilled to welcome students back to campus for the fall semester. I am so very impressed by the energy, talents and intellect of our students—and that is especially true this semester. Our new students have the highest composite ACT score in the history of the University and we are attracting more highability students than ever before. Last fall, we handed out 15 Homer Hitt Scholarships, our most prestigious academic scholarship. This year, we gave out 42. We’re not just attracting quality students; we are giving them a lot more tools to succeed academically. We recently opened the state-of-the-art Privateer Enrollment Center, a one-stop-shop for student services, located on the first floor of the Earl K. Long Library. The days of sending students all across campus to register for classes, meet with an academic counselor, pay their tuition or get a parking decal are over. We believe that the PEC, with its many capable employees, places the University of New Orleans among the national leaders in serving students’ needs and puts students on a path to graduation. Cutting the ribbon at this first-class facility was one of my proudest moments as President. We hope this issue of the magazine conveys the sense of excitement and optimism that is permeating the University. We have accomplished a great deal over the past year and we have many victories to celebrate. The sense of pride that I feel in my university, my alma mater, is something that I am eager to share with everyone I meet. One of the highlights of the past year was meeting the Dalai Lama, who visited New Orleans and spoke at the Lakefront Arena. He talked about how the world is becoming smaller and that everyone on earth is connected. His Holiness encouraged all of us to find strength and resilience through that connectedness. I hope that we, as a University of New Orleans family, will heed his words to support one another, cherish our relationships and help our beloved University to achieve its potential.

With Warmest Regards, Peter J. Fos, President

VOLUME 37 • NUMBER 1 EXECUTIVE EDITOR Patricia Murret EDITOR Adam Norris ART DIRECTOR Jason Jones DESIGN AND LAYOUT Joseph Solis PHOTOGRAPHY Joseph Solis Tracie Morris Schaeffer Charlie LaVoy Amanda Frentz Blake Edwards New Orleans City Park Archives UNO Athletics Archives 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: © 2013 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.


CAMPUS SCENE A Look Back: the Year of Excellence


NEWS & EVENTS One Stop Shop President Fos unveils the new Privateer Enrollment Center.

New Faces GE Capital-UNO Partnership

GE Capital and UNO launch a partnership to develop a stronger technology workforce.

MAN WITH A PLAN UNO Alumnus Bob Becker


STUDENT SPOTLIGHT Postcards from Abroad

Spearheads Renaissance of

Best in Show

New Orleans City Park

Fun Happens Here The UNO Student Activities Council ushers in a slew of dazzling events.


17 The Office

UNO faculty express their personal passions through their work environments.

29 Game On!

UNO’s new concentration in game development yields its first class and first video game prototype.


Leading Professors


Former Privateer Ervin Johnson Jr. joins Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Five friends, a lake house and a good idea lead young alumni to create an award-winning film in Hollywood South. Ron Maestri, who directed Privateers baseball from 1972-1985, leading the team to two College World Series and the highest winning percentage in university history, is back at the helm of UNO baseball.

ATHLETICS Hall of Famer

32 A Good Idea

38 The Return of Ron Maestri


Kentrell Martin

A lockdown defender turns awardwinning author.


ALUMNI Crawfish Mambo

Crawfish cookoff is signature event.

Remembering Muckley

Renaissance man and alumnus leaves $4.2 million to the University.

Alum Notes

Meet the association president.



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In November 2012, the University of New Orleans formally installed President Peter J. Fos as the University’s sixth leader and first president. The president’s Investiture ceremony kicked off the Year of Excellence, a year-long celebration of spirit, honor and achievement. Here, we take a look back at some of the year’s special moments.

Want to learn more? Visit our University newsfeed on

America’s favorite political couple, James Carville and Mary Matalin, kick off the University’s new Homer L. Hitt Presidential Lecture Series with a talk entitled “Post 2012 Presidential Election: A Living Room Chat.” UNO alumnus, Gambit publisher and award-winning political commentator Clancy DuBos moderates. More than 800 people attend. Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield Jr. performs the national anthem at Lakefront Arena prior to the men’s basketball season home opener against San Jose State.



The Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences (PIES) and Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART) conduct the Sci-Tek Project, an effort to integrate the knowledge of local fishermen and coastal Louisiana workers into the design of coastal restoration projects.

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Fifteen UNO electrical engineering students make waves in a top-flight robotics contest, with two teams representing the University and one taking first prize. Louisiana literary legend Ernest Gaines reads aloud to journalist Soledad O’Brien from his book A Lesson Before Dying at the home of President Peter J. Fos. Later this evening, GrammyAward winning trumpeter and UNO Professor of Professional Practice Irvin Mayfield Jr. honors Gaines with a star-studded concert honoring the author’s life work.

The University’s award-winning Orientation Leaders perform in the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVII held in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Biology Professor Wendy Schluchter wins a 4-year $632,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study light-harvesting proteins in cyanobacteria, also known as bluegreen algae. The project has a wide variety of applications including the development of tools that can aid all types of cell biology research, including research into how diseases like cancer occur.

Working in a summer program at the UNO Advanced Materials Research Institute, high school student Lacie Duplessis is at the heart of scientific exploration surrounding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

C AM P U S S C E NE The UNO baseball team visits with a friend from the Miracle League.

Musician, actor and director LL Cool J shows some love for the “Heartbeat of the Crescent City.” Celebrated figures—ranging from actor Robert De Niro to supermodel Heidi Klum—join the action on social media.

International Night brings performances by UNO students from all over the world.

Five-time Emmy and Tony Awardwinning actor John Larroquette receives an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University.

Theoretical physicist, cosmologist and best-selling author Lawrence Krauss (left) lectures at UNO on the origins of the universe and human existence. More than 600 turn out to hear him speak in the University Center ballroom. University employee Jason Ellenburg wins a signed telescope.



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His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV takes the stage before thousands at the Lakefront Arena wearing his traditional maroon and saffron robes—and a University of New Orleans visor. U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduces the Dalai Lama as “a University of New Orleans supporter.”

Incoming freshmen throw beads at the Mardi Gras Tree: Tradition has it that the higher your bead lands on the tree, the higher your GPA will be.

UNO alumnus and conservationist Marcus Eriksen—who once floated down the Mississippi River on a raft made of plastic bottles in an anti-pollution campaign— serves as commencement speaker. Online education pioneer Salman Khan speaks to a packed house on UNO’s campus at “Re-imagining Education: A Town Hall Meeting with Sal Khan”.

Jazz at the Sandbar draws top-flight musicians, ranging from founder and patriarch Ellis Marsalis to jazz organist Dr. Lonnie Smith.


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Walking in the doors of UNO, President Peter J. Fos promised a onestop-shop enrollment services center designed to ease student enrollment at the University. In August, the president delivered on that promise, unveiling the Privateer Enrollment Center. “This represents an enormous step forward in the way we serve our students at the University of New Orleans,” says President Fos. “We are committed to the success of our students, and this facility—as well as all of the staff who are at the heart of it—will make sure that our students are put on the right track from the first time they register for classes. This new facility will allow students to focus on learning and not on obstacles in enrollment services which have occurred in the past. This is something our students deserve.” The 12,000-square-foot Privateer Enrollment Center is located in the heart of campus in the Earl K. Long Library—the “emotional center of campus,” says Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Brett Kemker. The PEC, as the center is known, is designed to expedite the enrollment process, as well as facilitate a successful first year for all students. The center offers knowledgeable staff in all areas of enrollment services including

The one-stop-shop located on the first floor of the University’s Earl K. Long Library is where students will get a tour, apply for admission, be admitted, be advised, enroll, manage financial aid, pay tuition, get their photo IDs, get their parking decals, find out about upcoming social and athletic events or clubs to join and have a place to study, get a cup of coffee and something to eat, says Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Brett Kemker.

admissions, financial aid, new student orientation, first-year experience, firstyear advising and veterans’ affairs. Students can gather in the state-of-theart Privateer Pride Room for a campus tour, receive financial aid counseling, get student success coaching, inquire about veterans’ benefits and obtain a photo ID and parking pass without leaving the facility. A 1,200-square-foot Starbucks lounge is expected to open in January. “The PEC is a significant improvement for the students of UNO,” says Brandan Bonds, UNO Student Government president. “Streamlining the admissions and registration process for new and first-year students is something we

have always wanted. We’re excited that the administration has simplified this process and we look forward to the new and exciting things the PEC will bring to campus.” Additional services in the center include representatives from the Office of the Bursar, UNO Federal Credit Union, Student Health Services and the University Computing Center’s Help Desk. The customer-friendly enrollment center is entirely paperless. University officials made benchmarking visits to several universities, then designed an enrollment center that is truly cutting-edge.

Seen from left: University of Louisiana System Board Member Gary Solomon; State Rep. Ray Garofalo; UNO President Peter Fos; UNO Student Government President Brandan Bonds; UNO Foundation Board Chairman Joe Exnicios; UNO Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Brett Kemker; and State Rep. Jared Brossett. 6


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GE Capital, the University of New Orleans and Louisiana Economic Development in September unveiled GE Capital’s Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program, or SWEAP, which aims to develop a stronger technology workforce through a UNO and GE partnership. In addition, the Technology Center celebrated GE Capital’s growth in New Orleans, which has created 125 jobs since opening at Place St. Charles in 2012. “We are providing a world-class software apprenticeship program to undergraduate students,” says Charles Galda, CIO for Technology Centers and Services at GE Capital. “They will get the work experience, mentorship and industry training that will set them apart from other graduates.” GE Capital will launch the program in January 2014 by hiring a class of 10 to 15 UNO computer science students. By the end of 2015, GE Capital plans to grow the program to more than 40 apprentices. The training that students receive will position them for better engineering opportunities with GE Capital or other employers in the area. GE Capital is one of the world’s largest providers of credit and students participating in the apprenticeship program will gain “real-world software engineering experience that they won’t be able to get anywhere else,” says UNO President Peter J. Fos. “This will enhance our curriculum, and we believe the program will serve as a powerful recruiting tool in helping us attract students who are looking to gain a competitive edge in the technology industry.” This is the first software apprenticeship program that GE Capital has established. To expand career opportunities in the regional workforce, the State of Louisiana committed $500,000 per year for 10 years to enhance higher education programs for software development in the New Orleans area. That investment will allow the UNO computer science department to hire two full-time faculty members, an instructor and a coach that serves as a liaison between the University and GE Capital. “Joining our LED FastStart® recruiting and training efforts, this additional apprentice program at UNO will be an invaluable tool in securing well-prepared employees with select skills—profes-

new faces James E. Payne Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

On New Year’s Day, James E. Payne joined the University of New Orleans as its new

provost and vice president for academic affairs. The University’s strong academic reputation, dedicated faculty and staff, as well as its community engagement efforts drew his attention in applying for the position, says the internationally recognized economist. “Like many public universities across the country, UNO is in the process of a transformational change in response to the ever-shifting fiscal landscape of higher education,” says Payne. “Such change can be challenging at times, hence the importance of transparency and open dialogue among faculty, staff and students to understand the need for change in order to position the institution for growth and continued academic excellence.” Payne has been recognized nationally and internationally for his research productivity. His research in energy economics has placed him among the top 20 published energy economists worldwide. As the University repositions itself for the future, the new provost is working with departments to refine academic programs and create new ones that meet community needs and bring distinction and recognition to the university, he says. He aims to help the University build on its strengths, both to serve the greater New Orleans area and its diverse student population—and to create a destination campus attracting students from around the globe.

sionals who can contribute significantly to the success of GE Capital and other employers through the greater New Orleans region,” says Jeff Lynn, LED Executive Director of Workforce Programs. “We feel strongly that this program will grow the future pool of highly skilled software development workers in the New Orleans area. Forbes recently named New Orleans the No. 1 metro for IT job growth, and this program will create a

strong workforce pipeline to fill those jobs,” says GE Capital CIO Mike De Boer. Applications close November 14. UNO TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE WINS $750,000 IN FEDERAL GRANTS

The Merritt C. Becker Jr. University of New Orleans Transportation Institute has been awarded $750,000 in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation. UNO MAGAZINE

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NEWS & EVENTS The University of New Orleans is a member of two different university consortiums that were successful in obtaining funding through the National University Transportation Center Program. UNO will receive $500,000 through its membership in a University of Arkansas consortium. The research conducted by this group will focus on sustainable maritime and multimodal transportation systems. UNO will also receive $250,000 through its membership in a University of Maryland consortium to conduct research related to freight transportation and the effects of freight operations. According to John Renne, director of the Merritt C. Becker Jr. UNO Transportation Institute, these grants will allow the UNO Transportation Institute to expand its partnership with the Port of New Orleans and the local maritime community. They will also help the institute support local and regional freight-based economic development activities, bridging academia, business and industry.


The University of New Orleans School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering in September received a $121,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop ocean current turbines that will be able to convert the energy of the sea into electricity. The project, “Collaborative Research: Optimized Harvesting of Hydrokinetic Power by Ocean Current Turbine Farms Using Integrated Control,” is led by Nikolas Xiros, an associate professor of naval architecture and marine engineering. According to Xiros, harnessing marine renewable energy sources has the potential to far exceed the world’s current power generation needs. One of those energy sources is open ocean currents that are located in deep ocean areas but flow near the sea surface. The purpose of this research project is to develop turbines that can convert the vast kinetic energy reserves of the ocean into usable electric power. Thus far, no large-scale commercial production prototypes have been constructed or tested. The Department of Energy has desig-

new faces

Gregg Lassen Vice President for Business Affairs

As vice president for business affairs, Gregg Lassen works with the president, his

cabinet, the faculty and the staff to ensure that University resources are allocated strategically. “Since the operating model for public higher education has been dramatically altered, the university has to adapt to a new external environment that is more marketoriented,” says Lassen, who holds a doctorate in political science from Southern Miss, a law degree from the University of Houston and a master’s and bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We have the capability of growing out of our challenging financial situation by improving recruitment and retention while managing our cost profile,” he says. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to help the University of New Orleans work through the necessary change management process to thrive in the new environment and confident that we have great potential to be a truly international university for a great international city.” Lassen comes to UNO from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, where he served as vice president for finance and operations.

Darrell P. Kruger Dean of the College of Education and Human Development

Darrell Kruger—whose

new faces

career experiences include a 2012 stint at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Institute for Educational Management and a 2010-2011 fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison—leads the College of Education and Human Development’s undergraduate and graduate programs in leadership, counseling, teacher preparation, and health and human performance. “The COEHD has a very talented and capable faculty and staff, who continue to prepare graduates—over 10,000!—who positively impact the city, region, and state,” the dean says. “To be sure, seven of our 10 graduates live and work in Louisiana and two of every 10 graduates live and work in Orleans Parish. The College turns 50 this year! I am privileged to lead this College as we commence educating another 10,000 highly effective educators for the next 50 years.”

nated three national centers to investigate solutions that help accelerate the pace at which marine renewable energy delivers power to the grid. One of those centers, the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Florida Atlantic University, will collaborate on this project with the University of New Orleans and the Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems at Virginia Tech. UNO is leading the consortium, and the total grant budget exceeds $360,000. The goal of the partnership is to help the emerging ocean current energy industry overcome technical hurdles in order to make the technology commercially viable. UNO NAMED ONE OF NATION’S BEST INSTITUTIONS FOR UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION

The University of New Orleans is one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review. The education services company features the school in the new 2014 edition of its annual college guide, “The Best 378 Colleges.” Only about 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges and only four colleges outside the United States are profiled in the book, which is The Princeton Review’s flagship college guide. It includes detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores for all schools in eight categories, plus ranking lists of top 20 schools in the book in 62 categories based on The Princeton Review’s surveys of 126,000 students attending the colleges.

new faces

Kenneth W. Sewell Vice President for Research and Economic Development

As vice president for research and economic development, Kenneth Sewell is responsible for promoting research, scholarship and artistic creativity in support of the entire mission of the University. “UNO is one of only four public, comprehensive research universities in the state of Louisiana, and the only one in the greater New Orleans area,” Sewell says. “That makes UNO uniquely positioned to offer an excellent experience to our students, while impacting the local and regional communities via the expertise, creativity, and innovation of our scientists, engineers, and researchers of all stripes.” In his new position, Sewell promises to “champion UNO research…and UNO researchers… on campus, in the community, in the state and beyond to ensure that their research energies and capabilities are matched by the opportunities and resources to excel,” he says. “The University of New Orleans is poised for change and development that will spark pride in the citizens of New Orleans and Louisiana. I look forward to being a part of that proud progress.” Sewell comes to the University from the University of North Texas in Denton, where he served as chief research officer. He will oversee all research and economic development activities at UNO, including those sponsored by the UNO Research and Technology Park, located on the University’s Lakefront campus.

new faces


For the third straight year, the University of New Orleans ranks among the universities whose students graduate with the lightest debt loads, according to U.S. News & World Report. UNO ranks second among national universities in percentage of graduates with debt and 15th in terms of average amount of debt. The list examines the debt load of the class of 2012 and includes loans taken out by students from their colleges, from private financial institutions and federal, state and local governments. Average amount of debt refers to the cumulative amount borrowed by students who incurred debt. For UNO’s class of 2012, that amount was $18,271. Only 14 other national universities had a lower average debt load.

Anthony Gregorio Executive Director, University Advancement

Anthony Gregorio brings to his new position extensive experience in business, executive

management and strategic business leadership. Gregorio, who is both a CPA and Certified Global Management Accountant, is the former president, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of The Standard Companies, Inc., a firm that provides coffee, tea and point-of-use filtered water systems throughout the United States, as well as a former senior manager at Peat, Marwick, Main & Co./KPMG in New Orleans. He serves the University as executive director of university advancement and president of the UNO Foundation. He holds responsibility for the University’s Office of Development, the UNO International Alumni Association, the Nims Center Studios and the activities of the UNO Foundation, including coordinating the activities of the UNO Foundation Board. Gregorio brings in-depth experience in both development and alumni affairs in a volunteer role. He has served on development and alumni boards at Tulane University, and on development boards at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church and other nonprofit organizations. He also served as chair of the Tulane Associates program, the leadership group for unrestricted giving at the university.


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student spotlight


Postcards from abroad Students spend their summers in Innsbruck, Montpelier, Prague, Kyoto and Cork For nearly 40 years, students at the University of

New Orleans have enjoyed summers studying abroad. In 2015, the University’s flagship UNO Innsbruck International Summer School will celebrate its 40th anniversary—and this summer the program welcomed 270 students from 26 U.S. universities, including several dozen from UNO. UNO students also spent four to six weeks studying with the University’s Glories of France program in Montpelier, France; Prague Summer Seminars in Prague, Czech Republic; UNO-Japan Program in Kyoto, Japan and Creative Writing Workshops in Cork, Ireland. Whether they were enjoying a close-up view of the Tour de France, climbing glaciers in the Alps, visiting ancient Shinto and Buddhist temples in Nara, Japan, seeing the red roofs of Prague or studying James Joyce in a Hogwarts-like castle, UNO students embraced the cultures, traditions and sights of their host countries, while serving as university and national ambassadors. 10


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Nearly 50 students spent the summer at the UNO Creative Writing Workshops in Cork, taking classes in an Elizabethan gothic castle on the campus of University College Cork.





Opening ceremonies brought together students from around the world for a different kind of parade. A trip to Obergurgl glacier in the Alps brought one stunning view after another.





Students enjoyed the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, with a close-up view of the world-renowned international bicycling competition. On a weekend trip, students canoed beneath Pont du Diable, an 11th-century bridge and aqueduct known as “the Devil’s Bridge.” The ancient bridge built by Benedictine monks crosses the crystal-green Herault River to Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, a medieval village located on the Chemin de St. Jacques, or “St. James’ Way” pilgrims route.





The red roofs of Prague bask in the summer sun.


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Students visit the Ginkakuji complex on the Kyoto field trip. Ginkakuji is an important destination for people interested in the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi.


Students pose in front of the Osaka castle. Osaka is near Kyoto, is Japan’s third largest city, and is known as “The Nation’s Kitchen.” On the field trip, students visited museums, castles, the bustling city center and an observatory—they ate okonomiyaki for lunch! 7



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student spotlight

Best in Show


Johnson & Johnson 2013 Acrylic on Canvas 48” diameter



ngel Perdomo, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio art from UNO in May, “cried tears of joy,” he told bystanders this summer as officials from the University of New Orleans Ogden Museum of Southern Art announced that he won Best in Show in Louisiana Contemporary, a statewide juried exhibition presented by Regions Bank on Whitney White Linen Night. FALL 2013

Sixty artists—including five members of the UNO community— presented 114 works in the exhibition, according to museum officials. Nearly 300 Louisiana artists submitted more than 970 works in hopes of being chosen to compete in the contest. Perdomo presented three large acrylic on canvas works that he produced during his senior year: RX-78, Johnson & Johnson and Peek-A-Buu. Monica Zeringue, who received a Master of Fine Arts degree from UNO in May 2006, took second place in the esteemed competition, which this year was judged by Franklin Sirmans, the Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and artistic director of Prospect.3 New Orleans. Zeringue, who is represented by the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, showed three large graphite on linen works: Shewolf, Eagle Carrier and Hydra. Prior to the show, Doug MacCash, a writer for The Times-Picayune, identified Zeringue as a show “stand-out.” The competition, now going into its third year, is an effort by the Ogden Museum to engage a contemporary audience that appreciates the vibrant visual culture of Louisiana and the role of New Orleans as a rising, international art center, according to museum officials.

SHARK HUNTER UNO researcher Jonathan Davis appeared this summer in the Discovery Channel program “Voodoo Sharks,” as part of Shark Week, the network’s popular week-long series of shows dedicated to sharks. The program investigated bull shark populations that have moved beyond oceans and U.S. coasts to the bayous of Louisiana. Nicknamed “voodoo sharks” by local shrimp fishermen, the bull sharks have the extraordinary ability to live in both salt and fresh water environments and show up by the hundreds in Louisiana bayous. For a scientific perspective on bull sharks, camera crews accompanied Davis and his fellow researchers as they collected, tagged and tracked bull sharks in Lake Pontchartrain. According to Davis, a doctoral student in UNO’s Nekton Research Laboratory, bull sharks have been seen in Lake Pontchartrain for centuries, but the distribution of these predators throughout the lake, the duration of their stay and their activities are not well understood.

The camera crews captured the His goal is to learn more about the sharks’ researchers pulling the sharks aboard movements and behaviors in relation to the their boat, inserting transmitters into time of year and conditions of the lake. the sharks’ bodies, as well as doing the The camera crews visited twice with external tagging, measuring, weighing and UNO researchers in May. On the second examination of the sharks. They took blood visit, Davis and his crew, which included samples from the sharks before releasing his wife, Lucy—a UNO undergraduate them back into the water. student, Maiadah Bader, an undergraduate “They got some great footage of the crew student, and Patrick Smith, a Ph.D. student doing real science, carefully releasing the whose research focuses primarily on shark and celebrating the success that was redfish, caught five sharks in 40 minutes. our adventure,” Davis says.


Every year, the UNO Honors Program confers the Jace Michael Plaisance Book Award upon its best honors combo student. This year’s award went to Joshua Caleb Medernach, a freshman majoring in computer science with a concentration in information assurance. The award is presented each spring to the student who shows the potential the Honors Program once recognized in Jace Plaisance, who earned two liberal arts degrees from UNO in 1999 and a third in film, theater and communication arts in December 2000, died in a car accident in May 2001. His vehicle was struck by an “impaired driver,” according to his mother, Geraldine Plaisance, as he was making his way back home to New Orleans from a family event in Cutoff, La. Jace had been an honors graduate. The award was established in his memory in 2002. Honors faculty members choose the winner from among students who have taken the honors combo that academic

year. The honors combo consists of two classes, Greek literature and Honors English. “It’s often described as an initiation to honors and the honors rite of passage,” says UNO Honors Program Counselor Noriko Ito Krenn. Doing one’s best took on even greater meaning this year because of the obstacles Medernach has had to overcome: He was born deaf. “I have an interpreter for all of my classes,” says the 20-year old. “She uses cued speech to translate to me.” He finds professors tend to be especially helpful, even checking on his progress from time to time, Medernach told the student newspaper, Driftwood. He credited the Office of Disability Services and its director, Associate Dean of Student Affairs Amy King, with providing connections that have been important to his success. “Overall,” says Medernach, “...being deaf is advantageous for the college experience.” UNO MAGAZINE

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student spotlight The University of New Orleans Student Activities Council follows the motto: Fun happens here. The mantra is fitting for a student-run organization that has ushered in unique and fantastic campus events copied by college campuses around the country. Where else can students one week enjoy a foam party that has students dancing knee deep in soap bubbles—and another week see students celebrate Holi? The Indian festival, which ushers in spring, calls for ceremonial dancing and flinging colored powder on friends and family. “When I talk about the philosophy of SAC, I talk about working hard, I talk about having fun,” says Nate Faulk, outgoing SAC president. “SAC has always been about fun and development.” About 30 SAC members work 15 to 30 hours a week planning and executing 48 social events held on campus throughout the academic year. Eight executive board

members address issues ranging from marketing to cultural arts development and entertainment. Student leaders are paired with jobs according to skill sets, says Faulk. A marketing major, for example, heads SAC advertising efforts and a music student handles entertainment and hires performers. “We’re basically playing to students’ strengths for the strength of the organization,” says Faulk. The result is highly visible, high-energy activities that promote diversity and connectedness on campus. Some SAC events are traditional.

Students Unwinding with Crawfish, beer and Unprecedented Fun, or SUCbAUF, (pronounced Suck-Off) is an all-campus crawfish boil now entering its 28th year. A Welcome Back Luau at The Cove, replete with roasted pig, mechanical bull and dancing, welcomes students back to campus each fall and launches the Privateer

fun happe Plunge, six weeks of welcome programming designed to introduce first-year and transfer students to all the programs and resources campus has to offer. Other events call for out-of-the-box thinking and a spirit of adventure. At Silent Disco, participants receive a pair of headphones upon entry and choose music from two DJs playing two different sounds. The quiet riot demands students channel their inner rock stars—for one of the city’s most hilarious parties. SAC also brings an educational element to campus. This year, for example, SAC hosted a World AIDS Day event. Also, UNO’s Next Top Model evaluated runway models on their inner strengths and unique characteristics.



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pens here UNO MAGAZINE

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Elyria Kemp

faculty focus

UNO Marketing Professor Blends Music and Marketing Before entering academia, UNO Assistant Professor of Marketing Elyria Kemp worked in the arts and entertainment industry. Now, her research interests include hedonic consumption, emotions and consumption, and social marketing and public policy issues as they relate to customers. Kemp, who in September earned the business school’s endowed Bank One Professorship in Minority and Emerging Business, recently published a marketing management paper that appeared in International Journal of Arts Management. The article, “Embracing Jazz: Exploring Audience Participation in Jazz Music in its Birthplace,” explores why American audiences for the jazz art form are declining. More than eight million visitors annually visit New Orleans to experience its charm, culture, cuisine and indigenous music, but locals do not form the majority at venues dedicated to the performance of jazz, Kemp says. She used a consumer research model based on motivation, ability and opportunity to investigate possible barriers to local jazz audience participation in New Orleans and provides readers empirical evidence gleaned through in-depth interviews about residents’ insights about jazz. Kemp also made recommendations for cultural leaders, jazz presenters and musicians seeking to create engaging experiences that may help individuals to change their perspective.

Juliette W. Ioup

UNO Physics Professor Wins National Prize for Acoustics Education Work

Brian Beabout UNO physics professor Juliette W. Ioup received the 2013 Rossing Prize in Acoustics Education from the Acoustical Society of America, a national prize designed to honor improvements in acoustics education. Ioup teaches physics, geophysics and electrical engineering, and includes a variety of acoustic specialties among her research interests at UNO. She also teaches a popular twosemester undergraduate course designed to improve musicians’ understanding of sound waves and how they work. Physics of Music covers all aspects of the fundamental science of sound and music, including recording and electronic reproduction. Ioup, a talented classical pianist and organist who has built her own period-reproduction pianos and harpsichords using kits, is particularly well-suited to teach the class. Every instrument has unique sound properties and different sound waves and the course is centered around the physics of sound waves. Audio engineers work with sound and strive to get the best audio recording quality possible in post-production. The popular course introduces music students to the physics of sound and music by showing them, for example, how a piano works and how its vibrations work and resound in a music recital hall. 16


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UNO Education Professor Wins Emerging Scholar Award UNO education professor Brian Beabout won the 2013 Emerging Scholar Award from the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. The Emerging Scholar Award is presented to an individual who, within the first eight years of the career of an educational scholar, has demonstrated a strong record of original and significant scholarship related to educational change. Beabout, who became a UNO faculty member in 2008, is an assistant professor of educational leadership in the College of Education and Human Development. Based largely on six years spent studying urban educational reform in post-Katrina New Orleans public schools, Beabout’s research interests include school and community relations, leadership for social justice, charter schools, and alternative forms of school accountability. His work has been published in The Journal of Educational Change, The Journal of Education for Students Placed At-Risk, Multicultural Education, The Journal of Thought, The School Community Journal and the International Journal of Educational Reform.

The Office

UNO faculty express their personal passions through their work environments.

Connie Zeanah Atkinson

Associate Professor of History, Acting Director of the Ethel and Herman Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies

(top) I have an old Underwood typewriter and students think it’s an amazing old antique. I used to use this typewriter when I worked at the old Courier newspaper. (bottom) I have one of the first American textbooks. There is a lovely little piece of writing in this book. It says, “1782, Peace,” and that’s the end of the war. Some student scribbled that in the book that day.

Even though they go to a modern university in an urban city, most students like their university to have some tradition. We know students do better when they come to talk to us. The more they have relationships with faculty, the more likely they are to succeed. Making students comfortable, that’s the number one thing. Making ourselves feel comfortable, that’s a bonus. I went to Decatur Street and bought an antique table that allows the student to sit closer. I want us to be able to look at papers, things, whatever. An antique table was practical. The wire basket on my desk is actually from The TimesPicayune. In the old days, reporters would finish their stories, throw their yellow pages in a basket and yell “Copy!” And a copy boy would come and take it to the editors. I have a Bear Bryant hat that was actually owned by Bear Bryant. I have a photograph of the Liverpool football team because I went to university in Liverpool and I love Liverpool football. I have souvenirs from junk shops in England when I lived there and Brett Favre’s portrait. I have a document from New Orleans from the 1700s and a photograph of my dad. My dad was a football coach and school superintendent and his motto was “What’s Best for the Child.” It reminds me to put the students first.


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The Office

Alexander Falster

Research Technologist in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Geologist Memories. Everything has a story. I’m a mineralogist and mineral chemist, so of course I have a lot of minerals in my office. Many of them I have collected from various parts of the world. For example, I once spent a summer in Madagascar supervising the mining of gem tourmaline. I worked with seven natives. They didn’t speak English. I didn’t speak French. But we worked together all summer and found a large amount of deepred tourmaline crystals. We communicated—no matter what the language barriers were. I got involved with the Native Americans in the mid1980s. It started in Wisconsin, then it went on in South Dakota, where I got involved with the Lakota People on Pine Ridge Reservation. I have several adopted relatives on Pine Ridge. I did a favor for them and the relationship blossomed. It ended up being a much stronger relationship that culminated in formal adoption. In the Lakota tribe, hunkapi is the making of elders. Among Native American tribes, adoption is a common thing, particularly among more nomadic tribes. If there were losses due to warfare, then they may have adopted opponents who were captured, ambassadors from other peoples or just people who were moving through, provided there were extenuating circumstances. If people were unusually brave or smart, for example, those people would become part of their group. There are several cardinal virtues that they look for: Courage is one, bravery is one, generosity is one and good-heartedness, caring for people is another one. I’ve been adopted by three ceremonial tribes now in formal adoption ceremonies. 18 UNO MAGAZINE

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Daniel Gonzales

English Instructor, Interim Coordinator of Online and Non-Credit Learning The bookshelves are from home—from my room growing up as a kid, where I used to always read the books that led me to study literature. George III is actually from Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. I certainly get some looks. Some students will come in and not even mention that he is there, which I find hysterical. The Conquistador is called Cruz. He’s a garden statue. My mother is Cuban. She is an artist and she painted him and gave him to me for my birthday. Cruz is the family name. The office, George III and the Conquistador are all sort of homages to my childhood. I wanted something to remind me of why I got into academia. Years ago, I got into the habit of taking all the thank-you cards I got in my life and using them as bookmarks—and now anytime I have to look something up for a student, I open up a book and there’s a card. At any time, I can open up a book and find some sort of memory.

Kraig Derstler

The Office

Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Undergraduate Adviser

Why do people study dinosaurs? Insight into themselves. Dinosaurs open up people’s minds because they’re different, they’re ancient, they’re otherworldly—and once people’s minds are open, they can see all kinds of things very frequently about their world. I’m one of the lucky few that actually gets to be a vertebrate paleontologist. Almost everyone wants to be one when they’re a kid and almost everybody grows up. For many decades, I’ve led summer expeditions to discover and excavate dinosaurs. I get a fair number of tours, even though there are no completed exhibits. People just want to see all the stuff that’s there. Something I’m particularly proud of is that every grad student I’ve had has been hired as a vertebrate paleontologist. I don’t think any other vertebrate paleontologist in the country can make that claim. And I have trained quite a few students. We have a standing crowd of three times as many undergraduate students than before Katrina.

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ohn A. Williams became dean of the UNO College of Business Administration in April, after

serving as interim dean for nearly two years. He has been director of the University’s Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration since 2005. Williams, who also led the Department of HRT Management & Dietetics at Kansas State and the undergraduate HRT Program at Virginia Tech, is a national

Photography by Joseph Solis John Williams relaxes at Galatoire’s 33 Bar and Steak, one of 500-plus new restaurants opened in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

expert in the hotel, restaurant and tourism industry. Much of his recent research has focused on the resilience of the greater New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina.

faculty focus What is the Hospitality Research Center? The Hospitality Research Center in the College of Business Administration is a collaborative effort of the University’s Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration and Division of Business and Economic Research. It is focused on producing high-level market research and identifying industry best practices; it’s the premier hospitality and tourism research center in the nation. Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, HRC began collecting longitudinal data on the state of the tourism industry. Statistics gathered prior to the storm were deemed of no significance in making sound business decisions and projections for the future. Industry expressed a need for statistics that would aid organizations in crafting their annual plans and research. Since then, we have provided this information on a continual basis, and used research results from our various studies to analyze the growth of tourism in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana. Government officials, industry experts and entrepreneurs have used this research to make critical decisions for the creation of economic growth and visitor satisfaction. Following Katrina, we created several new models for analyzing tourism resiliency following disasters. Many of the studies we’ve conducted over the past eight years have addressed events that have had significant consequences for New Orleans and the state. In addition to analyzing the impacts of Hurricane Katrina, HRC has studied the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the restaurant industry, the effects of Hurricanes Gustav and Isaac on the hotel and restaurant industries and the effects of boil-water advisories on the hotel industry. Demand for HRC research is far-reaching and expansive. For instance, in just the last six months, we have conducted economic impact studies for Super Bowl XLVII, the NCAA Men’s Final Four, NCAA Women’s Final Four, French Quarter Festival, Satchmo Festival and the annual economic impact for tourism to the state of Louisiana. We provide tourism projections for both New Orleans and the state of Louisiana and recently completed the 6-month analysis of the Visitor Profile for the City of New Orleans.

What is the current state of the hospitality and tourism industry in New Orleans?

Tell us more about the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration.

Research we presented in 2013 shows that the tourism industry of New Orleans has progressed beyond resilience. We are now seeing dramatic transformational change. New Orleans is now recognized as one of the most desirable tourist destinations in the nation. Our hotels are experiencing high levels of occupancy and revenue per available room. The city now has well over 1,300 restaurants versus the 805 prior to Katrina—and they are performing exceptionally well compared to most cities across the nation. Our typical visitor is an informed traveler who is eager to take in the full breadth of our sensational city. More exciting activities throughout the entire year have been key in eliminating the seasonality factor in New Orleans. The annual economic impact of tourism on the city has risen to $6 billion; New Orleans has become the ultimate success story in tourism.

Our bachelor of science and master of science degree programs serve as national models for educating exceptional graduates in hospitality and tourism. Our students follow our College of Business Administration core curriculum—they study finance, accounting, marketing, mathematics, management—and move on to industry-specific advanced-level courses designed to produce entry-level managers in hospitality, restaurants and tourism.

Do you see an upward trajectory for the future? Our research shows that visitation numbers and the economic impact of tourism on New Orleans will continue to experience sustained growth. Several factors demonstrate this. The Visitor Profile research that HRC conducted for the city shows that the number of attractions that the visitor desires is always his number one criteria in planning trips. And the number of attractions to visit in New Orleans—and the quality of those attractions—continues to increase. Festivals are not only increasing in number, but existing festivals show tremendous growth. The demographics of our visitors have also changed. The visitors we are now attracting have increased levels of income, as well as increased levels of discretionary income. New Orleans has become recognized as a dining mecca. We are also now known as one of the top host cities for sporting events and will continue to attract major sporting events. The tourism industry is burgeoning. As the industry grows, we are seeing a groundswell of investment in the revitalization of properties. I believe the unique spirit of cooperation among stakeholders in the success of New Orleans is unparalleled. Now much of our research efforts are focused on the achievement of benchmarks set for the New Orleans Tricentennial in 2018.

As they pursue this rigorous curriculum, more than 80 percent of our undergraduate students and more than 90 percent of our graduate students work in industry throughout their entire education in HRT. Our students also take part in service learning through coursework linked to industry. Last year, our students received the prestigious Chapter of the Year award from the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the association’s first. We find that the coupling of the theoretical and practical, along with the living laboratory experience of New Orleans, is the reason our students are so valued by the industry. During its 11 years of existence, our master’s degree program has seen 100 percent job placement of its graduates. This year, we plan to introduce a new online master’s degree program that will be available internationally. We are also seeking to triple the size of our undergraduate program as a response to industry demand for our graduates— increasing from approximately 240 to 850 students over the next few years. The Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association recently awarded us $50,000 to advertise and promote our programs. We will also invest $130,000 in scholarship funding that we have procured for newly admitted students. Over the past six years, we have had a dedicated initiative to greatly increase the lab experience for our students. With the help of wonderful industry partners, we have recently invested $493,000 in School of HRT lab building. The HRT demonstration lab now contains all state-of-theart equipment. We are currently working on completing our Property Management System room and a Social Sciences room and seeking $500,000 in funding for our new wine laboratory. UNO MAGAZINE

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2012 Distinguished Alumnus Spearheads Renaissance of New Orleans City Park


City Park Lagoon



ne of the ironies surrounding New Orleans City Park is that the two greatest renaissance periods of the park have followed two of the greatest disasters in the nation’s history, says Bob Becker, the park’s chief executive officer. The first massive transformation came in the 1930s, following the Great Depression. The second—still unfolding— follows Hurricane Katrina.

For four years, Becker and his staff worked to tell the park’s story, strenuously aiming to round up support from legislators, civic groups, corporations and residents. By March 2005, their efforts—which included resident surveys, community outreach and focus groups—had resulted in an ambitious master plan for modernizing the park. The plan called for raising $115 million in support and determining new ways to increase operating revenue. A target date of May 2018 tied plan completion to the city’s 300th anniversary. As park supporters learned of the vision, fundraising plans gained swift momentum. Three months later, Hurricane Katrina hit town and the failure of federal levees led to catastrophic flooding throughout 80 percent of the city.

“There’s nothing normal about this,” Becker muses, standing alongside the park’s lagoon, lush with growth three weeks before the hurricane’s eighth anniversary. “There hasn’t been a normal day in eight years.” Becker, who was honored as the UNO College of Liberal Arts 2012 Distinguished Alumnus, took the helm of City Park in 2001. In the same way that many New Orleanians now frame their life stories, the 42-year resident divides his tenure at City Park into two periods—life before the storm and life afterward. The park faced difficult financial circumstances when he arrived in 2001, says Becker, a former city planning director and managing director of Audubon Park and Zoo. Though the 1,300-acre park was self-sustaining by definition, revenues did not provide enough operating funds to properly maintain its sprawling grounds, gardens, wildlife and massive recreation facilities.

A Devastating Blow The park was, Becker’s words, “annihilated.” The last area of the city to be pumped by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was two square miles of parkland that lay beneath 18 inches to 8 feet of water for nearly one month. “My first reaction—our first reaction—was: It will be 25 years before this park can recover,” Becker says as he recalls, in spine-chilling detail, his first view of the park in early September. “Thousands of trees killed. All of the grounds were destroyed. The buildings were all ruined. We had virtually no money. We had virtually no staff to take care of it.” With no way to generate revenue, the park laid off 90 percent of its 150-member staff. A bare bones operation of 23 core employees worked for weeks out of their cars—no fax, no phone, no Internet, virtually no contact with the outside world. Some slept in their vehicles, rising at dawn to get back to work.



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New Orleans City Park boasts the world’s largest stand of mature live oaks. The 750-year-old Anseman Oak stands 60 feet high and has a 120-foot canopy. UNO employee Ines Sigel is a frequent visitor.

Patricia Murret

Mild relief came with the arrival of a FEMA trailer they repurposed as an office. In a bizarre twist of fate, the park soon housed thousands of contract workers— and still had no help. “Every single building we had was destroyed or damaged, heavily damaged,” Becker recalls. “Every tool, every piece of equipment, everything we had was destroyed, down to the rake and the shovel. We got back and…We didn’t have any shovels. We had no rakes. We had nothing.” He did have one thing, he and his team soon came to realize. They had a plan. A Grand Vision The park’s board of directors met for the first time following the storm in October 2005 at the New Orleans Museum of Art, which fronts the park’s southeast corner. The imposing structure had no electricity and loomed over miles of debris. Board members climbed the steps as though entering an ancient temple. “The board and the staff jointly decided that we weren’t just going to repair the damage,” Becker says. “That was not going to be the goal, to just repair what we had here, because the park was in difficult shape before the hurricane.

Big Lake

Photography courtesy of New Orleans City Park Archives

There were a lot of things that were not in good shape. And we had this new master plan,” he says. “So we basically made the commitment. We said: ‘We’re not just going to take somebody’s money and repair. We’re going to implement the master plan. We’re going to make it better than it was before. We’re going to build a world-class park.’” History was behind them, says Becker, who holds a doctorate in urban studies from UNO and serves as an adjunct professor in the University’s Planning and Urban Studies Department. When the

Great Depression hit in the 1930s, New Orleans City Park had a master plan in place—and when President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the Works Progress Administration and myriad relief programs, City Park was one of the state’s first entities to receive support. The park’s fundamental infrastructure was a result of a national disaster, the CEO says. The WPA built bridges, installed drainage, ran water lines and built roads. The nation’s greatest disaster paved the way for a grand park that soon and long served as the city’s pride and joy. UNO MAGAZINE

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We’re going to make it better than it was before. We’re going to build a world-class park.” – Bob Becker

Since Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005, City Park staff and supporters have: Built the Goldring/ Woldenberg Great Lawn ◆

Constructed the new Big Lake area ◆

Renovated Tad Gormley and Pan American Stadiums ◆

Renovated the practice track surface ◆

The Pavilion of Two Sisters

• Renovated the North Golf Course Renovated the Casino Building ◆

Then & Now:

Installed four miles of new sidewalks and jogging paths ◆

Images of City Park through the Ages

Completed Carousel renovations and installed two new rides in the Amusement Park ◆

Road to Recovery Park board and staff quickly developed a four point recovery plan: 1.) Clean the park. 2.) Try to open revenuegenerating facilities as swiftly as possible. 3.) Use the master plan as a guide for redevelopment. 4.) Embark on an aggressive fundraising effort. Two events propelled them forward. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) charged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with cleaning the park and removing debris from nearby roads. With help from a local trust, the Azby Foundation, staff restored the park’s lush botanical gardens. Using rented amusement park rides, they reopened City Park for an ageold tradition, Celebration in the Oaks, in December 2005. “A herculean task,” Becker says. “…One of the most inspiring moments ever, because in December 2005, New Orleans was pretty much a ruined city.” Residents celebrated at 24


Replanted the Botanical Garden and renovated all of its buildings ◆

Installed a new hightech playground ◆

Repaired all Storyland exhibits and added two new ones ◆

Planted more than 5,000 trees ◆

Utilized 40,000 volunteers who have made dramatic improvements in the Park ◆

Demolished several hurricane-damaged buildings ◆

Repaved Harrison Avenue, Wisner Avenue, Robert E. Lee and Marconi Boulevards ◆

Landscaped the entrance to the Park ◆

Opened the new dog park – City Bark! ◆

Finished a 250car parking lot at Tricentennial Place ◆

Built a new fishing pier along Marconi Boulevard ◆

Owen/Butler Memorial Fountain

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Opened the new City Park / Pepsi Tennis Complex ◆

Moved out of our trailers and into our new Administration Building ◆

Made additional road repairs and installed over 100 new LED street lights ◆

Constructed the Arbor Room at Popp Fountain – a new rental venue ◆

Dedicated the new 50-acre Festival Grounds ◆

Opened the Morning Call Restaurant ◆

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park

Gave the century-old Peristyle a facelift ◆

the open-air Christmas light festival with their children for 19 days, generating more than $250,000 in revenues to help keep the park going. By 2007, the park had reopened its revenue-generating driving range and amusement park. Still, times remained desperate, Becker says. State and federal legislators came to the rescue, adding New Orleans City Park to the general fund for a critical three years—and levying a tax which allocates to the park 30 percent of all slot machine revenues from the New Orleans Fair Grounds. The funds helped the park rebuild facilities, provide matching grants and pay for expenses not covered by FEMA.

Popp Bandstand

Sweeping Scenery, Sweeping Transformations Over the last eight years, the park has seen dramatic and sweeping transformations: brand-new festival grounds, a new tennis complex, restoration of the 100-yearold carousel, the planting of 5,000 trees, the reopening of the park’s famed Storyland, a new miniature golf course deemed the nation’s finest, world-class landscapes and a new-and-improved park center surrounding the park’s Big Lake, among others. Coming soon are a long-awaited PGAcaliber championship golf course and a $6 million water

What are the plans for 2014? In 2014, the following projects will start or finish: Continue implementation of the Couturie Forest Master Plan ◆

Finish construction of the 36-hole miniature golf complex ◆

Further upgrade the Amusement Park ◆

Major infrastructure improvements in and around Tricentennial Plaza ◆

Begin construction on a new Splash Park ◆

Begin construction of a new championship level golf course and club house. ◆

What will I likely see in upcoming years? ◆

A new skate park

A new maintenance building ◆

Addition to the conservatory in the Botanical Garden ◆

Construction of a new Environmental Education Center ◆

Courtesy of New Orleans City Park


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“Flying Horses”

park meant to rival Blue Bayou in Baton Rouge. His staff enjoys two mottoes, Becker says: “Every great city needs a great park.” And: “To be the best, you have to be better than the rest.” Some days, he says, while roaming the park, he remembers city residents who more than 100 years ago promenaded down park pathways dressed in Sunday finery and danced to big bands at the century-old white-columned Peristyle. Others, he recalls the grim days immediately following Hurricane Katrina, when he looked forward to his hourly shift on a lawnmower and the first signs of incremental change. While observers have compared future plans to New York’s Central Park or San Diego’s Balboa Park, all has not come easily. The park’s 2005 master plan called for $115 million in fundraising, says Becker. The hurricane brought a direct hit of $43 million in damages, upping the ante to $150 million needed if he is to turn over to citizens a world-class park by 2018. “The hurricane was a setback…because we had so much damage to repair,” Becker says. “But it was also a catalyst. As a result of the hurricane, we have had a lot of help: philanthropy, foundations, corporate giving, giving from high



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“There’s nothing normal about this. There hasn’t been a normal day in eight years.” – Bob Becker net-worth people.” The storm also galvanized the help of some 40,000 volunteers. Today, City Park has raised $105 million, including $27 million from private funds, spent a large chunk of that and is spending still, says Becker. The goal is to raise another $45 million in the next four years. “We’re on our way. We know how to get it. We have a plan,” he says. “Our hope is that we finish raising the money, implement the master plan and turn over a world-class park,” he says, with a pause. “The biggest thing would be to put the park on an extremely sound financial footing for a long distance into the future.” Planning for the Future

Depending on a tax based on slot machines at a racetrack for base operating support is “not where we need to be,” says Becker. To have a secure financial future, the park needs another source of public revenue, whether that’s a sales tax, a

property tax, a return to the general fund or other means. While most American city parks receive 80 percent of operating revenue from taxes and 20 percent from money raised on the grounds, at New Orleans City Park, the situation is the reverse. “We raise 85 percent of our revenue and we have 15 percent that comes from our tax source,” the CEO says. “This is not a good platform. It’s working, because of the taxes rolling in, but if something were to happen to the Fair Grounds, we would lose all that we’ve gained.” In the works, he says, is an appeal to legislators. “I would hate to think that we’ve gone through this incredible effort and then suddenly find that we don’t have the operating revenue to maintain it,” Becker says, mulling over topographical maps, photos and plans for the future. He smiles. He has a plan. “We’re on a good trajectory right now. But, there’s more work to be done.” ◆


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The Heartbeat of the Crescent City

THE SEARCH UNO rolls out a new commercial and advertising campaign targeting students deciding on college.

The Search: A Student’s Journey to Find the Perfect University is a futuristic take on the adventures of finding the right fit during a college search. The 30-second commercial, made with graphics similar to those found in blockbuster films like Minority Report and Iron Man, begins with pulsing music and a spinning globe, then zooms to New Orleans, where a prospective college student, played by UNO undergraduate student Josh Brewer, flips furiously through college marketing materials comically marked “mediocre university,” “no social atmosphere on campus,” and “located in remote area.” “Computer, you’re going to find me the perfect university,” he says, frustrated. The all-knowing computer populates the University of New Orleans and begins touting some of the University’s core strengths. “The commercial was written, produced and scored to resemble a movie trailer,” says Kevin McLin, vice 2288 UUNNOO MMAAGGAAZZI INNEE

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president for communications, public relations and marketing. “We know that prospective students can encounter a lot of clutter in their college search and we hope the commercial vividly depicts how the University of New Orleans stands out from the crowd with its academic excellence, affordability, campus life and its location in one of the most interesting cities in the world.” Creating the 30-second commercial and an accompanying two-minute movie trailer was an all-hands effort drawing talent from all ends of the University, says McLin, who scored the music and wrote the scripts, with the assistance of marketing and public relations staff and a UNO theater graduate. UNO students star as actors. UNO alumni directed, filmed, edited, scored and added special effects, says McLin, a two-time University alumnus. Both the commercial and trailer were produced in the University’s Robert and Jeri Nims Center for Entertainment Arts on

Distributors’ Row in Harahan, La. The booming voice behind the allseeing “computer” belongs to five-time Emmy and Tony-Award winning actor John Larroquette, who voiced last year’s four-part “Heartbeat of the Crescent City” commercial series and received an honorary doctorate in May from the University. The three-month campaign, which debuted on WWL-TV in September, also appears this fall on billboards and movie theater clips in the greater New Orleans area, cable television spots, online, at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and in various print publications.

Introduce a prospective student to UNO! Visit

The creators of Enlightenment: (seated from left) David Brooks, Jonathan Redmann, Carissa Flowers (standing from left) Aaron Maus, Nathan Cooper, Ted Holmberg, Lily Stricklin, Chris Kives

By Adam Norris

GAME ON! Photography by Joseph Solis

GOOD NEWS TRAVELS FAST. SO DOES, APPARENTLY, GAME NEWS. BEFORE THE SPRING 2013 SEMESTER, CHRISTOPHER SUMMA, AN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF COMPUTER SCIENCE, STARTED SPREADING THE WORD THAT HE WOULD BE TEACHING A NEW GAME DEVELOPMENT CLASS. HE TEXTED FORMER STUDENT DAVID BROOKS, WHO HAD TAKEN A TWO-YEAR BREAK FROM COLLEGE SO THAT HE COULD WORK. “FINE, I’M COMING BACK,” WAS THE RESPONSE FROM BROOKS. Brooks alerted Carissa Flowers, an alumna who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2011. “When David told me about it, I had to sign up,” says Flowers, who returned to campus as a graduate student for the purpose of taking a single class. Brooks had previously led a video game development club at UNO, but without any matching curriculum, students had to pursue their interests on their own time. So it’s not surprising that students in the computer science department eagerly

greeted the arrival of the “Introduction to Game Development” class. But what began as merely a course for undergraduate and graduate students has evolved into a fullblown passion project that has lasted well beyond the conclusion of the class. At the beginning of the semester, students submitted pitches for different video game ideas, and the members of the class voted on their favorites. The students with the four top suggestions were named team leaders and the remaining students signed on to the different teams. One of the winning pitches came from Ted Holmberg, a graduate computer science student. His concept was a vampire-hunter game that was based on maneuvering a beam of light through a maze-like environment. The project began with a four-page preliminary design document and a team meeting with six eager members. The goal: produce a single-level game prototype that was ready to play by the end of the semester. UNO MAGAZINE

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The underlying structure provides all the rational problemsolving you’d expect from a puzzle game, but the exterior of it provides what you’d expect from an action-adventure game. “You have to make an interesting story that’s going to pull people in,” Brooks says. “Having thriving living environments that are going to make people actually experience and explore these places. Having a story that’s going to want to drive the player to find what’s going to happen next. And it’s this massive creative process to get the whole thing together. We’re trying to tell a story.” Telling that story in a visual and compelling way required a collaboration among eight students, some of whom were not even enrolled in the game development class. Lily Stricklin, a fine arts undergraduate student, joined the team and provided the bulk of the artwork for the game. And even though she didn’t earn any college credit, she says she acquired a new set of skills and contributed to a project that will help burnish her résumé. “It’s something that I’m deeply interested in, so I am very motivated to work on it,” Stricklin says. Aaron Maus, a doctoral student in computer science, became aware of the 30


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project through his roommate, David Brooks. Brooks asked Maus, who plays the piano as a hobby, if he would consider writing some music for the game and Maus obliged, even bringing his keyboard into a meeting one Saturday in order to solicit feedback from the group on the compositions he had written. “I think the music sets the feel and tone of the game and creates, beyond the visual image, a mental feel for the level,” Maus says. “I think it’s important, and it’s fun and exciting to do.” It was team leader Ted Holmberg’s job to figure out each person’s interests and assign tasks. Jonathan Redmann and David Brooks were responsible for designing the levels of the game. Chris Kives did the character animation. Carissa Flowers designed the overall environment, known as the “overworld.” Nathan Cooper scripted the mechanics of the light beams. Working from Holmberg’s initial document, the team developed a theme,

characters and a story while learning how to use two crucial tools in order to see their vision come to fruition. “The 3-D character art, and the 3-D environments for the game, we created in Blender,” Brooks says of the free, opensource 3-D computer graphics software. “And then for the rest of the game, for the game engine, for physics, for driving sound and taking player input, we put that together using a program called Unity. That binds together all the art assets, all the story elements, all the sound and everything else into the final product.” By the end of the semester, the team accomplished its goal by producing a single-level prototype of a game that they are calling Enlightenment, which follows an English gentleman into a Victorianera village, as he searches for vampires in taverns, morgues, manors and other spooky places. “I was actually quite impressed by the way they worked together in groups and drew

Members of the team spent hundreds of hours learning new software and creating their game.

UNO Adds Game Development Concentration During the spring 2013 semester, the Department of Computer Science announced that it will add a concentration in game development. In order to fill the need for students trained in development and implementation of computer games, the department will offer both introductory and advanced courses in game development, as well as introductory and advanced courses in mobile application programming.

Fine arts major Lily Stricklin painstakingly created the game’s artwork

everyone’s expertise out and managed to stitch that together into something that looked like a complete game,” says Christopher Summa.

provides all the rational problem-solving you’d expect from a puzzle game, but the exterior of it provides what you’d expect from an action-adventure game.”

The premise may sound simple: Find the coffin containing the vampire and kill it before it wakes up and kills you. But the player doesn’t use wooden stakes or garlic cloves to kill the vampire. The key to Enlightenment is figuring out how to bend, reflect and split a light beam using various objects within a maze so that the light hits the coffin. A sun gauge on the side of the screen also plays a key role. The setting sun not only shows the player that time is running out, but also makes the scene darker and harder to navigate. The game’s creators say it incorporates a different approach than most direct-combat games that dominate the video game market.

Even though the spring 2013 semester ended, the project had gained enough momentum for the students to keep working at it. They have begun designing the additional nine levels that they have set as a goal for the completed ten-level game. Once the game is finished, they plan to submit it to a digital storefront called Steam, which is like iTunes for computer games. If Steam users give the green light to Enlightenment, it will be available for purchase on Steam’s website.

“You take the puzzle game and you come up with a clever way to package it,” Holmberg says. “The underlying structure

“While we have a long way to go, I can’t wait to play our own game,” says Jonathan Redmann, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and is now pursuing a master’s at UNO. “It’s turned out to be very engaging and the kind of game I would buy.”

“The pervasiveness of computer gaming on personal computers, game consoles and handheld devices has generated significant student interest and job opportunities after graduation,” says Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor and chair of computer science. “This new concentration has the potential to attract new talented students to our computer science department.” According to a study released by the global market research company the NPD Group, in 2012, $14.8 billion was spent on video game content in the United States. “With the presence of Touch Studios, Gameloft and Red Ticket Games in New Orleans and Electronic Arts in Baton Rouge, game development promises to be a significant growth industry in southeastern Louisiana,” Abdelguerfi says. In addition to game development, the computer science department also offers concentrations in information assurance and bioinformatics.


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IDEA Five friends, a lake house and a good idea lead UNO alumni to create award-winning film in Hollywood South BY PATRICIA MURRET

Lake Manchac, La.


n economic recession, a love triangle, a lost job, five friends and a lake house—their lives had the makings of a movie, five UNO alumni recall. So they made one.

“I think it’s kind of common for people in their mid-20s not to know what they’re doing and that’s kind of where I was,” says Stanley Wong, who studied film at UNO and graduated in 2009. “Not knowing where to go.” After college, Wong worked on film sets as an electrician by day and waited tables in his cousin’s sushi restaurant at night. He had been fired at a local TV station while working in news production. He had no love life to speak of. Friends and family asked him relentlessly about his “plan.” At 23, he felt jaded. Whether for distraction or inspiration, Wong visited the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas in March 2010. Motivated by the number of films he saw made and launched by regular Joes on shoestring budgets, he returned home and pulled together friends to make a movie. In a rented white house on Elysian Fields Avenue, Wong and fellow graduates Tyler Russell and Joe Sokmen stayed up one night—for six or seven hours—brainstorming ideas for an independent feature film. Wong offered up a family lake house and three family-owned restaurants for the setting. The threesome decided they needed someone else to create the script, and they called in classmate Owen “Chip” Hornstein III, who majored in screenwriting. “We talked for hours,” Hornstein says. “Tyler kept saying the word ‘genius.’ I kept asking: ‘What’s the story line?’ He’d say: ‘It’s about four guys who find themselves at a lake house.’ I laughed because I thought he was joking. I said, ‘I don’t want to be involved at all.’”

Photography by Charlie LaVoy


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A World Premiere

Five years later, Steve Chong Finds Out That Suicide Is a Bad Idea is winning awards at major film festivals and is on its way to commercial distribution. Centered around four recent college graduates struggling to find their places in the world, the 81-minute comedy premiered in April at the Dances with Film 16 film festival in at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles—possibly the world’s most famous movie theater. “We wanted to have a movie that reflected where we were in time, postcollege: struggling through an economic recession, the job market and the world being a bigger place than you think it is,” says Hornstein. Steve Chong Finds Out That Suicide Is a Bad Idea is “about four friends who embark on a misadventure to a remote lake house,” he says. A dramatic midnight announcement by a drunken Steve Chong “sets off a comedic steamroller of events.” Larger than Life

Facing budget limitations, the foursome immediately decided that the film’s major characters would be embellished versions of themselves. Sokmen, a Turk who wore a long bushy beard, combined his own personal history with experiences of a 34


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friend who had gone through drug and alcohol rehabilitation and come out the other side. Still, the group struggled to develop the film’s plot. Hornstein believed the film needed a stronger anchor to its central story. The film couldn’t just be about four guys hanging out in a lake house, he says. There had to be a stronger force beyond the characters’ control that drove them to reevaluate their friendships and their lives and helped them, ultimately, to change. Russell suggested a drug and alcohol

intervention. Hornstein suggested suicide. “But I thought maybe we could make that funny, because I’ve never seen the comedic aspects of suicide played out,” says Hornstein, who was quick to say that while suicide is a serious topic, “some aspects can be quite funny—if you look at them objectively.” Russell “kept insisting there is absolutely nothing funny about suicide,” Hornstein says. The screenwriter, who suffered from depression and contemplated ending his life at 18, believed that sometimes, there is.

Dwelling on your own success is kind of a self-made prison.

A Tough Ride

The Wong family lake house is a fourbedroom two-story fishing camp that sits on stilts in Manchac, La. Getting there involves a 45-mile drive toward Hammond, parking near Middendorf ’s Seafood Restaurant in Manchac, and traveling by boat a half-hour up the bayou. “Before we got there, it was kind of unspoken, if we couldn’t figure out a story, it wasn’t going to happen,” Hornstein says. Early writing attempts had been futile— friendships tensed when Hornstein wrote

realistic characters that hit too close to home. By consensus, the group agreed to “movie it up a bit.” Producer and fellow graduate Charlie LaVoy joined the group, driven first by pity, then by a near-death experience that made him look closely at his friendships and the way he was living his life, he says. LaVoy, who assumed the role of the film’s director, quickly tried to create structure. “We decided, ‘Let’s just go out there and party. Let’s just try and find some inspiration,’” Sokmen says. “Which made

it very interesting because (the lake house) is only accessible by boat…It’s very cut-off and inaccessible.” Still, they piled into cars and boats with a week’s worth of food from Sam’s Club. Eleven scruffy men slept in all corners of the house. They didn’t shave or clean up until days in to the adventure, when females arrived. “We sang karaoake. We did all kinds of shenanigans. We went swimming in the dark. We jumped off boats,” Sokmen says. “We came back from that and we had some inspiration.” A flagship scene in the film reveals the plot’s genesis. At Sokmen’s urging, the group got drunk—really drunk—which was especially interesting, he says, because Wong had few previous experiences with alcohol. Midway through the evening, the group played a card game called Kings. Hornstein established a rule: Each time a player pulled a card, he had to reveal something intimate. At first, Wong refused to play. Russell never revealed anything personal, which became a key trait of his movie character. Hornstein shared with his friends that during his high school years he had considered ending his life. Somehow, he made the revelation sound funny. “I don’t want to shy away from the fact UNO MAGAZINE

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ON THE CIRCUIT Steve Chong Finds Out that Suicide Is a Bad Idea is currently making the rounds at film festivals, including:

■ Dances with Films 16, Los Angeles ■ 36th Annual Asian American International Film Festival, New York ■ Action On Film International Film Festival in Monrovia, California ■ Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival 2014 ■ The 2014 Boston Asian American Festival ■ New Orleans Film Festival, New Orleans

that this is something that really happened to me,” says Hornstein, who is acutely aware that more than 750,000 Americans attempt suicide each year and approximately 30,000 succeed. At the same time, years later he can laugh at his 18-year-old self churning out 20 drafts of the perfect suicide letter and shake his head at memories of family members tiptoeing around him. The filmmakers believe that the film they created is hopeful and may shed light for those who find themselves in dark places. “I think that suicide is a real problem. It’s something that’s put into a category of ‘overly emotional and ego-tastic,’” Hornstein says. “People don’t know how to express a need for emotion and love. Our culture seems to be going away from that. People that are colder are seen as stronger. Whenever someone needs support morally or emotionally, it’s hard to reach out.” Plot in hand, the group set out to tell the story of Steve Chong, a Chinese-American 20-something who gets fired from his cousin’s sushi restaurant, fails miserably with women and is so isolated, he can’t express himself personally to his mother, because he doesn’t speak her language. He captures his failures one by one on index cards and posts them on his wall, then invites his four best friends to a remote lake house with plans to say good-bye. 36


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Jung’s Golden Dragon Restaurant, Magazine Street, New Orleans

After his drunken midnight revelation, Chong’s friends resolve to try and save him, overcoming boundaries fraught with distance and painful memories of a love triangle involving best friends. Good intentions meshed with haphazard, clumsy interventions help the friends reconnect with Chong—and each other. The story is ultimately about a character who “can’t see opportunity, even when it’s right in front of him, which is something I suffered from as well,” says Wong, who is now an actor in Hollywood, appearing in 21 Jump Street. “Dwelling on your own success is kind of a self-made prison,” he says. “Being able to open up is a main step for the character and I guess, to me, was an eye-opening thing at the time.” Shotgun Double

By summer’s end 2010, all five filmmakers had moved into a double-barrel shotgun house in New Orleans’ Irish Channel, “all five stacked in there like SPAM cans on a shelf,” LaVoy remembers. “Exhausting,” says Hornstein, recalling angry whispers over the script. “It was pretty bad by the end there, but it allowed us to get the movie done and allowed us to remain close.” Using high-definition DSLR cameras with interchangeable lenses—an inexpensive novelty that allowed them to shoot quality images—and a crew of

young UNO alumni who bartered their services for help on other projects, the young filmmakers produced the film on a $6,000 budget, then polished it last year with a $20,000 Louisiana Independent Filmmakers’ Grant. The University tries to instill resourcefulness in young filmmakers, says Artist-in-Residence Henry Griffin, and ensure they have the practical and technical skills to forge their paths in the film industry. All five filmmakers are, one way or another, gainfully employed in the industry. What’s special about Steve Chong Decides That Suicide Is a Bad Idea, Griffin says, is that the young filmmakers used all of the skills and resources available to them, and then some, including their UNO friends, who worked as film producers, sound crews, editors and photographers. “When you make a movie, you have to come up with a ‘through line,’ which is a central idea that drives the whole movie,” says LaVoy. “The through line of this movie was that no matter how bad things get, if you still have your friends at the end of the day, you’ve got something to live for.” “The real quality comes down to story,” chimes in Hornstein. “And that’s what UNO was trying to teach us all along,” says Sokmen, “was to tell a good story.”

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ore than 40 years ago, Ron Maestri arrived on campus at the University of New Orleans to coach the New Orleans Privateers men’s baseball team. Mase, as Maestri is affectionately known, directed Privateers baseball from 1972-1985, leading the team to two College World Series and the highest winning percentage in

“We’re going to the play the the University was accepted game the right way. We’re going to university history. He also served as into the Southland Conferrespect the game. We’re going to UNO athletic director for more than ence, says that on so many dress like a baseball player,” says 20 years. Twice in his life, he led the fronts, Maestri is exactly what Maestri, who gave up his job as the New Orleans Privateers charge to see UNO athletics play chief operating officer of the needed. New Orleans Zephyrs to return During his tenure, the NCAA Division I Athletics. to UNO in July as head baseball Privateer legend helped the coach. “If you look good, you play Now, Maestri is back. Privateers baseball team rack good. We’re going to act like a up 518 wins and a 67.7 winplayer on and off the field, and that’s important to us,” he tells ning percentage, the highest in school history. Maestri also his new players. “We want you in the community. We want led the Privateers to the 1974 NCAA Division II College you to help. We want you to give back.” World Series, where they were runners-up, and the 1984 He was 30 years old when he took his first job at UNO in NCAA Division I College World Series, becoming the first 1971, says the Privateer legend, 72. Chancellor Homer L. Hitt Louisiana team to qualify. The Privateers never had a losing led the University. Ron Greene was athletic director. Hitt said season under Maestri and qualified on nine occasions to play he wouldn’t handcuff him to the job—or pay him well. in the NCAA tournament. “Just go to work,” the chancellor told Maestri, who recalled But bringing back “Maseball” is about more than just winthe memory this summer as he pulled his No. 21 baseball ning games, says Director of Athletics Derek Morel. jersey out of retirement. “Our coaches, we talk daily about what’s important and “The choice to reinstall Ron Maestri at the helm of UNO why we’re in this business,” says Morel. “And we’re in this for baseball is part of the continuing renaissance of Privateers the young women and the young men who represent our uniathletics,” says UNO President Peter J. Fos. “It’s also a welversity as Division I student-athletes. We talk about that daily. come chapter in the new edition of the University of New We talk about creating an atmosphere and an experience for Orleans. As we set the direction for the University’s future, we them that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. are working strenuously to preserve the best of UNO…This “We talk about a culture, a championship culture, and is another step toward bringing the University back to the building a culture where we’re going to help develop these university it once was.” young men, not only into the best athletes and students they Fos, who made the decision last year that UNO athletcan be while they’re here, but also develop them into the best ics would remain NCAA Division I and worked to ensure men, the best fathers, the best husbands, the best UNO MAGAZINE

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Head Baseball Coach Ron Maestri pulled his No. 21 Privateers baseball jersey out of retirement in July. The following week, he headed to City Hall, where he was recognized as a city baseball legend by the New Orleans City Council.

Maestri shares a laugh with former UNO Privateer and LSU Coach Paul Mainieri.

“He does so much for the community,” says Texas Rangers manager and New Orleans native Ron Washington. “He is such a great person. It is great to see him back doing what he loves, coaching the game. He knows what it takes to succeed.” employees and the best citizens they can be when they graduate from UNO. Those are important principles for us. We live by those every day and everything we try to do, we do it with those principles in mind.” As he revamped the Privateers baseball program, Morel says he needed to find “a great leader for what has been arguably, if not the most successful program, certainly one of our most successful programs, and most recognized programs at this University in the 50plus years we’ve been operating.” When he and Fos sat down to make their next hire, they decided they needed more than a baseball coach, says Morel, who received scores of high-quality



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applications for the spot. In the end, there was only one answer, Morel says. “We decided we need more than a baseball coach right now. We need someone who is going to make a difference in our community, that is going to make a difference for our university and that is going to lead us to championships in the very near future,” says Morel. As head coach, Maestri will mastermind recruiting for the baseball program, hold top managerial responsibilities and reposition the team and program as the Privateers strive for glory and championships. Like any great game, Maseball holds an elite set of standards: You don’t go to

class, you don’t play. You play for UNO, you graduate. You play for Maestri, you act like a leader, on and off the field. You play on Maestri’s team, you work as though you’re on a team. No prima donnas allowed. “When we came here in 1971, basically I had an open field and no fence and the kids called the dugout a ‘lean-to.’ It had four poles and a roof over the top,” says Maestri, who didn’t waste any time grilling his new players about their semester grades in the dugout. Maestri, along with Privateer players and fans, eagerly awaits the conclusion of construction at Privateer Park and Maestri Field, the baseball field renamed in 2002 in his honor. The field is now

Maestri Field at Privateer Park served as the launching pad for the professional careers of 11 Major League baseball players and is home field for the UNO Privateers baseball team. Stadium upgrades include a new grandstand with chairback seating for nearly 800 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.

undergoing a $3 million-plus renovation thanks to generous private donations. The first game of the new Maestri era takes place Feb. 14, 2014 at Alex Box Stadium against the LSU Tigers, coached by Paul Mainieri, who played for the Privateers under Maestri and remains a close friend. The game will be Maestri’s first appearance in a Division I dugout since May 26, 1985. The following day, the two teams will play again at Maestri Field. Before the first pitch is thrown out, UNO will honor both its 1974 and 1984 College World Series teams. The season-opening series for both clubs will officially open the newlyrenovated Privateer Park and serve as UNO Baseball Alumni Weekend. The weekend will include festivities for all former UNO baseball student-athletes. It will also mark 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. Maestri’s magnetism remains strong. On hand at the news conference to announce his return to UNO this summer were several hundred friends and

“We had a lot of fun when I was here and we did things the good old-fashioned way with hard work and dedication,” says Maestri. “If I have anything to do with it, the Privateers will be champion-caliber sooner than later, and our goal is to get better every day.” fans, including former UNO baseball player and two-time World Series champion Randy Bush, who is now an executive with the Chicago Cubs; LSU Coach Paul Mainieri and former UNO basketball Coach Tim Floyd. “Why am I back? I’m back because

JOIN US FOR UNO BASEBALL ALUMNI WEEKEND! The New Orleans Privateers face off twice against the LSU Tigers Feb. 14, 2 p.m. 2014 Alex Box Stadium, Baton Rouge

this is where I spent 30 years of my life, my previous life,” says Maestri. “Thirty years of building something, a great tradition…I’m excited to get out there to work with (the players). Believe me, we’re going to have fun. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Feb. 15, 2 p.m. 2014 Maestri Field at Privateer Park Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by calling (504) 280-GAME. For more information: UNO MAGAZINE

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Photography courtesy UNO Athletics


he NBA was never one of my main goals. When I stepped foot on the University of New Orleans campus, it was all about me trying to be the best player possible,” says Ervin Johnson. “At the University, it was just me trying to be the best I could be. There were a lot of players that were better than me. I knew that they were better than me. But I knew that they wouldn’t work better than me.”

As a 10th grader, he thought about joining the Block High School basketball team in his hometown of Jonesville, La. but never did, to the disappointment of his parents and the coach, Johnson says. After graduating from high school in 1985, he went to work stocking shelves at an A&P grocery store in Baton Rouge, earning $3.35 an hour. Three years later, he was still on the job when he heard a calling. “The only thing I can remember is, when I was working in that grocery store, I was stocking some shelves,” Johnson recalls. “And I just heard this little still voice say, ‘Ervin, go back and play basketball.’ And I looked around. Nobody was around. And I knew it was from God. And the only thing I said was: ‘God, if it’s for you, then allow it to happen.’” Several hours later, a friend from work walked in to the store and told Johnson that he should try out for the UNO basketball team, which did not have a player taller than 6-foot-4. New Orleans native Paul Bologna also happened to be a friend of the University’s athletic director, Ron Maestri. Bologna told Johnson he should head to New Orleans and Johnson, who had never seen the UNO campus, borrowed a car and drove down the following night. It was 9:30 on a November night in 1988, the last day colleges could sign basketball recruits during early-signing period, when Johnson walked unannounced into Tim Floyd’s office. Floyd, who was about to begin his first year as the head coach of the Privateers, was busy calling prospects he hoped would take one of six available scholarships. He looked up at the 6-foot-11 visitor—and the rest is Privateer history. Johnson was announced in January as a member of the 2013 class of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, alongside jockey Ronald Ardoin, former LSU football player Tommy Hodson, Grambling basketball legend James Jones, New Orleans amateur athlete Anna Koll, multi-time NFL Pro Bowler Kevin Mawae, NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, professional tennis

great Chanda Rubin and former Newman School coach Ed “Skeets” Tuohy. The nine-member class was the first welcomed into the new Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The museum opened this summer and the group was inducted in June. A 30-member panel of sports writers considered a record 146 nominees from 26 different sport categories on a 33-page ballot to choose the 2013 inductees, says Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland. At the induction, Floyd told everyone gathered that when he heard Johnson’s name for the first time, Floyd asked him to pull out his driver’s license, sure that someone was playing a joke. One of pro basketball’s brightest stars at the time was Earvin “Magic” Johnson, also from “L.A.” Johnson set the record straight and still Floyd took a leap of faith with his new recruit, who had never played organized ball. The TimesPicayune took shots with a dayafter headline, “Zero Points, Zero Rebounds, Zero Blocked Shots.” But Floyd—and Johnson—had the last laugh. Johnson, who wanted a college education but refused to join the team until he had given the A&P proper notice, arrived at UNO two weeks later. He did not know what the term “pivot” meant, he could barely catch the ball and a bystander called him “Tragic,” says Floyd. One month later, Johnson sat in Floyd’s office discussing a possible move to a junior college where he could develop as a player and return in two years. Johnson recalls a tearful meeting and says he told Floyd that he would not disappoint his parents and refused to transfer. Floyd replied, “Ervin, I’m not going to say anything else about it. Just get in the gym and work.” “And from that day on,” says Johnson, “I just worked. And I didn’t say much, I just continued to try to work harder every day, and tried to improve, and I was able to improve year by year.” The first time he played in a college game, Johnson says, he was terrified. Floyd told him to stand beneath the hoop and don’t do anything except rebound and block shots. It was a strategy that worked wonders. Johnson became a dominant inside presence, ranking in the top 25 of the NCAA in blocked shots per game for three straight seasons while also finishing in the top 15 in rebounds over the same stretch from 1991-93. At the end of his college career, Johnson ranked among the top 10 in school history in points scored, field goal percentage, double-doubles, rebounds, double-figuring scoring games, steals, games played and blocks. The MVP of the 1993 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-American game, Johnson earned All-American recognition from The Basketball Times, Basketball


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AT H L ET I C S Weekly, UPI and the Associated Press during his tenure on the Lakefront. The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Sports Illustrated all wrote about him. Johnson played under Floyd at UNO from 1989 until 1993. The duo accounted for 87 wins together, including NCAA tournament appearances in 1991 and 1993. “Ervin’s rise to prominence was nothing short of amazing, and even better, his humble personality never seemed to change,” says former New Orleans sports information director Ed Cassiere, recalling Johnson’s unforgettable work ethic. “It wasn’t hard to pull for this guy to succeed. Ervin deserved every good thing that came his way.” Johnson’s success at UNO led to a career in the NBA following his selection with the 23rd overall pick of the first round in the 1993 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics. Over the next 12 years, Johnson played for Seattle, Denver, Milwaukee and Minnesota. He amassed 3,473 points, 5,148 rebounds and 1,087 blocks during a career that covered 845 games. During his lengthy NBA tenure, Johnson also found time to earn his degree in general studies from UNO in 1997. He not only walked across the stage at Lakefront Arena to receive his diploma but also graced the stage as the commencement speaker. Johnson’s No. 40 Privateers jersey was retired on Dec. 29, 1997. He joins legendary UNO baseball coach and former athletic director Ron Maestri, who was inducted in 1995, as the second Hall of Fame inductee in school history. “I wanted to make my mother, my father and my family proud,” says Johnson, who lives with his family in Colorado, where he coaches youth basketball and is heavily involved in his community. “God ordered my steps.” See Johnson tell his personal story on a YouTube video of the 2013 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame press conference.



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UNO’s Martin Evolves from Lockdown Defender to Award-Winning Author

Around the University of New Orleans, Kentrell Martin is remembered as a lockdown defender for head coach Monte Towe on the Privateer basketball team from 2001 to 2004. Today Martin is an award-winning author who has published two books: Shelly’s Outdoor Adventure and Shelly Goes to the Zoo. Kentrell Martin, who played basketball for “It was tough—I went the UNO Privateers is now an award-winning through that transition that author who has published two books: Shelly’s probably a lot of athletes go Outdoor Adventure and Shelly Goes to the Zoo. through,” says Martin. “You The books, which help teach children to use American Sign Language, were inspired by initially think you will play Martin’s brother, who is deaf. forever, but reality hits that you have to find a career, find a job. It was not my plan to write a book—I was home one day, saw a cartoon and got an idea for a cartoon.” Martin penned a series of books that incorporates American Sign Language or ”ASL,” a subject that is close to Martin’s heart, as his brother was born deaf. “I thought it would be a great if there were a show that incorporated ASL, but from there, I created a character whose father is deaf and she is teaching her friends ASL so they can communicate with her father,” Martin says. “I thought it would be beneficial, not only for kids, but for parents who could read these stories to their kids and learn some signs as well.” The children of a deaf adult typically learn signs before they know how to speak, Martin says. Martin’s idea mirrored the situation that his brother’s children faced on a daily basis and the cartoon eventually evolved into a book series surrounding Shelly, a young girl who throughout each book uses her hands to demonstrate how highlighted words are sounded. “Kids are attracted to more interactive things, where they are more involved,” says Martin. “So my idea was to make a story incorporating American Sign Language that provided involvement between the parent and child. This way you are not thinking of just turning a page, seeing a sign and then learning the sign. I tried to make it more interactive and that is my goal.” Martin hopes that his books can play a part in helping a growing community that uses ASL. The language is now the third-most used in the United States, as more than 30 million people are either deaf or hard of hearing. In early September, Martin learned that Shelly Goes to the Zoo won an honorable mention in the children’s educational category from the 2013 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. The book made the final cut of six from over 100 entrants, which included authors from the big publishing houses. Earlier this year, both books received “Five Star Awards” from the website Readers’ Favorite. Shelly’s Outdoor Adventure was also recognized as a national finalist in the category of “Children Easy Reader” by the National Indie Excellence Book Awards, which recognizes independently published books. Always one to think big, Martin is now in talks with a family digital network about bringing the Shelly series to life as the cartoon he always envisioned.

Senior Forward Cory Dixon

Senior Guard Samantha Gray

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Crawfish Mam Mudbugs: Creepy-crawly crustaceans that dwell in the mud, but taste divine.

Pirates, duck hunters and college mascots—even a 6-foot red, velour, bespectacled crawfish—joined Crawfish Mambo this year, the alumni association’s new signature event. “One of my favorite parts of Mambo was seeing the positive impression that it—and The Cove, Sandbar and Lakefront campus—made on so many people from the greater New Orleans community and beyond,” says Pam Meyer, executive director of the association. “What a great advertisement for UNO!” The promise of all-you-can-eat crawfish and big-time musical acts drew more than 2,500 visitors in mid-May for the Second Annual Crawfish Mambo Cook-off and Music Festival on the Lake. The event included performances by Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters, New Orleans Night Crawlers, Glen Andrews, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, and the UNO Jazz All-Stars. An art walk at The Cove on Founders Road also featured artists and vendors. Boiling teams brought their own boiling kits, equipment and secret recipes. The alumni association provided 83 sacks of crawfish, weighing in at more than 7,400 pounds. Twenty boiling teams vied for top prize in the “Best of Boil” Mambo Championship, which promised an engraved boiling paddle to the winners. A panel of celebrity judges chose the grand champion and other winners through a blind taste test, followed by a review of booths for creativity and presentation. Association board member Todd Tournillion captained the championship team, which was made up of employees from the accounting firm Postlethwaite & Netterville. The second place team, captained by alumnus Brandon Mouriz, hailed from Carubba Engineering, last year’s champion. Pluckin’ Tails, led by UNO Assistant Director of External Relations for Athletics Brandon Rizzuto, claimed third place and the coveted Crowd Favorite award. The team wore camouflage and decorated their booth with palm fronds to resemble a duck blind. 46


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Pirates of Da Bayou, one of three teams sponsored by Waldemar S. Nelson and Company, Inc., won Best Booth. The professional engineers wore bandanas, eye patches and other pirate gear to serve up crawfish from a ship. Students also showed that they could mambo. Outgoing Student Government President Laura Siu, who graduated in May, recruited Vietnamese-American Student Association members from Loyola and Tulane Universities, as well as the University of Mississippi, University of Alabama and other Gulf Coast schools. The event raised more than $25,000. Proceeds will help the alumni association expand ongoing initiatives designed to help UNO students gain professional development skills, says Meyer. An alumni role model program, the biannual “Dine Like a Professional” etiquette seminar for seniors, résumé review workshops and scholarships with mentorship and internship components, such as the Students4HIGHER program started by alumni Barry and Teresa LeBlanc, will all benefit. To help, email


Bermuda Bachelors Learn How to Mambo New Orleans Style

Every boiling team needs a

strategy to draw a crowd at Crawfish Mambo and that wasn’t hard for a bachelor party that flew in from Bermuda for the occasion. The groom—wearing an orange fire-retardant safety suit and a white hard hat—served up Dark and Stormy cocktails made with Bermuda-brewed Gosling’s Black Seal Rum to help his team get a leg up on competition. “We had never been down here,” said Niel Jones, 36. A corporate litigation lawyer with the Bermuda firm Conyers, Dill & Pearman, Jones planned to be at work on Friday, May 10, then was awakened at 6:15 a.m. by his younger brother, Colin, who told him to get dressed—and handed him a packed bag. The safety suit would be his uniform all weekend, Colin told Niel. Less than an hour later, Niel was drawing stares in the airport. He did not know his destination until his brother produced his passport. The bachelor party included friends and groomsmen Tom Steinhoff, Craig McIntyre, Nicholas Plianthos, Andrew Rossiter and Andrew Holmes, of Bermuda. Holmes, a brand manager at Gosling’s helped the group carry six bottles of Black Seal Rum into the country. The six enjoy free diving for spiny lobster along the Bermuda coast and are no strangers to boiling events, says Steinhoff. Niel Jones once led a champion team in a fish chowder cook-off in his island hometown of Hamilton. “Wow! That looks like a fun thing to do,” Colin Jones recalls saying when he read about the event on the Internet. “Oh, yea! We’re going there. We’re in it.” The self-proclaimed seasoned partyers brought a no-holds-barred approach to the Crawfish Mambo boiling competition at UNO and claimed to be carrying a few trade secrets. Backing the team was John Mayfield of Lafayette, who trucked in pots, burners and other boiling equipment—and carried a special recipe from Cajun country for the fix. “I’m taking care of the guys,” said Mayfield, whose role seemed to dance between boiling chef and bodyguard. “I want them to go back to Bermuda and say ‘This is New Orleans.’”


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Alum Notes 1970s Stephen G. Romig (B.S.‘73)

works as director in charge of the Tax Consulting Services Division at LaPorte Sehrt Romig Hand Certified Public Accountants and Business Advisors. A Young Leadership Council of New Orleans Role Model, Romig is a former managing director of the firm and a current member of the firm’s executive committee. For more than 35 years, he has provided auditing, accounting, tax, and financial consulting services to clients in a number of industries.

Jay C. Zainey (B.S.‘73)

received the University’s 2012 Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumnus Award last fall and was honored with the Louisiana Bar Foundation’s 2012 Calogero Justice Award.

Alfred E. Stacey (M.S.‘75)

recently received the 2013 Outstanding Continuing Professional Education Discussion Leader Award from the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants. He is a past president of the UNO International Alumni Association.

John M. Reuther (B.A.‘76)

is president and lab director for Eurofins Analytical Laboratories, which tests food and pharmaceutical products. He is moving his office to the UNO Research and Technology Park.

Mark Romig (B.S.‘78) is the new

in-house announcer of the New Orleans Saints. He made his debut in the team’s 2013 season opener, succeeding his father, Jerry Romig, who retired after 44 years in the press box. Romig is president and chief executive officer of the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation. He was recently elected to the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association Board of Directors.

Philip J. Gunn (B.S.‘79) has

joined Postlethwaite & Netterville, the largest Louisiana-based accounting and business advisory firm, as managing director of the firm’s New Orleans area practice. Gunn is a past president of both the UNO International Alumni Association and Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants.

1980s John P. Christman (B.A.‘80)

received Penn State’s 2013 Graduate Faculty Teaching Award


in recognition of his outstanding teaching performance and advising of graduate students. Christman, a professor of philosophy, political science and women’s studies, has taught at Penn State for 14 years but remains closely connected to the university through his sister, alumna Jan Hooks, who works in the UNO Athletics Department.

William P. Ryan (B.A.‘80, M.S.‘86) continues to do great

things for Marine Corps veterans. In November, he organized a trip for wounded veterans to travel from San Antonio to New Orleans for a weekend visit. He also hosted a lunch where vets were provided a chance to talk about careers after their military duty.

Brian M. Wedig (B.S.‘84) has

been hired by Investar Bank as vice president and commercial banking relationship manager for southeast Louisiana. Wedig lives and works in Metairie.

William D. Baumgartner (M.B.A.‘86) retired in July from his

post as the Coast Guard Seventh District commander following a distinguished 33-year career. As district commander, Baumgartner was responsible for Coast Guard operations in the Southeast United States and Caribbean Basin including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and more than 15,000 miles of coastline. Later the same month, he accepted a position as senior vice president of marine operations with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

Ann C. Tuennerman (B.S.‘86)

is founder and executive director of Tales of the Cocktail, the world’s premier cocktail festival, which draws thousands of cocktail professionals and enthusiasts to New Orleans each year. Tuennerman provides the vision and strategic direction for each year’s festival, working directly with mixologists, bartenders, spirits brands and media outlets to bring each of the 200-plus events to life. A 2013 Young Leadership Council of New Orleans Role Model, Tuennerman and her husband Paul also run the New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society, a nonprofit committed to preserving the unique culture of cocktails and cuisine in New Orleans and beyond by funding apprenticeships, grants, scholarship programs and more. She has received the BNIC Cognac Personality of the Year Award and the prestigious

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D’USSE Cognac Tom Bullock Award for Service and Leadership from DC Toasts. Her work has garnered local, national and international awards and has been featured in CityBusiness, Gambit and More.

Todd M. Villarrubia (B.A.‘88)

serves as chief executive officer and owner of Wealth Planning Law Group. He was recently elected Strategic Alliance Co-Chair of The Entrepreneurs Organization of Louisiana.

Kim L. Bondy (B.A.‘88, M.B.A.‘09) recently relocated from

New Orleans to Washington, D.C. to help launch the new Al-Jazeera America network as senior executive producer of the channel’s flagship news program America Tonight. Bondy, a former executive producer with CNN and one of the University’s Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumni, returns to the news business after a seven-year break during which she returned to New Orleans to be closer to family, earned her MBA and ran a successful consulting practice.

six partners, oversees the strategic operations of the firm and its 14 offices in 13 markets strategically located throughout the southern United States and Washington, DC. Through his governmental relations practice, Brooks has created a highly respected legislative practice for the firm at both the federal and state levels. He also works in transportation, appropriations, public works, education, stimulus, energy and the environment.

Jesse D. Cannon (M.U.R.P.‘91)

was named to the American Institute of Architects 2013 College of Fellows. He is assistant circuit executive for space and facilities at the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Phillip R. May (M.B.A.‘92)

was named chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of Entergy Louisiana, LLC and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, LLC. May is a 26-year Entergy employee and Louisiana native.

Julie S. Stokes (B.S.‘92) was

Sandra (Sandy) Rockwell (B.A.‘89) is a teacher at Edward

elected to the Louisiana State House of Representatives and represents District 79, which includes parts of Metairie and Kenner. Stokes, a certified public accountant and chief financial officer/chief administrative officer for her family’s rehabilitation and life-coaching business, succeeds former La. State Rep. Tony Ligi and will serve the remainder of his term, which ends in 2016.


Joe M. Ricks, Jr. (M.B.A.‘94)

Hynes Charter School in New Orleans and was selected by the Orleans Parish School Board as the region’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. The honors continued when Rockwell was inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education. Rockwell has been teaching for 34 years.

Deborah B. Bordelon (M.A. M.Ed. ‘90, Ph.D. Ed.‘96) is the

new provost of Governors State University in University Park, Ill. Bordelon began working at GSU in 2008 as dean of the College of Education and was named dean of Graduate Studies in 2011. She has helped establish doctoral degree programs in Counselor Education and Supervision as well as Interdisciplinary Leadership. Under Bordelon’s supervision, the Family Development Center at GSU received the highest possible accreditation for early childhood centers. She co-chairs the Council of Chicago Area Deans of Education.

B. Jeffrey Brooks (B.A.‘90),

a partner in charge of Adams and Reese, LLP’s Washington, DC office, was named to the law firm’s Executive Committee, where he joins five other partners in overseeing the firm’s strategic operations. The Executive Committee, comprised of

has been promoted and now serves as the chair of the division of business and is the J.P. Morgan Chase Professor of Sales and Marketing at Xavier University.

Ashley E. Bishop (B.A.‘95)

portrayed Zelda Fitzgerald in William Luce’s play, The Last Flapper, in the Birmingham Festival Theatre this year. Bishop, a Birmingham, Ala. native, and her husband, Marty Higginbotham, have moved to Birmingham from Chicago, where they’d been active in Chicago’s theatre community.

Kelvin Harrison, Sr., (B.A.‘95)

helped the KIPP McDonogh 15 Middle School band take second place and win a $6,000 prize in the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s 2013 Class Got Brass competition. The McDonogh 15 Middle School band director, a talented performer himself, is a UNO adjunct professor and conducts a saxophone ensemble at UNO.

Todd M. Hymel (B.S.‘95) was

appointed chief operating officer of PPR Sport & Lifestyle division. He will be based in Paris. A U.S. national, Hymel joined PPR Group in 2008 as deputy director of mergers and acquisitions, after holding various positions in auditing, consulting and private equity in the USA and in France. Hymel began his career in audit in 1996 at KPMG in New Orleans. He is a member of the board of directors of Fansteel Inc. as well as the board of Volcom Entertainment.

John Sutherlin (M.A.‘95, Ph.D.‘98) has received confirmation from the Council for International Exchange of Scholars that he is on the Fulbright Specialist Roster, meaning that academic institutions abroad that are seeking expertise in Sutherlin’s fields—environmental policy, energy and natural resources—can consider him for projects. Sutherlin, associate professor of political science, has taught at the University of Louisiana at Monroe since 2005 and holds the Mayme and Tom Scott Professorship in Teaching Excellence.

Angela M. Herbert (M.Ed.‘96)

was named executive director of New Orleans Outreach, a nonprofit program has galvanized more than 14,000 volunteers since 1993 to help more than 2,100 students from seven partner public schools.

Jennifer Y. Hew (B.G.S.‘96)

received the 2013 Sunstar/RDH Award of Distinction, an honor given to eight dental hygienists across the country for service to the community and achievement. Hew was chosen for a Special Olympics program she started at LSUHSC School of Dentistry to increase access to care for persons with developmental disabilities and to train student dentists and dental hygienists to care for them.

Christopher Mora (B.A.‘96) was

awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the NATO Non-Article 5 Medal following his 6-month tour of duty as the chief, international and operational law judge advocate with NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition CommandAfghanistan. During his deployment, Mora reviewed international agreements, developed operational orders to execute missions and worked with planners to recomission, close or transfer bases as part of

the drawdown of combat forces. Based at Camp Eggers in Kabul, Mora frequently traveled throughout Afghanistan by air and ground convoys, training hundreds of soldiers in the Law of War and Rules of Engagement. Still in transit as of this publication, he looks forward to getting home soon to Louisiana and reuniting with his wife, Filomena, and three children, Peter, Sofia and Francesco.

Ajit S. Pethe (B.A.‘96, M.Ed.‘03)

was named 2014 State Principal of the Year by the Louisiana Department of Education. Pethe is principal at Luling Elementary in St. Charles Parish, where he has led Luling to increase its school performance score by nearly 20 points during his tenure. Pethe, an educator for 16 years, has served as principal at Luling Elementary for the past six years.

Diana L. Boylston (M.F.A.‘97) is

a native of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and documentary filmmaking teacher whose students tell their Katrina stories in “Unnatural Disaster: Falling through the Cracks”, a half-hour documentary which aired on WYES-Channel 12. Boylston was working in public schools in her old neighborhood when Hurricane Katrina struck. She evacuated to Houston not knowing whether she would ever see her students again. She wrote a plea for information about her students to The TimesPicayune, and the note was posted at Not long after, Boylston received her first-ever text message from one of her students. The message was followed by many more and Boylston began capturing video of her efforts to assist displaced former students in December 2005.

Lakeisha S. McKinney (B.A.‘97, M.Ed.‘99) was honored

by the Louisiana Department of Education as 2014 State Teacher of the Year. McKinney, a reading and math teacher at R. J. Vial Elementary in Paradis, La. with 16 years of class experience, is a district mentor and member of the district’s College and Career Readiness Taskforce and the School Improvement Team.

Matt Garner (B.S.‘97, M.S.‘00)

was selected for the senior executive service position of director for ship integrity and performance engineering, Naval Sea Systems Command. The new position makes him responsible for providing leadership and independent technical authority to ensure that Navy submarines and surface ships

can perform their assigned missions safely and effectively, while reducing the risks and costs. He will manage and supervise a highly skilled and complex interdisciplinary systems engineering competency. Garner is a past recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

Gabrielle D. Trepagnier (B.S.‘02) is parlaying more than 12


former Privateer baseball player and three-time All-American, was for a second time named one of Atlanta’s Top Advisers Under 40 by NAIFAAtlanta Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. The National Financial Services Group partner has received numerous other industry awards and is one of the few insurance and financial professionals in the country appointed to the American Veterinary Medical Association for his work in that industry. Outside of the office, he is involved in supporting the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Mercy Ministries, as well as coaching a youth travel baseball team during the summer. He and his wife enjoy training for triathlons, spending time with family, travelling and reading.

Yaba A. Blay (M.Ed.‘00) began

working on the (1)ne Drop Project in 2011 hoping to self-publish a few hundred coffee table books exploring the politics of skin color and racial identity through personal narratives and photographs. A Kick-starter campaign brought more attention to the project, which grew into an online photo essay. A producer of CNN’s Black in America brought Blay in as a consultant on the CNN documentary “Who’s Black in America?” Now, Blay’s book, (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, has been published with more personal stories and images and is scheduled for release on Nov. 29. In addition to serving as (1)ne Drop’s artistic director and producer, Blay serves as co-director and assistant teaching professor of Africana Studies at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Penn., and is working as a producer with director Terence Nance on a transmedia film project about the global practice of skin bleaching.

Ryan M. Lousteau (B.G.S.‘00)

has been named head baseball coach of St. Thomas High School in Houston, Texas. Lousteau relocated to the Houston area in 2009 and served as an assistant on the St. Thomas coaching staff for three years.

Mandi D. Mitchell (B.S.‘00, M.B.A.‘03) left her Lafayette-based

consulting practice and accepted an appointment to serve as Louisiana Economic Development Director of Governmental Affairs.

Donovan T. Archote (M.B.A.‘02) was promoted to commander of the Kenner State Police Troop B, which is responsible for 4,200 miles of highway in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and the east bank of St. John parishes. The married father of one says he’s ready to help law enforcement agencies in the troop’s six-parish coverage area fight crime.

Louis A. Lusignan (B.S.‘02) was

promoted to assistant vice president of Metairie Bank & Trust.

years of experience in the human resources and career development field to start her own career consulting business, GT Consulting.

John J. Ballon (B.G.S.‘03), a

Carrie W. Grinnell (B.S.‘03, M.S.’05) has been promoted to

New Orleans branch manager by Southern Wealth Management, LLP, a money management firm.

Timothy H. Moore (M.S.’03)

has been appointed president of North Mississippi Medical CenterTupelo. A native of Forest, Miss., Moore is an active member of the Mississippi Hospital Association, serving on the board of MHA Board of Governors, which recently named him chairman-elect.

Jeffrey P. Mowrey (M.F.A.‘04)

was named Huntington Ingalls’ Outstanding Apprentice of the Year at Ingalls Shipbuilding Apprentice School graduation.

Bryan K. O’Rourke (B.S.‘04) is

chief executive officer of Integerus, LLC, a fitness and wellness coalition based in Covington, La. Recently, O’Rourke was appointed to the American Council on Exercise’s Industry Advisory Panel, which will help steer the nonprofit in building relationships among leaders in health care, corporate America and government.

Tamia H. Randolph-Alvarez (M.Ed.‘04) was recently selected

to participate in the National Board for Certified Counselors Minority Fellowship Program. As an NBCC MFP Fellow, Randolph-Alvarez will receive funding and training to


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Alum Notes


n 1973, Donald Hanks made a tongue-in-cheek remark to a classroom of 60 students studying the history of philosophy. The scholarly joke was met with silence—until a booming laugh erupted from the last row. The culprit—or perhaps, accomplice—was a man, wearing a blue workman’s shirt, who stayed after class to chat with the professor. Carl E. Muckley Sr. told Hanks, now a UNO professor emeritus of philosophy, that he worked as a welder at Avondale Shipyards and made a reference to the “Standard Man.” “I had no idea who the Standard Man might be, but later learned that it was a reference to the working person, man or woman, who can examine his or her reflection in the mirror and approve of the image looking back, namely the solid person of integrity who goes to school, raises a family, and takes a wellearned place as part of the backbone of the nation,” says Hanks in an online tribute. The professor had no idea at the time that the welder with whom he was conversing was a millionaire many times over. Muckley, who earned two degrees from UNO, died in a car accident in 2004, leaving nearly $4 million in planned gifts for the University’s philosophy and history departments. The independent businessman who loved learning ensured that University of New Orleans students will continue to share his passion for years to come. The gifts, which Muckley started planning in the 1980s, are already making an enormous difference on campus, according to university officials, who received the funds this spring. The money will promote growth in both departments and fund a number of scholarships—including two key scholarships named for UNO professors who inspired Muckley. “Carl Muckley started these endowments as a young man, within 15 years of graduation,” says Susan Krantz, recently retired dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Even though his initial endowments were small, they grew to this really transformative amount by the time of his untimely death. The kernel was planted while he was at UNO.”



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Muckley graduated from UNO with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1975 and a master’s degree in history in 1983, and continued auditing courses at UNO throughout his life. Hanks remembers Muckley— who served as best man at his wedding and godfather to his daughter, Mali—as a man equally comfortable working in construction boots at Avondale and quoting philosopher Immanuel Kant or the writer James Joyce. “Any attempt to describe the man is a challenge, since he was multifaceted, a crazy quilt of sorts, consisting of many patches, not all of which were congruent one with another,” says Hanks. A businessman, a Renaissance man, a drinking man, a generous man, a philosopher, a chess player, a man with a big heart and a huge smile—Hanks still sees his friend through multiple prisms. Muckley’s $1.95 million gift to the UNO philosophy department will fund in perpetuity a scholarship he established in 1988 to honor Hanks. At least 50 percent of the yearly endowment interest on the Donald K. Hanks Endowed Scholarship fund will be reserved for student scholarships and awards, says Rob Stufflebeam, associate professor of philosophy and chair of the department. Already the funds have helped to improve department resources, develop faculty and launch the philosophy department’s new online degree program—the first university online degree program under Global UNO, an emerging effort designed to bring higher education to students around the world. The Muckley gift allowed the department to purchase computers for its four faculty members, as well as other equipment, Stufflebeam says. Ten students enrolled this summer as philosophy majors in the online bachelor’s degree in philosophy program. Muckley made his $1.95 million bequest to the history department in the name of the late Joseph Logsdon, who, at the time of his death in 1999, had just

UNO Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Don Hanks speaks about Carl E. Muckley Sr., a treasured student and friend who left nearly $4 million in his will to the UNO philosophy and history departments.

been named the first Ethel & Herman Midlo Endowed Chair of New Orleans Studies. In the early 1990s, Muckley made an initial small gift in Logsdon’s name to support an academic scholarship for an outstanding junior history major, says Andrew Goss, associate professor of history and department chair. The current bequest builds on that gift and will include an expanded undergraduate scholarship program, as well as allow investments in teaching and research. This spring, the history department named a professorship after Joseph Logsdon and established a Carl E. Muckley scholarship for first-generation college students. More than 90 percent of the bequest will be endowed— making the funds available to students and faculty of the UNO history department in perpetuity, says Goss. Muckley helped the University in a variety of ways, says Hanks. His well-read friend eventually became a disciple of German idealism and the thinking of philosopher Martin Heidegger. UNO is one of the world centers of Heideggerian studies and in 2004 Muckley funded the North American Heidegger Conference sponsored by the University. “I met Carl on the UNO campus, and said goodbye on the UNO campus,” says Hanks. “On an April morning in 2004 we walked out of the library together, going our separate ways…After a few steps I paused and looked back. He too had paused and, waving a Heidegger text in hand, flashed the broadest Irish smile. A day later, he was gone.”

Alum Notes support her education and facilitate her service to underserved minority populations. Randolph-Alvarez, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in counselor education and supervision at UNO, has practiced as a counselor since 2004 and worked with ethnic minority populations in community agency settings, schools and in-home environments. As an NBCC MFP Fellow, she hopes to enhance and further develop her current knowledge base in culturally competent clinical services with ethnic minority populations who struggle with mental health and substance abuse issues. RandolphAlvarez is also in the process of developing a business model for an agency that will provide culturally competent substance abuse and mental health counseling.

Karin A. Colgan (B.G.S.‘06, M.Ed.‘09) is managing Peche

began a new position as controller at Liskow & Lewis, a prominent law firm headquartered in New Orleans that specializes in oil and energy law.

participated in the PGA TOUR Canada this summer alongside fellow UNO alumnus and former Privateer Jose Toledo. Cornelson also posted a victory in the Vancouver Golf Tour’s West Coast Golf Group Invitational.

Abram S. Himelstein (M.F.A.‘05) was appointed editor-

Jessica C. Chin (M.F.A.‘07) and

Whitney A. Smith (B.I.S.‘10)

in-chief of UNO Press in early 2013. Himelstein, a faculty member of the College of Education and Human Development, co-founded in 2004 The Neighborhood Story Project, a book-making project documenting in residents’ own words and prose the places where we live and work. The NSP documentary book series became one of the UNO Press’ imprints in 2008.

Kadisha Onalbayeva (M.M.‘05)

joined the ranks of distinguished performers including Billy Joel, Diana Krall and Harry Connick Jr., and past musical greats such as Irving Berlin and Cole Porter when she was named a Steinway Artist by Steinway & Sons. She is the first Steinway Artist from Kazakhstan and the first UNO graduate to earn the distinction. She is an artist-inresidence at the University of Mobile.

Alyssa Wenck Rambeau (M.B.A.‘05) serves as president

of the Young Leadership Council of New Orleans, began a new job and married Jeff Rambeau in April. She is the director of finance at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and serves on the UNO International Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Zoe L. Williams (B.A.‘05) is

raising her profile as a professional artist. In addition to regularly showing her unique sculptural fiber art in traditional galleries, Williams has been discovered by the international boutique Anthropologie, which now features select pieces of her collection in its catalogues.

Seafood Grill, the newest addition to the Link Restaurant Group. Colgan joined the Link Restaurant Group in 2009. Prior to her new position served as manager of acclaimed chef Donald Link’s restaurants Cochon and Butcher.

Stacy A. Van Sickle (M.U.R.P.‘06) was recently hired

as director of transit services for Solutient Corp., a Louisiana-based hazard mitigation firm.

Michelle Lucas Huck (M.S.‘06)

husband, Kevin, welcomed their first child, Megan Rachel in September. Chin works as director of administration at the New Orleans office of the Youth Rescue Initiative, a nonprofit organization aiming to help at-risk youth to overcome challenges and achieve success.

Lisa V. Picone (M.F.A.‘07)

received more than an ovation at her opening night performance as Mama Rose in the musical Gypsy when boyfriend Tony Love surprised her on stage immediately after curtain call and proposed in front of a full audience at the Rivertown Theater in Kenner. A regular performer, Picone also serves as economic opportunity fund director for the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation.

Mia A. Owen (B.S.‘08) has

been promoted to the position of financial adviser by Compass Capital Management.

Robin M. Barnes (B.S.‘09)

recently released a 5-song EP, entitled Me, capturing her multigenre musical style and is now working on an album. Barnes also made her debut this year at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and is keeping busy as a featured performer at home games of the New Orleans Saints, the Windsor Court Hotel’s Polo Lounge and the Hotel Monteleone Carousel Lounge.

Joseph F. Butler (B.G.S.‘09) was called up to the major leagues by the Texas Rangers. He made his first appearance in early August and was called up once more in September.

Robert A. Savoie (Ph.D.‘09) is

the University’s 2013 UNO Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumnus. Savoie is chief executive officer of Geocent, LLC, a company that he founded and one of the largest information technology and engineering services companies headquartered in the greater New Orleans area. He serves as member of the Board of Trustees of the National World War II Museum, Loyola University, the UNO Foundation, GNO, Inc. and the Ochsner Health Foundation.

Adam J. Cornelson (B.I.S.‘10)

married fellow UNO alumnus Christopher Holiday Smith.

Candice McGee Allen (B.S.‘10) was named the eighth grade girls basketball coach at Ursuline Academy. Several other former UNO women’s basketball alumni work at Ursuline, including Andrea Williams, who is head girls basketball coach.

Melissa Claire Rutherford (B.S.‘11) is engaged to marry

New Orleans. Recently, Spears Consulting Group launched an annual, four-part event series dubbed “The Social Renaissance,” tailored to appeal to young professionals across the region.

Raul E. Valdes (M.B.A.‘12) has

taken a new position as electrical department manager with JBA Consulting Engineers, Inc. based in Metairie.

Ann Bernard (B.S.‘12) serves

as talk show host Wednesdays on WGSO 990 AM and, where she provides listeners and readers with a weekly dose of tough love, straight talk and motivation designed to help them face their fears, overcome adversity and meet their goals. The owner of Ann Bernard Enterprises is also a speaker, author, fitness model and coach on fitness-related matters. She recently authored an ebook “Develop and Flex Your Confidence Muscles,” which will be available in hard copy early 2013. She owns a business called The Loop of Confidence, LLC that is focused on developing self-confidence in adults and children.

Cynthia Renee’ Arthur (M.A.T.‘13) married Adam Nyquist

William Chauvin. The couple lives in New Orleans. Rutherford is employed with Jefferson Parish Schools.

in June at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in New Orleans and is employed by Hynes Charter School in New Orleans.

Sheba Turk (B.A.‘11) is the new

Mirjam Sipos (B.S.‘13) now

host of “The 504” on WUPL-My 54, a television news program that focuses on issues impacting the New Orleans metropolitan area, as well as culture, entertainment and lifestyle. Shortly after graduating from UNO, Sheba began her news career as morning show associate producer for WWL-TV. She quickly was promoted to traffic reporter, then news reporter, now talk show host and occasional morning anchor.

works as a graduate assistant in the UNO athletics department, where she handles marketing and promotions. The Sopron, Hungary native played four years of college basketball for the New Orleans Privateers and is working towards her masters’ degree from the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration.

Cleveland Spears (B.S.‘05)

drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in June’s Major League Baseball draft. The left-handed pitcher reached the Single-A level of the Rays organization this year.

always dreamed of having his own business and, at 25, opened Spears Consulting Group. The successful marketing company just celebrated its fifth anniversary in July and has garnered clients such as the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, the Regional Transit Authority, Entergy, the New Orleans Health Department, Liberty Bank and more. Spears has also helped non-profit organizations such as Lemonade Day Louisiana, Habitat for Humanity and the Young Leadership Council of

Alumnus Stone M. Speer was

Alumnus Johnny Giavotella

helped lead Triple-A Omaha to a Pacific Coast League American North Division championship this year. Giavotella was called up to the Major League’s Kansas City Royals twice in 2013, most recently in September.


FALL 2013


Alum Notes

SERVICE IS IN HIS BLOOD He never dreamed of becoming a doctor, says New Orleans pathologist Fred Rodriguez. Like many University of New Orleans alumni, he is the first member of his family to graduate from college. As a first-year student, he knew that he enjoyed the sciences, but wanted to choose an academic degree that would give him marketable skills immediately upon graduation, Dr. Rodriguez says. So he decided to pursue coursework in medical technology. “I probably would not have ended up in medicine if it were not for the pre-professional adviser that was at UNO at that time,” Dr. Rodriguez says. “I would not have thought of going to medical school if she hadn’t planted the idea in my head.” Former UNO biology professor Fran Ivker took one look at the bright freshman’s course load and advised Rodriguez that the courses he had chosen resembled those of a pre-med curriculum. Create an opportunity for yourself, she told him. Give yourself a chance. Give yourself a choice. Spurred on by her encouragement, he elected to follow a pre-med curriculum, take medical school entrance exams and apply to medical school. The professor changed the young man’s life. Dr. Rodriguez, a graduate of Jesuit High School in New Orleans, completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology in just three years in 1972. He headed to Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and began dating a nurse named Susan Miller. He first met the fellow UNO graduate in an Honors English composition class, the first class he took at UNO. The couple, who celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in December, now has four children and four grandchildren. Their daughter Kathy is a fine arts instructor at the University, where she heads the St. Claude Gallery. Dr. Rodriguez works at the U.S. Veterans Affairs Administration as chief pathologist and head of laboratory medicine service for the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System. The New Orleans-based laboratory he leads helps to determine the medical prognoses and care of more than 70,000 veterans throughout the region. Dr. Rodriguez is also a former national director of pathology and laboratory 52


FALL 2013

Family man Fred Rodriguez, in red tie, plans an aggressive push to reengage alumni.

medicine for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and past president of the American Society for Clinical Pathology. He is president-elect of the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science and his many awards include ASCP’s Israel Davidsohn Award for Outstanding Service, which he received in 2009. Since 1977, Dr. Rodriguez has taught pathology to second-year medical residents at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, where in 2005 he was named the Emma Sadler Moss Professor of Pathology. In June, LSU Health Sciences Center named him one of three 2013 Medical Alumni of the Year. A team-based leader who prefers to operate by consensus, Dr. Rodriguez plans to bring the same vision, precision and scrutiny that he employs in his laboratory and classrooms to the University of New Orleans International Alumni Association when he takes the helm in January. He aims to continue the success propelled by current president Norma Jane Sabiston—a renowned political consultant who has worked with President Peter J. Fos to define strategic goals. He plans to mount an aggressive push to reengage alumni. Under Sabiston’s leadership, the alumni association nearly doubled its membership in 18 months. Dr. Rodriguez plans to draw on that momentum, believing that with more than 70,000 alumni graduated from the University since 1962—and approximately 35,000 living in the greater New Orleans area—

membership could and should soar. “You just have to take that one step to register,” Dr. Rodriguez says. “Just graduating does not mean you are part of the alumni association. You have to join the alumni association.” Alumni engagement is a key measure in national rankings of universities, says Dr. Rodriguez. Research foundations also want to see a level of support before awarding grants. By simply joining the alumni association and making consistent financial contributions—however small—graduates can make an enormous difference in the future of the University. “You don’t have to build Kirschman Hall. Any level of giving constitutes participation,” Dr. Rodriguez says. “If you do a little self-reflection, and have had some degree of success in the world, would you have really had that level of success without your UNO degree?” Above all, this year’s alumni association activities will be tied to strategic outcomes and focused on measureable results, says Dr. Rodriguez. Activities will focus on improving student recruitment and retention, building pride and awareness, reengaging alumni, advancing professional development programs for students and young alumni and raising funds to help develop University programs, says Pam Meyer, executive director. “We’re looking to continue the focus that Dr. Fos has on recruiting, retaining and graduating the best students that UNO can get,” says Dr. Rodriguez.

The UniversiTy of New OrleaNs

“As a former faculty member at the University of New Orleans for 21 years, I grew to understand and appreciate the value of this institution to the New Orleans community. Thus, I chose to ensure its future success by including UNO in my estate planning, and encourage others to do the same.” –Joan Gipe, Legacy Donor What do you consider valuable?

Your LegacY for future generations of uno students Including UNO in your estate plans through your will, trust, charitable gift annuity, life insurance policy or other means is a great way to become a vitally important partner in the future of higher education. A simple provision in your estate plan could provide important benefits to your estate and ensure that UNO will be able to continue its mission of providing a quality, affordable education for generations to come. A planned gift can be made through any of the following: • Last Will and Testament • Revocable Living Trust • Life Estate Agreement • Life Insurance and/or Annuity Policy • IRAs or other retirement plan • Charitable Gift Annuity • Charitable Remainder Trust • Charitable Lead Trust • Pooled Income Fund

What will be your Legacy?

uno LegacY societY The UNO Legacy Society has been established to recognize and encourage planned gifts to the University of New Orleans. Through planned giving, donors can ensure that their gift will create a lasting legacy for future generations. There are varying tax and estate benefits that can be realized by making a planned gift including a charitable tax deduction and avoidance, in some instances, of the estate and capital gains tax. Additionally, some gifts can provide income to you and your spouse for a term of 20 years or your lifetime. Please contact Ron Cropper at 504-280-6159 or for more confidential information about the planned giving opportunities available at UNO.

The UniversiTy of New OrleaNs

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