The University of New Orleans Magazine, Fall 2014

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New Coastal Engineering and Science Certificates to Fill Growing Demand, Position Louisiana as Leader in Restoration

Dear UNO Alumni and Friends, The University of New Orleans has always been an important institution to the city of New Orleans and the region. The impact can be measured in numerical terms: the number of students we graduate, how many faculty and staff we employ, or the amount of research grants that we receive, but that’s only part of the equation. As an urban research university, we also actively participate in the community that we serve. Not only do we provide an educated workforce, but we act as a cultural, intellectual and economic resource. This issue of the University of New Orleans Magazine highlights some of the ways in which the University engages with the New Orleans area for mutually beneficial results. In Southeast Louisiana, coastal preservation and restoration are perhaps the most significant issues of our time. The University has a long and proud history of conducting critical research and educational outreach on a number of relevant coastal topics. Earlier this year, we announced the creation of graduate certificate programs in coastal sciences and coastal engineering. While working with Greater New Orleans, Inc., we were able to determine a substantial need from local employers for these professional credentials. The outcome will be more scientists and engineers who can tackle today’s coastal challenges. As a testament to the value of the program, New Orleansbased real estate company Latter & Blum donated $100,000 to the University, with half of the money supporting the new certificates. We are also preparing our students for in-demand careers with some help from the State of Louisiana. The University will receive approximately $1.8 million as part of the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) Fund to enhance our programs in engineering, computer science and accounting. These targeted funds will allow strong academic programs to build an even stronger longterm approach to meeting high-need employment requirements and support economic development in the city and the region. Partnerships and collaborations are also crucial to the University fulfilling its mission. In the pages ahead, you’ll read how researchers with UNO’s Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology team up with several local communities to save Louisiana residents millions of dollars in flood insurance premiums. The Merritt C. Becker Jr. UNO Transportation Institute is using relationships in the maritime community and with government agencies to devise better ways to secure our nation’s ports. And the Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies is instrumental in the educational seminars at the annual Satchmo SummerFest, a festival dedicated to the life and music of jazz great Louis Armstrong. New Orleans is a vibrant and complex metropolitan area. I am enormously proud of the role that the University plays in shaping our community. From its earliest days, New Orleans looked to UNO for support and to this day, the University of New Orleans draws strength from its city. With Warmest Regards, Peter J. Fos, President


Kathy Anderson Clem Barbazon Eleanor Canon D Punch Photography Steve Dalmado Blake Edwards Sam Gregory Rush Jagoe Amanda Lott Jennifer Mitchell Ross Peter Nelson Tracie Morris Schaefer Joseph Solis

Send Correspondence to: UNO Magazine Editor University of New Orleans Administration Building 103 2000 Lakeshore Drive New Orleans, LA 70148 phone: (504) 280-6832 email:

The UNO Magazine is published by the University of New Orleans. Articles represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of anyone but the authors. Letters to the editor are welcome and should be submitted via email or typewritten and signed. Letters must include the writer’s name and telephone number for verification. All letters are subject to editing for brevity. To inquire about alumni events or to join the UNO International Alumni Association, contact: Office of Alumni Affairs, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA 70148 phone: (504) 280-2586 • fax: (504) 280-1080 email: © 2014 The University of New Orleans

This public document was published at a total cost of $22,225. 35,000 copies of this public document were published in this first printing at a cost of $22,225. The total cost of all printings of this document, including reprints is $22,225. This document was published by the University of New Orleans, 2000 Lakeshore Dr., New Orleans, LA 70148, to promote the purpose of the University under authority of 17:3351(A)(12). This material was printed in accordance with the standards for printing by state agencies established pursuant to R.S. 43:31. Printing of this material was purchased in accordance with the provisions of Title 43 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes.



Headlines and Happenings, including NCIS: New Orleans NEWS & EVENTS


New Coastal Engineering and Science Certificates to Fill Growing Demand, Position Louisiana as Leader in Restoration

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Research Advances


Virgin Islands teenager visits UNO NAME School through the Make-A-Wish Foundation


New online master’s degree in hospitality management, Midlo Center makes its mark on Satchmo Summerfest

Kennedy Center recognizes Theatre UNO



22 Fighting Cybercrime

Three National Science Foundation grants totaling nearly $1 million will help to advance cybersecurity research at UNO, an NSA Center of Excellence.

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Inspired Learning Gold Standard Going Greek FACULTY FOCUS

30 Sunny Skies Ahead

A faculty member’s debut novel brings a national buzz.

34 The Straw That Stirs the Drink

Alumna Ann Tuennerman tells tales about “Tales of the Cocktail,” the world’s largest cocktail festival, held annually in New Orleans.


Leading Professors PHILANTHROPY


Putting Others First

A generous gift from alumni Thomas and Constance Kitchen launches a new scholarship aimed at firstgeneration students.


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Continental Connection


New Faces


Spurred On

A pair of European volleyball players bond on and off the court. Meet Ben Dalton and Millicent Van Norden. Former Privateers forward Cory Dixon is drafted by the Austin Spurs.



Young Alumni Spotlight


Alum Notes

Civic-minded songbird Robin Barnes brings a voice to student success. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand is the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus. U NO MAGAZINE FALL 2014 1


Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien serves as the principal speaker and receives an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the University of New Orleans’ spring commencement 2014. She delivers an uplifting speech that draws largely on her own upbringing and feats as a journalist.

Want to learn more? Visit our University newsfeed on The Muslim Student Association brings Hijab Awareness Day to campus in an effort to foster religious tolerance and understanding.

Undergraduate and high school students from around the region spend the summer working in the UNO-Advanced Materials Research Institute laboratory, conducting research in nanochemistry and other advanced materials fields.



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Building a geodesic dome from plastic straws and masking tape isn’t as easy as it looks — particularly if you want that dome to be strong and to last. That was the challenge for more than 100 high school students participating in the 4th annual Shell STEM Showdown at UNO.

The Service Coalition spends a day cleaning up the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

The University of New Orleans Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research celebrates its 25th anniversary and the city’s economic growth and recovery hosting the 2014 UNO/Latter & Blum Economic Outlook & Real Estate Forecast Seminars, a headline-making annual event.

Hundreds of alumni turn out for the 3rd Annual Crawfish Mambo Cook-off and Music Festival on the Lake hosted by the UNO International Alumni Association.

A team of engineering students unveils a topnotch student-organized and student-run job fair that demonstrates state-of-the-art coordination — attracting 33 leading organizations and more than 250 students.

When in Rome … Undergraduate students experience professional gladiator training taught by The Gruppo Storico Romano, a group of historical re-enactors, in an ancient arena. Twentytwo students from UNO and other universities studied in Rome this summer as part of an annual summer study abroad program hosted by the UNO Division of International Education.

More than 1,000 alumni, students, faculty and staff consume 7,000 lbs. of crawfish at SUCbAUF, a University tradition now entering its 28th year.

Students, alumni, faculty and friends celebrate the College of Education and Human Development’s “50 Years of Excellence.”

The Model United Nations Delegation returns from the National MUN Conference in New York with a Distinguished Delegation Award for its representation of the Syrian Arab Republic. The trip marks the fifth year that UNO has been selected to compete and the fourth consecutive year that the UNO delegation has taken home awards.

More than 300 volunteers assist at New Student Move-in Day, a tradition that allows new freshmen, new transfer students and scholarship students to move into the residence halls earlier than returning upperclassmen. The early move-in date allows newcomers a chance to bond and get acclimated before the school year officially begins.



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New Orleanian Kristen Preau joins the UNO Entrepreneurship-inResidence Program, telling students how she used her father’s jambalaya pots and famous recipe first to raise more than $100,000 for Katrina relief efforts, then to create a thriving business: Cook Me Somethin’ Mister Jambalaya Rice Mix. During Einstein Week, a weeklong celebration of the sciences, physics and engineering students make ice cream using liquid nitrogen.

Graduate student Eric Hollerbach, seen here with Basile and Anne Uddo, receives the third annual Joseph Patrick Uddo Scholarship in Screenwriting.

University of New Orleans President Peter J. Fos outlines UNO 2020, the University’s Strategic Plan for 2015-20 during a presentation at the annual Faculty and Staff Convocation in the University Center.

NCIS: New Orleans is filmed at the University of New Orleans Nims Center Studios on the Harahan campus. The No. 1 new TV series garners an average of 18 million viewers per week. Seen here are actors Scott Bakula, Lucas Black and Zoe McLellan. Photo by Skip Bolen/CBS


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NEWS & EVENTS that exceed minimum requirements established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In short: Communities that participate complete floodplain management activities worth a certain amount of credit. The more credit earned, the better the class ranking of that community and the higher its premium discounts.

BUILDING WARSHIPS THAT LAST The University of New Orleans has received a $210,000 grant from the U.S. Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research to test information gathering and analysis techniques that will improve early-stage warship design. The goal for warship designers is to design a resilient vessel that can be repurposed numerous times throughout its potentially long lifespan. However, current ship designing methods yield a set of possible designs that is too large to manually examine. Current methods also do not effectively incorporate multiple expert opinions and customer expectations into the early stages of design. The focus of this research is to ensure that valuable input that may be able to predict the direction and probability of future changes to warfare and ship requirements will be taken into account. By including information from a spectrum of experts in ship design, the future of warfare and warfare technology, a warship has a much better chance of extending its lifespan. The grant’s principal investigator is Cherie Trumbach, associate professor of management and an expert in knowledge management. She will work on the project with colleagues from UNO’s School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering who will draw on their expertise in ship design.



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LOWERING THE COST OF FLOOD INSURANCE The University of New Orleans Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART) partnered with several local communities to help Louisiana residents to save more than $65 million on flood insurance premiums in the last two years, says director Monica Teets Farris. Through facilitation of Community Rating System (CRS) Users Groups, UNO-CHART has helped more than 26 communities to save money on flood insurance. “UNO-CHART has been working with residents and government officials to lower the risks to flooding, improve the resilience of local communities, and lower the flood insurance premiums of Louisiana residents living in the Special Flood Hazard Area,” Farris says. “With the enactment of Biggert-Waters, participation in the federal Community Rating System is encouraged more than ever, as it provides opportunities for participating communities to earn reductions in flood insurance premiums for residents and business owners.” The CRS is a voluntary program that offers incentives for communities to go beyond the minimum floodplain management regulations established by the National Flood Insurance Program to minimize flood losses, Farris says. These communities opt to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program and enforce floodplain management activities

UNO-CHART supports three of the four CRS Users’ Groups in Louisiana, with goals of reducing flood damage and supporting a comprehensive approach to floodplain management. These groups gather regionally to share best practices and lessons learned. Participants include floodplain managers, code enforcement personnel, engineers, planners and other leaders from 12 parishes and 14 cities. Together they represent roughly 2.2 million Louisiana residents and nearly half the state population. While UNO-CHART’s work is currently limited to cities and parishes in Southeast Louisiana, researchers have discussed sharing best practices with partner institutions in Southwest Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and the panhandle of Florida, believing that together, they can make the region stronger. STEM PROGRAMS GET BIG BOOST FROM HOWARD HUGHES MEDICAL INSTITUTE The Howard Hughes Medical Institute recently bestowed a 5-year $1.5 million grant on the University of New Orleans. The grant is aimed at helping research universities improve persistence of students studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and reinvigorating intro-

ductory science courses. UNO is one of 37 institutions and the only one in Louisiana to receive a grant. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) invited 203 research universities from across the country to apply for the grants. “This grant will allow us to address some critical barriers to our students’ success in STEM majors,” says Wendy Schluchter, professor and chair of biological sciences, and the grant’s principal investigator. Working with her on the grant are Tumulesh Solanky, professor and chair of mathematics, and Jerry Howard, associate professor of biological sciences. Already, UNO has implemented STEM Scholar intensive summer boot camps in math and biology to allow up to 150 freshmen students who want to major in science and engineering an opportunity to refresh their math skills and better understand professors’ expectations. The transition program is designed to give students a head start for success. An average day includes small lectures taught by experienced professors, evening study sessions, thoughtful group discussions led by current students, and social activities designed to foster bonds between current and incoming STEM Students. The transition to college can be overwhelming, even for the best high school students, says Schluchter. This transition program will give students a competitive edge, helping them to adjust to college, gain critical skills for medical or graduate school and take stress out of the first semester at UNO. Freshmen and sophomore students will be invited to participate in STEM Scholar math and biology-based learning communities to help develop their critical thinking skills and encourage them to start identifying themselves as scientists. The biology and math-based learning communities will host seminars focused on developing quantitative thinking skills and skills for working in groups. In this extracurricular program, community members will work in small groups on quantitative problems related to the week’s study topic, then have open discussion. Content from freshmen biology and math courses will be used in the community and weekly problems addressed in one-hour weekly sessions will involve data analysis, interpretation and presentation relevant to the week’s topic. There will also be a shift in the math and science curricula to emphasize problem solving and active-learning approaches over lectures, says Schluchter, who plans to improve classroom instruction with new computer laboratories and more inquirybased labs slated for renovation this spring. Steve Johnson, dean of the College of

Sciences, says the generous HMHI award “is a testament to our outstanding faculty.” “Their innovative approaches to gateway courses in biology and mathematics, and the emphasis on summer advising camps and STEM learning communities will enhance retention of students and continue the long tradition of curriculum innovation in the College of Sciences,” Johnson says. A 2012 report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology singled out a troubling trend among students interested in STEM disciplines: Today fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college with the intention of majoring in a STEM field complete a STEM degree. Additionally, because of the rapidly changing racial demographics of the nation’s talent pool, only about 20 percent of students from underrepresented ethnic groups persist in STEM. The new funds — which will allow UNO to hire a math instructor and a biology professor of practice, as well as to pay advanced graduate students to provide supplemental instruction and mentor and tutor STEM Scholars — will help incoming STEM freshman at UNO gain a competitive edge, according to University officials. “In the United States, sustaining excellence in science depends on research universities, which are small in number but large in impact,” says Sean Carroll, vice president for science education at HHMI. “HHMI wants to encourage these excellent institutions to achieve more.” Since 1988, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded more than $935 million in grants to 274 public and private colleges and universities to support science education in the United States.

The Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council provides valuable assistance to the Department of Homeland Security on matters related to student and recent graduate recruitment; international students; academic research and faculty exchanges; campus resilience and preparedness; homeland security academic programs; and cybersecurity. The Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council is comprised of up to 23 members who are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Secretary of Homeland Security. The membership includes leaders from state colleges and universities, community colleges, government universities, as well as institutions that serve minority populations. The council is expected to meet three times a year. As dean of the College of Health at the University of Southern Mississippi, Fos helped establish the National Center for Spectator Sports and Security at the University of Southern Mississippi, an internationally recognized interdisciplinary center that performs research, education and outreach focused on sporting event security. PROTECTING OUR PORTS The Merritt C. Becker Jr. University of New Orleans Transportation Institute has received a 2-year $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to research better ways to secure the nation’s port facilities.


“DHS is tasked with devising strategies to minimize the consequences of terrorism, crime and natural disasters in a maritime domain,” said Bethany Stich, associate director for research with the UNO Transportation Institute.

University of New Orleans President Peter J. Fos has been appointed to the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson. Fos’ appointment will last two years.

“However there is not a lot of data to help predict how, when and where terrorists will attack. In order to address this vulnerability, DHS needs new cost-effective approaches and technologies to better understand maritime risk, threats and resilience.” The goal of the research is to develop a tool where different types of threats and responses can be simulated to determine the most efficient way to secure port facilities with the least amount of disruption. The UNO Transportation Institute will build on its long-standing relationship with local and regional maritime agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard and other government agencies, and the Port of UNO MAGAZINE

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The Merritt C. Becker Jr. University of New Orleans Transportation Institute has received a 2-year $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to research better ways to secure the nation’s port facilities.

New Orleans to identify all mitigation measures pertinent to the region. UNO will collaborate on this project with researchers from LSU and Florida Atlantic University. GOING GREEN IN BATON ROUGE The Capital Area Transit System (CATS) has commissioned a study by the Merritt C. Becker Jr. University of New Orleans Transportation Institute to study alternative fuels. CATS is the regional transit authority of the Baton Rouge metropolitan region. The UNO Transportation Institute will conduct a comprehensive assessment of alternative fuels that will examine the pros and cons of a number of fuel sources including compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, hydrogen, propane, bio-diesel and diesel-electric hybrid. These alternative sources may be attractive because of their lower fuel costs and the federal incentives to buy and use greener vehicles due to their environmental benefits. CATS plans to select the best alternative fuel based on key considerations such as the long-term economic benefits, environmental impacts and energy independence factor. CATS officials have said they will need to replace about 45 aging buses over the next four years. The study will help determine if the system should purchase buses that run on alternative fuels. 8


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CATS operates 30 fixed routes and paratransit services for disabled passengers with 90 transit buses and vans. “This study will provide CATS with options to become more environmentally responsible and economically cost-efficient in the short and long term,” says John Renne, associate professor of planning and urban studies and director of the UNO Transportation Institute. “There are many options available to transit agencies but all of them require a substantial investment. Our project will help them make the most informed decision when choosing how they invest tax dollars.” CREATING A NEW ADVANCED MATERIALS SCIENCE LAB

The University of New Orleans has received a 1-year $98,832 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents to

create a state-of-the-art materials science laboratory. The lab will give UNO students hands-on experience with energy and electronic materials in a new course that will be unique to New Orleans and one of the few of its kind in the nation. The research team, consisting of three physicists, a materials scientist and a chemist, will purchase equipment to set up 15 sophisticated experiments in which students will fabricate materials and devices and characterize their structure and properties, according to Leszek Malkinski, professor of physics and the grant’s principal investigator. Some of the other experiments will involve harvesting and converting energy and investigating energy exchange in solar cells. The new lab course, which will be first offered in the fall semester of 2015, is unusual in the diversity and number of proposed experiments. The course

is expected to encourage students to study materials science and give students the kind of practical skills that will benefit their careers in either industry or academia, says Malkinski. Materials science is an interdisciplinary field that applies the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This relatively new scientific field incorporates elements of applied physics and chemistry as well as nanotechnology, which is the manipulation of matter on an extremely small scale. The co-principal investigators on the grant are Kevin Stokes, professor of physics; Leonard Spinu, professor of physics; John Wiley, professor of chemistry; and Weilie Zhou, associate professor with the Advanced Materials Research Institute. MEETING THE DEMAND: UNO ADDS NEW HEALTHCARE DEGREE

The University of New Orleans announced it will offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Management in the College of Business Administration in 2015. The new academic program was approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents in August. UNO already offers a master’s degree in health care management. The bachelor’s degree program in health care management will prepare students for careers in health care, which is one of the most economically significant industries in the country. In 2012, the United States spent $2.8 trillion on health care, or 17.2 percent of gross domestic product. The degree program will also prepare students to enter graduate or professional school. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical and health services managers is expected to grow 16 percent from 2006 to 2016, which is faster than the average for all occupations. “This degree program has support from leaders of a number of health care providers in the greater New Orleans area,” says President Peter J. Fos. “Not only do they need newly minted graduates, but this program will allow their current employees to obtain a health care degree in order to advance their careers. This is another example of the strong connection that exists between the University of New Orleans and the business community.” Students will be able to start enrolling in the new program in the spring of 2015, with the program beginning during the fall 2015 semester.

UNO STUDY FINDS CHILDREN’S KATRINA MEMORIES FADED AFTER HURRICANE GUSTAV Schoolchildren’s memories of Hurricane Katrina faded after they lived through Hurricane Gustav, according to a groundbreaking new study authored by a University of New Orleans psychologist. Carl Weems, UNO professor of psychology, and a team of UNO researchers report in a new paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, that memories of traumatic events in childhood fade after experiencing a similar but less stressful event. “This is a fairly substantial first-of-its kind finding,” Weems says. “We were able to confirm a promising line of laboratory research that suggests there may be an adaptive alteration of memories for traumatic events. That means when we experience similar events, in a less stressful way, our minds may reinterpret the past in a more positive light.” The theory of reconsolidation, or changes in memory, until now had not been tested outside the lab for traumatic events. Weems and his colleagues studied New Orleans schoolchildren who lived through Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall Aug. 29, 2005, and is known as one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes in history, having resulted in more than 1,800 deaths and $108 billion in property damage. The researchers studied the same children’s responses following Hurricane Gustav, which made landfall along the Louisiana coast Aug. 31, 2008, and prompted an evacuation of 3 million people in the region. The hurricane, which hit WISE FUNDS PROPEL HIGHDEMAND PROGRAMS

The University of New Orleans is expected to receive approximately $1.8 million in state money to enhance its programs in engineering, computer science and accounting. The funds are available through the $40 million

Haiti on Aug. 26, 2008, resulted in 153 deaths in the U.S. and the Caribbean and an estimated $4.3 billion in property damage in the U.S. The researchers found that Katrina disaster memories were initially very consistent, regardless of the child’s age or gender. After Gustav, those with relatively positive Gustav experiences showed a decrease in the number of Katrina events they reported experiencing, while those with negative Gustav experiences showed more stability in their Katrina memories. In essence, those with the more positive Gustav experience had diminished Katrina memories. “Forgetting negative aspects of past similar events may be adaptive in this context because — unlike during Katrina — the evacuation for Gustav was relatively successful, the levees held and the New Orleans area was significantly less damaged than during Katrina,” says Weems. The findings suggest that while researchers can be confident that youth are reliable reporters of their experiences after a disaster, they also suggest the importance of subsequent events, and provide the first real-world validation of reconsolidation theory applied to traumatic stress, according to Weems. Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) Fund, which was proposed by state higher education leaders, supported by Gov. Bobby Jindal and passed by the state legislature earlier this year. “The University of New Orleans is committed to supporting job growth in UNO MAGAZINE

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NEWS & EVENTS high-demand areas,” said Richard Hansen, interim vice president for academic affairs. “These targeted funds will allow already strong academic programs to build an even stronger long-term approach to meeting high-need employment demands that support economic development in the New Orleans region and the state of Louisiana. Importantly, our students and faculty will be provided additional tools and academic infrastructure to succeed.” Louisiana’s public colleges and universities competed for a share of the money, largely based on the degrees and certificates each institution produces in high-demand fields. Last month, the University of Louisiana System Board approved UNO’s plan for spending its WISE Fund money. The plan has been approved by the WISE Council, which is comprised of the provost and vice president for academic affairs, vice president for research and economic development and deans. It must also be approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents in November. UNO will use its share to increase the number of graduates and support the academic programs in the high-demand, high-need areas of accounting, computer science and engineering. It will offer $240,000 in new student scholarships as well as hire a new high-demand career coordinator to identify, recruit and accelerate the career paths of students interested in these majors. In addition, the University plans to increase research productivity in each of the state’s top five master plan priority areas: life sciences, digital media and computing, coastal and water management, and advanced materials and manufacturing. Instructional labs in math, computer science and engineering will receive $240,000 worth of upgrades. Money will also be used to both retain faculty members in accounting and computer science as well as hire additional faculty members in computer science, engineering and film.

UNO AND DELGADO SIGN AGREEMENT IN AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE STUDIES University of New Orleans President Peter J. Fos and Delgado Chancellor Joan Y. Davis in September signed a 2+2 articulation agreement that will allow Delgado graduates who have completed an Associate of Arts degree in American Sign Language to easily transfer their credits to UNO in order to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Students who are interested in obtaining national certification in American Sign Language must have a four-year degree. “As the only academic interpreter training program in Louisiana, the American Sign Language program at Delgado is well-respected in the deaf and interpreting communities, both locally and nationally,” says Chancellor Davis. “We are proud to partner with the University of New Orleans to provide a pathway for students wishing to build upon their Delgado training to pursue an advanced degree at UNO.” Delgado has provided American Sign Language training and education since 1976. The new articulation agreement will expand educational opportunities and meet workforce demands



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for students in the New Orleans area and beyond, says President Fos. In order to obtain the National Interpreter Certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, students must hold a bachelor’s degree to ensure that interpreters have a well-rounded education. After earning their associate degree at Delgado, students can transfer up to 60 semester hours with a grade of C or better, which they can apply toward the 120 hours necessary for an Interdisciplinary Studies bachelor’s degree from UNO. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of interpreters and translators for the deaf is expected to increase by 43 percent from 2010 to 2020. The rapidly growing demand is attributed to the increasing use of video relay services. The U.S. Census Bureau also reports that approximately 200,000 Louisiana citizens identify as deaf or hard-of-hearing. Any or all of these citizens are potential users of interpreting services.



The University of New Orleans Earth and Environmental Sciences Department has received more than $2 million in seismic data and software licenses designed to help geophysicists help find oil and gas reservoirs and determine whether subsea rock formations are likely to contain fossil fuels. The generous gifts come from Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS), a Norwaybased multinational oil exploration company and Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services company. Recently, Petroleum Geo-Services donated a three-dimensional seismic data license worth $640,000 to the University of New Orleans. The 10-year license will be used for research and education for geophysics students. PGS operates in more than 25 countries, with regional centers in Houston, London and Singapore. The license will give UNO students access to data gathered by PGS geophysicists who used sophisticated air guns to generate seismic waves below the ocean bottom in the deep rocks of the Gulf of Mexico. The returning waves are used to produce three-dimensional images of the subsurface that help geophysicists figure out whether sub-sea rock formations are likely to contain fossil fuels.

Schlumberger donated $1.4 million worth of seismic interpretation software to the University of New Orleans Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The Schlumberger donation is a 3-year license for the Petrel E&P software platform, which allows geologists and geophysicists to interpret seismic data to locate oil and gas reservoirs.

Schlumberger had previously supported the research of two UNO graduate students by providing access to seismic data. Sarwar met with Schlumberger officials last year in Houston and emphasized UNO’s current research in geophysical interpretation as well as how the University might benefit from access to such sophisticated technology.

“This data will be interpreted by our students to help them unravel the complex geological history of the Gulf of Mexico’s oceanic crust,” says Mostofa Sarwar, a geophysicist and professor of earth and environmental sciences. “The students will also be able to discover hidden oil and gas reservoirs in the study area.” According to Sarwar, students’ access to the data will greatly enhance their hands on-experience and improve their chances of securing employment after graduation. Acquiring this data for research and learning purposes would typically demand a University investment of millions of dollars, he says. The generous gift is the second major donation in less than six months that will benefit UNO’s geophysics students. In March, oilfield services company

program, organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, rewards winning teams with scholarship funds for their geoscience departments.

The Petrel software, which runs on Microsoft Windows, will be used by UNO for research and teaching in specific fields of geosciences such as seismic interpretation. According to Sarwar, the software will help prepare UNO students who are competing in the Imperial Barrel Award Program—a prestigious annual competition for geoscience graduate students from universities around the world. The

“The seismic data gift from PGS and the earlier donation of Petrel E&P software from Schlumberger will provide our students with leadingedge technology tools for research and learning in UNO’s Geoscience Lab,” Sarwar says. “It will especially benefit our students striving to complete their theses and dissertations. The learning outcomes from the software will help students get highpaying jobs in the energy industry and enhance workforce development in that sector.”


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Opening performances of a Tony Award-winning play won early recognition for Theatre UNO, the University of New Orleans’ awardwinning program. Cast and crew received the high honors for their performance of the Pulitzer Prizenominated play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. The 2014-2015 season is designed as “a season to challenge the mind,” says David W. Hoover, chair of the UNO Film and Theater Department. The season, which includes works by Shakespeare, Molière and contemporary playwright Sarah Ruhl, opened with playwright Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. The 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist depicts the lives of two American Marines and an Iraqi translator after the marines encounter and kill the eponymous tiger. As the tiger navigates the afterlife, the humans try to make sense of the horrors that confront them in the war-torn Iraqi capital. “I believe Bengal Tiger represents the best of theatrical collaboration and the best of UNO,” says Hoover, who hired an Arabic consultant to help actors master perfect intonation and accents for ample dialogue spoken in foreign tongue. “We’re very proud of the final product and hope for good things.” The play, a meditation on the horrors of war and post-traumatic stress

Join Us! Theatre UNO received three Irene Ryan Acting Award nominations this fall from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre festival for three students and cast members of



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Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Sam Malone, John Neisler and Kyle Wood are seen here from left to right. Photo by Ross Peter Nelson.

Theatre UNO has chosen four challenging plays for the 2014-2015 season. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to see the world’s finest works played out on our home stage.

syndrome, is one of Theatre UNO’s entries in this year’s Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, a yearlong competition of university productions from all over the U.S. In October, Theatre UNO learned that Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo has been held for consideration for the KCACTF’s Region Six Festival in February.

Save the Date! Saturday, May 9, 2015

University productions from around the nation compete in the festival, Hoover says. The final slate of shows will be chosen for a regional festival at a deliberation meeting in December. Region Six is comprised of Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Seven shows from the six-state region will be selected. Theatre UNO received three Irene Ryan Acting Award nominations from the Kennedy Center festival for cast members Sam Malone, John Neisler and Kyle Wood. Wood is an undergraduate student and theatre arts major. Malone and Neisler are graduate students pursuing master’s degrees in theatre at UNO. Since 1972, the Irene Ryan Foundation of Encino, Calif., has awarded scholarships to the outstanding student performers at each regional festival, according to the Kennedy Center. The scholarships honor the late Irene Ryan who portrayed the lovable and feisty Granny Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies. All student actors in both participating and associate productions are eligible for consideration for these $500 regional scholarships. Kevin Griffith, associate professor of design, received a Meritorious Achievement Award for scenic design. Hoover —who has led the UNO theatre department to win more Kennedy Center American Theatre Awards and produce more award-winning actors than any other university in the state — received a Meritorious Achievement Award for directing. In November, Theatre UNO presented a new production of Hamlet, directed by visiting artist Jim Winters of Southeastern Louisiana University and starring Sam Malone as Hamlet.

Melancholy Play | March 3-8, Robert E. Nims Theatre The Misanthrope | April 16-26, Robert E. Nims Theatre All Theatre UNO plays this season are presented with evening showings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at or at the Performing Arts Center box office beginning one hour before each show. For additional information, contact the box office at (504) 280-SHOW (7469) or

to all our 2014 sponsors!

Entergy Laitram Ray Brandt Auto Group Sabiston Consultants

Sam’s Club PCCP Constructors UNO Federal Credit Union 89.9 WWNO

Abita AIMS Group Best Bolt & Nut Cricket Wireless Cordina Expotel Hospitality First NBC Bank Gambit Jefferson Financial Credit Union

JP Morgan Chase Jose Cuervo Mathes Briere Architects Offbeat Pepsi Perlis Three Olives Vodka UNO Office of the President Where Y’at


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Did you go to Innsbruck with UNO? Share your memories and find out about UNO-Innsbruck 2015.

Visit us at

Drive with Pride and support University of New Orleans scholarships with a UNO license plate!

$25 of the $26 annual fee will support UNO scholarships Exchanging an existing plate is easy! Visit any motor vehicle office or public tag agent; call the Prestige Plate Unit of the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles at (225) 925-6371; or visit For more information, call the UNO Alumni Association at (504) 280-2586 or email



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Show your Privateer Pride!




A teenager from the Virgin Islands who loves cruise ships and dreams of becoming a ship designer visited the University of New Orleans School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering this spring through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “A dream of his is to build cruise ships and he did his research and he saw that the University of New Orleans was one of the top universities in the United States where he could learn more,” says Melissa Mitchell, spokeswoman for the Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana chapter in Metairie, La. “He asked to come here. The Florida chapter actually sent him here and we helped to coordinate his wish.” The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes to children who have life-threatening medical conditions in the United States and its surrounding territories. On average, one wish is granted every 38 minutes, according to the foundation. In summer 2013, the Make-A-Wish office in Metairie contacted the UNO NAME School to arrange a visit to New Orleans for 15-year-old Javon Douglas and his mother, Allison.

The five-day, four-night visit to New Orleans was “a real treat” for Douglas. “It was definitely an awesome experience for him,” Mitchell says, adding that Douglas has grown up watching cruise ships and other large vessels coming and going to foreign countries from his island home. “It was an experience in itself coming here.” According to the results of a 2011 Wish Impact Study that surveyed Wish parents, health professionals, and MakeA-Wish volunteers, a wish come true empowers children with life-threatening medical conditions to fight harder against their illnesses. According to the foundation, health professionals treating Make-A-Wish recipients say their patients feel better and comply more readily with treatment protocols when they experience their wish coming true. Douglas, a high school freshman in the Virgin Islands, spent an entire day at the University of New Orleans. During his visit to campus, Douglas participated in a ship model test in the University’s state-of-the-art towing tank, where students, researchers and regional shipbuilders test and refine their designs. He also participated with University students in a 3-D modeling exercise where he was able to model a cruise ship hull, says assistant professor of naval architecture and marine engineering

Brandon Taravella. Naval architects then printed the hull that Douglas designed on the University’s 3-D printer so that he could both witness the process and keep a souvenir of his stay. Douglas served as an honorary member of one of the NAME School’s senior design groups and attended the seniors’ final presentation at the Southern Yacht Club, where he was also made an honorary member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. UNO NAME professors also worked with colleagues at the Port of New Orleans to arrange a tour of the Carnival Elation cruise ship for Douglas, Taravella says. On this tour, Douglas was able to board and view the entire ship, as well as meet some of the ship’s officers. The Port of New Orleans also arranged a private tour of the Mississippi River for Douglas on one of their fire boats. “He actually got to have lunch with the captain,” says Mitchell, who said that Douglas was touched by the experience, as well as the honor he received at the Yacht Club dinner. Above: Javon Douglas participates in a ship model test in the University’s state-of-the-art towing tank inside the Engineering Building as part of his visit to the University of New Orleans.


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NEWS & EVENTS UNO LAUNCHES ONLINE MASTER’S PROGRAM IN HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM MANAGEMENT The University of New Orleans has launched a new fully online executive master’s degree program in hospitality and tourism management. Classes begin in the spring 2015 semester and students can enroll now. The new online program will build upon the established success of the existing on-campus master’s program offered by the Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration, according to John Williams, director of the Kabacoff School and dean of the College of Business Administration. “The program was created because of the great demand from hospitality industry workers who do not have the freedom to relocate in order to earn a

master’s degree while retaining their existing positions in the industry,” Williams said. “That’s the most significant benefit of this program. It allows students to keep working full-time while obtaining their degree.” The online curriculum, which is the same as the existing on-campus master’s program, will be taught by the full-time faculty of the Kabacoff School. Students can complete the 30 credits in one year by taking courses in the spring, summer and fall semesters. According to Williams, the existing master’s degree program has a 100 percent industry-specific job placement rate during its 11-year existence. “Our Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree programs serve as national models for educating exceptional graduates in hospitality and tourism,” Williams said. “Our students follow

The University of New Orleans College of Business Administration rolls out a new executive online Master’s degree in Hospitality, Restaurants and Tourism Administration. Photo by Kathy Anderson, Courtesy of New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau



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our College of Business Administration core curriculum — they study finance, accounting, marketing, mathematics, management — and move on to industryspecific advanced-level courses designed to produce entry-level managers in hospitality, restaurants, and tourism.” Over the next few years, the College of Business Administration is also seeking to triple the size of the HRT undergraduate program as a response to industry demand for UNO graduates. The plan is to increase from approximately 240 to 850 undergraduate students. The Kabacoff School is named after Lester E. Kabacoff, a pioneer in the hospitality and tourism industry in New Orleans. The school has graduated students at the undergraduate level in hospitality management for more than 30 years, and has a strong, industry experienced, and internationally diverse faculty.


Longtime WWNO host and producer Fred Kasten interviews critically acclaimed trombonist, composer, conductor and arranger Wycliffe Gordon at the 2014 Satchmo Summerfest held in New Orleans.

MIDLO CENTER MAKES ITS MARK ON SATCHMO SUMMERFEST For more than a dozen years, the University of New Orleans Ethel and Herman Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies has co-sponsored educational seminars at the city’s acclaimed annual “Satchmo SummerFest.” And every year, the program just gets better, says Connie Atkinson, director. “The University of New Orleans Midlo Center and the French Quarter Festival have had a long and productive collaboration, with their festivals providing a way to circulate knowledge from our university into our community,” Atkinson says. “Music fans around the globe know of the university through its role as educational component at our state’s festivals, and the seminars give our public history students useful practice in serving the local community. “As tourism continues to be a major economic engine for the state, the distinctive cultural history of Louisiana serves as an attraction for tourists. UNO can help supply the fascinating and continually surprising story of our state and our people to visitors.” Now entering its 15th year, Satchmo SummerFest is known as the world’s premier jazz festival dedicated to the life, legacy, and music of New Orleans’ native son, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. This year’s event, produced by French Quarter Festivals Inc. and presented by Chevron Oil, brought jazz experts, scholars and musicians from around the world to the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint to present seminars, discussions, music, and movies about the history and progress of New Orleans Jazz and the life and music of Louis Armstrong.

The university has been involved with the festival since its inception in 2001, says Atkinson, a history professor at UNO. That year, the festival debuted on the 100th anniversary of the musician’s birth as the Louis Armstrong Centennial Festival. Seminars associated with music featured members of Armstrong’s All Stars, Satchmo’s next-door neighbor Selma Heraldo, Armstrong biographers and noted Armstrong scholars, says Atkinson, who was instrumental in creating the first seminar series and those that followed. Since then, the city of New Orleans has held a celebration on the trumpeter’s birthday each summer and it has always been produced with aplomb by French Quarter Festivals, Inc. The nonprofit — which also produces French Quarter Festival in April and Christmas New Orleans Style in December — promotes the Vieux Carré and the city of New Orleans through special events and activities that are designed to showcase the culture and heritage of the city, contribute to the community’s economic well-being and help to build pride among New Orleans residents. Throughout the years, the Midlo Center has co-sponsored educational seminars associated with the annual Satchmo Summerfest, says Atkinson, who has served on the board of directors and actively participated in planning and producing educational programming for both French Quarter Festival and Satchmo SummerFest. The seminars help fulfill the Center’s mission of disseminating information about New Orleans into the community through public events and supporting the economy of the state through its projects. This year’s events, coordinated by Fred Kasten, a longtime radio producer

and host for WWNO, the NPR-affiliate operating at UNO, began with a keynote conversation dedicated to the making of a new 9-CD boxed set of Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars, 19471958 from Mosaic Records. The set’s co-producers, Scott Wenzel and Ricky Riccardi, led an animated discussion on how the set came together, the host of pitfalls they had to avoid, and detective work required to get the set released. Duke University music professor Thomas Brothers talked about his new book, Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism, highlighting a remarkable decade and transformative period in Louis Armstrong’s life, when the artist developed innovations as an instrumentalist and vocalist that continue to exert profound influences. In other talks, historians discussed the cultural reception of jazz and jazz’s effects on society and culture in New Orleans and Chicago in the late 1920s; the role of newspapers in forming the collective attitude of African-Americans regarding The Jazz Age; romantic mythology surrounding Storyville; and Armstrong’s role as a civil rights pioneer, among other heady topics. Brass bands from the legendary Dirty Dozen Brass Band to the Original Pinettes helped to round out weekend fun. Critically acclaimed trombonist, composer, conductor and arranger Wycliffe Gordon also performed. Gordon, an eight-time recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association “Trombonist of the Year” award and DownBeat Magazine’s “Critics’ Choice Trombonist” for two years running, credits Louis Armstrong as a primary influence on his own life in music.


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student spotlight

Undergraduate Julie Green recently received the 2014-2015 UNO Scholarship for Women in Computer Science established by Google engineer Sabrina Farmer, a 1995 UNO alumna.

INSPIRED LEARNING University of New Orleans undergraduate student Julie Green is the recipient of the 2014-15 UNO Scholarship for Women in Computer Science. Green, a native of Portland, Ore., is a junior majoring in computer science.

The scholarship, worth $6,000, was created in 1996 by UNO alumna and Google engineer Sabrina Farmer. Green will also receive a year’s worth of mentoring from Farmer. “For me, a computer science degree has been a lifelong dream,” Green says. “The scholarship helps me immensely because now I can reduce my hours at my job and focus more on school. The scholarship also helps in another way: it has the intrinsic reward of encouragement. That is a powerful motivator to do what Sabrina has done, which is to be a successful computer scientist despite the challenges women face in this field and, likewise, to encourage other women with similar goals along the way.” Farmer is a senior engineering manager for site reliability at Google; 18


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she manages the teams responsible for running Gmail, the world’s largest Internet email service.

“While I enjoyed studying computer science and realize that I got a lot of satisfaction from the work, I often doubted my place in the field,” says Farmer. “I created the scholarship in order to give at least one woman encouragement to keep at it, even if she had doubts, because if you push through, you will likely achieve more than you ever thought you could.” Farmer earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from UNO in 1995. She’s worked in Silicon Valley since 1997 and has been an active advocate for women in technology. “She is truly an inspiration,” says Green, who is “honored” to have the Google engineer as her new mentor. “Sabrina is someone who goes the extra mile to encourage women who have aspirations of pursuing a computer science degree. She understands the challenges that women face in a maledominated field.” Farmer has provided workshops and

luncheons for the women in the UNO Computer Science department, says Green. “That sort of thing builds community among the female students, which directly contributes to our success,” says Green. “Sabrina is a role model who demonstrates that women in technical careers are successful and shows us how to encourage the success of others.” The scholarship is open to women who are undergraduate students with a major or minor in computer science. The scholarship is funded by Farmer with a matching donation from Google. “What a fantastic computer science department we have at the University of New Orleans,” says Green. “We have world-class faculty who provide teaching of a quality that I would expect from a more high-profile university like Stanford or Berkeley.” And, she adds, “the faculty truly care about their students, and there is a supportive community among the students. The computer science department at UNO is a diamond in the back pocket of New Orleans.”

GOLD STANDARD This spring, University of New Orleans doctoral student in chemistry Taha Rostamzadeh won a $5,000 prize from the International Precious Metals Institute (IPMI) that will help support his research of very small gold particles. Rostamzadeh, a native of Iran, received the Gemini Industries Student Award at the IPMI’s 38th annual conference in June in Orlando, Fla. His research involves the fabrication of gold nanoparticle arrays that form very small peapod-like structures. These very tiny—also known as nanoscale—structures are about 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. They consist of chains of particles (the peas) surrounded by a ceramic-like sheet (the pod) and have the potential to be used in solar conversion, drug treatment or small circuit devices. “This is a well-deserved award,” says John Wiley, professor of chemistry and associate director of the Advanced Materials Research Institute. “Taha’s contributions to this research have been essential. Such funding is greatly needed to continue this work.” Gemini Industries, the provider of the award, is a leading precious metals refinery based in Santa Ana, Calif.

The company has presented the award annually to individual graduate students since 1981. Previous recipients of the award have included students from MIT, Princeton, Northwestern, Cornell and Brown. Rostamzadeh works in John Wiley’s group in the Department of Chemistry and the Advanced Materials Research Institute. The research into peapod structures was started in 2011 under the Louisiana Board of Regents PostKatrina Support Fund. In July, Wiley was awarded a 3-year $405,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support his research of fabricating microscopic structures that mimic peas in a pod. The research could lead to advances in developing new optical, electronic or medical devices with particularly promising applications in using sunlight to convert water to hydrogen gas, a clean fuel source, according to Wiley. “This new funding will allow us to examine putting different combinations of peas in the same pod,” Wiley says. “The ability to organize small scale objects into ordered arrays is important to the development of new technologies.” The ongoing project also contains an educational component; undergraduate,

graduate and postdoctoral students like Rostamzadeh will be involved in all aspects of the research and local high school students will participate in the research during an annual summer program. Now entering its 15th year, UNOAMRI’s eight-week summer outreach program is designed to advance research skills of science, technology, engineering and mathmatics (STEM) students from the greater New Orleans area and includes chemistry, physics, biological sciences, psychology, computer science and engineering components. The interdisciplinary program run by UNO faculty is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the BP Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative and other institutions. About 30 students participated this summer, including seven high schoolers. The University program is one of many ongoing efforts to engage area high school students in STEM. subjects and engage them in research as early as possible. The UNO Advanced Materials Research Institute is a multidisciplinary research institute that provides a unique opportunity to develop novel research ideas that ultimately involve the government, private and academic sectors in the conception and development of research programs.

University of New Orleans doctoral student in chemistry Taha Rostamzadeh won a $5,000 prize from the International Precious Metals Institute (IPMI) that will help support his research of very small gold particles. Rostamzadeh is seen here alongside a “glovebox” in the University’s Solvent Box and Thermal Analysis Lab, located in the Chemistry Building. A glovebox is a sealed container that is designed to allow one to manipulate objects where a separate atmosphere is desired. Built into the sides of the glovebox are gloves arranged in such a way that the user can place their hands into the gloves and perform tasks inside the box without breaking containment. Part or all of the box is usually transparent to allow the user to see what is being manipulated.


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student spotlight D Punch Photography



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Going Greek Greek life is on the rise at UNO As participation in Greek life reaches a high not seen at the University of New Orleans since the 1970s, student leaders are redefining perceptions of the Greek experience, says Dale O’Neill, director of the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership says. “Greek life for the majority of students at UNO is very new,” says O’Neill. “Their family wasn’t Greek. They don’t have siblings that were Greek. They come to UNO and don’t know anything about Greek life.”

The result, she says, is that Greeks at UNO are creating a culture defined by diversity, inclusion, leadership and service. Many UNO students are working students or first-generation students — and only one or two who go through rush are legacies, says O’Neill, who hosts a seminar “Greek 101” to introduce prospective members to ins and outs, pluses and minuses. Special emphasis is placed on creating campus life and with membership dues running $60 to $100 per month rather than thousands per

semester, resourcefulness is key. Rather than renting large hotel rooms for formal dances, Greeks on campus tend to focus their fun on pool parties, volleyball, laser tag, board game nights and other low-cost fun. One sorority as a rule hosts service opportunities, not mixers. “I just think at UNO — the type of school that we’re at — they really understand that they have a deeper calling being Greek,” says O’Neill. “It’s not just about being social. It’s also about giving back to UNO.”


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faculty focus

FIGHTING CYBERCRIME UNO Wins Nearly $1 Million in Grants Three National Science Foundation grants totaling nearly $1 million will help to advance cybersecurity research at the University of New Orleans, home to one of the most elite cybersecurity studies programs in the nation.

cybersecurity short of them actually having the job,” Roussev says. “Companies strongly prefer graduates with hands-on experience, and this technology will allow our students to get professional-type training.”

Training Students in Cybersecurity

The NSF’s Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace program is extremely competitive; only 10 out of 56 educational proposals received funding. In August, UNO was designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and Research by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

In August, Vassil Roussev, a UNO computer science professor, received a 2-year $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to offer students cutting-edge training in the field of cybersecurity. The grant will allow UNO to provide students with a self-contained cybersecurity lab. Students will install special software on their laptops that will enable them to download different lab scenarios that the instructor has prepared. Students will then try to solve realistic cybersecurity problems, says Roussev. “This is as close as we can get to preparing students for a real job in 22 22 UU N N OO M M AA GG AA ZZ II N N EE

FF AA LL LL 22 00 11 43

Fighting Cybercrime Also, in August, UNO received a 3-year $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop tools to fight cybercrime in large computing environments. Researchers at UNO will work in cooperation with researchers at Purdue University on the project.

The goal of the research is to understand the strategy and detailed steps of a cyberattack, collect evidence for possible legal proceedings and reveal hidden impacts of an attack to minimize loss and to prevent against similar attacks. Cyberattacks, especially advanced targeted attacks, pose a significant threat to the safety and economic well-being of society, according to Golden Richard, professor of computer science and the grant’s principal investigator. This research will help advance state-of-the-art techniques in digital forensics, a critical need as the infrastructure of the United States is increasingly dependent on cyber systems and operations, Richard says. The research also improves the pipeline that produces the next generation of cybersecurity experts by deepening students’ understanding of advanced real-world cyberattacks and cutting-edge forensics capabilities.

Preventing Cybersecurity Risk through Psychology Richard, a leading cybersecurity expert, is also part of a novel collaboration with Carl Weems, professor of psychology and Irfan Ahmed, assistant professor of computer science. Together, the researchers will generate data on attention and personality factors in cybersecurity. The research will be conducted by Richard at UNO’s Greater New Orleans Center for Information Assurance, where he is director, using a $223,000 grant from the National Science Foundation slated “to integrate computer science with psychology for the detection and prevention of cybersecurity risk.” The premise of the research is that specific cognitive preferences and related personality factors can be assessed in real time and these may aid in the detection and prevention of cybersecurity risk. Researchers will recruit adult volunteers to participate in experimental computer sessions and their reactions and responses will be monitored and analyzed by an innovative software program that will be developed during the project, says Richard. By studying the links between psychological factors and digital behaviors during real world scenarios, it may be possible to create adaptive software systems, such as user interfaces, alerting systems and security monitors that tap individual preferences to substantially reduce the risks or effects of cyberattacks. The data from the study may allow future adaptive cybersecurity solutions to be better tailored to individual user traits and preferences than current generation systems. The research has the potential to benefit law enforcement, the military and corporations, as well as individual citizens, through improved cybersecurity. Photo, from left: Carl Weems, psychology professor; Golden Richard, computer science professor; and Irfan Ahmed, assistant professor of computer science.

Center for Excellence High alert! The National Security Agency announced this spring that five new schools have been selected for the NSA’s National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program — and the University of New Orleans is among them. UNO has boasted an elite cyber operations program for nearly a dozen years and joins the nation’s finest in receiving this top honor, University officials said. Since 2002, the University of New Orleans has been home to a cutting-edge information assurance program that has drawn national attention. The University’s program is the only information assurance program in the state that has gained certifications from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Researchers have attained more than $5 million in grants and founded the Greater New Orleans Center for Information Assurance, a Board of Regents sponsored center, which boasts two state-of-the-art computer labs. The NSA’s National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations program was “designed to cultivate more U.S. cyber professionals in an increasingly demanding and everchanging global environment,” NSA officials said in a release. Cybersecurity, also known as information technology security, is the science of protecting computers, networks, programs and data from unintended or unauthorized access, change or destruction. This growing field is critical to operations in federal, state and local governments, military, corporations, financial institutions, hospitals, insurance companies, banks and other businesses that store vast amounts of information that must be kept confidential. Since 2010, the U.S. federal government alone has allotted more than $13 billion annually to cybersecurity. The CAE-Cyber Operations designation is awarded annually and the NSA has created a rigorous application and screening process for selecting honored schools, officials said. Only five schools qualified as centers of excellence for the next five years and the University of New Orleans stands in elite company:

• • • •

New York University (New York) Towson University (Maryland) The United States Military Academy (New York) The University of Cincinnati (Ohio)

The elite CAE program, which now includes a total of 13 schools, “complements the more than 100 existing centers of academic excellence in information assurance research and information assurance education — jointly overseen by NSA and the Department of Homeland Security,” NSA administrators said in a release. The Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program, an outgrowth of President Barack Obama’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), “identifies institutions that have a deeply technical, interdisciplinary curriculum centered on fields such as computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering.” Participants in the Cyber Operations Program may apply their learning or enhance their teaching in a summer internship program at NSA. Participating students and faculty members do not engage in actual U.S. government intelligence activities, administrators said. Yet the internship program offers valuable learning experience. The agency has long worked with schools to improve education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), officials said. While many higher education institutions offer elements of cybersecurity, schools selected as centers of excellence meet stringent criteria and offer a “holistic” program that covers a variety of critical aspects. Legal and ethical issues in cybersecurity are “a mandatory and vital part of becoming a CAE in Cyber Operations,” said Steven LaFountain, the Dean of NSA’s College of Cyber Operations. “In the application process and in all collaboration with selected schools, the importance of integrity and compliance is always paramount,” he said. “Cybersecurity technical skills are increasingly important in national defense, but it’s equally important to operate within the bounds of the law and Constitution.”


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faculty focus

Linda Flynn-Wilson

TRAINING EARLY INTERVENTION EDUCATORS University of New Orleans special education professor Linda Flynn-Wilson in September received a 5-year $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to train educators to work with young children with disabilities. A professor of special education and habilitative services, FlynnWilson will prepare educational personnel to be fully credentialed to work with infants, toddlers and preschoolers with disabilities and their families. Students enrolled in the UNO program will earn certification and/or a master’s degree in early intervention, a system of services that helps young children with developmental delays or disabilities and their families. The UNO students who receive this highly specialized training will be paid a stipend. The training will focus on racially, culturally and linguistically diverse families as well as families living in poverty, says Flynn-Wilson. By enhancing an existing early intervention program, the project will improve the quantity and quality 24


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of birth-to-five providers through a comprehensive training program with coursework and extensive field experiences. Students will be mentored by individuals who are certified in early intervention. Flynn-Wilson is the chair of the Department of Special Education and Habilitative Services, and the coordinator of the Early Intervention Program. Her research focuses on concerns, priorities and resources of families who have young children with disabilities. DEVELOPING NEXT GENERATION POLYMERS University of New Orleans chemistry professor Steven Rick recently received a $276,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop new smart polymers, which are materials that can respond to changes in the environment. Rick is one of 14 researchers from eight different universities participating in a Louisiana-Mississippi consortium, as part of a larger $6 million award. The goal of his research is to develop and characterize new polymers that are

able to heal in response to environmental stress, act as sensors, or release a drug in a controlled way. For example, cancer tumors may have a different pH than healthy tissue and drug-encapsulating polymers can be induced to release the cancer-fighting drug. Through his lab at UNO, Rick has developed an efficient method for predicting the structure of complex materials using computer models. The method will be used to characterize the structures of polymers and how they may change in response to stimuli. According to the LouisianaMississippi consortium’s project proposal, the considerable economic footprint of chemical and polymer industries in Louisiana and Mississippi and the projected national market growth of smart polymers present a significant opportunity to position the region as leaders in this area of research, researchers say. Smart polymers, which can alter their properties in response to environmental triggers, offer greatly expanded applications compared to conventional polymers.

DEVELOPING A NEW SOLAR DEVICE AT NATIONAL LAB Materials scientist Weilie Zhou recently received a $10,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents to help develop a new solar device at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. Zhou, associate professor with the University of New Orleans Advanced Materials Research Institute, and Sarah Wozny, a UNO doctoral student in chemistry, spent a month this summer at the laboratory collaborating with Kai Zhu, a senior scientist with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The researchers worked on fabricating and characterizing a new hybrid solar cell that uses environmentally friendly inorganic semiconductor nanomaterials. Nanomaterials are chemical substances or materials that are manufactured and used at a very small scale. Nanoscale materials often have unique optical, electronic or mechanical properties. The researchers used the state-of-theart equipment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to understand how the charge transport mechanism works to maximize efficiency. The goal of the project is to make stable, low-cost highefficiency solar devices. The grant comes from the Louisiana Board of Regents’ Links with Industry and National Labs (LINK) program, which facilitates science and engineering research, education and training opportunities for faculty, postdoctoral researchers and undergraduate and graduate students. The objective of the program is to help develop a diverse, internationally competitive and engaged workforce of scientists and engineers by establishing partnerships between Louisiana researchers and collaborators at national laboratories, research centers or industrial facilities. EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING Malay Ghose Hajra, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, recently received the 2014 ExCEEd New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award from the American

Weilie Zhou

Malay Ghose Hajra

Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He accepted the award in June at the American Society for Engineering Education’s annual conference in Indianapolis, Ind.

professional organizations and frequently participates in conference and technical committees while serving as a faculty adviser to student groups.

Ghose Hajra “is an enormous asset to both the UNO College of Engineering as well as the engineering community,” says Norm Whitley, dean of the College of Engineering. “This is an honor for a faculty member who is doing so many great things in so many different arenas.”

The award was established by ASCE’s Project ExCEEd (Excellence in Civil Engineering Education) and the Committee on Faculty Development to recognize and reward outstanding new faculty. According to a committee spokesperson, the committee was impressed by Ghose Hajra’s outstanding teaching record as a new faculty member, his contributions to the academic and surrounding community and his commitment to education.

Ghose Hajra is a professional engineer who earned his doctorate from Kansas State University. His research interests include soil mechanics, geo-environmental engineering and coastal restoration. He is active in a number of


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TO THE COAST By Patricia Murret and Adam Norris Photography by Ioannis Georgiou and Trey Kramer

The statistics are startling: Pieces of land collectively the size of a football field wash away every hour from the Louisiana coastline, causing imminent and dire threats to industry, infrastructure, the environment and the economy. Louisiana has lost nearly 2,000 square miles of land since the 1930s, and stands to see that number increase significantly — even double, according to state data — over the next half-century, as more land sinks and sea level continues to rise. As coastal researchers strive to find solutions, and the nation spends billions annually to restore the shoreline and avert



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catastrophe, the need for qualified professionals familiar with the landscape is growing at an unprecedented rate. Protecting and restoring Louisiana’s coastal wetlands is one of the critical issues facing the nation — indeed, it’s a national emergency, researchers say, and the University of New Orleans is now expanding its coastal science and engineering programs in an effort to better position students for the workforce and protect the fragile coast. “Educating our local student population and the wider professional community about the unique challenges brought about by a deltaic coastal

environment is crucial for ensuring we have the talent to restore our coast,” says Jerome Zeringue, chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the governor’s executive assistant for coastal activities. “Given the 50-year timeline of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, we anticipate that the need for professionals with this knowledge base will be in demand for the long-term.” Nearly a year ago, Greater New Orleans, Inc., a regional economic development alliance serving the 10-parish region of Southeast Louisiana, began to gather information from civil engineering and other related

feature New Coastal Engineering and Science Certificates to Fill Growing Demand, Position Louisiana as Leader in Restoration

firms involved in coastal restoration to assess critical workforce needs. The results of this effort indicated a high professional demand for coastal science and engineering knowledge from students entering the workforce as well as current professionals. That started a conversation among leading coastal researchers and engineers on campus about how this demand could be academically met.

classrooms and through an online platform. The curriculum, which includes a focus on deltaic soils and wetlands that make up much of the coastal zone in Louisiana, aims to provide the scientific and professional thinking that is required to find solutions to coastal environmental issues, as well as improve a graduate’s employability within an industry that is predicted to grow.

Thus, UNO crafted a new academic program leading to certificates in Coastal Engineering and Coastal Sciences. Starting in spring 2015, the certificates will be offered both in

Students who enroll in these certificate programs will benefit from the deep expertise of the University’s College of Engineering and College of Sciences in the area of coastal

restoration, says Malay Ghose Hajra, a geotechnical engineer and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. These students will study topics such as the design of coastal structures, sediment transport, dredging, coastal processes and coastal geomorphology — and gain preprofessional preparation that readies them for the workforce. The University of New Orleans has a long and strong history of working to understand how the coast works, and uncover the fundamental drivers of change along this landscape, says Ioannis Georgiou, director


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of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences. Georgiou is an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, where the number of undergraduate majors has more than doubled since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Louisiana coastline and wetlands in 2005. PIES — as the Pontchartrain Institute is known — began in 2001 with a focus on addressing coastal and environmental issues. It uses a multidisciplinary approach to science and engineering to better understand coastal, estuarine, and deltaic systems

Authority, and numerous private entities. One project involves analyzing large data sets with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to create better fishery models for implementation under the state’s coastal master plan. Researchers are also studying sediment diversions and impacts to the Mississippi River and surrounding receiving basins, as part of the first large-scale long-term restoration assessment in 80 years to examine how freshwater and sediment can be used to offset land loss in Louisiana. Other research examples include the potential impacts of a 6-mile sand berm

Through millions of dollars in grants, PIES researchers from the College of Sciences and College of Engineering address issues impacting the region’s rivers, lakes, bayous, coastline and deltas. in the Gulf Coast and worldwide, and a strong coastal education program that trains the next generation of scientists. Through millions of dollars in grants, PIES researchers from the College of Sciences and College of Engineering address issues impacting the region’s rivers, lakes, bayous, coastline and deltas. Partners range from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration

aimed at protecting the Chandeleur Islands, how saltwater intrusion in the lower Mississippi River delta impacts wetlands, to the sediment transport patterns along the Louisiana coastline. The aim of the institute, Georgiou says, is to be a leader in high-quality research related to the Mississippi River delta region and similar systems around the world, because “big change” happens here first.

Witness the recent involvement of key UNO faculty — including Georgiou, Mark Kulp, a coastal geologist; and Alex McCorquodale, a world-renowned hydraulic engineer — in advancing the state’s $50 billion coastal master plan. The plan, established in 2012, was put together over two years by some of the state’s best scientists, as well as national and international specialists. Through their analysis, the state selected more than 100 projects that, if fully funded, could substantially increase flood protection for communities and create a sustainable coast. Slated to be updated every five years, the coastal master plan is designed as a guiding document for coastal restoration projects that receive state funding and was developed with input from experts hailing from chemical and oil companies, conservation groups, state and federal agencies, landowners, wildlife protection groups, and others. UNO researchers helped to advance the state’s original plan by developing science and engineering tools and models for exploring impacts of coastal restoration options, Georgiou says. They worked in multidisciplinary teams that considered, for example, the benefits of building wetlands or forecasted whether a barrier island reinforced with sand deposits would still exist in 25 years. These days, UNO researchers are doing predictive modeling to advance the state’s 2017 coastal master plan, an important step in determining coastal Louisiana’s future along the Mississippi River delta.


• Supplies 90% of the nation’s outer continental oil and gas • Supplies 20% of the nation’s annual waterborne commerce • Houses 26% (by weight) of the continental U.S. commercial fisheries landings • Provides winter habitat for five million migratory waterfowl • Serves as home to more than two million people

Below, top: In a senior-level class on coastal processes, Ioannis Georgiou, assistant professor of earth and environmental processes and director of the Pontchartrain Institute of Environmental Sciences, brings students to East Grand Terre Island to experience coastal environments outside the classroom. Below, middle: Coastal researcher Ioannis Georgiou educates Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR’s “On Point,” during a tour of the wetlands and flood protection structures surrounding New Orleans. Below, bottom: Newly created graduate certificate programs in coastal sciences and coastal engineering, as well as university scholarships, are buoyed by a generous gift. Shortly after the programs were announced in August, New Orleans-based real estate company Latter & Blum Inc. donated $100,000 to the University of New Orleans. “Coastal restoration is the most important issue facing South Louisiana,” says Robert Merrick, chairman and CEO of Latter & Blum, Inc. “The University of New Orleans is making it a priority to educate the workforce in order to address the challenges of our rapidly eroding coastline before we reach a point of irreversibility.”

“Nowhere in the nation is there a region that simultaneously offers globally important habitat and the breadth of economic assets found in coastal Louisiana.” Source: Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast

To learn more about the new graduate certificates in coastal engineering and sciences at UNO, visit


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In October, a fiction-writing professor at the University of New Orleans packed his bags and headed to the airport for a whirlwind two weeks of travel. The adventure, billed as a boys’ bourbon-beer-and-books tour, would take the writer to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Boston. His debut novel won’t hit bookshelves until February, but since summer has been generating national attention. M.O. Walsh, the director of the Creative Writing Workshop at UNO, had his first novel accepted for publication in July 2013 by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam. Einhorn, who is the editor of bestsellers like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks, acquired the world rights for Walsh’s book as soon as she read it, preventing the book from ever going to auction. The book created an immediate buzz in the publishing house hallways and since then, Putnam has sold foreign rights to the United Kingdom (Viking), Israel, Italy, France, Brazil and the Netherlands. The book, which hits bookshelves in the U.S. on February 10, will later appear in Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, French and Dutch translations.

“I never expected any of this to happen, ever,” says Walsh, 38. “I was just excited to finish it.” My Sunshine Away, a literary novel, is set in Baton Rouge and told from the point of view of a 30-something man looking back at his youth. Amid detailed descriptions of suburban childhood and lush Louisiana landscape, the narrator recalls the summer of 1989, when a 15-year-old girl who lived across the street from him was raped. He was 14 years old and madly in love with her. No one was ever arrested and the narrator, he confesses, was one of the suspects. “It took me about seven years to write and it was really the only thing I worked on that whole time,” says Walsh, who joined UNO faculty as an assistant English professor in 2011. “I was an instructor at LSU at that time, teaching four classes every semester ... I have two small kids. It was hard to get it done.” Walsh traveled in late May to New York City, where My Sunshine Away was one of only seven titles in the adult literature category presented as a “Buzz Book” for 2015 at Book Expo America, the largest and most

by patricia murret photograph by sam gregory

prestigious booksellers event in North America. At Book Expo America, Walsh appeared on a panel to speak to representatives from all major media outlets, including The New York Times, The New Yorker and USA Today, as well as bloggers, retailers, booksellers and reviewers. His editor, Amy Einhorn, also delivered a presentation about the novel to the media. Since then, the book has only accumulated accolades — including endorsements from the likes of authors Kathryn Stockett, Anne Rice and Tom Franklin. The Library Journal named Walsh’s book an “Essential Debut” — one of six — for the upcoming year. Ingram, a major book distributor that picks select titles every few months to highlight to booksellers, selected the novel as an “Ingram’s Premier Pick.” Kirkus, one of the most prestigious reviewers of boks in America gave it a starred review. My Sunshine Away appeared at two major tradeshows and arrived in mailboxes of librarians across the nation. In October, Walsh joined writers Ace Atkins, David Joy and C.J. Box for Putnam’s Books Bourbon, and Beer pre-publication tour, in which the writers visit major cities to meet booksellers and to talk about their forthcoming books. The rights to the audiobook have been sold and production is underway. My Sunshine Away begins with an excerpt from the Louisiana state song, “You Are My Sunshine,” written by the late Louisiana Gov. Jimmie Davis. The epigraph — a short quotation at the beginning of a book intended to suggest its theme — echoes the song’s chorus. “I want it to kind of be a positive Louisiana book, despite the dark themes, because I just don’t think there are a lot of those,” says Walsh,

ON CAMPUS M.O. Walsh — an assistant English professor known on campus as “Neal” — became director of the Creative Writing Workshop at UNO in the spring of 2014. “It’s a wellrespected and nationally known program,” says the up-and-coming author. “Our students are super-talented. They publish a lot. This year and last year we got more graduate applications than any other program at the University. That’s pretty exciting.” The program offers both a resident graduate program and a low-residency graduate program that culminates for graduates in a Master of Fine Arts degree, the terminal degree in creative writing. The program is one of only three MFA programs in Louisiana and the only MFA program in creative writing in New Orleans. Approximately 70 students pursue studies in five genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. This year, the program received 83 applications, in fiction alone, for a class of 13, says Walsh. Walsh, who teaches a fiction-writing workshop, says that some of the best writers in the country work at UNO. On faculty are award-winning fiction writer Barb Johnson, poets John Gery and Carolyn Hembree, and a host of other writers, including acclaimed nonfiction writers, screenwriters, poets, playwrights and authors. The Creative Writing Workshop at UNO functions as a university-wide center for literary education through its sponsorship of visits by established writers, student readings, and the publication of the literary magazine Bayou, says Walsh, whose program recently

praise for

My Sunshine Away 32


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brought Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon and four well-known authors to campus. The CWW also provides artistic support to the greater New Orleans community through its relationship with the Tennessee Williams Festival, the Faulkner Society, and its production of the Storyville series on WWNO. The creative writing program at UNO is also one of only a few programs in the nation that offer study abroad as part of a low residency program. Past study abroad sites have included Cork, Ireland; Edinburgh, Scotland; Brunnenburg, Italy; and San Miguel, Mexico. Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava

Leavell Haymon visited campus

In 2011, The in October at the invitation of the Huffington Post UNO Creative Writing Workshop. named the CWW among the top 25 most underrated MFA programs in America. In 2014, three separate articles in Publishers’ Weekly lauded the CWW — referring to the program as a “hidden literary gem” and “a program to watch” and asserting that professionals in the writing industry, such as agents and book editors, often look to the program for young talent. The Creative Writing Workshop’s teaching faculty is collectively responsible for more than 20 published books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, as well as nationally produced plays and screenplays, says Walsh. A quick tally shows more than 60 books published by CWW alumni — and too many story and poetry publications to count. Publishers include the most prestigious in America, from Harper Perennial to Knopf to Pantheon to Henry Holt. Students have published work in Southern Review, Glimmer Train, Oxford American and many others.

“I am in awe, swept up in the quiet beauty of the prose, and in the wisdom and compassion of the narrator. My Sunshine Away is a page turner, realism at its finest — a story made memorable in paragraph after paragraph by the brilliance of its author, and by the scope of the questions he asks as to how we live this life to the fullest as loving and moral beings. Such a beautiful book. Such a remarkable book. I can’t praise it enough.” — Anne Rice, author of Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles

who set the novel in his hometown. “It’s a Baton Rouge book. I always wanted to write a Baton Rouge book. I love that place.” The story takes place in a fictional neighborhood called Woodland Hills, which bears similarities to his own childhood neighborhood, Woodland Ridge, Walsh says. The school attended by the book’s major characters also bears some likenesses to Episcopal High School, where Walsh matriculated. The rest, the English professor says, is fiction. Like the narrator, Walsh says, he lived a mostly idyllic childhood. “I remember hearing a story when I was a kid about a girl in my neighborhood being raped and I remember not understanding what that meant,” says Walsh. “I think that’s where I got a lot of the drive for the story. Being an adult now and wondering: Did that really happen? If so, what does that mean about the place I thought I knew?” The tale, described by Putnam as a search for absolution, covers about 20 years of the narrator’s life. Most of the book’s narrative action takes place between 1989 and 1992, but stretches as far as 2012. Cultural touchstones include references to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986 and the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Scenes of LSU football appear in the background. An entire chapter is devoted to a comparison of Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

“I wrote it chronologically from page one to the end,” says Walsh. “I revise constantly as I’m working. I think it helped in the sense that when I finished the last chapter, I was done with the book. I sent it out.” The author tends to write between 4 and 6 a.m. each day, before he has checked email and before his young children have risen, he says. As he goes, he jots down ideas for scenes and dialogue on a stack of index cards that he references each time he sits down to write. He tends to review the last 20 pages before he ever writes anything new. “I think I knew who my suspects were and I had my characters,” he says, recalling his process. “But I didn’t know how it was all going to come together. I was surprised by how things came together at the end.” Walsh previously published The Prospect of Magic, a book of short stories that won the Tartts Fiction Award, through Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama. The book, set in the town of Fluker, La., was an outgrowth of work he did for his thesis before graduating in 2006 from the Master of Fine Arts degree program at the University of Mississippi. Though his latest book is expected to sell more copies than his first, Walsh insists his only aim in writing was to produce a work of art that would earn respect from writers he respects. At the top of this list has been the late Mississippi writer Lewis Nordan, who Walsh says “lives in the

“My Sunshine Away is that rarest find, a page-turner you want to read slowly and a literary novel you can’t look away from. At times funny, at times spine-tinglingly suspenseful and at times just flat-out wise, this novel is also a meditation on memory, how it can destroy or damn us but redeem us as well. It’s a book to read and reread, one that will only get better with time, like its writer. I’m already excited about M.O Walsh’s next book, whatever it is.” — Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and Poachers

same world” as Southern writers like William Faulkner, but spins both sad and positive tales. Walsh, who also received a master’s degree in literature at the University of Tennessee before studying creative writing, is thankful for having had the chance to work with the late Barry Hannah, a famous Southern writer, who coached Walsh in creative writing workshops at Ole Miss. “It was really hard to turn things into him in workshop and watch him destroy them,” says Walsh, who now leads a similar fiction-writing workshop at UNO. “But it undoubtedly made me a much better sentence writer and, hopefully, a story writer.” The novelist also admires the work of Tom Franklin, the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which was nominated for nine awards and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Award. Franklin also teaches in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program, where he taught Walsh in a fiction-writing workshop. Franklin is a master, Walsh believes, of blending literary and commercial fiction. “If I could ever do something like that,” says Walsh, who is already turning heads. “That would be all right with me.” d

“Try and restrain yourself from flying through the pages of this wonderful novel. Instead, savor this lush Louisiana mystery that takes you back to what life tasted like when you were still somewhat naïve to the ways of the world. Not just Southern, but American in its vivid Baton Rouge colors and scents, treetops and grasses, My Sunshine Away is the story of how the events of our youth profoundly affect us as adults. The last page is as satisfying as the first. A mystery you cannot wait to solve.” — Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help


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The best professional compliment

the upcoming event. A disheveled-

To Tuennerman, a New Orleans

that Ann Tuennerman ever received

looking man outside mouthed the

native and 1986 University of New

came from an unlikely source—a

words “Tales of the Cocktail.”

Orleans graduate, those unsolicited

Lucky Dog vendor. The founder of Tales of the Cocktail, the spirits industry’s annual festival, was driving in the French Quarter when she heard a tap on her window. Her car was easy to spot. It had been wrapped bumper to bumper with an advertisement for

“So I roll down my window,” Tuennerman says. “It turns out it’s the Lucky Dog vendor at Bourbon and Bienville and he says, ‘Tales of the Cocktail is like my Mardi Gras. I love it.’”

words underscored just how big Tales of the Cocktail had become and how mighty of an influence it had on the local economy. Entering its 13th year in 2015, Tales of the Cocktail is the undisputed king of worldwide cocktail gatherings—a 5-day festival UNO MAGAZINE

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that draws bartenders, liquor

to the city’s tour economy included

company representatives and a

stops at venerable restaurants and

devoted sect of spirits aficionados to

bars such as Antoine’s, Arnaud’s

New Orleans every July. At its core,

and Napoleon House. In order to

the event is a series of professional

commemorate the first anniversary

development seminars set in a

of the tour, Tuennerman came up

city with a long and distinguished

with the idea for the first Tales of

history of making cocktails. There

the Cocktails, which included two

are lectures, tasting rooms and

events, a cocktail hour and 10 meals

dinners that pair particular liquors

that featured different liquors, or

with foods. And at night, there are

so-called “spirited dinners.”

parties galore. Bartenders from Russia stand cheek-by-jowl with their counterparts from Sweden and Israel and discuss the craft of cocktails with the same intensity as physicists at a colloquium. In 2014, more than 17,000 people attended and the event was judged to have a local economic impact of more than $14 million, according to research conducted by the UNO Hospitality Research Center. “I’m really proud of the economic

Jared Brown—bold-faced names in the bartending industry—and persuaded them to participate in the fledgling festival. After it was over, Tuennerman says, she got positive feedback from the participants who said: “You ought to do this again.” The event continued to evolve; in the fifth year, organizers added the Tales of Oscars for the cocktail world.

always had an entrepreneurial spirit, had previously worked in the promotions departments of local television and radio stations. Inspired by the visually arresting book Obituary Cocktail: The Great Saloons of New Orleans, she

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Dale DeGroff, Anistatia Miller and

I’m dead and gone, I want the event

Tuennerman, who says she’s


She cold-called professionals like

of the Cocktail Spirited Awards, a sort

It all started with a tour.


based on Tuennerman’s chutzpah.

impact,” Tuennerman says. “When to be my gift to the city.”

What started as a way to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a dining and drinking tour, Tales of the Cocktail has become the premier festival for the worldwide spirits industry. The 5-day event features panel discussions, tasting rooms and so-called spirited dinners.

The first event was executed largely

“We say it’s curated by the industry,” Tuennerman says. “We ask, ‘What do you want to learn about this year?’ In 2014, we had 70 seminars and a committee of 42 people from around the globe that vote on what the content is. It’s the industry’s event; we just organize it. That’s my husband’s line.” Her husband is Paul Tuennerman,

pondered why there were French

who serves as chief business officer

Quarter tours, Garden District tours

of Tales of the Cocktail, and is

and ghost tours, but nothing that

Mr. Cocktail to her Mrs. Cocktail

told the drinking and dining story of

(those are their actual nicknames).

New Orleans. Working with licensed

In 2006, the couple founded the

tour guides, Tuennerman’s addition

New Orleans Culinary & Cultural

Approximately 80 percent of the people who attend Tales of the Cocktail are bartenders and people who work in the spirits industry. The remaining 20 percent are cocktail aficionados from around the globe.

Ann Tuennerman served as the keynote speaker during UNO’s 2013 Marketing Week. Tuennerman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from UNO, encouraged students to be nice and work hard.

Preservation Society, a nonprofit that

smaller satellite versions to foreign

industry trends, regardless of whether

invests proceeds from Tales of the

countries. First it was Vancouver,

they attended or not.

Cocktail events back into the spirits

then Buenos Aires, and Mexico City

industry through apprenticeships

is next. Tuennerman says they select

and scholarships. To say that Tales

international destinations where

of the Cocktail has benefited from

there’s a “bubbling up dining and

the recent American craft cocktail

drinking culture and bring a lot of

renaissance would be to minimize

assets to those communities.” The

the role that the event has actually

effort has contributed to a brand

played in that renaissance.

awareness of the event that has no

“I think we were on the cusp of that,” Tuennerman says. “I think we helped move the craft cocktail movement along. And we became a destination for people who wanted to learn about that. It all worked well together.” The New Orleans-based event has been so successful that, for the past several years, Tuennerman has taken

peer in the spirits industry. And it’s constantly evolving. Tales of the Cocktail recently launched “Tales 365,” which is a membership program that allows people to access content from the event whenever they want. A dozen videotaped seminars and a number of podcasts were made available to members from the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail so they can continue to educate themselves about

In spite of the explosive growth of Tales of the Cocktail, Tuennerman and her staff have worked diligently to preserve the original ambience of the event. She has resisted the temptation of moving the seminars and tastings to the cavernous Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in favor of keeping them at hotels, bars and restaurants. “The event has a certain feel, and it’s a very warm, friendly feel,” Tuennerman says. “What happens with a lot of events is people start having offshoots of events because they feel the original event abandoned them.”


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Similarly, Tuennerman has never

Tales of the Cocktail now operates

abandoned her alma mater. The

out of its headquarters in the

former marketing major stays

Bywater, with a full-time staff of

actively involved in UNO’s College

six, a number that swells leading

of Business Administration. In 2013

up to and during the week of the

she served as the keynote speaker

event. The sheer numbers tell the

during UNO Marketing Week,

story. More than 50 part-time staff,

an annual 5-day event that brings

100 volunteers, 11 interns, 174

regional marketing leaders to campus

presenters, 70 cocktail apprentices

and provides students with a chance

who have been selected to attend,

to learn more about the fields of

and four juicers—that’s right, people

marketing and advertising. The most

who do nothing but make juice

important piece of advice for future

from sunrise to sunset during a

professional marketers? “Be nice,”

5-day period. As the mastermind

she says. “I don’t care what kind of

behind it all, Tuennerman says most

paper your resume is printed on. Just

of the hard work happens in the

be nice and work hard.”

months leading up to the festival,

but the experiencing the actual event is energizing. “Being a New Orleanian, I honestly believe that we have a hospitality gene,” she says. “We know how to entertain people and I see that in the city all the time. When we have a Super Bowl here, everyone stands up a little straighter, opens their doors a little wider, smiles. We take a lot of pride in our city, but we love showing it off. Honestly, that is a gift that not everyone has.”


22,000 26,440



11,300 9,300 10,888 200,000






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ALUMNI ENDOW SCHOLARSHIP For First-Generation Students

Scholarship will be supported by new programs designed to help students succeed

Students who are the first in their families to attend college typically face different challenges than their peers do — financially, academically and emotionally — studies show. A new scholarship and a new mentoring program at the University of New Orleans are designed to help these “first-generation students” succeed.

success we have enjoyed in life, it is directly attributable to UNO.”

In September, University of New Orleans alumni Thomas and Constance Kitchen donated $60,000 to help endow a first-generation scholarship at UNO. The Kitchens’ gift received a $40,000 match from the Louisiana Board of Regents for a $100,000 endowment for the Kitchen Family First-Generation Scholarship.

Thomas Kitchen, the former president and chief executive officer of Stewart Enterprises, currently serves on the boards of the UNO Foundation and the UNO Research and Technology Foundation.

The Kitchens were first-generation college students when they graduated from the University of New Orleans. Thomas Kitchen earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1969 and Constance Kitchen earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1970.

advising from dedicated professional advisers on staff and coaching from student success counselors, as well as a support network called the FirstGeneration Mentoring Program.

A Leg Up The University is committed to addressing the unique challenges faced by the first member of a family to attend college. “This isn’t just a UNO population problem. This is a national problem faced by first-generation students,” says student success counselor Nick Fuselier.

Every year, the scholarship is expected to provide $4,000 in funding for first-generation undergraduate students, says Judith Roberson, director of development at UNO. The University will also furnish the recipient with a paid on-campus job and an additional 10 hours per week of support from academic advisers. In addition to being first-generation college students, recipients must also be Louisiana residents who have been awarded a federal Pell Grant. “We have a strong commitment to education and especially to the secondary and higher educational institutions like UNO, where we were students in the 1960s,” Thomas Kitchen says. “The University gave us a great education that was the affordable option for our families. Since we were the first to attend and graduate from college, we wanted to help others have the same experience that we did. Whatever 40


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His family’s gift will be supported by a new first-generation mentoring program at UNO that is designed to provide first-generation students with a tremendous resource and support network, says Roberson. Recipients of the Kitchen Family First-Generation Scholarship will receive academic

From left: Ines Sigel of the University’s Office of International Students and Scholars, and student Alyssa Moore discuss their expectations during the first meet-and-greet of the FirstGeneration Students Mentoring Program at UNO. The mentoring program is designed to help firstgeneration students surmount unique challenges, stay in school and achieve success.

Many first-generation college students come to college with fewer Advanced Placement courses and lower standardized test scores. Many may work more hours a week and have less disposable income, Fuselier says, pointing to national statistics. Many are less likely to get involved in co-curricular activities and are more in need of mentoring and leadership opportunities. “We know at UNO our firstgeneration population is retained at a lower rate than non-first-generation students, likely due to these reasons,” Fuselier says. “The First-Generation Mentoring Program is one step towards correcting that — by providing these students with a faculty, staff or graduate student mentor to help them through their first semester at UNO.” A review of retention rates for the 2012-2013 academic year at UNO showed that first-generation students and non-first-generation students returned for the following semester at 62 percent and 70 percent. The eight percent gap pointed to a need for support. Last fall, First Year Experience, a division of the Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, launched a mentoring program that pairs first-generation students with a graduate student, faculty or staff member and hosts group meet-ups at least once a month. Membership in the first-generation student mentoring program is voluntary. The goal of the program is to provide a tremendous resource and support network for first-generation students, says Fuselier. Mentors are required to touch base with mentees at least once a week, whether for lunch, coffee or a structured meeting to review personal and academic goals. Students are paired with mentors following a meet-andgreet match up. The mentor-mentee

relationship is driven by the needs and interests of the mentee. Shortly into the school year, all members of the program attend a review workshop that covers topics ranging from financial aid, scholarships and student housing opportunities to time management, personal finances and faculty-student relationships. Such topics are touched on during New Student Orientation and reviewed in UNIV-1001, a onecredit course attended by all firstyear students. The First-Generation Mentoring Program’s workshop allows a closer review for first-generation students who can ask probing questions with some hindsight and among peers, says Christy Heaton, associate director for Orientation and First Year Experience. “One of the main problems with first-generation students is ‘You don’t know what you don’t know,’” says Fuselier. “We wanted to provide those students a go-to resource ... who can answer questions about UNO, help them with post-college career goals; provide positive reinforcement and encouragement; and serve as a guide.”


says... Participants in the FirstGeneration Mentoring Program at UNO completed a survey at the end of the semester. Results showed: with their mentors 43% met once every other week with their mentors 43% met once a month with their mentors 14% met every week participants 43% ofcommunicated with their

mentors via text, email or phone every week

with their 43% communicated mentors via text, email or phone every other week

with their 14% communicated mentors via text, email or phone once a month

The group — a fairly even mix of freshmen and sophomores — have described the program in formal surveys as “a great source of encouragement” and “a good resource,” stating that the program helped “to connect new students to college life” and taught participants “how to navigate everything.”

Meet-ups focused on prepping for mid-terms and creating personal mission statements also yielded positive responses:

While the program is still unfolding, Fuselier is pleased with initial success. All of the students enrolled in the First-Generation Mentoring Program during the pilot semester received a grade point average of 2.0 or above — and collectively, they achieved an average GPA of 2.88. All who participated also enrolled for the fall semester.

who attended said 57% ofthatthose developing a personal

who attended 71% ofsaidthose they learned at least two new strategies that could help them prepare for mid-terms

mission statement was a useful activity

the students who 86% ofparticipated “strongly agreed” they enjoyed being a part of the mentoring program.


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Sara Hammoutene


connection By Emmanuel Pepis

about Coach V and was really inspired by her so I called her directly,” says Hammoutene of her path to New Orleans. “She saw some footage of me, so I’m here. I’m really glad to work with her and the team and to be at UNO.” Every ball that goes up on a set from Hammoutene has a hitter waiting for the spike. A lot of times that’s been Sander, who leads the team in kills. A native of Weisbaden, Germany, Sander has made an instant impact this year after missing most of 2013 due to injury.

Cara Sander

Journeying from two different European nations to the University of New Orleans, a pair of volleyball players has formed a strong bond on and off the court. Junior setter Sara Hammoutene and freshman outside hitter Cara Sander have teamed up to rack up assists and kills for the Privateers as well as ease their transition to a new country. The duo is also part of another team that’s growing in number and popularity in the athletic department: “Team Europe,” as it’s become known among the student athletes. Along with several


members of the tennis team, current women’s basketball center Mathilde Fogelstrom, and former Privateer guard and current graduate assistant Mirjam Sipos, “Team Europe” has welcomed the two newest members with open arms. Hammoutene, a native of Paris, France, has made an immediate impact on the court. Among the Southland Conference’s leaders in assists per set, Hammoutene has shown an initiative that helped her connect with Coach Millicent Van Norden and earn valuable playing time for the Privateers. “I read a lot

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“At first, everything was new for me last year. It’s a different climate, different people and at first that was a little hard, and the language barrier,” Sander says. “If you ask my teammates they’ll tell you that at first I asked them, ‘What does this mean?’ But now I’ve adapted, and it’s a lot of fun having a new culture around you. It’s special.” Sander was identified as a prospect through a program in Germany that sends students to the U.S. After being invited to come to New Orleans, Sander wound up choosing to continue her volleyball career in silver and blue. As a tandem, Hammoutene and Sander have helped energize the Privateers on the court. Off it, the two student athletes spend countless hours

going over strategy. “We talk to each other about volleyball a lot, even off the court in our room,” Sander says. “We talk about what we can change so it’s really convenient.” Social media also played an instrumental role in forging the teammates’ relationship. Before Hammoutene enrolled at UNO, she electronically solicited some advice from Sander, who had been in New Orleans for a year. “We started messaging each other on Facebook, and she was really helpful,” Hammoutene says. “At first, I didn’t know what clothes to bring because of the weather. She’s like a little sister and a great teammate.” Both students were also attracted to the city of New Orleans, and have had glowing reviews of the city, which boasts a distinctive European vibe. “It’s highly cultural and has huge French history, so before coming here I learned as much as I could about how France influenced New Orleans. Everybody says New Orleans looks like France, but it’s not. It’s a special city on its own,” says Hammoutene.

To learn more about Privateers athletics programs, visit

Ben Dalton Head Coach of Track and Field and Cross Country Benjamin Dalton is the new head coach of the New Orleans Privateers men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs.

new faces

“I am excited to be able to implement my vision for the track and field and cross country program at New Orleans,” says Dalton. “We have the resources to be successful and I am really excited and thankful to have this opportunity. I am just looking forward to building on what we already have established and moving the program forward to where I know it can be.” Dalton joined the Privateers in the spring of 2013, and helped guide the program to a season that saw its first Nationals qualifier in school history. With Dalton, the Privateers also had three Regional qualifiers and set three school records in the men’s 200-meter, men’s decathlon, men’s 400-meter hurdles, and women’s heptathlon. Dalton specializes in the sprints and hurdles events and helped guide Alexia Fortenberry, Constant Pretorius and Darius Roy to successful first seasons at New Orleans that included qualifying for Regionals. Pretorius posted two of the three fastest times in the 400-hurdles in university history and took second in the same event at the Southland Championships, while Fortenberry and Roy set university records in the 100-meter hurdles and 200meter dash, respectively.

Prior to joining the Privateers, Dalton served as an assistant coach at Texas and started his career in the United States with LSU in 2009. A native of England, Dalton has attained major accomplishments, including a stint as the travel coach for international track and field star Lolo Jones during her 2010 Indoor World Championship Gold Medal winning season in the 60-meter hurdles. At Texas, Dalton helped guide the Longhorns to a 9th place finish at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships and a 7th place finish at the Indoor Championships. In 2011 at LSU, Dalton helped guide the Tigers to SEC Championships in the Indoor and Outdoor season.

From there, Van Norden toured the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for four different head coaching stops and won the league’s Coach of the Year award twice. Van Norden’s first job in the MEAC was at North Carolina A&T, where she compiled a 23-7 record in conference play from 2005-2007. Van Norden won her first Coach of the Year honor in 2005.

new faces Millicent Van Norden Head Volleyball Coach “We are extremely excited and pleased to have Millicent join our Privateers family,” says Derek Morel, athletic director. “Millicent is a proven head coach who brings experience and we are confident that she can transform the program to be highly competitive in the Southland Conference.” Van Norden comes to the Privateers from Maryland-Eastern Shore, where she served as head coach, a role she has held for 12 years at various locations during her 13 years as a coach. The LaPlace, La., native started her career at her alma mater Alcorn State, where she won 57 games in her first two seasons, and led the Braves to back-to-back SWAC Eastern Division titles.

Van Norden then went to South Carolina State and spent four seasons at the helm. While with the Bulldogs, she transformed the program for an 8-23 overall and took a 1-7 team in conference play to a conference championship squad in 2010 that included an NCAA tournament appearance. It was with South Carolina State that she won her second MEAC Coach of the Year honor. Her next stop was a one-year tour at Coppin State in 2011. Van Norden then moved into an assistant’s role for the 2012 season at the University of Pittsburgh. While she led the team there, the Panthers had a mark of 17-14 and fell in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinal. Van Norden earned letters at Alcorn State in volleyball and track and field. On the volleyball court, she was a two-time All-SWAC selection and was named the pre-season volleyball SWAC Player of the Year in 2000. On the track, Van Norden was a USA Track and Field Indoor National Participant and a provisional qualifier in the long jump and the 100-meter hurdles in that same year. She currently owns the school and SWAC record in the heptathlon with 5,071 points. She earned both her bachelor’s in education (2000), and a master’s degree in secondary education (2003) from Alcorn State.


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Cory Dixon Drafted by Austin Spurs Former New Orleans Privateers forward Cory Dixon was taken Nov. 1 by the Austin Spurs as the second pick in the eighth-round of the NBA Development League draft. Dixon, who originally intended to play abroad, garnered interest from the San Antonio Spurs organization over several weeks and the choice allows him to continue his dream of playing professional basketball closer to home. “Our program couldn’t be more proud of Cory and his opportunity to continue his basketball career in the NBDL. This is an incredible opportunity for his hard work and dedication to pay off and allow him to fulfill his dream of playing professional basketball,” says head coach Mark Slessinger. “We have a great basketball history at the University of New Orleans and this will add to the history of our program.” Slessinger, who has watched Dixon

develop since his high school days, called draft day “a great moment” for Dixon, who graduated from UNO in May. “He accomplished his goal educationally. Now, this opportunity will allow him to begin to fulfill his professional goals.” The Argyle, Texas, native played in 52 games for the Privateers from 2012-2014, averaging 11.1 points per contest, and 6.4 rebounds per contest during his time on the Lakefront. Collecting nine doubledoubles last season, Dixon led the Privateers in both scoring (13.5) and rebounding (7.7) per contest, and was selected third team AllSouthland. Dixon is the first Privateers men’s basketball player taken in a professional draft since the Golden State Warriors selected Michael McDonald in the second round in 1995.

Show your UNO Pride! Carry the new UNOFCU Debit Card!

5000 The University of New Orleans New Orleans, LA 70148 (504) 280-6496



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It’s easy to connect with your Privateer Family—just sign up in the UNO Alumni & Friends Online Community for the latest news from UNO and your UNO Alumni Association.


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UNO Alumni Association members enjoy exclusive benefits that can help you in all aspects of life.

ONLINE COMMUNITY Stay informed and connected to the University of New Orleans with YOUR online community. Quick, FREE and secure registration brings you great benefits and is the easiest way to support UNO yet! STAY CURRENT New job? New email? Life changes. When it does, remember to update your UNO Alumni Profile online. Keep us current and let us keep you up-to-date with your alma mater. NEWS Get the University of New Orleans Magazine, event invitations and the latest Association updates.

EVENTS Watch your inbox for special invitations to UNO Alumni Association events like Alumni Week, Crawfish Mambo, Homecoming, networking mixers and socials.

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Join Today! COMMITTEE MEMBERS Get involved and have fun by serving on one of the UNO Alumni Association’s Committees: Student Success Committee Membership Committee Programs Committee Communications Committee

VOLUNTEERING Volunteers are our lifeblood. Keep UNO strong by giving your time on a regular basis or just once. GIVING BACK The UNO Alumni help recruit future Privateers, mentor students, support events, serve International Alumni Association has been dues-free since 2008. Instead, on committees and more. we encourage you to support current students by making a gift to UNO First, the university’s annual fund. ON-CAMPUS BENEFITS Alumni Association members get exclusive discounts at the UNO bookstore, on basketball and baseball season tickets, campus facilities, membership to the UNO Recreation & Fitness Center, Lakefront Aquatic Center membership fee and rentals, and rentals of the Privateer Room and Spotlights at the UNO Lakefront Arena. Members also receive check out privileges at the UNO Earl K. Long Library and qualify for membership in the UNO Federal Credit Union. EXCLUSIVE SAVINGS ON AUTO AND HOME INSURANCE With Liberty Mutual, you get service and support when and where you need it.

TAKE YOUR UNO BENEFITS ON THE ROAD WITH AVIS AND BUDGET RENTAL CARS! Thanks to our partnership with Avis and Budget, members can now take advantage of specially discounted rates just by using the discount codes below at participating U.S. and worldwide locations wherever or however you book your rental. WE'LL COVER YOU Our partnership with Meyer and Associates offers a variety of attractively priced insurance products for health, life, pets, travel, special events, long term care and other services.


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Young Alumni S P OT L I G H T

Robin Barnes (B.S. ‘09, M.B.A. ‘10),

recently received two awards recognizing her civic-mindedness. She was honored with a Millennial Award for New Orleanians making a difference and named one of City Business’s 2014 Women of the Year. Barnes was also recently selected as one of The Gambit’s “40 under 40” and “Artists to Watch.” The busy vocalist, nicknamed “Songbird” by fans and music reviewers, released her soulpop EP entitled “Me,” in July 2013. Robin is scheduled to release her full-length debut album in late 2015, comprised of jazz and soulful originals.

When she isn’t traveling to perform in other cities or countries, the vocalist plays regular gigs at Windsor Court Hotel and Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans two nights a week. Barnes, a dual UNO degree holder, stays actively involved in support of the University serving on the UNO International Alumni Association Board of Directors. Barnes is the new chair of the association’s Student Success Committee, which plans and supports events for current and prospective students. Two signature events — the

Dine Like a Professional Etiquette Luncheon and Resumés and Café au Lait — bring alumni back to campus to share insights with current students. The committee also supports on-campus events: Into the Halls, Privateer Camp, Explore UNO, Get to Know UNO, High School Counselor Luncheon, and Study A Thon. Through the Alumni Recruitment Krewe, the committee helps support recruitment activities across the U.S. By the end of 2014, more than 200 alumni will have impacted more 1,000 current and prospective students through the work of the committee.

Want to get involved? 46


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Alum Notes 1970s Ronald “Ron” A. Brisbi (B.S. ‘71)

has accepted a new position as a golf coach at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans. Brisbi, a St. Aloysius alumnus, has served as chair for Brother Martin’s annual golf tournament for the last 10 years.

James E. Burgard (B.S. ‘71)

recently retired from a 32-year career at UNO and started a new career with R2 Cybersecurity. Burgard began his career at his alma mater in 1982 as a programmer; served as director of administrative information systems, then as PeopleSoft project manager; then served as associate vice president and chief information officer for the past 12 years. Burgard was instrumental in many technology improvements to UNO’s campus including the PeopleSoft implementation, disaster recovery business continuity protocol, WiFi access for all buildings, and most recently a campus-wide conversion to VoIP.

Jeffery M. Ehlinger (B.A. ‘71, B.S. ‘01) was promoted to senior

vice president of First Bank & Trust. Ehlinger, who started with First Bank in 2012 as market area manager, manages commercial and retail operations for the bank’s New Orleans and East Jefferson markets. He has worked in the banking industry for more than 14 years and previously held positions at Whitney Bank and Hancock Bank. A regular on City Business’s annual list of top “Money Makers,” Ehlinger has worked with numerous nonprofit agencies. He is currently an executive committee member for the Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission and is part of the Propeller Pro Bono Business Network. He earned his bachelor’s degree in management from UNO, an M.B.A. from Loyola University and a master’s degree from LSU’s Graduate School of Banking.

Terrence F. Verigan (B.A. ‘71)

is vice president of CompuCure, a technology company named to Inc. Magazine’s 2013 “5000 Fastest Growing Businesses in America,” and was recently awarded a position with the Federal Aviation Administration’s eFAST Blanket Purchase Agreement, a $15 billion 10-year contract vehicle. Throughout his career as a technology executive, including stints with Xerox and AT&T, Verigan has found time to stay engaged in numerous civic organizations. Currently, he serves as treasurer and co-chair of development of

the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, heads the membership committee of the New Orleans Chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals and is an active member of the Louisiana Technology Council. He has served on the board of directors of the Jefferson Parish Chamber of Commerce, the Jefferson Parish President’s Economic Advisory Committee, and served as president of the board of directors for UNO International Alumni Association. In 1981, UNO named him Community Leader of the Year. In 1977, Verigan was elected to the District 8 seat of the Jefferson Parish Public School Board.

Terry Andrus (B.S. ‘72) president

of East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala., recently received the Alabama Hospital Association’s Gold Medal of Excellence. The award is the highest honor given to a health care executive in recognition of outstanding leadership and contributions to hospitals, both locally and statewide. Andrus has served on the Alabama Hospital Association board, chaired various committees and recently served as chairman of the board for two consecutive terms. Andrus has served on the State Committee of Public Health and on the boards of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and Premier, Inc. He is a past recipient of the American College of Healthcare Executives’ Regent’s Award, SunHealth’s Service to Alliance Award and the 2009 AlaHA Grassroots Champion Award. After he received his bachelor’s degree from UNO, he earned a master’s in health administration from Georgia State University.

Fred J. Smith (B.S. ‘74) has been

hired as chief finance officer by Victory Energy. Smith has more than 36 years of financial, compliance and operational reporting experience. Prior to joining Victory, Smith was corporate controller of Pioneer Natural Resources from 2008 to 2012. He then briefly worked as senior vice president and chief accounting officer of Magnum Hunter Resources and has been working as an independent consultant since 2013. During his career, Smith has worked for variety of energy companies, from small privately held companies to major upstream entities. He holds a B.S. degree in Accounting from UNO and is a certified public accountant.

Cynthia A. Polt (B.S. ‘77) is a

certified public accountant and chief financial officer who oversees Touro Infirmary’s Finance, Admitting, Business Office, Health Information Management, and Managed Care departments. She brings more than

30 years of experience to the role. Since 2012, Polt has served as the director of finance at Woldenberg Village, a retirement living community in New Orleans and a Touro subsidiary. Prior to that, she led her own consulting practice and provided financial accounting, revenue cycle and consulting services to university, healthcare and other large and small nonprofit clients. Polt also worked at Deloitte & Touche LLP in New Orleans in the roles of staff accountant and healthcare audit partner. She received a B.S. degree in Accounting with honors from UNO.

Gregory A. Brandao (M.Ed. ‘79)

has taken over as headmaster of The Runnels School in Baton Rouge, replacing L.K. Founder, who founded the school in 1965. Brandao, a former principal at Baton Rouge High School, is a veteran educator with more than 30 years’ experience. His credentials include 10 years as an educational consultant, 11 years as principal at Catholic High, and service as a teacher and administrator at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans and St. Thomas Moore Elementary in Baton Rouge. Brandao holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics education from LSU, a master’s degree from UNO, a doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco and a second master’s degree from Loyola University in New Orleans.

Geri E. Kolwe (B.S. ‘79) received

the 2014 Sister Mary Angela Mulhern O.P. Service Award at St. Mary’s Dominican High School’s annual reunion. The award honors the embracing of the Dominican graduate ideals. The mother of two Dominican alumnae, Kolwe graduated from UNO with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Upon her retirement from a career in the oil and gas industry, she served numerous community groups including Girl Scouts, United Way Campaign and Junior Achievement. She is an active volunteer for her alma mater and championed the class of 1974 sponsorship of a student for the 2014 mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Kolwe is a volunteer at the Harry Tompson Center for the homeless and developed a team to provide school supplies for Boys Hope, Girls Hope.

Craig E. Saporito (M.B.A. ‘79)

joined Beau Box Real Estate in 2011 as an agent and vice president of business development. He specializes in leasing and management

consulting. Prior to Beau Box, he worked for Freeport McMoran for more than 20 years in various senior financial positions and was managing director of South Coast Capital. Saporito is a member of the New Orleans Rotary Club and the finance committee for Mount Carmel Academy. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Tulane University.

1980s Brian E. Adorno (B.S. ‘80) has

been named president of Catholic Foundation of New Orleans Board of Directors. Adorno was born and raised in New Orleans, graduated from Jesuit High School, and attended UNO, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1980. At UNO, Adorno was a Decennial Honor Scholarship recipient and a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Gamma Sigma. He received a law degree from Loyola University of the South Law School in 1983 and began his professional career at the international CPA and consulting firm Touche Ross & Co., which is now Deloitte & Touche. For the last 20 years, he has been the principal at a firm he founded. He specializes in public accounting and consulting and practices law. He is a member of the Society of Louisiana CPAs, the American Institute of CPAs and the Louisiana Bar Association.

Jacques P. DeGruy (B.A. ‘01) has made partner of Fowler Rodriguez law firm. DeGruy is an active member in several trade organizations, including the Greater New Orleans Barge Fleeting Association, Mariners’ Club and Offshore Marine Service Association, as well as the New Orleans Bar Association and Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel. He is also recognized for speaking at seminars on issues related to maritime law and trial practice. Outside of the office, DeGruy enjoys fishing, traveling, reading and spending time with his wife and two daughters.

Laurie A. Vignaud (B.A. ‘81)

is senior vice president/senior director at Capital One N.A., where she is responsible for community development programs for Capital One Bank in Louisiana and Texas. Based in Houston, Vignaud manages a team of five associates strategically located across Capital One’s south central region. She also serves as president of Capital One’s Community Development Corporation, which provides capital to nonprofit housing developers for the construction of single-family homes sold to low- and moderate-


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Alum Notes income first-time homebuyers. After graduating from UNO with a sociology degree, Vignaud, a New Orleans native, earned a graduate degree in banking from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Active in her community, Vignaud serves on the board of the Houston Area Urban League, the NAACP Texas State Corporate Advisory Board, and the board of the Ensemble Theater.

Marcia S. Mackay (B.A. ‘82)

has been promoted from assistant principal to principal of The Runnels School in Baton Rouge, where she also serves as guidance counselor. An educator for 22 years, Mackay taught science, math and literature and worked as a guidance counselor at schools in and around New Orleans prior to joining Runnels as a sixthgrade science teacher. Mackay holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UNO and a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from Loyola University.

Hudson P. Rogers (M.B.A. ‘82)

has been named provost and vice president for academic affairs at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga. Rogers most recently served as dean of the Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University. In his new post, he serves as chief executive in the absence of the president. His responsibilities will include leadership for all academic affairs units including six colleges, the graduate school, library and information science, the Odum Library, information technology, aerospace studies, international programs, Office of Extended Learning, and the Kings Bay Center. Rogers earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, an M.B.A. from UNO, and a Doctor of Business Administration with a concentration in marketing from the University of Memphis.

Marcus C. Whitener (B.S. ‘83)

was awarded the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s Industry Person of the Year. Whitener has been the chief executive of Refreshment Solutions in New Orleans, the state’s largest vending operator, since 2006. Whitener, who serves on NAMA’s Board of Directors, is also a NAMA-Certified Executive (NCE), a designation awarded to professionals who demonstrate the commitment, knowledge, integrity and leadership characteristics that distinguish them in their fields.

Craig A. Hill (B.S. ‘84, Ph.D. ‘94) unit vice president for survey,

computing, and statistical sciences


at RTI International, has been elected as an officer in the social statistics section of the American Statistical Association, the leading professional association for statistics consisting of academia, government and industry leaders from more than 90 countries. Hill is an expert in survey research with more than 30 years of experience. During the course of his career, Hill has published and presented more than 50 papers related to survey methods, including topics such as hospital ranking methodology, interviewer fraud and new technology for surveys. He holds a doctorate degree and master’s degree in political science from UNO. He lives in Cary, N.C., with his wife, Jeannette, and has two daughters.

Kristi Taglauer (B.S. ‘84), who has

served as general manager of two HRI Lodging hotels, has been named to manage HRIL’s newest property, the Aloft New Orleans Downtown, scheduled to open March 2015 in the historic 225 Baronne Building in the city’s central business district. Kristi is married to Doug Nordruft.

Daniel Lund III (B.A. ‘85) has joined Coats Rose’s New Orleans office as a director in the construction/surety law practice area. A former chairman of the board of directors of the Phi Kappa Sigma Foundation, Lund has been instrumental in the fraternity’s return to UNO campus in the fall of 2014. Lund, who has served as a Methodist minister for two years, lives in New Orleans with his wife, Elizabeth, and three children.

Joey M. Scaffidi (B.S. ‘86, M.A. ‘92) joined Christian Brothers

School as principal in 1998. Under his leadership, Christian Brothers was named a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School in 2005. In 2011, Scaffidi was recognized as an Affiliated Member of the Order for his dedication to the school and the Christian Brothers order. Scaffidi previously worked at Louis King of France as a mathematics teacher, disciplinarian, assistant principal and principal. In 1992, the Metairie Jaycees named him Outstanding Young Educator of the greater New Orleans area. Scaffidi earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics and his master’s degree in educational administration from UNO.

Joseph E. Peychaud (M.S. ‘87)

was elected as Sewerage & Water Board consumer/community advocate. The lifelong resident of New Orleans has more than 48 years of continuous service as a community advocate and

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UNO Donors Maximize Their Support Through GiveNOLA Day This year, more than 90 University of New Orleans friends and alumni generously supported the University through the inaugural GiveNOLA Day. The Greater New Orleans Foundation sponsored the online event, bringing together more than 300 local non-profits and thousands of donors to generate critical support for community needs and make our region a stronger community for all. Of the five universities participating, UNO was the only one representing public higher education. In total, GiveNOLA Day generated over $2 Million for local organizations. The $12,000 raised for UNO through GiveNOLA Day benefited the UNO First annual fund, which provides unrestricted support for student and faculty resources, including scholarships and research. Every dollar donated on GiveNOLA Day was matched by additional “lagniappe” dollars provided by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and GiveNOLA Day sponsors.

Mark your calendars! The next GiveNOLA Day is May 5, 2015. For more information about giving to UNO, please visit activist, educator, facilitator, and public and private sector administrator. Since 2011, he has served as president of St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School (formerly Xavier University Preparatory), where he has overseen all operational components of the school including budget, plant and facilities, development, public relations, staffing, capital projects, parental involvement, and community outreach. He is also president of the Climana Neighborhood

Association. He is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education/liberal arts and UNO with a master’s degree in Urban Studies.

Leon K. Poche (M.S. ‘87) was

named treasurer of the Catholic Foundation of New Orleans board of directors. Poche is chief financial officer of Crescent Bank and Trust.

John Da Silva (B.S. ‘88, M.B.A. ‘90), has published three new ebooks

on Amazon since publishing The Acts of 1 - A Collection of Short Stories in 2012, The Curse; The Hunted; and Rickshaw, New Mexico. Da Silva initially intended for The Curse to take place at UNO. However, the university in the story was celebrating its centennial, so he created the fictional school, Milneburg State University, inspired by the old town and one of the streets leading into the UNO campus. Da Silva made a point to mention UNO in the story. He is an avid reader and began writing stories in 2010. He’s also a fan of drum and bugle corps activity.

Melinda S. Sothern (B.S. ‘89, M.Ed. ‘92, Ph.D. ‘97) was awarded the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center 2014 Allen A. Copping Excellence in Teaching Award. Sothern, a professor of behavioral and community health at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Public Health, was also selected as a distinguished alumna of the Human Performance and Health Promotion Department for the 50th anniversary of UNO College of Education and Human Development.

1990s Hemang A. Desai (M.B.A. ‘90)

has been appointed to the board of directors of the Midland, Texasbased oil and gas firm Parsley Energy. Desai is chair of the accounting department and Robert B. Cullum Professor of Accounting at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His teaching has been recognized with multiple awards in the undergraduate, graduate and executive education programs. Desai is also the recipient of SMU’s Golden Mustang Outstanding Faculty Award, which honors faculty members for excellence in both scholarship and teaching. Desai’s recent research examines issues related to quality of earnings and the behavior of short sellers. His articles have been published in top academic and practitioner journals, including The Journal of Finance, The Journal of Financial Economics, The Accounting Review, The Journal of Business and Financial Analysts Journal. His writings have also been the subject of columns in a range of leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and The New York Times. Desai holds a master’s degree in business administration from UNO and a doctor of philosophy from Tulane University.

Michael L. McConnell (B.S. ‘91; M.B.A. ‘96) was appointed Clerk

of Court of Middle District for the downtown Baton Rouge-based federal court. McConnell took the oath of office on June 23. As clerk of court, he works closely with U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Louisiana, to meet administrative needs by managing staff, case loads and records, among other tasks. He is also responsible for communication between the court and government agencies, the media, bar groups and the public. McConnell joined the Middle District in January 2010 as the director of automation and technology. Before that, he worked in the same capacity in the federal court’s Western District. His career also includes working for Lockheed-Martin on the space shuttle’s external tank project for 13 years and spending 14 years in health care. He attended UNO, graduating with both an M.B.A. and a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Maria R. Orgeron (B.A. ‘91)

oversees Property One’s portfolio of third-party commercial assets. She has more than 12 years of experience in commercial property management and previously worked with Sizeler Real Estate Management Inc. and Hertz Investment Group, handling the operations and management of commercial office buildings and retail centers. Orgeron is a member of the Institute of Real Estate Management and a Certified Property Manager.

Paul A. Salles (M.B.A. ‘91) serves

as the president and chief executive officer of the Louisiana Hospital Association (LHA) and CEO of the Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans (MHCNO). He joined the LHA in July 2003 as the vice president of healthcare reimbursement policy. Over the past 10 years, he has directed the development of healthcare policy and reimbursement initiatives on behalf of hospitals in Louisiana and has overseen various political activities with state and national policymakers. In his role, Salles also serves as the managing partner of ShareCor, a shared services company owned by the LHA and MHCNO. He has more than 23 years of experience in integrated system finance, analysis, operations and strategic business planning. Salles holds an M.B.A. degree in Finance from UNO and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss. He also serves on the board of directors for The Blood Center of Greater New

Orleans and as an adjunct professor at LSU and UNO, where he teaches healthcare finance and operations in each university’s graduate business school program.

of O. Perry Walker High School and has a bachelor’s of science in civil engineering from UNO. He owns a home in Gretna.

John D. Barbry (M.A. ‘94) has been

recently learned his newest novel, The Orenda, won CBC’s Canada Reads 2014 competition. The Ontarioborn award-winning author now lives in New Orleans with wife, the novelist and trapeze artist Amanda Boyden (M.F.A. ‘95), but as any reader of his acclaimed novels can tell, he’s still passionate about the endangered Canadian wilderness and the heritage and culture of Canada’s First Nations.

appointed to lead the Tunica-Biloxi Language & Culture Revitalization Program. Barbry serves as the tribe’s development and programming director. In these roles, he is responsible for developing education programs and coordinates the tribe’s ongoing fundraising initiatives. Barbry earned a master’s degree in history from UNO. He assisted with cataloging the “Tunica Treasure,” which was returned to the tribe after being stored in the Old U.S. Mint-Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans. Barbry also served as research supervisor in the manuscripts division at the Historic New Orleans Collection. He was the first Native American archivist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, appointed in 1993. For the past 20 years, Barbry has been working in casino marketing and management in California and Louisiana. He has served on the board of directors for Le Theatre Des Bon Temps in Marksville and the Native American Village Advisory Board for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Barbry has served as chairman of the TunicaBiloxi Pow Wow Committee since 1995 and has participated in tribal youth activities in connection with the Tunica Language Revitalization Project.

John R. Monzon (B.S. Civil Engineering ‘94) is operations

division chief for the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, a governmental authority established in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, was unanimously selected from eight applicants as regional director of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West. The post makes him responsible for 100 miles of levees, floodwalls and floodgates in West Jefferson and Algiers and a $7.1 million budget. An engineer with 20 years of experience, Monzon was charged with construction oversight and technical review of metro New Orleans’ $14.5 billion hurricane protection system. His CPRA duties included serving as liaison with levee districts around the state for emergency response and levee accreditation. In addition, he inspects coastal restoration projects. An Algiers native, Monzon spent 14 years with the state Department of Transportation and Development as a design engineer. He is a graduate

Joseph Boyden (M.F.A. ‘95)

This year, Boyden has taken on more active role, financially and as a spokesperson, in supporting a camp located in the wilderness that figures into much of his writings. Camp Onakawana, intended as the first of a series camps across Canada, provides aboriginal and inner-city kids an opportunity to build self-reliance and confidence by learning the traditional practices that will reconnect them to the land, for example, how to smoke and tan a moose hide, catch a fish, sew and bead moccasins and make hand drums.

Nancy C. Montz (B.S. ‘95), a

physician, has joined Memorial Physician Clinic in Biloxi, Miss., in the practice of internal medicine. Montz holds an undergraduate degree from UNO and earned her medical doctorate from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine in New Orleans. She completed her residency in internal medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center and is boardcertified in internal medicine.

Myles Seghers (Ph.D. ‘95) was

named principal of De La Salle High School of New Orleans, where he graduated in 1965. The former dean of Our Lady of Holy Cross College School of Education has more than 40 years of experience in education. He served as administrator at Archbishop Rummel High School for 20 years before joining the Archdiocese of New Orleans as associate superintendent for Catholic Schools. Seghers then served the Archdiocese for 20 years; in the process, he moved up to the positions of executive assistant to the superintendent and associate superintendent for the Office of Catholic Schools, which held responsibility for schools serving 50,000 students in Louisiana. Seghers holds a doctorate degree, with a research emphasis on teacher performance, from UNO.

Emile Tujague (B.S. ‘95) was

named Louisiana’s Health & Fitness Magazine’s Fit Over 40. Tujague overcame significant physical adversity in his childhood to turn


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Alum Notes fitness into an integral part of his life as a teenager and as an adult. This summer, Tujague opened his own personal training studio, SMX Personal Training, after almost 18 years as co-owner of One to One Personal Training and Clinical Exercise Facility. An avid fisherman when time allows, Tujague lives in the Kenner area with his wife, Natalie, and their seven-year-old twins, Bryce and Chloe.

Norman M. Satterthwaite (M.B.A. ‘95) was appointed

member to the boards of directors of Porter Bancorp, Inc. and PBI Bank, Inc. Satterthwaite is vice president, director of sales operations, North America, for Brown-Forman Corporation, a diversified producer of fine-quality consumer products that is among the top 10 largest spirit and wine companies in the world. Satterthwaite has held a variety of positions across sales and

marketing since joining the company in 1988. Within the beverage industry, he serves as vice chairman of the National Alcohol Beverage Association Industry Advisory Committee. He recently completed a term on the board of directors of the alumni association of his undergraduate alma mater, Western Kentucky University. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration from UNO. Satterthwaite was recently elected as an elder for Springdale Presbyterian Church and has served on the board of directors of Discover Downtown La Grange.

Joe Russo (M.A. ‘96) has been

putting his UNO film degree to good use for over two decades. The native Louisianian has been an executive producer at the award-winning Arclight Productions in Los Angeles since 2012. His latest documentary, “Country: Portraits of an American Sound,” screened at the Annenberg

Space for Photography in Los Angeles. Russo’s next project recently brought him back to Louisiana. The yet-to-be-named production focuses on resilience and rethinking in the architecture and design of our communities in the time of rising seas and will premiere at the Annenberg Space for Photography at the end of the year.

Kiki B. Barnes (B.G.S. ‘97) was

named 2013-14 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Athletics Director of the Year. Barnes recently completed her eighth year as athletic director at Dillard University, and currently serves as GCAC president. Barnes is a repeat awardee having first won the award in 2010-11. As president of the GCAC, she took the lead in the hiring of a new commissioner. Some of Barnes’ notable achievements at Dillard in the past year include: renovating the athletics weight room; getting student-athletes to create a “Live 5” hand gesture featured at 2014 NAIA National Convention; receiving the University’s receiving Five Star Champions of Character Award for the sixth year in a row, as well as receiving conference student of character awards and a conference coach of character award; Dillard University Men’s Track were the 2014 GCAC Champions and the Women’s Track and Cross Teams were both 2014 GCAC first runners up. Barnes who is close to finishing her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from UNO was also named to The Gambit’s “Top 40 under 40” list of New Orleans young professionals who are making a difference in the community.

Mike R. Wood (B.S. ‘98, M.B.A. ‘04) Mike Wood has earned the Project Management Professional Designation, an industryrecognized certification. Mike Wood joined Elliott Bay Design Group, a provider of architectural and

engineering services to the marine industry, in May 2012 and has more than 13 years of experience in both shipyard production engineering and design. Wood earned his bachelor’s degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from UNO and is a registered professional engineer.

2000s Anais P. St. John (M.M. ‘00)

achieved one of her goals making her musical debut at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2014. The cabaret-style performer, who grew up singing in her church choir and went on to study opera and musical performance at Xavier University and UNO, started out as a cocktail waitress occasionally sitting in on jazz trios in the city’s lounges, singing songs like “The Newness of You” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” St. John, 40, whose career includes the city’s theatre scene and years-long gigs at some of its finest hotels, has performed at New Orleans’ French Quarter Festival for years and international festivals. Her father, the late Marion Brown, was a jazz alto saxophonist who was a member of the 1960s avant-garde jazz scene in New York City, playing alongside musicians such as John Coltrane, Archie Shepp and John Tchicai. Brown performed on Coltrane’s landmark 1965 album, “Ascension.”

Douglas A. Rieth (B.S. ‘01) was

honored as Employee of the Year by SMB Offshore where he works as an installation engineer. The Thibodeaux native lives in Houston.

Terry L. Sullivan (B.S. ‘01)

is a certified financial planner with Raymond James Financial where he’s worked since 1998. A past president of the New Orleans Chapter of the Financial Planning Association, he has spoken numerous times at Money Watch Live, an annual educational symposium on various financial, tax

Newell Normand (B.A. ’88). Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell D. Normand was named the University of New Orleans 2014 Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. He received the award in early November at a reception in the Arbor Room at Popp Fountain in New Orleans City Park. Normand received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNO in 1988.

After completing his studies at UNO, Normand earned a law degree from Tulane University and graduated from the FBI National Academy and the FBI National Executive Institute.

The two-term sheriff of Jefferson Parish was first elected in 2007 with 91 percent of the vote and re-elected in 2011 with 92 percent of the vote. In his 34 years with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, Normand has served in a number of command positions including chief criminal deputy, comptroller and chief of the Louis Armstrong International Airport Law Enforcement Detachment. He started his law enforcement career with the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office.

Presented annually by the UNO International Alumni Association, the Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumni Award honors alumni whose accomplishments distinguish themselves in their fields, reflecting credit upon UNO and on alumni who have contributed significant service to their communities and to UNO. Previous honorees include Judge Jay Zainey, Peggy Scott and Errol Laborde, Kim Bondy, Clancy DuBos, Gary Solomon and Jim Clark.



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He has served on the boards of a number of organizations including the East Jefferson General Hospital Foundation and the Fore!Kids Foundation.

and estate planning topics. Sullivan, who is based in Metairie, has also delivered continuing education talks to professional associations including the National Association of Financial Service Professionals and the American Society of Women’s Accountants.

English at Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma. She stopped teaching in 2011 to become a full-time writer. Cheramie is writing a short companion novella for the series, as well as editing the second book. But she said she’s not certain how the series will end.

John T. Lair (M.S. ‘02) has joined

Bryan A. Brown (M.B.A. ‘05) is

Elliott Bay Design Group as a marine engineer. Lair has more than 34 years of experience in the engineering and design industry. Prior to joining Elliott Bay, he worked as a Level III engineer for Huntington Ingalls Industries. Lair earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Auburn University and his master’s degree in civil engineering from UNO.

Samuel “Corbett” Simons (M.A. ‘02) has served since July

2012 as director of managed services at Bellwether Technology Corp. where he oversees the engineering team. Simons joined the tech sector after a decade working in education — most recently as middle and upper school principal at Metairie Park Country Day School. Simons is a veteran member of the famed New Orleans men’s dance troupe the 610 Stompers.

Ana J. Zorrilla (M.A. ‘02) was

named to the 2014 Role Model Class, a list of 25 business, community and civic leaders, by the Young Leadership Council. Zorrilla is the chief executive officer of the Louisiana SPCA. Through her tenure, Zorrilla has attended the Executive Certification Program in Nonprofit Leadership at the Center for Nonprofit Leadership of George Washington University. She led the organization through Hurricane Gustav and the first evacuation of companion animals from an American city. Zorrilla serves on the board of directors of New Orleans Outreach and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. She has received accolades within her community as a recipient of New Orleans Magazine’s “People to Watch 2008” and as one of 50 honorees for New Orleans’ City Business’ Women of the Year 2009.

Jessica D. Cheramie (B.S. ‘05) self-published her

first novel, Secrets of the Truth (Meridienne Drake Series), in her planned fantasy series and has now secured a book deal with Tate Publishing, which brought her novel to a national audience. The novel tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who discovers a secret world filled with dragons and fairies where she has magical powers. The 31-year-old from Houma began writing the series in 2008. After facing a personal tragedy, she stopped writing for a few years and began teaching

senior vice president and tuition lending manager at First Bank and Trust. He provided families with financing options for kindergarten through 12th grade education. Before heading this department, he was a commercial lender at First Bank, managing a $50 million portfolio. Brown has partnered and developed relationships with more than 100 schools and continues to prospect additional partnerships. Brown attended Tulane University, where he played baseball for three year and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology before completing his M.B.A. at UNO.

Andrea I. Chen (M.Ed. ‘06) was

James Roe (M.F.A. ‘13) in May was one of 41 finalists in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 41st Student Academy Awards. He is the only honoree from a Louisiana university and the first person in UNO’s history to be named a finalist. Past Student Academy Award winners — including Spike Lee, John Lasseter and Robert Zemeckis — have gone on to receive 46 Oscar nominations and win or share eight awards. The 2014 finalists represented 23 American colleges and universities as well as 10 foreign universities.

recently honored with a Millenial Award for New Orleanians making a difference. Chen, who is executive director of the business incubator Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, arrived in New Orleans in 2004 as a Teach for America instructor at John McDonogh Sr. High School after graduating from Stanford University. Chen then oversaw grantmaking and launched a low-interest bridge fund at the Louisiana Association of Charter Schools. She has received numerous awards since arriving in was named “40 Under 40” by The Gambit, 2010 New Orleans CityBusiness “Women of the Year,” World Economic Forum Young Global Shaper, and is an appointed board member of the New Orleans Business Alliance, the official economic development arm of the City of New Orleans.

Bivian “Sonny” L. Lee III (B.S. ‘06) received the 2013 FBI Director’s

Alessandra S. Jerolleman (M.P.A. ‘06, Ph.D.‘13 ) was awarded the

Brandon Rizzuto (B.A. ‘06) was

College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumni Award at the college’s spring 2014 convocation. Jerolleman serves as a senior emergency management and hazard mitigation planner for JEO Consulting Group. Inc., headquartered in Lincoln, Neb., and is the founder and executive director of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association. She has been sought out by a wide variety of organizations, including the U.S. Congress, for her experience, which includes working with Save the Children USA on a resilience initiative around children’s needs; hazards mitigation planning at the local, state and campus level; and communication education and outreach on the subjects of mitigation and preparedness.

Roe, who earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from UNO in December 2013, was one of nine finalists in the narrative category for his paranormal thriller “AM800.” While he did not win the grand prize, he was “humbled to be nominated,” Roe says. “Regardless of what happens next, I think it’s a true honor to be on a short list with so many talented artists and great films.”

Community Leadership Award at a ceremony at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The award recognized Lee’s leadership and outstanding contributions to the New Orleans community through service. Lee is the founder/president of the national award-winning nonprofit Son of a Saint, where the mission is to enhance the lives of fatherless young boys and inspire mentorship nationally. recently hired by the New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League to be the team’s general manager and shareholder. This will be Rizzuto’s second stint with the VooDoo; he previously served two years with the franchise as its vice president. Rizzuto, a Metairie native, most recently worked for UNO athletics as the assistant athletics director for external relations.

Carl J. Fangue (M.S. ‘07) serves

as vice president of operations and strategic development for the contemporary technology solutions firm Cimation’s western region. As vice president, he is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operational activities and promoting business development initiatives in the growing

western market, including oversight of the New Orleans, Denver and Calgary regional offices. In his 10 years in the technology industry, Fangue has worked at Energy Partners and ConEdison Solutions as an information technology specialist and project engineer, respectively, gaining experience on a wide variety of complex energy projects. Fangue joined Cimation in 2009 and has grown at a dynamic pace within the organization, serving as both project manager and director of operations in the New Orleans office. He holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from UNO.

Ryan C. Ray (B.A. ‘08) started

a new position as a digital media account executive at Q1Media and relocated from New Orleans to Austin, Texas, with his fiancée, Lainey Rae Parria, and son, Liam.

James C. Adams (B.S. ‘08, B.S. ‘10), who goes by “Chris,”

married Lyndsey “Paige” Smith in May in Montego Bay, Jamaica. He holds bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and business administration from UNO and was an All-American baseball player


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Alum Notes for the Privateers. The bride holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Loyola University New Orleans and a Master’s of Science degree in Psychology from University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Paige and Chris reside in Pearl, Miss. where she will work as a therapist for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and he is employed as an electrical engineer with Entergy.

Gregory R. Barker (M.S. ‘08) was

recently named vice president of operations of Touro Infirmary. He manages a variety of areas, including: purchasing, security, environmental services, laundry services, materials management, dietary and other ancillary patient service departments. Prior to joining Touro, in his 20-plus year career, Barker has worked for both for-profit and nonprofit hospitals. He has also worked for UnitedHealthcare and served as a consultant for Reden & Anders, a UnitedHealth subsidiary. Most recently, he worked for Tenet Healthcare in North Carolina. Barker’s experience includes serving as director of business development and assistant administrator, where he held responsibility for service line

planning, physician recruitment and relationships, program development, operations and regulatory activities. Barker earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Alabama, a M.B.A. from the University of Mobile and a Master’s degree in Health Care Management from UNO. He served in the United States Coast Guard as a reservist.

Andrea D. Williams (B.S. ‘08, M.S. ‘10) has assumed the post of

athletic director at Ursuline Academy. Williams joined Ursuline Academy as basketball coach and physical education teacher after serving as assistant basketball coach at UNO. She holds a master’s degree in healthcare management and a bachelor’s degree in human performance and health promotion with a concentration in sports management.

Stewart M. Krane (M.S. ‘09)

was honored by the 2014 Millennial Awards as the Harrah’s Outstanding Millennial in Hospitality. Krane became sales manager for the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in December after nearly three years serving as volunteer manager for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.

Denise Rehm (M.Ed. ’02). In July, the Louisiana Department of Education named Denise Rehm, principal of Joshua Butler Elementary School in Westwego, 2015 Principal of the Year. Rehm, who received a Master’s degree in Education Administration from UNO in 2002, is a graduate of the UNO College of Education and Human Development. She was nominated for the honor by Jefferson Parish Public Schools and selected from among 15 finalists. Rehm, who earned accolades last year for elevating Joshua Butler Elementary School from a “D” school in 2012 to a “B” level, has been the principal at Butler since 2009; she also served as the school’s assistant principal for two years prior to her appointment as principal. She received the honor at the Eighth Annual Cecil J. Picard Excellence Symposium in Baton Rouge; the event is named for the former teacher and state legislator who was state education superintendent from 1996 until his death in 2007. Another UNO alumnus Justin Burkhardt, who is currently a Master of Education student in the University’s educational leadership program, was named Middle School Teacher of the Year. Burkhardt is a teacher at Andrew Jackson Middle School in Chalmette. He was nominated by St. Bernard Parish School system. UNO has a long history of providing outstanding educational leadership throughout the region. In 2014 UNO alumni took the state titles for both “Principal of the Year” and “Teacher of the Year.”



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2010s Ashlyn M. (Falgout) Mehlhaff (B.S. ‘10) married Taylor Mehlhaff

of Aberdeen, S.D., at Ormond Plantation in New Orleans. The bride, who graduated from UNO with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Business Administration, now works as a major gifts officer for the United Way of Allegheny County.

Andrew D. Bryan (M.F.A. ‘11)

took top prize for his short film “The Wand” at its premiere in the New Orleans 48-Hour Film Project’s film festival last year. The 48-Hour Film Project gives filmmakers from 120 cities around the world just 48 hours to write, direct, shoot, edit and score a film with the chance to compete during the Project’s Film Festival. Bryan, who graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film from UNO, wrote and directed “The Wand,” starring his daughter, Adriana, and wife, Chelsea, with the help of editor Mark Twain Williams and art director Wendy Granger, who are both UNO graduate students. In addition to Best Film and Audience awards, “The Wand” received awards for Best Actress (for Adriana Bryan); Best Directing; Best Editing; Best Sound Design; Best Use of Props; and Best Use of Dialogue. The film has since screened at both the New Orleans Film Festival and Filmapalooza. The Bryan family’s next film, “Angel of Joy,” starring both Chelsea and Adriana Bryan, premiered in the Louisiana Film Prize Festival in Shreveport in October.

Andrew A. Dinett (B.S. ‘11)

married Katie Cristina on Aug. 16. Dinett has been a real estate agent with Keller Williams Premier Partners since October 2013 after selling General Meyer Car Wash, the business he founded in 2005.

Erin M. Doucette (B.S. ‘11) has

been promoted to the position of account manager at The Ehrhardt Group, specializing in media relations and community engagement for a range of entertainment and hospitality clients statewide. Doucette has represented clients including Broadway Across America, Harrah’s New Orleans, Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar as well as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, Nuclear Cowboyz and Disney On Ice. While earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing from UNO, Doucette served as an intern at The Ehrhardt Group, where she contributed to a

number of public relations initiatives. A native of New Orleans, she is an active member of the Press Club of New Orleans and enjoys using her work experience to enhance the culture and community of her hometown.

Jessica A. Dwyer (Ph.D. ‘12) is

entering her 15th year in education as principal of Holy Name of Jesus School in New Orleans. Dwyer began her career in education in the Memphis, Tenn., school system as an elementary school teacher. She earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Bethel University in McKenzie, Tenn., then returned home to New Orleans to join the faculty of Stuart Hall School for Boys for eight years. She earned a second master’s degree in educational leadership and started working on her doctorate in educational administration at UNO. She was accepted as a fellow of the School Leadership Center of Greater New Orleans. Dwyer has presented at several conferences on the topic of fostering a love of reading in boys.

Kathleen A. Moore (B.A. ‘12) grew

up listening to her father play classical guitar, her mother play rhythm-andblues records, her older sister play sax and her uncle, Deacon John, and his band, the Ivories, play their acclaimed R&B. So it’s no wonder she has a passion for music and has made a career of it. Moore balances her position as choir director at Mater Dolorosa and cantor at Sunday Mass with gigs around town with her famous uncle and the Ivories. She rehearses regularly with two ensembles and plays in Live Wire Brass Band. And she finds time to keep up her voice lessons to keep her on track toward achieving her dream of singing with a trio in an elegant hotel.

Race A. Hodges (M.U.R.P. ‘14)

was one of only 14 nationwide recipients of a 2014 Literacy Grant from Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. The grant, earned for “Preparing for Storms in Louisiana,” work conducted while Hodges was a University of New Orleans graduate research assistant, will be used to support his program, a collaborative effort between UNO’s Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART) and local literacy organizations to create a unique storm preparedness reading curriculum for adult learners.

Ashleigh Willis Class of 2015 Chemistry Major UNO Ambassador

Charter Member of Alpha Lambda Delta Proud Privateer Hometown: Petersburg, Virginia

“I chose UNO because it was affordable, but I stayed because it was a diverse and interesting place where I could learn about different cultures. When I learned that I had been awarded the Jim and Sonia Miller Scholarship in Chemistry, I was thrilled and relieved. Without it, paying for books while working only 16-18 hours a week as a student worker would have been difficult.

Your gifts really do make a difference! Will you make a gift to improve the student experience and inspire future alumni to give back?


Receiving the Virginia Rosanne Amato Memorial Scholarship was an unexpectedly personal experience. When I learned about Virginia and the way she lived life to the fullest, it inspired me. I think about my life differently now; she didn’t hold back and neither will I. One day, I will run a pediatric medical clinic and I will be a UNO donor. Donor support is really important! I realize that when people give back, it makes our education so much better. Alumni and donor support makes me proud and inspires me to give back to my University.”

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID New Orleans, LA Permit No. 759

The University of New Orleans Nekton Research Laboratory has been awarded an 18-month $200,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to improve a device used aboard shrimp boats intended to protect sea turtles. In collaboration with NOAA Fisheries, Coastal Communities Consulting, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, and the Louisiana commercial shrimp industry, UNO researchers will work on enhancing the design, testing and implementation of the turtle excluder device on skimmer trawl vessels. The turtle excluder device is a specialized device that allows a captured sea turtle to escape when caught in a net. The goal of the project is to refine the device so that it satisfies both the shrimping community and conservationists, as well as provide better education to local skimmer trawl fishermen about the proper way to install and use the device.

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