11/14/2018
ULS NEWS ARTICLES

Today's News

University of Louisiana System

27 2018-05-15
New Orleans

Crawfish Mambo 2018 winners named: Biggest eaters, best mudbugs


By Ann Maloney
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Forty-five teams of crawfish boilers converged on the University of New Orleans campus on Saturday (May 12) for the seventh annual Crawfish Mambo, which is hosted by the UNO International Alumni Association.

Attendees could dig into all-you-can-eat crawfish prepared by the teams, who competed for a $1,000 prize and the "Best of Boil" title.

This year, the winners of the "Best of Boil" competition were:

First place: Boilers Cast Net
Second place: OutLaw Cookers
Third place: Faux Pas Boiling Team
The "Best Sides" Award went to the Faux Pas Boiling Team for its snow crab and soft-shell crabs added to the hot, boiled (and award-winning) crawfish.

Also, 10 contestants from across the United States competed for the "Peel N' Eat Crawfish Competition." They had to eat as many crawfish as they could in 10 minutes to win $1,000 in prize money. The winners were:

First place: Russell Callis from Marrero, who won the competition in 2016.
Second place: Hunter McGregor from Metairie
Third place: Christina Handy from Metairie, who won in 2017.
Fourth place: John Stube from Parrott Island, Florida
Two other annual awards also were given at this year's Crawfish Mambo. They were "Crowd Favorite," which went to Geaux Creole for the fourth year in a row; and "Best Decorated Booth" Welcome to the Jungle
Crawfish Mambo raises money for the professional development programs at the University of New Orleans.
27 2018-05-15
New Orleans

Photos: UNO graduates walk the stage at 2018 Spring Commencement



27 2018-05-14
Baton Rouge

Short film created by SU alumnus to premiere at Cannes Film Festival


BATON ROUGE - A Southern University alumnus is headed to one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, thanks to his acclaimed new short film.

"I feel like there's always a story that's missed," Langston Williams, the writer and director of "Stay Woke" said.

Williams earned his bachelor's degree from Southern Univesrity, and graduated with a master's from the University of New Orleans. While at UNO, Williams said he had plans to create a horror film, but that plan was quickly scrapped.

"In the event that 'Stay Woke' or my thesis film would end up being the last film I ever made, would I want this horror film to be my calling card that I carry around, that I carried around with me for the rest of my life, or would I rather bring some other piece that has a little more meaning?" Williams said.

Williams wrote, directed, and edited the short film. It follows the story of a young man, a police officer, and a politician, telling a story that's often missed.

"I tried to capture this story that falls between the cracks," Williams said, "and that's the story of the gray zone, and that's the story of what really happens.

"Stay Woke" was selected to premiere at more than 30 film festivals, including the Cannes International Film Festival in France.

"Cannes is the biggest and most prestigious film festival in the world," Williams said, "and the ironic thing is it was the very first festival I heard back from out of all the festivals I submitted to.

"Stay Woke" will run at Cannes on May 17. Louisiana viewers have a chance to see the short film at UNO on May 13 at 5 p.m.
27 2017-08-17
New Orleans

Crescent City College Notes for Aug. 16, 2017


LOYOLA FOOD STUDIES: A new, interdisciplinary food studies program is beginning this fall in the Loyola University New Orleans' College of Arts and Sciences. The major will center on food policy, commerce and culture, combining interdisciplinary food studies courses with classes from history, sociology, the natural sciences, environmental studies and other fields. Daniel Mintz is director of the new program. It also will explore access to food as an urgent justice issue.

UNO SCHOLARSHIPS: A $600,000 bequest from University of New Orleans alumna Margaret Boudreaux Soniat will benefit student scholarships at her alma mater. Soniat, who passed away in 2013, earned two degrees from UNO. The gift has prompted the university to announce that it has a new goal to raise $5 million by the end of 2017. Soniat graduated from the UNO College of Business Administration with a bachelor's degree in 1967 and an MBA in 1971. She retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she was a budget analyst.
27 2017-06-29
New Orleans

Crescent City College Notes for June 28, 2017


UNO ENGINEERING: Damon Smith, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of New Orleans, has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents to research ways to improve and expand the use of 3-D printed products. He will use the funding to explore additives for the raw material used in the most widely adopted form of 3-D printing. The ultimate goal is to improve the mechanical and optical properties of these products, which would result in wider range of applications for their use.


27 2017-05-22
Associated Press

UNO's Production Wins 8 Awards


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Theatre UNO's production of "The Aliens" has received eight national awards at the 49th annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

"The Aliens," a drama centered around a high school dropout and a college dropout loitering behind a Vermont coffee shop, garnered the highest level of national recognition in five categories, including outstanding production of a play and outstanding ensemble.

Graduate student Kristin Shoffner received an outstanding director award, actor Cooper Bucha received an outstanding performance award and guest artist Asher Griffin received an award for outstanding achievement in sound design. The festival also recognized faculty members Kevin Griffith, Anthony French and Diane K. Baas.

Festival organizers awarded Shoffner and Bucha an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. to represent UNO at the festival, which was held last month.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
27 2017-05-03
New Orleans

Scalise says GOP bill protects people with pre-existing illnesses; UNO economist weighs in


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -
Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said Tuesday that the GOP’s proposal for replacing former President Obama’s signature law, the Affordable Care Act, would not abandon Americans with ongoing medical conditions.

"Our bill protects people with pre-existing conditions, and it actually provides multiple layers of protection for people with pre-existing conditions in ways that Obamacare doesn't do,” said Scalise, R-Metairie.

President Donald Trump has said that the law is on life support and will collapse under its own weight.

"Republicans are complaining that Obamacare is broken because the premiums are going up. The premiums are going up for one reason and that's the pre-existing conditions,” said Dr. Walter Lane, a University of New Orleans health care economist.

Under the GOP’s proposal, states would be allowed to get permission from the federal government for insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing illnesses higher premiums. Having continuous health coverage is a big part of the equation.

"Even if that state requests a waiver and gets a waiver, a continuous coverage is still the law of the land and can't be waived for people with pre-existing conditions. On top of that, in the state's waiver they actually have to lay out how they're going to protect people with pre-existing conditions, and they have to show that they have a high risk pool to protect people with pre-existing conditionss, so all of those layers are in place to protect people with pre-existing conditions in our bill which focuses on reducing costs while protecting people with pre-existing conditions,” said Scalise.

"They're saying if you get insurance while you're healthy, you keep continuous coverage, then if you get a condition then we can't raise the premium, but if you drop coverage then you could still get insurance, but we could put you into high-risk pools in which you might pay higher premiums, at least for the first use,” Dr. Lane said.

Under the ACA, insurance companies cannot discriminate against people with existing illnesses and there is a mandate that most Americans have coverage or face a tax penalty.

Dr. Lane thinks the GOP’s “continuous coverage” idea might serve as a better carrot to people reluctant to obey the present law and buy coverage.

"This idea of, well, if you get sick you have to buy in at a higher price, the sick people price, then that threat is to try to get them in. Will that work or not is unclear. The individual mandate didn't work very well, obviously that's why we're having some problems,” said Lane.

And Dr. Lane said before the Affordable Care Act, people who developed serious medical conditions and then tried to shop for insurance for just out of luck.

“No, no. These people just got sick and they died,” he said.

A spokesman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, which dominates the individual market in the state, issued a statement:

"It is premature to comment on shifting proposals that may or may not be enacted and signed into law. We will stay engaged with our Congressional representatives and others as the healthcare debate progresses so that we can best advocate for our customers. What's important now and in the future that we all act to improve the individual marketplace so people can maintain coverage and get the care they need at a price they afford."

Jeff Drozda, of the Louisiana Association of Health Plans, said they did not have a comment at this time.

Dr. Lane said bringing down premiums is tied to enlarging the pool of insured people with more that are healthy.

"The people that came in with pre-existing conditions were sicker than they thought they were, and they were getting much more expensive healthcare than we thought they were. That's exactly the problem that's breaking the market, it's that issue and I don't see that the Republicans have a solution to that."
27 2017-04-17
New Orleans

University of New Orleans unlikely to cover TOPS shortfall starting July 1


When Louisiana's popular TOPS college scholarships were cut last year, the University of New Orleans and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches reworked funding so that their students would not be shortchanged in current academic session. But there is no guarantee they will be able to do the same for TOPS students in the 2017-18 academic year starting July 1.

In fact, school officials said, TOPS students at UNO and Northwestern probably face the same cut as those attending other schools if the Legislature doesn't fully fund the program. "Likely, it is not something that can be done next year," said Jim Henderson, president of the University of Louisiana system, which includes UNO and Northwestern State. "That's not something that could continue. It was an anomaly because it was one year."

Unlike Louisiana State University, UNO and Northwestern were able to cover a cut to TOPS scholarships in the current year because they have a high number of low-income students who receive federal Pell Grants and fewer TOPS students. The schools essentially ensured that all students who were eligible for Pell grants were claiming that and other federal funding for college students. This strategy gave UNO and Northwestern the flexibility to absorb the tuition bills for TOPS students this spring.

UNO will cover its TOPS students' tuition this spring
UNO will cover its TOPS students' tuition this spring
TOPS recipients at many Louisiana universities will have to cover 58 percent of their tuition bills in the spring -- though not at UNO.

That meant that UNO and Northwestern TOPS students did not have to come up with money for 60 percent of their spring semester tuition, as did their counterparts at LSU. LSU didn't have enough low-income students to use federal funding to make up for TOPS losses in the spring semester.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and legislators did not allocate enough money or raise enough taxes to fund the TOPS program fully in 2016-17. That meant schools received only about two thirds of the state funding they needed to cover tuition for 51,000 TOPS recipients.


UNO said the school would do everything possible again to fund TOPS fully if the Legislature doesn't allocate enough money for the program. The Edwards administration has said taxes would likely have to increase to fund the program fully.

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"We don't how what percentage of TOPS will be funded. If there is a TOPS shortfall again, it will be challenging for us to cover the gap for the second straight year," UNO spokesman Adam Norris said Wednesday (April 12). "However we will explore every opportunity to try to mitigate the burden on our students."

TOPS goes to high-income students more now
TOPS goes to high-income students more now
About 20 percent of TOPS funding goes to families earning $150,000 or more annually.

. . . . . . .

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described how UNO shifted money to cover the TOPS scholarship shortfall in 2016-17.


27 2017-04-13
New Orleans

High school students explore science and engineering of baseball at UNO


Approximately 70 high school students visited the University of New Orleans Saturday, April 8, when they heard from Privateer baseball players about basic science and engineering principles and then saw those principles put into action during an intercollegiate game. The high school students are participants in Upward Bound, a federally funded college prep program run by UNO, and Saturday’s event was the first edition of UNO’s Inside Sports program, which is designed to give high school students a better appreciation of science and engineering concepts that play an important role in sports.

Inside Sports is presented by UNO’s Office of Research, College of Sciences and College of Engineering. Saturday’s program focused on baseball and probed concepts such as kinetic energy, motion and how the materials of the bat and ball affect how they behave in a game.

Students spent the first 90 minutes of their visit in UNO classrooms where Matt Tarr, UNO’s vice president for research and economic development, welcomed them and delivered an overview of the basic concepts. Students heard from members of the Privateers baseball team about how these concepts factor into their experiences on the field.


via University of New Orleans
Breaking out into smaller groups, high schoolers participated in an exercise with the help of undergraduate students from UNO science and engineering programs that allowed them to calculate their own reaction time. In this demonstration, the college student dropped a ruler that was caught by the high schooler. The measurement on the ruler where it was caught was used to calculate response time based on a chart provided for reference. A student who pinches the falling ruler at the 5 centimeter mark has a reaction time of 100 milliseconds. Pinching at 10 centimeters indicates a 140 millisecond response time, and so forth. Average reaction time is between 150-300 milliseconds.

“When your eyes see an incoming signal such as a baseball, your brain needs to first process what’s happening. It takes a fraction of a second for you to recognize the signal and respond,” explained Karen Thomas, associate dean of STEM outreach, recruitment and retention in UNO’s College of Sciences.

“During that time, your brain receives information from your senses, identifies a possible source and allows you to take action. This action-packed fraction of a second is called your reaction time,” Thomas said. “When your eye sees the ruler falling, information travels from sensory cells called neurons from the eye to the brain’s visual cortex, an area devoted to understanding what you see. Next, the motor cortex—the part of the brain that directs movement—has to send signals along your spinal cord and to your arm, hand and finger muscles, telling them to respond in the proper sequence to catch the ruler—quick! That’s a lot happening in less than half a second—and a pretty amazing feat!”


via University of New Orleans
According to Thomas, the activity relies on the laws of physics to demonstrate the brain’s reaction time. Gravity pulls all objects toward Earth’s center at the same speed. For example, if a tennis ball and a basketball are dropped from the same height, they should both hit the ground at the same time. The same calculation applies to the ruler in the demonstration, which is how we can be certain of how fast the ruler falls.

After break-out sessions, visitors enjoyed a lunch break in the University Center and then attended UNO’s home baseball game against Lamar University at Maestri Field at First NBC Ballpark.


27 2017-04-11
New Orleans

UNO event to teach high schoolers how science, sport converge on baseball diamond


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — High school students aiming to go to college are learning the science behind fastballs and home runs.

On Saturday, about 80 students involved in Upward Bound will be at the University of New Orleans to learn from UNO baseball players and students about how science and engineering affect the game.

They'll learn about concepts such as kinetic energy and how materials in the bat or ball affect things like hitting or pitching.

The students will also take in an afternoon baseball game at UNO.

The day's events are part of the college's Inside Sports program which aims to teach students about the role science and engineering play in sports.

Upward Bound is a program designed to help students from low-income families or families where no one has been to college.


27 2017-04-10
New Orleans

New exhibit at Ogden profiles history of mass incarceration, imprisonment in U.S.


"Louisiana is basically the prison capital of the world, if you look at the statistics," says University of New Orleans Midlo Center co-director Mary Niall Mitchell. "We incarcerate more people than just about anybody."

Mitchell, project co-leader Benjamin Weber and a group of University of New Orleans (UNO) students will call attention to this problem with UNO's contribution to a traveling exhibit that opens at Ogden Museum of Southern Art April 6. With text, photos, and interactive modules, "States of Incarceration" takes viewers through the history of mass incarceration in the U.S. — a highly relevant topic in the state where over 67,000 people (not a typo) were incarcerated in 2015.

This exhibit originally was created by students at the Humanities Action Lab out of New York's New School. As the project grew, organizers reached out to universities around the country to make contributions based on issues relevant to different regions.

At UNO, a mixed group of undergraduate and graduate students began working on the project through classes on policing and prisons. Ultimately they would go on to tour the Angola State Penitentiary and participate in a postcard exchange with incarcerated people to inform the materials they created for the exhibit.

"There's this idea of breaking down walls that physically and mentally separate free people from incarcerated people," Mitchell says. "[Students] do come away with a sense that this is ... a problem that affects every community in some way."

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UNO students focused on Angola because of its long history and its role in race-based incarceration. The Louisiana portion of the exhibit shows black-and-white historical photos of everyday life at the facility, from the magazine office (the Angolite) to the morgue. They're a window into a world it's easy to forget about, and it's jarring to realize the dusky photographs reflect not a historical artifact but a facility that's still running to this day.

The exhibit also includes artworks created by students at the Travis Hill School, which educates students involved with the juvenile justice system. Local artists helped students paint self-portraits (one of which is painted as a mug shot) and create papier-mache masks, which hang just beyond a row of quotes and statements from famous prison scholars and advocates.

UNO worked with local advocacy and social justice organizations such as VOTE, Ashe Cultural Arts Center and the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights to facilitate the project. Mitchell also points out there are many elements to the exhibition which have taken on new significance since the presidential election, as news breaks about changes to immigration and policing policy.

Many UNO students approached project leaders to share how this project had affected their understanding of imprisonment. Due to the high rate of incarceration in the state, especially among communities of color, many students have a personal connection to jail and prisons or even have been involved in the system themselves.

"[Young people] come into the world and assume things have always been a certain way," Mitchell says. "Our job is to take students who have inherited a society with problems, and give them a historical context for the social issues that they're confronting."

There's an opening reception for "States of Incarceration" with music, food and drinks at 6 p.m. April 6. The exhibit runs through April.

27 2017-04-09
Associated Press

Louisiana orchestra performs on moving boats on a lake


NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra 's upcoming performance of "New Water Music" will literally be on the water.

Musicians will perform from the decks of a moored barge and moving shrimp boats on Lake Ponchartrain (PONCH-uh-trane) — the big tidal basin bordering New Orleans. More than a dozen additional shrimp boats will move in patterns and dip and raise their nets in a stately ballet.

This version of Yotam Haber 's (HAH-behrz) work is so complex that it required work with the Coast Guard and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Getting it all together for Saturday's performance also required convincing musicians that the performance would work and wouldn't endanger their instruments, and getting a marine industrial supply company to lend the barge.

Haber will conduct with big flags. Coordinating all the boats also requires 50 walkie-talkies.

"It's not something that any orchestra I know of has ever done before," said Rebecca Cain, the orchestra's director of production. "So part of it has been convincing our professional orchestra musicians that we can put them on a barge and some shrimp boats and they will still be able to do their very complex job of performing."

The participating musicians have gone from dubious to excited, said Matthew Eckenhoff, a French horn player who is president of the orchestra.

"It looks like it's going to be really, really great," he said. He said a major reason for concern was all the literally moving parts, since four shrimp boats carrying musicians will be moving from place to place during parts of the nearly hour-long performance.

The strings and two accordion players will be playing on a stationary barge, and still more musicians will be on shore in groups divided to match those in the boats: woodwinds, high brass, low brass, and percussion. More than 100 amateur musicians from around south Louisiana are participating.

"There is this constant call and response back and forth between the land groups and the water groups," said Haber. "And the strings are the focal point of the axis. Everything is milling around those central strings."

Eckenhoff said the performance will be "a very interesting sonic experience for the audience. Depending on where you're taking this in, everybody's going to have a different experience."

A 20-minute concert hall version premieres Thursday, with part of the orchestra in the lobby.

Haber, an Israeli who teaches music composition at the University of New Orleans, originally thought his "New Water Music" — a play on the suites composed by George Frideric Handel for King George I's barge trip down the Thames in 1717 — as a piece for a smallish number of musicians to play on the banks of Bayou St. John , which runs next to New Orleans' City Park.

He also wanted to highlight the importance of water in New Orleans and Louisiana.

So he asked Delaney Martin, artistic director of New Orleans Airlift , a collaborative dedicated to building bridges among diverse artists and communities, to join in.

She proposed a much bigger platform for the concert. Martin even considered building boats for the occasion, but that seemed crazy, especially when south Louisiana has boats aplenty. "That led to fishermen as collaborators," she said.

That also brought in the Coast Guard. When she told the shrimpers she wanted them to raise and lower their nets — "a balletic, beautiful motion" — she learned that they'd be fined $1,000 if their nets touched the water outside of shrimping season. So she went to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and got permission. The marine supply company, DCL Mooring and Rigging, is lending a barge with an 80-foot crane.


27 2017-04-07
New Orleans

Hijab Awareness Day at the University of New Orleans: photo gallery


Members of the Muslim Student Association at the University of New Orleans invited women of all faiths to try on their traditional headscarf, or hijab, on Wednesday (April 5).

The students were hosting the 4th annual Hijab Awareness Day, which seeks to promote understanding of the beauty and modesty they feel comes with wearing the garment.
27 2017-04-07
New Orleans

Watch hundreds of ping pong balls get exploded in slow motion at UNO


Liquid nitrogen is placed in warm water and covered with hundreds of ping pong balls resulting in a spectacular explosion as the UNO Physics Club held a variety of activities in front of the school library to celebrate Einstein Week on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
27 2017-04-06
New Orleans

New Orleans population numbers: Is it time to stop looking for the Katrina effect?


By Jennifer Larino, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
New Orleans is changing. A growing number of people are calling our city home, though still not as many as before Hurricane Katrina. And the steady, almost dependable inflow of people moving to New Orleans over recent years -- either for the first time or returning home after the storm -- appears to be slowing.
Those are some of the highlights from the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent population estimates for 2016 released in March. The data show a city that is growing, though very gradually. Babies born here -- not people moving in -- are propelling the growth. In fact, those moving away from New Orleans outpaced those moving in from elsewhere for the first time since the storm.
Here is what the 2016 data says about Orleans Parish and the people who live here.
Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com |The Times-Picayune

A note about the numbers.
It is important to note these numbers are estimates. The U.S. Census Bureau’s last official headcount was in 2010. The next census is in 2020.
The agency uses birth and death records as well as Medicare and tax records to piece together U.S. population changes in between census counts. The data is helpful, but it does have limitations. For example, people who do not pay taxes or people who file taxes in another state may not show up in counts.
YouTube video by U.S. Census Bureau

New Orleans is (slowly) growing.
About 391,495 people lived in Orleans Parish in 2016, up from 347,903 in 2010 and 389,738 in 2015, according to Census estimates.
The city is still short of its pre-Katrina population. About 484,674 people called New Orleans home in 2000, the last door-to-door census before the storm and the one many experts consider the most reliable count in pre- and post-Katrina population.

More people are leaving New Orleans than are moving in.
In 2016, the number of people who moved away from New Orleans to other parts of the country outpaced those who moved in by about 759 people.
That is not a giant gap -- it represents less than 0.2 percent of the total population. Still, it marks the first time since the storm New Orleans has seen the flow of domestic out-migration overtop the flow of domestic in-migration.
Remember, the domestic migration figure shows the net number of people moving out of and into the parish to and from other parts of the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Should New Orleans be worried?
Not just yet, said Allison Plyer, executive director and chief demographer at The Data Center in New Orleans. Plyer points to the larger picture -- births continue to outpace deaths in Orleans Parish, and people continue to move here from abroad at a healthy clip.
Plyer noted the 759 more people who left the city in 2016 are a small slice of the overall population. And the number is an estimate. It takes several years of data to pinpoint a trend and the next official census count isn’t until 2020.
“We’ve focused on domestic migration because it’s an indicator of the returning population after the storm, but there are other drivers of population growth,” Plyer said.
Photo by Dinah Rogers, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive


A slow in post-Katrina returns?
Plyer said the data could reflect a slow in residents returning after Katrina in 2005. Either they’ve already moved back or they’re settled wherever they ended up after the storm, she said.
“This is perhaps a signal that the return of the pre-Katrina population is greatly slowed,” Plyer said.
Video by Kathleen Flynn, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive

Internationals are finding a home in New Orleans.
New Orleans put a lot of focus post-Katrina on tracking domestic migration, the best indicator of whether former residents were returning. Overlooked, perhaps, is the steady flow of international migration the city has seen in recent years.
Roughly 1,020 people moved to Orleans Parish from abroad in 2016, on par with the past four years and up sharply from 247 people in 2010, according to Census estimates.

More babies are being born in New Orleans.
More than 5,100 babies were born in New Orleans in 2016, nearly four times the births recorded in 2010, according to Census data. Births saw the biggest jump from 2010 to 2011 and have grown steadily since, helping bolster the local population.

Deaths are also up.
A rising population in Orleans Parish means more recorded deaths, though the birth rate continues to outpace the death rate.
There were 3,418 deaths recorded in New Orleans in 2016, up from 647 in 2010 and 3,296 in 2015, according to Census estimates.

What’s the takeaway?
With each year, Katrina’s effect on New Orleans and its population is fading. Plyer said the focus is shifting away from people who are moving back and on to whether the overall population is growing and why -- just like any other American city.
“It’s time to start asking ourselves, ‘Should we be looking at our population growth as a normal city?’” Plyer said.
Marla Nelson, an associate professor in the University of New Orleans’ planning and urban studies department, said New Orleans also appears to be at an economic crossroads. Low oil prices and a slow in movie filming hit the region hard. The cost of living here is going up. The Data Center reports more than a third of the city spends more than 50 percent of their income on housing and utilities.
In her research, Nelson has interviewed many young people who moved here for opportunities after Katrina, but now struggle to find jobs to advance their careers and grow their pay. New Orleans’ population will always be tied, in part, to its ability to provide good-paying jobs, she said.
“We just don’t have that thickness in the jobs market,” Nelson said.


Have a specific question?
Let us know in the comment section or by emailing reporter Jennifer Larino at jlarino@nola.com.
27 2017-04-06
New Orleans

Don't touch TOPS, New Orleans students say


More than 50 New Orleans high school and college students gathered to tell Louisiana lawmakers one thing Tuesday (April 4): Don't touch TOPS - especially for low-income families like theirs.

"TOPS means to me a better education and a successful career," Lake Area New Tech junior Keyantae Frazier said after the live WBOK broadcast at the Jazz Market.

Until this year, the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students covered four years of full tuition at a Louisiana public college or university if incoming freshmen earned a 2.5 grade-point average and a 20 on the ACT, and met coursework requirements. There's a two-year scholarship as well.

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But the well ran dry for the first time in 2016, making families scramble to pay 30 percent of the bill. It also caused problems for public universities, which rely on tuition, University of New Orleans President John Nicklow said.

More broadly, without TOPS, "I can't serve my community," Nicklow said.

With a budget still stretched past breaking, TOPS is a big question mark for the legislative session that starts April 10. While lawmakers generally say TOPS is a priority, some are looking to shrink the pool of recipients. The majority of people who took a recent LSU survey were fine with that, backing higher academic standards and an income cap.

TOPS academic, income rules backed by most La. residents
TOPS academic, income rules backed by most La. residents
Most want to make it harder to get scholarship but to cover 100 percent of tuition costs

House Bill 194 from Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, and House Bill 117 from Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, would increase the minimum grade-point average for a four-year TOPS scholarship to 3.0 and the ACT score for two-year TOPS assistance from 18 to 19. A separate bill by Foil, House Bill 91, would devote some riverboat gambling revenue to the scholarships.

Senate Bill 110, by Sen. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, would require TOPS recipients to stay in Louisiana for a certain amount of time after college or repay the grant - reflecting the intention for TOPS to keep students in-state.

Rep. Gary Carter, D-New Orleans, would prioritize students with low incomes or high ACT scores: 30 or above. If money ran short, it would go to them first, according to House Bill 390.

If the Legislature has to cut, they should protect families who can't afford to pay, Tuesday's attendees said. Forty percent of the awards went to families earning $100,000 or more in 2014-15, according to a Board of Regents report.

The broadcast included a roundtable of education leaders. Host Andre Perry said he sponsored it along with Tulane's Cowen Institute and Democrats for Education Reform.

"We know that only about one in 10 of the low-income college students in our country will graduate college in six years," Orleans Parish School Board member Ben Kleban said. "TOPS is an absolutely critical support for (those) students, to make sure they have the financial means to get through."

Taking on debt can be heavy. "To this day I am paying for student loans," said Rep. Carter, who is 42 years old.

The new Louisiana College Access Coalition endorsed the event and supports Carter's bill.

It opposes raising academic requirements, saying about one-quarter of students would lose TOPS if the ACT minimum went to 21. Tacitly addressing the middle-class power base, the group says one-quarter of private school candidates would lose TOPS if the GPA floor increased to 2.75.

Without TOPS, several students at the event said they would have a much harder time. But they were determined to graduate, whatever it took.

"I have to go to college," said Alex Dufrene, a student at The NET Charter. "If I don't go to college, what else am I going to do with my life?"
27 2017-04-04
New Orleans

Survey: Louisiana voters haven't changed opinon of Trump since election


NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana voters feel just as strongly about President Donald Trump as they did when 58 percent of them voted to make him the president of the United States nearly five months ago, according to a survey.

The survey, taken by the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center on March 21, shows that President Trump has a 58 percent approval rating among voters in the state, which equals the 58 percent of the vote he received in the state on Election Day last November.

The poll also breaks down along racial lines as you might expect.

About 71 percent of white voters gave Trump positive marks, while 70 percent of African-American voters felt the opposite way.

The survey showed that Trump enjoyed a little more of a positive rating across political lines in the state than what has been found in national polls. About one-fourth of Louisiana Democrats approve of Trump, while 58 percent of Independents and third-party voters also gave him good marks.

© 2017 WWL-TV
27 2017-03-27
New Orleans

The strangest classical music concert you'll have to see (and it's free)


When Yotam Haber began thinking about the first piece he'd write for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, those early thoughts didn't cover what it would take to bypass the $1,000 fine for dipping fishing boats' nets into the water during the offseason.

Back then, Haber envisioned something traditional: Audience members sit in their seats, orchestra musicians do their thing. But then the idea got bigger -- and bigger -- as he considered the inspiration behind it.

"I was thinking it would be so nice to make it a little more special to New Orleans. Why not do something about water? Because water is so crucial and important to this place, and why not actually change the way we engage with music by actually performing it on the water?" Haber said.




Why not, indeed.

Haber took his idea to rethink George Frederic Handel's "Water Music" to the New Orleans Airlift, the organization behind the Music Box Village and other projects connecting artists with the community and each other. From there, the concept continued growing under the artistic direction of Delaney Martin and her Airlift cohorts, and it's now the piece, entitled "New Water Music," is due to be staged (in a manner of speaking) at the Seabrook Boat Launch on Lake Pontchartrain on April 8 at 4 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public.

And now, after evolving through conversations and planning with the LPO, Airlift, various groups of community musicians and fishermen from around the community, Haber's composition will involve a live performance on and around the lakefront, complete with waterborne choreography and improvisation.

"The lake is so underused and underexposed, and it was once such a thriving part of the city, so we're excited to take people to a part of the lake that is not often seen," said Martin, who noted part of the production is to focus on the state's complicated relationship with water and the coastal crisis. "We were also thinking about who the audience would be for this, and wanted to engage in an audience outside of the LPO's, because that's what the New Orleans Airlift tries to do -- bridge communities."

Crucial to the piece, Haber said, is the community element of amateur musicians.

"I wrote the piece in a very different way than if I'd written it just for a professional orchestra," said Haber, who's also an assistant professor of music at the University of New Orleans. "I included snippets of songs that have to do with water that audiences will recognize and some performers may improvise beyond what I have written on the page, and some audiences might want to start singing along. I love the idea that it becomes an orchestra piece that starts to unfold and break its own rules."

"New Water Music" is scheduled to be performed on April 8 at the Seabrook Boat Launch on Lake Ponchtratrain, which is located at the eastern end of Lakeshore Drive. Organizers have planned a rain-out date of April 9. The performance will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Parking is available in an adjacent parking lot, with additional parking on Lakeshore Drive.
27 2017-03-27
New Orleans

New Orleans hosted a record 10.45 million tourists in 2016


New Orleans hosted a record 10.45 million visitors in 2016, finally breaking past the pre-Katrina peak that hovered over the city and its tourism industry for more than a decade. Travelers shelled out a record $7.41 billion to stay in and explore the city last year.

New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Stephen Perry, New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corp. CEO Mark Romig, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu all praised the record-breaking tourist count, which was released Thursday (March 23) in a news release. The University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center completes an annual study on local tourism for the CVB and NOTMC.

Tour the British Airways jet to fly N.O. to London nonstops
Tour the British Airways jet to fly N.O. to London nonstops
The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner has room for 214 passengers.

In 2015, New Orleans fell just shy of the 10.1 million visitor peak reached in 2004. Tourism officials pointed to rising tourist spending as a sign growth was on its way. Visitors spent $7.05 billion in 2015.

Now that New Orleans has officially surpassed the old record, local tourism leaders can fully shift their sights to 2018. City tourism officials hope to attract 13.7 million visitors in New Orleans' tricentennial year.

ADVERTISING

Local leaders said the 2016 growth was the result of a coordinated effort to broaden the city's appeal involving city government, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, New Orleans Tourism and Marketing, Louis Armstrong International Airport and the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association.

"These achievements are the result of a strategy that attracts a combination of carefully targeted convention business and leisure travelers through tactics which leverage paid media, earned public relations exposure and special events to market New Orleans to the world," Perry said in the release.

"This exciting achievement is a testament to our city's unique ability to host tourists and major events like no other," Landrieu said.

Major 2016 milestones included the announcement of two new nonstop flights from New Orleans to Europe. British Airways starts nonstop flights from New Orleans to London on March 27. Condor Airlines will fly seasonal, nonstop flights to Frankfurt, Germany beginning in May.

The city also hosted the U.S. Travel Association's IPW trade show in June 2016, drawing travel booking agents from across the world. Tourism leaders expect the show to unlock additional international interest in the city in coming years.


Bourbon Street traffic barriers in the French Quarter
The year also underscored existing challenges. A shooting on Bourbon Street during the 2016 Bayou Classic in November left one man dead and nine others wounded, highlighting the tension between ongoing security concerns and the city's reputation as a safe and welcoming place for tourists.

Landrieu and Gov. John Bel Edwards in January unveiled a $40 million citywide safety program, which includes $8 million for dozens of security cameras to be installed along Bourbon Street and across the city. Some began to appear around Mardi Gras on Bourbon.

The city also deployed three temporary traffic security barricades in the French Quarter leading up to and during Mardi Gras celebrations in February. The barriers, intended for special events, have been removed.
27 2017-03-27
New Orleans

New Orleans breaks tourism records in 2016


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -
Visitors to New Orleans spent a record $7.41 billion dollars in 2016, that's a 5.1percent increase in visitor spending in 2015.
2016 also set a record for the number of visitors to the city. 10.45 million visitors came to New Orleans last year, the highest since 2004.

The statistics come from the 2016 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile study, completed by the University of New Orleans (UNO) Hospitality Research Center for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) and New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC).

"The results of last year's survey demonstrate that we are not just continuing the visitation and visitor spending growth we have delivered over the past seven years, but we have now posted historic highs in both categories. These achievements are the result of a strategy that attracts a combination of carefully targeted convention business and leisure travelers through tactics which leverage paid media, earned public relations exposure and special events to market New Orleans to the world. As the state continues to grapple with budget deficits, the New Orleans tourism industry grows ever stronger, adding to our economy much needed jobs and tax revenues," said Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"The New Orleans tourism industry experienced yet another breakthrough year in 2016, this time making history for the number of visitors to our city and visitor spending," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "This exciting achievement is a testament to our city's unique ability to host tourists and major events like no other. As we approach our tricentennial, I look forward to 2017 being an even bigger year for the tourism industry in New Orleans."

"Our marketing strategy, aimed at attracting the leisure travelers, continues to provide dividends to our economy," said Mark Romig, President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. "Going into 2017, we continue to work side by side with our industry partners, especially the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, the New Orleans CVB and the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association, to reach as many potential visitors as possible with our creative messaging."

Tourism leaders point to their work attracting international visitors. British Airways will begin direct flights from London to New Orleans this month, and Condor Airlines will begin seasonal direct flights from Frankfurt, Germany this year.

"Our analysis of the research results shows that New Orleans over the past several years has dramatically increased the quality of the foundational pillars necessary for a top tourism destination. Potential visitors and repeat visitors have become increasingly aware of the unique and elevated visitor experience that is a result of New Orleans' exquisite restaurants, lavish hotels, sporting events, convention center, varied and numerous festivals, museums, and other attractions," said Dr. John Williams, Dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of New Orleans. "This combination of attributes provides an extremely strong competitive edge as New Orleans sets new benchmarks for tourism visitation and spending."

The UNO study found visitors who stayed in hotels overnight spent an average of $1,033/person per trip in 2016. Research also found that most visitors (28.5 percent) traveled to the city during the second quarter of 2016, which can be related to Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest, and conventions.

Below are more findings from the UNO study:
• Visitors to New Orleans came more frequently from Louisiana, outside of the New Orleans Metro Area (15.6 percent) and Texas (9.3 percent). The next top feeder markets were Mississippi (7.0 percent), California (6.7 percent), Florida (6.5 percent), and New York (4.5 percent).
• While considering overnight visitation only, the top feeder markets in 2016 were Texas (10.4 percent), Louisiana, outside the New Orleans Metro Area (9.2 percent), California (7.8 percent), Florida (6.8 percent), New York (5.1 percent) and Mississippi (4.7 percent).
• The proportion of visitors with income of $200,000 and over reached the highest figure since 2012 (11.2 percent); 22.5 percent had a household income of $100,000 - $149,999.
• The percentage of single visitors to New Orleans, not widowed or divorced, increased from 17.2 percent in 2015 to 17.8 percent in 2016.
• Respondents that identified themselves as LGBT, an increase from 4.1 percent in 2015: 4.7 percent.
• There was a slight increase in respondents who reported having children under the age of 18 living in their household: 23.8 percent.
• Visitors age 50-64 made up the largest demographic for 2016 (33.0 percent), followed by 35-49 years old (28.0 percent). During 2016, the percentage of respondents in the 25-34-years-old group represented an increase from 2015 (17.8 percent), while the 65-years or older group increased from 2015 (15.6 percent).
• Average number of people per travel party remained comparable to previous years in 2016 at 3.0.
• Most visitors surveyed arrived in their personal vehicle increased in 2016 (48.3 percent) while the number of visitors arriving by airplane decreased slightly in 2016 (44.7 percent).

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.
27 2017-03-21
Lafayette

PARTSCH: UNO EMBODIES THE SURVIVE AND ADVANCE SPIRIT


Survive and advance.
That phrase is often used at this time of the year when the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament dominates the national sports conscience, as 68 teams attempt to win the national championship, or at least reach the Final Four.
No team in this year’s bracket better represents that “survive and advance” mantra than the University of New Orleans Privateers, a team that actually lost its first-round game – a play-in game at that. That’s because the program itself has somehow survived an unthinkable force of nature that ravaged its campus and city, a seemingly never ending crippling budget crisis suffered by its university, the devastating and stunning death of a teammate and wave after wave of losses.
UNO was always one of the state’s better small school basketball programs. The Privateers had a run of success in Division II back in the 1970s, including a pair of Final Fours and a national runner-up finish in 1975. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Tim Floyd-coached Privateers routinely won 20 games a year and made the postseason five times, including a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in 1991 and 1993.
The program suffered an on-the-court decline in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but nothing would prepare it for when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005.
The university, situated on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, was savagely beaten by the unforgiving winds and waters of the storm. The roof of UNO’s Lakefront Arena was damaged so severely that it took three years to repair and the basketball team relocated to Texas for a brief period.
So much focus back then, when it came to the city’s sports teams, was directed toward the two professional sports franchises. UNO became a forgotten casualty of the storm’s enormous destruction.
UNO’s pre-Katrina enrollment hovered around 17,000 and plummeted to below 8,500. The university struggled to get back on its feet as the Louisiana legislature continued slicing funding to the institution, exceeding more than $40 million over a five-year period from 2008-12. The budget cuts and weakened enrollment also saw 182 full-time faculty members lose their jobs between 2008-15, and athletic offices became empty tombs.
The imminent demise of UNO, with constant discussion of its closure, seemed to become a staple of the news cycle for more than a decade.
Yet, UNO survived and advanced.
It was during this tumultuous period that Mark Slessinger arrived on campus.
Not long after being hired in the summer of 2011, the former longtime assistant coach at Northwestern State in Natchitoches began showing off the program’s pride in the basketball offices. Slessinger rummaged through a FEMA storage shed and found memorabilia such as banners and trophies (some of them broken and water damaged) that served as a positive reminder of the program’s glory days.
The program needed that dose of positivity as Slessinger took over a program that had only three players on the roster, one coaching assistant and no conference affiliation. Two years prior to Slessinger’s arrival, the university decided to unwisely drop its athletic teams to Division III, which does not offer athletic scholarships. The following year the university changed course and joined Division II. Two years later, it became a Division I program again.
That see-saw decision making and dysfunction gave UNO a reputation as a failing program that even marginal hardwood talents avoided in droves
Yet, UNO survived and advanced.
As an independent, UNO went 25-33 during Slessinger’s first two seasons. In 2013-14, UNO joined the Southland Conference and the foundation for a turnaround was laid.
Slessinger, who learned how to recruit overlooked but talented players throughout the backroads of Louisiana by NSU coach Mike McConathy, signed a trio of tough-minded guards that would help bring the program back. There was Christavious Gill out of Alexandria who was deemed too small (5-foot-8) to garner a Division I scholarship offer. There was Nate Frye, a six-year letterman and the son of the coach at Class B’s Houma Christian. And there was Tevin Broyles out of Gautier High School along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Later came junior college transfer Eric Thomas, who would eventually be named Southland Conference Player of the Year.
The program had its coach and core players but UNO had to learn how to win again as the Privateers won 11, 11 and 10 games the next three seasons.
The 2014-15 season started off with a double dose of tragedy for the program.
Matt Derenbecker, a former star at Metairie’s Country Day, had played for LSU, then Dayton and finally UNO. He played for the Privateers for half of the 2013-14 season before leaving the team due to medical reasons. Derenbecker committed suicide in August 2014. That tragedy came the same weekend as four members of former UNO star Cory Dixon’s family were killed in an auto accident in New Mexico.
Yet, UNO survived and advanced.
UNO entered this season being picked to finish ninth in the SLC by coaches and 10th by the league’s Sports Information Directors. Yet, the Privateers won 20 games, won their first regular-season conference title since 1997 and went on to win the conference tournament in dramatic fashion, with a double-digit overtime comeback against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
That gave UNO its first berth in the NCAA Tournament in 21 seasons as the team from New Orleans would face fellow No. 16 seed Mount St. Mary’s in the play-in game held in Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday.
The team was so grateful to be there that players shook hands and thanked the media following the press conference, and then cut practice short by meeting and visiting with fans.
UNO came up short in the game, losing 67-66.
Yet, the team’s season and its bright future is a remarkable achievement.
That doesn’t mean that there won’t be daunting challenges moving forward.
The team loses a slew of senior playmakers, the school’s athletic budget is only $5 million, which is $415,000 less than how much LSU paid its football assistants in 2016, and fan support is still an issue, as exemplified with a game against visiting Louisiana-Lafayette back in December where Cajun fans outnumbered Privateer fans, 3-1.
Yet, despite those obstacles UNO will likely survive and advance. That has become the Privateer way.
27 2017-03-21
Regional/National

The 2017 Net Price Madness Bracket


Every year, I take the 68 teams in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament and fill out a bracket based on colleges with the lowest net price of attendance (defined as the total cost of attendance less all grant aid received). My 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 brackets are preserved for posterity—and often aren’t terribly successful on the hardwood. My 2015 winner (Wichita State) won two games in the tournament, while prior winners Fresno State (2016), Louisiana-Lafayette (2014), and North Carolina A&T (2013) emerged victorious for having the lowest net price but failed to win a single game. However, North Carolina (a Final Four selection for low-income students in 2016) did actually advance to the championship game before getting beaten by pricey Villanova.

I created two brackets this year using 2014-15 data (the most recent available through the U.S. Department of Education): one for the net price of attendance for all first-time, full-time students receiving grant aid and one focusing on students who received federal financial aid with family incomes below $30,000 per year. I should note that these net price measures are far from perfect—the data are now three years old and colleges can manipulate these numbers through the living allowance portion of the cost of attendance. Nevertheless, they provide some insights regarding college affordability—and they may not be a bad way to pick that tossup 8/9 game that you’ll probably get wrong anyway.

The final four teams in each bracket are the following, with the full dataset available here:

All students receiving grant aid

East: New Orleans ($8,867)

West: West Virginia ($10,405)

South: Northern Kentucky ($9,173)

Midwest: North Carolina Central ($9,793)


Low-income students only

East: Florida ($7,024)

West: Princeton ($3,461)

South: Northern Kentucky (5,030)

Midwest: Michigan ($3,414)


A big congratulations to the University of New Orleans for having the lowest net price for all students and to the University of Michigan for having the lowest net price for its (fairly small percentage of) low-income students. And a hearty lack of congratulations to Southern Methodist for having the highest net price for all students ($36,602) and Gonzaga for having the highest for low-income students ($30,166).

[Cross-posted at Kelchen on Education]
27 2017-03-21
Regional/National

Hopes Run High For Underdogs At Start Of NCAA Tournament


ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:



There are 67 basketball games in March Madness, and the First Four wrap up today. The First Four are four games played in Dayton, Ohio. The winner of each game moves into the main draw of the men's Division I college basketball tournament. A lot of fans consider these two days in Dayton to be a prelude to the real action which starts tomorrow. But as NPR's Tom Goldman reports, some of the teams at the First Four cherish it as if it's the Final Four.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Prelude actually is putting it mildly. Some fans consider the First Four, A, just an extra money grab by the NCAA or, B, pointless since history shows the low-seeded teams in Dayton have no chance at a deep tournament run.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Tonight's first game of the NCAA First Four features the Mount St. Mary's University Mountaineers versus the University of New Orleans' Privateers.

(CHEERING)

GOLDMAN: Even the doubters probably felt a tingle as Mount St. Mary's and New Orleans tipped off yesterday. It was the official start to March Madness, but both teams were 16 seeds, the lowest, the last picked to play in the tournament. And the winner would face overall No. 1 seed and defending champion Villanova in the first round. In the 78-year history of the tournament, no 16 seed has beaten a one. This was New Orleans broadcaster Jude Young before yesterday's game.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JUDE YOUNG: Sixteen is 0-for against number one, and, hey, why not us? It's plain and simple. That's the thought of everybody on this trip right now.

GOLDMAN: Note to NCAA T-shirt designers. Why not us would be a great slogan for 16th seeded teams. The four that came to Dayton certainly exuded a world-beating attitude, and why not? It's easier to do when for a very short time the basketball world is yours. The games in Dayton are March Madness - no other games anywhere yesterday or today. New Orleans players certainly seemed to embrace the spotlight.

GEORGE: What's up, man? What's your name?

DOMINIC: Dominic.

GEORGE: Nice to meet you, man. I'm George.

GOLDMAN: After practice Monday, they fanned out in the University of Dayton Arena for some very engaged autograph signing. Senior guard Nate Frye took a bunch of selfies with kids' phones. As the kids got ready to leave, Frye actually stopped them.

NATE FRYE: Hold on. Hold on - one more for my phone if you don't mind - one more for my phone if you don't mind. Y'all ready - one, two, three.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Nate Frye...

(CHEERING)

GOLDMAN: Gregarious, selfie-taking Nate Frye was stone-cold baller Nate Frye last night. He scored a team high 18 points in an intense 67-66 loss to Mount St. Mary's. How intense was this game that supposedly didn't matter? Two of Frye's teammates almost fought each other in the second half after a botched play. Mark Slessinger is the New Orleans head coach.

MARK SLESSINGER: They just got sideways with each other. They - one thought he should have zigged, and the other one thought he should have zagged.

GOLDMAN: Slessinger benched one of them, a starter for the rest of the game. Afterwards, Mount St. Mary's sophomore guard Elijah Long considered the grim 16-versus-1 history facing his Mountaineers when they play Villanova tomorrow.

ELIJAH LONG: At the end of the day, we all play basketball, you know? It's the same sized ball, same sized net.

GOLDMAN: And he said if they can match Villanova's heart...

LONG: You know, we'll see if we can break a bracket.

GOLDMAN: Odds of that happening of course are zero with Mount St. Mary's or any of the other remaining 16 seeds, meaning most likely why not us goes back in storage. Until next year, Tom Goldman, NPR News, Dayton.

(SOUNDBITE OF FUTURE SONG, "NO BASIC") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

27 2017-03-17
New Orleans

Unearthed at UNO, trove of séance records conjures New Orleans' Creole past


If you’ve ever wondered about the challenge of telling the story of New Orleans’ free people of color, consider the surprising value of a book like Melissa Daggett’s “Spiritualism in the Nineteenth Century: The Life and Times of Henry Louis Rey.”

It's oddly fitting that gaps in that history can be filled by a book about séances, which were in vogue during a three-decade period that spanned the antebellum period, the Civil War and the Reconstruction era.

For decades, scholars have had comparatively limited knowledge about the lives of the free people of color — Creoles of mixed blood, many of whom traced their roots to Saint-Domingue and left during the Haitian revolution of the early 19th century.

One unlikely source of information: “séance registers,” written accounts of mystical meetings with mediums that grew in popularity in New Orleans at the same time.

After exhaustive research that included translating many records from French, author Daggett gained a glimpse into a culture that expressed its hopes, fears and even activism through words believed to hail from the afterlife.

“There are really a lot of lessons I’ve learned from the séance registers,” said Daggett, a New Orleans native and an instructor in U.S. history at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas.

“For instance, just the language. You know that free people of color spoke French, you know that they were highly educated. You know also that they were bilingual, though, because a number of the messages are also in English," she said. "And they're very well-written."

The hero of this story is Henry Louis Rey, a Creole New Orleanian who evolved from a curious participant in séances to host of Le Cercle Harmonique, and, by extension, an author, civil rights leader and leader of the community during both the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Modern spiritualism, the book posits, appealed to many in New Orleans who previously were devout Catholics but felt increasingly marginalized both by the waning of European spirit in the city and by a more rigid, American culture that often came from a changing archdiocese.

Spiritualism offered an alternative, but it also provided the same kind of empowerment to withstand the more oppressive attitude toward people of color immediately before, during and after the war.

Instead of coming from the pulpit of the church, it came from spirits thought to hover over a séance table. And it was just as powerful.

For years these registers, which had been carefully preserved by other key figures Daggett profiles in the book, sat untouched in an archive at the University of New Orleans.

Daggett, fluent in French, dug in, and began her discoveries — which even included references to voodoo.

“It was odd because it was called ‘the superstition,' ” she noted. “It was kind of, I think, maybe a class thing, that these people thought voodooism was more of like a working-class type of thing.”

Along the way she even found a connection to Marie Leveau through the “voodoo queen of New Orleans’” daughter of the same name, who was a mistress of Rey’s father-in-law.

Daggett will make two appearances at this week’s Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival — a sold-out Victorian-style séance March 23 hosted by the Hermann-Grima House, and a panel discussion Friday, March 24 at 10 a.m. with George Herriman biographer Michael Tisserand (“Krazy”) and Tom Benson biographer Kathy Finn (“A Billionaire’s Journey”), hosted by David Johnson.

For more information, visit tennesseewilliams.net.
27 2017-03-16
New Orleans

Crescent City College Notes for March 15, 2017


HACK TO HEALTH: A hackathon focused on addressing a health-related problem over the course of two days will be held March 25-26 in Room 105 of the Norman C. Francis Academic/Science Complex at Xavier University New Orleans, 1 Drexel Drive. The event hours will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 25, and will begin at 2 p.m. March 26. The organizers of the event are the Xavier Division of Business To register or become a sponsor, visit liftoffhealth.com/xula.

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS: U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Chad Franks will be the speaker when the University of New Orleans holds its commencement ceremony May 13 at Lakefront Arena. Franks, who graduated from UNO in 1990, is vice commander of 14th Air Force, Air Force Space Command at Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. A native of Metairie and graduate of Archbishop Rummel High School, Franks, 49, has served 27 years with the U.S. Air Force and logged more than 3,300 hours as a command pilot. He has deployed in support of a number of military operations including Provide Comfort and Northern Watch in Iraq, Allied Force in Kosovo and Iraqi Freedom. He earned a bachelor's degree in general studies from the University of New Orleans in 1990.

TULANE UNIVERSITY: Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren will be the speaker when Tulane University holds its commencement ceremony May 20 in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. She will also receive an honorary degree at the ceremony. Mirren won an Oscar in 2007 for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen.” Mirren also portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in the London and New York stage productions of “The Audience,” a role for which she received England’s highest theater honor, the Olivier, as well as a Tony. Her public service commitments include the National Youth Theatre; Barnardo’s, a UK-based children’s welfare organization; UKHF, a charity devoted to supporting orphaned and vulnerable children in Uganda; and Artists for Peace and Justice, which supports education and health initiatives in Haiti.

NUNEZ SCHOLARSHIPS: Nunez Community College is accepting applications for more than $10,000 in scholarships for the 2017-18 year. Scholarships are available to first-time freshmen, transfer, returning and continuing students. Some scholarships are discipline-specific for students in particular majors. Other scholarships are available to any Nunez student. Opportunities for fall 2017 include:

Chancellor's Scholarship, $1,000 each for two first-time freshmen, April 20 deadline.
Phillips 66 PTEC Scholarship, $500 for a first-time freshman majoring in industrial technology, April 20 deadline.
Nunez Foundation Scholarship, $750 each for four students, June 30 deadline.
Nunez Academic Scholarship, $1,000 for two continuing, returning or transfer students, June 30 deadline.
Ace Vending Dean’s List Scholarship, $500 for one continuing student who is a Dean's List honoree, June 30 deadline.
St. Bernard Kiwanis Scholarship, $1,500 for a St. Bernard Parish resident, June 30 deadline.
Lawrence J. Randazzo Culinary Scholarship, $500 each for two St. Bernard Parish residents majoring in culinary arts or a related field, June 30 deadline.
To apply, visit nunez.awardspring.com. For information, email Brittney Barras, director of admissions and dual enrollment, at scholarships@nunez.edu.

XAVIER UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $500,000, three-year grant to the College of Arts and Sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana to reshape the core curriculum. The Xavier faculty is working to develop new courses and revise existing ones to include interdisciplinary courses, e-portfolios, writing-intensive courses and digital humanities. The program will also will increase Xavier’s faculty’s proficiency with assessment strategies to reflect new learning outcomes. The grant principal investigator is Kim Vaz-Deville, associate dean of arts and sciences. For information, visit www.xula.edu/cas/cce.html.
27 2017-03-16
New Orleans

So close yet so far: Privateers lose the big game but loyal fans are still proud


NEW ORLEANS – So close yet so far, that’s the name of the game for the Privateers Tuesday night. The final score 67 to 66 Mountaineers.
Loyal fans still made it out to watch the game at The Cove on University of New Orleans’ campus.
Regardless of the outcome they say the Privateers still had a good season.
“I never thought that junior year of college I would see my own team be in the championship. It’s just amazing, it really is,” says UNO student John Mason.
“We’re super excited that we’ve actually gone this far,” says UNO student Bala Mangia.
“It’s a big thing for the school too because we’re not so known in the nation,” he says.
Mount St. Mary’s will now advance to play top-seeded and defending national champion Villanova on Thursday March 16th in Buffalo, New York.
27 2017-03-16
New Orleans

March Madness brings excitement to UNO


NEW ORLEANS - It was a big night for the University of New Orleans because it's been 21 years since the men's basketball team qualified for March Madness. The hype was felt all over campus, and some students say they were excited to be part of it.

“UNO has a lot of nailbiters so I'm looking forward to it being a close game," said Jonathan Sochia. "But I'm looking forward to them coming out on top.”

Excitement has been building all week at UNO.

“There’s electricity all throughout the atmosphere here," said Student Body President, Antonio Torres.

Students, both past and present, anxiously have waited for the Privateers to kick-off March Madness. Before Tuesday night's game, fans were found at the school bookstore suiting up.

“I just think it’s so historic because it’s an experience," said Alumna, Denise Brooks. "It made me think back to games in the 80’s. It’s a great accomplishment whether they win or not.”

“I don’t know, it’s really weird because I have math with one of these dudes so it’s really weird to watch them on ESPN or whatever channel the game is going to be on," said current student, Robert Giancontieri.

On campus, at 'The Cove,' the game started to a room of cheers that the players about 855 miles away in Dayton, Ohio could've heard if they listened close enough.

“I mean we are the only team in the state in the tournament - take a shot at LSU -" said Giancontieri while chuckling.

The team last played in March Madness in 1996, back when Independence Day was #1 in the box office, Tickle Me Elmo laughed its way to being the hottest Christmas toy, and when something called 'Google' started indexing the web.

“I’m so excited for the Privateers," said Brooks.

The spotlight wasn’t just on the University of New Orleans basketball team because students say being a part of March Madness will mean great things for the school’s future.

“UNO making it into March Madness puts us on the map and if we win a few rounds or make it all the way, it’ll bring more students, more scholarships and more athletes to our school," said Sochia.

The Privateers came up short losing 67-66. It was a heartbreaker for fans, but they say the loss doesn't matter because, for them, the team will always be number one.

"We're behind the basket ball team 100 percent," said Torres. "Just what they've given us, it's amazing. And at the end of the day we're all champions."

"Either way it's a proud moment," said Brooks.

© 2017 WWL-TV
27 2017-03-16
New Orleans

Walker: Despite NCAA tournament loss, UNO's season carved out special place in history books


Andrew Amaya-Shaw arrived at the Cove about 3 p.m. Tuesday, almost three hours before tip-off time.

The 21-year-old senior wasn't taking any chances on being late to see this UNO men's basketball game, the most important one the Privateers have played since he was in diapers.

"This is so important," Amaya-Shaw said. "I can't even begin to describe what this means for the school, to bounce back from where we were. There were rumors last year that we would be closing, and all the budget cuts, so we didn't even know if the school was going to make it."

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DAYTON, Ohio — UNO’s dream season ended in heartbreaking fashion Tuesday night.
But UNO made it, playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996, when Amaya-Shaw wasn't even a year old.

Folks of all ages packed into the school's dining facility Tuesday to watch UNO play Mount St. Mary's in the first game of March Madness.

Some, like 8-year-old Patrick O'Connell and his 6-year-old friend Miles Laan, weren't entirely sure why they were there. Patrick was there because his mom said so. Little Miles was there for the food.

"Future Privateers," Meg O'Connell called them.

McConnell, who works at the school, and her four siblings all graduated from UNO. She called the team's success "heartwarming."

Steve Himelfarb and his wife, Becky, sat a table away, wearing blue March Madness T-shirts they had just purchased on campus.

"This is more than just a game; it's an event," Steve said. "It's sort of like the Saints when they played in the NFC championship game and Super Bowl. It's in that realm of bringing all New Orleanians together. The school went through such a hard time, so it's good to see them shine."

The Himelfarbs live in Gentilly, just a few blocks from the UNO campus. They helped with rebuilding efforts in the neighborhood after Hurricane Katrina.

"That's when I really found out just how much UNO was a part of keeping this city together," Becky said. "It's been a rough 10 years for all of us, especially UNO, so I really just want to be here to celebrate the victory. The people here at UNO worked so hard for this city, and they were really unsung heroes."

They cheered every time UNO scored and got especially loud late in the first half when the Privateers rallied to cut their deficit to 32-29 at halftime. The roar grew even louder when UNO tied it at 40 five minutes into the second half.

Travis Avery sat near the back. He played on the UNO team the past four seasons before graduating last year. He knew more than any of the other 200 or so folks in the Cove just how far this team has come.

"It means a lot to see them go from where they were then to where they are now," Avery said. "Everything is coming to fruition. I knew the school would turn it around, but not as fast as we did. To have such a quick turnaround is great for the city."

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The UNO Privateers will make their first NCAA tournament since 1996 when they face Mount St.…
UNO has a special place in Pierre Champagne's heart. It's where he met his wife back in 1971. The school means everything to him, so he wasn't about to miss this moment.

"When I look over my 45 years involved with UNO, this is one of those moments of life," he said. "It's like your favorite child or your favorite place. At the moment, it's the most important thing and, when I look back at life, it'll be among the most important things. Right now, it's the center of our existence. It means an awful lot after all the university and community have gone through."

Courtney Roblez, who plays volleyball at UNO, was just a few months old the last time the Privateers played on the NCAA's big stage. As an athlete, she's always had school pride.

"But to see everyone with this school pride is amazing," she said. "My mom used to always tell me about how UNO used to be the place to be. Well, this is the first step to making it be the place to be again."

The party finally ended with UNO's season coming to an end in a 67-66 loss.

"We're still proud of them," McConnell said.

Christina Early, a senior at UNO, couldn't hold back tears when the game and season finally came to an end, just as she couldn't just three nights earlier, when UNO punched its ticket to the Big Dance.

Early was performing in a play when she hit the refresh button to get game updates and learned that the Privateers had won the Southland Conference tournament.

"I ran backstage, running up and down St. Claude Avenue screaming and crying," Early recalled. "We are such a Cinderella story and such an underdog story.

"No one can ever take this away from us. No one will ever be able to say UNO is a commuter school. We are a school with heart, soul and UNO pride."
27 2017-03-16
New Orleans

UNO Privateers fans enjoy their team in NCAA Tournament during watch party


PHOTO GALLERY
27 2017-03-15
Houma/Thibodaux

UNO's NCAA Tournament run part of incredible turnaround


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -
UNO basketball head coach and Southland Conference Coach of the Year Mark Slessinger is truly a humble winner. Rather than reflect on the Privateers’ past and the rocky road to return to the NCAA Tournament, he’s enjoying the moment, as he should. But those around Slessinger know the dedication it took to return the program to glory.

“Every year, he builds this team around who we are,” says senior forward Erik Thomas. “And that’s being blue collar and working harder than everybody else. That’s what we’ve been doing over these past few years. We build this program up, and it just feels great to be a part of history.”

“He’s one of the most determined and committed men that I know,” says UNO President Dr. John Nicklow. “He saw what could be. A lot of people could have walked away from it and not had the dedication necessary. He did, and he’s one of the most determined people I know.”

That determination was on full display for a national audience last Saturday, as Slessinger led the Privateers out of a 10-point deficit in the conference title game. But that comeback doesn’t compare to what he dealt with when he began his tenure on the lake front in 2011. From academic performance setbacks that were out of his control to a lack of funding, his commitment to working hard, no matter the circumstances against him, had no limits.

“It’s so indicative of our campus, and then if you want to think about it, our city,” says Nicklow. “He focused on working hard, getting the job done and not worrying so much about self.”

And there’s no time to worry about self right now either. The Privateers quickly turn their attention to Mount St. Mary’s tonight. And should they win, they’ll look to continue making history as a 16 seed against the top overall seed Villanova on Thursday.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.
27 2017-03-15
New Orleans

‘Shock the nation!’: UNO men’s basketball team gleefully heads to NCAA Tournament


NEW ORLEANS - The University of New Orleans men's basketball team is going to the big dance, playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996!
The Privateers left the Lakefront Arena around 9:30 AM Monday. We got some video as they loaded up on the bus, heading to the airport, and let's just say the boys were amped, screaming "Shock the nation!" for the TV cameras! And that's what the team is hoping to do.
They play at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday against 16th seeded Mount Saint Marys from Maryland in the first-four play-in game.
The winner of that game advances and will play defending champion, No. 1 seeded Villanova on Thursday.
We're expecting big performances from the team's seniors. Forward Eric Thomas was named Southland Conference's Player of the Year, and two Lousiana natives, Christavious Gill and Nate Frye, are also big performers. We caught up with Nate and Head Coach Mark Slessinger before they headed out.
"It's hard to describe. I've never experienced anything like this before. It does seem magical, kind of dreamy. I just have so many emotions me and my teammates we've never experienced anything like this before," said Frye.
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"It's a great day for the university. It's a great day for the city. All of our alumni students, faculty and staff. To be 21 years away from the NCAA tournament is a log run and and we're happy to be back on the map and on the national scene," said Slessinger.
You can watch the game on Trutv on cable.
27 2017-03-15
New Orleans

UNO men’s basketball players cut down practice time in Ohio, greet fans instead


DAYTON, Ohio - The University of New Orleans men's basketball team is in Dayton, Ohio for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. It's the first time the Privateers have headed to the tourney since 1996.
Every team is given 20 minutes the day before NCAA March Madness games begin to practice on the court.
Coach Mark Slessinger told his team to practice for 10 minutes. For the final 10 minutes, he had his team go up into the stands and thank all of the Privateer fans who came to Dayton for the game.

‘Shock the nation!’: UNO men’s basketball team gleefully heads to NCAA Tournament
Skip Miller, a volunteer for the UNO basketball team, sent us the video above, showing the players greeting the fans.
"Coach Slessinger is a big believer in giving back to the community..here’s one way he showed it," Miller said.
The Privateers play at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday against 16th-seeded Mount Saint Marys.
You can watch the game on TruTV.
27 2017-03-15
New Orleans

Tom Archdeacon: Playing for their city, New Orleans Privateers thankful to be in Dayton



In 44 years as a sportswriter I’d never had this happen before.
When the four University of New Orleans basketball players finished their First Four press conference late Monday afternoon, they stepped off the raised stage and – paying no attention to the aide who told them to exit through a back curtain – they approached each of the handful of media types at their session, looked every person in the eye, shook hands firmly and said two words:

“Thank You!”

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This wasn’t some kind of Hoopla hokum or pregame grandstanding.

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These four Privateers – like the rest of their team and especially head coach Mark Slessinger – are truly thankful to be in Dayton, in the First Four and, most importantly, in the NCAA Tournament.

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How could they not be?

A dozen years ago their once-trumpeted basketball program, their school on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain and much of their entire city was nearly wiped off the map by the winds and flood waters of Hurricane Katrina.

By the time a levee on the London Avenue Canal that borders the school was breached, much of the team already had been evacuated to Tyler, Texas. Two players though got trapped in New Orleans and ended up atop the Interstate 10 overpass with other frightened refugees as floodwaters rose and chaos reigned.

RELATED: Game times, TV info for NCAA Tournament

Lakefront Arena, where the team played, lost its roof and it would take three years to be repaired.

School enrollment dropped from 17,000 to under 8,500.

Soon after the storm, state legislature cut $15 million from the school’s budget. In November of 2009 university administrators announced the athletic teams would go from NCAA Division I programs to non-scholarship Division III. A year later the officials settled on Division II and two years after that, they recommitted to D-I. But by then the damage was done.

Former Wright State player Johann Mpondo was on the New Orleans team when that announcement was made. He said some players quit on the spot. Most others transferred at season’s end.

He came to WSU and over 100 other New Orleans athletes in several sports went elsewhere.

RELATED: 7 reasons has been the country’s top NCAA Tournament host

After Katrina, the school went through three basketball coaches and four athletic directors until good fortune finally blew in instead of out.

Slessinger, who had been an assistant at Northwestern State for 11 seasons, was hired as the new hoops coach in 2011.

“When I arrived that first year we were kind of nomadic … we didn’t have a conference home or affiliation,” he recalled Monday.”We were in flux in classification (too.) We had just three athletes that were committed to stay in the program and I didn’t have an assistant. We didn’t have a lot of things.”

+ New Orleans head coach Mark Slessinger during practice Monday at UD Arena. New Orleans facing Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday in photo COLUMNIST
New Orleans head coach Mark Slessinger during practice Monday at UD Arena. New Orleans facing Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday in ... Read More
Slessinger lost his first game as coach to New Mexico by 52 points and the next game to Rice by 34. By season’s end four Division II and two NAIA teams would beat the Privateers. Average attendance was 175.

But by then Slessinger had fallen in love with the community. It’s where he’d met his wife and where they would adopt two foster children they had taken in, son Holden and a daughter they named Nola Ann, a salute to the New Orleans acronym.

RELATED: NCAA Tournament begins in Dayton for 17th straight year

“I never wanted to be the guy that walked out just because it wasn’t comfortable,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in our community that have lived very uncomfortable for a lot of years because they believe in a bigger picture of our city and what we’re doing. And I think sometimes when you’re uncomfortable a little bit you grow and you get a lot better. So I wasn’t going to cut and run.”

And he was right. The Privateers got much better and now the only things he’s cut down is the nets.

Picked in the preseason to finish ninth by the other coaches in the Southland Conference this season, the Privateers won the league’s regular season and conference tournament titles. Slessinger was named the Coach of the Year. Forward Erik Thomas is the Southland Player of the Year.

Tonight the 20-11 Privateers face Mount St. Mary’s in the first of two First Four games at UD Arena.

This is New Orleans’ first winning season in nine years, its first NCAA appearance in 21.

And the players wanted you to know they weren’t just saying “thank you” for themselves.

“It means a lot to our school and our city, as well,” Thomas said. “For our program to have this opportunity and for Dayton…to take us in for the First Four is an honor.”

Senior guard Christavious Gill agreed: “It means a lot to everybody that was involved in Hurricane Katrina, Some people may have cried, even alumni from our school.”

Fellow guard Nate Frye explained further: “New Orleans is still in the rebuilding process, as (is) our university. There’s lots of areas in New Orleans that hasn’t come back from Katrina. My father is from the Ninth Ward and he went to visit his neighborhood and it’s not even there.”

He compared this NCAA Tournament trip to the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl:

“We’re playing for things bigger than just a trophy. We’re playing for the regrowth of our school, our student attendance. We’re just trying to get people to rally behind us and give them something to hope for.”

Rebuilding the program

When Slessinger began rebuilding the program he took players from small out of the way towns and others who had been overshadowed by other players on their teams.

Gill said New Orleans was the only concrete Division I scholarship he had. Frye and Tevin Broyles said their situations were similar. Thomas came from a junior college.

“He believed in me and he believed we had a future for this program, to bring it back to where it was in the ‘80s and the ‘90s,” said Gill.

+ New Orleans Privateers forward Erik Thomas (14) is upended going for a rebound during the game between Southeastern and UNO at photo COLUMNIST
New Orleans Privateers forward Erik Thomas (14) is upended going for a rebound during the game between Southeastern and UNO at ... Read More
To help promote his vision, Slessinger rooted around in a nearby FEMA storage area that was left over from Katrina and found some of the old broken trophies and water logged banners from the days when the Privateers made four trips to the NCAA Tournament and, as a No. 7 seed in 1987, beat BYU.

To get students interested, he worked in the school cafeteria once a week so he could chat them up. He dressed in a red crawfish costume every May to take part in the school’s annual Crawfish Mambo.

Yet, there still were setbacks and heartbreak.

The NCAA – not taking into account that players had left school and many had lost everything — issued an academic sanction that limited scholarships and participation. And then there was the loss of Matt Derenbecker, the three-point ace who left the Dayton Flyers in 2013 and went back home to Louisiana, where it turned out he struggled with the same bipolar issues that plagued him here and had been misdiagnosed for so long.

He played just nine games for the Privateers, took a medical leave and committed suicide in August of 2014, a tragedy that shook both the Flyers and Privateers programs.

RELATED: Derenbecker left lasting impression on Dayton

Slessinger got tearful talking about Derenbecker on Monday.

“Hardly a day goes by that he doesn’t … chase me,” he said quietly. ”He had such a huge heart. He was as sweet as pie.”

Slessinger stays in contact with Derenbecker’s parents and said they sent him one of the first congratulatory messages after his team made the NCAA Tournament.

Fond memories of Dayton

Slessinger has coached in UD Arena once before.

He was a Northwestern State assistant when the team played Winthrop here in the very first play-in game in 2001.

“It was one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had coaching and that was because of the city of Dayton and the approach the University of Dayton took toward this event,” he said. “They made it something special for our student athletes.

“So in preparing our team for this trip … that was a big piece of it, me telling them how great of an experience they were going to have in the city and in this storied arena. And it means a lot to me to be back here with this phenomenal group of student-athletes.”

+ The New Orleans basketball team enters the team check-in area Monday at UD Arena. TY GREENLEES / STAFF photo TY GREENLEES
The New Orleans basketball team enters the team check-in area Monday at UD Arena. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
It’s obvious this group of players has bought into what he is selling – both on the court and off.

“We do a lot of community service work,” Frye said. “It’s not for media attention …We do it because were still trying to help the city rebuild.”

Thomas smiled and nodded: “Whether it’s someone way out in the hood or way in the country…we’ve been everywhere. We’ve been places you never heard of in Louisiana, helping with floods, tornadoes, no matter what the situation was.

“So I’m actually proud to be a Privateer ‘cause I done helped so many families …and (gave) them that hope and that joy and that happiness back in their lives.”

And Slessinger said this trip to Dayton is accentuating that:

“There’s a lot of people that this means a lot to and it has nothing to do with basketball. But it means a lot to them that we’re back and we’re a champion … and people in the city feel like they’re champions again, too.”

So when you consider those helping hands back home and those extended hands here in Dayton, you realize all of us should being saying something to these guys:

“Thank you!”
27 2017-03-15
Regional/National

A Hoosier leads New Orleans into NCAA tourney


The scouting report on Mark Slessinger, the basketball player?

From his first coach at Edgewood High School, Ron Hecklinski: “Competitive. Pesky. He wasn’t very skilled but he brought it every day on the practice court.”

From his college coach at Division III Aurora University in suburban Chicago, James Lancaster: “His work ethic, love and knowledge of the game was greater than his athletic ability.”

Maybe a nice way of saying Slessinger’s talent could only take him so far.

“Yeah, I wasn’t a very good player,” he said with a laugh.

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But as a coach, the Bloomington native has engineered one of the feel-good stories of the college basketball season, turning a dormant University of New Orleans program into an NCAA tournament team for the first time since 1996.

The Privateers (20-11) won the Southland Conference regular-season title and rallied for a 68-65 overtime win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday to earn the Southland’s automatic bid. New Orleans, a No. 16 seed, will play another No. 16 seed, Mount St. Mary’s, as part of the “First Four” on Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio.

“We never doubted it could happen, but you have to have really good people involved,” Slessinger said. “We’re blessed to have like-minded people on our staff to make a difference in these guys’ lives.”

New Orleans’ rags-to-riches rise could rival the script for “Hoosiers.” And even in Cajun country, the program has a decidedly Hoosier feel. Slessinger’s staff includes Kris Arkenberg, an Indian Creek graduate; and Bil Duany, a former Bloomington North star.

The Privateers’ turnaround was unexpected. Coming off a 10-20 season, they were picked for ninth by the coaches in the preseason poll in the 13-team Southland Conference.

But that’s only scratching the surface of the rebuilding job. Shortly before Slessinger was hired in the summer of 2011, the cash-strapped school had decided to drop from Division I athletics to non-scholarship Division III. A new president reversed course, but Slessinger was basically building from scratch without a conference and with Division III talent on the roster.

There wasn’t a better guy for the job than Slessinger, according to his former college coach. Before Slessinger’s senior year at Aurora in 1995-96, Lancaster approached him about getting his coaching career started. Instead of playing backup point guard, he’d coach his teammates.

“You could see that he had a mind for coaching,” Lancaster said. “It didn’t take a lot to twist his arm. He had the work ethic and the faith. There was no doubt that he was going to be a good coach.”

Hecklinski could see that fire in Slessinger at Edgewood, where he coached him as a freshman in 1988-89. Slessinger’s first job after graduating from Aurora was as an assistant at Central Michigan in 1996-97. There he coached under the late Leonard Drake, a friend of Hecklinski’s from their days on the Ball State coaching staff in the 1980s.

Slessinger earned rave reviews from Drake.

“When I talked to Len about (Slessinger) he told me, ‘Some guys have it and he has it,’” Hecklinski said. “He understood how to prepare and how to relate to kids. He understood that in coaching there are no hours off the clock. That’s what I saw in him as a player. He pushed everybody in practice to get better.”

After three years – two as a head coach – at Northland Pioneer College in Arizona, Slessinger was an assistant at Northwestern State (La.) for 11 years before he was hired at New Orleans.

Arkenberg has been with Slessinger for the duration at New Orleans. Arkenberg played basketball at Indian Creek for Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame coach Larry Angle. The two remain close.

“He’s an easy guy to like,” Angle said. “He’ll go out of his way to do things he doesn’t have to do, which means a lot. We still talk X’s and O’s. He’ll stop by the house and we’ll go over different things. He’s a sponge. I have the upmost admiration for him and I’m so happy he’s getting his opportunity.”

Angle will be in Dayton on Tuesday to support Arkenberg and the Privateers.

“I owe him a lot,” Arkenberg said. “He’s always held me accountable as a player and he’s been a great resource for me as a coach. If you have a question on a press breaker or something you know he has like 17 of them.”

Duany also played for a Hall of Fame coach at Bloomington North in Tom McKinney, which left an influence on him even at an early age. Duany’s older brothers, Duany and Kueth, also starred at Bloomington North.

“I fell in love with basketball as a first and second grader going to (McKinney’s) camps,” Bil Duany said. “I was hanging on every word he said. He made basketball a very simple game for me and he invested in me a lot as a person.”

Duany, who was an assistant at Southport before being hired on the New Orleans staff in 2015, said he sees many of the same traits in Slessinger.

“He’s set the culture,” Duany said. “He’s fair and honest and that’s who we try to be as a program. There are no conversations we can’t have as a team. Family is truly our motto and that togetherness has allowed us to change ourselves as a program.”

Coaches like Angle, Hecklinski, McKinney and Lancaster have made such an impact on the staff that Slessinger said the real pressure on Tuesday will be having them in attendance.

“We’re going to get our butts chewed if we don't do things right,” he joked. “But that’s why you do this. It’s great we’re in this tournament but in the end you aren’t judged by winning (Tuesday night) but the influence you have. That’s what drives us. If you get that part of it right, the basketball success will come.”

Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.
27 2017-03-15
Regional/National

'A Dream Come True' As New Orleans Plays In The First Four


The NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament begins today with a game, if history holds, that will have absolutely no bearing on the ultimate tournament outcome in early April.

The University of New Orleans and Mount St. Mary's University kick things off at the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. Both teams are No. 16 seeds, the lowest, and they're playing for a shot at the highest seed. The winner moves into the main draw to play Villanova — the tournament's overall No. 1.

No 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed.

But New Orleans head coach Mark Slessinger refuses to see his Privateers as potential cannon fodder.

"It would be hard for me to believe that anybody [in the tournament] could appreciate this moment more [than this team]," Slessinger said Monday in Dayton.

Today is New Orleans' first tournament appearance since 1996. But what really makes the Privateers appreciate this moment is the fact that within the last five to 10 years, there was a very real chance this Division I basketball team would be no more.

After the storm

After Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005, University of New Orleans enrollment was decimated. UNO traditionally has drawn students from the city, and many fled after the storm.

"[Enrollment] was around 16,000 before the storm and we're a little over 8,000 now," says Jude Young, a New Orleans native and for the past four years the broadcaster who calls Privateers games.

"Without [student] fees it was real difficult for the athletic department and they were making cuts everywhere," Young says, adding, "The state of Louisiana also slashed budgets for higher education in recent years. That combination was really difficult."

The athletic department reportedly was part of the problem as well, being indecisive at a critical time. In 2009, the school considered a dramatic money-saving step — dropping sports from Division I to Division III. Division III schools are prohibited from awarding athletic scholarships.

Instead UNO then considered going to Division II, until finally announcing, in 2012, that it would remain a D1 school.

It was during that period that current senior guard Nate Frye first signed up to go to UNO and play basketball.

"[My] first year, we couldn't really compete for anything because we were transitioning from D2 to D1," Frye says. "So when I signed they were straight up and said we can't compete. But they said we'll get you here and they kept their promise."

"Here" is the NCAA tournament.

"Dude, it's a dream come true," Frye said Monday after a practice session at the University of Dayton Arena. "Things were looking pretty bleak but coach stuck with us and we stuck with coach. And we finally made it."

And Frye is making the most of it. He and teammates signed autographs for kids after practice. Sometimes athletes will give a perfunctory scribble and not acknowledge the people waiting for their signature. But the Privateers were the sports cliché "happy to be here" come to life.

At one point, a man who had brought several of the kids courtside told them it was time to pack up their stuff and leave.

"Hold on! Hold on," Frye said. "One more from my phone if you don't mind." Frye had been taking selfies with several kids' phones.

"All right you guys," he said, posing with a half-dozen young fans, "this one's for the Snap[chat]. One, two, three. All right, cool."

Special ... and probably over quick

For many basketball fans, the First Four is the appetizer before Thursday's entrée.

For the teams here, being a hoops spring roll isn't such a bad deal.

Tuesday and Wednesday, teams without much chance of going far are the show. They don't have to compete with the craziness of all the other games in other regions. Hoops junkies may grumble about Dayton not being "the real tournament," but they'll tune in.

Of course, this moment in the limelight is destined to be short-lived. It could be over tonight for the Privateers, who are led by four seniors, including Frye, and the Southland Conference player of the year, forward Erik Thomas. Or with a win over Mount St. Mary's, the ride could continue until Thursday and a date with Villanova.

"No one needs a record book about that," says Privateers broadcaster Jude Young. "16 are oh-fer against No. 1! But hey. Why not us?"
27 2017-03-15
Regional/National

New Orleans basketball went from dead to NCAA Tournament team


While New Orleans suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the city’s sports entities felt the squeeze as well. The NFL’s Saints played the 2005 season on the road, while the NBA’s (then-) Hornets called Oklahoma City home.

For Tulane and the University of New Orleans, who were far less flush with cash, the consequences weren’t just relocation. The schools and their respective athletic programs were financially decimated.

Green Wave athletics took years to recover, but being a private school and eventually moving to the American Athletic Conference helped Tulane move past the rocky post-Katrina years. New Orleans, a smaller public school with a modest endowment, was not so lucky.

The charter member of the Sun Belt was once a perennial conference contender and ranked a few times in the late 80s and early 90s. (They made four NCAA Tournament trips too.) But after the hurricane, the school’s enrollment dropped by about 6,000 students, University of Louisiana budgets tightened and they were ready to move down to Division III. UNO left the Sun Belt and began the transition process.


Additional studies led to financial reevaluations and eventually, New Orleans remained in DI. They’d never completely reclassified and were full-fledged members of the Southland Conference for 2013. Considering how far the drop could’ve been for the Privateers, the step down in conference difficulty was a relief.

That was really all it was supposed to be, though. The Southland was filled with a bunch of larger, mostly Texas-based schools. UNO bouncing back and competing, especially in the short-term, seemed unlikely.

Somehow, Coach Mark Slessinger pulled it off, and in very short order.


(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Slessinger arrived after more than a decade at Northwestern State, so he’s experienced in the state. (NW State is in Natchitoches.) But the caliber of athlete on the roster in 2011, when he came to campus, was not NCAA Tournament-worthy. Transitioning out of DI, they had fewer scholarships. Competing as an independent, there was little to sell recruits on.

After four straight losing seasons, the team’s surprising seniors led the Privateers to the Southland’s top seed, sporting a 13-5 conference record, paired with a 20-11 overall mark. They sustained the expected blowouts early on against (tournament) teams like USC, Northwestern and Oklahoma State, though victories against Tulane and Washington State seemed to hint that there was something more on the horizon for UNO.

Leading scorer Erik Thomas may have transferred in (from Baton Rouge Community College), but Christavious Gill, Nate Frye and Tevin Broyles have been at New Orleans for four years. Travin Thibodeaux is a junior, who’s also been here since his first year.


There are a slew of younger players on this squad, and they’ll build the future for the Privateers. But the present – the program’s first 20-win season since 1997 – was largely built on a team mired in mediocrity, and stuck between Division I and Division III. Given the scholarship limitations at lower levels of college athletics, it should have inhibited having this sort of talent on the roster. Instead, the Privateers are game away from going toe-to-toe with defending champion Villanova.

They’re highly unlikely to beat the Wildcats. They may not even beat First Four opponent Mount Saint Mary’s. It’s completely inconsequential – or at least it would appear that way for outside observers.

Slessinger told the Times-Picayune that the tournament bid will change everything for the program. And he’s right. That doesn’t mean he, or any of the team’s numerous seniors, feel like they’re already at the end of the road.

“Party time’s over,” he told the Times after a boisterous community celebration on Selection Sunday. “We’ve got to get on the bus, and go to work.”



If Slessinger didn’t end the party, Mount Saint Mary’s would’ve been happy to do so for them – and still might. The Mountaineers are guard-heavy, shoot threes and play a style that has spelled upset in the tournament many times before.

New Orleans, on the other hand, is plodding (among the 55 slowest teams in the country, according to KenPom), and crashes the boards hard. They’re also among the best teams in the nation in terms of forcing turnovers. It’s the type of game plan that can be executed to perfection against lesser teams – one of which could potentially include Mount St. Mary’s.

We’ll find out soon enough where this Cinderella story nets out. Win or lose vs. the Mount, or Villanova or any unlikely opponent thereafter, this season’s a success for New Orleans. The program was dead and nearly buried in DIII. Just a few years later, they’re in the NCAA Tournament. It’s the stories like this one that always make March Madness worth tuning in for.
27 2017-03-15
Regional/National

Tom Archdeacon: Playing for their city, New Orleans Privateers thankful to be in Dayton



In 44 years as a sportswriter I’d never had this happen before.
When the four University of New Orleans basketball players finished their First Four press conference late Monday afternoon, they stepped off the raised stage and – paying no attention to the aide who told them to exit through a back curtain – they approached each of the handful of media types at their session, looked every person in the eye, shook hands firmly and said two words:

“Thank You!”

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This wasn’t some kind of Hoopla hokum or pregame grandstanding.

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These four Privateers – like the rest of their team and especially head coach Mark Slessinger – are truly thankful to be in Dayton, in the First Four and, most importantly, in the NCAA Tournament.

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How could they not be?

A dozen years ago their once-trumpeted basketball program, their school on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain and much of their entire city was nearly wiped off the map by the winds and flood waters of Hurricane Katrina.

By the time a levee on the London Avenue Canal that borders the school was breached, much of the team already had been evacuated to Tyler, Texas. Two players though got trapped in New Orleans and ended up atop the Interstate 10 overpass with other frightened refugees as floodwaters rose and chaos reigned.

RELATED: Game times, TV info for NCAA Tournament

Lakefront Arena, where the team played, lost its roof and it would take three years to be repaired.

School enrollment dropped from 17,000 to under 8,500.

Soon after the storm, state legislature cut $15 million from the school’s budget. In November of 2009 university administrators announced the athletic teams would go from NCAA Division I programs to non-scholarship Division III. A year later the officials settled on Division II and two years after that, they recommitted to D-I. But by then the damage was done.

Former Wright State player Johann Mpondo was on the New Orleans team when that announcement was made. He said some players quit on the spot. Most others transferred at season’s end.

He came to WSU and over 100 other New Orleans athletes in several sports went elsewhere.

RELATED: 7 reasons has been the country’s top NCAA Tournament host

After Katrina, the school went through three basketball coaches and four athletic directors until good fortune finally blew in instead of out.

Slessinger, who had been an assistant at Northwestern State for 11 seasons, was hired as the new hoops coach in 2011.

“When I arrived that first year we were kind of nomadic … we didn’t have a conference home or affiliation,” he recalled Monday.”We were in flux in classification (too.) We had just three athletes that were committed to stay in the program and I didn’t have an assistant. We didn’t have a lot of things.”

+ New Orleans head coach Mark Slessinger during practice Monday at UD Arena. New Orleans facing Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday in photo COLUMNIST
New Orleans head coach Mark Slessinger during practice Monday at UD Arena. New Orleans facing Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday in ... Read More
Slessinger lost his first game as coach to New Mexico by 52 points and the next game to Rice by 34. By season’s end four Division II and two NAIA teams would beat the Privateers. Average attendance was 175.

But by then Slessinger had fallen in love with the community. It’s where he’d met his wife and where they would adopt two foster children they had taken in, son Holden and a daughter they named Nola Ann, a salute to the New Orleans acronym.

RELATED: NCAA Tournament begins in Dayton for 17th straight year

“I never wanted to be the guy that walked out just because it wasn’t comfortable,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in our community that have lived very uncomfortable for a lot of years because they believe in a bigger picture of our city and what we’re doing. And I think sometimes when you’re uncomfortable a little bit you grow and you get a lot better. So I wasn’t going to cut and run.”

And he was right. The Privateers got much better and now the only things he’s cut down is the nets.

Picked in the preseason to finish ninth by the other coaches in the Southland Conference this season, the Privateers won the league’s regular season and conference tournament titles. Slessinger was named the Coach of the Year. Forward Erik Thomas is the Southland Player of the Year.

Tonight the 20-11 Privateers face Mount St. Mary’s in the first of two First Four games at UD Arena.

This is New Orleans’ first winning season in nine years, its first NCAA appearance in 21.

And the players wanted you to know they weren’t just saying “thank you” for themselves.

“It means a lot to our school and our city, as well,” Thomas said. “For our program to have this opportunity and for Dayton…to take us in for the First Four is an honor.”

Senior guard Christavious Gill agreed: “It means a lot to everybody that was involved in Hurricane Katrina, Some people may have cried, even alumni from our school.”

Fellow guard Nate Frye explained further: “New Orleans is still in the rebuilding process, as (is) our university. There’s lots of areas in New Orleans that hasn’t come back from Katrina. My father is from the Ninth Ward and he went to visit his neighborhood and it’s not even there.”

He compared this NCAA Tournament trip to the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl:

“We’re playing for things bigger than just a trophy. We’re playing for the regrowth of our school, our student attendance. We’re just trying to get people to rally behind us and give them something to hope for.”

Rebuilding the program

When Slessinger began rebuilding the program he took players from small out of the way towns and others who had been overshadowed by other players on their teams.

Gill said New Orleans was the only concrete Division I scholarship he had. Frye and Tevin Broyles said their situations were similar. Thomas came from a junior college.

“He believed in me and he believed we had a future for this program, to bring it back to where it was in the ‘80s and the ‘90s,” said Gill.

+ New Orleans Privateers forward Erik Thomas (14) is upended going for a rebound during the game between Southeastern and UNO at photo COLUMNIST
New Orleans Privateers forward Erik Thomas (14) is upended going for a rebound during the game between Southeastern and UNO at ... Read More
To help promote his vision, Slessinger rooted around in a nearby FEMA storage area that was left over from Katrina and found some of the old broken trophies and water logged banners from the days when the Privateers made four trips to the NCAA Tournament and, as a No. 7 seed in 1987, beat BYU.

To get students interested, he worked in the school cafeteria once a week so he could chat them up. He dressed in a red crawfish costume every May to take part in the school’s annual Crawfish Mambo.

Yet, there still were setbacks and heartbreak.

The NCAA – not taking into account that players had left school and many had lost everything — issued an academic sanction that limited scholarships and participation. And then there was the loss of Matt Derenbecker, the three-point ace who left the Dayton Flyers in 2013 and went back home to Louisiana, where it turned out he struggled with the same bipolar issues that plagued him here and had been misdiagnosed for so long.

He played just nine games for the Privateers, took a medical leave and committed suicide in August of 2014, a tragedy that shook both the Flyers and Privateers programs.

RELATED: Derenbecker left lasting impression on Dayton

Slessinger got tearful talking about Derenbecker on Monday.

“Hardly a day goes by that he doesn’t … chase me,” he said quietly. ”He had such a huge heart. He was as sweet as pie.”

Slessinger stays in contact with Derenbecker’s parents and said they sent him one of the first congratulatory messages after his team made the NCAA Tournament.

Fond memories of Dayton

Slessinger has coached in UD Arena once before.

He was a Northwestern State assistant when the team played Winthrop here in the very first play-in game in 2001.

“It was one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had coaching and that was because of the city of Dayton and the approach the University of Dayton took toward this event,” he said. “They made it something special for our student athletes.

“So in preparing our team for this trip … that was a big piece of it, me telling them how great of an experience they were going to have in the city and in this storied arena. And it means a lot to me to be back here with this phenomenal group of student-athletes.”

+ The New Orleans basketball team enters the team check-in area Monday at UD Arena. TY GREENLEES / STAFF photo TY GREENLEES
The New Orleans basketball team enters the team check-in area Monday at UD Arena. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
It’s obvious this group of players has bought into what he is selling – both on the court and off.

“We do a lot of community service work,” Frye said. “It’s not for media attention …We do it because were still trying to help the city rebuild.”

Thomas smiled and nodded: “Whether it’s someone way out in the hood or way in the country…we’ve been everywhere. We’ve been places you never heard of in Louisiana, helping with floods, tornadoes, no matter what the situation was.

“So I’m actually proud to be a Privateer ‘cause I done helped so many families …and (gave) them that hope and that joy and that happiness back in their lives.”

And Slessinger said this trip to Dayton is accentuating that:

“There’s a lot of people that this means a lot to and it has nothing to do with basketball. But it means a lot to them that we’re back and we’re a champion … and people in the city feel like they’re champions again, too.”

So when you consider those helping hands back home and those extended hands here in Dayton, you realize all of us should being saying something to these guys:

“Thank you!”


27 2017-03-14
New Orleans

Let's dance! UNO to face Mount St. Mary's in NCAA tournament First Four game


After going 21 years between NCAA tournament appearances, the UNO men’s basketball team did not even have to wait 21 seconds to find out where it was headed when the bracket was revealed Sunday afternoon.

The very first pairing shown was the Privateers (20-11) versus Mount St. Mary’s (19-15) in a First Four game at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio — causing an immediate eruption from the players and fans at the viewing party on campus. The winner will face defending national champion (and No. 1 overall seed) Villanova on Thursday in an East regional game in Buffalo, New York.

Download PDF 2017 Men's March Madness Bracket
“It caught me in shock because it was so quick,” senior guard Christavious Gill said. “The (CBS selection) show had just come on. I looked at it, and then I jumped up with all the excitement for me, my teammates, my coaches, the university and the city, everybody. I’m just really excited about the opportunity.”

Some teams get angry when they are slotted in the First Four, figuring they aren’t really in the tournament unless they win their play-in game. Not UNO.

The celebration was loud and proud, with players dancing and hugging one another while a brass band began playing nonstop music. About 200 fans showed up to celebrate with the team, creating a wild atmosphere at a school that has not had cause to party like this about athletics in a long time.

“I’m just happy to be there,” Gill said. “We’ll take it any way it comes. It may be an advantage. We may get the pressure off us in the first game, and we’ll be ready for the second game.”

Gill was one of the few Privateers who knew anything about Mount St. Mary’s, an Emmitsburg, Maryland, school with a student enrollment of slightly more than 2,000. Mount St. Mary’s, like UNO in the Southland, won the regular-season and tournament titles in the Northeast Conference.

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Unlike UNO, the Mountaineers started 1-11 against a rough schedule of power conference teams before getting into league play.

“I watched them play in their conference championship game (a 71-61 victory against Saint Francis of Pennsylvania),” Gill said. “It should be a pretty good matchup.”

The logistics will not be easy for UNO, but they never are for the teams that play Tuesday. Coach Mark Slessinger still had not figured out whether the Privateers would practice before flying Monday to Dayton, but he has experience in that department.

When he was an assistant coach at Northwestern State, his team played in the first play-in game in 2001, beating Winthrop — a fact he pointed out four times in one sentence after UNO’s overtime victory Saturday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the Southland tournament championship game.

“There’s no better basketball city for the NCAA tournament than Dayton,” he said. “It is a phenomenal place and one of the absolute best basketball venues in America. I’ll never forget: You walk in there, and that bright blue carpet is laid out, it’s clean and it’s just a different feeling than the other places I’ve been in the NCAA tournament.”

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UNO celebrated hard after beating Corpus on Saturday night, but to a man, the Privateers insisted they would be ready Tuesday. After a postgame dinner at Whataburger in Katy, Texas, the got back to their team hotel around 3 a.m. before heading back to New Orleans on Sunday morning.

“Our goals were very clear when they set them at the beginning of the year,” Slessinger said. “We wanted to win the league, we wanted to go the NCAA tournament and we wanted to win games there. We’re just not going to show up. We’re not happy showing up. We’ve got a goal, and we’ve trained all year to go to win the next 40 minutes — not to just show up.”

After winning the rebounding battle in the Southland championship game 40-25 against a physical Corpus team, the Privateers like how they match up with Mount St. Mary’s, which is not as big or athletic as the Islanders.

“Despite our size, we’re real physical,” senior guard Nate Frye said. “That’s what got us a championship. I know one thing won’t change: We’ll always play hard and play together, be smart and pass up good shots for great shots like Coach talks about. We’re going to get this win.”

Slessinger was thankful for the Southland tournament format that gave UNO a double bye to the semifinals, saving the Privateers’ legs a bit because they had to win only two games in two days. If they had played three times, the turnaround to Tuesday’s matchup with rested Mount St. Mary’s would have been much tougher. Mount St. Mary’s won its title game Tuesday in a format that spaced out its three games over seven days.

UNO had a case to avoid the First Four. Its RPI was better than five of the other teams in the field, and only four automatic qualifiers participate in those games. But late-season losses to Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State sealed the Privateers’ fate, in Slessinger’s view.

“I thought we would be in a play-in game,” he said. “Those losses were too much to overcome in the eyes of the committee, but that’s OK. We’re excited to go play. I’m undefeated in Dayton.”
27 2017-03-14
New Orleans

Rod Walker: Selection Sunday was a celebration of just how far UNO has come


There was a time when the crowds watching a UNO basketball game in Lakefront Arena weren't any larger than the crowd gathered at the Cove on campus Sunday for the Privateers' NCAA tournament selection show watch party.

But times have changed around UNO.

Boy, have they changed. Just ask athletic director Derek Morel.

"It's hard to describe where we were six years ago and where we've come," Morel said. "Today is bigger than just athletics. It's big for our university and our city."

That's why around 200 or so UNO diehards packed into the campus dining facility.

The wait to get back to the Big Dance took 21 years.

The wait to find out where they'd be dancing (Dayton, Ohio) and whom they would be dancing with (Mount St. Mary's) took just a few seconds, which is also about how long it took for senior guard Christavious Gill to react once he saw his school pop up on the giant screen.

"I was too shocked and too excited to even jump up," he said. "I sat there for about three seconds. My adrenaline was pumping. I was amazed."

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Gill and his teammates knew their name would show up. They had assured themselves of that Saturday night with a thrilling 68-65 overtime victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Katy, Texas, to win the Southland Conference tournament and the automatic NCAA bid that comes with it.

While the March Madness-ending "One Shining Moment" video montage is still three weeks away, UNO's shining moment came Sunday as it brushed off two decades of men's basketball frustration.

Keith Veizer has sat through most of it. Veizer began teaching at UNO in 1971 and has been a fan of the team for 40 years.

He was in Little Rock back in 1996 when the Privateers punched their last ticket to the tournament. And he was in Katy on Saturday night.

So he surely wasn't about to miss being in the Cove.

"It's just a feeling of, 'We're back,' " he said.

The bid came just seven years after UNO, reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, considered dropping down from Division I.

"This one is really special, just to know we have come so far and this rebuilding and how hard it's been," coach Mark Slessinger said.

For Slessinger, Selection Sunday was nothing new: He went to the NCAA tournament twice as an assistant at Northwestern State. So, for him, Sunday was more about the wide-eyed guys dressed in gray staring at the screen.

"The thing that I take away and that tucks away in my heart was watching their faces and knowing the sacrifices they have made and how hard they have worked," Slessinger said.

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Count Gill among the ones who made a sacrifice. He remembers growing up in Alexandria, watching Selection Sunday on TV.

"I would always see teams like Duke and Kentucky on there, and I wanted to be there so bad so I worked hard," he said. "It was a big stage, so I wanted to play on it."

He remembers shooting on that goal his grandfather made with the wooden backboard in his backyard. Now he gets to play on the biggest stage of them all, at the same party as Kentucky and Duke and Villanova (which UNO would play Thursday if it wins Tuesday).

The feeling of Selection Sunday eclipses any big shot he has ever made.

"It feels way better," Gill said. "It shows more of a team effort. The whole team had a part in it. A buzzer beater is just one person, but this is everybody."

And that really does include everybody — from the players to the training staff to the school officials who decided to keep the program going.

Or, as senior forward and Southland Conference Player of the Year Erik Thomas, put it: "This is for our city."

And, of course, no New Orleans party is complete without a brass band. The Stooges Brass Band blasted the tune "Let's Go Get 'Em" as soon as the announcement was made.

And that's what the Privateers plan to do. The team isn't content with just making the tournament. It'll take a charter plane to Dayton on Monday — the first time the team has flown charter.

Normally, they just catch the bus, with Henry Thomas — or Mr. Henry, as they call him around UNO — at the wheel.

Mr. Henry was there Sunday, too.

"I was with them when they were down," he said. "They have gotten better and better. There is a lot of togetherness with this team that I haven't seen before."

He has been a good-luck charm of sorts for UNO. The team is undefeated on road games when he drives.

"He'll take us to the airport, I guarantee you that," Slessinger said.

Then they'll head 900 miles to Ohio.

Yes, they are going a long way. But they've come a long way, too.
27 2017-03-14
New Orleans

'Street sweeper' mentality propelled UNO Privateers to NCAA promised land


The first thing you see when you walk into the New Orleans Privateers' locker room at Lakefront Arena is a message on the wall in blue block letters.

It reads: "If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michaelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper, who did his job well.'"

UNO will face Mount St. Mary's Tuesday in the NCAA Tournament
UNO will face Mount St. Mary's Tuesday in the NCAA Tournament
The winner will take on Villanova, the tournament's overall top seed, on Thursday.

The quote is from Martin Luther King, a testimony to the power of teamwork and selfless commitment. It was the first thing Mark Slessinger posted in the locker room when he took the UNO head coach job six years ago. And it became the mantra of the 2016-2017 UNO Privateers, propelling them to the Southland Conference regular-season and tournament championships and the school's first NCAA Tournament berth in 21 years.

"I love that quote from Martin Luther King," senior guard Nate Frye said. "It was on the board when I came here on my official visit (as a high school senior at Houma Christian School). The street sweeper is a blue-collar worker. He does the dirty work. He puts in a lot of hours behind the scene. That's basically what our motto is.

"Cool doesn't work for us. We found out sexy doesn't get you wins. That's not our identity."

UNO.Privateers.mesage.jpg
University of New Orleans men's basketball coach Mark Slessinger displayed a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King in the Privateers' locker room when he took the job in 2011.
Courtesy of Mark Slessinger

The Privateers are something of a college basketball outlier, and not just because they embrace a blue-collar ethos in a celebrity-obsessed world of selfie sticks and Instagram accounts.

Their players were not heralded McDonald's All-Americans or grace the most wanted lists of national recruiting services.

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Their head coach made his way to New Orleans via a circuitous career path that included stops in Aurora, Ill., Mount Pleasant, Mich., Holbrook, Ariz., and Natchitoches, La.

Their game is old-school. While the small-ball attacks of the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets have grown increasingly popular at all levels of basketball, the Privateers have gone big. They start three forwards and relentlessly pound the ball inside out of their UCLA high-post offense.

"I always tell them, you can always choose to go into a white-collar profession but you better have a blue-collar mentality," Slessinger said. "We're going to show up with our lunch pail, and we're going to get some stuff done."

The Privateers reflected this attitude in their 68-65 victory against Texas A&M Corpus-Christi in the championship game of the Southland Conference Tournament on Saturday night.

The overtime victory against the second-seeded Islanders was textbook UNO. It wasn't pretty. The Privateers appeared tight and anxious early. They shot 31 percent from the field and were 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the first half. The Islanders, meanwhile, hit 13 of 23 shots and opened a 33-26 halftime lead that felt even larger.

But UNO never panicked or got discouraged. They just kept coming, and eventually imposed their will on their opponent, grinding out their 20th victory of this historic season.

"The toughest team won," Slessinger said.

You are going to hear a lot about the Privateers before they tip off against Mount St. Mary's in the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio. Their rags-to-riches journey is one of the best stories in college basketball. The Privateers are one of the darlings of the NCAA Tournament. Slessinger has already made an appearance on ESPN's SportsCenter, and more publicity is certain to follow.

But if America is just now getting acquainted with UNO, the Privateers know their journey started four years ago. As overlooked high school recruits, Frye, Gill and Tevin Broyles bought into Slessinger's vision and cast their lot with the then-moribund program. It wasn't always easy. There were bumps in the road. But the trio stayed the course, joined forces with junior-college transfer Erik Thomas in 2015 and became inseparable brothers and indefatigable senior leaders this season.

"It took some time but at the end of the day we trusted coach's message to get down and get dirty," Gill said. "Blood, sweat and tears every day. Lose some teeth. That's our mentality."


Watch UNO celebrate its southland tournament victory
The seniors led the plucky Privateers to the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 21 years and restored pride in the school's alumni base. As the state's only NCAA Tournament participant, UNO will carry the torch for Louisiana basketball. Gov. John Bel Edwards congratulated the team on his Twitter account Sunday and credited UNO for "making our state proud."

"We're going to go to Dayton, Ohio, and we're going to represent our university and our city to the highest," Slessinger said to a packed house at UNO's NCAA Tournament Selection announcement party on Sunday. "We're going to play our hearts out. We're going to play tough. We're going to play very, very physical. We're going to play with an edge to us. And we're going to have a ton of fun doing it."

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The blue-and-silver-clad crowd enthusiastically cheered its approval. At times, the celebration felt more like a church revival than an NCAA Tournament selection party. After the Privateers' matchup was revealed, there were inspired testimonies from UNO athletic director Derek Morel, Slessinger and the Privateers' senior quartet. The school's brass pep band punctuated the celebration with a rousing version of Rebirth Brass Band's Do Whatcha Wanna and second-lined on stage.

"This will carry us through as long as we're here," Slessinger said of the NCAA Tournament berth. "It'll change everything for us as a program."

The celebration had been a long time coming for the program and Slessinger wanted his team to enjoy the moment. Players hugged well-wishers, posed for photos with fans and teammates and conducted media interviews. By 5:15 p.m., the shindig was starting to wind down. By 6 p.m., only the hard-core mainstays and key officials remained in the empty room.

"Party time's over," Slessinger said. "We've got to get on the bus, and go to work."


27 2017-03-14
New Orleans

UNO Privateers headed to March Madness


For the first time in over two decades, the University of New Orleans Privateers basketball team are headed to the NCAA tournament.

VIDEO
27 2017-03-14
New Orleans

Photos: Mood electric as UNO learns its opponent in first NCAA berth since 1996


The University of New Orleans Privateers men's basketball team celebrated the announcement Sunday that they will play Mount St. Mary's in the play-in round of the NCAA basketball tournament. The team has not been to the NCAA tournament since 1996.
27 2017-03-14
Regional/National

Univ. of New Orleans Basketball Star


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27 2017-03-13
New Orleans

UNO gets $468K in cybersecurity education grants


Computer science researchers at the University of New Orleans have received three cybersecurity education grants totaling $468,000 from the National Security Agency.
The university says in a news release that the funding will support efforts to develop cybersecurity educational materials, evaluate the effectiveness of certain teaching tools and provide an intensive training experience for middle and high school teachers from around the country.
An award of $188,000 will allow the UNO team to address challenges associated with the instruction of cybersecurity of supervisory control and data acquisition systems, which control major portions of U.S. infrastructure, such as power grids, pipelines and water management.
UNO researchers plan to use another award of $164,000 to examine the use of concept maps that are often used to develop a detailed conceptual knowledge and a broad perspective of a domain. A third award of $116,000 will be used to conduct GenCyber, a cybersecurity boot camp for middle and high school teachers.
27 2017-03-10
New Orleans

UNO's ascension under Mark Slessinger a story of pride, perseverance and now wins


Along with the sun, a question arose each day this winter in Mark Slessinger's Pontchartrain Park home.

"Are you going to win a championship today, Dad?" asked a wide-eyed Holden Slessinger, the 5-year-old son of the University of New Orleans' men's basketball coach.

UNO holds off Nicholls to claim sole possession of Southland Conference championship
UNO holds off Nicholls to claim sole possession of Southland Conference championship
The outright conference championship is the first for the school in any sport since before Katrina struck in 2005.
It's a question loyal Privateers fans have been asking for two decades, since 1996-97 when the UNO men earned a share of the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament.

Last Saturday, Slessinger was finally able to give Holden the answer he wanted to hear.

The Privateers' 74-64 victory at Nicholls State clinched the outright Southland Conference regular-season championship and guaranteed UNO its first NCAA postseason berth since 1997.

Southeastern vs. UNO 3/2/17
Mark Slessinger: "Itas been an amazing journey a| a long, tough, grueling rebuild."
Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune

Having secured a double-bye in this week's conference tournament in Katy, Texas, UNO can earn the program's first NCAA Tournament berth since 1996 with a pair of wins. Regardless, the Privateers are guaranteed a spot in the NIT thanks to the conference regular-season title.

"It's been an amazing journey ... a long, tough, grueling rebuild," said Slessinger, whose team opens Southland Tournament play on Friday at 5 p.m. against Sam Houston State. "I just can't believe after all this time we're there, and we're champions."

ASCENDING ORDER

It's not a stretch to say the Privateers' rise is the best story in college basketball.

The Privateers raised their overall win total from 10 to 18 games, making them one of the most improved teams among the nation's 351 Division I programs.

ADVERTISING

Few outside of Gentilly saw the Privateers' ascension coming. They were picked ninth in the preseason Southland Conference coaches' poll; the league's sports information directors picked them 10th.

The low expectations were understandable. UNO had not enjoyed a winning season as a Division I conference member since 2007-08. Their last conference championship or national postseason appearance of any kind was two decades ago.

Considering everything the cash-strapped, storm-ravaged school has been through since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the championship is nothing short of miraculous.

"It's a great story," Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett said. "I don't think anyone expected it to happen this quickly."

While more high-profile schools like UCLA, Northwestern and Minnesota have enjoyed more successful turnarounds in the win-loss column, no program has come farther or done more with less than UNO.

The Privateers' athletic budget of $5 million is the smallest in the Southland Conference and one of the smallest of any public Division I school in the nation.

Faced with declining enrollment, statewide budget cuts and insufficient fundraising efforts after Hurricane Katrina, school officials reluctantly decided to drop the school from Division I to non-scholarship Division III competition in November 2009. A year later, they altered course, declared their intentions to join Division II and applied for membership in the Gulf South Conference. But just before that transition was complete, new UNO President Dr. Peter Fos nixed the plan and recommitted to Division I athletics.

The schizophrenia caused irreparable damage to the athletic program's image, morale and infrastructure. Scores of athletes transferred to other Division I schools. So many staffers were laid off, rows of offices in the athletic department sat empty.

When Slessinger, 42, took the job on June 29, 2011, the school was without a conference affiliation and still mired in a self-inflicted identity crisis. He had three players on the roster and one assistant on his coaching staff.

The program officially competed as a Division I independent in Slessinger's first season, but the Privateers' schedule and talent level were Division II quality.

Slessinger lost his first game to New Mexico by 52 points. He lost his second game to Rice by 34. In the final game of that first season, UNO lost at Selma (Ala.) University, a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association, before an announced crowd of 175.

Things went from bad to worse a year later when the NCAA imposed sanctions on the program for substandard Academic Progress Rate scores resulting from the transition period's heavy roster turnover. UNO was hit with a postseason ban, recruiting restrictions and reductions in scholarships, practice time and games.

Marred by negativity publicity, Slessinger lost countless prospects to rival schools in recruiting. Assistants left for greener pastures. Boosters went silent or sprouted alligator arms when he asked for donations.

"It was a train wreck," Slessinger said of the program he inherited. "There was no playbook for what we were doing. At one point, I had 18 guys on some form of (financial) aid. I had one guy on $200. We would have been better off if we had just received the death penalty and started fresh."

Instead of getting depressed or angry, the eternally optimistic Slessinger got busy.

Slessinger came to UNO with a PHD in resourcefulness, having spent his entire playing and coaching career in remote basketball outposts like Aurora (Ill.) University, Central Michigan, Northland Pioneer (Ariz.) College and Northwestern State.

Northland Pioneer is a junior college in Holbrook, Ariz., a highway town of 5,053 set hard against the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest.

When head coach Richard Zelanski suffered a stroke in December of 1998, Slessinger was thrust into the lead role. At age 24, he ran the program as a one-man band on a shoestring budget for a year-and-a-half. The school's basketball offices were housed in trailers. The Golden Eagles played their home games at a local high school gym. During one promotional outing, Slessinger rode an elephant into a circus and dismounted by sliding down the pachyderm's trunk.

"You've got to do crazy stuff," said Slessinger, who learned the Louisiana backroads while serving as an assistant to Mike McConathy for 11 years at Northwestern State. "One of the reasons I got the (UNO) job was I knew how to work in an under-resourced program and how to do more with less and not see it as a negative. You have to be relentlessly positive to make this thing work."

One of the first things Slessinger did after taking the UNO job was dig through a storage shed at Lakefront Arena and recover the championship trophies from the program's halcyon days in the late 1980s and '90s. He displayed the memorabilia in the basketball offices as a reminder to his players of the program's potential.

Then he went to work promoting and recruiting, using his folksy charm to lure tough-minded, overlooked prospects to campus and convincing them to believe in his vision.

He knocked on doors across campus and spoke to nearly every Catholic men's club in town. He dressed in a crawfish costume at the school's annual Crawfish Mambo fundraiser in May. And every Thursday he manned the grill station in the school cafeteria, recruiting students to attend games over cheeseburgers and fries.

"He is a force of nature on campus," said Adam Norris, UNO's Chief Communications officer.

COMING TOGETHER

In Slessinger's sixth season, it all came together for the senior-laden Privateers. Led by forward Eric Thomas and the guard trio of Tevin Broyles, Christavious Gill and Nate Frye, they defeated Washington State and crosstown rival Tulane during their pre-conference schedule and went 13-5 in league play. The one-year vault from ninth to first represented the most dramatic in-league improvement in college basketball and earned Thomas Southland Conference Player of the Year and Slessinger conference Coach of the Year honors.

"We're very blessed and humbled by everything that's happened to us," Slessinger said. "We've had so many tough things happen to us (at UNO) over the last 10 years, it's nice to have some good news for a change. There's a lot of really good people that work at this university. Hopefully, we have given them something to be proud about."

The success has validated Slessinger's hard work and reinforced the message he has delivered incessantly to players and staff for the past five years. A man of strong faith, Slessinger believes his mission extends beyond simply winning games, developing players and selling tickets. The chance to make a difference in the community is one of the reasons he gravitated to the UNO job and feels so attached to the city and its unique culture.

"This is my ministry," Slessinger said.

"When I get to the gates, they're not going to say, Hey, you won that 2017 (Southland Conference) championship. Good work. Come on in. They're going to say was Nate Frye a good husband? Was Christavious Gill a good father, and was Tevin Broyles a good worker and did his job well and honestly? I think that that's how my life will be judged. Not by wins, but by how my players lived their lives 20 years from now. That's what really matters."

Slessinger's players introduce themselves to strangers, look them in the eye and address them as "Sir" or "Ma'am."

UNO.flood.jpg
UNO players and coaches conducted relief work for flood victims in Livingston Parish in August 2016.
Andrew Boyd, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune

The Privateers performed relief work after the tornado in New Orleans East and bused to Livingston Parish last August to help an elderly couple restore their flooded home in Holden. The team also holds multiple Special Olympics Clinics annually and has done community service work at Second Harvest Food Bank, KaBoom playground at Alice Harte Elementary Charter School and participated in the Plaquemines Parish Youth Empowerment Camps.

"He says this religiously, 'You have to have an undefeated attitude,'" Morel said. "We've been defeated a lot, but the attitude and the belief that it can happen has never been defeated.

"I believed in his spirit, and his passion, his conviction and his mission that we're about developing men who can be great husbands, community leaders and fathers."

Added UNO president Dr. John Nicklow: "He is engaged in every aspect of the university. I couldn't ask for a better coach. The winning is icing on the cake."

Slessinger and his wife, Toni, became foster parents to Holden and Nola Ann, 4, and have since adopted them. The Slessingers are eager to add to their family again through the state's Department of Children and Family Services. The Sugar Bowl's Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee recognized Slessinger's dedication by honoring him with a Jimmy Collins Special Award for community service in 2014.

0981.jpg
Mark Slessinger celebrates UNO's 2016-2017 Southland Conference regular-season title with daughter, Nola, left, and son Holden.
Photo courtesy of Mark Slessinger

"He's like a father to us and some of us actually call him dad sometimes," said Frye, the team's third-leading scorer with a 10.5-point average. "... We see it every day. When (Holden) is here and when Nola's here we see him being just a good father and we know it's not fake. It's true, genuine love, and that what he's telling us, he practices himself at home. He practices what he preaches."

Slessinger celebrated the title Saturday with family and friends at one his favorite haunts, Katie's Restaurant in Mid-City. His parents, Louis and Barbara, who were visiting from their home in Bloomington, Ind., were there as were Toni, Holden and Nola, who had just arrived back in town from a visiting Toni's mother in Florida.

This week has been whirlwind. In addition to preparing for the SLC tournament, Slessinger has fielded countless media requests and congratulatory calls from friends, colleagues and former players. A high school classmate and his coach at Aurora, Ill., have made arrangements to attend the Southland tournament.

"This is a great book and a great story," Slessinger said. "It's had some interesting twists and turns in it. I don't think we're done.

"I think we've got a couple of more chapters left in us. I'm really anxious to see where it takes us."
27 2017-03-08
Associated Press

At cash-strapped UNO, patience and passion pays off


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — University of New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger can't forget the days when he'd show up for a game at Lakefront Arena and see hardly a soul in the 9,000-seat stadium that had been rebuilt amid Hurricane Katrina's lingering ruins.

Memories like those help him and others who've refused to give up on UNO and appreciate how far the Privateers, seeded No. 1 in this week's Southland Conference tournament, have come since the cash-strapped school nearly dropped Division I sports little more than half a decade ago.

"One time we came out and there was like 50 people," Slessinger recalled of one of his early home games at UNO. "I was just like, 'Is this real? This can't be happening.'"

Slessinger grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, watching the Indiana Hoosiers in packed Assembly Hall — where his mother has worked as an usher. But rather than flee the apparent college basketball wasteland in which he found himself at UNO, Slessinger became obsessed with trying to rebuild the program that made two NCAA Tournament appearances under coach Tim Floyd in the early 1990s.

At the very least, the 42-year-old Slessinger has restored the program's credibility.

The Privateers went 18-11 overall this season and 13-5 in league play, clinching the regular season title with a 74-64 victory at Nicholls State on Saturday. That result guaranteed UNO its first NCAA post-season appearance since 1997. The Privateers will get an NIT bid unless they win the Southland's lone automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Having secured a double-bye, UNO opens Southland tournament play Friday.

"This is a really special story and it's not over yet," said Southland Conference commissioner Tom Burnett, who recently presented the Privateers with a trophy to mark their regular-season title. "They've got a great opportunity ahead of them. ... I probably would have told you this is a 10-year project, but they're on a much faster track."

On Monday evening, there were more honors. Slessinger was named Southland Conference coach of the year, while Privateers forward Erik Thomas, who has averaged 19.7 points and 7.9 rebounds, was named conference player of the year.

"It is an unprecedented march from where we were ... to where we are today with all the twists and turns," Slessinger said. "It's a story of some great student athletes that were under-recruited that people didn't believe in (during) the recruiting process, but we saw something specifically in them that was special."

When Slessinger took over at UNO for the 2011-12 season, the Privateers were without a conference or any reasonable certainty about their future. Technically, UNO was a Division I independent then, but its schedule included many games against schools in lower divisions. That season, UNO lost to Division II schools such as Selma, Christian Brothers, Delta State and West Florida, as well as NAIA schools Xavier (New Orleans) and Loyola (New Orleans).

Historically, UNO, which sits right on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, has served mostly commuting students from the New Orleans area, a population that diminished sharply for a few years after Katrina's floods had displaced tens of thousands of residents in August 2005.

Monte Towe, who played for North Carolina State's 1974 national championship team, was UNO's coach when Katrina hit.

He said the storm's effect on the school, from widespread damage on campus to the decline in enrollment, "was like a heavyweight fighter nailing you with a knockout punch, and you're on your knees and you're not sure if you're going to be able to get back up."

Towe said that influenced his decision to go back to North Carolina State as an assistant in 2006.

Plummeting enrollment meant declining revenues from fees supporting athletics. Not wanting to divert money from financially struggling academic programs to sports, the administration in place at the time Slessinger arrived formally proposed downgrading athletics from Division I to non-scholarship Division III and withdrew UNO from the Sun Belt Conference.

UNO later appeared settled on a plan to move to Division II, which allows partial scholarships. But just before that transition was complete, a shake-up in Louisiana's higher education system placed UNO under different leadership which supported maintaining Division I sports.

UNO joined the Southland for the 2013-14 season, but could not compete in the post-season because of the program's problems meeting NCAA academic standards tied to graduation rates; Numerous student athletes had left school early around that time over dissatisfaction with planned changes to the program.

So Slessinger focused on recruiting players he felt had high character, cared about academics and could commit to a challenging rebuilding process on the court.

"Despite everything that was going on. He had a vision," senior point guard Nate Frye said. "You would almost think he was crazy with the situation we were in."

UNO Athletic Director Derek Morel, who has overseen the Privateers' recommitment to Division I sports, took over his department after Slessinger's first season in New Orleans, but decided to keep Slessinger rather than chose his own coach.

"I believed in his spirit, and his passion, his conviction ... and his belief that we could do it here," said Morel, whose entire athletic department runs on an annual budget of about $5 million, among the lowest for any public university nationwide. "We want him here as long as he wants to be here."


27 2017-03-08
New Orleans

Home Field Advantage: UNO’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration educates the best and brightest for NOLA’s largest industry


Located minutes away from the French Quarter, the epicenter of tourism in New Orleans, the University of New Orleans’ (UNO) Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism (HRT) Administration is preparing future industry leaders one practice reservation at a time.

UNO’s HRT offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in hotel, restaurant and tourism administration, as well as an executive online master of science in hospitality and tourism management. These degree programs provide an important pipeline for training personnel in New Orleans.

“The HRT program provides a much needed workforce for hotels, restaurants, convention centers and many other tourism-related businesses,” said Dr. Kim Williams, director and graduate coordinator of the program. “Over 80 percent of undergraduate and 90 percent of graduate students work full-time while attaining their degrees. This supplies an immediate workforce to the industry prior to the completion of the HRT degree.”

The degrees prepare students for a wide variety of roles within the sector, and the training is viewed by employers as a valuable asset for career advancement.

“The industry recognizes the education that our students receive and that we are a management training program that is focused on providing well-trained students who are ready for management positions,” said Williams. “We boast 100 percent placement of students upon graduation.”

The HRT program is supported in part by a collaboration with the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association’s (GNOHLA) Hospitality Education Foundation.

Last December GHOHLA announced they had donated a major gift — a $75,000 grant that will fund improvements to the HRT laboratory. The gift represents the first major commitment since the launch of the UNO Foundation’s $2.5 million capital campaign.

According to Williams, improvements to the HRT lab will include a simulated hotel front desk and lobby, a beverage lab, an additional dining room and office conversions. Just as a chemistry lab prepares science students for their careers, the labs give students the settings and tools to obtain hands-on experience in hospitality roles.
Support from GHOHLA is crucial to enhancing the HRT program. Williams said both this and future gifts will help UNO meet its goal of quadrupling enrollment in the program. Building state-of-the-art facilities will attract more students and the talented faculty to teach them.

Plans for capital improvements with future gifts include a new roof, exterior refurbishment, an atrium style entrance, a 250-seat dining room, 35 computers for the property management system room and new equipment in the production kitchen.

“We are truly grateful for the partnership that we have with GNOHLA,” said Williams. “We believe that our relationships are mutual with our industry partners. GNOHLA Education Foundation has partnered with HRT on an annual career fair, provided funding for advertising and promotion, lab renovations and student travel.”

HRT has supported GNOHLA as well by providing an annual new supervisor training for the lodging industry. The American Hotel and Lodging UNO Student Chapter also volunteers at GNOHLA events like the golf tournament and the annual industry Christmas party.


The Breakdown

Funding the Future

Currently, there are more than 88,000 jobs in the hospitality industry in Orleans Parish alone.

GNOHLA Hospitality Education Foundation has contributed over $170,000 to UNO’s HRT (Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism) program over the past five years. The program educates students for management positions and boasts a 100 percent placement rate.
27 2017-03-08
New Orleans

UNO holds off Nicholls to claim sole possession of Southland Conference championship


THIBODAUX -- UNO basketball had another reason to celebrate Saturday, this time after a victory.

Two days after the Privateers clinched a share of the Southland Conference championship despite a home loss to Southeastern, UNO beat Nicholls 74-64 to claim sole possession of the league title.

The outright conference championship is the first for the school in any sport since before Katrina struck in 2005. Not since baseball won the Sun Belt title in 2000 has a UNO sports team won sole possession of a regular season championship.

UNO last won a basketball conference championship in 1997 while in the Sun Belt.

"It's such a huge day for us," UNO coach Mark Slessinger said. "Men's basketball isn't just a champion today. Our university is a champion, our students and staff are champions and our alumni are champions."

UNO (18-11, 13-5 Southland) and Nicholls (14-17, 7-11) traded leads nine times in the first 11 minutes, and UNO led by as many as 14 points early in the second half.

A Nicholls charge led by Jahvaugh Powell (23 points) closed the margin to 46-44, and the Colonels again rallied to within 65-62 after UNO pushed the margin back to double figures.

An Erik Thomas (21 points, 10 rebounds) jumper from the right wing widened the lead, and UNO made seven of 10 free throws down the stretch.

UNO initially won a share of the conference title Thursday when second-place Stephen F. Austin lost to remain one game behind the Privateers. UNO came into Saturday with a one-game lead on three schools that were tied for second.

The outright championship gives UNO the top seed in the Southland Conference tournament next week in Katy, Texas, and the winner of the eight-team tournament will secure a spot in the NCAA tournament.

UNO will have a bye through the first two rounds and into the semifinal round of the conference tournament. The first game will be 5 p.m. Friday, with the championship set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
27 2017-03-07
New Orleans

Air Force general to speak at UNO commencement, and other area higher education news


General to address UNO commencement
Air Force Brig. Gen. Chad Franks, a University of New Orleans alumnus, will be the principal speaker at the university’s spring commencement ceremony May 13 in the Lakefront Arena.

Franks is vice commander of 14th Air Force, Air Force Space Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

A native of Metairie and graduate of Archbishop Rummel High School, Franks earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies from UNO in 1990.

He has served 27 years with the Air Force and logged more than 3,300 hours as a command pilot. He has deployed in support of military operations in Iraq and Kosovo.

The Air Force Space Command is composed of 12,000 personnel with 28 weapon systems at 44 locations around the globe.

Franks was a member of the Air Force ROTC program at UNO. Upon graduation, he entered the Air Force and has since been stationed at military posts across the country, including the Pentagon, and at Air Force Central Command in Qatar.
27 2017-02-23
New Orleans

Photos: Beads, fun return with University of New Orleans Mardi Gras parade


After a hiatus of several years, the University of New Orleans' Mardi Gras parade returned to campus.

PHOTOS
27 2017-02-23
New Orleans

The Krewe of UNO is back and bigger than ever


UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) -The Krewe of UNO has long been in existence, but after a three year hiatus, it rolled through campus again.

Students, faculty and staff had a chance to celebrate Carnival season the privateer way, with beads, swag, pirate ships and a new mascot.

"We decided that we really needed to re-establish this tradition to celebrate of the success that we've had here, the student success that we've had here, and the turn out is amazing,"said Brett Kemker, Dean of Students,

The mascot boarded a pirate ship float in the Horseshoe in front of the UC, and led the parade past Milneburg Hall, the Homer L. Hitt Alumni Center, and Privateer Place.

Brother Martin High School got the campus grooving with its 90-piece marching band.

“New Orleans and Mardi Gras are synonymous,” said Brett Kemker, dean of students for the University. “It’s part of the culture and, being the city’s university, it only makes sense that we celebrate that tradition at UNO.”

Colleges, student organizations, fraternities, sororities and athletic teams were represented throughout the parade, as well as the 2017 homecoming king and queen.

More than 1,500 students from area middle and high schools were also on campus as part of a daylong event UNO is hosting in celebration of National Engineers Week. The parade was open to them as well as to the public.
27 2017-02-06
New Orleans

UNO promotes chemistry professor to oversee research, and other news of area higher education


UNO names chemist to oversee research
The University of New Orleans has selected a longtime chemistry faculty member to serve as vice president for research and economic development at the university.

Professor Matt Tarr assumed the role on Jan. 18 after spending 21 years at UNO. Tarr is the Eurofins professor of analytical chemistry as well as a faculty fellow in the university’s Advanced Materials Research Institute.

He served as chairman of the chemistry department from 2009 to 2015. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Emory University in Atlanta and a doctorate in analytical chemistry from Georgia Tech.

Tarr conducts research in analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, free radical oxidation of biomolecules, and synthesis and application of nanomaterials for biomarker detection and photocatalysis, according to school officials.

He also coordinates outreach programs that provide research experiences for undergraduates, visiting international students, high school students and high school teachers.


27 2017-02-06
New Orleans

Farah's journey: A New Orleans Iraqi-American adjusts to the Trump presidency


Farah Alkhafaf spread a chador on the library floor and checked the compass on her iPhone.

The University of New Orleans stocks prayer rugs in the University Center, but that was a whole five minutes' walk away. So Farah and her friend Radayna Thabata shut themselves in a study room adorned with a "UNO PROUD" sticker.

Farah adjusted her blue hijab and closed her eyes. It was a moment of calm and introspection in the middle of a busy day of classes and clubs for the 20-year-old senior. A few minutes later, she stepped aside for Radayna, saying, "It's all yours, sister!"

As Radayna knelt and bowed, Farah messaged with the university's community liaison group about homecoming, then opened a calendar to figure out the Muslim Students' Association's spring activities.

There's another event she's trying to schedule: her wedding. Farah and her fiance, Amir, hoped to visit family in Iraq at the end of their honeymoon. But Iraq has banned U.S. citizens from entering the country, reciprocating President Donald Trump's temporary ban on travelers from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Some family members in Canada might not be able to come to the wedding; Farah isn't sure of their immigration status.

"All travel plans are at a standstill," she said.

Farah is among the many immigrants reconsidering celebrations and worrying about their future in the United States after Trump's immigration order and his intent to build a wall on the Mexican border.

"I have a lot of loved ones supporting me. But then I click on the news and there's another side. People who want me to leave," she said.

Farah has citizenship in four countries, including the U.S. She's lived in New Orleans since she was 4, except for a Katrina evacuation to Houston. She loves its restaurants, its trees - even the broken-down homes. Her three siblings all attend or graduated from city universities; one is at LSU medical school.

When Farah visited Iraq for the first time, just four years ago, it was clear she didn't belong. Wrong accent. Couldn't manage her long abaya veil in the wind. She got chided at for sitting cross-legged. Even her "very traditional" parents made faux pas -- they left so long ago.

"People say, in quotes, 'Go back home,'" Farah said. "(New Orleans) is my home."

Local Latinos wonder, worry amid Trump immigration order
Local Latinos wonder, worry amid Trump immigration order
New Orleans area Latinos expressed their fears and uncertainties over Trump's intentions at a meeting held Wednesday.

Farah has been explaining her family's traditions for a long time. When she was in the third grade, her mother organized an assembly at her school, Harold Keller Elementary in Metairie, to explain that she would begin wearing a headscarf.

It seemed to be a first for everyone. "The principal stood up and she really didn't know how to handle it," and asked Farah to tell her classmates why they were celebrating. This to a 9-year-old who was so shy she turned beet red when a teacher asked a question.

Farah didn't know what to say. Desperate, she pointed to her mom. "Tomorrow, I'm going to be dressed like her!" she recalled blurting.

The other third-graders were confused. Why couldn't she stay the same? Why did she have to change?

"I'm still going to be the same me," she said. "I'm just going to have something on my head." Then they all ate chips, cake and grape leaves.

In fact, Farah wasn't the same timid girl afterwards. Her classmates got excited over her colorful scarves. They talked about their favorites. Did she have one with polka dots?

"I just became this popular kid," she said.

-----

On Wednesday, UNO Learning Resource Center director Shannon Williamson checked in with Farah and Radayna. Had they experienced any prejudice on campus?

In a word, no. "I've always felt very welcomed here. This campus specifically is so diverse," Farah said.

Radayna, a senior biology major, had one professor say something weird when she didn't respond to his pro-Trump comment, she said. Other than that, "the university has stood by us," she said. "Everyone else has shown such love."

UNO President John Nicklow personally told Farah to report any problems, spokesman Adam Norris confirmed. He said school should be a haven. The Women's Center reached out to the Muslim Student Association to see if they could help, director Lisa Verner said.

However, Farah is painfully familiar with fear. "This was going on before Trump - Islamophobia," she said. "Looks and stares and moms pulling their children away." Her mother used to tell her, "They're looking at you because you're beautiful."

Trump said he ordered the ban, which is currently stayed in federal court, for security's sake. Farah gets that. "I want security. I don't want terror," she said. Her family in the Middle East has to worry about terrorism all the time.

Her refugee parents don't often talk about the past. They lived in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates before coming to the U.S. Still, sometimes current events remind them "of their struggles in escaping a dictator," Farah said. They managed to get out in the 1970s before the Saddam Hussein regime began ransacking houses and abducting people.

"I'm thankful I live in New Orleans, where people are more accepting and more diverse," Farah said. Yet the possibility of an anti-Muslim attack "does terrify me." At night she goes out only in a group, and she sets herself a curfew. She initially did not want to say that she has Iraqi citizenship, fearing it could be used against her. When she became an American, she emphasized, she was a citizen of the United Arab Emirates.

Trump's immigration ban hits New Orleans universities
Trump's immigration ban hits New Orleans universities
Leaders restated their support for international, welcoming campuses.

Farah's anthropology class sat around UNO's Katrina monument, talking about borders and belonging. She quoted an example from the Koran, describing two seas, salt and fresh, that meet but do not mix. There's a barrier between the two sides, "this in-between space."

"When you're on the edge, what can happen?" instructor Rachel Breunlin asked. She answered her own question: "You can see more."

Farah nodded. "You start opening your mind to different realms," she said.

"I don't hold any resentment toward the people that are, that have - I don't want to say hate - dislike for my community," she said after class. "But I do wish they'd open up and ask us questions."

Throughout college, when Farah hasn't been studying, working in the psychology lab, mentoring or volunteering, she has spent a lot of time trying to raise awareness about Islam. It shares some classic U.S. values, she said. Environmentalism, "free speech and equality for all people ... these are all Islamic teachings." She and her sister founded the local chapter of an international group inspired by a 7th century leader, Hussain, who died fighting injustice.

Fellow Muslim Students' Association officer Mariam Khan joined Farah and Radayna in the library for the planning session Wednesday afternoon. The MSA's most popular event is Hijab Awareness Day, where they tie headscarves and give out flowers and sweets. Although it's more than two months away, a lot of non-Muslims have already contacted Radayna asking to participate.

People say, in quotes, 'Go back home.' This is my home." - Farah Alkhafaf
Maybe this year they'll teach students about male guidelines for modesty, "If we can get more guys to sign up," Radayna said. "I'm going to make them," vowed Mariam, who had already gathered signatures to reboot the club's email list.

One part of the awareness day is to shed light on Islamic culture and terms, such as "jihad." In public, Western discourse, it's associated with violent attacks and a terrifying man videotaped on a windswept desert with hostages.

However, that's not its original meaning, Farah said. "'Jihad' just means 'a struggle'" -- for self-improvement, to avoid being petty and mean, the journey to a better self.

"We all struggle to be the best person we can be," the psychology major said. "That's what makes us human, right?"

-----

There's a lot of excitement on the horizon for Farah. "I've always had in mind (earning a) Ph.D., but for right now I think I'm just going to get my master's," after a gap year to adjust to Ohio, where her fiance runs several businesses.

During the library planning session, all the organization in the world couldn't stop the friends' conversation from turning to Farah's wedding. Where to go for the honeymoon? The beach?

"It has to be, like, a deserted beach, though, because I can't wear a burquini," Farah said, rolling her eyes. She thinks the full-body swimsuit makes her look weird. And "with this travel ban, too -- I mean, perfect timing!"

Scandinavia? Somewhere in the U.S.?

"She can't go home, she can't stay here," Mariam quipped. Then Mariam corrected herself: "No -- she can stay here."


27 2017-02-03
New Orleans

People this Week: New hires, promotions, awards


Mahyar Amouzegar was hired as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Orleans.

27 2017-01-31
New Orleans

International students thinking twice about traveling after ban Loading


NEW ORLEANS – After President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning refugees, and immigrants from seven countries, some local college students are thinking twice about traveling.

"If I had any plans to go outside the country I would definitely have canceled them because of my dual citizenship,” Summer, an Iranian-American and Loyola University Student. “I wouldn't know how that would affect me."

As an American, Summer isn't as worried about being prevented from coming home, but that's the fear others have to deal with.
"I have friends, I have family, and it does affect them and that's sad because they came here for a better opportunity and for a better life," said Sabrine Mohamad, another student at Loyola.

From Loyola to the University of New Orleans (UNO), administrators and fellow students are working to help those affected.
"We haven't been in this situation before, but there have been a lot of hotlines and numbers that have been circulating," said Farah Alkhafaf, Muslim Student Association at UNO.

Alkhafaf is worried that some fellow students could see all their hard work could go to waste if they leave and can't come back.
"This is the point of coming to college or a university; to expand your knowledge besides the little limited perspective that we see in front of us today," said Alkhafaf.

What's unfolding is becoming a history lesson that Dr. Mehrooz Moazami, once a refugee who fled from Iran, didn't think he would have to teach.
"It's something that has been approved by the 1951 Geneva Convention, whoever is persecuted in his place of living has the right to come to a different country," he said.

President Trump has refused to back down from his order, but students of all backgrounds say they'll be there for those in need.
"We defend each other we're accepting of each other, and I think diversity, inclusion, and respect is what makes America great," said Rana Tabatha, Loyola student.

So far, Tulane University and the Loyola University have both issued statements condemning the President's order. They're also advising affected students to be very aware of their rights, and to have their documents as they travel abroad.

27 2017-01-31
New Orleans

Trump's immigration ban hits New Orleans universities


New Orleans university leaders expressed deep concern about President Donald Trump's immigration ban Monday (Jan. 30) as they scrambled to find out how many of their own students and faculty might be affected.

At first count, close to 50 local students and faculty members are citizens of the seven majority-Muslim countries affected by the ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, administrators said. That figure includes only people who are here on visas, not those who hold green cards for permanent residency. Some green card holders were detained over the weekend at airports.

If the executive order stands, "They won't be able to travel and be readmitted ... and some of them are therefore separated from their families," Tulane chief of staff/vice president Tania Tetlow said. A federal judge issued a stay Saturday on enforcement of the order.


But the potential chilling effect spreads beyond those seven countries, and beyond those already on campus. The ban put foreign nationals and Muslims on high alert, according to Xavier University of Louisiana President C. Reynold Verrett and the board of the Tulane International Society.

And a handful of prospective students from Latin America and Asia declined Tulane offers over the weekend, Tetlow said, "concerned both about whether the rules might change and no longer allow them to come as students ... and whether they will be able to make careers here in this country if the immigration rules tighten up."

They said they would study in Canada instead, Tetlow said.

Roughly 16,000 students in the U.S. come from the seven countries, according to estimates from Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. The weekend brought a slew of Twitter posts from panicked university researchers stuck abroad. Two University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth professors sued after they were detained coming home, according to the Boston Globe.

New Orleans protesters rally against Trump's travel ban
New Orleans protesters rally against Trump's travel ban
Protesters gathered at Duncan Plaza across from New Orleans City Hall Sunday (Jan. 29) afternoon, joining others nationwide who are voicing opposition to President Donald Trump's executive order

Local support for international students

Presidents at the University of New Orleans, Tulane and Loyola University at New Orleans gave practical advice to their communities via email, encouraging foreign nationals to contact immigration lawyers if they planned to travel. Tulane graduate students who cannot re-enter the country may defend their dissertations via Skype, President Michael Fitts said.

We pledge our continued support to all of our international students." -- UNO President John Nicklow
But more than that, they proclaimed the importance of international, welcoming campuses.

UNO currently has one faculty member and about 20 students who are directly affected, spokesman Adam Norris said, part of an enrollment that typically spans close to 60 countries.

"We pledge our continued support to all of our international students, scholars, faculty and staff, and we appreciate the value and diversity that they bring to our campus and community," UNO President John Nicklow wrote in an email Monday.

Tetlow counted 13 Tulane students and 10 faculty members and researchers from the seven countries. Fitts got out ahead of the order, emailing Friday morning as rumors swirled, promising to maintain "an open, inclusive, diverse and safe environment."

Fitts also restated his support for undocumented immigrant students. The university would not share private student information without a warrant or subpoena, he said, and its police would not "conduct federal immigration enforcement."

Only a few Loyola University at New Orleans faculty members come from the seven countries, spokeswoman Patricia Murret said. Nonetheless, President Kevin Wildes condemned the order, quoting the Book of Matthew and Pope Francis.

"This order is something that affects us all to our core," he wrote. "Not only is the turning away of refugees in direct conflict with our Catholic, Jesuit values, but it is also contrary to our American ideals and constitutional rights as a free country that welcomes immigrants and does not discriminate on the basis of religion or national origin."

Religious groups oppose Trump immigration freeze
Religious groups oppose Trump immigration freeze
Clergy part of religious outpouring against suspending refugee entry from 7 majority Muslim countries

Verrett did not know whether any Xavier students or faculty came from the seven countries. But like Wildes, he drew on his and his institution's Catholic faith, which teaches "our duty to widows, orphans, strangers," he said. "We must receive them and put our arms around them."

A U.S. citizen born in Haiti, Verrett was once himself treated as a stranger and not received home from Canada in the 1980s, when one needed only a driver's license at the border. U.S. immigration agents refused to let him board the plane, challenging him to prove his citizenship, he said. Verrett squeaked through only after calling his professor, who gave him the phone number of House Speaker Tip O'Neill.

He described a larger fear and uncertainty on the Xavier campus, and thought it possible that any foreign citizen could get challenged at the airport.

"It's a strange time," he said. "There's a sense of apprehension among our students, especially our Muslim students, of rejection, of betrayal, of not being one of us. But we are one community."

Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough said he was "opposed and concerned," even though no one had responded affirmatively to his email looking for those directly affected. "This will harm major research universities who bring scholars from all over the world that help build this country," he said.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 12,000 academics had signed a petition opposing the ban, including 44 Nobel laureates.

"Tulane, like most universities, is profoundly concerned about the impact of the order on higher education generally," Tetlow said. "Universities are about bringing together the best and brightest minds from around the world."


27 2017-01-23
New Orleans

Tulane researchers find roach bait reduces asthma in kids, and other area higher education news


New provost takes office at UNO
Mahyar Amouzegar, the new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Orleans, assumed his leadership position earlier this month.

As provost, Amouzegar will be the chief academic officer and oversee a number of facets of the university beyond academic programs. Those include information technology, international education, service learning, student affairs, online instruction and the Earl K. Long Library.

He is also a tenured professor in the department of economics and finance.

Amouzegar was selected after a national search to identify a successor to John Nicklow, who was provost before becoming the school's president in April. UNO had an interim provost for the past nine months.

Amouzegar has more than 20 years of experience as an administrator, faculty member, researcher, national security policy analyst and fundraiser. He came to UNO from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he was dean of the College of Engineering for five years.

As dean, he oversaw more than 300 faculty and staff, 12 accredited programs and more than 5,000 students.

Before that, he was associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering at California State University, Long Beach. He also served as a senior policy analyst for the RAND Corp., a nonpartisan global policy think tank in Santa Monica, California.

Amouzegar has a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from San Francisco State University, a master’s in electrical engineering from UCLA and a doctorate in operations research from UCLA.


27 2017-01-18
New Orleans

University of New Orleans’ new provost begins work


Mahyar Amouzegar, the new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Orleans, has assumed his position at the campus.

Amouzegar was selected after a national search to find a successor for UNO President John Nicklow, who served as provost before his promotion last April. Norm Whitley has served as UNO’s interim provost for the past nine months.
Amouzegar has more than 20 years of experience as an administrator, faculty member, researcher, national security policy analyst and fundraiser, according to a UNO news release. At California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, he served as dean of the College of Engineering for the past five years.
He has also served as associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering at California State University, Long Beach, and as a senior policy analyst for the RAND Corporation, a global policy think tank in Santa Monica, California.
In his role at UNO, Amouzegar will be the chief academic officer as well as oversee a number of facets of the university beyond academic programs, including information technology, international education, service learning, student affairs, online instruction and the Earl K. Long Library. He is also a tenured professor in the Department of Economics and Finance.
Amouzegar has a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from San Francisco State University, a master’s in electrical engineering from UCLA and a doctorate in operations research from UCLA.

27 2017-01-17
New Orleans

I-10: Ten Things to Know in New Orleans this Week (Jan. 17, 2017)


10. Hochschild at UNO Jan. 18
Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociologist who has spent five years in Lake Charles trying to understand the concerns of red state voters, will speak at the University of New Orleans Jan. 18. Hochschild's recent book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, was a National Book Award finalist in 2016 and adds to a growing volume of scholarship about the "Great Paradox," or how some conservative voters embrace politicians and policies that seem to oppose their own interests. Hochschild will appear in the Innsbruck Room at UNO's University Center at 1 p.m.; it's free to attend.
27 2017-01-17
New Orleans

LSU Health program to help homeless, and other news of higher education


UNO interns hired after GE partnership
A two-year-old partnership between GE Digital and the University of New Orleans has proved to be a career-transforming experience for dozens of computer science students, UNO officials said.

Twenty-four participating students have been hired as full-time employees at GE Digital since 2014, when the Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program was formed to provide UNO computer science students with professional experience before they graduate.

Through the program, students are mentored by veteran software engineers and receive onsite technical training at the GE Tech Center in New Orleans, where the students work as paid part-time software developers.

The program is designed to equip students with the necessary technical and social skills required for many entry-level developer positions.

Nine students expected to graduate in May are anticipating job offers through the program.

The program is set to expand in 2017, with 15 students expected to join this summer. Since the program launched in 2014, one in every four UNO computer science students at the junior and senior levels has had an opportunity to participate.

GE Digital’s Dustin Gaspard, a full-time technical development leader, oversees the SWEAP students at GE, while UNO’s Ted Holmberg serves as the full-time industry liaison for the computer science department.


27 2017-01-12
New Orleans

UNO alumni present awards for teaching excellence


Film professor Erik Hansen and math instructor Lori Hodges are recipients of the 2015-16 Excellence in Teaching Awards presented by the University of New Orleans International Alumni Association.

Hansen is an assistant professor of film and theater who has taught screenwriting at UNO since 2008. He consistently receives perfect or near-perfect scores on his student evaluations. He holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from UNO and a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

Hodges also joined UNO's faculty in 2008. She came at a time when leaders in the department of mathematics were concerned about student success in the Math 1115 sections. Tumulesh Solanky, math chair, said Hodges quickly jumped in to work with other instructors to redesign the course, focusing on consistent teaching and testing while increasing interaction between students and faculty.

Hodges' work revamping math courses is also on display in the University's applied algebra and pre-calculus courses, which are taught using interactive technology. She has worked extensively with the dual enrollment program at Benjamin Franklin High School, where she also teaches pre-calculus algebra and trigonometry. She now also coordinates dual enrollment with Cabrini High School.

Hodges holds a bachelor of science degree in math from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a master's degree from Southern Illinois University. She volunteers in the math tutoring center and frequently holds special review sessions with students prior to tests.


27 2017-01-12
New Orleans

Crescent City College Notes for January 11, 2017


UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS: The Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Education Foundation has donated $75,000 to the University of New Orleans to create a simulated lobby and front desk laboratory in the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration.

BAYOU CLASSIC BIZTECH CHALLENGE: A team of three students from Grambling State University took the $10,000 first-place prize in the Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge in New Orleans. Xavier University was second, winning $6,000; and Southern University of New Orleans was third, winning $4,000. The three Grambling students on the winning team were Kenneth Tanner, Joshua Anderson and Barry Bontiff. Their faculty coaches were Sharon Johnson and Terrence Bradford.
27 2017-01-11
New Orleans

Creative solution: UNO's new School of the Arts aims to foster collaboration


As the arts departments at the University of New Orleans sought ways to increase enrollment and funding during tough economic times, administrators and educators decided to get creative.

Putting their heads together, university officials recently established a unified School of the Arts. The school consolidates five arts disciplines — film, theater, music, fine arts and arts administration — under the leadership of newly appointed director Charles Taylor.

Taylor, a member of the university’s Department of Music faculty since 2001, said “the goal is to have the school be greater than the sum of its parts.”

A major objective of the restructuring is to provide students with an education that reflects the realities of today’s working arts professionals. Taylor envisions a curriculum that includes skills essential for would-be artists, like business basics and grant writing, in addition to opportunities for cross-training and collaboration with artists outside of their chosen discipline.

“We know in the profession right now that artists are collaborating across genres — musicians are working with filmmakers, and visual artists are working with musicians,” said Taylor. “We see this going on internationally, so one of the things that we’re going to be looking at is creating a greater synergy among the arts disciplines.”

The organizational approach as Taylor described it resembles Loyola University’s unified College of Music and Fine Arts, which is the only department of its kind within the 28 associated Jesuit colleges and universities.

Loyola recently announced that Kern Maass, formerly an associate dean at Appalachian State University, will take over as the new dean of its College of Music and Fine Arts. In a recent press release, Maass was called “a new collaborative and innovative leader” by Marc Manganaro, Loyola’s vice president for academic affairs and provost.

At UNO, the big question for school leaders is how to find their way forward in the face of increased budget cuts and decreased funding for public universities across the state.

According to Taylor, UNO’s decision to form the School of the Arts wasn’t intended as a reaction to budget cuts (the initial proposal predated funding decisions by state lawmakers, he said), but he acknowledged that the new school provides greater opportunity to pursue new sources of funding to offset the cuts.

“We’re going to have to look at funding in a different way,” said Taylor. “We’re going to have to look at funding almost as if we’re a private institution rather than a state institution.”

Taylor plans to work with the university’s development office, the academic departments and other campus partners to identify potential sources of external funding. As the School of the Arts grows, Taylor said he anticipates that an increase in enrollment will follow, meaning more tuition dollars for the school.

For now, students won’t see any big changes in day-to-day operations on campus, but Taylor hopes that some small first steps — a consolidated arts calendar and newsletter, for example — alongside directed conversations with faculty and administrators will pave the way for more significant changes in the near future.

“The two main jobs that I’m going to have will be searching for external funding and working on marketing the school and recruiting students, and all that is collaborative with the faculty,” said Taylor.

“Right now, my role is to build the brand of the school, to build awareness of the school and also to help lead the discussions on programmatic initiatives that we want to do ... all of which is going to be driven by what the professional needs are as they exist today.”


27 2017-01-09
New Orleans

Tulane plans to close a Mississippi campus, and other news of higher education


UNO names winners of teaching awards
The University of New Orleans International Alumni Association has selected film professor Erik Hansen and math instructor Lori Hodges to receive its annual Excellence in Teaching Awards.

The two were chosen through student class evaluations, peer recommendations and letters from alumni. According to UNO officials, the two teachers push students to achieve what they didn’t know was possible.

Each will be awarded $2,000.

Hansen is an assistant professor of film and theater who has taught screenwriting at UNO since 2008. He consistently receives perfect or near-perfect scores on his student evaluations, according to UNO. He holds a master of fine arts in creative writing from UNO and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

He is also the author of a number of screenplays, including “Hearts and Souls” (1993), which starred Elisabeth Shue and Robert Downey Jr. Hansen also mentors new instructors and professors.

Hodges also joined UNO’s faculty in 2008. She came at a time when the Department of Mathematics was concerned about student success in the Math 1115 sections. Hodges jumped in to help redesign the course, focusing on consistent teaching and testing while increasing interaction between students and faculty.

She also revamped algebra and pre-calculus courses, which are taught using interactive technology, according to school officials. She has worked extensively with the dual enrollment program at Benjamin Franklin High School.

Hodges holds a bachelor's degree in math from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University. She volunteers in the math tutoring center and often holds special review sessions with students prior to tests.


27 2016-12-27
New Orleans

Xavier gets high grade from student rankings, and other area higher education news


UNO announces excellence in teaching awards
The University of New Orleans International Alumni Association has selected film professor Erik Hansen and math instructor Lori Hodges as the recipients of the 2015-16 Excellence in Teaching Awards.

The two were chosen through student class evaluations, peer recommendations and letters from alumni. According to UNO officials, the two teachers push students to achieve what they didn’t know was possible while communicating respect and appreciation for their students’ individual talents.

As part of the Excellence in Teaching Award, Hansen and Hodges each will be awarded $2,000.

Hansen is an assistant professor of film and theater who has taught screenwriting at UNO since 2008. He consistently receives perfect or near-perfect scores on his student evaluations, according to UNO. He holds a master of fine arts in creative writing from UNO and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from University of California, Berkeley.

He is also the author of a number of screenplays, including “Hearts and Souls” (1993), which was produced and distributed by a major studio and starred Elisabeth Shue and Robert Downey Jr. Hansen also mentors new instructors and professors. His students describe him as "compassionate and firm, clear and attentive, with an innate ability to involve even the most withdrawn students in class discussion," according to UNO.

Hodges also joined UNO’s faculty in 2008. She came at a time when leaders in the Department of Mathematics were concerned about student success in the Math 1115 sections. Tumulesh Solanky, math chair, said Hodges quickly jumped in to work with other instructors to redesign the course, focusing on consistent teaching and testing while increasing interaction between students and faculty.

Hodges also revamped algebra and pre-calculus courses, which are taught using interactive technology, according to school officials. She has worked extensively with the dual enrollment program at Benjamin Franklin High School, where she also teaches pre-calculus, algebra and trigonometry. She also coordinates dual enrollment with Cabrini High School.

Hodges holds a bachelor of science degree in math from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University. She volunteers in the math tutoring center and frequently holds special review sessions with students prior to tests.


27 2016-12-19
New Orleans

Georgetown's sale of slaves in Louisiana 'a microcosm' of slavery in America, scholar says


The tale of Georgetown University's 1838 sale of 272 enslaved people to Louisiana plantations offers "a microcosm of the whole history of slavery" in America, the school's historian says.

Adam Rothman, a history professor and the school's historian, was one of several speakers at a recent event at the Ethel and Herman L. Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

He and other scholars, along with descendants of the Georgetown slaves, participated in a panel discussion titled "Sold South: Tracing a Jesuit Slave Community from Maryland to Louisiana."

They view the sale as a snapshot of how the country built its wealth through the persecution of black people and how it fostered a legacy of privilege for their oppressors.

"It's a big history to wrap your head around," Rothman said. "But looking at this one community and the families connected is a microcosm of the whole history of slavery. Just to find a college so deeply rooted in the slaveholding economy shows how many ways slavery shaped the American economy."

The Jesuit leaders running the institution that would later become Georgetown University sold the 272 enslaved men, women and children in 1838 to settle mounting debts threatening the school's closure.

Rothman said the Jesuits saw the sale as a way to somewhat absolve themselves from the scandal slavery had become for the religious leaders whose morality was under scrutiny at the time because of their involvement.

The Georgetown sale marked one of the first instances of slavery in America which the slaves were sold as families and not ripped apart as was common in the era, according to speakers on the "Sold South" panel.

The Georgetown slaves ended up in Louisiana, mostly working at plantations in Iberville and Ascension parishes. The sale is a marked contrast to what has often been reported about slave sales that normally involved individuals being auctioned off to affluent plantation owners instead of entire families or communities.

News of the sale reached national prominence this spring after a series of articles by The New York Times revealed scores of descendants of the slaves were still living in Louisiana and scattered throughout various parts of the country.

Many have since discovered their roots and their connections to the prestigious university, sparking conversations like the one last week at Ethel and Herman L. Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies.

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In addition to Rothman, those sitting on the panel to discuss Georgetown's part in the slave trade included descendants of those slaves, among them two women who recently discovered their families' connection to Georgetown, Sandra Green Thomas and Cheryllyn Branche.

Branche is the descendant of Henny and Hillary Ford and their son Basil. Thomas' ancestors Sam and Betsy Ware Harris were among the 272 slaves, too.

The panel was moderated by Raphael Cassimere, a historian at the University of New Orleans.

Through painstaking genealogy work done by the Georgetown Memory Project, a nonprofit organization, descendants have uncovered surprising connections over the past seven months which has turned strangers and casual acquaintances into family.

The intricately webbed family trees created by the inter-community marriages between the Georgetown slaves after they arrived in Louisiana — and maintained long after their emancipation — presents a different narrative that Cassimere says has often not been explored in the context of slavery.

"One of the myths we have about slavery was its biggest tragedy was the disruption of slave families, and we now know that's not true," he said in reference to the Georgetown sale.

Since national news broke about the 1838 sale, the university has made strides to rectify its involvement. Many of those efforts were called into question during the panel discussion.

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In September, the university's president, John DeGioia, announced slave descendants would be granted preferential admission and possibly financial assistance to attend Georgetown as a form of reparations.

The Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation, a group DeGioia assembled to determine how the university should respond to its past involvement in the slave trade, also suggested the university involve descendants in an oral history project and issue a formal apology for its participation and benefit from the slave trade.

"The university community...has been overwhelmingly positive with everything we're trying to do," said Rothman, who serves on the Working Group.

But Thomas highlighted that "financial help" will likely involve loans.

"So it's not a free education," she said. "I see Georgetown as belonging to me and my family. Until you realize the humanity of black people and what we've contributed to this nation ... we're still going to have the inequalities that exist today."

Thomas serves as the president of GU272 Descendant Association, a newly formed group that wants to support the goals, objectives and aspirations of all the descendants.

A different organization, the GU272 Foundation, is another descendant-led charitable group that has asked the university to help its members raise $1 billion to support the educational aspirations of slave descendants.

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Both groups want a seat at the table of any discussions regarding the university's endeavors to reconcile its past with slavery.

Branche, a retired principal of St. Katherine Drexel Preparatory School in New Orleans and vice president of the association group, said she appreciates the university's forthright attitude in addressing its slavery-tainted past. She also pointed out that other institutions have also admitted their involvement and how they benefited from slavery.

"Many older people in my family feel energized by the knowledge," she said. "For us to have this dialogue face-to-face gives us the opportunity to try and commit to cleansing and being whole. We've offered (Georgetown) the opportunity for a collaborative effort. We hope they will accept."


27 2016-12-12
Associated Press

UNO hosts talk about 1838 Georgetown sale of slaves


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The University of New Orleans is hosting a program this week about the 1838 sale of hundreds of slaves to benefit Georgetown University.
The event Wednesday is titled “Sold South: Tracing a Jesuit Slave Community from Maryland to Louisiana.”
It brings together two people who recently learned about their slave ancestors with a Georgetown professor who is also a member of Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation.
In 1838, two priests orchestrated the sale of 272 people to planters in Louisiana to pay off debts at the school.
The transaction was one of the most thoroughly documented large sales of enslaved people in history.
Tickets are sold out but people can watch a livestream of it on the Facebook page of the Midlo Center for New Orleans
27 2016-12-12
New Orleans

UNO event focuses on sale of Georgetown slaves, and other news of higher education


UNO event explores sale of Georgetown slaves
The University of New Orleans will present a program this week about the 1838 sale of hundreds of slaves to benefit Georgetown University.

The event Wednesday is titled "Sold South: Tracing a Jesuit Slave Community from Maryland to Louisiana."

It will feature two people who recently learned about their slave ancestors and a member of Georgetown's Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation.

In 1838, two priests orchestrated the sale of 272 slaves to planters in Louisiana to pay off debts at the school near Washington, D.C. The transaction was one of the most thoroughly documented large sales of slaves in history.

Tickets are sold out, but people can watch a livestream of the event on the Facebook page of the Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies.

LSU Health gives checks to 2016 flood victims
For a few victims of the Louisiana floods of 2016, relief is on the way, thanks to the LSU Health New Orleans Foundation.

Checks from the flood relief fund that the organization established to provide emergency financial assistance to faculty, staff and students in need are being distributed to qualified applicants just in time for the holidays, school officials said.

“This disaster touched many members of the LSU Health New Orleans family,” said Larry Hollier, the school's chancellor. “In addition to faculty, staff, residents and fellows, 32 percent of our student body this fall is from parishes where there was extensive flooding.”

The foundation raised $37,400 in donations after the flooding, in which a number of faculty, staff and students lost everything or nearly everything. Twenty-two students applied for the assistance, and each will receive a check for $1,700.

The grants are not loans and do not require repayment.

Tulane announces business competition
Tulane University has announced the 17th annual Tulane Business Model Competition, which gives college entrepreneurs a chance to win more than $40,000 in cash and prizes for promising startup ventures.

The contest, which is hosted by the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, seeks early-stage ventures that demonstrate a market-tested ability to adapt to customers’ needs.

It is open to any team led by at least two or more students enrolled in a college or university. To enter, teams must submit a company description and other details by Jan. 27.

Tulane will select six semifinalists who, in addition to pitching their ideas, will receive mentoring and networking opportunities with a variety of "lean startup" experts. That will happen at Freeman Fusion 2017, to take place March 23 during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

Three finalists selected by judges will then present their business models on April 20.

The Tulane Business Model Competition emphasizes the importance of validating a business model through field research.

The contest rewards ventures for breaking down an idea into a key business model hypothesis, testing their assumptions with customers, applying customer development/lean startup principles to make sure they refine the model for improved success, and changing until they have a customer-validated business model.

UNO receives gift for hospitality program
The Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Education Foundation has presented a $75,000 gift to the University of New Orleans’ Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration.

The contribution will fund improvements to the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration laboratory, and is the first major commitment since the launch of the UNO Foundation’s $2.5 million capital campaign, school officials said.

Dr. Kim Williams, director of the program, said the gift will be used to create a simulated lobby and front desk that will help students gain hands-on experience in hotel simulations, property management systems and hotel industry analytics.

Other planned renovations and additions include a new roof, exterior refurbishment, a 250-seat dining room, 35 computers for the property management system room, a beverage laboratory and new equipment in the production kitchen.

According to UNO, more than 95 percent of students who graduate from the hospitality program remain in New Orleans to continue their careers.

In addition, more than 90 percent of graduate students and 80 percent of undergraduate students in the program work full-time while earning their degree, which supplies an immediate boost for the local workforce.


27 2016-12-06
New Orleans

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down


The Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies at the University of New Orleans received a $2,000 Rebirth Grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) to collect oral histories from members of the Sisters of the Holy Family, founded by free woman of color Henriette DeLille in 1842. Parts of the project will be used by WWNO-FM's "Tripod" program and published by the LEH.


27 2016-12-05
New Orleans

UNO announces director of new arts school, and other news of higher education


UNO announces new arts school's director
The University of New Orleans has named Charles Taylor, chairman of the UNO music department, as the director of the university's new School of the Arts.

UNO said the school is the first of its kind in the city. It will encompass five disciplines: film, theater, music, fine arts and arts administration.

In a statement, UNO President John Nicklow called Taylor "an outstanding choice" for the position.

"He is deeply invested in the local arts community and has a vision for how we can give our students a unique academic experience and marshal support for our arts programs in a new and exciting way," Nicklow said.

A professor of music, Taylor has been a member of the UNO faculty since 2001. He is also the music director and conductor of the New Orleans Concert Band and the New Orleans Civic Symphony Orchestra.

"We will take full advantage of our location in one of the world’s greatest cities for the arts," Taylor said in a statement. "We will provide transformative experiences for our students and the community we serve through innovative educational programs and cultural events.


27 2016-11-30
New Orleans

University of New Orleans' new arts school names director


The University of New Orleans has promoted music chair Charles Taylor to run the newly consolidated School of the Arts, officials announced Monday (Nov. 28).

New UNO president John Nicklow is trying to offset funding cuts and reverse enrollment declines by reshaping the university around its strengths -- such as its regionally unique arts program.

Taylor joined the UNO faculty in 2001. Along with his academic work, he is the music director and conductor of the New Orleans Concert Band and the New Orleans Civic Symphony Orchestra. Taylor has been a guest conductor across the country and Canada, officials said.

The School of the Arts will help the university become "a 21st-century leader in arts and creativity in the state and the region," said Kim Martin Long, the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Human Development, which Nicklow also reshaped. She anticipated "that there will be significant support for our efforts both in the New Orleans area and beyond."

Along with pursuing their individual disciplines of film, theater, music, fine arts and arts administration, students will work across disciplines, and all will learn about arts management, Long said.

And naturally, the school "will take full advantage of our location in one of the world's greatest cities for the arts," Long said.


27 2016-11-28
New Orleans

Crescent City College Notes for Nov. 24, 2016


UNO ENGINEERING: Ana María Muñoz Solis, a senior mechanical engineering student at the University of New Orleans, has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship by Tau Beta Pi, a national engineering honor society that represents all fields of the engineering profession. Muñoz Solis hopes to go on to obtain a doctorate in biomedical engineering. She came to the University of New Orleans from San Pedro Sula, Honduras.


27 2016-11-22
New Orleans

Crescent City College Notes, Nov. 30, 2016


UNO JAZZ STUDIES: Jack Vogt, a composer and drummer in the jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans, has been named the 2016-17 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Louis Armstrong Scholar at the University of New Orleans by the New York-based ASCAP Foundation. The $3,000 award is made to jazz studies student who demonstrates excellence in scholarship and in creating original works of music. On Dec. 14, Vogt will be honored at the ASCAP Foundation’s annual awards ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.


27 2016-11-22
New Orleans

Time to privatize LSU? Use $120M to fully fund HBCUs—and UNO


With the state only able to cover 42 percent of the TOPS scholarships for the Spring Semester, the University of New Orleans has embarked on an innovative plan to make up the gap for its scholarship students.

UNO President John Nicklow worried that his best students might transfer from his university, if the promise that those who made at least a 20 on their ACTs would be guaranteed a free college education was revoked.

Almost a year ago, Nicklow identified students who qualified for Federal Pell Grants, and employed every grant opportunity available, in order that UNO students in the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship program would not owe $1,770 in tuition for Spring Semester. Northwestern State University provided the same security. In contrast, though, LSU opted to do nothing for its undergraduates.

In fact, as UNO and NSU acted, Louisiana State University President F. King Alexander penned a column which received national attention calling for expanded federal aide to universities. He predicted that state underwriting of public colleges would end by the mid- to late 2020s, and the nation ought to prepare for a world where state colleges go private, having only federal grants as added support. Yet, in the midst of this conversation, when asked why LSU did not go to the lengths as UNO to cover the tuition of its most talented students, he said, “We only get $120 million from the state to run the university.”

Alexander tacitly acknowledged a reality. Most of LSU’s undergraduates receive the TOPS scholarship—over 14,000 students—compared to just over 1,000 at UNO and 1,100 at Northwestern State. As such, he was not worried that the students would leave LSU, even if they have to pay more. The draw of LSU is enough to retain enrollment. The LSU President is more focused on raising money elsewhere.

In fact, Alexander’s recent comments mirror his remarks during the legislative Special Session when he mused that the state mandates on LSU amount to almost as much as the funds appropriated for his school. He implied that his school might be better off as a private institution.

So might the other Louisiana Public Universities, if LSU were to follow the path of Tulane, and go from state control to private management.

Were LSU give the right to set its own tuition and management policies, in exchange for a phase out of state funding, the $120 million spent on LSU could plug the $38 million in threatened cuts facing the University of Louisiana system (including UNO and NSU), the $4.6 million in reductions confronting the Southern University System (including devastating cuts at SUNO), and the $20.2 million in cuts for which the Community and Technical College system must account in the coming year. Moreover (after details such as the fate of LSU Alex and Shreveport are settled), more than fifty million dollars would be left over to narrow the deficit in TOPS, covering the full tuition at these schools.

The state is already on the path to LSU privatization, after all, whether legislators publically admit it or not. Whereas most other La. public universities make sure to charge no more in tuition than TOPS pays out, LSU, in the midst of the deficit crisis, has already positioned itself to increase tuition costs above the statutorily funded amount in the TOPS program. The legislature has stymied most of those efforts, approving only moderate tuition increases to the state’s flagship university. Nevertheless, the precedent is set, and it does not seem to be effecting overall LSU enrollment.

Louisiana students want to be Tigers. LSU’s faculty wants the school to reach the vaulted academic heights of becoming a “Research 1” Institution, but state funding will never provide enough resources to turn LSU into UNC Chapel Hill. So, why not take off the shackles, letting LSU fund itself and providing more resources to other schools, particularly the struggling HBCUs, at the same time?

The move is not without historical precedent. Tulane University began its life as the University of Louisiana, a state-funded institution in the early 19th century. With Paul Tulane’s and Josephine Louise Newcomb’s behests, the University opted to withdraw from state funding and go private in 1884. It has flourished ever since, rising to one of the top 50 universities in the nation.

Tuition is expensive at Tulane, but Louisiana students can apply their TOPS scholarships against the tuition bill, and pay the difference. In a potential LSU privatization, a similar practice would occur.

All that would be required would be for the legislature to pass a bill recreating the Baton Rouge campus of Louisiana State University as a private non-profit institution, and donate the buildings and assets on-mass to this new legal creation. All non-medical state mandates would end. The current appropriations could be phased down over a seven-year period, with LSU allowed to increase tuition to cover the reductions. Moreover, recognizing its now independent status, LSU would have the right to further boost tuition a further 10 percent per year, to invest in academic expansion.

The tuition increases would be large, but not so extreme if spread over a decade, that the current student body would be immediately priced out of the school. At the end of seven years, the school would be free to follow its own course, on tuition or other matters, with the LSU Board of Regents presumably elected by the University Alumni, instead of appointed by the Governor.

Satellite LSU Campuses in Shreveport and Alexandria would likely join the University of Louisiana System, a idea that already has support of faculty at both schools. The only subsidized remainder of LSU, the medical Schools, could either remain under state control or form a new public-private partnership with LSU, which would allow for affordable doctor training programs—a state priority. Keeping medical training affordable, and therefore doctors in Louisiana, might prove the one exception to the LSU privatization plan. The medical schools, located in Shreveport and New Orleans, operate in a semi-independent fashion already, and could be spun off with little administrative trauma.

Even if these exceptions would cut into the $120 million in savings from defunding LSU, the monies available for the rest of the University System would still drastically increase. This would be particularly true for the State’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which would see many of their recent cuts reversed potentially.

There would be an active motive to boost funding, particularly at the flagship campus. The Capitol City would still have a public university, after all, at Southern University’s main campus. Since this HBCU would be the only public university in Baton Rouge, the legislature would have a harder time ignoring it, lost as it is now in LSU’s shadow.

This article originally published in the November 21, 2016 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.


27 2016-11-21
New Orleans

Tulane study says female role models help get girls interested in science, and other higher education news


Actor Daryl Mitchell to speak at UNO
Actor and disability advocate Daryl “Chill” Mitchell will serve as the principal speaker at the University of New Orleans’ fall commencement ceremony Dec. 16 in the Lakefront Arena.

A veteran of more than 40 movies and television shows, Mitchell is a regular cast member on the popular CBS crime drama “NCIS: New Orleans.”

“We are so excited to have Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchell as our graduation speaker,” UNO President John Nicklow said. “I am confident that his message of perseverance and triumph over adversity will resonate with our graduates.”

Mitchell has appeared in TV shows including “The John Larroquette Show,” “Law & Order,” “Ed” and “Desperate Housewives” as well as films including “House Party,” “Sgt. Bilko,” “Galaxy Quest” and “10 Things I Hate About You.”

Since 2014 he has played the role of computer specialist Patton Plame on “NCIS: New Orleans,” which has its production headquarters at UNO’s Nims Center in Elmwood.

In 2001, Mitchell was paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident. He continued his acting career and started the Daryl Mitchell Foundation to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries.

He serves as the minority outreach spokesperson for the Christopher Reeve Foundation and has become a vocal advocate for employing actors with disabilities. He is also a 2010 recipient of an NAACP Image Award.

Mitchell has lectured at nearly 50 colleges and universities.
27 2016-11-21
New Orleans

UNO research projects win $800,000 in BP spill grant money


Two University of New Orleans research projects will receive close to $800,000 in grant money from the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which is funded with money from settlements of criminal charges against BP and Transocean for their roles in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill in 2010, the National Academies announced Thursday (Nov. 17).

One grant will help researchers create a citizen science program whose participants will collect beach and tar ball data for oil spill planning and response in coastal regions in the Gulf. The $481,000, two-year project will be directed by Mark Kulp, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the university.

Federal judge accepts $4 billion BP guilty plea for Deepwater Horizon oil disaster
Federal judge accepts $4 billion BP guilty plea for Deepwater Horizon oil disaster
A federal judge on Tuesday approved a plea agreement between the U.S. government and global oil giant BP that requires the company to pay $4 billion in fines to settle criminal charges stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April 2010. The disaster killed 11, injured dozens more and led to worst oil spill in...

Transocean found guilty of Clean Water Act violation, will pay $400 million penalty, serve 5 years probation
Transocean found guilty of Clean Water Act violation, will pay $400 million penalty, serve 5 years probation
Settlement includes $150 million for 30-year science research program overseen by the National Academies of Science.

Also participating will be Dinah Maygarden, director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences coastal education program, and Ed Owens and Helen Dubach with Owens Coastal Consultants, which provides scientific and technical support, planning and training for spill response operations.

The project will pair community groups and volunteers with experienced scientists to provide community members with training on how to collect shoreline data. Then the community members will conduct monthly beach elevation surveys and tar ball counts on Grand Isle in Louisiana and Dauphin Island in Alabama.

"If a spill takes place in the future, the data collected will serve as a backbone of the response effort," Kulp said, in a news release issued by the university. "This project will also empower locals to better understand how beaches evolve, what background oiling exists and how a spill response proceeds."

The second grant, for $312,000, is aimed at helping two United Houma Nation communities and other indigenous communities document how environmental stressors affect their communities, and to help shape strategies to mitigate those impacts and protect their coastal lands.

"Team members will record traditional ecological knowledge, local adaptation plans, current mitigation efforts, and the tribe's adaptive capacities," said a National Academies news release announcing the grant.

The director of that two-year project is Tara Lambeth, assistant director of UNO's Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (CHART). She will be assisted by Pamela Jenkins, a research professor of sociology, and Monica Farris, a political science professor and director of CHART. Also participating will be Matt Bethel, research director with Louisiana Sea Grant at Louisiana State University.

"This research project will enhance the capacity of other indigenous communities to adapt to ecosystem changes and challenges in the future," Lambeth said in the university's news release.

The two Louisiana grants were among nine, totaling almost $3 million, announced this week by the National Academies. The National Academies received $350 million from BP and $150 million from Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, as part of the criminal charges settlement in 2013, with the money dedicated to a 30-year program of research aimed at both expanding knowledge of the Gulf and of ways to reduce the environmental effects of oil and gas exploration and production.


27 2016-11-16
New Orleans

UNO will cover its TOPS students' tuition this spring, LSU will not


LOUISIANA POLITICS & GOVERNMENT
UNO will cover its TOPS students' tuition this spring, LSU will not

UNO President John Nicklow installed
UNO President John Nicklow says his university won't make TOPS student pay tuition during the spring semester, despite a cut in state funding that is leaving the scholarship program short on money. (Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) (Michael DeMocker)

By Julia O'Donoghue, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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on November 15, 2016 at 6:12 PM, updated November 16, 2016 at 12:54 AM
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The University of New Orleans announced Tuesday (Nov. 15) that it would cover the tuition costs for students who have received the TOPS scholarship this spring, even though the state cut funding for the program.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Legislature announced at the end of June that they wouldn't be able to fully fund the TOPS scholarship that sent 50,000 Louisiana residents to college this academic year. TOPS recipients typically get 100 percent of their tuition paid for through the scholarship, but state government can only afford to cover around 42 percent of tuition bills for the upcoming semester.

This left TOPS students and their families to pick up the other 58 percent of the tuition bill this spring. Yet UNO has found a way to move around federal funding and financial support such that the school can still pay its TOPS students' tuition bills in the spring term, even if the state won't fully cover them.

University president John Nicklow said he worried if UNO didn't find a way to pay for TOPS, students wouldn't be able to attend the university next semester. TOPS goes to every Louisiana resident who graduates from a Louisiana high school with a 2.5 GPA and 20 on the ACT.

Starting last year, Nicklow shifted UNO's financial strategy to make sure all students who were eligible for federal Pell grants, which go to low-income people, were claiming that and other federal funding for college students. This strategy gave UNO the flexibility to absorb the tuition bills for TOPS students this spring. If UNO wasn't covering their bill, every student on TOPS would owe around $1,770 for the semester plus other fees.

How much TOPS students will be paying in tuition
How much TOPS students will be paying in tuition
TOPS students will have to pay 58 percent of their tuition bills during the spring semester.

Nicklow said UNO started revising its financial strategy last spring, when a cut to TOPS appeared to be on the horizon. But he wasn't sure the plan would actually work until the last month or so, when it became apparent they would be able to cover the TOPS shortfall for UNO.

"I'm proud. It was strategic. It would be very troubling to leave a large number of students with this bill," Nicklow said in an interview.

Northwestern State University in north Louisiana has also announced its will absorb the cost of its TOPS students' tuition bills this spring. But other schools, including LSU, can't afford to do the same.

In an interview Monday, LSU President King Alexander said his school would not be able to cover tuition for that university's TOPS students. That would cost the school around $27 million, according to LSU officials.

"That would be a good chunk of our state budget," Alexander said. "We only get $120 million from the state to run the university."

Around 14,000 LSU students use TOPS, compared to just over 1,000 at UNO and 1,100 at Northwestern State. UNO students are also more economically disadvantaged than LSU students, which might make it easier for UNO to attract federal dollars to help to pay for their education.

At UNO, 70 percent of students receive some form of financial aid and a little over a third of students qualify for the federal Pell grant, which goes to low-income college students. LSU wouldn't have as much access to that funding.

Still, UNO can't pay for its TOPS students in perpetuity. Nicklow said if Louisiana doesn't come up with extra money to fully fund TOPS next year, he's not sure UNO will be able to absorb those students' tuition bills again.

"If this ends up being a permanent change to our budget, it would be challenging," Nicklow said.

It's unclear how state lawmakers would fully fund TOPS next year at this point. The program is expensive -- requiring an estimated $70 million to $80 million more to fund -- and the Legislature will be struggling not to cut the state budget again. Without raising taxes, it will be difficult to find the money.

Last June, Louisiana House Republicans pushed to have the TOPS cut fall almost entirely on the spring semester -- instead of spreading it over the fall and spring terms. They had hoped to find additional funding for TOPS before tuition bills arrived for January, so that the TOPS cuts wouldn't have to be so deep.

But that extra money never materialized. In fact, Louisiana is coping with a $315 million deficit and will have to make more immediate cuts to state services over the next few weeks. TOPS won't be slashed again, but no other funding will be available to support it.

As TOPS students began to receive tuition bills this week, Edwards expressed frustration that Republicans in the Legislature had not agreed to raise taxes to fully fund TOPS. He also opposed the "front loading" strategy of TOPS, where the bulk of the cuts were put off until the spring semester. Instead, the governor thought the TOPS cuts should have been spread more evenly across the fall and spring terms.

"The gimmick of 'front loading' TOPS gave students and parents false hope for the future," Edwards said in a written statement released Tuesday. "I'm asking the legislature to work with me, so that Louisiana's students are not left to shoulder the burden of our state's financial problems."
27 2016-11-14
New Orleans

Loyola students win scientific competition, and other higher education news


UNO names 1st holder of endowed professorship
The University of New Orleans and Eurofins Scientific Inc. have announced that Matthew Tarr has been named the Eurofins Professor of Analytical Chemistry, a UNO position funded by Eurofins and matching state dollars.

The endowed professorship will help drive a curriculum aimed at preparing biotechnology students for productive careers in the bioanalytical arena, school officials said.

Tarr is the first person to hold this position at UNO. However, the professorship continues a collaboration between UNO and Eurofins, which are working jointly to create a trained laboratory workforce to meet a burgeoning demand for scientists involved in the analytical testing of food products.

Tarr is university research professor of chemistry and a faculty fellow in UNO’s Advanced Materials Research Institute. He served as chairman of the chemistry department from 2009 to 2015. He came to UNO in 1995 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Environmental Protection Agency and holds a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Georgia Tech.

Tarr conducts research in many fields and also coordinates outreach programs that provide research experiences for undergraduates, high school students and high school teachers.

The food testing industry has been a rapidly growing market for the last 10 years, driven by increased regulations for food labeling and food safety. This trend has led food manufacturers to rely more heavily on third-party testing laboratories such as Eurofins for support on verifying the quality, safety and compliance of their products.

By the same token, the food industry has put pressure on these independent laboratories to deliver reliable results.

According to Steve Johnson, dean of the College of Sciences, the collaboration between UNO and Eurofins seeks to meet the need for well-trained scientists prepared to make meaningful contributions to this industry.
27 2016-11-11
New Orleans

University of New Orleans to host networking event with delegation of Japanese leaders


The University of New Orleans Division of International Education, the Japan Society of New Orleans and the Japan Club of New Orleans will host a delegation of five Japanese citizens visiting Louisiana as part of the “Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan” program, an initiative of the Japanese government designed to promote cultural and political awareness of Japan in several major U.S. cities.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the Japanese delegation will participate in a networking event called “East-West Express: Connecting Cultures”. The event is open to the public and will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Homer L. Hitt Alumni and Visitors Center Ballroom on UNO’s campus, located at 2000 Lakeshore Drive.

Each “Walk in U.S., Talk on Japan” delegation includes a designated leader and a diverse group of additional participants. The Louisiana visitors will be led by Shotaro Oshima, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea and a permanent representative to the World Trade Organization. The other members of the delegation are Masayoshi Arakawa, retiree from a major Japanese trading company; Yasunori Nitta, a sports promoter; Mari Sugiyama, an employee at a global trust company; and Michiko Takahashi, an entrepreneur in global business consulting.

The group will be accompanied on their travels in Louisiana by the Consul-General of Japan in Nashville, Masami Kinefuchi. In addition to the public event at UNO, the delegation will also be meeting with key Louisiana politicians, citizens and business leaders to discuss relations between Japan and Louisiana.


27 2016-11-07
New Orleans

UNO professor elected president of regional association, and other higher education news


UNO professor elected association president
University of New Orleans professor John Kiefer was elected president of the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration on Oct. 15 at its annual membership meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina.

He will serve one year as president-elect and take over duties as president next year at the annual conference in Miami, the group announced.

Kiefer is the director of UNO’s nationally ranked and professionally accredited master of public administration program.

UNO adjunct faculty member Alessandra Jerolleman was elected to the group's board of directors at its annual meeting. She will serve a two-year term.

Kiefer also is a professor in the UNO department of political science and a faculty associate at the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology, UNO’s applied hazards research center.

He implemented the hazard policy specialization within UNO’s master of public administration program and teaches courses in hazard policy and administration as well as program evaluation.

Kiefer is a past chairman of the American Society for Public Administration’s Section on Emergency and Crisis Management. Before coming to UNO, he was a research professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia. He is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer.

The Southeastern Conference for Public Administration, the largest regional professional association for public administrators, provides opportunities for scholarly and practice-based exchanges, professional networking and leadership development.


27 2016-11-04
Baton Rouge

WRKF names president, ponders move to LSU campus


Baton Rouge's WRKF-FM has named Paul Maassen as its new president and general manager, sharing his services with WWNO-FM in New Orleans. WRKF also will explore a move to the LSU campus.

"We think the collaboration between New Orleans and Baton Rouge will open up a lot of opportunities for us, and quite frankly, not only are we getting someone who's experienced in this area, but it's a cost saving for us, too. So it's the best of both worlds," said Rodney Braxton, chairman of WRKF's board of directors.

Maassen has been the general manager of WWNO since 2008. He will split his time between the Baton Rouge and New Orleans National Public Radio member stations under the new management-sharing agreement.

WRKF is licensed to Public Radio Inc. of Baton Rouge, an independent nonprofit corporation governed by a volunteer, community-based board. WWNO is licensed to the University of New Orleans. Each station will remain under the authority and ownership of its current licensee.

The arrangement will allow WRKF to cut its costs by about $50,000 per year, while expanding the market for WRKF's original programming, Braxton said. Shared management also will increase the stations' opportunities for grant funding.

WRKF didn't originally plan to pursue shared management, but the opportunity arose and offered several pluses, Braxton said. The public radio market is changing, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding to locally owned public radio stations, encourages this type of collaboration.

Meanwhile, discussions are underway with LSU, although those talks are in the beginning phases, Braxton said. Ideally, the station would like to work something out by the end of the year. The move from the station's Valley Creek Drive location to the LSU campus could take as long as 10 months.

The move to LSU isn't so much about cost savings as it is improving the station's profile and opportunities for students to work in radio, possibly through a collaboration with the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication, he said.


27 2016-11-04
New Orleans

President John Nicklow spruces up outlook for University of New Orleans


When newly hired University of New Orleans President John Nicklow announced his plans to beautify the campus this summer, it seemed like offering a facelift to someone in intensive care.

Enrollment at the embattled campus fell yet again this fall, to just more than 8,000 students, according to the university's website -- fewer than UNO had in 1968. Before Hurricane Katrina, more than 17,000 students filled the lakeside campus.

But guess what? Current students said they loved the upgrades Wednesday (Nov. 2), the day of Nicklow's official investiture. And the physical makeover has fed directly into a larger turnaround in school spirit.

The sparkling blue fountain by the amphitheater "used to be green last semester," Mia Fah said.

The campus "looks more alive," freshman Megan Williams said.

"It needed to be updated," upperclassman Grant Welt said. "They've been power-washing the floors. They've been cleaning windows." Overall, he said, there's a "different environment. Positive, more and more."

Nicklow's optimism and determination were perfectly expressed in what he did not say in his 20-minute investiture speech. Not a word of belt-tightening, budget crunches or cuts. No dire warnings, no gloom, no panic.

Instead, the university's seventh leader spoke of changing lives and making a difference in New Orleans.

"I certainly never set out in my career to be a college president," Nicklow said. "What I did set out to do was to have a positive impact on the lives of others."

A civil engineer who arrived as provost last year, Nicklow got promoted in March, shortly after President Peter Fos retired.

New UNO chief courts business leaders who spurned him
New UNO chief courts business leaders who spurned him
'We're feeding the businesses and the industry of the city,' John Nicklow says

He spoke of the university's strengths: its history as the South's first fully integrated public campus; its regionally unique arts and engineering programs; its low debt load and high early-career salaries; its strong local alumni network; its almost "half-a-billion-dollar economic impact" annually in the region.

Nicklow hit only the positive side of the problems. Rather than discussing the upcoming state cuts to TOPS scholarships, he said the week of investiture events raised more than $300,000 for students, and he announced a new scholarship campaign.

"One of my goals is to be able to look back years from now and say that together we created the beginning a new era for the University of New Orleans -- an era of new growth and an era of vitality," he said.

That mindset has rapidly filtered down, environmental health and safety director David Richardson said. He has studied and worked at UNO for almost 34 years.

Before Nicklow took over, the chatter among staff was "Oh, you still have your job?" Richardson said. Now, "people are actually talking positively and repeating some of the things he's been telling us."

John Nicklow wants 12,000 students at UNO in 5 years
John Nicklow wants 12,000 students at UNO in 5 years
'That is a lofty goal,' he admitted.

He praised Nicklow's conversations with staff and his speed: "He's really been an action person. A lot of things that he says get done quicker."

Richardson thought the time was ripe to move forward. Fos and his predecessor Timothy Ryan "were fighting the Katrina leftover problems and they were trying just to cope with the loss of students," he said. "I think President Nicklow now is at a point where the university has leveled out and is at a point where we can continue to grow again."

Indeed, Nicklow told the audience that increasing enrollment was his number one priority -- work he began as provost. He sounded completely confident of success.

"We are now building the foundation and implementing the strategies for growth, and we're seeing early signs of payoff," he said. "Hard work, energy and persistence will get us there."

Despite the overall enrollment drop, the university saw an increase in new students and a small gain in freshman-to-sophomore retention this fall, spokesman Adam Norris said.

Several current and former UNO staff members said they believed in Nicklow.

"I think he's going to make a big difference for the university," information technology staffer Leslie Peters said. "He's more involved."

Retired recreation director Margaret Royerre said Nicklow would bring students back to UNO. "You can see the positive vibe in the institution," she said. "We're going to be fine under his leadership."


27 2016-11-04
New Orleans

UNO holds investiture ceremony for new president John Nicklow


PHOTOS
27 2016-11-04
New Orleans

WDSU UNO Investiture


...leaders hope to draw students, and new ninth ward residents, in from other parts of town. >> is my pleasure to present to you the new president of the university of new orleans. scott: this afternoon the , university of new orleans officially welcomed its seventh leader. dr. john nicklow has been on the job since april 1. prior to arriving at uno, dr. nicklow worked for nearly 18 years at southern illinois university. dr. nicklow says his goals are to increennt, pand research opportunities, and increase partnerships with area businesses. >> i am pleased to announce today, that that is only the beginning. today i am watching a $1 million scholarship -- launching a $1 million scholarship campaign. it will provide a pathway to a degree and career for more students. scott: an alumni gala will be held tomorrow to begin fundraising towards dr. nicklow's million dollar goal. along with talking business the president earned some giggles and applause by taking a selfie at the podium. still to come it's crunch time , for both presidential campaigns with less than a week , to go until election day. ...
27 2016-11-03
New Orleans

Crescent City college notes for November 2, 2016


UNO OPEN HOUSE: The University of New Orleans will hold its annual fall open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19. Prospective students and parents can speak with faculty, staff and students leaders to learn more about admission, academic programs, financial aid, scholarships, campus life and more. There's a Free Application for Federal Student Aid filing workshop, which is important because all students who apply for TOPS must fill out a FASFA. To register, go to visit.uno.edu. For questions, email admissions@uno.edu.

UNO HONORED: The Colleges of Distinction ranking program has honored the University of New Orleans for innovative application of high-impact educational practices. UNO is the only public institution in Louisiana to be named a College of Distinction. UNO students earned college credit and life experience through study-aboard programs in a dozen countries during the past year, service learning, learning communities and various internships. Schools are evaluated on key indicators including student engagement, student empowerment and curricular innovation. To view the University of New Orleans' profile, visit www.collegesofdistinction.com.


UNO PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: University of New Orleans professor John Kiefer has been elected president of the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration. Kiefer is director of UNO's master of public administration program. Kiefer will serve one year as president-elect and take over duties as president next year. Also, UNO adjunct faculty member Alessandra Jerolleman was elected to the SECoPA board of directors; he will serve a two-year term. Kiefer formerly was a research professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer.


27 2016-11-03
New Orleans

UNO holds investiture ceremony for new president John Nicklow


PHOTOS
27 2016-11-03
New Orleans

WDSU UNO Investiture


...leaders hope to draw students, and new ninth ward residents, in from other parts of town. >> is my pleasure to present to you the new president of the university of new orleans. scott: this afternoon the , university of new orleans officially welcomed its seventh leader. dr. john nicklow has been on the job since april 1. prior to arriving at uno, dr. nicklow worked for nearly 18 years at southern illinois university. dr. nicklow says his goals are to increennt, pand research opportunities, and increase partnerships with area businesses. >> i am pleased to announce today, that that is only the beginning. today i am watching a $1 million scholarship -- launching a $1 million scholarship campaign. it will provide a pathway to a degree and career for more students. scott: an alumni gala will be held tomorrow to begin fundraising towards dr. nicklow's million dollar goal. along with talking business the president earned some giggles and applause by taking a selfie at the podium. still to come it's crunch time , for both presidential campaigns with less than a week , to go until election day. ...
27 2016-11-03
New Orleans

UNO holds investiture ceremony for new president John Nicklow


PHOTO
27 2016-11-01
New Orleans

'Can you imagine?' Anthology, and careers, born out of UNO workshop


Becoming a writer means years of dedication. Inspiration. Perspiration.

And at the University of New Orleans, becoming a writer means Monday nights if you’re in fiction, Tuesday nights if you’re in nonfiction, and Wednesday nights in poetry and screenwriting.

For 25 years now, a new generation of writers has been steadily willing itself into being, learning a craft, supporting one another, building a community.

This year, UNO’s Creative Writing Workshop celebrates a quarter-century of great work. There’s a new anthology of 40 stories, “Monday Nights: Stories from the Creative Writing Workshop of the University of New Orleans,” a ceremony honoring Joseph and Amanda Boyden with the Distinguished Alumni Award, and a full day of programming to come at the 2017 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival.

Former workshop director Joanna Leake remembers talking with writers Jim Knudsen and Rick Barton, conjuring an ideal writing program.

That conversation took place sometime in 1980, Barton recalls, and then the English department began offering limited creative writing courses.

Change came slowly, course by course, but by 1991, the full program was in place. Now, the UNO Creative Writing Workshop can count and impressive 350 graduates with 100 books to their credit. .

From the first, as Barton said, it was location, location, location. “I remember when Jim Knudsen came up with the advertising slogan for the program — “Can you imagine a better place to write?” It worked.

Joseph Boyden — now known for his searing portrayals of life among the First Nations of Canada: “Three-Day Road,” “Through Black Spruce,” which received Canada’s prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize, and “The Orenda,” which won the Canada Reads competition in 2014 — heard that siren song.

“I left so much back home in Canada to come down to New Orleans to study in the UNO Writing Workshop back in 1992. Rick Barton and Joanna Leake and Jim Knudsen, though, had created one of the greatest catchphrases ever to try and sell their brand-new MFA: New Orleans. ‘Can you imagine a better place to write?’ I couldn't,” Boyden said.

“And those three mentors were right. I’m still in this city 24 years later, having graduated and then returned to teach in the MFA that birthed me. Now, I'm watching so many of my own former students publishing such brilliant work. But the greatest discovery of that big journey south so long ago was finding not just the life of a novelist, but a life to share with another writer who fell for that same genius bit of marketing."

That writer is his wife Amanda Boyden, author of “Pretty Little Dirty” and “Babylon Rolling.”

“No doubt, it's not an original thought where the creative writing MFA at UNO is concerned,” she said, “but I've always thought of it as The Little Engine That Could. Never enough money to bring in huge-name visiting writers or give monstrous scholarships. Nonetheless, the program has succeeded beyond measure ... and so you know what? Go us! Here's to courage, to crying in our Monday-night beers after a terrible critique, to meeting our life partners in workshop or some dreaded lit class, to believing that we could do this thing, this wonderful, intimidating, life-affirming thing called writing."

The program worked primarily because of its basic philosophy.

From the very beginning, faculty members Leake, Barton, Knudsen and John Gery settled on a basic premise: “not to judge but to assist” creative work, to help the writer make the work as good as it could be.

Monday night seminars were followed by gatherings at the Parkview Tavern, downing beers, forging friendships, talking books and life.

As time passed, other elements strengthened the program. Bayou Magazine provided opportunities to learn editing skills; it is published by UNO but doesn’t publish the work of workshop students.

The University of New Orleans Press evolved over time, giving students hands-on publishing experience. Abram Himelstein, who wrote the introduction to “Monday Nights,” is an alum of the program, as well as director of the press.

Neal Walsh, author of “My Sunshine Away” and the current director of the program, sees himself as the most recent in a line of stewards.

“Despite all the budget problems UNO has had,” he said, “we have the most applications of any graduate program on the campus. … I want to keep that energy going.”

Barb Johnson, winner of the prestigious A Room of One’s Own fellowship and author of “More of This World Or Maybe Another,” is a graduate who returned to teach.

“I went into the CWW a broke-down carpenter with bad knees, and I came out a writer with a book deal,” Johnson said. “What I experienced in between was the greatest gift any writer or human, really, can receive: big-hearted teachers with no real agenda save to help each of us write what was in us to write and a supportive community of fellow students. And I have the good fortune to pass that gift on to my students.”

Other notable alumni include novelists Andrea Boll, Skip Horack, Nicholas Mainieri, Jen Violi, Bill Loehfelm and Missy Wilkinson.

Maurice Ruffin, the program’s distinguished alumnus of 2015, is a lawyer who is making waves with his award-winning short fiction and essays.

“When I met Rick Barton, he told me the CWW would accelerate my development as a writer 10 years,” Ruffin said. “I trusted him, but he was wrong. The program pushed me 20 years ahead. The professors and other writers I encountered became my heroes and role models. I learned so much from them all. My writing life was enriched by my UNO community. I've been so inspired by these folks.”

Susan Larson hosts WWNO’s The Reading Life and is the author of “The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans.”

****************

BOOK RELEASE

UNO Creative Writing Workshop faculty and alums celebrate the publication of “Monday Nights: Stories from the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans”

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3

Where: Garden District Book Shop

2727 Prytania St., New Orleans

And more: Joseph and Amanda Boyden will be honored as Distinguished English Alumni, Friday, Nov. 4, 6 p.m.-10 p.m. at the Homer L. Hitt Alumni Center Ballroom, UNO


27 2016-11-01
New Orleans

UNO's legacy: enduring friendships, lifelong lessons and a sense of community


When I learned that the University of New Orleans would be honoring Mark Romig as the 2016 UNO Homer Hitt Distinguished Alumnus and newly installed UNO President John Nicklow Thursday (Nov. 3) at the Distinguished Alumni Gala at the National World War II Museum, it took me back to my own UNO experience.

That's understandable. The undergraduate experience is a defining moment in life. For some, it is an affirmation of direction in their lives – providing guidance to achieve specific goals. For others, it presents the necessary opportunity to reconcile the tension between one's current circumstance and destiny. Along the way, if you're lucky, the experience is marked with the advent of true, enduring friendships; powerful, lifelong lessons, and a sense of community.

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My time at the University of New Orleans proved to be a touchstone for all of the above.

UNO's new president: John Nicklow, the current provost
UNO's new president: John Nicklow, the current provost
In close vote, he's chosen over Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin to succeed Peter Fos

Considering my own experience, Mark's success is hardly a surprise. I arrived at UNO as a first-generation college student to quickly find a welcoming environment and rigorous academic program. I had the good fortune of being designated a Patrick Taylor Scholar and had access to free tuition, room and board, and other benefits. I can't overstate the importance of this scholarship — designed to ensure that everyday students got a shot at doing something great with their lives.

I also met some of my best and most trusted friends at UNO. In many cases, they were my support system for my goal to graduate and contribute to society. We helped one another achieve academically and professionally, we stood in one another's weddings, we cared for one another's children, and we continue to serve our community. In my frequent appearances before groups of young people, I always cite the empowering force of deep friendships that spring from the undergraduate experience. I have heard the same from many UNO graduates.

As president and CEO of the Foundation for Louisiana, a statewide philanthropy for communities, I find that my leadership style and commitment to place and people were sharpened through my UNO experience. It perhaps springs from my exposure to a campus filled with thought leaders hoping to both educate and inspire its people to become change-makers. While I was a middling student — working two jobs sometimes while in school — I enjoyed the access to faculty, staff and alumni who, just by the way they spoke to me about their work and worldview, inspired me to realize my fullest potential.

I fondly recall Dr. Raphael Cassimere's history classes bringing to life the unique legacy of African-American alumni who were involved in allowing UNO to open as the first fully integrated public university in the South, clearing a path for a student like me. I continue to appreciate the encouragement I got from leaders such as former administrator Bob Brown when I was having academic challenges as a first-generation African-American student to stick with it and build the kind of discipline that would serve me well across my career.

Certainly, I continue to benefit from the friendship and accountability of Ellen Lee, a double-alumna and faculty member who preceded me as the president of the Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial Chapter of the UNO International Alumni Association. Even now, I get to work on criminal-justice reform, coastal restoration and other issues critical to the future of New Orleans with retired UNO faculty Drs. Pam Jenkins and Dennis McSeveney. As Mark's recognition reminds us, the reach and impact of the UNO community continues to bear fruit for us all.

There's a quote I have as my email signature, a reminder about why I do what do, from author, poet and activist James Baldwin: "Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor." Everybody knows Baldwin from his eloquent words, but might not know that it was actually his junior-high school math teacher who pointed him in the direction of the school newspaper.

I realized from this the more tangible aspects of the connection between a single person and an institution, a community resource really, and how one might inspire the other to make change in the world. If I think of UNO in any way, it's as an incubator — not just for professionals but also for thought leaders, advocates and activists who seek to make the world a better place.

To be sure, Mark's own contributions are distinguished. I've worked with and observed Mark for years as he's served our community through his work, especially in reinforcing the reputation of New Orleans as a destination location both nationally and internationally. He is yet another shining example of the graduates who come out of the UNO experience. As a public university, UNO is like many of its graduates, faculty and staff — inextricably tied to the city and representing the very lifeblood of this community.

As I'm sure Mark is, I'll be forever grateful to UNO for making my college experience a transformational, and not just educational, experience.

Flozell Daniels is president and CEO of the Foundation for Louisiana.


27 2016-11-01
New Orleans

Our recommendations on Louisiana's constitutional amendments: Editorial


Amendment 1

To allow the Legislature to establish qualifications for new registrars of voters and give lawmakers more input into how they are appointed

Yes

State law currently has no educational or experience requirements for registrars. Considering the importance of the job and the growing use of technology, it seems wise to set basic qualifications. The Legislature included a pretty broad range of requirements in the companion legislation to this amendment, ranging from a bachelor's degree and two years of professional work experience to five years of full-time employment in a registrar's office. Potential registrars have to only meet one of the requirements. The legislation also mandates that parish officials notify residents about the opening and interview applicants before choosing a new registrar. That is a sensible process. Lawmakers got input from the secretary of state, the commissioner of elections, the state registrars association and others with expertise.

Amendment 2

To give Louisiana's public higher education management boards for the Louisiana State University system, the University of Louisiana system, the Southern University system and the Community and Technical College system the autonomy to set student tuition

Yes

As is common practice across the United States, Louisiana's college boards of trustees had the authority to set costs until a 1995 constitutional amendment redefined tuition as a fee. After that, the Legislature had to approve increases in tuition. Lawmakers loosened their control somewhat in 2010 when they passed legislation giving the boards limited power to raise tuition if their institutions were making progress in graduation rates, student retention and other measurements. Those increases have been used to plug huge holes in the schools' budgets as state funding evaporated during the Jindal administration. Louisiana's universities have lost faculty and cut courses and are missing out on some top students who are deciding to go out of state. Turning the power over tuition to the governing boards should allow state colleges and universities to stabilize funding, set priorities and invest in faculty and student services that make them more competitive. There is some concern that giving the boards this power will lead to some students being priced out of college. That is a valid issue. But the boards will have an incentive to make sure tuition is reasonable to keep attracting students. Taking the Legislature out of the equation should make the process less political and more rational, the Council for a Better Louisiana argues.

Amendment 3

To eliminate the corporate deduction for federal income taxes on state income taxes and replace the staggered 4-8 percent corporate tax rate to a flat 6.5 percent

Yes

Louisiana's top corporate tax rate of 8 percent is higher than the rate in other states in the region and makes our state look unfriendly to business. This amendment would remedy that problem and would simplify Louisiana's tax structure for businesses. The tradeoff is the loss of the deduction for federal income taxes that corporations now can use on their state taxes. Louisiana is one of only three states in which corporations can deduct their full federal income taxes. A benefit of eliminating the deduction is that it disconnects a portion of the state tax code from federal policy, CABL points out. A rise in federal taxes, for instance, currently would make state tax collections drop because the deduction would grow. These changes were crafted to be revenue neutral overall, but some individual businesses likely will pay more. Small businesses that have been paying 4 or 5 percent would see an increase, and some large businesses that pay substantial federal taxes would pay more to the state without that deduction. But many businesses would see their taxes go down. Overall, these changes would put Louisiana more in line with other states and would make the state tax code a little less complicated. This is only one small piece of fiscal reform, but it is a step in the right direction.

Amendment 4

To give surviving spouses of military personnel, law enforcement officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty a full property tax exemption on their home

Yes

Louisiana residents voted in 2011 to double the state's $75,000 homestead exemption for disabled veterans and their spouses to $150,000. The next year, voters agreed to give surviving spouses of disabled veterans the higher exemption even if it didn't exist when they died. Then in 2014 voters passed an amendment clarifying the exemption because some veterans were being denied the tax break because of confusion between two ratings given by Veterans Affairs. Our editorial board opposed the original amendment based on our long opposition to anything that expands Louisiana's homestead exemption, which is already generous. But we endorsed the changes in 2012 and 2014 because it was unfair to give some disabled veterans and their spouses a tax break and not others. This amendment is essentially an extension of those exemptions. Members of the military, law enforcement and firefighters who die in the line of duty make the ultimate sacrifice for our state and nation. Their spouses should not have to worry about whether they can afford property taxes. The financial effect of this amendment is likely to be small. The new exemption would take effect in 2017 and is not retroactive. Also, a surviving spouse won't be allowed to keep the tax break if he or she remarries. We still believe it is problematic to expand the homestead exemption — making it more difficult for local governments to pay for needed services and putting a heavier burden on property owners who don't get the tax break. But this exemption is warranted.

Amendment 5

To create the Revenue Stabilization Fund with mineral or corporate taxes above a certain amount and to use those revenues on infrastructure and pension liabilities

Yes

Mineral revenues and corporate taxes are volatile sources of revenue, spiking in some years and tanking in others. That leads to all sorts of budget problems if legislators are left to spend all that money from year to year. This amendment is an attempt to deal with those highs and lows by taking excess revenues out of the normal budget process. Mineral revenues between $660 million and $950 million would be divided two ways. Thirty percent of those revenues would go to pay down unfunded liabilities in two state retirement systems and the other 70 percent would go into the Revenue Stabilization Fund. Corporate tax collections above $600 million also would go into the fund. The Legislature could tap the fund with a two-thirds vote, which is a high enough threshold to prevent it from being raided. If the fund reaches $5 billion, lawmakers could use up to 10 percent of it in a year for capital projects and transportation infrastructure. With oil prices at low levels now, this fund might not grow very quickly. But that situation could change, and it would be smart to have a mechanism in place to set aside money for infrastructure, pension debt or emergencies.

Amendment 6

To add a new way for lawmakers to tap into constitutionally protected funds during financial downturns

No

The Legislature needs more flexibility to make cuts and shift budget priorities, particularly during tight economic times. Because so many spending categories are protected constitutionally, health care and higher education typically bear the brunt of budget cuts. That has eroded those important services and hurts individual families and the state as a whole. But this amendment is flawed. It would allow lawmakers to tap into protected funds if the state's official revenue estimate fell 1 percent or more from the previous forecast. Revenues might still be rising, though. Also, using revenue estimates as a trigger could put pressure on the Revenue Estimating Conference to play politics with the numbers. In addition, this amendment gives greater protection to some funds, which would actually reduce flexibility. This amendment also would let the Legislature continue to avoid comprehensive reform and use one-time allocations to patch together budgets.


27 2016-10-31
New Orleans

Makerspaces proliferation offer prototyping, creative outlet for students, entrepreneurs


A few years ago, Bioceptive Inc. needed a 3-D printer to mock up parts for its new intrauterine device inserter, which relies on suction rather than the pinch and pain of forceps. The startup had to go out of state.

Bioceptive was locked into a time-consuming and expensive cycle. The company sent its designs to national prototyping houses, waited a couple of weeks for the part to come back, tested it, tweaked the design and repeated the process.

"It was a pain in the butt," said Aaron Miscenich, president of New Orleans BioInnovation Center Inc., the tech incubator where Bioceptive is a tenant.

Luckily, the University of New Orleans had a 3-D printer in the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Department, and Miscenich had a brother who graduated from the program and knew about it.

Bioceptive CEO Benjamin D. Cappiello said the company also was fortunate that Associate Professor Brandon Taravella was making the device available to local businesses.

"Now our iteration cycles were days instead of weeks, which makes a huge difference," Cappiello said. "Something that would have cost $400 before was maybe costing $30 or $40."

Just as importantly, Bioceptive got its parts back the next day, he said. On one specific piece, Bioceptive went through 55 different iterations. Access to the local 3-D printer probably saved Bioceptive tens of thousands of dollars and cut development time by years.

Bioceptive has since moved past the need for 3-D printing. A reusable version of its device is now in clinical trials. But entrepreneurs no longer have to go out of state for their prototyping needs. Some of the other options available include:

• IDIYA on South Broad Street, which CEO Dominic Guinta described as a "do-it-yourself design, prototyping, and build shop." The facility has more than 10 3-D printers, some of which can print in carbon fiber, three laser cutters, two computer numerical controlled milling machines, and other advanced manufacturing equipment.

The facility is open to the public for a membership fee. The price depends on the membership plan. IDIYA also offers members classes and connections to others in the creative community. IDIYA's vision, according to its website, is to put manufacturing back into the hands of individuals.

• ProtoStripes Center at LSU’s Louisiana Business and Technology Center. The center is open to anyone in Louisiana and recently added a 3-D printer, laser cutter and computer numerically controlled milling machine. The new equipment allows ProtoStripes to create more intricate designs with higher tolerances.

• The Maker Space at Tulane University. Tulane's Maker Space wiki describes makerspaces as "a new amalgam of art, craft and technology." The facility is restricted to Tulane faculty, staff and students, but there is no limit on what a person can make.

Tulane spent more than $900,000 to renovate the 4,100-square-foot facility built in 1894, and about $100,000 on new equipment. The Maker Space also inherited about $400,000 worth of equipment along with the facility, a former machine shop.

"What has been most interesting to me is the number of people from the arts and social sciences who come over to make use of it," said chief maker Cedric Walker. "One of the very first clients we had was a woman who was working on her master of fine arts degree, and she wanted to make porcelain lace."

The Maker Space used a laser cutter to make a flat, plywood mold. When the artist fired the kiln, the mold burned away leaving just the porcelain lace, Walker said. Last Halloween, a raft of students used a temporary version of the Maker Space to make ultrasonically activated robotic Silly String shooters.

Lee Wellington, executive director of the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, said investments in these types of facilities are part of a growing trend at high schools, and two- and four-year colleges.

For example, Mildred Osborne Charter School in New Orleans recently launched a new "makerspace" with a $126,100 grant from Capital One Bank, Propeller, an incubator that targets New Orleans-area entrepreneurs, and IDIYA.

LSU's business incubator, the Louisiana and Business Technology Center, established the ProtoStripes Center in 2014. The center has worked with 42 entrepreneurs on 104 prototypes.

"I think the one thing that we’re noticing is that you don’t just see investments in 3-D printers. We’re also seeing investments in the kinds of programs that are helping students understand how to take products to market," Wellington said.

Students learn how to fabricate a product using 3-D printers and how to build a business model to manufacture it, she said.

Thomas Wavering, executive director of the University of Oklahoma's newly established Innovation Hub, said the idea behind these sorts of facilities is not just having a cool makerspace and tools for people to play with.

"What we’re trying to say is 'OK, how does a place like Norman, Oklahoma, or Baton Rouge or wherever, how does that become more like Silicon Valley or Boston or Austin in terms of kind of an entrepreneurial ecosystem?'" he said.

Oklahoma created the Innovation Hub as a first step. The hub is a space where people from across the university and community, the technical and nontechnical, can connect and collaborate to support invention and entrepreneurship.

Walker said the Maker Space tries to lower all the barriers. There's no charge for materials, such as plywood or the filament for the 3-D printers, or to use the equipment.

"Frankly, bringing people in saying, 'Sure, go ahead and use it,' sort of hooks them to come in and try new, creative ideas," Walker said.
27 2016-10-31
New Orleans

Tulane study finds La. lacks women and minority judges, and other higher education news


La. lacks female, minority judges, Tulane finds

A new report issued by Tulane University has found that the judiciary in Louisiana doesn’t reflect the state’s gender or racial diversity.

The numbers of women and minority men serving as judges lag well behind their representation in the population, according to political scientists Sally J. Kenney of Tulane's Newcomb College Institute and Salmon Shomade of Emory University.

Kenney and Shomade compared the racial and gender representation for judges in federal, state and parish courts in Louisiana with U.S. census data. While they found that the number of women and minorities holding judgeships in Louisiana was similar to many other states, the authors saw little reason to celebrate.

While 51 percent of Louisiana's population is female, women hold only 31.6 of all state and federal judgeships in the state.

Likewise, racial minorities make up 36 percent of Louisiana’s population yet hold just 22.3 percent of the judgeships.

In the state's three U.S. district courts and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, whose judges are appointed by the president, women constitute 40 percent of all judges but racial minorities only 14.3 percent.

In Louisiana state courts, where judges are elected, women make up 30.8 percent of all judges and racial minorities 23.1 percent.

In New Orleans, where racial minorities constitute about 66 percent of the population, non-white judges make up 85.7 percent of the Orleans Civil District Court bench and 66.7 percent of the Criminal District Court bench. Women judges constitute 78.6 percent and 50 percent of those courts, respectively.
Director of Loyola institute visits Africa

The director of the Loyola University Institute for Ministry, Dr. Thomas Ryan, traveled to Africa earlier this month to further the school's efforts for sustainable development and international ministry education, the school announced.

Ryan went to Nairobi, Kenya, to participate in the conference "Catholic Sisters: Champions of Sustainable Development in Africa" from Oct. 16 to Oct. 18.

The event was sponsored by the Catholic Sisters Initiative of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the African Sisters Education Collaborative. More than 100 religious sisters from 10 African countries attended.

The Loyola Institute for Ministry has more than 40 Catholic sisters, over half from Africa, among its students.

The purpose of the conference was to frame Catholic sisters’ work in Africa as advancing the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, which relate to the poor and "most vulnerable," according to a Loyola news release.

"This meeting also helped congregations of nuns from around Africa to collaborate and leverage their resources in support of making the world a more just and peaceful place," the release said.
UNO student gets $2,000 engineering scholarship

University of New Orleans senior engineering student Ana María Muñoz Solis has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship by the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi.

Muñoz Solis is a mechanical engineering major who hopes to obtain a doctorate in biomedical engineering. She came to UNO from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where she was born and raised.

As a bilingual high school student, Solis volunteered in her home country as a translator for medical brigades who traveled to Honduras to provide clinical care in underserved areas, according to a UNO news release.

At UNO, Muñoz Solis is president of both the Society of Women Engineers and the UNO Ambassadors, a student group that represents the university at events on and off campus. She also is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Association of Drilling Engineers.

Muñoz Solis won one of Tau Beta Pi’s Record Scholarships, which are named in memory of Leroy E. Record, a former member.

According to the release, Solis hopes to use her degree to research and design affordable ways to deliver quality health care to people in need.

A UNO engineering student has won a Tau Beta Pi scholarship every year for the last four years. Past recipients were Mark Parsons, a naval architecture and marine engineering major; Tesla Medina Berrios, a civil engineering major; and Kyle Tyson, a naval architecture and marine engineering major.
27 2016-10-28
New Orleans

People this Week: New hires, promotions, awards


People this Week: New hires, promotions, awards

By: CityBusiness staff reports October 27, 2016 0

CB-102816-People

Accounting

Postlethwaite & Netterville, APAC, welcomes Karman Chan as an audit manager in the firm’s New Orleans area practice.

Awards

The Great 100 Nurses Foundation has recognized 20 nurses across the LCMC Health system as “Great 100 Nurses”: David Ronnenburg, Lourdes Anfone, Emma Bastian, Diana Carter, Michelle Dutreix, Debbie Pickett, Sheila Bradford, Shannon Fussell, Mason Green, C’Lita Henry-Lombard, Rochelle Johnson, Kimberly Kennison, Jeremy Landry, Keithen Potts, Kimberly Wilson, Etsegenet Wodajo, Vicki Aucoin, Linda Bordelon and Michelle Breaux.

Banking/Financial

Whitney Bank welcomes back Kevin Rafferty, hired as executive vice president for business development.

Hibernia Bank has hired Leslie White as vice president and controller.

Company Awards/Announcements

St. Tammany Parish Hospital is in the top 10 percent of hospitals nationwide for medical excellence and patient safety in Overall Hospital Care and Overall Medical Care, according to a 2016 report from CareChex® – a division of Comparion® Medical Analytics.

Eagan Insurance Agency was given the Silver Award in the South Central Region by Insurance Journal magazine in the “2016 America’s Best Agencies to Work For” competition.

Backgroundchecks.org has ranked The University of Holy Cross No. 1 out of 20 Louisiana universities as the safest campus in Louisiana with a campus crime rate of zero.

Baldwin Haspel Burke & Mayer LLC has earned recertification in Meritas, a global alliance of law firms.

Education

Brad Beers, a Houston lawyer and former co-chairman of the Tulane president’s council, has joined the board of Tulane.

The Greater New Orleans Collaborative of Charter Schools has promoted Latoye Brown to president.

John Kiefer, University of New Orleans professor and director of the master of public administration program, was elected president of the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration.

Engineering

Terracon Consultants, Inc. has hired David Salom as a senior geotechnical engineer.

PACE Group LLC has hired Alyssa Louque as a project designer.

Meyers Engineers Ltd. has hired Raymond Hartley, PE as the water/wastewater business development lead.

Health Care

LCMC Health has promoted Ayame Dinkler to chief of staff and James Ludwig to vice president of supply chain management.

Internet Marketing

Search Influence has hired Lindsey Broussard as junior online advertising associate, Ariel Kizer as junior editorial internet marketing associate, Roane Babington and Joel Willson as sales executives and has promoted Paulina Rodriguez to senior web developer.

Law

Curry & Friend, PLC has named Laura Caviness and Meghan Smith partners and has hired Jefferson Goldman as a senior associate attorney.

Real Estate

Keller Williams Realty New Orleans has hired Sarah King and Katie Garner as associates.

Transportation

Seaonus Stevedoring – New Orleans has hired Joseph Lala as the operations manager and Bill Burns as director of business development and customer service.

CityBusiness welcomes submissions for the “People” and “Calendar” sections. To be considered for inclusion in a coming issue, information must be received in the CityBusiness editorial office 10 days prior to the anticipated publication date. Submissions, including photographs, are published subject to space availability. Color photos submitted by email should be a head shot in jpeg format, with measurements of 3×3 and 300dpi. Submissions may be emailed to: Valerie Huntley at valerie.huntley@nopg.com. All photo attachments and submissions must include the subject’s name.
27 2016-10-26
New Orleans

Guest column: How Stephen Ambrose changed my life


In 1970, when I enrolled at Louisiana State University in New Orleans, it was little more than open land on the lakefront. There were few trees and even fewer buildings. However, what the campus lacked in foliage and structures, it more than made up for with its talented and dedicated faculty.

Leading this upstart academic institution was Chancellor Homer L. Hitt. Somehow, Hitt managed to take an abandoned World War II naval air station and turn it into a modern metropolitan university — one that has turned out more than 75,000 graduates.

Many, myself included, attended LSUNO for three main reasons. First, it had an outstanding academic reputation. Second, tuition was reasonable. And lastly, one could further cut expenses by living at home. Had it not been for LSUNO, without a doubt, I would not have gone to college. Additionally, I would have never met Professor Stephen Ambrose, a man who had a profound impact on my life.

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During the early and mid-1970s, I took a total of five courses under this incredible historian. These were, in my opinion, the “golden years” of LSUNO’s history department. Ambrose would come to class wearing a buckskin jacket, cowboy boots, hair to his shoulders, with his black lab, Bib, walking by his side and carrying the day’s lecture in his mouth. He was in full character as he was researching and writing his work, "Crazy Horse and Custer." He was one of a number of remarkable historians in the department, including Gordon “Nick” Mueller (now head of The National WWII Museum) and Joseph Logsdon.

Ambrose had the most influence on me. As a junior, I took his modern military history course. A research paper was required. I chose to write on Andrew Higgins, the designer and builder of the famous World War II landing craft. That paper led to my doing graduate work in history at what had now become the University of New Orleans. Ambrose served as my major professor and thesis adviser. My thesis was a more in-depth, 90-page version of my earlier Higgins paper.

After graduating in 1976, with a master's degree in history, I went into business. Sixteen years later, Ambrose contacted me and insisted that I turn my Higgins research into a book. To this day, I’m not certain why, instead of telling him no, I caved and agreed to send him a chapter a month. Within a week or so of my sending each chapter, the first page would come back with a one-or-two-sentence assessment written across it. I had been out of graduate school going on two decades, but I was still being graded by my old professor.

The end result was "Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats that Won World War II," the only biography ever written of this key WWII figure. In 1994, Parade Magazine chose the book as one of the best ever written on “the most crucial 24 hours of the war.”

Additionally, it was Ambrose’s insistence that led to my writing a second book, "Managing Ignatius, the Lunacy of Lucky Dogs and Life in the Quarter," which was published in 1998. The sequel to this work, "Lucky Dogs, from Bourbon Street, to Beijing, and Beyond," will be released this October. It is only because I attended UNO and only because I met Ambrose that any of my books were written.

Additionally, because of Ambrose and Nick Mueller I have also spent the last 20 years as a volunteer at The National World War II Museum, which they founded. On Nov. 3, this institution will host the University of New Orleans Distinguished Alumni Gala, which will pay special tribute to one outstanding UNO graduate, tourism industry leader Mark Romig. For details, see makinghistory.uno.edu.

Working with a phenomenal group of museum volunteers, including many UNO graduates, I took part in building a Higgins LCVP landing craft in 1996. Then we restored an original Higgins LCPL landing craft. Most recently, we have been restoring the Higgins-built PT-305. Once she is launched, she will be the only operational PT boat on earth that saw action in World War II.

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Looking back, I find it amazing how a single undergraduate paper has affected my life for more than 40 years. I probably need to check and see what I made in that course. Surely, I’ve earned extra credit by now.


27 2016-10-24
Lake Charles

UNO baseball coach Blake Dean receives extension, pay raise


University of New Orleans baseball coach Blake Dean, a former LSU standout, will receive a $5,000 pay raise and a new five-year contract keeping him employed through 2020, all pending approval from the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors at its meeting next Thursday.

Hired last season to replace legendary coach Ron Maestri, Dean inherited a 14-win team and pioneered one of the most surprising turnarounds in the nation, leading UNO to a 31-26 season — a 17-game improvement — where it finished 14-16 in the Southland.

Dean’s original contract, signed in 2015, was a three-year deal that ran through 2018. Pending approval, the new, amended contract expires in 2020 and ups his salary from $60,000 to $65,000.

The 28-year-old skipper will also receive supplemental compensation for multimedia obligations, starting at $1,500 for the 2016-17 season and increasing annually, peaking at $12,000 for the 2019-20 season.

27 2016-10-24
New Orleans

Delgado alumni donate $30,000 for scholarship, and other higher education news


UNO professor to lead administrators group
University of New Orleans professor John Kiefer was elected president of the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration at its annual membership meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Kiefer is the director of UNO’s master of public administration program. He will serve one year as president-elect and take over duties as president next year at the group's annual conference in Miami.

UNO adjunct faculty member Alessandra Jerolleman was also elected to the group's board of directors. She will serve a two-year term.

Kiefer is a professor in the UNO department of political science and a faculty associate at the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology, UNO’s applied hazards social science research center.

He was responsible for implementing the hazard policy specialization within UNO’s master of public administration program. He also teaches courses in hazard policy and administration as well as program evaluation.

In his applied research, Kiefer specializes in the development of collaborative networks to create disaster resilience, especially with regard to vulnerable populations.

He is a past chairman and senior adviser to the American Society for Public Administration’s Section on Emergency and Crisis Management and serves on the executive board of the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration.

Before coming to UNO, Kiefer was a research professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia. He is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer.

The Southeastern Conference for Public Administration, the largest regional professional association for public administrators, enhances the public service field in the Southeast by providing opportunities for scholarly and practice-based exchanges, professional networking and leadership development.
27 2016-10-20
New Orleans

Crescent City college notes for October 19, 2016


UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS: The University of New Orleans will honor Mark C. Romig as its 2016 Homer L. Hitt distinguished alumnus during its Distinguished Alumni Gala, which will be from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, in the United States Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center at the National World War II Museum, 945 Magazine St., New Orleans. Romig is president and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. The event also will celebrate the investiture of the university's seventh leader, President John W. Nicklow, who will be formally installed during an on-campus ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Tickets are $125 and are available at www.gala.uno.edu.

UNO JAZZ STUDIES: Jack Vogt, a composer and drummer in the jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans, has been named the 2016-17 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Louis Armstrong Scholar at the University of New Orleans by the New York-based ASCAP Foundation. The $3,000 award is made to jazz studies student who demonstrates excellence in scholarship and in creating original works of music. On Dec. 14, Vogt will be honored at the ASCAP Foundation’s annual awards ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.
27 2016-10-19
New Orleans

Nicklow on WWL Radio


Interview begins at 14:50)
27 2016-10-14
Associated Press

UNO gives research prizes to 3 faculty scientists


The University of New Orleans is honoring three of its faculty members for research in their respective fields.

The university announced the awards Wednesday (Oct. 12).

Leonard Spinu, a professor of physics, won the Research Excellence Prize of $10,000. The university cited his published works and role in research projects garnering more than $15 million in awards.

Computer science assistant professor Irfan Ahmed won the Early Career Research Prize. The university says in the past three years, he's been part of awards from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the Office of Naval Research. His grant is $7,500.

Professor of biological sciences Wendy Schluchter was given the Competitive Funding Prize of $10,000 for the UNO researcher who has been awarded the most external funding in the last fiscal year.

Copyright 2016, The Associated Press
27 2016-10-10
New Orleans

Constitutional amendment would give university management boards authority over tuition amounts


VIDEO
27 2016-10-06
New Orleans

Project NOLA announces new partnership with UNO and SUNO


NEW ORLEANS — Project NOLA has now moved its offices to the University of New Orleans campus with hopes that students there, as well as students at Southern University in New Orleans, can work alongside criminologists and law enforcement officials to fight crime.

Advertisement
Bryan Lagarde, director of Project NOLA, said graduate students from SUNO's criminology department, as well as UNO students who major in urban planning, sociology, psychology or childhood development can all partake in the new partnership.

Students like Thomas Crais, a psychology major at UNO, can soon take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to help solve real-life investigations.

"Underlying all humans is the need to get what you want, and I guess criminals go about it the wrong way," Crais said.

"Getting the opportunity to work with Project NOLA would definitely give you the application of your knowledge -- what you're learning and why you're learning it," Crais continued.

"It gives them the practical sense that they're not just looking at something strictly from an academic point but a practical point as well," SUNO criminologist Dr. John Penny said.

Students will have the opportunity to study criminal behavior, alongside criminologists at Project NOLA, a non-profit that's helped the New Orleans Police Department reduce crime since 2010.

"New Orleans has very violent crime rates per capita -- one of the highest murder rates in the country. And we definitely need it here, so it's an opportunity for students to learn and for us to fix these problem and the things that affect you me all of us," Lagarde said.

With over 1900 crime cameras installed in neighborhoods throughout the city, Project NOLA said they directly help in over 100 felony investigations each year.

"To my knowledge, there isn't a university on the face of this planet that's doing something like this where students can actually watch live, real time, monitor crime, and learn from it," Lagarde said.

Students interested in participating with Project NOLA can simply see their department heads for more information.

Project NOLA officials said the partnership will start as soon as possible.

Keep up with local news, weather and current events with the WDSU app here.

Sign up for our email newsletters to get breaking news right in your inbox. Click here to sign up!


27 2016-10-05
New Orleans

Project NOLA announces new partnership with UNO and SUNO


NEW ORLEANS — Project NOLA has now moved its offices to the University of New Orleans campus with hopes that students there, as well as students at Southern University in New Orleans, can work alongside criminologists and law enforcement officials to fight crime.

Advertisement
Bryan Lagarde, director of Project NOLA, said graduate students from SUNO's criminology department, as well as UNO students who major in urban planning, sociology, psychology or childhood development can all partake in the new partnership.

Students like Thomas Crais, a psychology major at UNO, can soon take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to help solve real-life investigations.

"Underlying all humans is the need to get what you want, and I guess criminals go about it the wrong way," Crais said.

"Getting the opportunity to work with Project NOLA would definitely give you the application of your knowledge -- what you're learning and why you're learning it," Crais continued.

"It gives them the practical sense that they're not just looking at something strictly from an academic point but a practical point as well," SUNO criminologist Dr. John Penny said.

Students will have the opportunity to study criminal behavior, alongside criminologists at Project NOLA, a non-profit that's helped the New Orleans Police Department reduce crime since 2010.

"New Orleans has very violent crime rates per capita -- one of the highest murder rates in the country. And we definitely need it here, so it's an opportunity for students to learn and for us to fix these problem and the things that affect you me all of us," Lagarde said.

With over 1900 crime cameras installed in neighborhoods throughout the city, Project NOLA said they directly help in over 100 felony investigations each year.

"To my knowledge, there isn't a university on the face of this planet that's doing something like this where students can actually watch live, real time, monitor crime, and learn from it," Lagarde said.

Students interested in participating with Project NOLA can simply see their department heads for more information.

Project NOLA officials said the partnership will start as soon as possible.

Keep up with local news, weather and current events with the WDSU app here.

Sign up for our email newsletters to get breaking news right in your inbox. Click here to sign up!


27 2016-10-04
New Orleans

UNO to host panel on economic and political inequality


Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Alexis de Tocqueville Project at the University of New Orleans will be hosting a free panel discussion this Tuesday, Oct. 4, featuring Times Picayune columnist Jarvis De Barry and Tocqueville scholar Benjamin Berger from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. The panel will explore what 19th century French historian Tocqueville can teach us in the present day, from what he observed about the political “equality of conditions” of the Americas in the 1830s.

The discussion will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. this Tuesday, Oct. 4 in UNO’s Liberal Arts Building in Room 236. The event is free and open to the public.

The discussion is the first event in a three-part series that will air on Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s weekly magazine and tv program “Louisiana: The State We’re In.”


27 2016-10-03
New Orleans

LSU studies effects of psychedelic drugs, and other news of higher education


UNO leads state in early career salaries
University of New Orleans alumni were found to have the highest average early-career salaries among graduates of all four-year public and private colleges in Louisiana, according to a new report from Payscale.com.

In the 2016-17 College Salary Report, bachelor’s degree earners from UNO with 0-5 years of work experience reported median annual earnings of $47,700.

The Pew Research Center found the national middle-income range in 2014 to be about $24,000 to $72,000 annually for a one-person household (or $42,000 to $125,000 for a household of three). Therefore, a "measurable number of recent UNO graduates" report having achieved middle-class earning status early in their careers, according to a release from the school.

UNO was also recently recognized for the sixth year in a row as a university whose graduates carry some of the lightest debt loads.

Payscale.com is the proprietor of the world’s largest salary profile database. The data used in their report are collected through an online compensation survey and are tested and verified before being included in publicly released reports.

The survey sample considered for the 2016-17 College Salary Report was 1.4 million degree-holding college graduates who are full-time, civilian employees working in the U.S. The report explores earnings reported by employees with associate, bachelor's, master's, doctorate and law degrees.

Of the approximately 2,600 bachelor's degree-granting schools in the U.S, the report included 983 schools that enroll more than 74 percent of the estimated undergraduates in bachelor's degree programs in the U.S.


27 2016-09-30
Baton Rouge

Amid Louisiana film downturn, 'Deepwater Horizon' sets new mark for state subsidies


The movie “Deepwater Horizon,” which opens today in theaters across America, is a rare example of a locally shot film that actually tells a story set in Louisiana.

It's gotten kudos for its meticulous rendering of the events leading up to the 2010 explosion that took the lives of 11 men on a BP oil rig 50 miles off the coast, setting off the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

But it is also the most expensive film ever made in the state, at least from taxpayers’ perspective. Under the state’s generous film-subsidy program, Louisiana issued tax credits totaling almost $38 million to Lionsgate, the producer.

That sum eclipses what was given to the previous record-holder, “Green Lantern.” In 2011, the year of that film’s release, the box-office flop got slightly more state aid than the University of New Orleans did.

By comparison, “Deepwater Horizon” received the same amount from Louisiana taxpayers as the state this year put into UNO and Southern University at New Orleans combined. The subsidy amounts to $8 for every man, woman and child in Louisiana.

As it happens, the release of the big-budget production — which had a recent red-carpet premiere in New Orleans — comes amid a steep downturn in Louisiana film production. Nearly everyone in the industry attributes the falloff to a raft of changes to the film subsidy program made by the Legislature in 2015.

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“Our last big show was in December,” said Susan Brennan, who owns Second Line Studios in the Lower Garden District. “We’ve been mostly empty since. It’s been horrible.”

Baton Rouge’s sprawling Celtic Studios, meanwhile, offered its cavernous buildings to house people needing temporary shelter after August’s devastating floods — an offer made possible by the fact there wasn’t much else going on there at the time.

Phil LoCicero, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 478, a union representing gaffers, grips, construction workers, set painters and other technicians, said his membership has held steady at about 1,300. But some members have relocated temporarily or taken on part-time jobs outside the movie business, he said.

“Some people are doing what they have to do to pay their bills,” he said. “Business is off a pretty decent amount. But we’re trying to keep our chins up and stay positive.”

The biggest legislative change to the film program in 2015 imposed an annual cap on the program of $180 million in tax credits. Other reforms were aimed at increasing the return on the state’s investment in the program, which independent economists have generally derided as paltry.

The cap, set to expire in July 2018, is thought to have driven productions to locales with fewer restrictions, including California, Canada and especially Georgia.

“If I want to come to Louisiana, I have to stand in line behind all these other movies that are waiting to be paid,” said Robert Vosbein, who owns Silver Screen Supply and is the president of the Louisiana Film Entertainment Association, the state’s trade organization. “Or, I could go to another jurisdiction where we don’t have to stand in line.”

In 2016, a total of 78 projects have submitted paperwork indicating they plan to spend $233 million in Louisiana, records from the state’s economic development department show.

If the final three months of the year continue at the same pace as the first nine months, this year’s planned spending will be down by 70 percent from last year. It would make 2016 the slowest year since the program’s meteoric growth started about a decade ago.

The metric is an imperfect one because it tracks expected spending rather than actual spending, and the two never match perfectly. For instance, the $1 billion in expected spending filed in 2015 included a film called “Gambit” that has yet to be made — and which has a projected Louisiana budget of $111 million, just shy of the $122.5 million spent here by “Deepwater Horizon.”

RELATED

Major downturn plagues Louisiana's film, TV industry 'Hollywood South' after big changes to tax credit program _lowres
Is it a good sign Louisiana's film tax credit was used up in less than 4 weeks?
The lucrative tax credit that led boosters to dub Louisiana’s film and television industry “…
Still, it’s as good as a barometer as there is.

Some in the industry see signs of an uptick, something they attribute to a couple of factors. First, the cap set by the Legislature is supposed to end in mid-2018, and given that it typically takes a year or more for a film to be pre-certified and then produced, that’s not as far into the future as it seems.

RELATED

Nonprofit says state can avoid unexpected revenue shortfalls from tax breaks by better planning and monitoring
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As state lawmakers prepare for a special legislative session early next year to tackle budge…
Also, a one-year suspension of the state’s buyback program — through which film producers can sell their tax credits back to the state for 85 cents on the dollar — expired in July. The suspension further softened the market for tax credits, which can also be sold to third parties who want to reduce their tax liability.

The film subsidy’s critics — of whom there are many, including nearly every independent economist who has looked at the program — probably would be content if Louisiana never recaptures its crown as America’s feature film capital.

The most recent state-sponsored study, completed in 2015 by LSU economist Loren Scott, found that Louisiana gets back only 18 to 24 cents of each dollar it puts into the program. Other studies have come up with similarly lackluster results.

But defenders of the film program say the economists haven’t been able to capture the industry’s impact. And they say “Deepwater Horizon” is a perfect example of how a film can have a deeper ripple impact that’s hard to measure.

The film’s elaborate sets included a lifelike, nearly life-sized rig set in a huge pool (meant to stand in for the Gulf of Mexico) at the old Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans East, as well as a second rig built at the Ranch Studios in Chalmette, where much of the filming took place. The rigs required a reported 1,600 tons of steel, which came from Louisiana, according to state officials.

Jason Waggenspack, chief executive of the Chalmette facility, estimated that the filmmakers spent “tens of millions of dollars” in St. Bernard Parish. Along with spending at restaurants and other businesses over almost three months of filming, he noted that the producers hired construction workers and welders, including some idled rig workers, to help build the massive sets.

The filming at Six Flags presumably reversed the fortunes of what is usually a money pit for the city, at least for a few months.

The park, closed since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, is managed by the city’s Industrial Development Board, which spends $10,000 a month just to secure the property. In addition, City Hall still is paying off a $25 million federal loan to the site’s original developers that city officials guaranteed almost two decades ago. Those payments will amount to more than $2 million this year.

Neither city officials nor officials with the IDB could provide information on how much the filmmakers paid for the use of the Six Flags site, which was recently appraised at $3.3 million.

The film program will undoubtedly be up for discussion in April’s legislative session, when lawmakers are expected to consider a broad menu of yet-to-be-specified tax reforms.

Film industry boosters are praying Louisiana makes a long-term commitment to moviemaking that is both predictable and stable. “Once you do that … Katie, bar the door,” said Vosbein.

But with the state staring at another massive structural deficit as temporary tax hikes near their expiration, lawmakers could also decide the program is a luxury Louisiana can’t afford.

Regardless of whether “Deepwater Horizon” heralds the end of an era or is a harbinger of what’s to come, the film’s record as the most-subsidized movie in state history is likely to stand.

That’s because one of the legislative reforms passed in 2015 was a cap of $30 million on how much any single film or project could reap in taxpayer largesse.

The cap did not apply to films that already had been pre-certified, as “Deepwater Horizon” had. “Gambit,” it’s ever made, appears to be the only other film conceived before the reforms that has a shot at topping $30 million.


27 2016-09-30
Baton Rouge

Amid Louisiana film downturn, 'Deepwater Horizon' sets new mark for state subsidies


The movie “Deepwater Horizon,” which opens today in theaters across America, is a rare example of a locally shot film that actually tells a story set in Louisiana.

It's gotten kudos for its meticulous rendering of the events leading up to the 2010 explosion that took the lives of 11 men on a BP oil rig 50 miles off the coast, setting off the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

But it is also the most expensive film ever made in the state, at least from taxpayers’ perspective. Under the state’s generous film-subsidy program, Louisiana issued tax credits totaling almost $38 million to Lionsgate, the producer.

That sum eclipses what was given to the previous record-holder, “Green Lantern.” In 2011, the year of that film’s release, the box-office flop got slightly more state aid than the University of New Orleans did.

By comparison, “Deepwater Horizon” received the same amount from Louisiana taxpayers as the state this year put into UNO and Southern University at New Orleans combined. The subsidy amounts to $8 for every man, woman and child in Louisiana.

As it happens, the release of the big-budget production — which had a recent red-carpet premiere in New Orleans — comes amid a steep downturn in Louisiana film production. Nearly everyone in the industry attributes the falloff to a raft of changes to the film subsidy program made by the Legislature in 2015.

RELATED

Major downturn plagues Louisiana's film, TV industry 'Hollywood South' after big changes to tax credit program
Major downturn plagues Louisiana's film, TV industry 'Hollywood South' after big changes to tax credit program
Rihanna fought off aliens in “Battleship” at Celtic Studios’ Stage 6 in Baton Rouge.Tom Crui…
“Our last big show was in December,” said Susan Brennan, who owns Second Line Studios in the Lower Garden District. “We’ve been mostly empty since. It’s been horrible.”

Baton Rouge’s sprawling Celtic Studios, meanwhile, offered its cavernous buildings to house people needing temporary shelter after August’s devastating floods — an offer made possible by the fact there wasn’t much else going on there at the time.

Phil LoCicero, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 478, a union representing gaffers, grips, construction workers, set painters and other technicians, said his membership has held steady at about 1,300. But some members have relocated temporarily or taken on part-time jobs outside the movie business, he said.

“Some people are doing what they have to do to pay their bills,” he said. “Business is off a pretty decent amount. But we’re trying to keep our chins up and stay positive.”

The biggest legislative change to the film program in 2015 imposed an annual cap on the program of $180 million in tax credits. Other reforms were aimed at increasing the return on the state’s investment in the program, which independent economists have generally derided as paltry.

The cap, set to expire in July 2018, is thought to have driven productions to locales with fewer restrictions, including California, Canada and especially Georgia.

“If I want to come to Louisiana, I have to stand in line behind all these other movies that are waiting to be paid,” said Robert Vosbein, who owns Silver Screen Supply and is the president of the Louisiana Film Entertainment Association, the state’s trade organization. “Or, I could go to another jurisdiction where we don’t have to stand in line.”

In 2016, a total of 78 projects have submitted paperwork indicating they plan to spend $233 million in Louisiana, records from the state’s economic development department show.

If the final three months of the year continue at the same pace as the first nine months, this year’s planned spending will be down by 70 percent from last year. It would make 2016 the slowest year since the program’s meteoric growth started about a decade ago.

The metric is an imperfect one because it tracks expected spending rather than actual spending, and the two never match perfectly. For instance, the $1 billion in expected spending filed in 2015 included a film called “Gambit” that has yet to be made — and which has a projected Louisiana budget of $111 million, just shy of the $122.5 million spent here by “Deepwater Horizon.”

RELATED

Major downturn plagues Louisiana's film, TV industry 'Hollywood South' after big changes to tax credit program _lowres
Is it a good sign Louisiana's film tax credit was used up in less than 4 weeks?
The lucrative tax credit that led boosters to dub Louisiana’s film and television industry “…
Still, it’s as good as a barometer as there is.

Some in the industry see signs of an uptick, something they attribute to a couple of factors. First, the cap set by the Legislature is supposed to end in mid-2018, and given that it typically takes a year or more for a film to be pre-certified and then produced, that’s not as far into the future as it seems.

RELATED

Nonprofit says state can avoid unexpected revenue shortfalls from tax breaks by better planning and monitoring
Nonprofit says state can avoid unexpected revenue shortfalls from tax breaks by better planning and monitoring
As state lawmakers prepare for a special legislative session early next year to tackle budge…
Also, a one-year suspension of the state’s buyback program — through which film producers can sell their tax credits back to the state for 85 cents on the dollar — expired in July. The suspension further softened the market for tax credits, which can also be sold to third parties who want to reduce their tax liability.

The film subsidy’s critics — of whom there are many, including nearly every independent economist who has looked at the program — probably would be content if Louisiana never recaptures its crown as America’s feature film capital.

The most recent state-sponsored study, completed in 2015 by LSU economist Loren Scott, found that Louisiana gets back only 18 to 24 cents of each dollar it puts into the program. Other studies have come up with similarly lackluster results.

But defenders of the film program say the economists haven’t been able to capture the industry’s impact. And they say “Deepwater Horizon” is a perfect example of how a film can have a deeper ripple impact that’s hard to measure.

The film’s elaborate sets included a lifelike, nearly life-sized rig set in a huge pool (meant to stand in for the Gulf of Mexico) at the old Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans East, as well as a second rig built at the Ranch Studios in Chalmette, where much of the filming took place. The rigs required a reported 1,600 tons of steel, which came from Louisiana, according to state officials.

Jason Waggenspack, chief executive of the Chalmette facility, estimated that the filmmakers spent “tens of millions of dollars” in St. Bernard Parish. Along with spending at restaurants and other businesses over almost three months of filming, he noted that the producers hired construction workers and welders, including some idled rig workers, to help build the massive sets.

The filming at Six Flags presumably reversed the fortunes of what is usually a money pit for the city, at least for a few months.

The park, closed since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, is managed by the city’s Industrial Development Board, which spends $10,000 a month just to secure the property. In addition, City Hall still is paying off a $25 million federal loan to the site’s original developers that city officials guaranteed almost two decades ago. Those payments will amount to more than $2 million this year.

Neither city officials nor officials with the IDB could provide information on how much the filmmakers paid for the use of the Six Flags site, which was recently appraised at $3.3 million.

The film program will undoubtedly be up for discussion in April’s legislative session, when lawmakers are expected to consider a broad menu of yet-to-be-specified tax reforms.

Film industry boosters are praying Louisiana makes a long-term commitment to moviemaking that is both predictable and stable. “Once you do that … Katie, bar the door,” said Vosbein.

But with the state staring at another massive structural deficit as temporary tax hikes near their expiration, lawmakers could also decide the program is a luxury Louisiana can’t afford.

Regardless of whether “Deepwater Horizon” heralds the end of an era or is a harbinger of what’s to come, the film’s record as the most-subsidized movie in state history is likely to stand.

That’s because one of the legislative reforms passed in 2015 was a cap of $30 million on how much any single film or project could reap in taxpayer largesse.

The cap did not apply to films that already had been pre-certified, as “Deepwater Horizon” had. “Gambit,” it’s ever made, appears to be the only other film conceived before the reforms that has a shot at topping $30 million.


27 2016-09-29
New Orleans

More students choosing to stay close to home amid TOPS cuts


NEW ORLEANS – Local college administrators said Wednesday they’ve seen more numbers of transfers as students are deciding to stay closer to home amid financial worries with the TOPS program.

One day, Fred Watts hopes to open up his own restaurant.

“I grew up in the kitchen because my dad always worked in the kitchen so I was always there helping him,” said Watts.

A freshman at Delgado Community college, Watts explained that like many of his friends, he chose his college based on his TOPS scholarship reward.

“I didn’t know if I was going to receive as much as I needed so I decided just to apply here,” Watts explained.

Watts is among the nearly 51,000 TOPS students who’ve fallen victim to state budget cuts that trimmed the state scholarship program by nearly 30 percent, and more cuts could be on the horizon.

“Instead of living on campus paying all of the campus dorm fees, I drive to school and live at home with my parents,” said Watts.

So more students and parents are making the hard decision to transfer closer to home.

“This fall we did see an increase in transfer students, a pretty significant increase in transfer students,” said John Nicklow, president of University of New Orleans.

Nicklow explained with the uncertainty of TOPS he has been trying to encourage his student not to panic but instead to be strategic.

“We’re trying to take advantage of additional Pell Grant dollars, private scholarships, institutional aid, to basically back-fill what TOPS isn’t going to cover,” Nicklow said.

In June, the Louisiana legislature voted to fully fund TOPS scholarships for the fall semester, but in the spring it will plummet to covering only 42 percent of what students need.

That got students like Dillard senior Summer Cox telling incoming freshmen to have multiple financial backup plans.

“Depend on your parents, depend on your hustle, have a job or something because school, financial aid, and TOPS is not going to do it for you these days” Cox said.

(© 2016 WWL)


27 2016-09-28
New Orleans

On the Clock: Dinah Maygarden, UNO Coastal Education Program director


If you were to drive east on Chef Menteur Highway, past the motley blocks of businesses in various states of well-being, past the Pleasantville-on-stilts development at Venetian Isles, and over the rickety truss bridge at Chef Menteur Pass, eventually you’d find a three-story waterfront building emblazoned with a comically large University of New Orleans (UNO) Privateer logo.

There, you might find, as I did, a large group of squirming third-graders vastly outnumbering their adult chaperones, all anxious to start one of science educator and UNO Coastal Education Program director Dinah Maygarden’s activities at the UNO Coastal Education and Research Facility (CERF).
On the day I visit, Maygarden leads one of five rotating workshops for a Langston Hughes Academy field trip. A group of about 10 kids huddles on the stairs on the interior side of the facility that faces the marsh, like a dock. Maygarden explains how they’ll make observations about the glittering green water in front of them.

“This water is connected to all the other water around here,” she tells them, in the crisp accent that reveals her English background. “You have these wonderful data collection centers called eyes. You can go closer to the water, but there are some rules.”
click to enlarge
Enthusiastic students (well, mostly) answer questions.
Enthusiastic students (well, mostly) answer questions.
Kids storm the dock and peer into the murky green depths, taking care not to step into the “danger zone” past the safety railings. Someone asks if alligators can live in the marshes (answer: yes). After they finish making observations, the group will take part in a simple experiment, in which they use an instrument called a Secchi disc. It’s a flat circle, about the size of the bottom of a Coke can, with a black and white pattern on it. Scientists use it to measure the clarity of water.   When the pattern starts or stops being visible through water, they can take a measurement.

***
Maygarden, a 19-year veteran of UNO, has been creating similar educational activities at CERF since the facility opened six years ago. CERF is part of UNO's Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences; the building that now houses the CERF organization was once a set of three waterfront condos. It was one of only a few area structures to survive Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures.

These days, Maygarden basically runs the show at the facility. She coordinates with partner groups like the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program, plans activities for grant-funded groups, maintains the building, and helps keep the organization’s shoestring budget in the black — in addition to the coastal processes undergraduate class she’s currently teaching at UNO.
It's a full plate reflecting her lifelong interest in science and, later on, teaching. As a young girl, Maygarden collected snails; in high school she took a memorable week-long biology field trip to take part in simple experiments like transects (a kind of naturalistic observation of a specific area) at a South England field station.

She began to incorporate science education activities into her curriculum earlier in her career, when she taught a group of students with behavior issues. A trip to a nature center helped reach students who normally had difficulty focusing. That realization inspired what she does today.

“[Being here] can do to things to their behavior. One, it can make [students] go loopy; but sometimes when they’re out of their natural environment … it’s a lot more valuable than being in the classroom banging their heads on the wall,” she says.

click to enlarge
Langston Hughes Academy third graders peer through a magnifying instrument at a grass shrimp.
Langston Hughes Academy third graders peer through a magnifying instrument at a grass shrimp.
CERF activities for younger groups are mostly focused on discovery and introduction to basic scientific concepts. In addition to measuring water clarity, the Langston Hughes Academy third graders take part in a discussion of the food chain and take a close-up look at the minnows and shellfish that make their home around Chef Menteur Pass. Older students go on canoeing trips, use more sophisticated scientific equipment and engage in longer-term science research projects. Sometimes they take part in science overnights at the center, where they sleep in bunk beds and cots like they're away at summer camp.
Many of the students who come to see Maygarden live in the city, rarely experience rural environments, and are often surprised to learn that the more remote areas around CERF are still part of New Orleans. But aside from countering disbelief that New Orleans East is still New Orleans, one of Maygarden’s major challenges is overcoming teenage apathy.

“Fourth and fifth and sixth graders, they know so much and they ask these really great questions,” she says. “Curiosity unfortunately fades away when they get older … high school students can be very detached, so then you’re not quite sure if you’ve gotten anywhere with them.”

That isn’t a problem today, when little hands shoot up to answer Maygarden’s questions. (“What’s the large body of water that runs through our city?” “The ocean!” one student replies confidently.) Everyone wants to take part in the activity, in which Maygarden pours cloudy marsh water into an instrument called a clarity tube.


click to enlarge
Students man the clarity tubes.
Students man the clarity tubes.

The activity works like this: one student peers through the water in the tube, trying to glimpse the Secchi disc at the tube's end, while another student controls a spigot that releases the water from the bottom. When the first student says she can see the Secchi disc, the second student closes the spigot. Together, they measure the water’s level. As the students take turns with the instrument, they do look like future scientists, faces screwed up against the plastic tubes to gaze inside — even as they struggle to time the measurements, and sometimes dissolve completely into giggles.
“It’ll be really interesting to see what these kids took away today … I’d love to be a fly on the wall when they talk about it,” Maygarden says.

Gambit's "On the Clock" series takes a look at the workday of a New Orleanian with an unconventional job. Have an interesting job, or know someone who does? Email kats@gambitweekly.com with tips.

27 2016-09-26
New Orleans

Tulane to expand engineering offerings, and other news of higher education


UNO has new real estate finance program
The University of New Orleans Department of Planning and Urban Studies is offering a professional development certificate in community development finance, school officials have announced.

The program, run in collaboration with the Greater New Orleans Foundation, is designed for working professionals with some previous experience in community development or real estate who are looking to deepen their understanding of the redevelopment process.

Classes begin Oct. 5. The course lasts 30 weeks.

Financial support from the Greater New Orleans Foundation enabled UNO to develop the certificate program aimed specifically at building the capacity of housing and community development organizations and ensuring their success in carrying out the vision expressed through HousingNOLA, the City of New Orleans’ 10-year plan for post-Katrina redevelopment.

According to Marla Nelson, associate professor of planning and urban studies at UNO, recent flooding in south Louisiana created a renewed interest in this type of expertise.

The certificate program consists of six non-credit but university-level courses focused on real estate finance, financial analysis and real estate development.

All classes are taught by Alexandra Stroud, a real estate developer and consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors, as well as expertise in complex community development planning and financing.

Stroud holds a master’s in real estate development from MIT and a master’s in architecture from Tulane University and is the founding director of the master of sustainable real estate development program at Tulane.

Classes meet Wednesday evenings and two Saturdays per month on UNO’s campus. Tuition for the complete certificate program is $6,000; individual courses can be taken for $1,000 each. Classes will be limited to 20 students; instructor office hours will be offered weekly in person and via video chat.


27 2016-09-26
New Orleans

Saturday is last day to see Mars Rover model at UNO


A half-size model of the Mars rover Curiosity concludes its three-day visit to the University of New Orleans Saturday with viewing open free to the public.

The detailed replica, one of two developed by Siemens and NASA, is on display in the University Center Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It's accompanied by Mars videos and other exhibits and demonstrations related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

On Friday night, the Pontchartrain Astronomy Society will train telescopes on the Red Planet starting at 8 p.m., weather permitting. The public is invited to view Mars; there's no charge.

Since 2012, the rover has gathered scientific information from the surface of Mars. It boasts 10 scientific instruments as well as a robotic arm that takes soil samples and photographs.

For more information, visit uno.edu.


27 2016-09-26
New Orleans

Local universities expand engineering education


The Tulane School of Science and Engineering has introduced a new curriculum that will include certificate programs in electrical, mechanical, materials and computer engineering.
In the program, students majoring in engineering physics may pick one of the four concentrations, allowing them to graduate with both a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics and a certificate in their specialty area.
“We are very excited about the newly approved certificates, which will allow students to combine the broad foundation of the existing engineering physics major with a concentration in a more focused area of engineering,” Lev Kaplan, chair of the physics and engineering physics department at Tulane, said in a news release.
“Many of our graduates are already pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees in these areas, or going into industry jobs in these areas, and the new certificates will further help them plan their elective coursework and market their abilities for internships, jobs and graduate programs,” Kaplan added.
Tulane first offered the concentrations at the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year, and each certificate has a pre-approved set of coursework that adheres to the requirements of that certificate.
Nick Altiero, dean of the School of Science and Engineering, said the new certificate program is an extension of engineering that will make students more competitive when they apply for graduate school or enter the workforce.
The University of New Orleans and Northshore Technical Community College announced this month they are offering a transferable pathway for NTCC students to become eligible for admission in UNO’s College of Engineering.
The partnership will give NTCC students an outline for completing an undergraduate degree from UNO in civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or naval architecture and marine engineering. The students will also receive an associate degree and certificate from NTCC.
Nicklow said the jobs are “some of the highest paying and most in-demand” for graduates. Wainwright said STEM jobs continue to grow on the North Shore, as indicated in a recent St. Tammany Economic Development report and projected in a 2010 study by the National Center for Higher Education Management that led to legislation advancing the STEM campus.

27 2016-09-22
New Orleans

Crescent City College Briefs for Sept. 21, 2016


UNO RANKINGS:For the sixth straight year, the University of New Orleans ranks among the universities whose students graduate with the lightest debt loads, according to U.S. News & World Report. UNO is the only Louisiana institution to make the list in the category of national universities. The list examines the debt load of the class of 2015 and includes loans taken out by students from their colleges, from private financial institutions, and federal, state and local governments. For UNO's class of 2015, that amount was $19,861, putting it among the top 25 national universities with the lowest average debt load. Fifty-five percent of UNO's class of 2015 graduated with debt. Princeton University topped the list with the smallest percentage of graduates with debt (16 percent) and the lowest average amount of debt ($8,577).

UNO AND DELGADO: The University of New Orleans and Delgado Community College have signed two agreements designed to boost educational attainment and transfer rates between the two institutions. A new partnership bridge program will encourage participants to begin pursuing their educational goals at Delgado and then transfer to UNO when they are eligible. The two institutions also renewed a long-standing cross-enrollment agreement under which full-time students can take one course at the host institution for each course taken at the home institution, with a maximum of two courses taken at the host institution. Students are allowed to enroll in courses not offered at the home institution.


27 2016-09-22
Regional/National

City of Warren to host 8th annual college fair on Thursday, September 22


(WXYZ) - College-bound students and their families are invited to attend the city of Warren's 8th annual College Fair on Thursday, September 22 from 6-8 p.m. at the Warren City Hall.

The Fair features representatives from over seventy colleges, universities, and financial institutions many from out-of-state.

Some of the new institutions this year include the University of Sydney in Australia, the University of Virginia, Loyola University of New Orleans, University of Alabama, and Washington University-St. Louis.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts initiated the idea of a college fair to "offer students a 'one-stop' opportunity to learn about colleges and universities." The event also serves as a "time-saver for students and their parents or guardians to learn about curricula, financial aid and costs related to attending college."

Last year over 1,400 attended the fair.

Schools expected to participate this year include:

* indicates out of state

** indicates out of the country

Abscott Institute

Adrian College

Albion College

Alma College

Aquinas College

Astute Artistry

Baker College

Ball State University*

Central Michigan University

Citizens Bank

Cleary University

Cleveland University*

College for Creative Studies

Community Choice Credit Union

Davenport University

DIME Detroit

Dominican International Institute

Douglas J. Aveda Institute

Drexel University

Eagle Flight Center - Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Ferris State University

Grand Valley State University

Henry Ford Community College

Illinois Wesleyan University*

Iowa State University*

Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Kendall College of Art and Design

Lake Superior State University

Lawrence Technological University

Loyola University of New Orleans*

Macomb Community College - Center Campus

Macomb Community College Financial Aid

Macomb Community College - South Campus

Madonna University

Manchester University*

Marquette University*

Marygrove College

MI. Dept. of Treasury - MI Student Aid

Michigan Air National Guard

Michigan Army National Guard

Michigan State University

Michigan Technological University

Northern Michigan University

Northern Michigan University - ROTC

NOVA Southeastern University

Oakland Community College - Auburn Hills

Oakland University

Ohio Dominican University*

Ohio State University*

Ohio Technical College*

Olivet College

Rochester College - Admissions

Rochester College - Continuing Education

Saginaw Valley State University

Savannah College of Art & Design*

Schoolcraft College

Specs Howard School of Media Arts

The Art Institute of Michigan

Trine University

United States Army

United States Marine Corps.

United States Naval Academy

University of Alabama*

University of Detroit Mercy

University of Findlay*

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

University of Michigan - Dearborn

University of Michigan - Flint

University of Michigan - Food & Addiction Science and Treatment

Lab

University of Phoenix*

University of Sydney**

University of Toledo*

University of Virginia*

Washington University-St. Louis*

Warren City Clerk - Voter Registration

Warren Public Library Information Table

Wayne State University

West Point (United States Military Academy)*

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University-Extended University Programming

Clinton Township

Western Michigan University-Dept. of Chemical & Paper Engineering

Youth For Understanding USA

27 2016-09-21
New Orleans

University of New Orleans enrollment drop has silver linings for Nicklow


Student enrollment at the University of New Orleans fell for the seventh consecutive year, according to figures the school released Monday (Sept. 19). The number of students in the university's undergraduate and graduate schools dropped to 8,037 for the fall semester, down almost 5 percent from last year and a far cry from the pre-Hurricane Katrina peak of 17,360 in 2003.

In particular, enrollment among graduate students decreased 12 percent this year. Undergraduate enrollment was also down, but slightly less so at around 2 percent.

Despite the decline, the university's president, John Nicklow, said he sees bright spots among the dim numbers. The number of first-year freshmen and transfer students held firm, as did retention among those students -- both key indicators that for Nicklow, may mean the long decline is beginning to level-off.

"These numbers are not unexpected," said Nicklow, who is entering his first full academic year as the university's president. "In fact, I'm pretty pleased and optimistic. We're laying a foundation to head in the right place."

First-time freshmen and transfer students tallied 1,689 students, seven more than last year. The university also boosted its first-year student retention rate two percentage points to 64.1 percent.

"My goal is to have growth by year three. That's where I think we can go."
Improvement in those two indicators, Nicklow said, is critical for enrollment to start growing within the next three years -- a goal he believes UNO can achieve. He has previously said he wants the university to reach the 12,000 enrollment mark within five years.

"You can't turn around enrollment without first reversing the rate of decline," Nicklow said. "I think that's something we're doing."

John Nicklow wants 12,000 students at UNO in 5 years
John Nicklow wants 12,000 students at UNO in 5 years
'That is a lofty goal,' he admitted.

To boost the retention rate further, Nicklow said he has launched a series of initiatives aimed at reeling in students and keeping them. Results have yet to materialize because they were put into place only a few months ago, but Nicklow said they target new transfer, minority, and first-generation students.

Additionally, Nicklow said the university has begun a more aggressive nationwide marketing campaign. For the first time at the end of last year, UNO purchased the names and contact information of students who took the ACT test and sent out about a half-million mailers across the country.

Through that effort, Nicklow hopes the university will draw more out-of-state students, though historically that's been tough. He did not have figures on how many new students from outside the state had enrolled this year, but he noted UNO's 81 out-of-state graduate students was about 23 percent more than last year.

To grow enrollment rather than just halt its decline, Nicklow said the university will have to boost its new-student numbers to around 3,000, all while shoring up retention.

"This is year one, as far as I'm concerned," Nicklow said. "My goal is to have growth by year three. That's where I think we can go if we have the right retention rate."

Speaking at Bureau of Governmental Research breakfast in July, Nicklow announced his intention to revitalize the university, improve enrollment and add new facilities. He emphasized the university's impact on the region: 42,000 alumni and $470 million pumped into the economy.


27 2016-09-20
New Orleans

UNO's enrollment drops for seventh year, but new president sees reasons for optimisim


Despite gaining a few dozen new students and transfers, the University of New Orleans' fall enrollment slid for the seventh consecutive year, largely hobbled by the Lakefront school's low but improving retention rate, according to figures released Monday.

UNO's fall enrollment of 8,037 students is about 4.6 percent less than a year ago. The undergraduate enrollment of 6,442 is down by about 2.4 percent, while the graduate enrollment of 1,595 dropped about 12.5 percent.

In an interview Monday, UNO President John Nicklow said he saw some signs for optimism in the latest numbers, and he cautioned that his long-term strategy for finding and keeping more students will take a few years to bear fruit.

"It's simply not realistic to turn this problem around in one year," he said.

Nicklow singled out a few bright spots: The number of new transfers rose by 7 percent, and UNO's retention rate — the percentage of students retained from the fall of their freshman year to the fall of their sophomore year — improved 2 percent, to 64.1 percent.

"The first step in the enrollment turnaround is making sure that you change the rate of decline, and we made good progress at that," he said. "The two key indicators that have to change are the number of students coming in and the number being retained, and we've positively impacted them this year."

Nicklow, who served as UNO's provost for nearly a year before being tapped to lead the school in the spring, has made increasing UNO's enrollment a priority. UNO's student head count last year sank to its lowest level since 1967 — less than half of what it was before Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The school has grappled with enrollment declines since 2009.

UNO's state subsidy also has dropped significantly in that span, from $74 million in 2008-09 to about $28 million in 2016-17.

Nicklow has set a target for UNO to have 12,000 students in five years, a goal he's described as "lofty."

To help get there, he is trying several strategies, including a broader push to comb through student data to spot potential signs of academic trouble in order to take early action to keep students enrolled in school.

He's also worked to rebrand UNO to draw in potential applicants who live elsewhere — particularly in colder climates — and to draw from New Orleans' popularity as a tourism destination.

In addition, Nicklow has targeted smaller segments or specific demographics of potential students — such as first-year, out-of-state, black or Hispanic students — with an eye toward growing those numbers.

In that area, UNO saw an uptick this fall in enrollment of black freshmen from 170 to 207. The number of enrolling first-time Hispanic students fell by one.

"We've set in motion some of the things that need to happen, and I'm really optimistic overall about what tracks we're laying," Nicklow said.

Asked if he was discouraged by the latest figures, he urged patience, saying it would take perhaps three or four years to right the ship.
27 2016-09-20
New Orleans

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down


The Louisiana Contractors' Educational Trust Fund
donated $100,000 to the University of New Orleans College of Engineering. The donation will support lab equipment and scholarships. The fund is set up by the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors and is supported by fines and penalties collected from contractor licensing law violations.
27 2016-09-15
New Orleans

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to speak at UNO


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of best-selling “Enrique’s Journey,” Sonia Nazario, will speak about her work at the University of New Orleans from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The event takes place at the University Center Ballroom at UNO, located at 2000 Lakeshore Drive, and will include a reception, author presentation, Q&A and book signing.

The event is free and open to the public.



To learn more about the event, Nazario, and “Enrique’s Journey”, visit UNO’s website here.


27 2016-09-15
New Orleans

Crescent City College Notes for Sept. 14, 2016


UNO ENGINEERING: The Louisiana Contractors' Educational Trust Fund has donated $100,000 to the University of New Orleans College of Engineering for teaching lab equipment and student scholarships. Fines and penalties levied against violators of the state's contractor licensing law are sent directly to the fund. The University of New Orleans is the only university in metro New Orleans that offers degree programs in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and civil and environmental engineering. It also has the only naval architecture and marine engineering program in the region, and one of the few in the nation.

'ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY': The author of "Enrique's Journey" will give a free talk at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 20 in the Sen. Ted Hickey Ballroom at the University Center at the University of New Orleans. "Enrique's Journey" by Sonia Nazario is the UNO Common Read selection for 2016-17 and is required reading in all first-year writing classes. Nazario's account of a five-year-old Honduran boy's perilous trip across the U.S. border to find his mother was first chronicled in a six-part series published in the Los Angeles Times in 2002. In 2003, "Enrique's Journey" won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing while photographs by her colleague Don Bartletti won the Pulitzer for feature photography. "Enrique's Journey" was chosen as this year's Common Read in part because of the election-year conversation around immigration, said Sarah DeBacher, chair of UNO's first-year writing program, and Mike Hoffshire, assistant director of First Year Student Success.


27 2016-09-14
New Orleans

UNO, Northshore Technical Community College sign agreement on engineering admissions


Northshore Technical Community College students who complete certain courses will be eligible for admission to the University of New Orleans College of Engineering under an agreement signed by the schools Tuesday.

The agreement will allow the students to complete an undergraduate degree at UNO in civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or naval architecture and marine engineering, according a UNO news release.

UNO President John Nicklow and NTCC Chancellor William Wainwright signed the agreement at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math campus that is under construction north of Lacombe. That campus, which is being built by NTCC, will open in January.

Under the agreement, students who complete the engineering program at NTCC will be admitted to UNO as sophomores and will be able to transfer up to 51 hours toward the 121 to 129 hours needed to earn a bachelor's degree in engineering.

"As an engineer myself, I recognize the valuable skills this discipline has to offer and the broad range of career opportunities that exist,'' Nicklow said, adding that the jobs available to engineering graduates are among the highest-paying and most in demand.

UNO offers the only programs in civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering in the New Orleans area, the news release said. The school also offers one of the few naval architecture and marine engineering programs in the country.

Wainwright said the rapid growth of STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — jobs on the north shore led to the creation of the new campus.

Partnerships among school systems, community colleges and universities will provide a pipeline of talent to support local and regional industry, he said.


27 2016-09-14
New Orleans

UNO expands engineering degree options on North Shore


The University of New Orleans and Northshore Technical Community College are offering a transferable pathway for NTCC students to become eligible for admission in UNO’s College of Engineering.
UNO President John Nicklow and NTCC Chancellor William Wainwright signed the agreement Tuesday at NTCC’s Lacombe STEM campus, which is currently under construction.
The partnership will give NTCC students an outline for completing an undergraduate degree from UNO in civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or naval architecture and marine engineering. The students will also receive an associate degree and certificate from NTCC.
Nicklow said the jobs are “some of the highest paying and most in-demand” for graduates. Wainwright said STEM jobs continue to grow on the North Shore, as indicated in a recent St. Tammany Economic Development report and projected in a 2010 study by the National Center for Higher Education Management that led to legislation advancing the STEM campus.
NTCC students who have completed the engineering pathway will be admitted as sophomores to UNO’s College of Engineering. Students can transfer up to 51 credit hours from NTCC to UNO to be applied toward the 121-129 credit hours (depending on the field of study) needed to complete a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
In order to graduate from UNO, students must achieve a grade point average of 2.0 or higher in all class work attempted, all class work at UNO and all courses in their major.

27 2016-09-13
New Orleans

Which New Orleans Colleges are "the best"?


Slide show
27 2016-09-12
New Orleans

New program aimed at increasing transfers, degree completions at UNO and Delgado


A new bridge program between the University of New Orleans and Delgado Community College will automatically admit low-scoring UNO applicants to Delgado, from which — if they complete their initial coursework in good standing — they'll then be admitted to UNO.

Under the terms of the initiative, participating students would be required to finish their developmental coursework, earn at least 12 hours of non-developmental college credits and maintain a minimum 2.25 GPA at Delgado to transfer to UNO — a process that could last about a year, UNO said in an announcement Friday.

As transfer students continue their studies at UNO, they'll be able to use their credits there to earn an associate degree from Delgado.

That aspect of the pact has several advantages, officials said: It steers the initially low-scoring students into the higher education pipeline without the added hassle or cost of applying to another school, and even if they don't earn a bachelor's degree at UNO, they can still walk away with an associate degree from Delgado.

The arrangement is also aimed at boosting both schools' enrollment figures and completion rates.

“The process of reverse articulation, where the credits earned at UNO are transferred back to Delgado, is in line with national best practices for college completion,” UNO President John Nicklow said in a news release.

The arrangement is one of Nicklow's various pushes to boost UNO's enrollment numbers a year after the Lakefront school's head count fell to its lowest level since 1967.

UNO's enrollment last fall — 8,423 students — was less than half of what it was before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Nicklow's target is for UNO to have 12,000 students in five years, which would represent a 42 percent increase. This fall's figures have yet to be released.

In 2015, UNO had 372 new students who transferred from Delgado, down from 438 a year earlier, UNO spokesman Adam Norris said.

UNO, the city's major public four-year university, has long looked to bridge admissions with Delgado, a two-year community college.

After stricter admissions standards for public universities were implemented statewide in 2012, UNO officials had hoped more students would enroll at Delgado and later transfer to UNO. But that didn't happen: Delgado’s enrollment fell too, and its transfers to UNO dropped off by about a quarter.

In a separate pact, the two schools have also renewed a cross-enrollment agreement that's been in place for a quarter-century, allowing full-time students to take courses at the other school if the course is not offered at their home institution.

There typically have been about 20 students cross-enrolled at the two schools in recent years, Norris said.


27 2016-09-06
New Orleans

UNO gets $100,000 for engineering school


The University of New Orleans has received a $100,000 donation from the Louisiana Contractors’ Educational Trust Fund. The money will be used to support the UNO College of Engineering by purchasing teaching lab equipment and financing student scholarships.

The mission of the fund, set up by the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors, is to promote programs used for contractor education at Louisiana universities. Fines and penalties levied against violators of the state's contractor licensing law are sent directly to the fund.

UNO is the only university in the New Orleans area that offers degree programs in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and civil and environmental engineering.

It also has the only naval architecture and marine engineering program in the region and one of the few such programs in the nation, according to school officials.
27 2016-09-06
Regional/National

Bangladeshi scientist works to turn algae into biofuel


Algae are found to have good potential for providing biofuel at a higher rate compared to any other plants”

A Bangladeshi scientist in the US is developing software tools and theoretical underpinning needed to help convert algae into biofuel.
Dr Tamjidul Hoque, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of New Orleans (UNO), has been awarded $141,453 by the Louisiana Board of Regents Industrial Ties Research Subprogram for his research.
The grant also has a three-year institutional match of $36,720, the university said on its website.
“Algae are found to have good potential for providing biofuel at a higher rate compared to any other plants,” Hoque was quoted as saying.
“Algae can be developed as an excellent microbial cell factory that can harvest solar energy and convert atmospheric carbon-dioxide to useful products and thus can establish the missing link in the fuel-cycle.”
His project is collaboration among UNO, BHO Technology and the Louisiana Emerging Technology Center.
His lab will develop advanced algorithms for analysing and optimising gene regulatory network-based biofuel production modelling in algae.
With co-principle investigator Shengru Tu, a computer science professor, principal investigator Hoque is helping NASA do a better job sharing information about its patented work.
They will use a $60,073 grant from the NASA Stennis Space Center to develop an automated tool to help NASA improve management and marketing of its intellectual properties portfolio.
A team of experts manually identified roughly 1,500 patents held by NASA.
Hoque, who hails from Munshiganj, studied computer science at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. He obtained his PhD on information technology from Monash University, Australia.
Before joining the University of New Orleans in 2012, he was research fellow with Griffith University and a post-doctoral fellow with Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
27 2016-08-30
New Orleans

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down


The University of New Orleans (UNO) was awarded a grant for $232,559 from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration to design a device to prevent sea turtles from getting caught in shrimping nets. The grant benefits the Nekton Research Laboratory at UNO's Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences' ongoing research on required "turtle excluder devices." Accidentally being captured in shrimp nets is among primary causes of death for sea turtles.
27 2016-08-25
New Orleans

High school students participate in UNO wetlands research project


A wetlands research workshop offered through the University of New Orleans Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences provided an opportunity for eight high school students to gain hands-on insight into the Mississippi River and coastal wetlands.

Dinah Maygarden, of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences, was director of the three-day workshop, which included visits to the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Project, Bayou Sauvage Refuge and Lake Borgne. The students, from John Curtis Christian High School, St. Mary's Dominican High School and John Ehret High School, sampled water quality and sediment; identified wetland plants and invertebrates; and evaluated the effect of controlled burns on the diversity of grass species.
27 2016-08-24
New Orleans

First came the flood; then the UNO basketball team arrived


Elbert Norred, 80, and his wife Ione, 77, watched in horror last week as the flooding Big Branch, a tributary of the Tickfaw River, crept ever closer to their sandbagged home in Holden. "We had had about an inch of water with the rains back in March, the first rains in 40 years to reach inside this house," Ione Norred said.




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They thought they were prepared. Elbert Norred, with the help of friends and neighbors, managed to sandbag his entire home. Three pumps were working away Aug. 13 at the seepage that was starting to accumulate. "We were doing OK at first," he said, pointing back to the still-standing sandbags, more than two feet in height.

"But once the water got so deep, the current got so strong and that corner over there washed out and then it was all over. It went in the house real bad. Couldn't do nothing with it."

His grandson took him back in a boat a day later. "We walked in the house and it was about 4 foot deep. Everything was turned upside down."


Flooded Holden, La., couple grateful for help from UNO basketball players
Help finally arrived Sunday, in the form of the University of New Orleans men's basketball program mucking out the mess of the elderly couple's house.

And it came in a roundabout way. Head basketball coach Mark Slessinger had coached the son of North Oaks Medical Center's legal counsel, John Derenbecker. Knowing that Derenbecker lived in the Hammond area, Slessinger called in the middle of last week to ask how he and his family had fared. "He told me that they were fine, but that he knew of a lot of other folks who weren't fine, who needed help," Slessinger said. "I told him to figure out who needed the help the most, that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday."

A list of those most in need was quickly cobbled together. UNO's team bus was drafted into service, and about 20 big, very tall, strapping young men were driven north to the flood zone.

Home mucked out
Members of the UNO basketball team muck out the home of Elbert and Ione Norred in Holden, La., August 21, 2016 which was heavily damaged by last weekend's floodwaters. (Photos by G. Andrew Boyd, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
Wet wallboard and soggy insulation was cut and removed. Piles and piles of ruined furniture and mementoes accumulated, first in the back yard and then in a long mountain of trash along rural Louisiana 441. It was hot, sticky work.

The basketball players were polite to a fault, lots of "yes, m'ams" and "yes, sirs." Slessinger explained the instructions he had given his players before they began: "I told them to check with Mr. or Mrs. Norred before deciding to discard anything," he said. "Something that might look like soggy junk to you might be a cherished end table from Great Aunt Sally."

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By Sunday at noon, the initial work was mostly done. Ione Norred insisted that all the players gather in a group so she could address them. "I appreciate everything you have done," she told the players. "Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this."

Elbert Norred was more philosophical. "Oh, we're a lot better off than a lot of people, you know," he said. Asked to explain what he meant, he said, " Well, a lot of 'em, just the roof sticking out (of the water), you know ... . A lot of them people didn't have insurance, either. At least we can get back into ours. It may take a while, but we'll get back into it."

Then it was back to Holden School for lunch, where members of the Almost Ancient Culinary Phellows, a men's cooking club from Covington, was grilling burgers for the team. After lunch and a short break, they were back on the bus, off to another house and another mess to clean up.


27 2016-08-18
New Orleans

UNO will improve shrimping nets, protect turtles with new grant


The University of New Orleans has been awarded a $232,500 grant to design a device that protects sea turtles from being captured in small shrimping nets.

Federal law has long required shrimpers to use turtle excluder devices, or TEDS, in their nets, but the technology has been limited to use by shrimpers using vessels longer than 25-feet with nets designed for fishing deeper waters. Associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, Martin O'Connell, says shrimpers using smaller nets in shallower waters inshore have no options that enable them to keep the shrimp in and the turtles out.

Most sea turtle species have been classified as threatened or endangered since 1978. Data suggests the primary cause of sea turtle death is incidental capture in U.S. shrimp trawls.


27 2016-08-17
Associated Press

University of New Orleans wins grant to improve turtle nets


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The University of New Orleans has been awarded a $232,500 grant to design a device that protects sea turtles from being captured in small shrimping nets.

Federal law has long required shrimpers to use turtle excluder devices, or TEDS, in their nets, but the technology has been limited to use by shrimpers using vessels longer than 25-feet with nets designed for fishing deeper waters. Associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, Martin O'Connell, says shrimpers using smaller nets in shallower waters inshore have no options that enable them to keep the shrimp in and the turtles out.

Most sea turtle species have been classified as threatened or endangered since 1978. Data suggests the primary cause of sea turtle death is incidental capture in U.S. shrimp trawls.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


27 2016-08-16
New Orleans

Black engineering group meets in New Orleans


About 150 people are expected to attend the National Society of Black Engineers' regional leadership conference in New Orleans this weekend.

Rose Telus, who serves as a regional chair for NSBE, said the conference at the University of New Orleans started Friday and ends Sunday. It could be a trial for a larger NSBE conference in a few years. "We're very excited about New Orleans," said Telus, who is a graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. "We have the students from St. Aug involved. People from all over the region are coming to train and socialize and get ready for the upcoming year."

The NSBE is looking at taking a bigger role in social issues, in light of things such as the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The organization launched a fundraising campaign to get safe drinking water to the residents of Flint, Michigan. The goal is to increase the number of black engineers and have them make a difference in their communities.

According to Telus, the NSBE has about 30,000 members, ranging from students to professional members. There are chapters across the U.S. and in Mexico, Europe and Africa.

FOLLOW TIMOTHY BOONE ON TWITTER, @TCB_THEADVOCATE.


27 2016-08-08
New Orleans

New UNO President John Nicklow turning to data to boost enrollment, retention of students


With classes set to begin this month, University of New Orleans President John Nicklow is ready to learn a lot about his new students.

A year after UNO's student head count sank to its lowest level since 1967, Nicklow is turning to a new approach in higher education that relies on mining student data to find potential signs of academic trouble and taking action to keep the students in school. It's part of an innovative push to retain more students and keep them on-track to graduation.

UNO's enrollment last fall — 8,423 students — was less than half of what it was before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Nicklow's target is for UNO to have 12,000 students in five years, which would represent a 42 percent increase, something he's cast as "a lofty goal."

Some of that effort involves "rebranding" UNO to appeal to potential applicants who live in other parts of the country — especially in colder climates — and to draw from New Orleans' vogue as a tourism destination.

As UNO's provost, a position he held for nearly a year before being tapped in the spring to lead the Lakefront school, Nicklow used a direct-mail recruiting initiative to target a half-million students who had recently taken the ACT exam. The move, he said, put UNO on the radar of prospective applicants across the country.

Now, to hang onto more students, Nicklow is targeting smaller segments or specific demographics — like first-year or out-of-state students, or black or Hispanic students — and plans to use different strategies to help their numbers grow at UNO.

"I'm more concerned with those individual goals and strategies behind them because that's how you solve a problem," he said.

Of the 8,423 students enrolled last fall, about 77 percent — 6,511 — lived in the seven-parish New Orleans area, according to the school's statistics. About 86 percent hailed from Louisiana.

The four remaining Gulf Coast states supplied another 192 students, with Texas accounting for 65.

Nicklow sees a few opportunities in that area, like stepping up recruiting efforts in Texas, or bolstering Hispanic enrollment, which represented about 10 percent of last fall's class. Black students made up about 15 percent.

"We have not previously targeted the Hispanic population, and that's something we need to do," he said. "That goes across state lines. Yes, it's in-state, too, but we'd like to do more with Hispanic recruitment in the Houston area, the Dallas area, because No. 1, we know it's growing, and No. 2, Texas is capping enrollment (in state schools) in many places."

UNO also attracted 532 international students last fall — about 6 percent of its fall 2015 class, including 103 from India.

Much of the challenge in boosting enrollment lies in improving retention. Only about 62 percent of UNO's fall 2014 freshman class returned for their sophomore year.

An engineer by trade, Nicklow was an early convert to using predictive analytics in higher education.

The data involved include a wide range of student traits and behaviors: gender; ethnicity; whether they're an athlete; area of study; ACT scores; where they're from; what courses they've already taken and in what order. The idea is to analyze it for red flags that may indicate a student should meet with an academic adviser and adjust his or her course load.

The platform UNO uses is owned by the Education Advisory Board, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm that works to boost retention and graduation rates.

"That creates a system where we're not only able to use some really cool tools to identify who's at risk, but why are they at risk and what's the solution," said Nicklow, who believes the platform could push UNO's retention rate past 75 percent.

The service, which is being rolled out at UNO this month, is used by more than 200 schools.

The cumulative data offer a backwards glimpse at how populations of students have performed under similar circumstances, then examine certain academic indicators, said Ed Venit, senior director at the Education Advisory Board. The data can root out some of the more predictable signs of trouble, such as if a student struggles in large, required introductory courses.

Nicklow, who began using predictive analytics when he was an administrator at Southern Illinois University, said in a recent interview that he didn't know the cost to UNO for the service, only that it was "not in the hundreds of thousands of dollars." But, he said, if UNO can retain just 120 more students, that adds up to about $1 million in revenue for the cash-strapped school.

UNO's enrollment issues are not unusual in U.S. higher education, Venit said, particularly as competition grows and recent projections show that the traditional college-age population is likely to decline over the next decade.

"Across the nation, everybody's looking at their enrollments and saying, 'Wow, it's a lot harder to get students than it ever was before,' " Venit said.

The Education Advisory Board platform, which is used by about twice as many public as private schools, sifts through data on millions of students.

Xavier University is the only other local school using the platform, Venit said. But more schools are turning to it, especially as state funding has dropped nationwide and as colleges and universities have faced more scrutiny over less-than-stellar graduation rates and rising student debt loads.

"The definition of what a school is responsible for is far broader than what it was 10 years ago," Venit said.

From Nicklow's perspective, it's not a complicated problem.

"You grow the freshman class and you reduce your attrition rate for three years in a row -- then you'll grow overall," he said. "That's not rocket science. It's just looking at the pipeline issue, but we're making good progress at it overall."

Still, relying on analytics is not a silver bullet, said Joel Hartman, an early adopter of the technology at the University of Central Florida, where he's a vice president.

"Analytics is a tool, and like any tool, it has to be carefully planned, skillfully executed, and it's only a piece of the solution," said Hartman, who has worked at UCF for more than two decades. "Ultimately, student success and retention is a human problem, not a data problem. The data simply may give you an indication of how to focus your research and to have the greatest impact."

Venit acknowledged that Nicklow's target for increasing UNO's enrollment represents "a very aggressive growth" that would need to be matched by "some aggressive recruiting as well."

Still, "crazier things have happened," he added.

But drawing from his long association with Nicklow, Venit said he believes that, if anyone can do it, the first-term president is up to the task.

"It would be unusual to see a school make that kind of move in five years, but it's not completely unheard of," he said.
27 2016-08-08
New Orleans

UNO computer science professor earns $300K grant, and other news of higher education


omputer science prof earns $300,000 grant
University of New Orleans computer science professor Vassil Roussev will use a two-year, $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to improve the delivery of cybersecurity education.

The development of an automated platform will allow instructors to spend more time teaching students and less time on managing and grading assignments.

“Realistic hands-on experiences in the lab are key to building strong cybersecurity skills for the real world,” Roussev said. “It takes a substantial effort on the part of the instructor to create, monitor and grade dozens of student lab assignments throughout the course.”

The Automated Platform for Cyber Security Learning and Experimentation project seeks to dramatically improve the efficiency of instruction by providing a language to specify lessons and exercises, and by automating most of the mundane, time-consuming management tasks behind the scenes, Roussev said. The platform also lets the instructor embed hints and sub-tasks within the lessons to create more personalized experiences.

The UNO Department of Computer Science has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations and Information Assurance Research by the National Security Agency

Romig to be honored as leading UNO grad
The University of New Orleans International Alumni Association announced that Mark Romig has been selected as the 2016 Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumni honoree.

The association will present the honor at the Distinguished Alumni Gala, which will be held at the National World War II Museum on Nov. 3. The event will also celebrate the investiture of university President John Nicklow, who will be formally installed during an on-campus ceremony on Nov. 2.

As president and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., Romig is an influential leader in the city’s tourism industry. He also is the stadium announcer for the New Orleans Saints.

“I credit my alma mater for helping shape the person I have become,” said Romig, who earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism administration from UNO in 1978. “I have always believed that service to my community is of utmost importance, and I learned that by watching the example the University of New Orleans has exhibited through the years.”

He has been active in the Sugar Bowl Committee, Idea Village, Project Lazarus, Xavier University and the Fontainebleau Improvement Association. He coordinated the city’s participation in the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and served on the Battle of New Orleans Bicentennial Commission and the Host Committee for Super Bowl XLVII. He also has been president of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) International Fraternity.

Romig previously was vice president of marketing and public relations for HCA Inc.-Delta Division and, prior to that, spent 16 years at Peter A. Mayer Advertising, where he was president of the public relations division. He also served as vice president of public affairs for Hibernia National Bank and was director of protocol and guest relations for the 1984 World’s Fair.
27 2016-08-03
New Orleans

UNO to use $300K grant to boost cybersecurity education


University of New Orleans computer science professor Vassil Roussev will use a two-year $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to improve the delivery of cybersecurity education, according to the university.
Roussev
Roussev
The development of an automated platform will allow instructors to spend more time teaching students and less time on managing and grading assignments, a UNO news release said.
“Realistic hands-on experiences in the lab are key to building strong cybersecurity skills for the real world,” said Vassil Roussev, professor of computer science and the grant’s principal investigator. “It takes a substantial effort on the part of the instructor to create, monitor and grade dozens of student lab assignments throughout the course.”
The Automated Platform for Cyber Security Learning and Experimentation (AutoCUE) project seeks to dramatically improve the efficiency of instruction by providing a language to specify lessons and exercises, and by automating most of the time-consuming management tasks behind the scenes, Roussev said. The platform also gives the instructor the ability to embed hints and sub-tasks within the lessons to create more personalized experiences.
“Ultimately the successful implementation of the project will allow cybersecurity educators to spend more time working with students and developing class materials, which they will also be able to easily share with colleagues,” Roussev said.
The UNO Department of Computer Science is a designated National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations and Information Assurance Research by the National Security Agency.
27 2016-08-02
Regional/National

Benefits of college mergers don't always add up


Higher education leaders in Vermont last week revealed plans to consolidate the administration of two of the state's five public college campuses, working to strike a balance between increasing economic efficiency while maintaining institutional identities that are important to the respective areas surrounding Johnson State College and Lyndon State College.

Separated by less than 50 miles, the two schools have distinct program strengths in dramatically different areas. The system promotes JSC as a leading institution for training in health and environmental sciences, while Lyndon State offers a liberal arts-leaning academic focus with specialty in education, journalism and business.

The consolidation plan is the latest among several states throughout the country in the last several years, made in an effort to adjust costs of operation and attendance to balance with growing state spending obligations in pension and health care benefits for employees.

As enrollment decreases and the competition for students grows beyond state borders, higher education systems are feeling the pressure to make institutions more appealing and competitive in research and output, even if it means combining two to make one stronger institution.

But some higher ed experts say the benefits of consolidating institutional operations don’t balance the costs to campuses and communities in the long run.

How economy drives the merger imperative

Both Johnson State and Lyndon State are running deficits, and officials say the consolidation could help both campuses to realize revenue gains faster than they could as separate schools.

In Georgia, economic depression was a major factor in the state pursuing massive campus reorganization strategies. In November 2011, the University System of Georgia approved six principles that would serve as guidance in its efforts to consolidate institutions, aimed at improving economic and educational outcomes for citizens across the state, improving institutional quality and the avoidance of program duplication among schools.

The system has since consolidated 12 campuses statewide, with its most recent consolidation being that of historically black Albany State University and nearby Darton State College. Albany State remained as the sole institution from the consolidation, just the second HBCU to survive merger with a predominantly white institution since the federal court-mandated desegregation merger order of Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee-Nashville in 1979.

ASU was reintroduced as a new institution, with a new mission statement, leadership and service infrastructure, and leaders pointed out the new opportunities it would create for residents of Southwestern Georgia as a result.

“The consolidation of Albany State University and Darton State College is a historic milestone for these institutions, our University System, the Albany community and our state,” said University System Chairman Neil Pruitt. “We are creating an institution of nearly 9,000 students, which would be the largest institution of higher education in Southwest Georgia. We have the opportunity to transform how we serve the community and the region.”

Tourism is one of the region’s major economic drivers, with a $222 million in impact in 2014, according to the state’s Department of Economic Impact. A significant portion of that tourism: Albany State sporting and alumni events.

When consolidation doesn’t work

Some states have considered consolidation, but have been turned away by harsh financial realities or political backlash.

Last fall, Salem State University and the Montserrat College of Art shelved a proposed merger after discovering that the costs of facility and technology upgrades, faculty salary structure and reduction in student aid far outweighed the financial benefits of merging the two schools.

In Louisiana, where higher education funding has been among the nation’s worst since 2008, officials tried in 2011 to propose a merger of the University of New Orleans and historically black Southern University at New Orleans.

The proposal, which many advocates saw as an attempt to marginalize opportunities for black students in the city, sought to merge the two commuter campuses with poor graduation rates — SUNO with an 8% mark at the time, and UNO with a 21% rate.

Pressure from black elected officials in the state killed the bill, but talk about merger of the two schools resurfaced last February among lawmakers.

UNO President Peter Fos, in an interview with the Baton Rouge Advocate, said that combining state resources doesn’t always yield greater efficiency for students.

“I’ve had people ask me if there’s a consolidation plan, and there isn’t,” he said. “One of the things that people don’t understand is that I’m not sure the cost of educating a student would change... Sometimes you’re trying to take an apple and merge it with an orange, and you don’t get anything that’s good."
27 2016-07-29
New Orleans

University of New Orleans Upward Bound Summer Celebration and Senior Send-Off


After a successful six-week summer session, graduating high-school seniors of University of New Orleans' Project PASS and Jefferson Upward Bound got together with family and friends to mark the occasion at a Summer Celebration and Senior Send-Off party on July 15.

Graduates will be attending post-secondary institutions including: Tulane, Loyola, Dillard, Nicholls State, Southeastern Louisiana and Louisiana State universities; University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Southern University in New Orleans and Baton Rouge; Delgado Community College; and UNO. Students such as Kayla Harry received a full POSSE scholarship to Tulane University; La'Ron McClay will be attending Southern University in Baton Rouge on a band scholarship; and David Collins received a music scholarship to Loyola University.

Awards were also presented to students for outstanding achievement in academics and citizenship.

Among the more than 160 people who filled UNO's Homer Hitt Alumni Center were guest speaker Danneka Tassin J.D.; Brenda Brown, director, Project PASS and Jefferson Upward Bound programs; Rev. Tom Watson, Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries; Daniel Pate, former program advisor for Orleans Parish students; and Upward Bound alumni.

UNO is the host institution for three Upward Bound programs in the city: Project PASS is for students primarily from McDonogh 35, Eleanor McMain, and Walter L. Cohen (College Prep) high schools, Jefferson Upward Bound serving students from Riverdale, East Jefferson and Bonnabel high schools, and Classic Upward Bound is for students from Orleans Parish. The program provides supplemental and enrichment academic support for students and serves nearly 300 low-income or first generation high-school students.
27 2016-07-28
New Orleans

New location grills up excitement for Hogs for the Cause


NEW ORLEANS - There's a big announcement for those who are gearing up for the ninth year of 'Hogs for the Cause.'

The event is set to take place from March 30 to April 1, and many participants take the whole year to get ready. However, officials said the three-day fundraiser will now be held on the grounds behind the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena.

For six years the sights, sounds and delicious smells of 'Hogs for the Cause' have filled City Park.

"This is a gourmet BBQ event with creativity," said Drew Herrington with Team Fleur-de-Que. "It's like you have 100 teams of artists trying to come up with the best dish to wow the audience.”

2017 will be no exception, except for the location change.

"City Park was an amazing partner and we loved growing there," said event Co-Founder, Becker Hall. "In order for us to grow the event and keep everyone happy, this was just a great move for us."

The area behind the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena had what organizers said they were looking for. It included a flat, sturdy surface, lots of land, and parking for thousands.

"I think we offer a lot of things," said Assistant General Manager of the Lakefront Arena, David Aramand. "We have great on-site parking, we have things that can help a lot with the teams, we have concrete pads here, exterior roads for logistics. I think it's a great opportunity for everybody."

The spot was chosen after event organizers said they got feedback from participants and competitors about what they would like to see at the event location. It’s a new partnership with the University of New Orleans, and it’s something many say they’re very excited about.

“We’re used to being a self-reliant team whether it’s bringing our own water, bringing our own electricity and power," said Herrington. "It’s just become more and more of a challenge over the years, and when we heard about some of the amenities that would be included in the plots here, we threw our hands up and said this is a place we want to be.”

Those involved said this new location will heat up the competition.

"We're fired up, no pun on the smokers," said Hall. "We're ready for it."

They said the change is already cooking up excitement for another successful year.

The purpose of Hogs for the Cause is to provide aid and relief of those variable expenses and economic burdens which families face while their child is being treated for pediatric brain cancer. Since the event started eight years ago, the organization has raised more than $1 million.


27 2016-07-25
New Orleans

UNO gets $75,000 grant for health science lab


A $75,495 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents will breathe new life into the University of New Orleans’ human performance and health promotion program.

Marc Bonis, assistant professor of human performance and health promotion, said the award will enable UNO to purchase a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry — commonly called a “DXA” machine — to enhance UNO’s health science learning lab.

The instrument is used to measure bone density and is a source of data for those studying osteoporosis and obesity.

The university had such a tool before Hurricane Katrina, but it was damaged by moisture and disuse following the flood, Bonis said. Students and faculty relied on it for research and practice for future careers in physical therapy and athletic training.

UNO deactivated the human performance and health promotion degree program in the wake of Katrina because of financial constraints. It was reactivated in 2012.

Today, more than 120 students are enrolled in the undergraduate program, Bonis said.

Students entering the program can choose between two tracks: health promotion, for those interested in community or school-based health education; and exercise physiology, which appeals to those interested in working in the area of individual health and fitness, including cardiac and other chronic disease rehabilitation.
27 2016-07-22
New Orleans

President John Nicklow wants 12,000 students at University of New Orleans in 5 years


In five years, new University of New Orleans president John Nicklow envisions a revitalized school -- with 12,000 students.

"That is a lofty goal," he admitted to an audience Thursday (July 21) at a Bureau of Governmental Research breakfast. Last fall, fewer than 8,500 students enrolled, according to UNO statistics.

Moderator Dennis Woltering spoke of a time now shrouded in mist, when UNO was riding high: new facilities, big plans and 17,000 students. Then came Hurricane Katrina, tougher entrance requirements and devastating state budget cuts.

Nicklow has spent part of his first four months on the job on a marketing tour, making more than 50 speeches and talks "spreading the word about why UNO matters to this city," he said. At talk 50-and-something, he reiterated the university's regional impact: $470 million poured into the economy, 42,000 alumni. The latter was vividly illustrated by a sea of hands when he asked alumni and family members to identify themselves.

"We're providing the educational access and pathway to a better, more prosperous life for thousands of people and their families, most of whom end up staying here and building New Orleans," he said.

Nicklow was full of details about initiatives to attract a variety of new students, including online classes, campus beautification and a new marketing campaign touting the university's academic quality instead of "survival." He spoke in particular depth about extensive efforts he began as provost to keep students enrolled; more than one-third of fall 2014 freshmen did not come back the next fall.

However, in a room that included Ben Johnson of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Mark Mayer of Peter Mayer Advertising and Leo Marsh of AT&T, Nicklow did seem short on details about one of his other key goals: to build "business and community partnerships."

He didn't make a pitch Thursday to business leaders laying out what he wanted from them or how they could get involved, although Nicklow said previously he has reached out to individual businesses to discuss internships, donations and other ways they can support the university.

It could also conceivably be a fence-mending mission. As the University of Louisiana System board prepared to choose a new president for UNO, the New Orleans business community lobbied heavily for Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin to get the job instead.

New UNO chief courts business leaders who spurned him
New UNO chief courts business leaders who spurned him
'We're feeding the businesses and the industry of the city,' John Nicklow says

Eskew+Dumez+Ripple principal Tracy Lea said afterwards that while academic growth was the right priority for Nicklow, "I was hoping to hear more about facilities development potential." Perhaps there would be opportunities for "repurposing, new construction, planning."

Sheraton area human resources director Tom Jones didn't need those details: The company already partners with UNO business students. "We look to hire them and allow them to work their way through school," he said, among other components of the program. "It's a great vision," he said of Nicklow's speech. "That's what you want: A university that can produce quality students/employees."

Taylor Burns, a 2015 Loyola University graduate and seventh-generation New Orleanian, said she never even considered UNO when she was applying for college: "UNO didn't do anything that made my family think about it."

On Thursday, though, Burns was intrigued by the opportunity "to rethink what academia can look like." Even with a degree in environmental engineering, she's struggling to get her career started, working four jobs. "I still haven't found that full-time gig, with salary and benefits," she said.

Generally, attendees seemed to want Nicklow to succeed. "A lot of cities have similar community-based colleges and universities, and they've been very successful. I don't know why this one can't be as good or better," Lea said.

Despite his five-year enrollment vision, Nicklow warned attendees not to expect too much too soon. At his last university, it took several years of solid effort to see a small uptick in the student body. "This is not a flash-in-the-pan solution," he said.

Other topics Nicklow touched on during the audience question-and-answer period:

TOPS — One fifth of the university's students used Louisiana TOPS scholarships last year. But they won't get the full amount in the coming school year. "We're going to do everything we can to help them succeed. The way we do that is to make sure we capitalize on every dollar on the table," Nicklow said. Many TOPS recipients had not sought other aid, such as Pell grants for low-income students, so administrators pushed them to apply for federal student aid, he said: "To be honest with you, I'm going to use everyone else's money before we use ours."

Program cuts - Former UNO president Peter Fos cut a number of programs. Nicklow said he was getting away from that approach, and would instead reshape unpopular majors in response to local industry demand. "My goal is to not get rid of the credit hours. We need more students and more credit hours, not fewer," he said.
Who's qualified to attend? — Lowering academic requirements is a bad idea, Nicklow said: "It's not a good investment for the institution to accept students into our institution who have a low predictability of success." However, he wants to change the state-imposed rules to "a more holistic review of the student." Most notably, UNO requires a 23 ACT score. "The average ACT in Orleans Parish is about 18 1/2," he said. So "I can't admit the majority of students from Orleans Parish today."

27 2016-07-19
New Orleans

UNO’s health science learning lab gets $75K boost


A new $75,000 grant will allow the University of New Orleans’ human performance and health promotion program to purchase a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to complete the university’s health science learning lab. The grant funds come from the Louisiana Board of Regents.
The instrument is used to measure bone density and is an effective source of data for those studying osteoporosis and obesity, according to a news release.
The university had a similar tool prior to Hurricane Katrina, but it was damaged by moisture and disuse following the floods. Students and faculty used the tool for research and practice for future careers in high-demand fields such as physical therapy and athletic training.
Due to financial constraints, UNO deactivated the human performance and health promotion degree program in the wake of Katrina.
When it reactivated it in 2012, Mark Bonis, assistant professor of human performance and health promotion, said he immediately set about trying to secure the funding needed to get the dual energy X-ray machine working again.
The grant goes largely toward covering the cost of the machine. Bonis said that not only will UNO be the only public education institution in town with such a machine, its use will allow university faculty and students to secure additional grants for research that this instrument makes possible.
“We were so elated,” Bonis said in a statement. “This will give students a leg up.”
Since it was reinstated as a major, students have gained interest into UNO’s human performance and health promotion program at higher- than-projected rates. Currently, there are more than 120 students
27 2016-07-19
New Orleans

UNO’s health science learning lab gets $75K boost


A new $75,000 grant will allow the University of New Orleans’ human performance and health promotion program to purchase a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to complete the university’s health science learning lab. The grant funds come from the Louisiana Board of Regents.
The instrument is used to measure bone density and is an effective source of data for those studying osteoporosis and obesity, according to a news release.
The university had a similar tool prior to Hurricane Katrina, but it was damaged by moisture and disuse following the floods. Students and faculty used the tool for research and practice for future careers in high-demand fields such as physical therapy and athletic training.
Due to financial constraints, UNO deactivated the human performance and health promotion degree program in the wake of Katrina.
When it reactivated it in 2012, Mark Bonis, assistant professor of human performance and health promotion, said he immediately set about trying to secure the funding needed to get the dual energy X-ray machine working again.
The grant goes largely toward covering the cost of the machine. Bonis said that not only will UNO be the only public education institution in town with such a machine, its use will allow university faculty and students to secure additional grants for research that this instrument makes possible.
“We were so elated,” Bonis said in a statement. “This will give students a leg up.”
Since it was reinstated as a major, students have gained interest into UNO’s human performance and health promotion program at higher- than-projected rates. Currently, there are more than 120 students
27 2016-07-13
New Orleans

UNO named one of the top universities in the world


NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -
Local students are especially “UNO Proud” today since the Center for World University Rankings were released. For the second year in a row, the University of New Orleans (UNO) has been placed in the top 1,000 universities across the world.

UNO ranks in the top 2.6 percent of 25,000 universities worldwide, 181st in America, and 633rd in the world. Only four Louisiana universities placed on the list; LSU ranks 188th in the world, Tulane ranks 288th in the world, and Louisiana Tech ranks 667th. The first five universities on the list are Harvard, Stanford, MIT, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Oxford. The United States has the most institutions on the list with 224 schools, followed by China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

The Center for World University Rankings publishes the largest list from schools worldwide by measuring eight objective indicators: quality of education, alumni employment, quality of faculty, publications, influence, citations, broad impact and patents. Surveys and university data submissions are not considered when comprising the rankings. Rather, it measures the quality of education, training of students, and prestige of faculty members. The Center for World University Rankings provides consultations for governments and universities and publishes the most in-depth university rankings available.

To view the complete 2016 rankings, click here.

UNO is a major research university that has offered public resources for more than 50 years. Today UNO offers more than 40 different undergraduate and graduate programs. It has offered diverse research-based programs, advanced shared knowledge, and added to New Orleans’ industry, culture, and economy. For almost 60 years, UNO has educated students from all 64 Louisiana parishes, all 50 states in America, and more than 130 countries around the world.

Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.
27 2016-07-12
New Orleans

UNO study finds the university has a major economic impact on metro New Orleans


VIDEO
27 2016-07-11
New Orleans

Letters: UNO an alternative for students hit by TOPS cuts


Louisiana students reliant upon TOPS got a big wake-up call at the end of the recent special session when legislators only funded the popular scholarship program at 70 percent for the upcoming school year. Because of these cuts, a college education just became even more expensive for many families across our state. But for those students in the New Orleans metro area, there may be a silver lining or, rather, a better option for a quality, affordable education right here at home.

As a University of New Orleans graduate who’s built a business and a career in the local economy, I think too often people overlook my alma mater as the great educator of our metropolitan workforce. Just about everywhere you look you’ll find UNO graduates working and living in New Orleans — more than 40,000 alumni live in the metro New Orleans region. There’s a reason for that. UNO offers many great programs that prepare students for productive and successful careers right here in our city. Whether its naval architecture or marine engineering, hospitality and tourism, tech and innovation, film and music, or urban planning, UNO is a great institution of higher learning, and more local New Orleanians should appreciate it for all that it has to offer. With changes to the TOPS scholarship program, I think UNO has become an even more attractive option for students from our region.

The new New Orleans offers great opportunities for our young people. While other parts of America are struggling, New Orleans is vibrant and growing. We’ve created an environment that is attracting people from all over the country. An entrepreneurial spirit is pervasive, and new start-ups are being incubated by creative young minds who’ve found inspiration in our unique culture.

Visitors are coming from all corners of the nation and spending record amounts of money. It’s an exciting time, and it’s a reason to stay at home and be a part of that excitement. With cuts to TOPS, it makes a lot of sense to consider UNO for your college education. It’s much more affordable than other options outside of our region, and it can give students exactly what they need to be successful right here at home.

Roy M. Carubba

president, Carubba Engineering, Inc.

Metairie


27 2016-06-28
New Orleans

With TOPS shrinking, students should consider staying at home at UNO: A letter to the editor


With the recent cuts to the state's TOPS scholarship program, many existing and prospective students will be greatly impacted. As a University of New Orleans graduate, I am writing to suggest those students from the New Orleans area strongly consider staying in New Orleans and attending UNO.

Louisiana Legislature votes to 'front load' TOPS
Louisiana Legislature votes to 'front load' TOPS
That means students would receive a scholarship covering full tuition for the fall semester.

The reasons for enrolling at UNO are many. It offers a great education at an economical cost. But most significantly and often overlooked, UNO educates the workforce of New Orleans. Its programs mirror the New Orleans economy – hospitality and tourism, tech and innovation, film and music, urban planning, naval architecture and marine engineering and many others. More than 40,000 UNO graduates live in the metro area, which illustrates this point.

TOPS was created to stop the state's brain drain and keep Louisiana students in Louisiana. Considering the cuts to the program and the increased expense for many to attend a university out of market, I see an opportunity. Let's have an even sharper focus on educating our New Orleans students here in New Orleans to be a part of our city's current and brighter future. UNO can be a solution.

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Mark Romig

President and CEO

New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation

UNO Class of '78

New Orleans


27 2016-06-17
New Orleans

UNO boasts $470 million in total spending in economic impact study


State lawmakers continue haggling over the $600 million shortfall in next year’s budget. State higher education leaders are bracing for further cuts. And on Thursday, the University of New Orleans sought to frame the discussion by releasing a report touting the school’s expansive economic contributions to the region.

The analysis, conducted by UNO’s division of business and economic research, said that the Lakefront school generated nearly $470 million in direct and indirect spending throughout the eight-parish New Orleans metro area.

Noting that the school received about $28 million in state support during the current fiscal year, UNO President John Nicklow said the school generates “a staggering rate of return.”

UNO’s analysis estimated nearly $285 million in direct spending and $185 million in secondary spending. The breakdown included about $97 million spent by UNO’s daily operations; an estimated $25 million by students who were not local residents when they enrolled; nearly $5 million spent by out-of-town visitors like parents, prospective students or athletes who visit UNO; and about $343 million by UNO’s 42,000 alumni who live in the eight-parish area.

“As expected, a very large amount of UNO alumni decided to stay in the New Orleans area after graduation,” the report said.

For the year, UNO spent about $65 million on salary and wages, according to the study. If it were a private employer, UNO’s 1,115 employees would rank it among the area’s top 10 private employers in the area.

UNO also generated nearly $13 million in tax revenue for state and local coffers, according to the study. The metro area included of Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Tammany parishes.
27 2016-06-14
New Orleans

Specialty travel tours help build ‘special bond’ between participants, nonprofits


Uptown’s La Crepe Nanou, with its oh-so-French flavor, has seduced New Orleanians for 33 years with its culinary charms and cozy ambiance.

But who ever thought they could be wined and dined in France with Crepe Nanou’s founder and co-owner? What are your plans for July 16-24?

The nonprofit Southern Food and Beverage Museum hopes you’ll consider its Special Journey to Paris and the Loire Valley.
“I’m glad to show France the way I grew up there,” said Nanou de Raczynski, who is limiting his tour to 12 people. “There will be great dinners, visits to chateaux. A dear friend is a cheesemaker, who’s becoming known worldwide. Restaurateur friends will bring food and wine to a picnic. And in their restaurants in Paris, we’ll get the full treatment.” The price: $3,939 per person, plus airfare.

New Orleanians who have the money and interest are being tempted frequently by such tours sponsored by non-profits, offering experiences and access not ordinarily available.
In return, the organizations sometimes find new and stronger supporters for their museums, schools and other facilities.
“A special bond is often developed between the museum and our tour participants,” said Stephen Watson, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the National World War II Museum. “They visit the museum, take follow-up trips, attend our conferences, and donate to support the museum. We help form many close friendships.”
While Tulane’s Alumni Association tours, the University of New Orleans summer school in Innsbruck, Austria and other enrichment travel programs have been around for years, what’s new is the resurgence since Hurricane Katrina of programs from a variety of non-profits, most of which work with outside travel agencies.
The undisputed leader is the National World War II Museum’s travel division, which began in 2004, when it chartered a cruise ship for 300 members to attend the 60th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion.

Now it has a staff of six, and averages a dozen annual tours to Europe and the Pacific. Reading the itineraries is inspiring. Going results in way more than a history lesson.

The student-oriented Normandy Academy in 2015 “was the best summer of my life,” said Lawrence Arceneaux, 21, who just graduated from Nicholls State University. “Never having left the country before, it was like a fairy tale being there, walking on Omaha Beach where the troops landed, picking up the sand, feeling the cold water.”

The museum’s most popular tour, a week in Normandy, includes dinner with a woman who was 16 when she helped nurse those in the French Resistance.

“She tells her story and speaks with such passion that sometimes she forgets to let the translator have a turn,” said Nathan Huegen, director of Educational Travel.

Darleen Landry and her husband, Glenn, took the Normandy trip last September. “What was so amazing is it covers all of Normandy, not just a dash of it like other tours, said Landry, a retired Jefferson Parish special education teacher and supervisor, who’s now a New Orleans tour guide.

“We went to every beach, every museum. And two curators with doctorates in history talked about everything from the strategic planning of the D-Day Invasion by Churchill and Eisenhower to the end of it all. When you finish, you think, I saw what I came here to see.”
A sample of New Orleans nonprofits offering tours:
THE NATIONAL WORLD WAR II MUSEUM

The weeklong tour of the Normandy battlefields is offered several times a year. Cost: $2,995 per person in a double room, plus airfare (the case with all but one museum tour).

The biggest tour this year is to Oahu, Hawaii Dec. 1-8 for the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pear Harbor; it includes a symposium, four military guides and accommodations at the beachfront Moana Surfrider in Waikiki. $7,995 before June 30.

Among others, with prices from $4,000 to $6,000, are Battle of the Bulge, June 18-25, “Band of Brothers,” Sept. 11-23; French battlefields in World War I and World War II, Sept. 21-28, 2016; Soldiers and Spies with author Alex Kershaw, Oct. 9-15.

Student tours include the Normandy Academy, June 19-30, $3,695 (includes international airfare), and the Pacific Academy in Hawaii, June 13-July 10, $5,825.

Details: (887) 813-3329, ext. 257; ww2museumtours.org. All tours, except for Normandy in September, are still available. Airfare extra.

National WWII Museum, 945 Magazine St., NOLA

WWNO

International Jazz Festival of Havana, Dec. 10-18, with overnight in Miami, seven nights at Hotel Nacional in Havana, and five-night festival pass. $4,450 per person, from Miami.

Details:(800) 723-8454, earthboundexpeditions.com/December-2016-wwno-goes-to-cuba/.

WWNO, 89.9 FM, wwno.org.

SOUTHERN FOOD AND BEVERAGE MUSEUM

Paris and the Loire Valley, July 16-24, escorted by Nanou de Raczynski, of Crepe Nanou. $3,939. A tour to Burgundy is planned for October.

Culinary tour to Cuba, June 19-23, sold out.

Details: SoFab culintary tours by Virtuoso travel agent Holly Barrett.. (985) 789-3311, holly@starmandstravel.com. Airfare extra. Southernfood.org.

SoFab Museum, 1504 Oretha Castle. Haley Blvd., NOLA

PRESERVATION RESOURCE CENTER

Preservation Resource Center’s tour to Italy, “hosted” by PRC Director Patty Gay and George Schmidt, artist, musician and co-founder of the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra.

$4,497 from New Orleans (airfare included), Nov 4-13.

Details: (504)581-7032, prc@prcno.org

HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION

A Louisiana Weekend in Chicago, Oct. 14-16, examines links between New Orleans and Chicago, with visits to the Art Institute of Chicago, the Driehaus Museum, dinner at the Metropolitan club, a performance at Lyric Opera of “Lucia di Lammermoor.” $1,250 for HNOC Laussat Society donors ( $1,000 or more), $1,400 others.

The Netherlands, April 30-May 7, 2017, Behind-the-scene tours at Rijksmuseum and others; visit Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, National and Amsterdam Archives to see documents pertaining to Louisiana Purchase. Also headquarters of Arcadis Amsterdam to learn about work it did in New Orleans re flooding containment after Hurricane Katrina. $6,900 without airfare.

Details: (504) 598-7171, hnoc.org.

HNOC is at 533 Royal St., NOLA

AUDUBON NATURE INSTITUE

A group just returned from a May 20-June 1 tour to Tanzania ($3,295 without airfare) , the first tour in a resurrected travel program. Audubon is looking into tours in 2017 to the Galapagos and Costa Rica, with a focus on animals and conservation. Each will be escorted by an Audubon animal expert, said Katie Smith, director of public relations.

Details: Emails go to Audubon members; also look for announcements at audubonnatureinstitute.org.

Audubon Zoo in Audubon Park, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, 1 Canal St.

NEW ORLEANS MUSEUM OF ART

Denver and Aspen, Colo., Sept. 25-28, escorted by museum director Susan Taylor, with deluxe hotels and museum visits with curators, private collections. $2,150 per person in a double. Airfare extra.

Domestic trips, which are sponsored every two years, are open to NOMA Fellows and Circle members, who donate $1,500 or more. Foreign tours, which occur in alternate years, can be taken by those who donate $5,000 or more.

Details: Brooke Minto, (504) 658-4107 or bminto@noma.org .


27 2016-06-10
New Orleans

House passes construction budget to Senate, bringing lull to controversy


Putting a brief hold on the drama surrounding the statewide construction budget, the Louisiana House on Thursday (June 9) voted 90-8 to approve the spending plan that funds infrastructure and local projects.

The vote came at the end of a week of speculation, then anger, then disbelief as the House failed to pass what was essentially the same bill in the regular session. It was the first time since the 1970s that legislators ended the regular session without approving the construction plan, which contains hundreds of projects that local governments contribute matching funds toward.

Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, the bill's author, said he didn't want the House to vote on the bill because it needed legal and technical changes the House didn't have time to make on the final day. By Thursday, Abramson said those changes had been made, and he said projects in Orleans Parish that had seen dollar amount increases Abramson ascribed to "clerical errors" had also been restored to the form they were in on Monday.

Legislature's relationship strained as session begins
Legislature's relationship strained as session begins
It's not good.

"We may have and did add some things on this side for House members that were not in," Abramson said. "So what you'll see is the Senate version plus some additions from the House."

But that didn't stop Abramson's most prominent opponent, Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, from attacking Abramson on the floor of the House. Jones, a close friend of Gov. John Bel Edwards, is most angry about the handling of the construction budget, but Abramson is also widely seen as one of the governor's chief antagonists, even though he represents one of the most liberal districts in Louisiana.

As if to twist the knife even more, Jones referred to Abramson as "Abraham" when he first began asking questions on the House floor. He went on to ask questions about why the bill was changed significantly from the bill the Senate sent back to the House on Monday.

Lawmakers try to keep peace in construction budget fight
Lawmakers try to keep peace in construction budget fight
Lawmakers were at odds over attempts to introduce competing versions of the state's construction budget.

"It was a mistake. and I know you like to sit there and say things and cast implications," Abramson said. "It was a mistake. There was a number of mistakes."

The bill has long been the subject of controversy, but for different reasons. It's regularly drawn criticism as being a tool for governors to use for promising projects to legislators called on to provide votes. And it's long been passed as a much larger bill than the state could afford.

This year's bill did go on a diet to the tune of about $1 billion. But Abramson acknowledged that the bill isn't perfect, and there is more work to be done on it in future years.

State Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, went further than Abramson in his assessment of the bill.

"If there was anything at all we decided we were going to change and fix, it'd be this bill," Schroder said. "If you're in with the crowd, you get what you want in this bill. ... I think it's dirty. I think it smells. And I think we need to take a look at this whole process."

The Senate will now take up the new bill.

. . . . . .
Kevin Litten is a state politics reporter based in Baton Rouge. Reach him at klitten@nola.com or 225-436-2207. Follow him on Twitter @kevinlitten.
27 2016-06-06
New Orleans

UNO gets $94,000 to open new digital animation studio


The University of New Orleans has secured more than $94,000 to build a new digital animation studio at its lakefront campus. The studio is set to open to students next spring.

UNO said in a Friday (June 3) news release a grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents will pay for an 11-station studio to be housed inside the Earl K. Long Library. Each station will have a high-definition tablet as well as software to complete animation, rendering, video editing and web design projects.

Jeff Rinehart, an instructor in the UNO fine arts department, led the effort to secure the grant funding. Rinehart said the new studio will give students free access to key equipment, allowing them work on projects and shape digital skills on their own. Students currently have access to three high-definition tablets, but only during class hours.

"This makes it so that students can work at a really high rate and have all the tools to allow them to experiment," Rinehart said.

New UNO president makes some staff changes
New UNO president makes some staff changes
John Nicklow cut three administrative positions, including that of Michael Jackson's former publicist.

Plans for the digital animation studio come as UNO looks to add a degree program in new media and animation arts. Starting this spring, students had the option to concentrate in video game development, but a full degree program has yet to take shape.

UNO has already opened a separate digital media lab on the library's third floor, the result of collaboration among the computer science and film and theater programs and the library.

Dubbed the "Innovation Lab," the space has 10 high-performance computers, a 3-D printer and motion capture equipment used to create video game prototypes and other digital projects.

Students used the lab this spring to create a prototype for "Honest Abe," a side-scrolling action game where the player takes on the role of Abraham Lincoln on a journey to avenge the kidnapping of Mary Todd in the post-Civil War South.

Rinehart, who worked with film professor Hamp Overton and Daniel Rule, an associate professor of fine arts, to get funding for the new animation studio, said students will be able to do more with the variety of tools offered between the two spaces.

The $94,728 grant from the Board of Regents will be used to equip the animation studio's 11 stations with 13-inch Wacom Cintiq high-definition tablets and accompanying software. The Cintiq tablets retail for about $800 each.
27 2016-06-02
New Orleans

John Nicklow President, University of New Orleans


LAUREN LABORDE

GREG MILES PHOTOGRAPH
It is obvious John Nicklow isn’t afraid of a challenge. After serving a brief stint as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Orleans, he was named president of the university in March. It was a controversial pick; with enrollment falling and state budget cuts looming large, many thought a CEO type would be better for the job. But as a former civil engineer for the federal government, Nicklow is a problem solver, and he’s hoping to boost UNO’s reputation as a research institution and bolster enrollment. While UNO doesn’t have the type of Greek life or a football scene of the state’s other public universities, it’s rigorous and affordable – and in the face of crushing student debt and a tough economy, UNO could be positioned to be the modern, streamlined university.

Q: What about UNO appealed to you? The opportunity for growth, the opportunity for partnership with the industry and community members here and others outside the region, and the opportunity to grow our research enterprises I think are unmatched, really, when I was looking at institutions – and I was looking at other institutions and positions at a variety of places. In addition, the culture, the food – it’s New Orleans. It’s just a fantastic place to be. Everyone’s so welcoming. How do you say no to an opportunity like this?

Q: What needs to happen to get UNO to be a great research institution? We need to increase our enrollment. That’s just the highest priority. What we need to do is let more people know, outside this region in particular but also in the region, what a great asset this is. It’s a high quality, rigorous education, and when you come here you get a job – a good job. Our programs are nationally known, world-renowned in many cases. A lot of folks in New Orleans don’t know that. It was interesting to me; I came from Illinois, and I knew the University of New Orleans and a number of its programs. We need to get that message out. I don’t think enough (people) across the country realize we’re here, that we’re better than ever and there’s potential here. And then (we need to) diversify our enrollment portfolio to include out of state as well as local learners, adult learners and online learners.

My first three, four weeks as president I’ve been meeting with a lot of community and business leaders. They’re willing to work with us. We have great internship opportunities for us, they’re willing to support us financially and otherwise.

Q: Why higher education? You were a civil engineer before this. I missed teaching, I missed research and learning at a research level. And to be honest with you, I got a little bored. I wanted to do more. That’s when I finished my Ph.D. and entered academia. I spent 17 years at Southern Illinois University; I started as an assistant professor and worked my way up.

Every time I got ready to leave I had another opportunity. I ended up as Provost.

Q: What were the challenges and goals you faced there? Challenges, goals – they’re the same thing. They point to the same thing. Enrollment was on a decade-long slide.

Research funding was on a slide. We weren’t fundraising enough or partnering with community enough. Kind of sounds familiar.

At the end, we had the two largest freshmen classes in 20 years, and an 8 point increase in retention. It takes a couple of years to turn total enrollment around, but we did that and saw the first increase in total enrollment in about a decade.

New Orleans is such a different kind of destination – it’s one kind of destination for every journey. It is so much to so many different people. And I don’t know many institutions that sit on a lakefront and have this wonderful view. It’s an environment that’s conducive to recruitment and what we want to do.

Q: What’s the future of higher education? People are more concerned about debt and the job market. We really live in interesting times. I guess to put in context: One is, very seldom do you see economic growth of a region without education, especially higher education. So I think that’s a great opportunity for an investment – over and over it shows return on the investment. We could also talk about during the recession, obviously unemployment rate skyrocketed, but it was lowest for those with degrees. Based on exit surveys from our Fall 2015 graduates, about 80 percent of our graduates either had a job lined up, were enrolled in graduate school or had entered military service upon graduation from UNO. If I’m an investor, that’s a pretty good rate of return.

We have increasing student debt across the county, but this is why institutions like UNO remain really affordable. With or without TOPs, we’re still one of the most affordable options for quality education.

Occupation: President, University of New Orleans

Age: 46

Family: Wife, Stacy; son, Ethan; dog, Sienna

Favorite movie: Anything by Mel Brooks

Favorite book: Leading Change by John Kotter, all Tom Clancy books

Favorite TV show: “Big Bang Theory”

Favorite New Orleans restaurant: Katie’s

Favorite vacation spot: The Outer Banks, North Carolina

True confession
I lived on a Navajo reservation for about three, three-and-a-half months as a grad student. It was really eye-opening … they even tried to teach me to wrestle a steer.

How did that work out? Not so good.
27 2016-06-01
New Orleans

NOPD arrests suspect in UNO laundry room robbery


New Orleans Police have arrested one of two suspects in a robbery last week in a University of New Orleans laundry room on Lakeshore Drive.

Police say 19-year-old Kenneth Williams and another man took the victim's wallet and cell phone while the victim was doing laundry around 5:30 p.m. on May 22. Williams is accused of distracting the victim while the other suspect stole the items. Williams faces three charges related to simple robbery.

Police publicly identified Williams as a suspect on Friday morning, and Williams was apprehended later that day.

27 2016-05-27
New Orleans

People this Week: New hires, promotions, awards


The University of New Orleans Department of Accounting has maintained its accounting accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International—a distinction earned by about 2 percent of the world’s business programs. UNO has also received a $60,000 endowment from the Schroeder family to fund accounting scholarships in the College of Business Administration.


Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2016/05/26/people-this-week-new-hires-promotions-awards-28/#ixzz49rPnbWVY
27 2016-05-25
New Orleans

Crawfish Mambo draws competitors Advocate photo by ZACH BRIEN -- Russell Callais celebrates his victory in the Crawfish Eating World Championship at


The fifth annual Crawfish Mambo at the University of New Orleans drew festgoers with all-you-can-eat mudbugs as well as live local music, but there were some major competitive elements, too.

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Contestants from across the U.S. competed for $2,000 in prize money and the Crawfish Eating World Championship title by eating as much crawfish as they could in 10 minutes.

The big winner was Russell Callais, of Marrero, who consumed 2.69 pounds of mudbugs. Second place went to last year’s champ, Adrian “The Rabbit” Morgan, of New Orleans, with 2.44 pounds. Corey “King Voodoo” Fanguy, of Gray, came in third with 2.26 pounds of crawfish.

Also, more than 45 teams competed to be named best crawfish boilers in New Orleans. Winner of the Best of Boil competition was Dhose Bodacious Crawfish, of DBC Bar & Grill. Second place went to Tres Bon Cajun Meats; Put Some in Your Mouth came in third.

Crowd Favorite Award went to Geaux Creole, representing the Law Offices of Andrew Schwing.

Best-decorated booth was Cirque du Mambo, representing Waldemar S. Nelson and Co. Inc.

A new award for best side dish went to the Lightin’ Pots and Takin’ Shots team.

27 2016-05-17
New Orleans

UNO baseball team visits pediatric patients at Ochsner


JEFFERSON PARISH, La. (WGNO) -- What a lift for the kids who are in the fight of their lives. Monday morning, the baseball team from the University of New Orleans visited pediatric oncology patients at Ochsner's main campus on Jefferson Highway.

Not only did the team play games with the kids and sign autographs, they also announced a $1,000 donation the Vs. Cancer Foundation.

This is the team's first year to work with the foundation, but it won't be the last.

The Ochsner Hospital for Children treats kids only and handles everything from brain tumors to leukemia, heart conditions, and organ transplants.
27 2016-05-16
New Orleans

People this Week: New hires, promotions, awards


University of New Orleans finance professor M. Kabir Hassan is the winner of the IDB Prize in Islamic Banking & Finance from the Islamic Development Bank.


27 2016-05-16
New Orleans

UNO grads facing forward Advocate Staff Photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Graduates in the Doctor of Philosophy program stood and were recognized at the 2016


About 900 students graduated Friday from the University of New Orleans at UNO Lakefront Arena. Oscar winner Jon Landau was the featured speaker.
27 2016-05-16
New Orleans

Tulane named finalist for $100,000 award, and other news of higher education


UNO accounting accreditation renewed
The University of New Orleans department of accounting has maintained its accreditation by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the school announced.

The distinction is earned by about 2 percent of the world’s business programs, according to UNO officials.

AACSB International is the oldest global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in business and accounting. There are 761 business schools in 52 countries and territories that maintain AACSB accreditation, representing less than 5 percent of global business programs. Of that number, 183 institutions maintain an additional specialized AACSB accreditation for their accounting programs.

“This is a tremendous achievement for our department of accounting,” UNO President John Nicklow said. “To sustain this level of excellence for such a long period of time is a credit to the department chair, Dr. Philip Harmelink, and our outstanding faculty members. Our accounting alumni are enormously influential in the regional business community, and I hope all of them take great pride in their affiliation with this elite academic program.”

UNO granted its first bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1962. It has granted more than 4,000 degrees since then. The department also has granted nearly 800 master’s degrees in both accounting and tax accounting.

Harmelink has overseen the department since 1990.
27 2016-05-12
New Orleans

University of New Orleans Invests In Faculty Research


The University of New Orleans Office of Research and Sponsored Programs announced that nearly $165,000 will be awarded to faculty researchers in the form of internal grants. The annual grant competition is modeled after the process used by the Louisiana Board of Regents and is intended to help researchers hone grant writing skills and eventually become more competitive in securing external grant funding.

The 2016 competition involved three types of awards. Grants aimed at stimulating competitive research, known as SCoRe awards, are intended as seed money for faculty to develop a new area of research activity. With a traditional SCoRe award, faculty can receive as much as $12,000. With the award, however, comes a commitment to eventually compete for additional external funding for the project. A second type of SCoRe grant specifically supports the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NCAM) in its work on space technology. These grants have a slightly larger cap at $15,000 and must involve either nanotechnology; modeling, simulation, information technology and processing computing; or materials, structures, mechanical systems and manufacturing.

A third type of award, the Creative Endeavor Opportunity (CEO) award, provides support for faculty to launch programs of research, scholarship, exhibition or performance that will ultimately result in increased research and creative activity on campus. Each proposal is evaluated for its potential impact on the faculty member’s discipline, as well as its contribution to the faculty member’s development as a researcher, teacher and scholar in a specific field of knowledge. The maximum amount of a CEO award is $5,000.

All proposals were peer-reviewed and evaluated by the University’s Research Council, a committee of faculty representing each college and major research center on campus. The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs used these peer rankings to determine award winners.

The internal grant program is funded by indirect cost recovery, a process through which external funding agencies reimburse universities for the overhead costs associated with conducting research. With the internal grant program, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs reinvests these dollars into faculty professional development.

The National Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NCAM) is a partnership formed in 1999 among the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the State of Louisiana, Louisiana State University, UNO and the UNO Research and Technology Foundation. The center provides advanced manufacturing technology for use in aerospace commercial markets. NCAM also has a strong educational role, sponsoring a coalition of Louisiana research universities, workforce development programs and STEM outreach initiatives.

Below is a list of faculty who will receive awards from the 2016 internal grant program and the topics of their winning proposals.



Creative Endeavor Opportunity (CEO) Awards

John Gery: Early Voices in the Poetry of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot ($5,000)

Dong-Jun Min: Learning and Recall of Adverstisement Information in Spaced and Massed Presentations ($5,000)

Doreen Piano: What I see when Walking: Visualizing Place-Based Scholarship and Composition Pedagogies ($5,000)

Tara Tolford: Active Transportation Planning & Design Curriculum Development ($4,984)



Stimulating Competitive Research (SCoRe) Awards (Traditional)

Irfan Ahmed: Gap Analysis of Digital Forensics on SCADA Testbed ($12,000)

Nicola Anthony: Mechanisms of inbreeding avoidance in wild mandriss (Mandrillus sphinx) ($11,995)

Anna Brand: This is Your Neighborhood: Seeing New Orleans in the Three Redevelopment Moments ($11,961)

Dhruva Chakravorty: Investigating the mechanism of allosteric regulation in metallosensor proteins ($12,000)

Amiri Ebrahim: Intelligent Self-Learning Controllers for Industrial Motor Drives ($12,000)

Ioannis Georgiou: Transgressive Coastal Systems: Modeling Allogenic and Autogenic response to Sea Level Rise ($10,250)

Zhengchang Liu: Characterization of Casein Kinase I Protein Hrr25 as a Positive Regulator of Mitochondrial Respiration ($12,000)

Martin O’Connell: Response of fishes to flood gate openings in Bayou St. John: Is the new adaptive water management plan working? ($11,822)

Sonia Rubens: Teacher-Reported Psychosocial Concerns in Students Attending an Alternative High School ($12,000)

Matthew Tarr: Nanomaterials for Targeted Cancer Therapy ($12,000)

Xiaochuan Yu: Motion Simulation and Hazard Assessment of Dropped Objects ($12,000)



Stimulating Competitive Research (SCoRe) Awards (NCAM)

Stephen Ware: Bringing Use-of-Force Training Simulations into Virtual Reality ($14,982)

27 2016-05-11
New Orleans

Crescent City college notes for May 11, 2016


UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS: A team of University of New Orleans graduate students won the 2016 Gulf Coast Regional Imperial Barrel Award in Houston for the second straight year and will advance to the international finals in Calgary, Alberta, in June. It’s the first time that a team has claimed back-to-back Gulf Coast titles in the nine-year history of the event. The Imperial Barrel program, which is organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, pits geosciences teams from universities around the world against each other in a competition to analyze an oil and gas reservoir. The team members are Ryan Jones, Zexuan Wang, Will Morrison, team leader Josiah Hulsey and Celeste Woock. The faculty adviser is Royhan Gani, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and the team is assisted by industry mentors Toby Roesler of Stone Energy and Benjamin Kirkland of Nexen Petroleum. The $3,000 prize will go toward scholarships in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

UNO ACCOUNTING: The Schroeder family has provided the University of New Orleans with a $60,000 endowment to fund accounting scholarships in the College of Business Administration. The Schroeder family has a long history with the university that includes two alumni, R. Harold “Hal” Schroeder and his mother, the late Marlene S. Schroeder. Both graduated from the College of Business Administration with accounting degrees, while Marlene’s husband, the late Ronald H. Schroeder, taught marketing and statistics at UNO, as well as at Tulane and Loyola. Hal Schroeder has more than 35 years of experience in investing and financial reporting. He is a board member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the independent organization that establishes financial accounting and reporting standards for public and private companies, and not-for-profit organizations.

SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA UNIVERSITY: Kate Induni, of Des Allemands, was named outstanding elementary student teacher when the Southeastern Louisiana University College of Education held its honors convocation April 21. Heather Mills, of Luling, was named the outstanding graduate in elementary special education, and April Valore, of Metairie, was a nominee for the Outstanding Elementary Education Student Teacher Award.

SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA UNIVERSITY: Stephen Cassingham of New Orleans was admitted to the Thirteen Club honor society at Southeastern Louisiana University when the SLU College of Science and Technology held its honors convocation April 18.

FULBRIGHT GRANT: Recent University of New Orleans graduate Dallas Rolnick has won a yearlong Fulbright Program grant that will allow him to conduct research at the University of Leoben in Austria. Rolnick, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering in 2015, will be part of a research team that studies tunnel boring machines. Rolnick said he became interested in the subject of tunnel construction while spending a semester in Innsbruck, Austria, as part the UNO-Innsbruck International Summer School, and as a recipient of a research scholarship from the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation. Rolnick has been invited to join a team in the fall of 2016 that will field test new Brenner Base Tunnel boring machines. If the equipment is successful, it will become standard on tunnel boring machines worldwide, Rolnick said.

PHI KAPPA PHI: Nearly 50 students and faculty at Southeastern Louisiana University were inducted into the university’s chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi national honor society on April 21. Logan Cancienne, of Luling, received an award as an outstanding junior student from Southeastern’s College of Education. Local inductees were Payton E. Bryant, of Luling, Rachel Corass, of Metairie, Caitlyn R. Daigle, of Paulina, Kellie Dawson, of Reserve, Brooke N. Nalesnik, of Marrero, Janelle St. Germain, of Luling, and Savannah D. Sharman, of LaPlace.

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS: University of New Orleans finance professor M. Kabir Hassan is the winner of the IDB Prize in Islamic Banking & Finance from the Islamic Development Bank, the development bank of the Muslim world. The prize is awarded for outstanding merit in the fields of Islamic economics, banking and finance. Hassan will receive a cash award of approximately $47,000. He will be presented with the prize at the Board of Governors annual meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he will also deliver a lecture on his current research in Islamic finance. Islamic economic transactions strive to promote growth while also aiming to adhere to religious and ethical standards, with the intention of benefiting society as a whole. According to Hassan, it is important to develop an understanding of whether the Islamic economic system hinders access to economic growth and prosperity or if it advances a long-run model of economic growth and fairness.


27 2016-05-11
New Orleans

Hear what the new UNO president says about the future of the university


VIDEO
27 2016-05-09
New Orleans

UNO works to improve black students’ success


The University of New Orleans has begun an initiative focused on improving the student success of black males.

Known as MoMENtum, the project includes workshops on leadership and life skills; it pairs students with a faculty or staff mentor who will provide support and guidance.

The effort is spearheaded by Kim Williams, professor and director of the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration, and Nora Chapuis, director of Student Support Services.

During a ceremony kicking off the initiative last month, the first nine student participants recited an oath in which they pledged to give their best academic effort and present themselves in a positive manner.

MoMENtum is one of a series of new student enrollment and retention initiatives undertaken since UNO President John Nicklow arrived on campus last year as the university’s then-provost.

During a 2015 retreat, a large group of faculty and staff analyzed student enrollment data and identified black males and first-generation students as two groups that could benefit from additional support.

27 2016-05-09
New Orleans

Nell Nolan: University Ado


A “congratulations” reception was given by the University of New Orleans School of the Arts in honor of the new UNO president, Dr. John W. Nicklow, who was joined by spouse Dr. Stacy Nicklow. Held at the art deco Terminal at Lakefront Airport, the event included music by a UNO jazz quartet, taste treats by Messina’s at the Terminal, UNO blue and silver table decorations, and a toast by Film and Theatre Department Chairman David Hoover to the new president. Everyone raised a glass of champagne to an “optimistic future.”

Notables abounded and included, all with titles, Cheryl Hayes, Chuck Taylor, Harmon Greenblatt, Tiffany Adler, Nate Gordon, Scott Hutcheson, the Al Merlins, John Batson, Michael Liebaert, Charles Hirling, Paul Maassen, Aimee Hayes, Deb Daniel, Daniel Rule, and Erik Hansen.

Said President Nicklow after the festive fact, “The new School of the Arts is one of the facets of UNO about which I’m most excited.” Cheers!
27 2016-05-09
New Orleans

Crawfish Mambo names Crawfish Eating World Champion, 'best of the boil'


More than 45 teams of crawfish boilers gathered under tents in a parking lot at the University of New Orleans on Saturday (May 7), where they washed, seasoned and boiled mudbugs in hopes of taking home $1,000 and the "best of the boil" title at the fifth annual Crawfish Mambo festival.

The festival also hosted the Crawfish Eating World Championship for the first time.

French Quarter Fest sheds crawfish-eating contest
French Quarter Fest sheds crawfish-eating contest
The Crawfish Eating World Championship will now be part of Crawfish Mambo, an annual crawfish cook-off and music festival, slated for May 7 on the University of New Orleans campus.

The eating competition draw Major League Eaters from across the United States, who see who can devour the most crawfish in 10 minutes. The first-place winner receives $2,000 and the title of Crawfish Eating World Champion. The winners were:

1st Place: Russell Callais of Marrero who consumed 2.69 pounds.
2nd Place: Adrian "The Rabbit" Morgan of New Orleans who ate 2.44 pounds.
3rd Place: Corey "King Voodoo" Fanguy of Gray who chowed down 2.26 pounds.
4th Place: Nathan Biller of Keller ate 1.85 pounds.
Morgan is a past champion, having won in 2014 and 2015.
27 2016-05-09
New Orleans

New Orleans’ largest crawfish cook-off kicks off!


NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - The 5th Annual Crawfish Mambo Festival kicked off on Saturday at the University of New Orleans. Music artists like Big Sam Funky Nation, The New Breed Brass Band, and the Bucktown All-Stars were among the music bands performing.

One of the biggest attractions at the festival is the crawfish eating contest. More than 50 four-member boil teams will compete for the $1,000 money prize, the championship paddle, and bragging rights for the year. Contestants from all over the country competed for the title by eating as much crawfish as they can in only 10 minutes.

The event is fun and it also benefits the UNO International Alumni Association. All of the proceeds from the crawfish festival will go towards the University of New Orleans and will help with career developments and scholarships for students at UNO.
27 2016-05-09
New Orleans

Free UNO Film Festival presented this weekend


The 2016 UNO Film Festival starts tonight, Friday, May 6 and runs through Sunday, May 8 at the Robert E. Nims Theatre in the Performing Arts Center at UNO's Lakefront Campus. Sponsored by the Film, Theatre, and Communication Arts department of the University of New Orleans, the festival presents short films made by UNO students and indie filmmakers from around the world. The films are organized into themed programs with names like "The Doc is In" and "Will to Be Weird." The festival is free and open to the public. More information including the full schedule is available here.

27 2016-05-05
New Orleans

Get all-you-can-eat mudbugs Saturday at Crawfish Mambo


NEW ORLEANS —The crawfish will be plentiful, and the music will be live and local Saturday at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Campus.

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Crawfish Mambo, celebrating its fifth year, takes place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Cove and welcomes anyone and everyone for all-you-can-eat boiled mudbugs.

The cook-off and music festival celebrates two of Louisiana's favorite traditions: Crawfish and music. It's hosted by the International Alumni Association and supports UNO, the region's only public research university, and UNO students.

Link: Learn more about Crawfish Mambo here

One of the new events this year is the Crawfish Eating World Championship, which has moved to Crawfish Mambo. Contestants from across the country will compete for the title by eating as many crawfish as they can in 10 minutes.

If you're not in the mood for crawfish but still want to help UNO, there will be other food and beverages available for purchase. Several bands like Big Same Funky Nation, Bucktown All Stars and the New Breed Brass Band will also hit the stage.

Tickets before Saturday can be purchased for $20, while day-of tickets are $25. Children 7 and under will be admitted for free.
27 2016-05-03
New Orleans

WOW! Watch what this University of New Orleans college kid does between classes


NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - His name is Evan Burgess. And he's a freshman at the University of New Orleans.

Evan is majoring in business marketing. And he's no slacker.

But WGNO News with a Twist features guy Wild Bill Wood discovers what Evan's up to between his classes. He's a slack liner.

And he's doing it between his two favorite pine trees on campus at the University of New Orleans.

Evan Burgess is a bit of an adrenaline junkie. A couple of weekends ago, he got in a kayak and traveled across Lake Pontchartrain.

That was a 24 mile, six-and-a-half hour adventure.

That's another of his skills like slack lining.

Slack lining is kind of like tightrope walking. It takes an ability to balance.

Evan's gotten really good at that. Not bad for a 19-year-old.

It all started a few years ago when he was in high school and saw videos of people slack lining.

Next step, he ordered the line, the rope. It's made from the same material as a trampoline. That's gives extra bounce to the journey he takes between two trees.

Evan's wrapping up his freshman year. He'll head home to Little Rock, Arkansas, for the summer. His plans there are to make a little extra cash at his old job at a country club.

He's been a bartender, a busboy, a waiter and an attendant at the swimming pool at the country club.

You know who he is. He's the guy with the great balance, serving you a couple of drinks.
27 2016-05-02
New Orleans

Take a peek inside reopening of 1850 House Museum in French Quarter Advocate photo by SOPHIA GERMER -- Antiques from the 1850s time period sit in a l


Following an eight-month renovation, the 1850 House Museum will celebrate its reopening Tuesday.

Located at 523 St. Ann St. in the middle of the Lower Pontalba Building on Jackson Square, the row house is one of five Louisiana State Museum properties open to the public in the French Quarter. It also is one of a handful of house museums depicting life for the upper middle class in antebellum New Orleans.

“The 1850 House provides us with a unique window into who we were as a people at that time and how that identity continues to shape us today,” Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said in an announcement of the reopening.

The $30,000 in renovations, paid for by the Friends of the Cabildo organization, were prompted by a malfunction in the three-story house’s air conditioning and ventilation system, according to Katie Burlison, the house museum’s curator.

After a faulty switch allowed outside air to enter the building, mold started to accumulate in the third-floor nursery, one of the old row house’s three bedrooms.

The mold got into the building’s air and was putting more than 400 small artifacts as well as dozens of pieces of antique furniture and more than 50 fragile textiles at risk, Burlison said. “That meant we needed to remediate the whole building,” she said, calling the presence of mold “a small emergency.”

While emptying the building and cleaning its contents, staff members took advantage of the chance to refinish every room on the second and third floors, including installing new carpet and windowpanes. Rooms were repainted and crown molding was refinished to reflect the appearance of the 1850 House in its first years, Burlison said.

Staff also added to the museum’s collection by installing informational panels in the hallways leading into the historic rooms, completed with the help of graduate students in the University of New Orleans’ Public History Program.

Subjects of the panels include urban slaves and the former residents of the 1850 House, as well as Jackson Square and the French Market.

One panel is dedicated to Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba, who financed and partially designed the block-long Lower Pontalba Building and the matching Upper Pontalba Building on the other side of Jackson Square in the late 1840s.

The distinctive row houses were inspired by Parisian architecture that the baroness admired, including the Place de Vosges, according to Burlison. The apartments included then-modern amenities such as closets.

Pontalba’s family had a long and well-known history with the French Quarter, and the family shaped much of the district’s now-familiar appearance. Her father Don Andrés Almonester y Roxas was a Spanish colonial landowner who helped finance the Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral and the Presbytere.

In 1921, the Pontalba family sold the Lower Pontalba Building to philanthropist William Ratcliffe Irby. He in turn bequeathed it to the Louisiana State Museum in 1927, and the 1850 House opened to the public in 1948. The other row houses in the complex have stores on their first floor and apartments on the upper floors.

The Upper Pontalba Building is owned by the city.

Today, a walk through the 1850 House museum shows antique art and décor true to the era.

A formal sitting room, for example, includes a bookcase from the Roman Classical revival period, a rococo revival-style piece of floral-carved furniture and a Gothic revival clock on the mantel.

“In this period, you’d see a lot of mixing of styles,” Burlison said, adding that the era was the city’s most prosperous — a prosperity that ended with the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.

Along with locally made furniture, the house also includes porcelain and silver from France, as well as fine jewelry, antique clothing, handmade dolls, rocking bassinets and baby walkers.

Other relics true to the time period include a portable metal bathtub, which wouldn’t have been hooked up to running water, and artwork made from human hair, carefully woven by women so it resembled flowers or other decorative pieces.

Burlison said she had hoped to renovate and restore the rear kitchen wing, but funding wasn’t available. She cited the state’s budget crisis, which has cut into cultural and historic programming, including at the State Museum.

The budget crisis also means there’s no money for things needed at several of the museum’s other buildings, including a sprinkler system at the 200-year-old Presbytere.

“It’s not just that we want to go out and buy pretty things,” Burlison said about the museum’s mission of historic preservation. “We have to keep these buildings healthy.”

The 1850 House will be open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. It is closed on Mondays and state holidays.
27 2016-04-26
New Orleans

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down


David Hoover, chair of the University of New Orleans Department of Film and Theatre, was awarded the Prize for Teaching Innovation from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Hoover also has directed productions throughout New Orleans and the South and is a recipient of the Artist Fellowship Award from the Louisiana Division of the Arts.
27 2016-04-25
New Orleans

UNO graduate students win petroleum prize


A team of University of New Orleans graduate students won the 2016 Gulf Coast Regional Imperial Barrel Award in Houston for the second straight year and will advance to the international finals in June. It’s the first time that a team has claimed back-to-back Gulf Coast titles in the nine-year history of the event.

The Imperial Barrel program, organized by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, pits geosciences teams from universities around the world against each other in a competition to analyze an oil and gas reservoir.

UNO’s team beat out 11 regional competitors including Texas A&M, Rice, the University of Houston, Tulane, the University of Alabama and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The team members are Ryan Jones, Zexuan Wang, Will Morrison, team leader Josiah Hulsey and Celeste Woock. The faculty adviser is Royhan Gani, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, assisted by industry mentors Toby Roesler, of Stone Energy, and Benjamin Kirkland, of Nexen Petroleum.

The $3,000 prize will go toward scholarships in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

In the regional competition, teams analyze a dataset for eight weeks and deliver their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts.

UNO is one of 12 regional winners that will participate in the international competition in Calgary, Alberta, on June 17-18.
27 2016-04-22
New Orleans

UNO professor wins $47K international finance prize


University of New Orleans finance professor M. Kabir Hassan, known locally for his research on the decline in community banking, has won an international prize for his studies in Islamic finance.
Hassan won the IDB Prize in Islamic Banking & Finance from the Islamic Development Bank, the development bank of the Muslim world. He will receive a cash award of about $47,000 in May in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Hassan’s research “focuses on the increasing need for empirical tests of the effectiveness of the Islamic finance and economic model on an international scale,” according to a UNO news release.
According to Hassan, the research helps better understand whether the Islamic economic system hinders access to economic growth and prosperity or if it advances a long-term model of economic growth and fairness.


Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2016/04/21/uno-professor-wins-47k-international-finance-prize/#ixzz46YjSWUcC
27 2016-04-22
New Orleans

UNO Musical Excursions reception features Cuarteto Latinoamericano


The Consulate of Mexico was the host for a reception on April 11 to commemorate the final concert of University of New Orleans Musical Excursions 2015-2016 season. Cuarteto Latinoamericano, an award-winning classical music ensemble founded in 1982 in Mexico, performed at the reception and at the final concert at UNO's Performing Arts Center the next night.

Since 1993, UNO Musical Excursions has presented classical and world music. The series is a joint effort between UNO's Department of Music and Arts Administration Program, in association with WWNO Radio. The 2015 -2016 season also featured Nikita Mndoyants, Mivos Quartet, and Red Priest
27 2016-04-18
New Orleans

Gift to support UNO real estate research, and other news of higher education


Gift to support real estate research
A $600,000 donation from New Orleans real estate executive Robert W. Merrick will help support the University of New Orleans’ Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research.

The institute is a public service division of the College of Business Administration and provides technical assistance and applied research. The gift will establish the Robert W. Merrick Support Fund.

Each year, the institute holds the Dr. Ivan Miestchovich Economic Outlook and Real Estate Forecast Seminars, one for New Orleans and one for the north shore. The events draw hundreds of real estate professionals from around the region who rely on the information and analysis furnished at the seminars.

Merrick is the chairman and CEO of Latter and Blum Inc. and has served as a member of the UNO Foundation board of directors. He also contributed to the creation of the Max Derbes III Professorship in Real Estate.

2015 UNO graduate gets Fulbright grant
University of New Orleans graduate Dallas Rolnick has won a yearlong Fulbright grant to study at the University of Leoben in Austria.

Rolnick, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering in 2015, will be part of a research team that studies tunnel-boring machines. His proposal was first approved by the National Fulbright Committee and then selected by the host nation.

Rolnick said he first became interested in tunnel construction while spending a semester in Innsbruck, Austria, as part of the UNO-Innsbruck International Summer School.

He received a research scholarship from the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation to study the Brenner Base Tunnel, a nearly 40-mile rail tunnel under construction in Austria that will become the longest transportation tunnel in the world.

Researchers at the University of Leoben are working to improve accuracy in the forecasting of tunnel excavations and to advance the capabilities of tunnel-boring machines.

Rolnick will field-test new machines. If the equipment is successful, it will become standard on tunnel-boring machines worldwide, he said.
27 2016-04-15
New Orleans

People this Week: New hires, promotions, awards


University of New Orleans accounting professor Philip Harmelink has been selected as the 2016 Business Professional of the Year in the education category by Beta Alpha Psi.


Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2016/04/14/people-this-week-new-hires-promotions-awards-25/#ixzz45tdVN53K
27 2016-04-12
Associated Press

Health department revamps Medicaid expansion hiring plan


BATON ROUGE _ Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration is reworking its approach to hiring the staff needed to handle his Medicaid expansion effort, after getting pushback from lawmakers who bristled at adding employees to a state government brimming with budget problems.

"We're not hiring staff anymore because the Legislature spoke very clearly," said Jeff Reynolds, chief financial officer for the Department of Health and Hospitals.

The agency initially proposed adding nearly 250 new workers to handle enrollment of the thousands of people expected to qualify for Medicaid under an eligibility expansion. But the hiring proposal was put on hold in January as the Democratic governor's administration ran into concerns from Republican lawmakers.

Under a revised plan, the Edwards administration might be able to sidestep lawmakers.

The health department now intends to beef up an outside contracting deal with the University of New Orleans to augment agency staff. Reynolds said UNO will have as many as 200 short-term employees who will do the eligibility review for Medicaid expansion.

"They do all the leg work. A DHH employee will do the final determination" of whether someone vetted by the outside workers is eligible for the Medicaid coverage, Reynolds said.

Health department spokesman Bob Johannessen said Monday that the agency was determining whether the contracting arrangement requires legislative approval for the spending.

It's unclear when the short-term workers under the UNO contract will start reviewing who could be eligible for the expanded health insurance program. Edwards wants to have government-funded health insurance cards in more people's hands by July 1, when the new budget year begins.

The staffing contract with UNO, Reynolds said, would cost about $9 million to $10 million, and would be paid for by both the state and federal governments. The state's estimated $2.9 million share would be paid by health providers such as hospitals and managed-care plans that stand to benefit from the influx of new Medicaid funding.

It's an unusual financing method that Louisiana hasn't used previously.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation will collect the money, which will be considered a charitable donation. The foundation will send the money to the health department without telling the agency which providers made donations, according to a document filed with federal officials.

The federal Medicaid agency agreed to the financing plan, Reynolds said. The health department didn't consult with the state ethics board about the arrangement, Johannessen said.

Reynolds said he's "not overly optimistic" that providers will continue to give the donations next year. That means the state would have to pay its share of the administrative cost, though Reynolds said even with that expense, Louisiana still is estimated to save more than $100 million on the Medicaid expansion in the new budget year.

The Edwards administration estimates at least 375,000 additional people, mainly the working poor, will be added to Louisiana's Medicaid program under the expansion, which covers adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $33,400 for a family of four.

The federal government will pick up the full cost of the health services for a short period of time. Louisiana will later have to pay a share that eventually will increase to 10 percent.

Copyright © 2016 DailyComet.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.
27 2016-04-12
New Orleans

New UNO president reverses some staff changes


Less than a month into his tenure as University of New Orleans president, John Nicklow is undoing a piece of what predecessor Peter Fos established. He has cut three Fos-created staff positions, including one held by Michael Jackson's former publicist, and replaced Fos' assistant.

Nicklow announced the administrative changes in an email to faculty and staff Friday (April 8), saying they would "maximize our resources and help position the University for future success." Like all Louisiana public universities, UNO faces ongoing budget cuts.

The biggest change in the central office is the ouster of Kevin McLin as vice president of communications. Nicklow eliminated the job. At $175,000, McLin was the 11th-highest-paid UNO employee in the 2014-15 school year, according to a database of staff salaries.

His wife Carlen McLin was Fos' assistant, and made $89,000. Nicklow has replaced her with his own assistant from the provost's office he previously led.

Before coming to UNO, Kevin McLin chaired the mass communications department at Dillard University and played with the band Windjammer. But his time with the Jackson family leads his résumé. In a 2009 interview with the Times-Picayune, he described mourning with them: Joe Jackson decried the media and critics, saying Michael's death "didn't have to happen."

However, the McLins aren't leaving the university, and it was unclear how much their salaries might be cut. Both are also associate professors -- he in film/theater/communications, and she in education -- and Kevin McLin said Monday they intend to remain on the faculty "at this time."

Nicklow also eliminated the assistant vice president of marketing. Spokesman Adam Norris declined Monday to identify who held that job, saying it was a personnel matter.

Finally, Fos eliminated the dean of students job, replacing it with a vice president of student affairs. Nicklow has reversed that decision. Brett Kemker, another Fos hire, will remain on in the new role.

The changes will save more than $300,000, Norris said.

Staff writer Jed Lipinski contributed to this report.
27 2016-04-12
New Orleans

Kermit knows it’s all about tradition at ‘Jazz at the Sandbar’


It makes sense that when most people think of the University of New Orleans’ music department and its affiliated Jazz at the Sandbar series, modern jazz immediately comes to mind. After all, Ellis Marsalis, a renowned modern jazz pianist, established UNO’s highly regarded Jazz Studies department in 1989 that produced an impressive array of graduates who became well known in the genre.

The university, however, isn’t just for beboppers and post-boppers. It also offers instruction in New Orleans traditional jazz. Students taking part in its traditional combo classes, which are led by sousaphone player/bassist Matt Perrine, will be on hand to back guest artist, trumpeter/vocalist Kermit Ruffins at this Wednesday’s edition (April 13) of Jazz at the Sandbar, held at the Cove located on the university’s campus.

Kermit Ruffins
Kermit Ruffins
“I’m looking forward to playing with all those youngsters,” Ruffins enthusiastically responds. “The last time I did it (performed in the series), I was 28 or 30 years old and now I’m 51. People always ask me, ‘Is the music going to die?’ I say, ‘Man you wouldn’t believe the kids that are coming up and are on stage and can put me to shame at any given minute. It’s always going to be hot.’”

Actually, according to Perrine, this year’s crop of traditional students aren’t all “youngsters.” It’s a more varied group that includes a 60-year-old ophthalmologist on bass, a professional music teacher from Singapore on piano, a musician from Mexico on guitar, a member of a well-known New Orleans brass band on sax and, says Perrine, who will man the trombone, a very impressive freshman on drums.

Previous classic jazz guests at Jazz at the Sandbar include a list of stellar artists such as clarinetists Orange Kellin and Dr. Michael White, trombonists Lucien Barbarin and Craig Klein and pianist Tom McDermott.

“We would be remiss if we sent young musicians into the New Orleans music scene without some understanding of how to play traditional jazz,” says Perrine, who has been teaching the traditional class for six years now. “Every student is required to be in every combo before they leave so everyone is forced to put away their beboppin’ and develop something else. Also, if you are going to learn how to improvise, it is much easier to learn to improvise on “Bill Bailey” than it is on “Giant Steps.”

Ruffins is, of course, most often heard locally with the Barbeque Swingers, a group of musicians with whom he’s shared many a bandstand at many a venue both in New Orleans and while on tour. To hear him with artists he’s never performed with and in a venue that he hasn’t played in for a very long time should be interesting and invigorating for all concerned.

“It’s so easy for me to go with any band in this city for 45 minutes to an hour and really have a good session,” Ruffins offers. “Especially with a bunch of youngsters I have never met before. They are going to play the songs I call so it’s always fun to get up and out and feel a different kind of feel.”

Ruffins says that while at the Axelrad Beer Garden in Houston, Texas, a club where he is a partner and investor and performs every Wednesday minus the Swingers, he and the band mix it up a lot. “I email them a YouTube every week of stuff that I recorded with the Barbeque Swingers,” he explains. “Luckily Darrell Levigne lives there,” he adds of the pianist who, because he’s a New Orleans native, gets Ruffins’ style and knows the tunes.

The material the UNO combo works on, including tunes like “Milenberg Joys” and “Panama,” is primarily classic jazz that is right up Ruffins’ alley. “It’s mostly classic jazz – recognizable songs,” Perrine says. “I’m as interested in teaching about music as I am about teaching about traditional jazz. I want to make sure they have all the skills they’ll need no matter what style they end up playing.”

“Everyone is encouraged to sing,” Perrine adds. “I talk a lot about lyrics. If you learn the lyrics of a song, 20 years later when you’re on a bandstand and someone calls that song and you can’t remember it you can remember the lyrics. Then generally, you can remember the melody and if you can remember the melody, you can remember the chords.”

Perrine, an extremely talented and often called on musician on the New Orleans scene whose sousaphone or bass pops up all over the place in this city’s funk, brass band, jazz and beyond worlds has enjoyed his teaching experience.

“It is a way for me to keep my finger on the pulse of the young musicians coming out of UNO,” he offers. “Then it’s exciting to see those students in the work force as professions and know we might have possibly had a hand in that transition.”

Meanwhile Ruffins, who flies back-and-forth between his hometown and Houston, will spend all of April right here in New Orleans. He’s hosting what he’s calling a 4/20 (April 20) party at his Mother-In-Law Lounge and he promises to play – unlike at the Cove – “a bunch of reefer songs.”

“I told my band we are playing at 4 o’clock so they could be ready at 4:20 to hit,” he says with a laugh. From Monday through Thursday between the Jazz Fest’s weekends Ruffins’ is throwing a “Sweet Lunch Counter Party” starting at noon. He declares that the grill will be smoking and the pots boiling with different food every day.

“I put a huge stage in the backyard so it’s really, really nice back there,” Ruffins says while mentioning that if the weather is too hot, the music will be indoors.

Ruffins plays Jazz Fest twice. The first is on Friday, April 22, at 2 pm for a party-down set with the Barbeque Swingers at Congo Square. The trumpeter is back the following weekend to perform a Tribute to Louis Armstrong on Saturday, April 30, at Economy Hall. His band is loaded to the max with pianist David Torkanowsky, drummer Shannon Powell, trombonist Corey Henry and Kevin Morris manning the upright bass.

The Jazz at the Sandbar show begins at 7 p.m. UNO students and faculty are admitted free. General admission is $5.

This article originally published in the April 11, 2016 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.
27 2016-04-08
Baton Rouge

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10mg fluoxetine
27 2016-04-06
New Orleans

Crawfish Mambo returns for another year at UNO in May


NEW ORLEANS —If you missed the annual Louisiana Crawfish Festival in Chalmette, there's still another opportunity to enjoy and celebrate those delicious mudbugs.

The fifth annual Crawfish Mambo will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 9 at The Cove on the University of New Orleans Lakefront Campus.

Organizers describe the event as the city's largest crawfish cook-off, featuring all-you-can-eat boiled crawfish all day. There's also plenty of live, local music.

More than 50 four-member boil teams will compete for $1,000 in prize money. Celebrity judges will select the winner of the cook-off competition.

The event is hosted by UNO's International Alumni Association. Money raised from the event supports UNO, which is the city's only public research university.

More information about the event can be found online.
27 2016-04-04
New Orleans

UNO accounting prof wins national award


University of New Orleans accounting professor Philip Harmelink has been named the 2016 Business Professional of the Year in the education category by Beta Alpha Psi, an international honor organization for financial information students and professionals.

He will be presented the award at the group’s national meeting in Baltimore in August.

Harmelink is the Ernst & Young professor of accounting and chairman of the UNO department of accounting. He has been at UNO since 1979.

The UNO chapter of Beta Alpha Psi nominated Harmelink, who was in competition with nominees from chapters in all 50 states. Beta Alpha Psi Executive Director Margaret Fiorentino said the selection committee was impressed by Harmelink’s contributions to academia, his scholarship fundraising for accounting students and his support for the Beta Alpha Psi chapter at UNO.

“This award is wonderful recognition of Dr. Philip Harmelink’s dedication to educating students and his tremendous efforts in achieving numerous scholarships each year for accounting students,” said John Williams, dean of the College of Business Administration. “Dr. Harmelink’s efforts have contributed significantly to UNO’s accounting department being recognized for its outstanding programs and graduates.”
27 2016-04-04
Regional/National

NASA ASTRONAUTS SYSTEMATICALLY TRAIN ON MOCKUP ORION SPACECRAFT


Discusses a potential space excursion to Mars have expanded in the previous year, as both private and open organizations attempt to be the first to make it a reality.

The Orion shuttle – intended to be NASA’s next space conveyance framework – is by all accounts considering the test important, as space explorers have been accounted for to begin preparing on it for a possible excursion to Mars.

For the test, the team was wearing full spacesuits to confirm the vehicle and their own capacity to communicate with control frameworks while wore in full rigging.

The Orion is fit for conveying human payloads to circle, and well past in space, a shuttle thought to be the “foundation of the American space office’s journey to send individuals to the red planet.”

A blog entry on NASA’s official site portrays the tests that are as of now in progress as a path for specialists at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to assess “how groups inside a mockup of the Orion rocket interface with the rotational hand controller and cursor control gadget while inside their Modified Advanced Crew Escape spacesuits.”

These controllers will be working Orion’s control framework and showcases, which the group will require in their connection with the shuttle in the potential missions to profound space destinations.

It has been a while since the U.S. has had a working rocket that could consume space explorers into room following the time when the space transport program resigned in 2011. Saturn V was NASA’s last vehicle that could take human inhabitants past low-Earth circle (LEO), yet it resigned in 1973.

Presently, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV) is produced to have the capacity to take a team of four space travelers in space trips past LEO. One of those profound space destinations is planet Mars, where mission organizers at NASA want to arrive a human group securely in around 20 years.

Orion has experienced one and only experimental run in this way, in 2014, when basic wellbeing gear was tried as an unfilled container finished two circles of the Earth.

Agreeing to NASA authorities, the up and coming rocket “will serve as the investigation vehicle that will convey the team to space, give crisis prematurely end ability, support the group amid the space travel and give safe reentry from profound space return speeds.”

Right now, the Space Launch System (SLS) that will dispatch the Orion is still in the outlining and arranging stages at NASA. In any case, once it’s assembled, the SLS should turn into the most capable rocket ever developed.

Space explorers started preparing on the Orion rocket to get ready for a possible excursion conveying spacefarers to Mars. The test team wore full spacesuits so as to completely test the vehicle and their own particular capacity to associate with control frameworks while wearing their full rigging.

The Orion shuttle is intended to be NASA’s next space conveyance framework, fit for lifting human payloads to circle, and well past the Earth. This vehicle is the foundation of the American space organization’s journey to send individuals to the red planet.

“Engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are assessing how teams inside a mockup of the Orion shuttle cooperate with the rotational hand controller and cursor control gadget while inside their Modified Advanced Crew Escape spacesuits. The controllers are utilized to work Orion’s presentations and control framework, which the group will use to move and connect with the shuttle amid missions to profound space destinations,” NASA authorities composed on their site.

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV) is intended to convey a team of four space explorers to destinations past low-Earth circle (LEO). The United States has not had a method for bringing individuals into space subsequent to the retirement of the space transport program in 2011. The last vehicle equipped for bringing human tenants past LEO was the Saturn V, which was resigned in 1973.

Mission organizers at NASA are certain they will have the capacity to securely land a human group on the red planet in around 20 years. The vehicle has experienced a solitary experimental run as such, in 2014, when a vacant case finished two circles of the Earth to test basic security hardware.

“NASA’s Orion rocket is worked to take people more remote than they’ve ever gone some time recently. Orion will serve as the investigation vehicle that will convey the group to space, give crisis prematurely end capacity, support the team amid the space travel and give safe reentry from profound space return speeds,” NASA authorities report in a review of the up and coming rocket.

The Orion rocket will dispatch on top of the up and coming Space Launch System (SLS) as of now being composed and worked by NASA. Whenever complete, the SLS will be the most intense rocket ever developed, fit for setting people on a different universe without precedent for history.

Clearly, NASA’s novel arrangements for its Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion case require cutting edge instruments and designing. However, every one of those methodologies, machines, and flight equipment don’t show up out of nowhere. While quite a bit of NASA’s work is based on the shoulders of monsters as it were, they likewise discover accomplices to consistently perform crucial innovative work.

At the Michoud Assembly Facility outside of New Orleans, that implies NCAM. The National Center for Advanced Manufacturing is an examination situated association between NASA, the condition of Louisiana, and nearby schools and colleges, for example, LSU and the University of New Orleans. At its substance, NCAM sits practically toward the begin of the office’s SLS and Orion work process. All things considered, before the most developed instruments at Michoud can be used and the best built materials can be actualized in NASA equipment, somebody needs to do the reasoning. Since 1999, this has been NCAM’s part—ideating, scrutinizing, and creating different instruments and materials to help NASA consistently enhance its work (SLS and Orion included).

“All rising tech ends up experiencing the scholastic examination process before it appears in industry,” said John Vickers, NCAM’s supervisor and the partner chief of the Marshall Space Flight Center’s materials and procedures research facility. “These machines are building items that will be on the Orion shuttle to go to the Moon, to Mars, and past.”

With regards to its center, NCAM is sans given rule. Their work can focus on everything from flight equipment to testing procedures to assembling apparatuses (they’ve even analyzed Michoud’s celebrated internationally contact mix welding previously). Vickers was in Michoud when Ars went to in late 2015, and he flaunted NCAM’s work specifically with the site’s Automated Fiber Placement Machines. These are enormous assembling apparatuses (room estimated, with most extreme mandrel limits of 40,000lbs or more) that take a layer-by-layer way to deal with building composite structures. Like other enormous instruments at Michoud, they work in an exceptionally exact way so that the yield is interminably dependable.

“The possible objective [for our composites] is 50 percent lighter to the metal proportionate,” Vickers said. “That is huge added-ability to our investigation missions. It implies we can send much, a great deal more payload into space.”

The composites Vickers appeared (found in the video above) will in the long run advance toward the Orion modules. He noticed that dispatch vehicles today are for the most part aluminum, yet NCAM and NASA have observed nearly as composites developed in different air ships, in the protection business sector, and now gradually into the space business. Contrasted with Apollo modules, such composites will permit Orion to have a much lighter skeleton. So despite the fact that the Orion EM-2 group module is relied upon to have a dispatch weight of 22,900lbm (contrasted with 12,392 lbm for the Apollo 8 CSM), a lot of that additional mass originates from framework redundancies that will better set up the module for both profound space investigation and unexpected investigating. Those safety measures wouldn’t be conceivable without the work of NCAM bettering the module (to make no notice of the gathering’s endeavors centered around the motor segments that can lift these expanded weights).

Maybe best of all, NCAM’s scholastic mentality works in both bearings. Not just does the gathering inspect current practices to enhance efficiencies, it needs to prepare the cutting edge to proceed such work. By joining forces with LSU and UNO, NCAM can prepare the up and coming era of architects and assembling pros. UNO is one of the uncommon colleges where a designing understudy doesn’t simply read about erosion blend welding, they’ll have the chance to watch the strategy at a scale and precision level unmatched somewhere else on the planet. NCAM trusts such a great amount in enlisting and preparing future NASA workers, they even extend their effort down to the scout level, cooperating with nearby Boy and Girl Scouts on legitimacy identifications.

“I’ve been around NCAM for over 15 years now, and I’ll see understudies come through training framework and they turn up here in the work power,” Vickers said. “In some cases it’s incredibly, however it’s generally an awesome delight.”
27 2016-03-30
New Orleans

Crescent City college notes for March 30, 2016


UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS: A composition by University of New Orleans music professor Yotam Haber will be performed by the Kronos Quartet at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Saturday, marking the world premiere of the work. Haber’s “break_break_break” was commissioned jointly by the Kronos Quartet and Carnegie Hall, as part of its 125 Commissions Project. In order to celebrate its 125th anniversary, at least 125 new works will be commissioned from leading composers and premiered at Carnegie Hall between the 2015 and 2020 seasons. The performance will take place in Zankel Hall, one of Carnegie Hall’s three performance spaces. Haber is a 2005 Guggenheim fellow and a 2007 Rome Prize winner in music composition. At UNO, he directs the composition program and teaches advanced theory and upper-level seminars.
27 2016-03-29
New Orleans

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? A UNO Professor knows


University of New Orleans assistant music professor Yotam Haber's composition "break_break_break" will be performed by the renowned Kronos Quartet at prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York on Saturday, April 2. The composition, which will be presented in the Zankel Hall performance space, is part of the "125 Commissions Project" which commemorates Carnegie Hall's 125th anniversary.

UNO composer commemorates the 1963 Birmingham church bombing in all-encompassing work
UNO composer commemorates the 1963 Birmingham church bombing in all-encompassing work
On Sept. 15, 1963, a bomb tore through the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., killing four black girls. This racially motivated slaughter, coming months after police repelled peaceful civil rights marchers with fire hoses and snarling German shepherds, branded Birmingham as a city of hate. Birmingham has worked to shed that image. As one indication of its...

Haber, who holds a PHD from Cornell University has had an enviable career, including a 2005 Guggenheim fellowship and a 2007 Rome Prize. He teaches upper level music theory.
27 2016-03-28
New Orleans

New UNO President John Nicklow plans to make growing enrollment his top priority John Nicklow John Nicklow John Nicklow John Nicklow PreviousNext1


There’s a lot that goes into being a university president, but job No. 1 for John Nicklow, recently named to the top post at the University of New Orleans, is pretty clear: Find more students.

UNO is in a tenuous place. Its enrollment is less than half of what it was before Hurricane Katrina. And because of Louisiana’s budget woes, direct aid from the state for higher education has dropped precipitously, forcing public universities to rely more and more on tuition and fees to cover costs.

The one-two punch of declining enrollment and shrinking state support has brought serious pain to all of the state’s schools, but none more than UNO. The school’s last president, Peter Fos, saw no other option than to make drastic cuts in programs, which earned him a “no confidence” vote from the faculty.

Nicklow insists he is unfazed stepping in to lead the university during such a dire period. In an interview, he said he is confident the school will grow under his leadership.

He pointed out that he has faced these challenges before, when he was provost at the similarly challenged Southern Illinois University.

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UNO’s recent history has “created a new landscape,” Nicklow said. “Let’s recognize that and move forward and grow.”

That Nicklow won the job of righting this particular ship came as something of a surprise to some. Though he has been serving as UNO’s provost since July, he faced a higher-profile rival for the top job in Andy Kopplin.

As Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s top deputy, Kopplin played a major role in reorganizing City Hall and closing a yawning budget gap inherited from Ray Nagin’s administration. He also served previously as chief of staff to two state governors and as director of the post-Katrina Louisiana Recovery Authority.

City business leaders pushed Kopplin for the UNO job. In a letter to the board of supervisors of the University of Louisiana system, current and former members of the New Orleans Business Council and Greater New Orleans Inc. wrote: “At this critical juncture for UNO, Andy has the specific skill set — and the clear track record — required to lead the institution.”

The UL board instead picked Nicklow by a vote of 10-6, opting for the finalist with direct experience in university administration, rather than the “CEO-type” candidate that Kopplin was pitched as.

The choice clearly matched the preference of many at UNO itself. The school’s student body president told the board that “we need leadership now, and we want that leadership to be academic.” The head of the Faculty Senate backed Nicklow as well.

Nicklow, 45, has spent his entire career in academia. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Bucknell University and a doctorate from Arizona State University.

The Pittsburgh native, who now lives in Gentilly’s Lake Terrace neighborhood with his wife and 15-year-old son, spent four years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois, a campus with nearly 18,000 students and its own budget problems.

In Illinois, Nicklow said, he faced “year after year after year of structural deficit and budget reductions.” He said his recruitment efforts there paid off after a few years, with the school seeing its largest freshman class in decades and a higher retention rate.

The challenge at UNO is considerable. The school’s state subsidy dropped from $74 million in 2008-09 to about $33 million in 2014-15. Enrollment has dropped from 17,142 students registered before Hurricane Katrina to just 8,423 last fall — UNO’s smallest student body since 1967.

As UNO’s provost, Nicklow has already started trying to improve the school’s numbers. Last year, he used a direct-mail recruiting initiative to target a half-million students who recently took the ACT test. He wants to rebrand the school for potential applicants, hoping to draw on the appeal of living in a city like New Orleans.

He does not see a silver bullet. Improving enrollment and retention will mean studying the available data and making an array of small improvements that will eventually add up, he said.

Last year, he created nearly two dozen separate committees of faculty and staff members to study issues ranging from initiatives aimed at veterans to reducing barriers to registration.

“Enrollment is an interesting and extremely complex problem,” Nicklow said. “It’s easy to say you need more students, but … you don’t buy students. They’re very savvy. They’re just like customers for a business.”

He said he thinks some of UNO’s marketing techniques need adjusting. For instance, the “Heartbeat of the Crescent City” campaign probably isn’t resonating well with applicants living outside south Louisiana, he said.

“That message was especially relevant post-Katrina,” he said. “Where we are today, though, I think we can talk about what we are and what we can be to the city going forward.”

Nicklow hesitated to name specific goals for enrollment. “I always get a little bit nervous talking about what’s the overall number,” he said.

“If we could be at 9,000 in two to three years, that’s progress,” he added. “If we can be at 12,000 within a few years of that, that would be progress.”

Of his predecessor, Nicklow said, “I have a lot of respect for Dr. Fos,” adding, “I think he really was dealt a difficult situation.”

Still, he said he would have handled some things differently, including a 2014 review that led Fos to eliminate seven academic programs and target others for restructuring.

A day after the cuts were announced, UNO’s Faculty Council passed a largely symbolic vote of “no confidence” in Fos’ leadership.

Overall, Nicklow described the review process as “a real challenge on campus” that has left morale low, although he’s optimistic that it’s already bottomed out.

“I think the level of communication for whatever reason could’ve been better, and I think that’s something we certainly want to focus on going forward,” he said.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.
27 2016-03-28
New Orleans

UNO's new president courts business leaders who spurned him


The bookshelves in John Nicklow's old office overflow with the driest material imaginable: tomes about fluid engineering. The ones he's written — including "Comprehensive Sewer Collection Systems Analysis Handbook for Engineers and Planners" — takes up about half a shelf. Among other challenges, Nicklow has researched ways to keep a silted-up river running through a city and examined pipes for weak spots.

It's experience that could help as Nicklow moves across the hall to the president's office. The University of New Orleans has been leaking money and students.

Enrollment fell to 8,423 this year, less than half the pre-Katrina count of 17,350, according to the university's website. And after the Louisiana Legislature cut the budget, past President Peter Fos eliminated programs and laid off staff. Even as Nicklow takes his new office, the Legislature is discussing limits to the generous TOPS scholarships that fund many UNO undergraduates.

UNO fall enrollment
Year Students Change
1995 15,483 N/A
2000 16,218 4.7%
2004 17,350 7.0%
2005 6,684 -61.5%
2006 11,747 75.7%
2007 11,363 -3.3%
2008 11,428 0.6%
2009 11,724 2.6%
2010 11,276 -3.8%
2011 10,903 -3.3%
2012 10,071 -7.6%
2013 9,323 -7.4%
2014 9,234 -1.0%
2015 8,423 -8.8%
Sources: Federal data, UNO
Nicklow won the job March 16 when the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors chose him 10-6, just one vote more than the nine he needed, over Deputy New Orleans Mayor Andy Kopplin. Business activists lobbied hard for Kopplin, while many faculty and students favored Nicklow, who had arrived at UNO as provost in July after 17 years at Southern Illinois University.

At 45, Nicklow is about two decades younger than Fos. Tall and broad-shouldered, with a graying crew cut, he spoke in low tones during an interview Thursday (March 24) of his big plans. UNO must change to meet New Orleans' needs, he said, with new programs and students.

"You invest in areas that are innovative, that can get the demand," he said. The university is hiring faculty in chemistry, computer science, engineering, environmental science, film with an emphasis on digital technology, central European history and urban planning. (Also, a provost.)

Nicklow resisted pressure to name which programs or departments might be scaled back or eliminated. "You can't cut your way out of these problems. You have to grow your way out," he said. Besides, "If you cut a program, you have to teach it out" until current majors graduate. "It's not immediate savings."

New Orleans business leaders will be central in the reorientation, Nicklow said: "We want to provide a menu of choices for them." Though they preferred the other guy, Nicklow said that was water under the bridge. In his first week -- "I guess it's been only a week?" -- he prioritized meeting with strategic business leaders, including the New Orleans Business Alliance. He had not yet sat down with Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

"We're feeding the businesses and the industry of the city," he said. "I'm not sure that New Orleans works without us."

UNO in 3 charts and 8 bullet points
UNO in 3 charts and 8 bullet points
Fast facts about the University of New Orleans as John Nicklow takes over

Nicklow sounded most excited about the possibilities of repackaging UNO's existing offerings to appeal to new students, which takes little to no money, he said. As an example, he pointed to Southern Illinois' new fermentation science program, a shuffle of its chemistry coursework.

Potential new UNO audiences include adult learners, students from abroad and people taking online classes; the university is hiring a distance-education director. Out-of-state students are lucrative, paying almost $14,000 more per year than a Louisiana resident.

Nicklow said he also plans to draw on the support of alumni, almost 35,000 of whom live in the New Orleans area. He hoped it would all cause money to flow to the university and allow "self-reliance," so state funding doesn't matter as much.

There's also the less glamorous work of ensuring that more students stay in school and graduate. According to federal data, 34 percent of first-time, full-time UNO freshmen obtain a degree within six years. That's more than 20 points below the national average for public universities. The rate drops to 25 percent for African American students. Almost one third of first-time freshmen who entered in fall 2013 did not return the following fall. University spokesman Adam Norris said the figures didn't accurately reflect city universities or show UNO's success with students who pair school with work.

Nicklow said the university has started engagement and mentorship initiatives for African American men and for first-generation college students. "I want to hand every student who comes here a degree," he said.

I'm not sure that New Orleans works without us." - new UNO president John Nicklow
He's tapped faculty and staff to help, saying, "The people here today really are vested in the success of the place." He felt the same way about them: "Why I like being in academia: We're a family. And once you're in this family, we're going to do everything we can to support you."

That coziness might be because Nicklow spends most of his time at or very near UNO. His 15-year-old son attends Ben Franklin High, which is on the college campus, and father and son commute together from their Lake Terrace home. His respites are restaurants, exercise -- "When I get stressed sometimes I go to two workouts a day" -- and walking his boxer, Sienna, by the lake on weekends with his son and wife.

Judging from Fos' tenure, he'll be walking the dog often. His predecessor, upon retiring, said: "It's a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day job and you're never off and you're never on vacation and I'm 66 years old. I'm tired."

Nicklow expressed optimism, however: "I don't see it as a job. I really enjoy what I do," he said. "My family – we are UNO."
27 2016-03-28
New Orleans

UNO in 3 charts and 8 bullet points


As John Nicklow steps up to the presidency of the University of New Orleans, he has some work to do. Here's a glimpse of UNO by the numbers.

Enrollment, fall 2015: 8,423, with 6,601 undergraduates
Acceptance rate, fall 2014: 44%
Percentage of undergraduates attending part-time: 26%

Percentage of undergraduates who were 25 or older, fall 2013: 31%
Estimated fall 2016 tuition: $8,004 in-state (8.3% increase), $21,821 out-of-state (3.9% increase)

Percentage of full-time, first-time undergraduate students receiving financial aid, fall 2014: 93%
... receiving federal Pell grants for needy students: 44%
... receiving state/local government grants, including TOPS: 77%
27 2016-03-28
New Orleans

Academy Award-winning producer to address UNO graduates, and other news of higher education


Producer Jon Landau to address UNO grads
Academy Award-winning movie producer Jon Landau will be the principal speaker at the University of New Orleans’ spring graduation, where he will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

The ceremony will be held May 13 at the Lakefront Arena.

Landau was one of the producers of “Titanic” and “Avatar,” two of the highest-grossing films in history.

He earned his first producing credit on the teen comedy “Campus Man” in 1987, followed by “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” which he co-produced, in 1989. In 1990, he produced Warren Beatty’s “Dick Tracy.”

He formerly served as executive vice president of feature productions at 20th Century Fox, where he supervised production on many films, including “Die Hard 2” and “Home Alone” in 1990. He also produced its sequel, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” in 1992, as well as “The Last of the Mohicans” in 1992, “Mrs. Doubtfire” in 1993 and “Waiting to Exhale” in 1995.

In 1998, Landau and partner James Cameron won the Academy Award for best picture for “Titanic.” They also took home the Golden Globe for best dramatic motion picture for “Titanic” and again in 2010 for “Avatar.”


27 2016-03-28
Regional/National

Former SIU provost named president of the University of New Orleans


ohn Nicklow, who served as SIU's provost for more than three years, was named president of the University of New Orleans last week, according to The Associated Press.
Nicklow — who was named provost at SIU in May 2011 under former Chancellor Rita Cheng — left the university to be provost at New Orleans in July after he was reassigned as SIU's provost to administrative duties in 2014. Nicklow started working at SIU in 1998.
"I can see the opportunities that we have in front of us," Nicklow said after being named UNO's president, NOLA.com reported March 16.
One of the policies initiated during Nicklow's time as provost is the 20-hour work cap, which does not allowed students to work more than 20 hours a week at on-campus jobs.
His appointment as UNO's president is effective immediately.
27 2016-03-23
New Orleans

John Nicklow, New UNO Leader, Says Responsibility For Success 'Begins And Ends With The President'


After a public search, the University of New Orleans has a new president. Dr. John Nicklow has been named by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.



Nicklow was promoted from his position as UNO Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, and succeeds Dr. Peter Fos, who announced his retirement late last year. The other finalist for the job was New Orleans Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin. WWNO’s Eve Troeh sat down with Nicklow, President-Elect of UNO.

Listen Listening...7:25 Interview with UNO President-Elect, Dr. John Nicklow
An abridged version of the interview:

Q. You came to New Orleans last summer, with the state in a budget crisis and the university facing any number of challenges. What brought you here?

A: The fact that it's the city's only public research institution makes it a unique asset that we really under-utilize. The opportunities here to grow enrollment, to work with business partners and alumni, to grow our research enterprise here — few institutions have the opportunities laid out on the table the way we do at UNO. So it was the opportunity to make a difference, and I see that here.

Q. So why haven't those things happened in recent years? Where does the responsibility lie?

A: Let me go back in time. I think the institution went through a difficult time with the storm. But there's more: the TOPS program, the dynamics of higher education changed across the state, the [new] state admission criteria and implementation of that. So those things sort of set the stage. The responsibility begins and ends with the president. And I believe it's my duty to build a team, to make things happen. It's not that someone did or did not do something. I see an opportunity to solve the problem we have today.

Last year we spent a lot of time with faculty and staff and students to look at enrollment issues, not from a 30,000-foot view, but exactly where the problems are on campus. What populations? Like certain students who do take math their first semester versus those who don't, or if they take 12 units per semester versus 18 units. And we got interesting data sets. So understanding where the problem was, was a good first step.

Q: So is an enrollment problem different than, but related to, a retention problem?

A: An enrollment problem is a matriculation problem and a retention problem. We have to do better — and we are — in reaching out to different populations. We are looking at not just regional and local students, but also nationally and internationally. Those differences really make us who we are and benefit the students.

Q. They also pay full tuition, those out-of-state and international students.

A: That is a benefit as well. The second piece is retention. It doesn't do us a whole lot of good to bring a student here and not keep them. It's in many ways far more expensive to not retain them and have to go find more students. We have about 23 teams looking at that.

Q. You came to UNO from Southern Illinois University, where you also faced declining enrollment.

A: The symptoms were similar. Through getting people involved we brought in the two largest freshmen classes in 20 years, and had the first overall enrollment increase in a decade. That doesn't happen overnight. You don't lose that many students overnight and you don't gain them back overnight. Enrollment is a perception issue. It's important that parents and students know what we have to offer and that we follow through with that.

Q. What would you say to New Orleans parents and high school students?

A: I want them to know we have extremely high quality programs. Our students are employed in music and art and accounting and engineering, and get great jobs. The employability, the value of our degree is very high. And the risk — the debt load — is very low.

Q. Over 80 percent of the faculty and the UNO student body supported you for this job. The other finalist was from government, not academia. "Disruption" is a popular theme in American life and politics right now, but what does academic experience bring to the role?

A: The president is responsible for handing a student that degree, for the promotion and tenure of faculty. That I've been through that, that I'm capable of teaching and researching, is a value respected among the faculty and students. Is higher ed a business? Our practices need to be more business-minded outside the classroom and the lab. But when we're in the classroom, when we're in the lab, we're teaching. There are learning outcomes. That is not a business. That's where things really are different. And we have both things happening on this campus.

Note: While UNO owns WWNO's broadcast license, and provides the station administrative support and office space, the station receives no operational or editorial funding from the university.
27 2016-03-17
New Orleans

John Nicklow to be new University of New Orleans president: 'We are going to work hard to innovate'


The new president of the University of New Orleans is John Nicklow, who currently serves as the school’s provost.

Nicklow, a longtime academic administrator, edged out New Orleans Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin, a higher-profile candidate but one whose downfall was his lack of experience in higher education administration.

Nicklow was selected Wednesday by the University of Louisiana system Board of Supervisors. He received 10 votes; Kopplin got six.

Nicklow’s effective start date in the top position, salary and benefits will be negotiated with UL System Interim President Dan Reneau.

Nicklow has been provost and vice president of academic affairs of UNO since July. Before that, he spent four years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University, a flagship campus with nearly 18,000 students. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Bucknell University and a doctorate from Arizona State University.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC
Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- Andy Kopplin is a finalist for the top job at UNO. Decision on new UNO president deferred; board chairman says bad weather ended discussions early
Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin, Provost John Nicklow named finalists for UNO presidency
As president, he will focus on increasing enrollment, building community partnerships with alumni, local businesses and organizations, and expanding research at the university, he said.

“We are going to work hard to innovate,” Nicklow said in an interview after the vote. “We began last summer changing a lot of things, innovating and disrupting normal operations, and we’ll continue to do that and do it in other areas.”

The search for a new UNO president was viewed as a high-stakes selection, with higher education leaders hoping for someone who could turn the tide of the New Orleans public university, which has suffered from sinking enrollment over the past 10 years. The university, like the rest of higher education, also has endured dramatic budget cuts and is potentially facing more cuts in state revenue for this fiscal year and next.

Kopplin’s bid for the job raised the level of interest outside traditional academic circles because of his résumé working alongside Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other state leaders.

Before joining Landrieu in 2010 to help run New Orleans, Kopplin served as the executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state agency charged with leading the recovery after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

He also was a top aide to former Govs. Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco.

Many business leaders wrote letters to the board and spoke on his behalf.

“I would have loved to have had the opportunity to continue to work and rebuild our city at UNO,” Kopplin said after the vote. “But I’m proud to have had the support of dozens of business and civic leaders and 10 past presidents of the UNO Alumni Association.”

While Kopplin was backed by many business leaders, Nicklow had the support of both students and faculty.

Before the vote, Joy Ballard-Oliver, the UNO student body president, told the board that students largely stand behind Nicklow, based on her conversations.

“We need leadership now, and we want that leadership to be academic,” she said. She added that Nicklow has reached out to students directly to include them in campus initiatives and get campus feedback.

“He asks students what they want and why they are here,” she said. “Our administration has never talked to students like this before.”

Last month, Faculty Senate President Cherie Trumbach told the board that faculty members strongly supported Nicklow.

UNO, over the past eight years, has seen its state support shrink by half and has suffered from greater drops in enrollment than other state universities. Enrollment sank from 17,142 students registered before Hurricane Katrina to just 8,423 last fall — UNO’s smallest class since 1967.

Nicklow said he will attack enrollment with “aggressive, intentional efforts that reach wide and far.”

“We need branding and messaging that appeals to the community and prospective students,” he said, adding that boosting financial aid and improving retention also are factors.

UNO President Peter Fos retired in January.

Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter, @rebekahallen.
27 2016-03-17
New Orleans

John Nicklow chosen as UNO's next president


ance from negative $20 million to positive $60 million … and are now investing new revenues on things that move the city forward," he wrote.

Kopplin said he believes the opportunities for UNO, with a reputation as a sleepy commuter school, "are limited only by our own imaginations.

"UNO can be to New Orleans what NYU has become to New York City – a university that capitalized on its brand identity as part of a resurgent city and used it to aggressively attract students and scholars from around the region and across the globe and massively grow her research, graduate programs, fundraising and impact," he wrote.

Nicklow previously held the position of provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University, as well as earlier appointments as assistant provost for enrollment management, associate dean of engineering and professor of civil engineering.

Nicklow has been widely recognized at the university level, by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and by industry for his teaching and research. His research interests are focused on STEM education and on environmental and water resources systems optimization. He has published more than 75 articles and is the author of four books.
27 2016-03-17
New Orleans

UNO Provost John Nicklow named university president


Current University of New Orleans provost John Nicklow has been selected as president in a decision from the University of Louisiana System’s board of supervisors Wednesday.
Nicklow is a longtime academic administrator and has served as UNO’s provost and vice president of academic affairs since July. He also spent four years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University. His appointment is effective immediately.
Nicklow beat out a high-profile candidate in Deputy Mayor of New Orleans Andy Kopplin, who received support from local business groups but lacked experience in higher education administration.
When surveyed about the candidates, almost 80 percent of faculty favored Nicklow, according to a news release from the UL System.
He fills a vacancy left by Peter Fos, who retired last month after four years at the helm.
Nicklow will face the same issues as his predecessor when it comes to budget cuts and enrollment.
Enrollment at UNO has dropped from more than 17,000 students before Hurricane Katrina to fewer than 8,500 last fall. The school says stricter admission standards have also contributed to the decline.
Like other universities across Louisiana, UNO has struggled with state budget cuts over recent years and is facing potentially deep ones this fiscal year and next as the Legislature tries to shrink huge deficits.


Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2016/03/16/uno-provost-john-nicklow-named-university-president/#ixzz43ABUAy1b
27 2016-03-16
Associated Press

University of New Orleans president to be selected Wednesday


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The new president of the University of New Orleans is expected to be announced Wednesday.

The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors has narrowed its decision to two finalists: New Orleans Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin and UNO Provost John Nicklow.

The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1SNRz7H ) reports the board was scheduled to announce its decision late last month, but the board deferred its decision. After hours of interviews with the two candidates and deliberation among board members, the board said they needed more time to discuss and stormy weather forecasts were cutting their time short.

The special board meeting called for the selection of the university's next president will be at 1:30 p.m. in the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge.

Former UNO President Peter Fos retired in January.

Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
27 2016-03-16
New Orleans

UNO president to be chosen Wednesday afternoon


The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors will choose the next president of the University of New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon (March 16). The finalists are Andy Kopplin, deputy New Orleans mayor, and John Nicklow, UNO's provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The board met to pick UNO's president Feb. 22, but it cut short the meeting because of bad weather. The new meeting is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. in Room 100 of the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge.
27 2016-03-07
New Orleans

Entergy donating $100,000 to UNO


Entergy’s transmission business unit has donated $100,000 to the University of New Orleans to enhance the curriculum for what electrical engineering students learn in the classroom.

The gift, which will fund the new Entergy Energy Conversion Lab, was presented by Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans Inc., and Jim Schott, vice president of transmission for Entergy Services Inc.

In the lab, students will receive hands-on experience with power equipment such as transformers and rotating electrical machinery. They will use detailed wiring diagrams to connect machines to power sources, loads and meters, performing experiments that demonstrate operational and loading characteristics.

“It’s an exciting time to be an engineer,” said Paul Olivier, Entergy’s manager of configuration and controls. Olivier, a UNO alumnus, serves on the school’s Engineering Advisory Council.

“The energy industry is going through a transformation, and we’re seeing big investments in the electric grid nationwide,” he said. “Engineers are at the heart of how we’ll build the grid of the future, and our collaboration with UNO is part of that effort.”
27 2016-03-04
New Orleans

Letter: UNO alumni need to step up, reach out to legislators


Public higher education in Louisiana is in big trouble. This is hardly shocking. We have all followed the headlines over the past eight years as $700 million has been slashed from our state’s colleges and universities, representing the largest disinvestment by any state in the country. The results have been larger classes, fewer faculty members, neglected campus buildings, discontinued programs and higher tuition.

Our institutions are being starved and they’re in danger of losing even more state support before the end of the current fiscal year. How bad is it? State funding for my alma mater, the University of New Orleans, has been cut approximately $40 million in the past eight years. Is it any wonder that our colleges are struggling to furnish the same education that they once could?

As a master’s student at the University of New Orleans from 1980-1982, in the College of Urban and Public Affairs, I worked closely with distinguished faculty who were sought after by communities around the state to help address their most challenging urban issues. The rigor, relevance and value of the UNO education that I received was hard to match and, in spite of massive budget cuts, the university continues that tradition today.

The impact that UNO, the state’s only public urban research university, has on the city and the region is profound. We, the UNO alumni — with 35,000 alone in metro New Orleans — fuel this economy and serve as leaders in professional sectors including accounting, banking, education, technology, engineering, tourism, and arts and culture. There would be no National World War II Museum, now the city’s No. 1 tourism destination and the 15th most visited destination in the U.S., without the vision and drive of two UNO professors, Stephen Ambrose and Nick Mueller.

Enough is enough. It’s time for graduates of all of the state’s colleges and universities to step up. Public higher education has given so much to me and so many others, including a large number of lawmakers representing us in the Louisiana Senate and House of Representatives. Our alumni help grow companies, stimulate our economy and enhance our quality of life in the state. If public higher education in Louisiana is in trouble, then the entire state — every adult, child and business — is also in peril. Contact your state legislators and let them know that you won’t stand for any more cuts to Louisiana’s colleges and universities.

Barbara Johnson

principal, The Johnson Group

New Orleans
27 2016-03-04
New Orleans

UNO president selection to be made March 16


The new president of the University of New Orleans might be chosen March 16. That's the date set Thursday (March 3) for the next meeting of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.

The finalists are Andy Kopplin, deputy New Orleans mayor, and John Nicklow, UNO's provost and vice president for academic affairs. The board met to pick UNO's president Feb. 22, but it cut short the meeting because of bad weather.

The March 16 meeting is to start at 1:30 p.m. in Room 100 of the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge.
27 2016-03-04
New Orleans

Louisiana Style: University of New Orleans music students



27 2016-03-03
New Orleans

UNO's link to Ogden Museum of Southern Art threatened by state budget cuts


Businessman Roger Ogden wants to sever ties between the Ogden Museum of Southern Art that he created and its partner, the University of New Orleans Foundation, because of drastic cuts in state funding to higher education in recent years, according to a lawsuit.

Ogden, a real estate developer and established collector of Southern art, donated part of his renowned collection to the University of New Orleans Foundation in a public-private partnership to launch the Warehouse District museum, which opened in 2003 after years of being in development.

In December, Ogden filed a lawsuit in Orleans Civil District Court against the UNO Foundation, seeking to transfer ownership of the art directly to the Ogden Museum nonprofit operation and take back artwork he loaned to the foundation.

A promised UNO arts and education complex to be developed on Lee Circle at the Camp Street museum is a decade past due. Under Ogden's contract with the UNO Foundation, he can now force the art to be transferred, the lawsuit says.

ogden_museum_social_scene181.jpg
A view of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art on October 26, 2013. (Photo by Peter G. Forest)
Peter Forest

"The mutually beneficial close working relationship between the Ogden Museum and the University of New Orleans originally envisioned by Ogden and others at the time of the creation of the Ogden Museum has changed in part due to budgetary constraints imposed on UNO as a result of the significant cuts to state support for higher education over the last several years," Ogden's lawsuit says.

Ogden and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for UNO declined to comment on the litigation.

"Ogden is not seeking dissolution of the donation and is not asking for the donated works to be returned to him," the lawsuit says.

Allison Kendrick, chair of the Ogden Museum's board, also declined to comment.

The lawsuit says the UNO Foundation and the Ogden Museum have been in discussions in recent years over an "amicable separation between the two institutions."

"While Ogden has patiently awaited the results of these negotiations and continues to be hopeful an amicable separation acceptable to both institutions can be achieved, Ogden is compelled at this time to assert his claims in this lawsuit to preserve his rights under the contract," the lawsuit says.

At the same time that UNO has been dealt major cuts to its state funding, UNO's financial contributions to the Ogden Museum have dwindled. UNO paid $641,000 to support the Ogden in fiscal year 2009. By the 2015 fiscal year, that funding was reduced to $246,000, mostly for property insurance and utilities. The university used to pay for museum salaries, but that funding was dramatically cut back and finally ended in 2015.

During that same time, UNO's state funding was cut 60 percent from $74 million to $29 million.

The UNO Foundation more than 20 years ago envisioned an arts and education complex on Lee Circle, including the museum to display Ogden's collection.

Ogden Museum of Southern Art receives $875,000
Ogden Museum of Southern Art receives $875,000
Seen by many as "a great survival story."

Ogden's contract for the donation deemed that the UNO Foundation-owned historic Taylor Library next to the museum — donated by oilman Patrick F. Taylor — and the adjoining Clementine Hunter Education Wing be renovated and open to the public by Jan. 1, 2006, but those projects still haven't been completed, the lawsuit says.

The Taylor Library is intended to house a collection of 18th- and 19th-century Southern portraits, landscape paintings and early Southern pottery. It's connected by a tunnel to the museum's main building, Goldring Hall, which is owned by the state.

The lawsuit says Ogden now has a right to force UNO Foundation to deliver the loaned artwork back to him, transfer ownership of the donated artwork to the museum and lease the Taylor Library and Clementine Hunter Education Wing to the museum for 99 years at $1 per year.
27 2016-02-24
New Orleans

Decision on new UNO president deferred; board chair: Severe weather ends discussions early


Signaling a potential deadlock on the two finalists for president of the University of New Orleans, the deciding board unexpectedly punted its final decision on Tuesday afternoon.

The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors interviewed the two finalists on Tuesday morning — New Orleans Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin and UNO Provost John Nicklow — with the expectation of announcing their choice that afternoon.

But after two hours of interviews and another two and half hours of deliberating behind closed doors, the board said they needed more time to make their final decision.

Board chair Jimmie “Beau” Martin said the threat of severe weather caused them to adjourn without a final decision because it prevented four of the 16 members from attending, and it meant the attending members needed to leave the meeting before the storm hit.

A meeting date for the board to reconvene and make their final decision has not yet been determined, said Cami Geisman, system spokeswoman.

“There’s a number of people trying to get back before the weather gets bad, and they need more time,” said Winston DeCuir Jr., board counsel.

The two finalists emerged as the clear frontrunners last week during interviews with a search committee. Initially, the search committee tried to advance three or four finalists to the board of supervisors, but was unable to agree on anyone except the top two.

Kopplin’s interest in the job has risen the profile of the president search. Kopplin has worked alongside Mayor Mitch Landrieu since 2010 as his second in command running the city of New Orleans. Before working for Landrieu, Kopplin spent two years as a senior adviser at Teach for America and two years as executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state agency charged with leading the recovery after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He also worked as chief of staff to former Govs. Kathleen Blanco and Mike Foster.

But Nicklow brings practical academic administration experience, and appears to enjoy the support of much of the faculty. The faculty senate president Cherie Trumbach told the board ahead of the meeting that faculty members strongly support Nicklow but believe both candidates are good.

Nicklow has been provost and vice president of academic affairs of UNO since July. Before that, he spent four years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University, a flagship campus with nearly 18,000 students.

During interviews, Kopplin likened UNO’s current situation to that of previous disasters facing New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana, where he was a part of the recovery. He said he embraces the challenge of fighting to restore UNO and make it stronger than ever.

“It’s a great institution that is suffering today,” Kopplin said of UNO. “There are faculty here who brought the school back after Katrina, when it was not clear that the school was welcomed back. They fought against significant budget cuts. I want to give those folks hope and something to fight for.”

Kopplin, who called himself the “long shot candidate” because of a lack of academic administration experience, stressed his ability to deliver results in his previous and current roles managing public agencies.

Both candidates stated a need for growing enrollment and fundraising for the university.

Nicklow was able to draw on his short time with UNO to illustrate his vision for moving forward.

“I came to UNO because I believe the campus has a tremendous future,” he said. “Seven months later, I know its strengths, its weaknesses and its opportunities.”

Nicklow said as provost he already has worked on plans to merge various colleges and departments together in the coming months.

“Those structural changes will create savings immediately,” he said.

UNO, like the rest of Louisiana’s post-secondary institutions, is facing potentially deep cuts for this fiscal year and next as the state Legislature takes on historically large budget deficits. UNO, over the past eight years, has already seen state support shrink by half, and has uniquely suffered from some of the greatest drops in enrollment compared to other state universities. Enrollment sank from 17,142 students registered before Hurricane Katrina to just 8,423 last fall — UNO’s smallest class since 1967.

UNO President Peter Fos retired last month. Fos, whose four-year tenure was marred by steep funding cuts and declining enrollment in the wake of Katrina, was paid an annual salary of $325,000.

Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter @rebekahallen.

For more coverage of government and politics, follow our Politics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/
27 2016-02-24
New Orleans

UNO president decision delayed because of weather


Seemingly minutes away from announcing the next president of the University of New Orleans, the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors adjourned its special meeting Tuesday (Feb. 23) due to forecasts of more severe weather in south Louisiana. The board is to reconvene at a later, unspecified date to choose one of two finalists for the job, Deputy New Orleans Mayor Andy Kopplin or UNO provost John Nicklow, according to a system spokesperson.
27 2016-02-23
New Orleans

In UNO president race, two candidates with different backgrounds


The search for the next president of the University of New Orleans has come down to two finalists with remarkably different backgrounds. Andy Kopplin, who calls himself a "non-traditional candidate" for the job, is the first deputy mayor and chief administrative officer for Mayor Mitch Landrieu. John Nicklow, a civil engineering PhD whose research interests include "complex systems optimization," now serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs at UNO.

But despite their divergent career paths both men share an interest in seeing UNO thrive after years of declining enrollment and cuts to the state's higher education budget. In interviews this week, they each voiced their intentions to step up the school's recruitment efforts, expand its community partnerships and increase funding for research. In this way they hope to establish UNO as a major research university that entices both locals and out-of-state students.

Here's a bit about the candidates:

Andy Kopplin

As the deputy mayor and chief administrative officer for the city since May 2010, Kopplin has overseen the daily operations of City Hall and spearheaded the effort to bring fiscal stability to New Orleans. Prior to accepting the job, he served as senior advisor to the Founder and CEO of Teach for America. Between 2006 and 2008, he led the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the panel that helped secure more than $25 billion in federal aid dollars after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In a public interview last week with members of the University of Louisiana System Board, Kopplin also drew attention to his experience as the chief of staff to two Louisiana governors, Democrat Kathleen Blanco and Republican M.J. Foster, Jr. His time in city and state government, he said, has taught him how to lobby the Louisiana Legislature and work with large boards of directors. And having lived much of his career under the Louisiana Code of Ethics for Public Employees, he says, he has a track record of transparency and accountability.

UNO panel selects 5 semi-finalists for presidency
UNO panel selects 5 semi-finalists for presidency
They include UNO provost John Nicklow and New Orleans Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin

Kopplin admits his dearth of academic credentials makes him an unusual candidate for university president, the vast majority of which hold PhDs and worked as faculty members. Kopplin's degrees include a bachelor's in history from Rice University and a master's in public policy from the Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. But as he explained to members of the presidential search committee, he comes from a family of academics. His father taught psychology at Baylor University, and his mother, a registered nurse, taught nursing at a local community college.

Kopplin describes himself as a "faculty kid" whose young life revolved around his parents' connection to the colleges where they worked. Growing up, he says he witnessed the profound effect his parents had on the lives of the students they taught. He sees the UNO presidency as an "opportunity to change lives through education." He may be a non-traditional candidate, he says, but he considers himself unusually well qualified to meet the demands of running a public research university.

John Nicklow

While Andy Kopplin sees his experience outside academia as an asset to the UNO presidency, John Nicklow says his time spent inside the university makes him the best candidate. Since joining UNO as provost in the spring of 2015, Nicklow has worked closely with former president Peter Fos and interim president Randy Moffett to support academic programs and priorities for the institution. In a public interview last week, he said he came to UNO because he saw it as a "primary asset" for the city and the region, and felt it had an "exciting future ahead of it."

Prior to joining UNO, Nicklow was the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University, where he'd also been an associate dean in the College of Engineering. He hold's bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering from Bucknell Univerity, and a doctorate in civil engineering from the Arizona State University.

UNO-enrollment-since-2004-Total-Enrollment-Undergraduate-enrollment-Graduate-erollment_chartbuilder.png
Jed Lipinski, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

In announcing his hiring to UNO, former president Fos said Nicklow brought "an exceptional combination of skill and experience as a faculty member, researcher, fundraiser, enrollment management professional and administrator."

In stating his qualifications for the presidential role, Nicklow has pointed to his time at Southern Illinois, where he helped establish new academic programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. During his tenure as Southern Illinois' provost, the university saw its largest freshman class in 20 years. It also saw an 8 percent increase in retention and a 93 percent increases in online enrollment between 2011-2013.

As president, Nicklow said his top priority would be boosting enrollment. "Enrollment is this institution, and we don't exist without it," he said. "We can't do research without students." But he also pledged to aggressively seek out community partnerships and work with local businesses to drive revenue growth.

Ultimately, he think his years as a civil engineer and his data-driven approach to university management would best serve UNO. "My research is in complex systems optimization," he said during an interview. "And if you don't think higher education is a complex system, well...it's one of the biggest."
27 2016-02-22
New Orleans

Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin, Provost John Nicklow named finalists for UNO presidency


A search committee on Friday named New Orleans Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin and University of New Orleans Provost John Nicklow as finalists to lead the city’s largest public university, winnowing down its list after conducting three days of public interviews with five candidates.

Kopplin and Nicklow will be presented to the full University of Louisiana system board Tuesday in a public meeting. The board will decide who will get the job.

Before reaching a final decision, search committee members twice voted on advancing three finalists. In one case, the list included Kopplin, Nicklow and John Valery White, the strategic adviser to the president of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. The other time, the board voted for Kopplin, Nicklow and Jaimie Hebert, the provost and vice president of academic affairs at Sam Houston State University in Texas.

Both of those votes deadlocked 5-5, which prompted the committee to return to a closed session. When the members re-emerged, a motion to recommend all four candidates to the University of Louisiana system board was narrowly defeated. That set up a vote to name just two — Kopplin and Nicklow — which passed unanimously.

Nicklow, UNO’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, has been in his post since July. Before that, he spent four years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University, a flagship campus with nearly 18,000 students.

During a public interview with the committee earlier Friday, he discussed ideas for bolstering UNO’s enrollment, which is at its lowest point in decades, as well as retaining students and packaging financial aid effectively.

As an example, he cited a direct-mail recruiting effort that targeted 500,000 students who recently took the ACT test. That effort put “postcards on coffee tables all across the country,” he said.

If chosen, Nicklow said, his top priorities would be increasing enrollment, improving fundraising, building partnerships with businesses and the community and rebranding UNO to make it more appealing to prospective students.

“There are too many choices today, and it’s too competitive of an environment for us to bank on it, so we have a lot of work to do,” he said.

Over the past eight years, UNO’s state support has shrunk by more than half, from $74 million in 2008-09 to about $33 million in 2014-15. Enrollment has followed a similar downward trajectory, from 17,142 students registered before Hurricane Katrina to just 8,423 last fall — UNO’s smallest class since 1967.

As state legislators grapple with a $2 billion budget gap for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Nicklow said, further belt-tightening on the campus can take UNO only so far. “You can’t cut yourself to greatness,” he said.

Kopplin has served as the city’s deputy mayor and chief administrative officer since Mayor Mitch Landrieu took office in 2010.

Before that, he spent two years as a senior adviser at Teach for America and two years as executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state agency tasked with leading the state’s recovery after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Kopplin also served as chief of staff to former Govs. Kathleen Blanco and Mike Foster.

During his public interview Wednesday, Kopplin said his previous experience in government makes him uniquely qualified for UNO’s top job, describing the opening as “an incredible opportunity that’s consistent with all of the things I have done in my career.”

He touched on a range of challenges facing UNO, including a recent dearth of stable leadership, dwindling enrollment and a need to raise money from new, untapped sources of revenue, such as partnerships with large businesses or corporations.

“To be successful in bringing the institution to where it needs to go, it’s going to take multiple years, and we’ve got to have commitment and steady hands behind it,” he told the committee.

Kopplin has a bachelor’s degree from Rice University and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University.

UNO President Peter Fos retired last month. Fos, whose four-year tenure was marred by steep funding cuts and declining enrollment in the wake of Katrina, was paid an annual salary of $325,000.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.
27 2016-02-22
New Orleans

Two finalists selected in UNO presidency


Two men were finalists in the search for the new president of the University of New Orleans.

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UNO said deputy mayor and chief administrative officer of New Orleans Andy Kopplin and UNO provost and vice president John Nicklow were named finalists on Friday by the Presidential Search Committee for UNO.

The two were chosen after a week of interviews.

The next president for UNO will be announced Feb. 23.

27 2016-02-22
New Orleans

UNO narrows president candidate field to 2


The presidential search committee at the University of New Orleans has narrowed the field of candidates to two finalists: Deputy New Orleans Mayor Andy Kopplin and John Nicklow, UNO's provost and vice president of academic affairs. The committee had deadlocked Friday afternoon (Feb. 19) on whether to include other candidates, but after deliberating in private it selected Kopplin and Nicklow.

The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors plans to meet Tuesday in Baton Rouge to interview the two finalists. The board will decide which one of them will become the eighth president of UNO.

Nicklow and Kopplin were chosen from among five semi-finalists who sat for public interviews on UNO's campus this week. The other three were:

Glen Cope, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri at St. Louis
Jaimie Hebert, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas
John Valery White, strategic adviser to the president of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
"I think we have two strong finalists to present to the board next week," said Dan Reneau, UL System interim president and search committee chair. "Both candidates have unique ties to Louisiana and have innovative ideas and skills that will advance UNO's mission as a metropolitan research institution, improve student life and enhance the university's impact on the community."

Voting members of the search committee were UL System board members Maggie Brakeville of Ruston, James Carter of New Orleans, Edward Crawford III of Shreveport, Pamela Egan of Covington, E. Gerald "T-Boy" Hebert of Kenner, Jimmie "Beau" Martin Jr. of Cut Off, Mark Romero of Lafayette, Robert Shreve of Baton Rouge, Winfred Sibille of Sunset and Gary Solomon of New Orleans. Cherie Trumbach, UNO faculty senate president, also served as a voting member.
27 2016-02-18
New Orleans

Kopplin makes his case for being named next president of UNO


Despite its years of sharp funding declines and dwindling enrollment, New Orleans Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin said Wednesday he believes the University of New Orleans has a bright future, and he made the case that he’s the best person to lead the struggling school into that future.

“That’s what UNO and this opportunity represents to me: It’s that opportunity of transforming lives, changing lives through education,” Kopplin told members of a search committee interviewing candidates for the school’s presidency.

“It made all the difference to me in my opportunities. My family didn’t come from money; we didn’t come from political connections. The education that I got opened the door for me, and the skills and talents that I got in that education allowed me to be successful.”

Kopplin has a bachelor’s degree from Rice University and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University.

The search committee is holding public interviews through Friday with five candidates under consideration for the UNO job. On Friday, the committee expects to narrow the list to two or more finalists, who will be presented to the full University of Louisiana System’s board Feb. 23 in a public meeting. The board will make the final choice.

Kopplin said he wasn’t job hunting but was drawn to the UNO opening because it’s “an incredible opportunity that’s consistent with all of the things I have done in my career.”

As state legislators grapple with a $2 billion budget gap for the next fiscal year, Kopplin said the school’s next leader will need to be creative about raising revenue. One possibility, he suggested, is reaching out to large businesses and corporations and developing partnerships that could support research at the lakefront school.

In an hourlong public forum before about two dozen faculty and staff members, Kopplin addressed a range of topics, including the importance of having stable leadership at the school, ways of increasing its enrollment, the possibility of lowering admissions standards and his interest in the post.

“To be successful in bringing the institution to where it needs to go, it’s going to take multiple years, and we’ve got to have commitment and steady hands behind it,” he said.

Generating excitement on the campus and trying to lure recruits based on the draw of living in New Orleans are key to bolstering UNO’s enrollment, he said, citing a lofty comparison.

“I would brand UNO as the school that is going to do for New Orleans what NYU has helped do in New York, which is connect a school with a resurgent city that holds its same name, and say we’re going to be the anchor for the growth of the city of New Orleans and the region,” he said.

Though not an academic by trade, Kopplin called himself “a quick study” and “a good listener” and said he would rely on his provost and deans for input and treat them “with great deference.”

Asked what makes him qualified for the job, Kopplin referenced his experience in government.

As the city’s first deputy mayor and chief administrative officer since Mayor Mitch Landrieu took office in 2010, Kopplin played a central part in reducing a $100 million deficit that Landrieu inherited.

He also cited his work as executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state agency tasked with leading the state’s recovery after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and how that experience would play into the new role: lobbying lawmakers, getting key stakeholders to buy into an idea, operating transparently and communicating openly.

Former UNO President Peter Fos retired last month after four years at the helm.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.
27 2016-02-17
New Orleans

Here are 5 candidates for UNO presidency to be interviewed this week


The search committee seeking a new leader for the struggling University of New Orleans will hold public interviews this week with the five candidates under consideration for the job.

The interviews will be held Wednesday through Friday, after which the committee expects to narrow the list down to two or more finalists, who will be presented to the full University of Louisiana System’s board Feb. 23 in a public meeting. At that point, the board is expected to make its choice for the next president.

Each of the five candidates is slated to meet with student leaders, community leaders and UNO alumni and faculty in addition to a public interview with the search committee, which is set to last nearly two hours.

The interviews are scheduled for 10:15 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 10:15 a.m. Friday at UNO’s Homer Hitt Alumni Center.

On Wednesday, Glen Cope, the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, will be interviewed in the morning and New Orleans Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin in the afternoon.

On Thursday, Jaimie Hebert, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Sam Houston State University in Texas, will be interviewed in the morning and John Valery White, strategic adviser to the president of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, in the afternoon.

John Nicklow, UNO’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, is scheduled for an interview Friday morning.

The search committee is scheduled to reconvene at 2 p.m. Friday to choose at least two finalists.

Kopplin, the best-known name on the list, has served as the city’s first deputy mayor and chief administrative officer since Mayor Mitch Landrieu took office in 2010. He previously spent two years as executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state agency tasked with leading the state’s recovery after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Nicklow was named UNO’s provost in July. Before that, he spent four years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University, a campus with nearly 18,000 students.

The search committee has worked with the firm Witt/Kieffer to identify candidates for the UNO job since former UNO President Peter Fos last year announced plans to retire.

Fos’ four-year tenure, which wrapped up last month, was marred by steep funding cuts and declining enrollment in the wake of Katrina.

Over the past eight years, UNO’s state support has shrunk by more than half, from $74 million in 2008-09 to about $33 million in 2014-15. Enrollment has followed a similar downward trajectory, from 17,142 students registered pre-Katrina to just 8,423 last fall — UNO’s smallest class since 1967.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.
27 2016-02-16
New Orleans

UNO panel to pick presidential finalists after interviews


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A University of New Orleans search committee will hold interviews Wednesday through Friday with candidates to lead the school.

The committee will choose at least two finalists on Friday and University of Louisiana System supervisors expect to choose a president next week.

Deputy New Orleans Mayor Andrew Kopplin and UNO provost and academic affairs vice president John Nicklow are among semifinalists.

Others include Glen Cope, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; Jaimie Hebert (AYE'-behr), provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sam Houston State University; and John Valery White, strategic adviser to the president at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Interviews will be public, with each candidate meeting with students, faculty, staff and others.

Former UNO President Peter Fos has retired.

This story has been corrected to show former President Peter Fos has already retired, not that he is retiring.
27 2016-02-15
New Orleans

Facing budget crisis, New Orleans colleges hesitate to predict the future


ouisiana's higher education commissioner has said that public colleges and universities in New Orleans and across the state could be forced to lay off faculty, suspend classes and shut down graduation ceremonies this spring if Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Legislature cannot come up with more revenue for higher education.

Edwards says crisis threatens everything, even football
Edwards says crisis threatens everything, even football
"I don't say this to scare you." - John Bel Edwards

But leaders of the lschools that would suffer from the budget cuts have hesitated to speculate on how exactly their institutions would be impacted.

The University of New Orleans declined to respond to questions, although Interim President Randy Moffett has acknowledged online that Edwards' statewide address Thursday night "illustrates the serious and complex nature of the state's budget issues." Edwards had said that drastic cuts to higher education were imminent if new taxes did not go into effect over the next few months.

TOPS funding shortfall: 5 things you should know
TOPS funding shortfall: 5 things you should know
The bigger problem is likely for students who want to use TOPS next year, when the state will only be able to provide a fraction of the funding it will owe to university.

"How we proceed will be dictated by the guidance that we receive from the University of Louisiana System and the Board of Regents," Moffett wrote in an email to the UNO community. "While the situation is fluid, and will likely remain that way in the coming weeks, please know that we will do everything we can—whether it's related to TOPS or possible budget reductions—to stand behind our students and employees, and their families."

Delgado Community College Chancellor Joan Davis said budget cuts in recent years have forced the college to operate more efficiently. "Through careful fiscal management we have avoided taking actions that would disrupt our students' educational progress," Davis wrote in an email. "We trust that the state's budget issues can be resolved soon," and that the suspension of classes can be avoided.

Joseph Moerschbaecher, vice chancellor for academic affairs at LSU Health Science Center, said that his campus is different in nature from other undergraduate campuses in the city. Should the state be incapable of raising enough revenue to fund higher education, he added, "we will struggle to maintain accreditation in each of our health professions disciplines" and "we will certainly lose students."

Southern University at New Orleans did not respond to requests for comment.
27 2016-02-10
New Orleans

UNO professor gets grant to study marsh, other campus news


A University of New Orleans professor has received a two-year, $88,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation to examine the resilience of marshes.

Ioannis Georgiou, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences, is studying how marshes respond to climate change. He’s also examining their future sustainability in light of continued sea level rise.

Georgiou and collaborators from Boston University and the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences spent 10 days in Plum Island Sound, an estuary in northeastern Massachusetts, collecting information on currents, tides and sediment concentrations. They will use the data to set up models that will be used to simulate the future of these systems in the next 200 years.

According to Georgiou, marshes need at least some mineral sediment to produce organic sediment and keep pace with rising sea levels. “Quantifying the sediment in the system and understanding the processes contributing to sediment deposition are key and could determine the fate of marshes in coastal systems worldwide,” he said.

The research is funded through the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program, which supports projects that reduce communities’ vulnerability to the growing risks of coastal storms, sea level rise, flooding, erosion and associated threats.
27 2016-02-04
New Orleans

UNO police look for man accused of stealing music instruments


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -
University of New Orleans Police want to find a man accused of stealing musical instruments. The university released surveillance pictures of a man they say is responsible.

They say the man stole two saxophones and a clarinet from a locker on the second floor of the Performing Arts Center on January 19, at approximately 5:05 p.m.

The suspect has a medium build, full facial beard and tattoos on both arms and neck. He was wearing a white polo shirt, dark pants and a black cap.

Anyone with information regarding the identity of the suspect is asked to call the UNO Police Department at (504) 280-6666 or Detective Susan Graham at (504) 280-7439.

Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.
27 2016-02-01
New Orleans

Meet the 5 semi-finalists for University of New Orleans presidency



27 2016-01-29
New Orleans

N.O. deputy mayor, UNO provost among candidates for UNO presidency


NEW ORLEANS – The city’s deputy mayor and the University of New Orleans’ provost are among five people being considered as the next president of UNO.

The University of Louisiana System on Thursday, under which UNO operates, narrowed from 10 to five the number of candidates in the running for the position. The post was left vacant after former President Peter Fos retired this month.

The full list of candidates is:

-Andy Kopplin, deputy mayor and chief administrative officer, city of New Orleans

-John Nicklow, provost and vice president for academic affairs, University of New Orleans

-Jaimie Hebert, provost and vice president of academic affairs, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas

-Glen Hahn Cope, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, University of Missouri-St. Louis

-John Valery White, strategic advisor to the president, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The UL System will interview candidates at UNO Feb. 17-19. The UL board is expected to pick the next president on Feb. 23.

Whoever the board selects will inherit a university that has struggled to retain students and faced daunting financial cuts.

According to The New Orleans Advocate, UNO’s state funding has dwindled from $74 million in 2008-09 to $33 million in 2014-15. The overall budget, meanwhile, has been slashed by about 20 percent in that time to $102 million.

Enrollment has dipped from a pre-Katrina figure of 17,142 to 8,423 last fall. That is the smallest enrollment since 1967, according to The Advocate.

Kopplin, founding director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, touted his work in rebuilding the city physically and financially after Hurricane Katrina.

“We’ve balanced five budgets in a row, improved our fund balance from negative $20 million to positive $60 million … and are now investing new revenues on things that move the city forward,” he wrote in his cover letter.

Kopplin said he believes the opportunities for UNO, with a reputation as a sleepy commuter school, “are limited only by our own imaginations.

“UNO can be to New Orleans what NYU has become to New York City – a university that capitalized on its brand identity as part of a resurgent city and used it to aggressively attract students and scholars from around the region and across the globe and massively grow her research, graduate programs, fundraising and impact,” he wrote.

Nicklow, a veteran educator who arrived at UNO in July to serve as its provost, said that during his time at the university he has worked to “support a larger, more diversified enrollment portfolio and growth in research.

“The last few months have confirmed my initial impressions of the campus: a tremendous number of opportunities lay before us, and the institution can have a vibrant future with strategic leadership,” he wrote in his cover letter.

Nicklow, who was most recently provost at Southern Illinois University, noted that his former university also had a lack of state funding, something he said would make him the ideal leader at UNO.

“I am keenly aware of the ever increasing importance of tuition revenue and fundraising to support the academic enterprise,” he wrote. “Those willing to aggressively innovate to attract and retain students and community partners will outpace their peers because of this reality.”
27 2016-01-29
New Orleans

UNO committee narrows presidential candidates to 5


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A search committee has selected five candidates for the presidency of the University of New Orleans.
They include a top administrator for Mayor Mitch Landrieu and a current UNO vice president.
Deputy Mayor Andrew Kopplin and UNO provost and academic affairs vice president John Nicklow are among the semifinalists.
The others are Glen Cope, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; Jaimie Hebert (AYE'-behr), provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sam Houston State University; and John Valery White, strategic adviser to the president at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The committee is expected to name finalists on Feb. 19. The University of Louisiana System board is expected to choose a president on Feb. 23.
27 2016-01-29
New Orleans

Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin among semifinalists for University of New Orleans presidency


One of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's top lieutenants has applied for the vacant president's post at the University of New Orleans and was picked as a semifinalist for the job.

A committee charged with finding UNO's next leader announced five candidates were chosen from a field of 10 applicants. Andy Kopplin, New Orleans first deputy mayor and chief administrative officer, is the only one without a background in academic administration.

In his application to search committee, Kopplin noted the highlights of his time in the Landrieu administration, including his role in the rebuilding of city infrastructure and and bringing long-absent fiscal stability to City Hall. UNO finds itself at a juncture similar to the one the mayor faced when he took office, he said.

"Like the people of New Orleans, the students, faculty, staff, alumni and administration of the university have sacrificed mightily to keep their institution afloat," Koppin wrote. "Despite these heroic efforts to stabilize the university, UNO has not fully turned the corner and its potential to transform lives ... and play its proper role as an internationally-regarded urban research university and community anchor for one of the world's greatest cities remains at serious risk."

Kopplin touts his experience as chief of staff for Govs. Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco, both of whom he said he worked with to increase funding for higher education. Faculty pay and institutional investment reached the Southern Regional Education Board average "for the first time in a generation" during that time, he said.

With the Foster administration, Kopplin was involved with establishing Louisiana's community college system. Blanco tapped him to lead the Louisiana Recovery Authority, a state agency created to administer programs following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Between his time working for the governors and joining the mayor's staff, Kopplin ran unsuccessfully for Congress in Louisiana's 6th District and was a senior adviser to the CEO of Teach for America.

Kopplin holds a bachelor's degree in history from Rice University and earned a master's in public policy from Harvard. He is also a graduate of the Broad Foundation Superintendents Academy in Los Angeles.

His earliest exposure to higher education was as the son of two college instructors. Kopplin's father taught psychiatry at Baylor and Michigan, and his mother taught nursing at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas.

The other semi-finalists for the UNO presidency are:

Glen Cope, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis
Jaimie Hebert, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sam Houston State University
John Nicklow, UNO's provost and vice president for academic affairs
John Valery White, strategic adviser to the president at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
UNO is seeking a replacement for Peter Fos, who is retiring at the end of the month after four years leading his alma mater. His tenure has seen the university suffer a string of state budget cuts and declining enrollment, dipping to 8,423 for the fall 2015 semester — its lowest count in 48 years.

The presidential search committee meets again Feb. 19, when it will cut the list to two or three finalists. Those candidates will interview with the University of Louisiana System board Feb. 23, leading to their selection.
27 2016-01-28
New Orleans

UNO gets $260k to improve city’s evacuation plan


NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The University of New Orleans secured a $260,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration to help study and improve the City of New Orleans and the Regional Transit Authority evacuation plan.

The university’s Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology will make recommendations on evacuating the city’s most vulnerable residents during emergencies.

The research will include the evaluation of technology and communication to serve people who are often overlooked, UNO says. The university hopes to help create a system where no person or group is omitted from the evacuation planning process.

The university’s final report will include suggestions for identifying people who may need assistance evacuating as well as best procedures for communicating the risk to those people. The final results will also asses the capacity to help special needs people and to provide transportation for them.
27 2016-01-27
New Orleans

UNO struggling to recover since Katrina


Joy Ballard had a tough decision to make when the University of New Orleans eliminated several degree programs in late 2014 — including hers.

Dwindling state funding, dramatic enrollment drops and a yearslong, multimillion-dollar structural deficit led then-UNO President Peter Fos to put seven programs on the immediate chopping block and target others for restructuring.

Ballard, 24, had earned her master’s in political science at UNO in May 2014, and she was working toward a doctorate. She will be able to finish her studies but in a department she expects to be much diminished, a decision Fos attributed to the program’s low enrollment.

Worn out by the years of budget uncertainty, many of Ballard’s classmates and professors have departed for other schools. If she had known her program wasn’t going to survive, Ballard probably would have joined them.

“Everyone’s making the most they can with what they have at this point,” she said recently.

That’s become almost an unofficial mantra among the school’s dispirited faculty and staff.

For a half-century after its founding in 1958, UNO offered generations of middle-class New Orleanians an affordable pathway to a four-year college degree. But it has fallen on hard times during the past decade, beginning with the damage caused by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and continuing with deep budget cuts and admission requirements that have seen its student body shrink by half.

Like its peers, UNO got few favors from former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. Over the past eight years, UNO’s state support has shrunk by more than half, from $74 million in 2008-09 to almost $33 million in 2014-15. The school’s overall budget has been cut by about 20 percent over that span, to $102 million.

Enrollment has followed a similar downward trajectory, from 17,142 students registered pre-Katrina to just 8,423 last fall — UNO’s smallest class since 1967. Over that time, UNO has gone from being the state’s second-largest four-year school to its seventh-largest.

Some of the fall-off has to do with Katrina, of course, but the flood isn’t the only culprit. Enrollment at UNO has fallen by 26 percent since Jindal took office in 2008. It’s the steepest decline recorded by any four-year public school in the state over that period.

Like Louisiana’s other universities, UNO has turned to increased tuition and student fees to fill the gap. But the free-falling enrollment has made that a challenge, too.

Current and former faculty members and administrators say a variety of factors have stymied UNO’s recovery: annual anxiety over additional cuts and potential layoffs; longer hours and bigger course loads; and a vacuum in leadership marked by a revolving door of top administrators. The school currently is seeking a new president.

During a recent public forum, many faculty members and students told a search committee that UNO needs a “healer,” someone who would provide “strong leadership” and work alongside faculty to make decisions.

Budget cuts and a void at the top aren’t UNO’s only challenges. Tighter state-mandated admissions standards also have weeded out hundreds of students in metro New Orleans.

Students enrolled in the city’s public schools have averaged an 18.8 on the ACT in 2014, about a point behind the statewide average. Under the new standards, that’s roughly the minimum score a student can achieve, and a score that low also requires a minimum 2.5 GPA.

The effect of the changes is apparent in the school’s changing demographics. Before Katrina struck, about 1 in 4 UNO students was black; last year, it was roughly 1 in 7.

Setback after setback

Fos, who took over in 2012 and retired this month, was given the unenviable job of shrinking an institution several years too late. He blames his predecessors for not making the hard decisions to reduce UNO’s footprint when enrollment didn’t bounce back after the storm.

The same year Fos took over, the state ordered UNO and several other universities to stop offering remedial courses to freshmen who were not ready for college coursework.

Fos — a New Orleans native and UNO graduate — was appalled to find his alma mater in such disarray.

It wasn’t long before he faced his first budget challenge: In his first year, the state cut its support by more than $9 million. Then, the new admission requirements took effect, further reducing an already low enrollment. He estimates that about 750 students could no longer enroll at UNO in fall 2012.

“You couldn’t have planned a worse scenario for me, to be honest with you,” he said.

To cope with less revenue, Fos made a number of controversial cutbacks, deep-sixing academic programs, eliminating hundreds of jobs and closing a popular on-campus day care center.

Mostly through attrition, UNO’s faculty has shrunk considerably, from 199 professors in 2005 to 91 professors in 2015.

As colleagues left and weren’t replaced, faculty members who stayed had to pick up added responsibilities — including teaching more classes — after going years without a raise.

The uncertain climate has led some faculty to pack up sooner than they had anticipated.

Not long after being hired as a UNO professor in 2006, Renia Ehrenfeucht was named chairwoman of the school’s Planning and Urban Studies department, viewed as one of UNO’s stronger areas. Her research has focused on how environments shape urban life; in post-Katrina New Orleans, she studied disaster recovery and how cities react to prolonged population loss.

Ehrenfeucht, 45, was thriving at UNO and had no plans to look for a job elsewhere. Her outlook changed three years ago, after feeling like each spring ushered in another round of cuts.

“In the last year, with the endless talk of financial exigency and how you could be laid off in 90 days, I think it created a situation that any people who would’ve been willing to stay and were productive and very engaged in the university and the region were saying, ‘I don’t know where I’m going to be,’ ” said Ehrenfeucht, now a professor at the University of New Mexico.

Andrew Goss also expected to stick around for a while.

But by late 2013, Goss, who was chairman of UNO’s history department, had grown increasingly frustrated.

“Basically, I lost my confidence in the institution as a whole,” said Goss, who has since left for a similar post at Augusta University in Georgia.

“I have not regretted moving,” he added. “I do miss living in New Orleans and miss being part of the UNO experience, but I don’t regret this from the point of view of my career and my job satisfaction.”

Those who have stayed at UNO, meanwhile, aren’t necessarily feeling fulfilled.

“I’ve worked harder than I ever have in the last couple of years,” said Vern Baxter, the head of the sociology department and a member of UNO’s faculty for more than three decades. “I’m not optimistic, and I’m not pessimistic.”

Since 2010, Baxter’s department has shrunk by more than half. That’s led to more courses being taught by part-time instructors with less experience, “many of whom are good, some of whom are not as good,” he said, but none of whom “bring the same kind of research agenda and breadth of knowledge.”

At 66 , Baxter has a few things left to finish before retiring, he said, but he’s working on an exit strategy. “I’ve figured out that I can’t outlive this crisis,” he said.

Trying new things

Hoping to reverse its recent fortunes, UNO is trying new ideas, including targeting international students and people from along the Gulf Coast outside Louisiana. The university also has sought to establish a new School of the Arts in hopes of drawing students to New Orleans’ cultural sector.

Another fix that’s been discussed: lowering the admissions standards to where they were before the reforms.

Fos had said he’d support such a change, though it would create some political and philosophical blowback.

Fos noted that part of the idea behind raising the standards was that stricter standards would push more students to enroll at a two-year school, like Delgado Community College, and then transfer to UNO. But ultimately, that hasn’t happened: Delgado’s enrollment is down too, he said, and its transfers to UNO have fallen off by a quarter.

“Everybody thought that the year after Katrina, everybody would come back, and it didn’t happen,” he said.

As he neared the end of his tenure, Fos had no delusions about his legacy at UNO, where some faculty quietly refer to him as a “hatchet man.”

“People ask me what keeps me awake at night,” he said. “Very simple: I’ve never had the resources financially that I think this university needs for me to help move it forward. I think it’s a better place than I found it.”

Some UNO alumni and faculty wonder why it’s so difficult for a state university to succeed in Louisiana’s most beguiling city.

“UNO has tremendous potential,” Ehrenfeucht said. “People want to be in New Orleans, and all you have to do is make that possible. But right now, I think we’ve created a situation where it doesn’t seem possible for everybody.”

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.
27 2016-01-27
New Orleans

Backup campus power plants at Dillard, UNO part of resiliency plan


Water is at the heart of the Gentilly Resiliency District, specifically how the city intends to reincorporate it into the neighborhood after years of pumping it out. But there's also a plan to provide emergency services to the area should it suffer another disaster.

Backup power stations are the centerpieces for two "microgrids," small generation and distribution systems planned near the campuses of Dillard University and the University of New Orleans.

Gentilly water plan goes against flow of New Orleans
Gentilly water plan goes against flow of New Orleans
Projects in the Gentilly Resiliency District are designed to put back water that for decades has been removed from the area. And that presents perhaps the toughest task for the city -- convincing generations of residents who have been told it's important to get the water out that they should now keep it in.

The Dillard microgrid would support the campus in addition to a nearby gas station, water pumping station, pharmacy, bank, library branch and post office. The UNO microgrid would power the London Avenue Canal pumps and the campus, which officials envision as an emergency shelter with food, health and pharmacy services among others.

The city's logic in building the fortified microgrids is that they would limit disaster damages and speed the recovery process.

Money to build them would come, in part, from a $141 million grant the city won to bring the Gentilly Resiliency District to life. New Orleans' grant application requested $7.66 million from Housing and Urban Development for the microgrids and dedicated $4 million in local leverage funds to the project.

HUD granted New Orleans half of the total $280 million it was seeking, and city officials are entering negotiations to see just how much money HUD will approve for specific projects. The balance for this project and others in the district could come from other sources, such as community development block grants or Federal Emergency Management Agency infrastructure funds.
27 2016-01-25
Baton Rouge

George Ioup, longtime physics professor at University of New Orleans, dies at 76


George Ioup, a tireless researcher and professor emeritus of physics at the University of New Orleans, died Wednesday of gastric cancer at his home in New Orleans. He was 76.

Ioup specialized in signal and image processing — basically, analyses of the frequencies of a sound wave. The sources of his analyses were wide-ranging: from NASA satellites to pods of whales in the Gulf of Mexico.

He conducted much of his work alongside his lifelong research colleague and wife of 51 years, Juliette Ioup, also a UNO physics professor.

For NASA’s tethered satellites, the Ioups calculated the amount of vibration experienced by the tether as it was being reeled in. For oil companies, they analyzed electromagnetic waves sent from a helicopter, analyzing echoes to determine where pipelines or tanks were located within Louisiana swamps.

Through UNO’s Littoral Acoustic Demonstration Center, which he helped to found in 2000, the Ioups and a former student, Natalia Sidorovskaia, sought to create an “audio library” of individual whales living in the Gulf by recording the whales’ short patterns of clicks, called codas, and then identifying, on the computer, the subtle time and frequency differences between each whale’s distinct signature of clicks.

Such an acoustic catalog could be particularly useful in counting pods of beaked, pilot and killer whales, which tend to rest below the surface and are less visible than sperm whales.

Juliette Ioup described how, in studying a group of sperm whales, mostly females and their calves, they identified 43 different signals. “But we found that one whale was clicking much more than the others,” she said. After consulting with whale biologists, they realized that the small calves don’t dive much, but the mothers dive down more than a mile into the Gulf to get meals of squid. “We speculate that the adult female that is clicking more often is acting sort of like a kindergarten teacher, keeping in touch with all the calves on the surface while the others take turns diving to eat,” she said.

Sidorovskaia, who now leads the physics department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said she remembers George Ioup for his humanity as much as his science. He was “an ideal professor” who not only guided his students through the material but taught them to be better people. “He cared about everybody and everything,” she said.

His sister, linguist Georgette Ioup, professor emeritus of English at UNO, said she moved to New Orleans from Seattle 30 years ago because she wanted to raise her son near her kind-hearted brother, who was a year older than she.

As she became the third “Dr. Ioup” on campus, she said, she noticed that her brother was always at least 15 to 30 minutes late returning to his office after classes. She soon realized why. “The students all wanted to talk with him. And he would talk with each of them,” she said. “Whatever people asked him, he would do, especially for young people.”

George Ioup, who was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in physics in 1962 and then enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Florida, where he met his future wife. After they were married, she enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Connecticut while he completed a post-doctoral fellowship there and then taught at the nearby Coast Guard Academy in New London.

He spent more than 45 years at UNO, arriving in 1969 and officially retiring in December 2012, though he still taught a class every semester, continued his research and oversaw graduate students.

“He never stopped,” said Steve Johnson, dean of UNO’s College of Sciences. “He was remarkable. There was no one like George.”

Ioup spent 11 years pushing for the Board of Regents to approve the university’s doctoral program in engineering and applied science, now one of the most successful Ph.D. programs at UNO. He also was director of UNO at Stennis Space Center, which allows employees at the NASA center in Mississippi to earn graduate degrees in physics, engineering, computer science and math.

Kevin Stokes, who now leads UNO’s physics department, first met Ioup when he was a Stennis employee and took a class from Ioup. In addition to his wife and sister, survivors include a brother William Ioup, of Alread, Arkansas.

A wake will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at Schoen Funeral Home, 3827 Canal St., New Orleans. On Tuesday, a short wake will be held at 10:30 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. funeral service at St. Basil Eastern Orthodox Church, 3916 Hudson St., Metairie. Burial will be in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, followed by a repast at St. Basil.
27 2016-01-22
New Orleans

Mayfield's jazz orchestra refusing to pay back public library charity


NEW ORLEANS – Grammy-winner Irvin Mayfield’s jazz orchestra appears to be reneging on a promise it made last May to give back money it received from a public library charity headed by Mayfield and his business partner.

An investigation by WWL-TV exposed $1.03 million in payments from the New Orleans Public Library Foundation to the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra at a time when Mayfield and his longtime friend and business partner, Ronald Markham, were in charge of both agencies.

Public outrage was strong and swift, leading to the resignation of both Mayfield and Markham from the Library Foundation. Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for the money to be returned, and within a few days, the Jazz Orchestra board, led by Audubon Institute chief executive Ron Forman, agreed to raise the money to pay it back in full.

But when asked recently where things stood in paying the money back, Jazz Orchestra spokesman Malcolm Ehrhardt released this statement:

“In May 2015, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra Board of Directors retained outside counsel to conduct a thorough and independent financial and ethical review regarding questions about its funding and relationships with various organizations. This review found that no funds allocated to the NOJO by these organizations were improperly spent on projects or initiatives for which they were not intended. Likewise, the funds allocated to the NOJO by these organizations were not used to personally benefit NOJO leaders in the form of salaries, bonuses, commissions or additional compensation.”

Ehrhardt said he wouldn’t have any further comment and would not disclose anything about the legal review. Forman did not respond to a separate call seeking comment.

The entire Library Foundation board was replaced last spring as it tried to restore the confidence of library donors who thought they were giving only to the city’s library system. What they didn’t know was that Mayfield and Markham had expanded the foundation’s mission in 2012, received new powers to control spending and sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to the jazz orchestra’s $10 million New Orleans Jazz Market project in Central City.

Both the Library Foundation and the Jazz Orchestra launched internal audits and legal reviews, promising to determine how much of the money was used improperly. While the agencies have kept the findings close to the vest, new Library Foundation President Bob Brown said he was working to come to an agreement about how much the Jazz Orchestra should pay back.

WWL-TV reported that a federal criminal probe was under way and Brown confirmed that the Library Foundation had received subpoenas for records before he took over in May.

On Thursday, Brown said the possibility that NOJO won’t pay anything back is new to him and he would have to find out more.

Tania Tetlow, a former federal prosecutor who had served as president of the Library Foundation when most of the money was raised, said the payments to the Jazz Orchestra were a clear conflict of interest. Craig Mitchell, Mayfield’s immediate predecessor leading the Library Foundation board, documented other efforts by Mayfield over the years to personally benefit from foundation money. WWL-TV also discovered Mayfield’s attempt to use Library Foundation money to make a personal contribution to a charity for laid-off Times-Picayune employees.

But Markham argued last May that the payments to the Jazz Orchestra were properly approved by the Library Foundation board – a five-member board that included Mayfield, Markham and Ron Forman’s son, Dan – and were properly used to provide library-style services at the Jazz Market alongside the bar and concert hall, including wi-fi access, jazz recordings and family reading events.

In the course of reporting this story over the last nine months, Eyewitness News also discovered that NOJO received a city-issued grant of $125,000 to organize the grand opening of the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts, but used more than $23,000 of it to pay its musicians for a CD-recording session and a Jazz Fest concert. After the station reported about Mayfield’s $63,000 annual public salary as a professor at University of New Orleans, he resigned and so did his assistant from NOJO, who was being paid $45,000 a year in taxpayer money by the university.
27 2016-01-21
New Orleans

University of New Orleans to help US Navy analyse huge intelligence data


Joseph Canizaro and James Livingston Center for Environmental Informatics at the University of New Orleans has secured a US Naval Research Laboratory grant worth nearly $1m.

Joseph Canizaro and James Livingston Center for Environmental Informatics at the UNO will work on the techniques to mine and visualise meteorological, oceanographic and open source intelligence information.

Joseph Canizaro and James Livingston Center for Environmental Informatics is a new wing of the university focused on the science of information applied to environmental science. It claims a long standing collaborative relationship with the Naval Research Laboratory.

"The navy will be able to reduce its costs for future system development."
The project's principal investigator and UNO computer science professor and chair Mahdi Abdelguerfi said: "UNO researchers will build a big geospatial (GIS) data cloud for the navy.

"As a result, the navy will be able to reduce its costs for future system development and ultimately decrease its time and manpower in planning and executing missions."

Geospatial data is a major contributor to huge stockpile intelligence being gathered globally.

The GIS data can support the navy and border patrol in tracking vessels by connecting back to previous images.
27 2016-01-20
New Orleans

New UNO research center lands Navy grant worth nearly $1 million


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -
The newly established Joseph Canizaro and James Livingston Center for Environmental Informatics at the University of New Orleans has landed a Naval Research Laboratory grant worth nearly $1 million.

The money will allow UNO researchers to investigate new high-performance techniques to mine and visualize large-scale data collected by the Navy, such as meteorological, oceanographic and open source intelligence information.

The $999,994 award represents the first research grant secured by the new center, which focuses on the science of information applied to environmental science. The grant's principal investigator is Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor and chair of computer science, as well as director of the Center for Environmental Informatics.

"UNO researchers will build a big geospatial data cloud for the Navy," Abdelguerfi said. "As a result, the Navy will be able to reduce its costs for future system development and ultimately decrease its time and manpower in planning and executing missions."

According to Abdelguerfi, the Department of Computer Science and the Naval Research Laboratory have enjoyed a collaborative relationship over the past two decades. The partnership has resulted in the training of high-caliber undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom have gone on to excel as scientists for the Navy and other federal agencies, Abdelguerfi said.

The establishment of the Center for Environmental Informatics was made possible by a donation from real estate developer Joseph Canizaro and Major General James Livingston. The multidisciplinary center draws on the expertise of faculty members and research staff from a number of academic departments, including computer science, biology, mathematics, electrical engineering, and civil and environmental engineering. Center personnel work with collaborators from the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and others.
27 2016-01-19
New Orleans

Oil and gas industry supports UNO research on sea level rise


A handful of companies and societies affiliated with the oil and gas industry have provided money and data to the University of New Orleans to study the effects of rising sea levels on the Louisiana coast. Schlumberger Limited, the largest oilfield services company in the world, donated three-dimensional seismic data covering Lake Borgne, and the Houston-based data acquisition company Geophysical Pursuit provided similar data covering Lake Pontchartrain.

The data, originally acquired more than a decade ago at an estimated cost of $25 million, will be used for graduate research to map geologic structures below the surface of lakes, UNO said. They also will be used to study the potential for active geologic fault movement as a cause of wetlands loss.

A number of other groups, including the Paleo-Data, a New Orleans paleontological consulting company, contributed money and data to help with geologic mapping and coastal restoration projects at UNO.
27 2016-01-19
New Orleans

UNO to research effects of rising sea level, and other news of higher education


UNO to research effects of rising sea level
The University of New Orleans’ Coastal Research Laboratory will study the impacts of relative sea level rise on Louisiana’s coast.

The school has received research funding, scholarship money and data from several companies and professional societies affiliated with the oil and gas industry. The donations will be applied to research projects under an initiative of the New Orleans Geological Society.
27 2016-01-15
New Orleans

UNO Studying Sea Level Data


Extensive data collected by oil and gas companies along Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne will be used by researchers at the University of New Orleans studying sea levels on the Louisiana coast.

Mark Kulp is associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and director of the Coastal Research Laboratory at UNO. He explains what will be studied:


“One of the very hotly debated topics along coastal Louisiana is whether faults that are present in the subsurface have actively moved in the relatively recent past," he said. "And the working idea is that if a fault has movement along it then part of the land surface would actually subside. And the subsidence of the land surface then would potentially cause a rise in sea level at that location, what we refer to as relative sea level.”

Kulp says the data covers 1990 to 2002, and cost an estimated $25 million to compile. He says the research should take at least a year.
27 2016-01-14
New Orleans

UNO gets help to research sea level rise Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2016/01/13/uno-gets-help-to-research-sea-level-rise/#ixzz3


Groups affiliated with the oil and gas industry are helping the University of New Orleans research how rising sea levels affect Louisiana’s coast.
“The opportunity to use industry seismic data to image below the surface will significantly enhance our ability to understand processes that are occurring on the surface of the wetlands today, including relative sea level rise,” said Mark Kulp, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and director of the Coastal Research Laboratory.
The research funding, scholarship money and data comes from several companies and professional societies affiliated with the industry, according to UNO.
Schlumberger Limited, the world’s largest oilfield services company, donated 253 square miles of three-dimensional seismic data, covering Lake Borgne.
Geophysical Pursuit, Inc., a Houston-based data acquisition and licensing company, donated 382 linear miles of two-dimensional seismic data, covering Lake Pontchartrain. The data will be used for graduate level research projects to map geologic structures and sedimentary layers below the surface of the lakes. It will also be used to study the potential for active geologic fault movement as a cause of wetlands loss.
The seismic data was originally acquired from 1990-2002 for use in oil and gas exploration, at an estimated cost of $25 million.
New Orleans paleontological consulting company Paleo-Data, Inc. donated data that will be used in research projects to help determine the geological age of the sedimentary layers that are being mapped below the surface.
The Southeastern Geophysical Society gave $2,500 to the Coastal Research Lab to fund research projects that will use the seismic data.
The New Orleans chapter of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists awarded two $1,250 scholarships to graduate students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences to support their seismic research.


Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2016/01/13/uno-gets-help-to-research-sea-level-rise/#ixzz3xE2Ehlv9
27 2016-01-13
New Orleans

John Altazan, 89, remembered fondly as University of New Orleans professor, administrator


John Altazan, who served as a teacher and administrator at the University of New Orleans for 50 years until his retirement in 2008, died Sunday (Jan. 10). He was 89.

Mr. Altazan joined what was then known as Louisiana State University in New Orleans in 1958 as the director of its Commerce Division. He was subsequently named dean of its College of Business Administration.

He remained active as an administrator for 31 years, but his true passion was for teaching. He was also active in St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church and served as a president of the East New Orleans Rotary Club.

John Edward Altazan was born the son Edward and Daisy Altazan on Sept. 17, 1926. He graduated as the valedictorian of Port Allen High School in 1943 and went on to earn an accounting degree and MBA from LSU in Baton Rouge.

Before his tenure at LSUNO, Mr. Altazan earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois. He was an assistant professor of international trade at Loyola University in New Orleans from 1954 to 1958.

Mr. Altazan is survived by his wife of 58 years, Marie Hayes Altazan; his two daughters, Alison Ramiro Guerra and Kerrin Altazan; and his four grandchildren, Amanda Altazan, Marissa Altazan, John Guerra, and Olivia Guerra.

Relatives and friends are invited to a wake from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday (Jan. 15) at Schoen Funeral Home, 3827 Canal St.. Visitation starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. at Transfiguration of Our Lord Catholic Church, Elysian Fields Avenue at Prentiss Street.

Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Rotary Foundation (www.rotary.org/give) or to the John E. Altazan Ambassador Award given by the UNO Division of International Education. (isp@uno.edu).
27 2016-01-13
New Orleans

Local colleges ban hoverboards on campus


NEW ORLEANS -- At least three local colleges have joined the growing number of schools nationwide that are banning the use of hoverboards on campus.

The University of New Orleans, Tulane and Loyola Universities have all sent out notices to students to leave the self-balancing scooters, which have become the latest transportation trend, at home.

All three schools have cited safety issues with the boards, noting several incidents where the devices have burst into flames.

"These fires can occur at any time, including when the device is being charged, stored, or in-flight,” said a release from Loyola University. “As such it is with the campus community in mind that these devices will be prohibited until improved safety standards and regulations are developed.”

Tulane University issued a similar ban Friday, telling students that it will prohibit possession, storage, charging or use of hoverboards or electronic skateboards inside university facilities or buildings until further notice.

According to a message provided by the school, the ban was also extended to university shuttles.
27 2016-01-12
New Orleans

UNO announces Center for Teaching Innovation, and other news of higher education ADVOCATE STORY


UNO announces Center for Teaching Innovation
The University of New Orleans has announced the creation of the Center for Teaching Innovation, a center that will promote new teaching methods for today’s college students.

The center is coordinated by Beth Blankenship and is housed on the first floor of the Liberal Arts Building. It will move to the Earl K. Long Library once fourth-floor renovations are completed.

In addition to providing technology workshops, Blankenship will develop training modules on classroom practices. The goal is for faculty to help students to achieve the best possible learning outcomes.

“We want to address the most important questions on the topic of instruction: What’s the future of the 75-minute lecture? Is that going by the wayside? Is that something we need to at least have alternatives to? What are the learning styles of students we’re getting out of high school now?” Blankenship said.

According to John Nicklow, provost and vice president for academic affairs, many universities have similar centers. The ones that are most successful, he said, are those that have the right level of outreach from the center and sufficient engagement from faculty members.

“Our goal is to make better teachers,” Nicklow said. “We can do that by making sure our faculty members have access to the latest knowledge, skills and technology.”

In addition to the in-person and virtual training sessions that the center will offer, Blankenship, said vendors will give presentations to faculty members on the various teaching technologies available in the marketplace.
27 2016-01-08
New Orleans

University of New Orleans center to focus on college teaching methods


The University of New Orleans has announced the creation of the Center for Teaching Innovation, a resource for faculty to promote new teaching methods for modern college students. The center will be housed temporarily in the Liberal Arts Building before moving to the Earl K. Long Library once renovations to the fourth floor are complete.

Beth Blankenship, coordinator of the center, said it will serve to address important questions on the topic of instruction, including the future of the 75-minute lecture and how the learning style of students has changed.

Beyond in-person and virtual training sessions, the center will host presentations on the various technologies available in the marketplace. According to UNO Provost John Nicklow, many universities have similar centers.

"Our goal is to make better teachers," Nicklow said. "We can do that by making sure our faculty members have access to the latest knowledge, skills and technology."
27 2016-01-08
New Orleans

No more 75-minute lectures? UNO resource center explores new teaching methods Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2016/01/07/no-more-75


No more 75-minute lectures? The University of New Orleans plans to explore that question and other teaching methods at its newest faculty resource center.
The Center for Teaching Innovation opened this week on campus. It is temporarily located in the university’s liberal arts building and will move to its permanent home in the Earl K. Long Library once the fourth floor renovations are completed, according to a news release.
The center plans to build on its portfolio of offerings over time. Center coordinator Beth Blankenship said she will continue to hold various training sessions for Moodle, the interactive web-based learning environment used for coursework by UNO faculty and students. In addition to providing technology workshops, she will develop training modules on classroom practices. Also, vendors will visit campus to give presentations to faculty on various teaching technologies that are available in the marketplace.
“We want to address the most important questions on the topic of instruction,” she said. “What’s the future of the 75-minute lecture? Is that going by the wayside? Is that something we need to at least have alternatives to? What are the learning styles of students we’re getting out of high school now?”
Other universities have similar centers. The most successful ones are those that have the right level of outreach from the center and sufficient engagement from faculty members, said John Nicklow, UNO provost and vice president of academic affairs.
“Our goal is to make better teachers,” Nicklow said. “We can do that by making sure our faculty members have access to the latest knowledge, skills and technology.”


Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2016/01/07/no-more-75-minute-lectures-uno-resource-center-explores-new-teaching-methods/#ixzz3wesGLxYG
27 2016-01-05
New Orleans

Comment: Academia needs 'diversity of ideas'


A college campus is a place to liberate the mind, to engage with new and diverse ideas. As a contributor to these pages recently noted, it is “one of the last bastions for intelligent free inquiry and pursuit of truth.” Yet, as that same contributor illustrates for us, schools face significant challenge — challenge to keep the focus on the ideas themselves.

There is a deeply unfortunate trend in both higher education and our society today of attacking the messenger instead of dealing with the message. Critics are crowning themselves the judge and jury of which ideas are worthy of consideration based not on the merit of the ideas but on the critics’ personal preferences. Instead of having a debate about scholarship, they attack the motives and integrity of the scholar, to silence their perspective. Of course, this isn’t new.

Throughout history, such critics have resorted to smearing or silencing the thought leaders they deplore. Galileo was convicted of heresy. Darwin’s ideas weren’t popular with much of Victorian England. And many who are now recognized as our civilization’s trailblazers were ostracized in their time. History’s household names share that in common with today’s students and scholars attempting to explore topics of controversy and consequence.

It’s easier to deploy character attacks than to debate ideas.

A recent example is the contributor who lauded the value of free inquiry on campus and then commenced to dismiss the work of a University of Kentucky scholar who has spent nearly three decades in Lexington studying multiple facets of free societies. Without engaging the actual merits of the scholarship, the contributor attempted to dismiss the work as “substandard charlatan coursework” and “pseudo academic course offerings” — colorful if not fantastical claims but not much more than that.

Others have used similar tactics to intimidate professors and prevent them from providing exciting opportunities for students. A single myth tied to the Charles Koch Foundation’s philanthropy has been propagated by political activists for a few years now to try to silence scholars and students that we support. It started at Florida State University.

FSU is one of 300 schools with whom we partner. Like their peers around the country, they came to us with an idea — a proposal to expand opportunities for students and scholars on their campus. Their vision for the program they planned to build fit within our mission of supporting scholars who conduct research to better understand what helps people to improve their lives. And in 2008-2009 academic year, we signed a grant agreement and provided an initial grant.


THE COURIER-JOURNAL
Papa John, Koch Foundation give $6M to U of L

You may not have heard of the work that proceeded — or that it enabled FSU to provide scholarships to more students. That good work was obscured by speculation that our foundation would determine who was hired and what they taught.

The claim is just plain false. It was speculation on the part of those who did not like the idea of what the faculty proposed to teach. But a lie repeated becomes truth, and this one has been repeated time and time again.

FSU, like all other universities with whom we work, makes the decisions regarding the programs we support. The school has always and continues to control all of the hiring and curriculum of initiatives supported by our philanthropy.

Our list of grant recipients is chock full of schools with well-known histories of great scholarship and the unhindered pursuit of truth, including Harvard, Yale, Brown, Notre Dame, Clemson, and hundreds of others. Researchers at Arizona State University are exploring how onerous licensing to pursue interior design, nail care, and many other careers are hurting the least fortunate. The University of New Orleans received a grant to study alternatives to incarceration. Missouri’s Lindenwood University has used support to bring together experts such as Ralph Nader and Grover Norquist to discuss the problems with corporate welfare. And others run programs or conduct research in fields ranging from philosophy to engineering.

We are proud to count the University of Kentucky among them. The school recently announced plans to use our support to expand its exploration of the role free enterprise plays in enabling people to improve their lives.

The common thread among all of these schools, including Kentucky, is a commitment to expanding the diversity of ideas and the opportunities available to the students and scholars on their campus. We share that commitment.
27 2016-01-04
New Orleans

Rummel students explore possibilities during Space Day at UNO


Space Day at the University of New Orleans provided an opportunity for students in Kyle Weidenbacher’s physical science honors classes at Archbishop Rummel High School to explore career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math through a focus on NASA space exploration.

Students rotated through a series of hands-on activities involving stomp rockets, planetary structures and a space station docking simulator.
27 2016-01-04
New Orleans

Crescent City college briefs for December 30, 2015


NUNEZ COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Six scholarships for $500 each are being made available to Nunez Community College students who choose to continue their hotel, restaurant and tourism education at the University of New Orleans. The scholarships are being provided by the UNO Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration Foundation. “I am a proud UNO alumna of the master’s in HRT program, and I couldn’t be happier to have their support for the students that I teach. This is great partnership that will help students succeed,” said Erin Schrepfer, HRT instructor and program manager at Nunez Community College. Nunez and UNO already have an articulation agreement between the HRT programs. The agreement ensures that students’ credits from Nunez can be applied toward their UNO degrees. Prospective students can learn more at www.nunez.edu.
27 2016-01-04
New Orleans

UNO-Japan Open Doors


Through the UNO-Japan Open Doors program, a group of students from Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan, will visit the University of New Orleans, March 6-20, 2016, to learn English and the culture of our city, state and nation.

"We have a great schedule of activities planned for the visiting group; and need local folks to help providing that personal connection which you cannot get any other way. This is a great opportunity to help providing amazing experience for our guests from Japan", said Noriko Krenn, volunteer coordinator for UNO-Doshisha Open Door Program.

In 2011, UNO signed a partnership agreement with Doshisha University that enables students from both universities tp spend a semester or academic year in one another's campuses. About 130 UNO students have studied in Japan on the UNO summer programs at Doshisha University over a six-year time frame.

The UNO-Doshisha Open Doors Program , established in 2014, represents increased collaboration between the two universities. Participating students will receive daily English language instructions on UNO campus, enjoy enrichment lectures about New Orleans culture , including jazz, cuisine and more. They will also have many field trips and sightseeing tours.

The local volunteers will become the Doshisha students' link to New Orleans and American culture, cuisine, life style, traditions and other cultural elements. They may practice English and Japanese with one another. They may form lifelong friendships, among others.

If you are interested to be a volunteer for this visiting group in March, 2016, please go to http://goo.gl/forms/Lmg3jHTjpa or write to nito@uno.edu
27 2015-12-26
New Orleans

UNO selects students for leadership program


The University of New Orleans has selected 12 students to participate in the university’s Emerging Leaders Program, an extracurricular program designed for first-year and sophomore undergraduates.

The application process included essay questions, references, educational performance data and an interview.

The incoming Emerging Leaders class will participate in activities aimed at strengthening confidence and developing ethical leaders in the university community.

Training focuses on group activities and reflection on current social issues. Participants will be mentored by campus leaders and are encouraged to form relationships with administrators and staff, said Dale O’Neill, director of student involvement and leadership at UNO.

The eight-week certificate program also helps participants to get further involved on campus, he said.

“Students are selected to be Emerging Leaders based on their passion for involvement and leadership development, university spirit and dedication to bettering their community,” O’Neill said.

27 2015-12-26
New Orleans

University of New Orleans Confers Degrees on 966 During Fall 2015 Commencement


They lined up in black robes, some with blue and white honor cords draped around their necks, some with striped hoods dangling down their backs. They snapped selfies and hugged each other’s necks, their black mortar boards balanced or fastened to their heads.

Nine hundred sixty-six University of New Orleans graduates and undergraduates filed into UNO Lakefront Arena Friday, Dec. 18, in the age-old commencement ritual designed to honor those who have completed the academic rigors required to achieve a degree.

The stories of those who took their places and waited to cross the stage varied from seat to seat. There was the student who started straight after high school and finished in four years. And there was the one for whom life’s interruptions made the diploma feel like a finish line she never thought she’d reach.

Anielka Pham, 29, stood and accepted her cum laude honor, one she’d worked 10 years to achieve. In between enrolling in 2005, Pham ran out of money, joined the U.S. Air Force and became a mother. Today, she was receiving a bachelor’s degree in international relations.

“I feel like all the hard work paid off,” Pham said.

Out on the floor of the arena, Rebecca Gaffney held her four-month-old son in her arms, her own mother seated beside her. The mother-daughter team participate in training for the visually impaired at UNO’s Training, Resource and Assistive-Technology Center. But on this day, they were there to see Gaffney’s husband walk across the stage.

James Clement Jr., who spent his last semester as the father of a newborn, was receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration after four and a half years of study.

“I’m just excited,” Gaffney said as tiny James Clement III wiggled on her lap.

Joseph Zolfo, producer of "NCIS: New Orleans" who has worked in the television and film industry for more than two decades, delivered the commencement address. "NCIS: New Orleans" is filmed at UNO’s Nims Center Studios and, he said, employs several UNO graduates.

During his speech, Zolfo emphasized the importance of being on time, working hard and researching all there is to know about the industry and employer you hope to work for.

A former stock boy, waiter and pest control technician, Zolfo credited his early advances in the film industry to his work ethic--even when that ethic was devoted to the job of a “parking production assistant” on Woody Allen’s 1992 film “Husbands and Wives.” It was a job he described as “moving orange traffic cones and telling angry New Yorkers they couldn’t park.”

Despite the stature of the position, Zolfo said he made it his goal to work hard, show up early and be available. The reputation he earned in his two years in that job set the stage for him to obtain his next job, working with legendary costume designer Ann Roth on “Wolf,” a 1994 $70 million production starring Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer and James Spader.

Even when the producer told him they didn’t have the budget for him to work the hours Roth desired of him, he showed up anyway.

“Know where you’re going,” Zolfo implored the graduates before him. “You’re not distracted or waiting to see what happens. You are focused. You are making the most of each opportunity.”

Friday’s graduates came from 45 states and 50 countries. The degrees conferred included 21 doctorates and 354 master’s degrees.

UNO President Peter J. Fos, who presided over his final commencement ceremony prior to retiring, congratulated the graduates and their families. In UNO tradition, the ceremony ended with a second-line out of UNO Lakefront Arena.
27 2015-12-15
Baton Rouge

Jindal begins his farewell tour with Baton Rouge Press Club speech


Gov. Bobby Jindal will fade out of the limelight in the coming weeks, his term ending Jan. 11 when Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards is inaugurated. But for now, he seems to be enjoying his last few days in Louisiana’s brightest spotlight.

A jovial Jindal appeared easygoing today in a speech before the Press Club of Baton Rouge to recap his eight years in the Governor’s Mansion. He routinely cracked jokes and told stories about his children, all while continuing to ardently defend his policies that have come under fire the last few years.

Jindal even swapped handshakes and hugs and thanked the press corps—among his biggest critics the last decade—for their hard work despite facing dwindling resources and readership.

Oddly enough, there wasn’t an overflowing crowd on hand to hear Jindal speak. About 10 minutes before his speech, the room was at least half empty, and it only filled up so much when he took the podium—a possible sign that the spotlight is already turning away, especially when Edwards was giving a speech in Hammond today.

Despite the small crowd, the forum felt like a goodbye of sorts from Jindal to media and the public alike. The native Baton Rougean thanked the citizens of Louisiana for elevating him to the state’s highest office, saying the governorship was “the best job I’ll ever have.”

Jindal said he took on “big challenges” during his tenure, naming ethics reforms and slowdowns of outward migration among some of his biggest accomplishments. He also pointed to what he said was $60 billion worth of private sector investment and 90,000 new jobs coming to the state in his tenure.

But of all the issues Jindal tackled, the outgoing governor says his education overhauls will have “the most lasting impact on our state.” Those changes included expanding the state’s voucher program and toughening the requirements for teachers to obtain tenure protection.

“I wasn’t the kind of guy that was just going to sit here and not rock the boat,” he said. “Some people didn’t like those changes. Some people still don’t like those changes.”

Jindal, though, found himself again under the microscope for his monetary policy, amid frequent budget shortfalls the last few years that have been plugged by spending cuts and fund raids.

The governor defended his fiscal methods, saying raising taxes—which Jindal vehemently opposed—would have hurt Louisiana citizens and stymied private growth. Jindal also said the Legislature rejected some larger cuts he had proposed, such as merging the University of New Orleans and Southern University-New Orleans and closing certain prisons.

Maintaining two key points of his administration, Jindal continued his crusade for the costly TOPS scholarship program and his assault against Medicaid expansion, which Edwards has said he’ll try to do. Jindal, though, did say he would direct his team to provide Edwards whatever information or statistics the new governor would need in his quest for Medicaid expansion. He also said he’ll reserve any commentary on Edwards’ administration once Edwards has been in office for a while.

Jindal said his only regret is not being able to tackle even more tasks in office. He also lamented being unable to push through his 2013 proposal to axe the state’s income tax in favor of higher sales taxes.

Jindal said he has no future plans to run for office as of now, and he has already ruled out a U.S. Senate bid for 2016. For now, Jindal appears tanned, rested and ready to enjoy life in the private sector, continue his work with his Washington, D.C., based-think tank, America Next, and raise his family in Baton Rouge.

“No governor gets everything they want,” Jindal said. “Though we did get a lot of what we want. I’m not complaining.”
27 2015-12-15
New Orleans

Blake Pontchartrain: Who was state Sen. Ted Hickey and why did he get a bridge named after him?


Hey Blake,

Who was state Sen. Ted Hickey and why did he get a bridge named after him?

Shawneeshia Jackson

Dear Shawneeshia,

Thousands of motorists drive over the bridge named for Theodore "Ted" Hickey every day and many, like you, may wonder about him and his history.

  The bridge over the Industrial Canal that carries his name also is known by many as the Seabrook Bridge. It was given that name when it opened in May 1967, borrowing its name from a local subdivision. The Orleans Levee Board, which maintains the bridge, voted in 1997 to rename the bridge after Hickey. He was a lifelong resident of the Lakefront and represented the Eighth and Ninth Wards in the state Legislature for decades.

  Born in 1910, Hickey was a New Orleans native with a long history of public service. An insurance executive, he was first elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1952. In 1955, he was elected to the state Senate. Interestingly, the man he replaced in the Senate was Judge Marion Seeber, who was the son of Judge William Seeber — who also has an Industrial Canal bridge named after him.

  A Democrat, Hickey went on to serve more than 25 years in the Legislature, interrupted by a stint on the New Orleans City Council from 1958 to 1962. He represented District E on the council and took an at-large post when Vic Schiro was appointed mayor.

  As a state legislator, Hickey is remembered for helping to draft the 1956 act which established the University of New Orleans. The campus' University Ballroom was named in his honor last year. Hickey left the Legislature in 1984. He died in 1993 at the age of 83.
27 2015-12-14
New Orleans

UNO Wins Re-Accreditation


The accreditation of the University of New Orleans has been reaffirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The process occurs on a 10-year cycle with reviews conducted at the middle and end point of the cycle. Its purpose is to ensure that the University is meeting the highest educational standards. UNO will receive its next full review in 2025.

The process involves both an off-site and on-site review by peer evaluators to determine compliance with requirements and standards. The evaluators conducted their on-site visit of UNO in April but the timeline for announcing accreditation decisions coincides with the committee’s annual meeting, which took place Dec. 6-8 in Houston.

“Over the past four years, the campus has developed a culture of assessment and continuous improvement of academic programs and of other areas. This is due to a great deal of work by the entire campus community. I am grateful to all who have worked so hard to achieve reaffirmation," said outgoing UNO President Peter Fos.

SACSCOC is the regional accrediting body for 11 southern states, and Latin America, that grant associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The Commission on Colleges was founded in 1912 and was organized to develop standards and a process for accrediting colleges and universities in the South.



Read more: http://www.wrno.com/articles/local-news-135361/uno-wins-reaccreditation-14195793#ixzz3uInli9Dk
27 2015-12-14
New Orleans

UNO alumni honor two with awards


The University of New Orleans International Alumni Association announced that the winners of the 2014-15 Excellence in Teaching Awards are Paul Schilling, professor of mechanical engineering, and Randy Bates, professor of English.

Each year, up to two awards are given to faculty members who exhibit excellence in teaching.

The winners are chosen by a committee composed of past award recipients and a representative of the alumni group.

Schilling and Bates were recognized for their enthusiasm for teaching, devotion to their students and dedication to facilitating student success. They have consistently received exceptional teaching evaluations from students.

Each will receive a cash award of $2,000.

Schilling, a department chairman in the College of Engineering, has taught at UNO for 16 years. He said he strives to explain complex concepts clearly and concisely and to make himself available to students outside of class.

Bates, a 16-year veteran of UNO’s College of Liberal Arts, primarily teaches courses in poetry and nonfiction literature. He also is an editor of Bayou Magazine, UNO’s biannual literary magazine.
27 2015-12-14
New Orleans

UNO's accreditation reaffirmed by Southern Association


The University of New Orleans announced Friday (Dec. 11) that its accreditation has been reaffirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The accreditation process happens every 10 years and is intended to ensure that the university meets the highest educational standards.

Before bestowing reaffirmation, evaluators conducted on- and off-site reviews in April to determine compliance with the commission's requirements and standards, UNO said. The next review will take place in 2025.

"Over the past four years, the campus has developed a culture of assessment and continuous improvement of academic programs and of other areas," UNO President Peter Fos said. "This is due to a great deal of work by the entire campus community. I am grateful to all who have worked so hard to achieve reaffirmation."
27 2015-12-10
New Orleans

UNO to work with Caribbean university


e University of New Orleans has entered into an agreement to collaborate with the Université des Antilles in Martinique and Guadeloupe, a 6,000-student university in the Caribbean.

UNO will partner with UA’s College of Education.

Leaders from UA visited UNO’s campus recently for a signing ceremony that included UNO administrators, faculty and staff, as well as Gregor Trumel, the consul general of France in New Orleans.

As part of the five-year agreement, UNO and UA will arrange exchanges of faculty, students and research as well as organize and perform joint research projects, academic seminars and guest lectures.

In September, UNO faculty members Richard Speaker, chairman of curriculum and instruction, and Juliana Starr, chairwoman of foreign languages, visited UA as part of a Louisiana delegation that was exploring opportunities to collaborate.

UA is one of two French-speaking universities in the Caribbean.

The agreement will provide opportunities for UNO students to study at UA in order to improve their French communication skills and engage in a cultural exchange with UA students and faculty members, Speaker said.

Those students may also benefit from paid fellowships offered by the French government.
27 2015-12-10
New Orleans

Relics must be handled properly to preserve history: A letter to the editor


As someone who specializes in the historical archaeology of New Orleans, I have concerns about the story "Digging for old: Civil War artifacts sought at Algiers Point" and the false impressions that it may give to your readers. The sort of thing that Shane Mears is doing is selfish and reckless, destroying an irreplaceable part of this city's heritage without documenting it for posterity. It may be technically legal but that does not mean that it is responsible or ethical.

He is taking something that is priceless, not only from the property owner — apparently with his consent — but also from the city and the nation. As an archaeologist, I can't stop what he does, but I expect responsible media coverage to acknowledge the objections that professionals have with this type of work. Allowing Mr. Mears to get away with calling himself an "archaeological historian," without explaining the difference between what he does and what we do, is extremely short-sighted.

Archaeological remains at sites like this are a valuable part of our heritage, but they are a finite resource with very few legal protections. Therefore we count on individuals to help us catalog and conserve sites on private property, keeping them intact for future generations if they are not in danger of being destroyed. Unfortunately, the sort of activity in which Mr. Mears is engaged is a major source of destruction of these sites. Actual archaeologists don't keep artifacts from the sites they excavate. We document items as we find them, clean and catalog them, make our findings available to the public, and either return them to the property owner or curate them with a qualified archive. Their context is an essential part of their story, and once it is lost, we lose an integral piece of the past.

There are a number of great resources for archaeology in the state, among them Louisiana's own Division of Archaeology (part of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism), a local chapter of the Louisiana Archaeological Society, and professionals working at area universities and for local cultural resource management firms. Individuals with any of these groups and organizations are happy to help the public deal with archaeological resources in a responsible manner.

As the city approaches its tricentennial, more attention than ever will be focused on its history. The activities described in this article are not making us culturally richer; they are satisfying one person's vanity and curiosity in service to a hobby. My problem is not simply with Mr. Mears' hobby itself. Rather, my problem is with the unreflective validation that it is offered to it in coverage like this.

D. Ryan Gray, RPA (Register of Professional Archaeologists)

Assistant professor of anthropology

University of New Orleans

New Orleans
27 2015-12-10
New Orleans

UNO Faculty Senate passes no-confidence vote in rumored interim leader


The Faculty Senate at the University of New Orleans passed a unanimous vote of no confidence Wednesday in the school’s vice president for business affairs, Gregg Lassen, whom many faculty members expect to be named the school’s interim president.

The resolution, which passed 30-0, said Lassen has been unable to provide “viable strategies for dealing effectively with UNO’s budgetary struggles” and accused him of demonstrating “troubling signs of disengagement.”

Lassen has been at UNO since 2013. Previously, he served as vice president for finance and operations at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and held several administrative posts at the University of Texas at Tyler. His time in Tyler overlapped with that of outgoing UNO President Peter Fos, who served as provost and executive vice president there before arriving in New Orleans.

Fos plans to retire in January after completing his fourth year at UNO’s helm, a tenure during which he has worked to shrink an institution assailed by funding cuts and declining enrollment.

The Faculty Senate’s vote came a day ahead of a meeting of the board of supervisors for the University of Louisiana system. The board is scheduled to consider nominations to replace the outgoing president of the UL system, Sandra Woodley, on an interim basis.

Woodley, who has led the nine-university system since 2013, announced last month that she will step down from that post early next year.

In October, the UL board appointed Randy Moffett as UNO’s interim president. Moffett, who retired as president of the UL system in 2012, was slated to assume his interim role at the beginning of 2016.

However, the rumor among UNO faculty is that Moffett may instead be tapped to once again lead the UL system on an interim basis, with Lassen instead taking the helm of UNO until a permanent president is named.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Woodley declined to comment on the Faculty Senate’s vote or the potential shuffling of interim positions. UNO spokesman Adam Norris also declined to comment.

Neither Lassen nor Moffett responded to inquiries.

A search committee has been looking for a long-term replacement for Fos since the fall. That committee had been scheduled to meet Thursday, but the session was postponed in order “to allow the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer additional time to identify quality applicants for the position,” UL system spokeswoman Cami Geisman said last week.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.
27 2015-12-09
New Orleans

UNO bell choir made up of blind members to perform


The UNO Training, Resource and Assistive-Technology Center (TRAC) Bell Choir, made up of blind and visually impaired members, will perform Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. at Oliver St. Pé Center, Room 101 (No. 26 on the campus map http://uno2.uno.edu/maps/lakefront/). There is a parking lot on the lakeside of the building.

The choir will perform its first public concert. The performance is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted for the TRAC Creative Music and Jazz Camp Foundation to support the bell choir and TRAC programs.

Small cell phones programmed to buzz in time with the music alert members of the group when to chime their bells. ARBECY, a company founded by former New Orleans resident Jerome Simon, is providing the technology to the UNO group for the first time.

Rose Angelocci, a rehab training specialist at TRAC who is also visually impaired, said working in the bell choir has positive therapeutic effects for people who are willing to try it. Not only does it give students experience working in collaboration with others, the act of practicing and performing beautiful pieces of music has its own value and reward. For more details, click here.

Since its founding in 1986, TRAC has provided training and assistive technology to help individuals throughout Louisiana with visual, hearing, physical and learning challenges adapt in the workplace.
27 2015-12-08
New Orleans

UNO Alumnus Jamison Ross Nominated for GRAMMY Award


University of New Orleans alumnus Jamison Ross has been nominated for a GRAMMY Award for his debut album, “Jamison.”
The drummer, who received a master of music degree at UNO in 2013, released the album this year on the Concord Jazz label.
Ross is known as a master drummer, having won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2012 while a student at UNO. But this gospel, soul-tinged recording showcases Ross’s vocal skill and songwriting artistry.
A critic for “JazzTimes” in June described Ross as a "singer first" on the album, which he called “lively, eminently listenable music with a kitchen-sink aesthetic.”
Originally from Jacksonville, Fla., Ross was featured in the award-winning film “CHOPS” while a student at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. He received two undergraduate degrees in music at Florida State University before getting his master of music at UNO.
The artist has collaborated Wes Anderson, Jon Batiste, Henry Butler, Billy Childs, Dr. John, Jimmy Heath, Ramsey Lewis, Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Marcus Roberts, Patrice Rushen, Cecile McLorin Salvant and Snarky Puppy, among many others.
Ross is the first UNO Master of Music graduate to gain a Grammy nomination.
The GRAMMYs will broadcast Feb. 15, 7 p.m., on CBS
27 2015-12-08
New Orleans

UNO bell choir made up of blind members to perform


The UNO Training, Resource and Assistive-Technology Center (TRAC) Bell Choir, made up of blind and visually impaired members, will perform Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. at Oliver St. Pé Center, Room 101 (No. 26 on the campus map http://uno2.uno.edu/maps/lakefront/). There is a parking lot on the lakeside of the building.

The choir will perform its first public concert. The performance is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted for the TRAC Creative Music and Jazz Camp Foundation to support the bell choir and TRAC programs.

Small cell phones programmed to buzz in time with the music alert members of the group when to chime their bells. ARBECY, a company founded by former New Orleans resident Jerome Simon, is providing the technology to the UNO group for the first time.

Rose Angelocci, a rehab training specialist at TRAC who is also visually impaired, said working in the bell choir has positive therapeutic effects for people who are willing to try it. Not only does it give students experience working in collaboration with others, the act of practicing and performing beautiful pieces of music has its own value and reward. For more details, click here.

Since its founding in 1986, TRAC has provided training and assistive technology to help individuals throughout Louisiana with visual, hearing, physical and learning challenges adapt in the workplace.
27 2015-12-04
New Orleans

UNO professor gets grant to study alternatives to jail


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A philosophy professor at the University of New Orleans has received a grant to study alternatives to incarceration.

Chris Surprenant has received a $32,350 grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to study the American approach to punishment. The grant will fund an academic conference and related scholarship on the topic.

The university, in a news release, said Louisiana incarcerates more people, per capita, than any other state.

Surprenant, who's also director of the Alexis de Tocqueville Project in Law, Liberty and Morality, says the conference will bring together academics from law, philosophy, politics and economics to discuss punishment alternatives and generate public policy solutions. The grant also will result in the publication of a book on the topic.
27 2015-12-03
New Orleans

UNO signs agreement with Caribbean university


All Stories
University of New Orleans students will soon be able to take classes in the Caribbean Sea as part of a collaborative agreement with the Université des Antilles in Martinique and Guadeloupe. As part of the five-year deal, the two institutions will exchange faculty, students and research, as well as co-organize seminars and lectures.

Université des Antilles has about 6,000 students and is one of two French-speaking universities in the Caribbean, UNO said. Its leaders visited UNO on Monday for the signing ceremony, attended by Grégor Trumel, consul general of France in New Orleans.

Richard Speaker, UNO's chair of curriculum and instruction, said the agreement will let UNO students improve their French and engage in a cultural exchange with Antilles students and faculty. The French government might offer paid fellowships for qualified UNO students, Speaker said.
27 2015-12-03
New Orleans

UNO partners with Caribbean university in cultural exchange Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2015/12/02/uno-partners-with-caribbean-


The University of New Orleans has entered into an agreement to collaborate with the Université des Antilles (UA) in Martinique and Guadeloupe, a 6,000 student university in the Caribbean.
UNO will engage in joint academic activities with UA’s College of Education, according to a news release. The five-year agreement will allow the two institutions to exchange faculty, students and research as well as organize and perform joint research projects, academic seminars and guest lectures.
In September, UNO faculty members Richard Speaker, chair of curriculum and instruction, and Juliana Starr, chair of foreign languages, visited UA as part of a Louisiana delegation exploring opportunities to collaborate.
According to Speaker, the agreement will provide opportunities for UNO students to study at UA in order to improve their French communication skills and engage in a cultural exchange with UA students and faculty members. Those students may also benefit from paid fellowships offered by the French government, Speaker said.


27 2015-12-03
New Orleans

Leading prisoner advocate to speak at UNO on Thursday


Norris Henderson, a former inmate and leading advocate for prison reform, will deliver a public lecture at the University of New Orleans on Thursday (Dec. 3) at 2 p.m. He plans to address his time in prison and his work to reform the criminal justice system in Louisiana.

After spending almost 28 years in custody for a 1974 New Orleans murder, Henderson was released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary in 2003, becoming the only convicted murderer at the time to be released on probation, UNO said. He is now the executive director of Voice of the Ex-Offender, or VOTE, which fights discrimination against formerly incarcerated people.

The lecture takes place in the UNO Liberal Arts Building, Room 197.
27 2015-12-03
New Orleans

University of New Orleans signs pact with Caribbean college


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The University of New Orleans has entered into an agreement with Universite des Antilles in Martinique and Guadeloupe to engage in joint academic activities.


Leaders from UNO said in a news release that as part of the five-year agreement, UNO and UA will arrange exchanges of faculty, students and research as well as organize and perform research projects, academic seminars and guest lectures.

Leaders from UA visited UNO's campus Monday for a signing ceremony.

In September UNO faculty members Richard Speaker and Juliana Starr visited UA as part of a Louisiana delegation that was exploring opportunities to collaborate. UA is one of two French-speaking universities in the Caribbean.

Speaker says the agreement will give UNO students the chance to improve their French communication skills and engage in cultural exchange.
27 2015-11-30
New Orleans

University of New Orleans honors Roy Glapion at its Distinguished Alumni Celebration


The UNO International Alumni Association recognized Roy A. Glapion, P.E., with its highest honor, the Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumni Award, at its Distinguished Alumni Celebration, Thursday (Nov. 5) at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

Glapion, who received a bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1987, is vice president and partner/manager at The Beta Group, and serves as the Chairman of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, as well on the Boards of Directors of the UNO Research and Technology Foundation, the Delgado Foundation, the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, and Chairman of the UNCF-LA Leadership Council.

The Distinguished Alumni Celebration is an annual event held during the university's Alumni Week (November 2 to 7, 2015) to salute UNO's many accomplished alumni and celebrate the educational and professional contributions that the University of New Orleans has given its more than 75,000 graduates.

In addition to Glapion, alumni from the university's other four academic colleges and one program of study were honored: College of Liberal Arts: Miranda Restovic, president and executive director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities; College of Business Administration: Chris Maurer, CEO of the UNO Federal Credit Union; College of Education and Human Development: Merlyna M. Valentine, executive director of elementary schools for St. Charles Parish Public Schools; College of Sciences: Margot C. LaPointe, vice president for research at Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Mich.; and Interdisciplinary Studies: Theo Von, actor and comedian.

*****
27 2015-11-25
New Orleans

Mivos Quartet Residency Will Culminate With Two Free Concerts


The Mivos Quartet, a New York-based contemporary string quartet, will engage in a new music residency at the University of New Orleans and Tulane University from Nov. 30- Dec. 4, highlighted by two free concerts on Dec. 2 and 3.
Join Us!
What: The Mivos Quartet in Concert
When/Where: Dec. 2, 7 p.m., Recital Hall at the UNO Performing Arts Center; and Dec. 3, 7 p.m., Tulane University, Dixon Hall
Tickets: FREE
The New York Times has said of the Mivos Quartet: “This vital young New York string quartet embraces toothy modernism with punk rock verve.” The Chicago Reader called Mivos “one of America’s most daring and ferocious new music ensembles.”
On Dec. 2, the group will perform works by Philip Glass, Mario Diaz de Leon, David Brynjar Franzson and UNO music professor Yotam Haber. The concert will take place at 7 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the UNO Performing Arts Center. To register for free tickets, click here. On Dec. 3, Mivos will perform music by UNO and Tulane composition students at 7 p.m. in Tulane’s Dixon Hall.
“We are proud to bring the internationally renowned Mivos Quartet to New Orleans as it returns to the United States from its recent China tour,” said Yotam Haber, assistant professor of music at UNO. “The Quartet's residency will feature concerts from its repertoire as well as new music by student composers. This collaboration between UNO and Tulane's music departments is a catalyst for exciting developments in contemporary music in New Orleans.”
Open rehearsals will be held on Dec. 1 and 2 from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. in the UNO Performing Arts Center. During these rehearsals, student composers will receive coaching from the artists in residence.
The Mivos Quartet has earned a reputation as leading interpreters of contemporary music. In addition to commissioning and premiering new music for string quartet, Mivos has collaborated with guest artists and been active in education, engaging in residences around the globe. The quartet also runs the annual Mivos/Kanter String Quartet Composition Prize, established to support the work of emerging and mid-career composers and to encourage continued interest in new compositions for string quartet. The winning composers, selected from more than 100 applicants, receive a performance of their work in New York City on the Mivos Quartet concert season and a cash prize.
27 2015-11-25
New Orleans

College of Business Faculty Member Named First Provost's Fellow


Kenneth Walsh, an associate professor of management, has been selected as the University of New Orleans’ first Provost’s Fellow for the spring 2016 semester. The program was instituted by John Nicklow, who began his role as UNO provost and vice president for academic affairs on July 1. According to Nicklow, the Provost’s Fellow program provides academic leadership experience and skills development to a faculty member with a potential interest in academic administration.
“It is a great opportunity to test the waters, so to speak, with respect to a career in administration, without having to jump in entirely,” Nicklow said. “Additionally it brings some new insight, perspective and skills to the Office of Academic Affairs and the administration.”
The provost, in consultation with the president, selects the Provost’s Fellow based on area of interest, demonstrated leadership potential and the needs of the University at the time of the selection.
Walsh, a faculty member in the College of Business Administration, specializes in management information systems. He was previously a senior systems analyst at Exxon Corporation, where he developed database software for oil well support, maintenance and other management applications. His research interests include network computing models, structured modeling group support systems, Internet support for education and applications of virtual reality technology. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.
“Dr. Walsh was selected based on his interest in administration and his focus on distance learning opportunities,” Nicklow said. “His interests are well aligned with institutional opportunities, and he has the opportunity to really assist us as we engage in growing a supplemental online enterprise at UNO.”
A new fellow will be selected by April 1 for the fall 2016 semester.
27 2015-11-24
New Orleans

New Orleans hotel group helps students with career paths Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2015/11/23/new-orleans-hotel-group-helps



The Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Education Foundation is donating $25,000 to the University of New Orleans’ Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Foundation to support students pursuing the hospitality career path.

The association plans to announce the donation at Lakewood Golf Club on Tuesday morning. The check presentation and donation run in conjunction with the 25th annual Tourism Tee-Off Golf Tournament, which is the association’s primary funding source.

The association, which is an educational nonprofit, awards college scholarships to high school students interested in pursuing careers within hospitality and supports the local student chapter of the American Hotel & Lodging Association at UNO.



Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2015/11/23/new-orleans-hotel-group-helps-students-with-career-paths/#ixzz3sQ1l7weB
27 2015-11-20
New Orleans

UNO Space Day Plants STEM Seeds Among Area Middle Schoolers


Nearly 170 middle schoolers converged on University of New Orleans’ campus Nov. 17 with their eyes toward space.

During UNO’s second annual Space Day event, teens from six local schools heard from and interacted with NASA experts, UNO scientists and engineers and other leaders in science, technology and math as they tackled a series of challenges designed to inspire them to consider STEM studies.

Kim Jovanovich, assistant dean of the College of Engineering—who helped plan the event with Karen Thomas, associate dean of STEM outreach, recruitment, and retention in the College of Sciences—told the students that organizers aim to plant a seed “that is going to grow inside you in such a way that it is going to motivate you to be the scientists, the engineer, the mathematicians and the technologist that is inside of you already.”

“Take a look at the person sitting next to you and realize that that person sitting next to you may be one of the inhabitants of the planet Mars,” Jovanovich said. “Or they could be the individual who discovers a universal cure for cancer. Or they may be the person that builds a robot that will explore the first star. And that doesn’t come without hard work.”

Participating seventh- and eighth-graders came from Holy Cross High School, St. Augustine High School, Archbishop Rummel High School, Edward Hynes Charter School, Mount Carmel Academy and Eleanor McMain Secondary School.

They met and heard from NASA’s Patrick Whipps, resident manager of the Stages Element Space Launch System at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility.

They received hugs, cheers and NASA pins from Renee Horton, the lead metallic and weld engineer for NASA’s Space Launch System at Michoud. Horton, the first in her family to receive a doctorate and the first African-American to receive her Ph.D. in material science and physics from the University of Alabama, told students that while a hearing impairment kept her from becoming an astronaut, she knew that she could be a part of helping send astronauts to space.

“How many of you were aware, before today, that we are building the largest rocket in the world in New Orleans?” Horton said. “If that doesn’t motivate you to want to be a part of history, you’ve missed what they brought to you today. When you leave here, you should want to know, how do you put your mark on history? And I would be honored if your mark on history…would be in space.”

The students competed in hands-on challenges that required them to work in teams. They had to build rockets from paper tape and PVC pipe and compete to see whose would travel the farthest distance. They had to design towers using uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows, with the winners of the contest having the tallest structure. They struggled to create balloon propulsion devices using straws and tapes that would travel horizontally across down a string the length of a room without deflating before reaching a make-believe “docking station.”

Kayla Carey, a seventh-grader from Hynes who said she hopes to be a chemist, learned from failure during the spaghetti tower challenged—and liked that. “My foundation fell down the first time but I built it again and it was better and stronger,” she said. “I had a great experience.”

This was the second year Hynes science teacher Allyson McKinney brought her students to the event. She said the ‘try-try-again’ process is part of what she enjoys seeing: “You can really see them think after the first failure: ‘Why did it fail and how can I make it better?’

Schools who won the challenges were as follows: Space Day poster contest, Mount Carmel Academy; Planetary Structure Build (spaghetti towers), Eleanor McMain Secondary School; Stomp Rockets, Holy Cross High School; Space Docking Simulator (balloon propulsion): Hynes Charter School.

The day was a bit too windy for the students to launch their own rockets. But the students enjoyed watching the event’s finale. Kevin Stokes, professor and physics chair, joined senior physics major Britt Aguda as they used a bottle of liquid nitrogen to explode a giant trash can filled with hundreds of ping pong balls, sending white balls screaming across the lawn to the students' delight.

Jackson Dennies, an eighth-grader at Rummel, said he was leaving Space Day with a new career ambition: astronaut.

Jovanovich said that’s the idea: “You can’t wait until eleventh grade to get kids excited about going to university. This is the technology future of the United States. We have to invest now in these young people.”

The day’s events were made possible thanks to the UNO College of Science, College of Engineering, NASA, The Boeing Company and The National Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

27 2015-11-19
New Orleans

Photos: UNO celebrates space, science, math at second annual Space Day Tuesday


Hundreds of ping-pong balls blast into the air after being projected out of a trash can by liquid nitrogen during UNO’s second annual Space Day Tuesday, November 17, 2015. The day, dedicated to space, science and math, was put together for the first time last year by the University of New Orleans College of Sciences and College of Engineering, The Boeing Company, NASA and the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NCAM) Approximately 170 7th and 8th graders from St. Augustine, Archbishop Rummel, Mount Carmel, Hynes, Holy Cross and Eleanor McMain took part.
27 2015-11-19
New Orleans

Campuses react to UNO Celebrates International Education Week 2015violence


The University of New Orleans is in the midst of celebrating International Education Week 2015, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education.

The celebratory week was founded to highlight the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide, and UNO is pleased to offer a number of activities celebrating this nationwide event.

International Education week activities planned for the rest of the week include:

Wednesday, Nov. 18:

• International Opportunities & Passport Fair from 10 a.m. to p.m. in the University Center lobby. Find out about UNO's international endeavors, and submit your U.S. passport application.

• Study Abroad Cultural Café from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. Free food and cultural presentations highlight UNO's diverse international scene.

Thursday, Nov. 19:

• National Student Exchange Information Session from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the University Center Atrium. Thinking about participating in the student exchange program? National Student Exchange advisors and current visiting exchange students will be on hand to discuss the program and answer questions. Food and musical entertainment will be provided.

• International Photo Contest and Limerick Contest Awards Ceremony at 2:00 in the International Center Student Lounge. Enjoy refreshments and celebrate the winners of this year's photo and limerick contests.

Friday, Nov. 20:

• Cabbage Ball Tournament and Pot Luck with UNO’s Intensive English Language Program from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the International Center Courtyard. Cabbage ball is part baseball, part kickball--and, most importantly, its fun.

In addition, there will be featured international menu items all week long in the University Center cafeteria. More information about all of these events can be found at inst.uno.edu/iew15.

These activities were made possible with support from UNO's Division of International Education, Aramark, the UNO Diversity Committee, New Orleans Museum of Art, Center Austria, New Orleans Passport Agency, Lakeside Camera Photo Works, A to Z Framing, LeMieux Galleries, UNO Bookstore, Global Mentor Program, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, World Affairs Council of New Orleans, and the active participation of UNO students, faculty and staff.

27 2015-11-16
New Orleans

"NCIS: New Orleans" producer to be UNO's commencement speaker


Joseph Zolfo, producer of the television crime drama "NCIS: New Orleans," will be the featured speaker at the University of New Orleans' fall graduation. The ceremony is scheduled Dec. 18 at 3 p.m. in the Lakefront Arena.

Zolfo has worked in the television and film industry for more than two decades. He currently produces the CBS series that shoots at UNO's Nims Center Studios. When the show debuted in the fall of 2014, it was the top-rated new series on TV, averaging 18.1 million viewers each week.

27 2015-11-13
New Orleans

Joseph Zolfo, Producer of Hit TV Show ‘NCIS: New Orleans,’ to Serve as UNO Commencement Speaker


Joseph Zolfo, the producer of the hit television crime drama “NCIS: New Orleans,” will serve as the principal speaker at the University of New Orleans’ fall 2015 graduation. The ceremony will be held on Friday, Dec. 18 at 3 p.m. in the Lakefront Arena.

The New York City native has worked in the television and film industry for more than two decades with some of Hollywood’s most esteemed directors and actors. Now a New Orleans resident, he produces the wildly popular CBS series, which shoots at UNO’s Nims Center Studios in Elmwood. When the show debuted in the fall of 2014, it was the top-rated new series on TV in total audience, averaging 18.1 million viewers each week, counting digital plays.

Zolfo began his film career on the set of Woody Allen’s “Husband and Wives.” Early in his career he worked for other directing luminaries, including Sydney Pollack, Mike Nichols and Nora Ephron. Then Zolfo set his sights on producing features and television. Some of his early work includes “Marie and Bruce,” starring Julianne Moore and Matthew Broderick, “Wedding Daze,” starring Jason Biggs and Isla Fisher, and “The Girl in the Park,” starring Sigourney Weaver and Kate Bosworth.

Zolfo continued his film work by teaming up with writer/director Boaz Yakin, first with the critically acclaimed Sundance film “Death in Love,” starring Josh Lucas and Jacqueline Bissett, and followed by the thriller “Safe,” starring Jason Statham. His next feature was the action film “Dead Man Down,” starring Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace and Terrence Howard.

Zolfo moved into television and teamed up with Ian Edelman on the HBO series “How to Make it in America,” starring Luis Guzman, Bryan Greenberg, Lake Bell, Victor Rasuk and Kid Cudi. Zolfo, Edelman and Guzman reunited with the buddy cop comedy “Puerto Ricans in Paris,” starring Rosario Dawson and Rosie Perez, which is due to be released in June 2016 by Focus Features.

27 2015-11-13
New Orleans

'Million student march' to sweep colleges, website reports


College students across the country were walking out of class Thursday to demand a free education. The "milllion student march," was expected to draw students from more than 110 campuses, according to ThinkProgress.org.

Participants had three main demands: the right to a free education, elimination of current student loan debt and a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers. The concept was inspired by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' statement earlier this year that ending student loan debt would require 1 million students marching on Washington and demanding that public universities be free, ThinkProgress said.

On the organizers' website, studentmarch.org, the University of New Orleans is listed as the only college or university in Louisiana to participate. The UNO march, sponsored by the school's Socialist Alternative Club, began at 12 p.m.

27 2015-11-13
New Orleans

UNO poll: Edwards leads Vitter in runoff by 22 points


NEW ORLEANS - A new poll by the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center shows John Bel Edwards with a 22 point lead over David Vitter in the gubernatorial runoff, with just over a week to go.

In the UNO survey of 600 voters, 56% said they would vote for Edwards, the Democrat state representative from Amite, versus 34% for Vitter, the state's senior Republican U.S. Senator. 10 percent were undecided.

"As expected, Edwards fares especially well with African-American likely voters, who are typically very supportive of Democratic candidates," says Dr. Ed Chernevak in the poll report. Edwards has 90 percent of the African-American vote in the survey.

"One surprising finding is the support for Edwards among white respondents who have tended to support Republican candidates in the recent past," Chervenak and the UNO researchers report.

Forty-two percent of white voters surveyed report they are going to vote for the Democrat, John Bel Edwards. Nearly one-half of voters who cast a ballot for Scott Angelle or Jay Dardenne plan on voting for Edwards in the Nov. 21 runoff.

The statewide telephone poll of 600 likely voters in Louisiana was conducted Nov. 2-8. The margin of error is 4 percent.

In the lieutenant governor's runoff, Republican Billy Nungesser leads Democrat Kip Holden by 10 points, 49 to 39 percent. 12 percent of voters were undecided. Holden, an African-American, holds on to 76 percent of the black vote to Nungesser's 13 percent. Nungesser picks up 67 percent of the white vote to Holden's 22 percent.

"Support for these candidates falls along racial and partisan lines," Chervenak says. "For instance, two-thirds of whites favor Billy Nungesser compared to three-quarters of blacks who favor Kip Holden.

"We found a partisan divide as well as 7 in 10 Democrats stated they were voting for Holden while 7 in 10 Republicans said they backed Nungesser. A majority of Independents reported they would be supporting the Republican Nungesser."

Among other poll findings, Governor Bobby Jindal has a 70% disapproval rating. The UNO researchers' findings show three-fourths of voters who strongly disapprove of Bobby Jindal support Edwards in the runoff.

"Vitter does well with those who approve of the governor’s job performance. However, we have to point out that only 20% of respondents approved/strongly approved of Jindal’s handling of his responsibilities. Those who disapproved of Jindal were more likely to back Edwards than Vitter . For the 55% of respondents who strongly disapproved of Jindal, three-quarters of them stated they were going to vote for Edwards. In the end, the highly negative perceptions of Bobby Jindal’s job performance are driving vote choice in the direction of the Democratic candidate, John Bel Edwards."

Also, 67 percent of those surveyed feel Louisiana is going in the wrong direction, compared to 20 percent in the "right" direction.
27 2015-11-13
New Orleans

UNO needs a president who can turn things around: Editorial


The University of New Orleans is searching for its third president in the past decade, and the change in leadership comes at a crucial moment. Whoever is hired will face major budget, enrollment and morale challenges.

So, what qualities does the next president need? What should the priorities be? Faculty, students, alumni and other New Orleanians came up with a good list at a public forum this week sponsored by the presidential search committee.

There was a strong sentiment that the new administration must be more transparent. "We want a president who will convey what's going on, even if it's not good," said Joshua Lambert, vice president of UNO's student government association.

The university also must strengthen its research programs. "We want to position ourselves as an urban research institution," assistant professor of psychology Elliott Beaton said.

A commitment to students is essential. "Once you commit to students, everything else falls into place," Dinah Payne, a professor of management, said.

Pierre Champagne, who earned an engineering degree from UNO in 1971, said budget stresses have taken a toll on faculty. "We need our next president to be a healer, someone who recognizes the need for human outreach and support during these difficult times," he said.

Rebuilding UNO is important not only to faculty and students but to our community.

The university is a vital piece of the region's economy.

UNO is the only public research university in greater New Orleans. As Mr. Beaton noted, grant funding could be used to supplement the university's budget. UNO spent more than $27 million on research and development in 2012, but there is potential for much more, according to a recent report from the Public Affairs Research Council.

UNO has made a strong imprint on New Orleans since it opened in 1958. The university has handed out more than 70,000 degrees since its first graduating class in 1962, and more than half of those graduates live and work in the metro area.

UNO has allowed many students to get a degree without going deep into debt, which let them more quickly buy homes and start businesses after graduation. That has been good for our community.

But UNO has lost thousands of students since Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches in 2005. The university had 17,000 students before Katrina; this fall, enrollment was a little more than 8,400. The count has been steadily dropping for the past five years. Other than immediately after the disaster, this fall's enrollment is the lowest since 1967.

The lower enrollment stems in part from higher admissions standards put in place by the Board of Regents in 2012. But repeated state budget cuts since 2008 have eroded class and degree offerings, which may make UNO less desirable to students.

President Peter Fos, who is retiring in January, got approval last year to close seven degree programs and discontinue the Department of Geography. The degrees being eliminated included a bachelor of science in early childhood education, the master's and doctorate in special education, the doctorate in curriculum and instruction and graduate programs in political science. An estimated 41 faculty and staff positions are being eliminated.

Peter Schock, head of UNO's English Department, wrote about UNO's losses for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune last February: "Since 2008, UNO has lost 183 full-time faculty members, a loss of 39 percent, which is far in excess of the 19 percent drop in our student population over the past six years. ... Our backs are to the wall."

That is the situation the next president will inherit. The search committee faces an immense challenge to find a leader who can revive UNO, but that is what must be done.
27 2015-11-10
New Orleans

5 goals for UNO's next president


As part of the search for the next president of the University of New Orleans, faculty and students joined members of the public Monday (Nov. 9) to discuss the qualities they hope the new leader of the university will possess. With admissions standards rising and enrollment falling, UNO is seeking its third president in 10 years.

Peter Fos, a UNO alumnus who took over as president in 2012, announced this past summer that he will step down in January. In the wake of recommended program cuts in December, the Faculty Senate had issued a vote of no confidence in Fos. Some faculty said Fos had hired former colleagues such as Greg Lassen, who worked with Fos at University of Southern Mississippi, rather than promoting from within UNO. Others said Fos was not doing enough to prevent the cuts.

Monday's forum attracted about 40 people. With Fos' departure imminent, here are five things that faculty, students and members of the public said they hope the next president will do.

1. Heal UNO community

Pierre Champagne, who received an engineering degree from UNO in 1971, said the various crises that UNO has faced over the past decade or so have forced its employees into survival mode. "There's been a breakdown in the social fabric of this university," said Champagne, who lives nearby and volunteers at UNO. "We need our next president to be a healer, someone who recognizes the need for human outreach and support during these difficult times."









Pierre Champagne

Pierre Champagne, a UNO alumnus, speaks about his hopes for the next president of the university

2. Be transparent

One complaint that faculty expressed under Fos' tenure has been a lack of transparency about how certain administrative decisions were made. As such, several attendees at Monday's public forum requested that the Univesity of Louisiana Board find someone who will speak openly to faculty, students and staff. "We want a president who will convey what's going on, even if it's not good," said Joshua Lambert, vice president of UNO's student government association.

3. Respect value of research

Elliott Beaton, assistant professor of psychology, said the next president should make an effort not to neglect faculty research. "We want to position ourselves as an urban research institution," he said, adding that research is in many cases intertwined with the "pedagogical side of things." Grant funding from organizations such as the National Institute of Mental Health, he said, could be used to help patch holes in the university's budget.

4. Prioritize athletics

When Fos took the reins as UNO president, one of his tasks was the help the university's sports program gain greater visibility. In March 2012, he decided UNO's athletic programs would remain in Division I, ending speculation that the school would compete at a lower level. Neal Miller, who graduated in 1971, said the next president should continue to advocate for UNO's athletics department. "You have to have a way to sell your university to the people," Miller said. Producing top-notch athletics teams, he said, is a good way to do that.

5. Put students first

Dinah Payne, a professor of management, said the next president should put students ahead of issues such as shared governance in every decision he or she makes. "Once you commit to students," Payne said, "everything else falls into place."

27 2015-11-10
New Orleans

UNO holds forum on search for new president



27 2015-11-05
New Orleans

UNO appoints Latter & Blum's Robert Penick to lead economic, real estate institute


Robert Penick, vice president and chief financial officer of real estate firm Latter & Blum, has been appointed interim director of the University of New Orleans Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research.

Penick, who is also an adjunct finance professor at UNO, is taking the helm after the death of director and longtime business professor Ivan Miestchovich in September.

The institute focuses on economic development and real estate research in the New Orleans metro area, including a data-rich annual market analysis and yearly seminars.

"We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Penick serve as interim director of the Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research," said John Williams, dean of the College of Business Administration, in a news release. "His vast experience in the industry and his community involvement will be pivotal as the institute continues its leading role in providing essential research, analysis and annual conferences to the region."

Penick will continue working at Latter & Blum while serving as interim director at the institute. A university spokesman said UNO is not currently searching for a permanent director, but that could happen in the future.

Penick's education credentials include a bachelor of finance and a master of business administration from Loyola University, a master of supervision and administration from Our Lady of Holy Cross College, and a master's and doctorate in urban studies with a focus on real estate from UNO.

Penick, a native of Mobile, Ala., is on the board of the UNO Foundation and the UNO International Alumni Association. He served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserves and retired after more than 30 years as a lieutenant colonel.

27 2015-11-05
New Orleans

Which New Orleans college helps poor students the most?


The Department of Education launched a new College Scorecard in September designed to make it easier for students, parents and advisers to choose the right school. The scorecard project provides information on more than 7,000 schools, including the amount of federal loan debt that college students from low-income families graduate with.

Diving into this trove of data on U.S. colleges, ProPublica recently created a database that shows which colleges provide the most help or poor students. A search of local four-year colleges and universities reveals that University of New Orleans, followed by Dillard University and Southern University at New Orleans, do the best job of supporting poor college students in New Orleans.

At UNO, low-income students paid an average of just $7,222 per year. That's less than one-third the amount low-income students pay at Tulane University, where the average is $22,003 per year. Southern University at New Orleans charges students an average of $8,474 per year, the second-lowest in the city, followed by Dillard with $15,295.

UNO students that received Pell grants also graduated with an average of just $12,989 in federal loan debt -- $6,000 less than any other New Orleans college. Students at SUNO graduated with the second lowest loan debt of $19,185, while Xavier University students came in third with $19,875.

Other highlights from the list:
•Pell grantees at SUNO were far less likely than students at other local colleges to repay their student loans three years after graduation. More than 63 percent had failed to repay their loans in that time frame, compared to 41 percent at Dillard and 36.4 percent at Xavier. By contrast, about 4 percent of Pell grantees from LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans failed to repay their loans after graduation.
•Dillard awarded the highest percentage of Pell grants to its students, 76.8 percent of which receive the federal funds.
•Loyola and Tulane both offered low-income families a high percentage off the total cost of attending, at 64 percent and 63 percent respectively. The cost of tuition at those schools is higher than other schools on the list, however.

Here's the full breakdown of four-year colleges in New Orleans:

Tulane University
•Percentage of Pell grantee undergraduates in 2013: 16.2
•Low-income students paid $22,003 per year on average
•Discount off total cost for low-income families: 63 percent
•Median federal debt for Pell grantees: $23,000
•Non-repayment rate of federal loans for Pell grantees after three years: 27.3 percent

University of New Orleans
•Percentage of Pell grantee undergraduates in 2013: 32
•Amount low-income students paid per year, on average: $7,222
•Discount off total cost for low-income families: 55 percent
•Median federal debt for Pell grantees: $12,989
•Non-repayment rate of federal loans for Pell grantees after three years: 27.4 percent

Loyola University New Orleans
•Percentage of Pell grantee undergraduates in 2013: 29.7
•Amount low-income students paid per year, on average: $16,589
•Discount off total cost for low-income families: 64 percent
•Median federal debt for Pell grantees: $21,000
•Non-repayment rate of federal loans for Pell grantees after three years: 22.4 percent

Dillard University
•Percentage of Pell grantee undergraduates in 2013: 76.8 percent
•Amount low-income students paid per year, on average:$15,295
•Discount off total cost for low-income families: 40 percent
•Median federal debt for Pell grantees: $20,750
•Non-repayment rate of federal loans for Pell grantees after three years: 42.1 percent

LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans
•Percentage of Pell grantee undergraduates in 2013: 22.4 percent
•Amount low-income

27 2015-11-03
New Orleans

UNO seeks public input in search for new president


The University of New Orleans will hold a public forum Nov. 9 to hear from the public on the search to replace President Peter J. Fos, who announced he will step down in January 2016. The forum, hosted by UNO's Presidential Search Committee, will take place at 11 a.m. in the Homer L. Hitt Alumni Center on campus.

The nine-member search committee includes University of Louisiana System board members James Carter, of New Orleans; Edward Crawford III, of Shreveport; Pamela Egan, of Covington; E. Gerald "T-Boy" Hebert, of Kenner; Jimmie "Beau" Martin Jr., of Cut Off; Mark Romero, of Lafayette; Robert Shreve, of Baton Rouge; Winfred Sibille, of Sunset; and Gary Solomon, of New Orleans.

Randy Moffett, the retired UL System president and longtime president of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, has agreed to serve as UNO

27 2015-11-03
New Orleans

University of New Orleans Presidential Search Committee holds public forum Nov. 9


NEW ORLEANS — The University of New Orleans Presidential Search Committee will hold a public forum Nov. 9 to collect community input about the characteristics people hope to see in the school's next president.

The New Orleans Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1OiBLZj) the forum will begin at 11 a.m. in the Homer L. Hitt Alumni Center on the UNO campus.

The committee is looking for a successor to President Peter Fos, who announced his retirement in August.

27 2015-11-03
New Orleans

Free program lets girls experience the excitement of creating with technology


Children ages 4 to 17 and their parents worked together on technology-related projects during Bring Your Daughter to Hack Day, held recently at the University of New Orleans.




New Orleans Women in Technology organized the event for the second year. Sponsorship by 365 Connect, UNO and GE Capital made the event free for about 75 children who attended.

Boys were welcome at the event, but its specific purpose was to encourage girls to engage with technology at a young age.

The kids and parents worked on one of four projects, targeted to different age groups, in which they dealt with fundamental concepts in engineering, coding and video production. About a dozen coaches from the New Orleans tech community were on hand to help.

For children ages 4-8, the workshop was Thinkarella’s STEM Laboratory. Thinkarella provides hands-on experiments to inspire the next generation of makers, builders, shapers, doers and inventors. Cherie Melancon Franz, of New Orleans, created the program, which expanded to Mandeville this year.



Like the other teachers at Bring Your Daughter to Hack Day, the teachers from Thinkarella donated their time, helping the younger children with activities including creating stars that twinkled with battery power and vibrating noise machines based on plastic cups. For children ages 8-12, the project was the Electric Girls Work Bench, in which they explored the basics of electronic engineering, learned to use a soldering iron and experimented with circuit boards. They used a conductive dough to complete electrical circuits and light a bulb and used the vibration devices from cellphones to make small robots move.

Electric Girls is a project of Flor Serna, who started it in 2014 in response to her experience as an audio engineer in a male-dominated field. Electric Girls meets Saturday mornings in the Idea Lab at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie. The cost is $600 for a 12-week session; scholarships are available.

Children ages 11 and up had a choice of participating in the Elephant Quilt Video Studio or the Website Factory with Tech Talent South.

New Orleans-based filmmaker Ben Samuels guided participants in the Elephant Quilt Video Studio as each one used stock video and music clips to create a 30-second commercial about either technology or New Orleans. They learned the basics of timeline creation, sound editing and captioning using free video editing software.

Website Factory participants had assistance from Sia Karamalegos, of Tech Talent South, as they used a basic text editor and browser to built websites on topics of their choice, which ranged from the earthbound (high-heeled shoes) to the intergalactic (nebulas).



The day ended with a project showcase.

Volunteers and coaches for Bring Your Daughters to Hack Day were as follows:

Sarah Lohmeier, Becca Roth, Cassie Wang, Jocelyn Horner, Lila Mohamed, Ana Muñoz, Dom Saulet, Cindy Chang, Chloe Frank, Mykia Smith, Chris Huddleston, Lindsey Dale, Brittany Roberts, Andrea Foglesong, Lindsey Foster, Ambyr-Shae Jarrell, Ave Maria Bordenave, Jill Edwards, Susie Diaz, Ny-Kaira Gray, Cristian Franco, Cynthiya Shrestha and Yessica Ruiz Carrasco.

27 2015-11-02
New Orleans

UNO seeking public input on next president, and other news of higher education


UNO seeking advice on next president




The University of New Orleans Presidential Search Committee will hold a public forum Nov. 9 to collect community input about the characteristics people hope to see in the school’s next president.

The forum will begin at 11 a.m. in the Homer L. Hitt Alumni Center on the UNO campus.

The committee is looking for a successor to President Peter Fos, who announced his retirement in August.

Voting members of the search committee include University of Louisiana System board members James Carter, of New Orleans; Edward Crawford III, of Shreveport; Pamela Egan, of Covington; E. Gerald “T-Boy” Hebert, of Kenner; Jimmie “Beau” Martin Jr., of Cut Off; Mark Romero, of Lafayette; Robert Shreve, of Baton Rouge; Winfred Sibille, of Sunset; and Gary Solomon, of New Orleans.



Also serving as a voting member is UNO Faculty Senate President Cherie Courseault Trumbach.

The public can submit comments and questions to the committee by email to UNO PresidentialSearch@la.gov.

Delgado graduates 90 small business owners

More than 90 entrepreneurs representing three classes of participants graduated Oct. 26 from Delgado Community College’s Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

The graduates joined more than 5,600 other business owners who have benefited from the program nationally.



Over the past year, business owners taking part in the Delgado program represented industries that include construction, manufacturing, food service, retail and transportation. Together, their businesses employ more than 1,560 people and represent nearly $100 million in revenue.

Participants received practical business and management education, business support services and access to capital to help their businesses grow.

A new report shows that 10,000 Small Businesses program graduates report revenue growth and job creation at a higher rate than small businesses nationally. Almost 100 percent of the program participants graduate, and 84 percent report doing business with one another after graduation. In addition, 76 percent report increased revenue and 57 percent report the creation of new jobs within 18 months after graduating.

A $500 million investment by Goldman Sachs and the Goldman Sachs Foundation supports the project in partnership with Babson College and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City.

Local partners include the city of New Orleans, Delgado, Greater New Orleans Inc., Hope Enterprise Corp., the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, the Idea Village and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans.



Prospective applicants to the program must have at least $150,000 in business revenue, have been in business for at least two years and have at least four full-time employees.

For information about the program, visit www.dcc.edu/10KSB.

Tulane opens new Mississippi campus

Tulane University’s Mississippi Coast Campus unveiled an expanded campus Oct. 26 at a dedication ceremony led by Tulane President Michael Fitts.

The campus in Biloxi replaces one destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The 14,961-square-foot building has an academic area twice the size of the old campus, and it allows the faculty and staff to serve 500 evening and weekend students and an additional 500 daytime students.

“Whether it’s technological advances or new program offerings, we are committed to providing students at all Tulane campuses with every advantage to succeed in the job market today and in the future,” Fitts said. “I am extremely proud of our students and staff at the Mississippi Coast Campus, and I value the hard work that went into building this state-of-the-art campus.”

The new building allows the campus to offer more community workshops, training seminars and testing. For information on the Mississippi Coast Campus, call (228) 388-5769 or visit www.scs.tulane.edu/campuses/miss.

27 2015-10-26
Regional/National

Southern Rep Theatre & University of New Orleans Form New Partnership


Southern Rep Theatre announces that it will launch an expanded partnership with the University of New Orleans this season. In addition to presenting three productions at UNO's Robert E. Nims Theatre in the 2015-16 season, Southern Rep will work closely with several university departments throughout the academic year to provide training and enrichment opportunities for UNO students.

"From a production standpoint, it will be so helpful to be working in a wonderful theatre space like the Nims at UNO," said Southern Rep's Producing Artistic Director Aimée Hayes. "With a thrust stage and extensive technical capabilities, the space will allow us to produce plays on a larger scale than we have been able to do recently. This is an absolute necessity for our spring productions: Tennessee Williams' ORPHEUS DESCENDING calls for a cast of 18 and COLOSSAL, by Andrew Hinderaker, incorporates a football team, modern dance company, and drum line. These truly theatrical plays offer dramatic spectacle on a scale our audiences have rarely gotten to see from us."

Hayes continued, "They will also have a great experience coming to the University of New Orleans. The Nims Theatre has ample - and comfortable - seating that provides great sight lines, plus a complete lobby setup for box office, merchandise, and concessions and plenty of parking. Our friends at Susan Spicer's restaurant MONDO on Harrison Avenue will be offering pre-theatre dining options for Southern Rep patrons as well."

UNO's Department of Film and Theatre will collaborate with Southern Rep during the residency on campus. Students will be able to get experience working with a professional company through onstage and backstage opportunities to train alongside Southern Rep's staff.

This is not the first time Southern Rep has worked with the University of New Orleans. Through UNO's playwriting program, students have participated in Southern Rep's 6x6 and 3x3 new play development programs for several years, providing professional public performances of work by these emerging playwrights. Southern Rep also has a longstanding relationship with UNO's Arts Administration program. Southern Rep is a frequent host for master's degree candidates during their required internship, and several alumni of the program have found employment with the company. Several Southern Rep staff have been featured guest speakers for the program as well.

Southern Rep productions being staged at UNO include its holiday offering of A CHRISTMAS CAROL and spring mainstage season productions of ORPHEUS DESCENDING by Tennessee Williams and COLOSSAL by Andrew Hinderaker. Administrative functions will remain housed at 6221 S. Claiborne Ave., Suite 310, New Orleans, LA 70125.

27 2015-10-23
New Orleans

UNO Computer Science Students Attend Grace Hopper Conference


Five computer science students from the University of New Orleans were among the 12,000 people to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. It was the biggest attendance in the history of the conference, which was held Oct. 14-16 in Houston.

Kristin Maus, Haydee Fernandez, AmbyrShae Jarrell and Hillary Arurang were selected to attend by a UNO committee. Julie Green attended because she is a recipient of the UNO Scholarship for Women in Computer Science scholarship. The scholarship was created in 1996 by Sabrina Farmer, a UNO alumna who is a Google software engineer, who also provides the selected student with a year’s worth of mentoring.

Funding for the conference was provided by the College of Sciences, Google, Sabrina Farmer and UNO Student Government.

“The conference was really exciting because of all the enthusiastic people talking about their passions,” said Kristin Maus, a sophomore computer science major. “I can’t wait to try to go again next year.”
Grace Hopper is presented by the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery. The conference is designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront.

“Thanks to alumna Sabrina Farmer and Google, UNO has been sending one female computer science student to the Grace Hopper conference for many years now,” said Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor and chair of computer science. “However, this year has been exceptional in that five students attended the conference. The support of Sabrina, Google, Steve Johnson and Student Government have ensured that more of our students have this outstanding experience.”

The conference results in collaborative proposals, networking and mentoring for attendees. Presenters are leaders in their respective fields, representing industry, academia and government. The conference also offers professional development through a variety of activities.

“Given the low percentage of women in computer science and that many large tech companies are eager to increase gender diversity, this conference can provide a supportive environment for female computer science students and great role models, much like Sabrina Farmer,” said Steve Johnson, dean of the College of Sciences.

The conference was co-founded by Anita Borg and Telle Whitney in 1994 and was inspired by the legacy of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneering American computer scientist.

27 2015-10-22
New Orleans

Certificate Program Seeks To Ready Workforce For 'Water Sector'





Staving off coastal land loss in Louisiana will take lots of money and lots of manpower. In just the next four years, GNO Inc. expects up to 12,000 new jobs in the so-called “water sector,” like coastal restoration managers and mathematicians who can model water flow.







But there are not enough workers in the region with the skills to fill those jobs. The new University of New Orleans certificate in Coastal Engineering and Science aims to remedy that.











Listen

Listening...










4:20

Certificate Program Seeks To Ready Workforce For Water Sector

Professor Alex McCorquodale’s Ocean Engineering class is pretty full this semester, with about 40 students in class and streaming his lecture online. McCorquodale likes to use real challenges we face here in Louisiana, and there are plenty.

In class on a recent Tuesday he described his lecture for the evening, “Today we’re going to finish up some of the work on hurricanes and surges," McCorquodale said. "I want to talk a little bit about the hurricane protection and some of the reasons and mechanics for the failures after Katrina.”

McCorquodale has worked in coastal engineering for many years, developing wastewater treatment models used across the world; researching the impact of stormwater runoff in Lake Pontchartrain, and helping with the state’s Coastal Master Plan.

Ryan Waldron already has a degree in engineering from LSU. He enrolled in UNO’s program thinking the certificate might help him land state, local and private contracts, “What I’m really hoping to get from the program is really the word: ‘coastal engineer,’” says Waldron. “I have the civil engineering master’s degree, where I studied the stuff, but a lot of clients actually require that you have someone on staff that has the title of ‘coastal engineer’ to do coastal engineering work.”

That’s an emerging definition, according to UNO Program director Malay Ghose-Hajra.

With the $6.8 billion from the BP oil settlement coming down the line, and the state’s investment in its coastal master plan, contractors need people who understand things like geomorphology, sediment transport, dredging, and designing dams and spillways.

Ghose-Hajra says a study conducted by GNO Inc. asked those contractors: “Would you hire students who had knowledge of these courses?” He says, “They all said ‘Yes,’ and the next question was ‘When would you want to hire these students?’ and their answer was now.”

Students may get that knowledge in a variety of ways, the certificate just puts all of those topics under one heading.

Robin Barnes of GNO Inc. says until now, contractors had to send their workers out of state to learn skills like dredging, the digging out of deeper channels for ships to pass.

She points out the window from the 34th floor in her downtown New Orleans office. “We’re looking at the Mississippi River right now. The students in the UNO certificate program will be able to utilize their skills by dredging in the river,” says Barnes.

UNO’s program is the second of its kind in the country. The other program is at Old Dominion University in Virginia, but it focuses on sandy beaches rather than Louisiana’s muddy delta.

Engineer Amer Tufail already has a master’s in civil engineering. He’s one of about 20 professionals enrolled and owns New Orleans-based Greenpoint Engineering. It has designed flood control programs and conducted studies on flooding and drainage for St. Tammany and Ascension Parishes.

The certificate reinforces his case for getting local contracts rather than outside firms.

He would also like to hire some of his classmates. “There’s an accountability that comes with being from here,” says Tufail. “It’s not to say that we don’t value the expertise that has been proven elsewhere and can be applied here. But having a sense of ownership in the kind of work we do, I think it’s important.”

He says the challenges of rising sea levels and eroding wetlands exist around the world. “The real approach here has to be to develop a center of learning, a center of expertise, that’s based in Louisiana, that goes beyond a certificate program. That may be graduate level studies, funded research programs, that apply the real world experience of rebuilding the coast,” says Tufail.

Ghose-Hajra says the program represents a shift, bringing more environmental science and ecological understanding to engineering the river and coast.

And, yes, the plan is to teach lessons that apply elsewhere, “To provide students with knowledge they can use in any other deltaic area of the world. Like India, Bangladesh, Europe or Canada.”

He hopes the certificate grows into a full-fledged master’s in coastal engineering.

Support for WWNO's Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Kabacoff Family Foundation and the Greater New Orleans Foundation.


Related Program:


Coastal Desk


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27 2015-10-21
New Orleans

UNO offers lecture on legacy of Civil War


As New Orleanians continue to debate the fate of the city's monuments to Confederate heroes, the University of New Orleans will offer a major lecture on the legacy of the Civil War.

The lecture is free and open to the public as well as the university community. In observance of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Professor Gaines M. Foster of the LSU History Department will deliver the 2015 Homer L. Hitt Presidential Distinguished Lecture, "The Memory of the Civil War: What Americans Think About It, and What They Should" Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom.

After the lecture, Foster will take questions from the audience. Earlier that afternoon, he will meet with faculty and students of the UNO History Department for discussion

27 2015-10-15
New Orleans

Future of New Orleans technology industry, leaders say, depends on homegrown talent


The New Orleans technology industry was barely a blip on the radar when Daryl Pfeif moved here from Seattle more than a decade ago. Jobs were limited. Finding a fellow woman in the industry was a rare and significant occasion.

On a recent Friday, Pfeif looked bemused as she scanned the crowd gathered at the New Orleans Jazz Playhouse for NOLA Tech Week, an annual showcase of the local tech scene. Two men in black polo shirts showed off a pair of sleek drones at a booth near the entrance. Groups of men and women, both young and graying, chatted at a long bar, nursing a drink with one hand with the other hovering over a tablet or laptop.

Pfeif, a longtime tech consultant who now heads Digital Forensics Solutions, a cyber security and digital forensics firm she co-founded in 2005, said the New Orleans tech scene is attracting more talent and startups than ever before.

"It's really amazing how far this city has come," Pfeif said. "This wouldn't have happened 15 years ago."

For Pfeif and others in the industry, tech is poised to drive future job growth in New Orleans. But will the city have the talent to fill those jobs? The answer depends on who you ask.

Pfeif said it is hard to find and hire tech talent, especially in a niche field such as cyber security. Growing that knowledge base will take time, she said.

Pfeif, who spoke on a NOLA Tech Week panel on tech jobs last Friday (Oct. 9), called for a greater emphasis on training and education if New Orleans wants to continue to rise as a tech hub of the future.

The need for cyber security is growing, but "it's so hard for me to find good people," Pfeif said. "There just aren't enough people in the field."

Growing jobs

Local tech boosters have had plenty to talk about in recent years. GE and video game developers Gameloft and High Voltage Software are among the big names to open development shops in the city, lured in part by digital media tax incentives.

New Orleans startups -- which formed at a per-capita rate 64 percent higher than the national average from 2011 to 2013 -- are also in growth mode.

The local scene includes established companies such as iSeatz and TurboSquid as well as high-growth newcomers like Lucid, which develops software solutions for large-scale market research, and Dinner Lab, a members-only dining club that uses technology to help chefs test new dining concepts.

As of May 2014, the greater New Orleans area employed more than 6,500 tech professionals, ranging from information systems analysts to software developers and computer programmers, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission projects information security analysts and software developers will be among the fastest growing jobs in the region over the next decade alongside jobs like home health aides and medical records technicians.

Competition rising

If there is a talent shortage in New Orleans, Lucid CEO Patrick Comer said he is not feeling it. Lucid -- founded as Federated Sample in 2010 -- has grown from a handful of employees to about 80 total. "We see a clear path to 200 employees," he said.

Comer said his new hires typically come from one of three pools. The first is talented locals who never left New Orleans. The second is the "trailing spouse" who is following their husband or wife to a job in the city. Finally, there are the people willing to relocate from other cities.

Comer said the market for software developers and other tech talent is competitive globally. "That's nothing new," he said.

New Orleans has the advantage of being a city where people want to live and can afford to, he said. "So far we have not tapped out New Orleans as

27 2015-10-15
New Orleans

Guest columnist Coleman Warner: UNO may be going through some tough times, but it is still important to New Orleans¡¦ future


Don¡¦t it always seem to go





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Jerah Johnson was a fine professor of history, equally at ease discussing New Left historians and the chroniclers of ancient Greece. He was also a University of New Orleans loyalist ¡X his tenure stretching back to 1959 and the Lakefront institution¡¦s founding days.

Other UNO professors also left enduring impressions from my time as a history grad student in the late ¡¦90s: Madelon Powers, Arnold Hirsch, Joseph Logsdon and Jane Brooks (who advised from the urban studies realm), to name just a few.

They¡¦re now gone from the academic stage: Logsdon and Powers are deceased, the others well into retirement. Each is missed, having influenced scholarship, ideas, career paths. But what is, perhaps, missed more fundamentally is the kind of department they all represented, one that brimmed with confidence and a sense of possibility.

The History Department isn¡¦t rife with confidence these days. Instead, it struggles to remain viable ¡X and its challenges mirror those of many academic units at UNO. Collectively, they are a casualty of deep budget cuts and tepid concern in the wider community. One suspects limited awareness among many thousands of loyal alumni.

Faculty positions and support services generally have been slashed as the university grappled with big post-Katrina enrollment losses. Accomplished professors haven¡¦t seen a pay raise in a decade. Increasingly, hard-pressed professors must rely on students (and their inherent optimism) to carry out secretarial tasks ¡X and keep Privateer spirits up.



¡§The students are great; the students keep you going,¡¨ one veteran professor said. ¡§We have to keep going back to, ¡¥I¡¦m doing this for the students.¡¦ ¡¨

Often lost in public discourse is a basic truth: They are also doing this for the city at large, furnishing the training and intellectual capital that make it possible to see a stronger economy, a better quality of life, a continuation of our recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

Today, as it has for decades, UNO serves as a primary source of higher education that is both affordable (read: low student debt) and accessible for locals. Nearly half of its more than 75,000 graduates remain in our area. Without a strong and diverse public university in sync with New Orleans¡¦ aspirations, the city will falter. Promising high school graduates who might prefer to stay close to relatives in the Crescent City will move away, reluctantly opting to finish college, raise families and pay taxes elsewhere.

These bright young people ¡X red beans and Saints in their DNA ¡X should see concrete opportunities to stay. UNO is important to that encouragement.

Holding on to that student talent, and then refining it for the community¡¦s benefit, is possible through the work of outstanding professors who are still, thankfully, found within UNO¡¦s ranks. They include Golden Richard (computer science), an expert in the field of cybersecurity who trains schoolteachers from across the country; Marla Nelson (urban studies), who explores policies that can boost earnings of the working poor; and Mark Kulp (environmental sciences), who collects data on Louisiana coastlines to enhance restoration efforts.



UNO matters to our community¡¦s future: This is the message we need to hear, once again, especially as this onetime LSU offshoot prepares for a leadership change. It will guide preparations for a UNO International Alumni Association celebration and awards ceremony on the evening of Nov. 5 in the restored New Orleans Lakefront Airport terminal building (more information: www.unoalumni.com/2015DA).

Advocates look for an robust turnout as this year¡¦s top alumni award goes to Roy Glapion (civil engineering, Class of ¡¦87), a striking community leader who chairs the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission.

I am among those who feel a certain debt to UNO. Its history program enhanced my past work in New Orleans journalism and later supported a career shift at The National WWII Museum ¡X an institution founded by a pair of well-known UNO history professors, Stephen Ambrose and Gordon H. ¡§Nick¡¨ Mueller. While UNO has always been a little rough around the edges, usually because of thin resources, I¡¦ve seldom been disappointed in interactions with its graduates or professors. Overwhelmingly, they have the right kind of motivation and impact.

UNO¡¦s faithfulness to New Orleans, in good and tough times, wins my respect. The fates of the city and this public university are intertwined.


Coleman Warner is a special assistant to Nick Mueller, president and CEO of The National WWII Museum; he previously served as a reporter and editor for The Times-Picayune.

27 2015-10-07
New Orleans

New UNO lecture series explores music and culture


The University of New Orleans' Department of Music has announced the schedule for its new 2015-2016 Musicology Colloquium Series. The field of musicology relates to the history and analysis of music, and the lecture series will cover a range of time periods and cultural contexts, including New Orleans.

Each of the series' five lectures will take place at 2 p.m. in the UNO Performing Arts Center's Recital Hall. They are free and open to the public, and a reception will follow.

Here's the list of events from Oct. 2015 – April 2016:

Oct. 23: "Play and Display: Representations of Musical Recreation"

Cornell University's Roger Moseley discusses his work, which explores music, playfulness and technology as expressed through video games and other forms.

Jan. 22, 2016: "Science, Timbre and the Gong in 19th Century Music"

Gundula Kreuzer, the director of graduate studies in Yale University's Department of Music, speaks about her research on opera, technology and Germanic musical history.

Feb. 19, 2016: "Charles Mingus and Edgard Varese at Greenwich House, 1957"

Brigid Cohen of New York University will explore questions of migration and the diaspora, the avant-garde, and the intersections of music, the visual arts and literature. Her talk will be presented in the context of New Orleans' musical evolution and population displacements.

March 11, 2016: "Music, Resilience and Dignity"

Ingrid Monson, the Quincy Jones Professor of African-American Music at Harvard University, will talk about the improvisational process through the lens of social history, particularly civil rights and the African diaspora

April 1, 2016: "Voice Machines: The Castrato, the Cat and Other Strange Sounds"

Bonnie Gordon, an associate professor of critical and comparative studies at the University of Virginia, will offer her insights into her research on the human voice, sexuality and early music-making.

The Musicology Colloquium Series is funded, in part, by a grant from the UNO Creative Endeavor Opportunities Program and the UNO Department of Music.

For more information, call (504) 280-6381 or email yhaber@uno.edu.

27 2015-10-05
New Orleans

Vacant UNO building on Canal Street sells


The ongoing trend of redevelopment of underutilized real estate along the upper Canal Street corridor continues as a Dallas-based hotel developer has acquired the long vacant former University of New Orleans tower.

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1600 Canal St. (Photo courtesy Google images)

NewcrestImage, the group that recently converted the former Cotton Exchange building in the Central Business District into the nation’s first AC Hotel, is planning to renovate the 13-story Class C office building at 1600 Canal St. into a “dual-branded hotel,” according to a news release.

The purchase price was not disclosed and is not listed in the sales record with Orleans Parish Civil District Court. The seller is listed as 1600 Canal LLC, which lists New Orleans resident Jeffrey Bennet as the lone member. The most recent asking price for the property was $6 million.

NewcrestImage plans to convert the property into a 105-room TownPlace Suites, which will target extended-stay guests, and a 78-room SpringHill Suites for leisure and business travelers. Both hotels, which will open in December 2016, operate under the Marriott brand.

Mehul Patel, chairman and CEO of NewcrestImage, said in the release that combining two hotels in one building offers the company the advantage of lower costs for real estate, construction and operations, while creating a wider audience for marketing initiatives.

“New Orleans is a vibrant destination and this new project will offer travelers a distinctive new option in local style and spirit,” Patel said.

The company said the project is the first dual-branded hotel development in the New Orleans area. In 2014, local developer Kishore “Mike” Motwani and Minneapolis-based Wischermann Partners had proposed construction of a 21-story double hotel in the 400 block of Canal Street, but that project was blocked by the City Planning Commission and City Council earlier this year.

The former UNO tower includes 130,000 square feet of space. The two hotels will share amenities, including a single lobby, registration desk, breakfast area and indoor bar. Both will be managed and operated by the same entity and staff.

A distinguishing feature of the property will be its rooftop, which is being transformed into an 8,000-square-foot garden overlooking Canal Street with an outdoor bar, exercise room and guest laundry area.

The building was constructed in the 1960s and was later donated to the UNO Foundation by Murphy Oil. The building has remained vacant since 2005. The foundation sold the building in 2013 for $1 million as part of an effort to liquidate real estate. At the time, the new buyers had planned a residential or hotel conversion, but plans never materialized.

As that building continued to sit vacant, several other surrounding properties have caught the eye of investors looking to take advantage of a growing demand for hotel and residential space downtown, particularly near the $2 billion Mid-City medical complex. University Medical Center opened in August and the neighboring Veterans Affairs Hospital is set to open next year.

Next door to the former UNO building, at 1630 Canal St., local hotelier Michael Valentino is planning a renovation of the former Canal Street Hotel, which he purchased in July for $4.8 million.

At 1500 Canal St., New Orleans developer Joe Jaeger is in the middle of a $130 million renovation of the historic Jung Hotel that would open in 2016.

A few blocks down the street at 2001 Canal St., directly across from the medical complex, a local development group recently proposed renovations to a five-story office tower into a boutique hotel.

NewcrestImage has been active in New Orleans since 2013, when it acquired the Cotton Exchange property in a sealed bid auction for $17.8 million. The property reopened in December as an AC Hotel after a $12 million renovation. The company recently sold that property to Pacific Hospitality Group of Irvine, Ca. for about $62.7 million, or about $285,000 per room.


Read more: http://neworleanscitybusiness.com/blog/2015/10/01/long-vacant-uno-building-on-canal-street-sells/#ixzz3nQCy9syw

27 2015-10-05
New Orleans

Fish tracking, oyster sustainability part of research at new UNO center


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -
The University of New Orleans has established a new center focusing on the science of information applied to environmental science.

According to our partners at NewOrleansCityBusiness, the Joseph Canizaro and James Livingston Center for Environmental Informatics will be housed within UNO's department of computer science.

Center researchers will use computer science to develop systems to better manage environmental projects, according to a UNO news release.

Major research projects include wireless fish tagging to better understand the movement patterns and habitats of fish, numerical modeling to estimate sustainable oyster harvests for public reefs in the state and fishing vessel monitoring to better manage commercial fisheries.

The center will be staffed by a director, three full-time research software engineers, a part-time systems administrator, four doctoral research assistants, two graduate research assistants and several undergraduate researchers, according to the proposal approved at the Sept. 24 Board of Regents meeting.

A group of 12 faculty members from the UNO biology, computer science, mathematics and geography departments will also provide instruction and research support.

The center was funded in part by a donation from real estate developer Joseph Canizaro and Maj. Gen. James Livingston.

Their donation funds three endowed professorships in the UNO computer science department.

"UNO's new environmental informatics center will be the first in Louisiana and the first in the Gulf States region," said Mahdi Abdelguierfi, center director, professor and UNO chair of computer science. "The center will help attract funding as well as highly qualified students, faculty and staff to the university. It will improve our undergraduate and graduate curriculum, advance research and create workforce and economic development."

Center staff will also work with non-academic personnel from the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on research projects.

The center is expected to be funded from private, state and federal grants and contracts. Grants from the LDWF and the Stennis naval research laboratory will fund the center for five years.

UNO is actively seeking other funding opportunitie

27 2015-10-05
New Orleans

UNO establishes state's first center for environmental data processing


The Louisiana Board of Regents has approved the creation of a new environmental informatics center at the University of New Orleans, the first of its kind in the Gulf Coast region. Informatics is the science of processing data for storage and retrieval.

Major research projects at the center will include wireless tagging of speckled trout in Lake Pontchartrain as a means of better understanding their movement patterns and habitat. The center will also experiment with monitoring fishing vessels to better manage commercial fisheries on the Gulf Coast.

The center will be named after real estate developer Joseph Canizaro and Maj. Gen. James Livingston, who provided UNO with a donation that will also go toward three endowed professorships at UNO's computer science department.

The center will be inside the computer science apartment and directed by Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor and the chairman of computer science at UNO. In a statement, Abdelguerfi said he hopes the center will attract more funding in addition to highly qualified students and faculty.

Though it is housed inside the computer science department, the environmental informatics center will collaborate with other academic departments at UNO as well as the Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisher

27 2015-10-01
New Orleans

Search for new University of New Orleans president begins


A month after University of New Orleans President Peter J. Fos announced he would retire in January 2016 after four years on the job, the search for his replacement has officially begun.

The University of Louisiana System on Wednesday (Sept. 30) said it has chosen a nine-member presidential search committee, appointed by UL System Board Chairman Gerald "T-Boy" Hebert. The committee will meet in Baton Rouge on Oct. 22 to approve the job advertisement and identify a timeline for the process, according to a news release.

As part of the search, the UL System has scheduled a public forum on UNO's campus for November. The forum, a common feature of presidential searches, will allow faculty, staff, students and members of the community to talk about what they want in a president.

Sandra Woodley, the UL System president, will recommend Randy Moffett, the retired UL System president and longtime president of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, to serve as UNO's interim president after Fos leaves. Moffett will work for Fos in the meantime to ensure a smooth transition, the release said.

In a statement, Woodley said Moffett is "well acquainted with the region" and that UNO is "near to his heart."

"We're fortunate that he agreed to come out of retirement to support the campus administration and serve in this way," Woodley said.

The UL System has created a webpage dedicated to the UNO presidential search, which features information about the search committee members and will include details about the candidates as they are chosen.

27 2015-10-01
Shreveport

UNO reports enrollment decline


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -
Total enrollment at the University of New Orleans has decreased for the sixth consecutive year, according to preliminary fall enrollment data, although the university welcomed its largest freshman class in recent years.

According to our partners at NewOrleansCityBusiness, total enrollment is down about 811 students from a year ago, with 8,423 enrolling this semester compared with 9,234 last fall.

UNO has struggled to return to pre-Hurricane Katrina levels, when it had 17,142 students enrolled.

Numbers since then have hovered around the 11,000 mark and began a steady decline in 2010.

Before Katrina, the university had been stable every year since its inception in the 1950s, averaging about 3,000 more students each decade.

UNO President Peter Fos said the decline in recent years is attributed to higher admission standards and fewer transfer students from community colleges.

Fos said UNO lost about 473 students since last fall due to stricter federal government guidelines for financial aid.

He added that 264 students lost their scholarships last year because they had not maintained the minimum requirements.

That nearly totals the loss from last year to this year, Fos said.

Fos, who will retire at the end of January, said UNO has begun recruiting out-of-state students to increase enrollment.

Currently, about 89 percent of the school comes from Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

"We need to keep that core of local students and then add on students from other areas, especially out-of-state and international students as well," he said.

He said UNO will tweak its recruitment strategies and re-train admission counselors.

UNO has purchased 500,000 names of students who have taken the ACT exam, and the university will market itself to these students by mail and email.

The university has 922 full-time freshmen enrolled - a 6.2 percent increase and the largest freshman class since fall 2011.

The increased admissions standard mandated by the state went into effect in fall 2012

27 2015-09-30
New Orleans

UNO business professor, real estate expert Ivan Miestchovich dies at 67


Recently-retired University of New Orleans business professor Ivan Miestchovich, a well-respected expert on local real estate, finance and economic development issues, died Friday after a one-year battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, the university said. He was 67.

Miestchovich, an associate professor of finance, was a faculty member in UNO's College of Business Administration for 38 years before retiring in May. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in real estate principles, investment and development, entrepreneurship, personal finance and economic development, among others.

Real estate was one of his key research areas, however, both inside and outside of the classroom. He served as the director of the Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research and was the author of the Institute's annual real estate market analysis of metropolitan New Orleans and the North Shore region. The annual Economic Outlook and Real Estate Forecast Seminars were named in his honor in 2015.

"Ivan was an exceptional colleague and faculty member of the College of Business Administration who was greatly admired at the University and throughout the community," said John Williams, dean of the College of Business Administration, in a statement. "His research and entrepreneurial work in real estate and economic development will have a lasting impact throughout the region. We will miss his phenomenal personality and dedication."

He was the founding director of the UNO Small Business Development Center and the International Trade Center. He served on the board of the Capital One Community Renewal Fund, the St. Tammany Parish Economic Development Foundation and the Bank of New Orleans.

Miestchovich was the first person to hold the UNO Max Derbes III Professorship of Real Estate, which was created in honor of his friend and mentor Max J. Derbes III.

A native of New Orleans, Miestchovich was a graduate of Jesuit High School and earned his bachelor's, MBA and Master's in urban studies from UNO. He was awarded a doctorate in marketing communications and economic development from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Miestchovich is survived by his wife, Peggy; and his daughters, Kristin and Kaitlin. Friends will be received at the Harry McKneely & Son Funeral Home, 2000 N. Morrison Blvd. in Hammond, on Monday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A memorial service will be held at the funeral home chapel at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the Gleason Initiative Foundation

27 2015-09-25
Lafayette

UNO prof gets $450K to study how sunlight changes oil spills


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A University of New Orleans chemistry professor has a 3-year, $450,000 National Science Foundation grant to study how sunlight changes oil on top of water.

Matthew Tarr says many previous studies used ultraviolet radiation, while his will use simulated sunlight. He says he'll also study different kinds of oil and how dispersants affect oil exposed to sunlight. He says few studies have done that.

Tarr wants to help better predict the behavior of oil spilled in water.

A university news release says there's also an educational component.

Undergraduate students will work as part of the research team, getting important experience, and high-school students and teachers will participate in summer research.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

27 2015-09-23
New Orleans

New Orleans college leaders offer campus forecasts


The colleges and universities of New Orleans have served as far more than the end point of the educational track for many thousands of students. They have also been significant employers, research centers and development entities.

As part of the Future of New Orleans series, leaders of the city's campuses of higher learning were asked to forecast what lies ahead for their institutions and the people who depend on them for training, jobs and community investment.

Walter Kimbrough, Dillard University president

Hurricane Katrina, its aftermath and the recovery defined the last decade for Dillard University. This event not only tested our resolve and will to survive, it tested our faith. Today we are stronger because of faith.

Going forward, we will have greater urgency in our mission, greater creativity with our educational pursuits and greater commitment to engaging the community. Our signature programs in physics and film will have national attention. Our centers for environmental justice and African-American material culture will be leaders in these fields.


Dillard Commencement featuring Denzel Washington

Walter Kimbrough speaks at Dillard University's 2015 commencement.

Josh Brasted Photo

We will also be one of the top producers of blacks entering and completing law school, reviving our Straight College legacy. And we will further solidify our role as the people's university, a place where people of all backgrounds can meet for inspiration, education and information.

Historically, Dillard is a magnet for students rich in potential and talent but lacking resources. But in a city where 44 percent of black households earn less than $21,000, our main challenge is redefining philanthropy as an investment for deserving students in need. Soon, someone will validate this idea of philanthropy with a transformational seven-figure gift.

In this I have faith, and it is strong.

Peter Fos, University of New Orleans president

As it has for nearly 60 years, the University of New Orleans will continue to be an essential public asset to the city and region for decades to come. The challenges that the city's only public research university will face are the ones it is already navigating: dwindling state support and increased admissions requirements, which prevent many local students from being academically qualified to enroll at UNO.

In spite of those obstacles, the potential for growth remains significant. While continuing to serve the students of the New Orleans area, the university will rebuild its enrollment by recruiting more high quality students from outside of Louisiana and the United States.


UNO International Center UNO International Center

UNO President Peter J. Fos speaks during the grand opening of the University of New Orleans International Center took place on January 20, 2015.

Photo by Kathleen Flynn, NOLA.com l The Times-Picayune

To these students, UNO offers an alluring combination of high quality academics, unique program offerings and affordable tuition in a city that is unsurpassed in its cultural vibrancy. In order to accommodate the new students, the university will hire more faculty and staff, build additional residence halls and add on-campus amenities to further enhance student life on the Lakefront.

UNO will also boost its research portfolio to new levels, producing groundbreaking discoveries and creative scholarship that will enhance the quality of life for people around the region and the globe.

Victor Ukpolo, Southern University at New Orleans chancellor

Southern University at New Orleans is strategically positioned to become a premiere metropolitan historically black university by continuing to offer relevant undergraduate and graduate programs for a diverse student population.

In the future, a specific focus for SUNO will be the continued support of African-American male students' pursuit of higher education, particularly through the Honore Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement, now in its fourth year.

Shrinking budgets represent a major issue confronting all public higher education institutions in Louisiana. SUNO, therefore, constantly develops and enacts appropriate strategies to ensure that this institution remains economically viable. Fundraising success continues to remain a challenge. Nonetheless, we are implementing strategies to overcome this ongoing challenge.

Our growth potential centers on increased efforts in working with our primary feeder high schools to vastly improve students' overall academic performances and scores on tests, such as the ACT. Additional growth will come by successfully attracting potential students from our region's expanding Latino population.



Michael Fitts, Tulane University president

Like institutions throughout higher education, Tulane University faces disruptive conditions in the years ahead. Costs, revenue sources, rapidly evolving technology and new competition all pose challenges. In this environment, it is paramount for us to clearly define what makes our education and research distinctive. Fortunately, Tulane has fundamental strengths to draw from and a vision of where to go.

Our strong selection of schools and disciplines, manageable size and creative culture rooted in New Orleans position us to become an epicenter for interdisciplinary teaching and discovery. Innovation and new ideas come from linking different areas of knowledge. The most dynamic learning and powerful research happen when people collaborate across fields and work with others from different backgrounds.

At Tulane, we can be a leader at this, growing a national and international reputation for producing nimble thinkers and problem solvers. With this approach we also can elevate our strengths in key areas of research: energy, the environment, water, health and bio-innovation, among others.

Universities aren't the only places feeling the effects of a changing world. We'll need leaders in the 21st century to be creative, think across categories and understand different perspectives. At Tulane, we have a compelling opportunity to be one of top launching places for those leaders.

Dr. Larry Hollier, LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans chancellor

As a public university and in view of the recent budget cuts to higher education, one of the major challenges we face is adequate funding from the state for our six schools. A parallel challenge is the reduction in National Institutes of Health funding for research. Although sequestration was temporarily suspended, it will return in 2016 through 2021 and reduce the federal budget by 8.2 percent any time it is triggered by the Budget Control Act deficit reduction provisions.

The opening of the new University Medical Center underpins the potential for growth and improvement of LSU Health Sciences by allowing us to expand our specialized programs in complex disease management. We are and will continue to increase our patient care activities and commensurate educational opportunities in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.

We also plan to develop the LSU Health New Orleans Center for Personalized Medicine and the LSU Health New Orleans Center for Genomic Research. Both will advance our activities in cancer research and treatment, as well as in medical education and graduate medical education and training in managing this and other devastating diseases.



C. Reynold Verret, Xavier University president

Education is indeed the foundation on which robust societies are built -- those that nourish the human body and spirit -- even more so today, as economies and societies require mental abilities that are cultivated in our colleges and universities. Yet to serve the region, nation and beyond, higher education must respond to key challenges. Paramount among these is affordability.

Roughly 60 percent of the students at Xavier are eligible for Pell grants, allocated to students with the greatest need. A large number of students at Xavier and elsewhere are also the first in their families to attend college. In spite of recent progress, many students do not receive the pre-collegiate education that they require and deserve. Academic and economic support for these students is essential if we are to meet the need for educated citizens who will develop our economies, educate the young and protect the nation.

Xavier has provided transformational education to generations of students.

We have new opportunities to expand undergraduate and graduate programmatic offerings to meet the needs of today's students, including adult learners. Better fundraising must address economic challenges that our students face. And we must tell our story, communicate our success and our purpose.

Joan Davis, Delgado Community College chancellor

Most students no longer come to college to find themselves. They come to college to ultimately find meaningful and gainful employment. Delgado Community College is challenged every day with providing a balanced, well-rounded college experience while at the same time efficiently preparing students for the workforce. The Louisiana Community and Technical College System's Board of Supervisors is leading the way in finding the balance needed.

The system's adoption of "Our Louisiana 2020" encourages an alignment of academics with the needs of business and industry. It allows students to obtain "stackable credentials," which in turn allows them to immediately enter the workforce with the opportunity to return to college for additional credentials and eventually a degree. The pathway to a student's final educational and career outcome is not always a direct one, and we must recognize that this journey can occur in stages, too.



David "Buck" Landry, Our Lady of Holy Cross College president

Our Lady of Holy Cross College is entering a period of unprecedented growth in undergraduate and graduate education. Our undergraduates have grown by 10 percent and graduate school by 35 percent in just the past year. And we also have more than 80 students who are pursuing Ph.Ds. in either counseling or education. Our programs in nursing and allied health at the bachelor's level are at an all-time high, and our business offerings and continuing education are expanding.

With this growth at OLHCC, we see nothing but a bright future ahead due to our strategic forward thinking and planning and our non-dependence on the state of Louisiana for funding. This allows us to make strategic investments in those areas where our students will be employable.

My vision for the next three to five years is continued grow that brings our enrollment from the current 1,200 student to 1,500 students.

Rev. Kevin Wildes, Loyola University president

At Loyola University New Orleans, our educational mission and identity as a Jesuit university are crucial to decision-making about our future. I have no doubt about the value and strength of a Loyola education and the Jesuit tradition in which we live.

At our core is an emphasis on outstanding academic offerings, high moral values, strong ethics and critical thinking, elements of a Jesuit education that have endured ¯ and been a point of pride ¯ for centuries.

Our strategic plan, Transforming Loyola 2020, was developed through our shared governance processes, and it is a living document designed to guide us through the changing landscape of higher education. The plan calls for us to focus on areas of leverage and strength, so that change can become opportunity and a meaningful point of difference.

Loyola is dedicated to cultivating a learning-centered community that is dedicated to providing a high-quality, experiential and values-based education; devoted to students' discovery of their career and a life of service; infused by the cultures and traditions of New Orleans; and rooted in the Jesuit and Catholic mission of the University. These four strategies will guide Loyola into the next decade.

27 2015-09-23
New Orleans

Former UNO star Bo McCalebb gives back to university with new practice floors


Former UNO basketball star Bo McCalebb has made quite the name for himself overseas.

He's played and excelled in Serbia, Italy, Turkey and Germany and even played a huge role on the 2011 Macedonian national team's fourth-place finish in the FIBA Eurobasket Tournament.

On Tuesday afternoon, McCalebb gave back to the university that helped make all of his success possible when O. Perry Walker product helped unveil new practice courts at the Privateers' practice facility in the Lakefront Arena.

"It means a lot," McCalebb said of being able to give back to UNO. "I was born and raised here. I was one of the few to stay and go to college in my hometown. I had fun here through the good and the bad, before Katrina and after Katrina. (UNO men's basketball coach Mark Slessinger) came up to me about helping UNO. I feel like without coming here, I wouldn't be the man or the player I am today. With no hesitation, I said yes."

McCalebb played for UNO from 2003-08 and averaged 20.9 points per game in 128 career contests. He earned a starting job midway through his freshman season and never gave it back.

His 2,679 career points are the 24th-most in NCAA history and he is also the all-time leading scorer in the Sun Belt.

"When you look at UNO, the first thing that comes to mind is that this is a university of the city and for the people," Slessinger said. "There's no better example of that then Bo. You look at where he's come form on the Westbank and the challenges and the obstacles that he's overcome to become a success not only in the professional world but the personal world. It's an incredible accomplishment for him."


Floor2.jpg

UNO star Bo McCalebb's signature on the baseline of one of the practice courts inside the Lakefront Arena.

Andrew Lopez, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

McCalebb has never gotten on opportunity to play in the NBA and says he's only going to try for one or two more years to make it. His closest chance came in 2012 when the San Antonio Spurs wanted to sign him but he a buyout couldn't be reached with his European club.

Privateers athletic director Derek Morel said he's gotten to know more about McCalebb since he was hired in 2012 and is impressed that he's chosen to make UNO a priority on and off the court.

"What's made the most difference to me in being here to me in the time I've been here in almost four years of getting to know Bo, it's not just obviously what he's done here to make this possible, it's that every offseason he's home and he's here and he's engaged with our student athletes," Morel said. "He serves as a mentor to our young men and our young women. He cares so much about the Privateers and he's never given up on our university and our program."

27 2015-09-18
New Orleans

University of New Orleans sued for libel and slander


NEW ORLEANS - A Mississippi man is suing the University of New Orleans for libel and slander after they allegedly coerced him into pleading guilty to a criminal charge.

Walter Stewart Brannon and his wife, Sherri Dragoo Brannon, have sued the University of New Orleans (“UNO”), and the following UNO employees: Dr. Peter Fos, the president of UNO; Dr. Gregg Lassen, the vice president of business affairs; Dr. Richard Hansen, the interim provost and vice president of academic affairs; Tom Harrington; and Susan Graham.


Brannon claims he was formerly employed by the University of New Orleans as a computer engineer. On July 14, 2014, Brannon alleged that he was subject to an “unreasonable, unjustifiable, and demeaning search” of his home by defendant, Susan Graham, based on a warrant that was obtained “unreasonably, improperly, under false pretenses, negligently, and/or fraudulently.”

Brannon suggests the defendant did not conduct a reasonable investigation including discussing the allegations with him to allow him to explain his innocence. The plaintiff contends that, under the defendant’s own administrative policy, he had 60 days to return any property in question before any financial liability would result.

On July 15, Brannon was arrested by Graham at the UNO police department for filing false public records and theft of $1,500 of more.

During his arrest on July 15, Brannon claims that he suffered physical abuse while being transported via UNO campus police officers in the back of a patrol car where he was subject to extreme and dangerous heat.



Brannon argues that the allegations mentioned herein were reported in print and broadcast media and on the internet, resulting in libel and slander causing great, immediate, and permanent damage to his good name, and also to his personal and professional reputation.

The plaintiff further alleges that he was coerced into a guilty plea because it was in his best interest at the time considering his circumstances. Consequently, Brannon says he cannot find employment despite his “tremendous effort in job search[ing].”

According to the plaintiff, he requested a retraction from each individual defendant, however, they have either refused, not replied, or have simply not issued a retraction.

Brannon argues that, as a result of defendants’ misconduct, he is entitled to damages for libel, slander, and defamation; damages to his reputation socially and professionally; public, social, and professional ostracism resulting in loss of friends, peers, colleagues, customers, and employers; mental and emotional pain and suffering; aggravation, annoyance, and inconvenience; inability to pay his bills; and resulting damage to his credit.

Brannon is represented by Richard H. Braker, IV at Richard Hobbs Barker, IV, APLC in New Orleans, Louisiana.



27 2015-09-17
New Orleans

Zurik: Observers cry foul over UNO AD's double pay


NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - While UNO had its budget slashed, one employee decided it was okay to collect two paychecks.

“I think it's a sad commentary,” says a local CPA, Patrick Lynch. “It's sickening... sickening to see people exploit the system.”

On October 15, 2010, UNO named women's basketball coach Amy Champion its athletic director. Six months later, April of 2011, they announced she would be stepping down from her role as women's basketball coach.

Here's the press release, still on UNO's website, dated April 25, 2011, confirming Champion would no longer be the coach. But still, after the university announced Champion would be stepping down, she continued to receive a paycheck.

These records from UNO show for six months after this press release. She received two paychecks, one for being athletic director and the other for women's basketball coach. All totaled, Champion earned about $20,000 more than she deserved.

Shortly after Peter Fos took over as UNO's president, he ordered an audit of Champion after Athletic Department employees raised some questions about the double pay.

“We learned that Amy was being paid for two jobs,” Fos says. “I just told her, I said I don't understand why you're getting paid for two jobs when you're doing one.”

That audit came with hundreds of pages of back-up documents detailing interviews, travel records and emails.

So why, if Champion was not functioning as a coach, should she be paid as a coach - with public money, to boot?

“You're misrepresenting that you're doing something and receiving pay for which you haven't delivered any work at all," says Patrick Lynch.

Lynch reviewed the records. He thinks UNO should take action against Ms. Champion. “If more people would do that, perhaps there'd be less incidences such as these where people are taking advantage of the system,” Lynch says.

The records even include an email from Champion, asking for new business cards without head women's basketball coach. She wanted to drop the old title but didn't want to drop the old paycheck.

“She knows she's being paid for something she's not doing,” Lynch tells us. “Why would you sit back and continue to collect a check?”

In October 2010, UNO appointed Champion athletic director and women's basketball coach. A letter shows her salary was split: $75,000 for being athletic director, $40,000 for coaching. The letter notes, “In the event that you should cease performing the duties of either position, your salary will be reduced accordingly."

This email is one of many that the auditors say show Champion wasn't performing coaching duties but still collected a paycheck.

It notes the travel party for the women's basketball team. Champion is not on the list that week, but she still received her basketball coach pay. Remember, UNO issued that press release in April of 2011, announcing Champion would step down as coach. The audit says from late April 2011 on, she performed no coaching duties.

But Champion waited until October 4, 2011 to write a letter to UNO's acting chancellor that she was resigning as coach. It was only then that the dual paychecks stopped.

We emailed Champion for a comment. She never responded.

In March of 2012, UNO decided not to retain Champion. She now works for a sports construction company in Mississippi.

As to whether UNO should try to get money back from Ms. Champion, Fos says that's up to his bosses, the heads of the University of Louisiana System.

“It wasn't an honest mistake,” Lynch insists. “She knew she wasn't executing the role of head coach, yet she's cashing the paychecks. Where's the mystery there?”

But there's more. UNO's budget only allowed for a certain number of coaches to be paid. So while Champion continued to collect that salary, newly hired assistant coach Alpha English earned nothing.

“He lost out on six, seven months of pay,” Fos says. “I feel very bad for him.”

The audit notes that Champion knew Alpha English had been hired. Champion asked the new basketball coach if she had hired an assistant. The coach replied yes.

“She signed off on his travel vouchers,” Lynch notes. “He was given university equipment July 1, when he started. Everybody knew he was the first guy at the gymnasium to show up for work in the morning. So what is this guy, a homeless person? Sure, she knew it.”

Champion even tried to get the assistant coach to sign off as being a gratis or volunteer coach, months after the university hired him.

“Champion asked him to sign papers that he was working gratis,” Lynch says. “Now, that's evidence that she's trying to cover her trail, isn't it?”

Fos says he tried to get the coach paid, but he says state law wouldn't allow it. “I think it's frustrating that the assistant coach, who worked here on a verbal hire, didn't get paid for the work he actually worked,” he tells us. “I mean, he actually came to work every day, made trips with the team and did his job.”

“What about the person who orchestrated this?” Lynch wonders.

The CPA says university officials should be focusing in more on their former athletic director, who UNO internal auditors say was paid almost $20,000 more than she actually earned.









We asked the UL System why they didn't try to get money back from Champion. They didn't respond. But they did tell us the UL System office received a copy of the UNO internal audit report and was satisfied with the university's response to take corrective action.

27 2015-09-02
New Orleans

Quit Your Fossin'


During his two and a half tenure as president of the University of New Orleans (UNO) Peter Fos has overseen a series of high profile cuts. On Monday (8.31), the university chief announced one more cut: himself. Fos will step down as President on January 1, 2016.



The change was announced during a press conference yesterday. “Serving as the president of my alma mater has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream,” Fos said. “The University of New Orleans is incredibly special to me, and I have worked tirelessly to make it a better place for our students, faculty and staff. I believe that I have contributed all that I can, and it is because I care so much for the institution that I can say it is time for a new president to bring it to new heights. I also wanted to give the University of Louisiana System sufficient time for it to carry out a seamless transition.”



A NOLA native and UNO grad, Fos became the institution’s sixth president in January of 2012. A severe budget crisis stung the University shortly thereafter and came to define Fos’ term. Between 2008 and 2015, the school’s operating budget was literally cut in half.



In December 2014, Fos unveiled a plan to cut seven degree programs and one department from the school. Additionally, 22 positions including adjuncts professors, instructors, and library staff were all reduced through layoffs.



A faculty no-confidence vote in the plan followed the vote. This move is symbolic, but rumors about the impetus behind Fos’ departure continue to swirl.



Still, the brass praised the outgoing prez. “The Board and I express our gratitude to President Fos for his work over the past four years during a very difficult time for higher education,” said Sandra K. Woodley, president of the University of Louisiana System. “No institution has faced more challenges than the University of New Orleans. We wish Dr. Fos well in his retirement and look forward to working closely with him over the next several months to ensure a smooth transition.”



Fos added that he will stay on to assist with the hunt for his replacement.

27 2015-09-01
New Orleans

University Of New Orleans President To Step Down; 'No Institution Has Faced More Challenges'


Peter Fos, the President of the University of New Orleans, has announced he will retire at the end of January 2016.

Fos took the helm of the troubled public university in 2012, and had struggled to reduce the expenses of the New Orleans outpost of the University of Louisiana System during an era of declining enrollments and drastic reductions in state funding.

“Serving as the president of my alma mater has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream,” Fos was quoted as saying in a University press release. “The University of New Orleans is incredibly special to me, and I have worked tirelessly to make it a better place for our students, faculty and staff.”

Fos is the sixth head of the University of New Orleans. Campus presidents were referred to as chancellors during the university’s association with the Louisiana State University system.

“I believe that I have contributed all that I can, and it is because I care so much for the institution that I can say it is time for a new president to bring it to new heights,” Fos said.

Before his stint at UNO, Fos was the program director of health policy and systems management at the LSU Health Sciences Center, the provost and executive vice president at the University of Texas at Tyler, a dean at the University of Southern Mississippi, and held faculty and staff positions at several other institutions, including 17 years at Tulane University.

“The Board and I express our gratitude to President Fos for his work over the past four years during a very difficult time for higher education,” Sandra K. Woodley, president of the University of Louisiana System, was quoted as saying. “No institution has faced more challenges than the University of New Orleans.”

Fos received his undergraduate degree from UNO.

"I was the first in my family to graduate college," Fos said at a Monday press conference officially announcing his departure. "My mother and father didn't graduate high school. I have two doctorates. That all started at the University of New Orleans."

27 2015-09-01
New Orleans

UNO President Fos to leave school in January


NEW ORLEANS -- After four difficult years, the top officer at the University of New Orleans is stepping down.

UNO President Peter Fos announced Monday will leave his post early next year.

Fos said he is leaving this campus with his head held high. Steep spending cuts, along with a post-Katrina drop in enrollment, unfortunately marked most of his tenure here.

But Fos said despite the challenges, UNO is on the right path for the future.

"I think it's time now to retire, and I really hope to retire and have someone come here and take the university the rest of the way," Fos said.

From the beginning the 66-year-old Fos was dealt a difficult hand. Since 2008 UNO has lost more than $40 million in state funding, including $15 million on Fos's watch.

UNO had about 17,000 students before Hurricane Katrina. It now has less than 10,000.

Fos admits having to erase a large budget deficit led to tough and at times unpopular decisions.

"Since I've been here, more than 140 positions have been eliminated," Fos said. "I really didn't have the resources to move the university where I wanted it to be."

Eyewitness News Political Analyst and UNO alumnus Clancy DuBos said anyone who stepped into Fos's job four years ago would have had the same difficulties.

"You could have the best college administrator in the country. If you don't give him or her the resources, they're not going to succeed," DuBos said.

Joy Ballard, the UNO student government president, said she is thankful for Fos's leadership.

"There were issues here. So, coming in it's kind of what you inherit," she said. "He's done a good job of trying to navigate through it. I do appreciate all his work."

Fos said he's leaving UNO a better place than when he arrived.

"I got us on the path right now and I'm running out of push," he said. "You know what I mean."

27 2015-09-01
New Orleans

UNO President Peter Fos announces retirement, hopes for the future


University of New Orleans President Peter J. Fos announced Monday (Aug. 31) he will be retiring from his post at the end of January 2016.

At a news conference on the UNO campus Monday afternoon, Fos, who assumed the leadership role in January 2012, said a successor has not been named.

"I don't know if they'll have someone by January," he said, adding that he will likely work with an interim president to develop a plan for the university's future.

Rumors of Fos' impending departure began circulating last week, though the motives remained unclear. Fos appeared to address the rumors when answering questions about what he will do next.

"I'm not going to be a university president again, that's for sure," he said. "It's a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day job and you're never off and you're never on vacation and I'm 66 years old. I'm tired."

During Fos' tenure UNO continued to struggle with declining enrollment set in motion after Hurricane Katrina, when the student body dropped from around 17,000 in 2005 to around 11,000 in 2006.

Another blow came in the form of higher admissions standards put in place by the Louisiana Board of Regents in 2012. In 2014, Fos estimated the new standards resulted in the loss of around 700 incoming freshman in each of the previous two years.

The most recent comparable numbers, from fall of 2014, put the student body at 9,234.

Nevertheless, Fos on Monday said the higher admissions requirements have improved conditions at UNO relative to the days before Katrina.

"We're have a smaller student body, a much better student who is more college-ready than we did back then," he said. "And, by the way, our graduation rate is higher than it was before Katrina because back then you could just walk in the door and pay your tuition and come.

"Now we've got the students who are really, really prepared," he said.

Prior to becoming president of UNO, Fos' held administrative roles at the University of Texas at Tyler, the University of Southern Mississippi and Tulane University.

He succeeded Tim Ryan, who left the post facing pressure from the Louisiana State University System to make drastic cutbacks. Fos' hiring came on the heels of UNO joining the UL System.

Fos' early months on the job saw him make efforts to improve the image of the university in order to boost enrollment, while behind the scenes his administration was taking a closer look at the feasibility of its academic programs.

One of his first battles was to help UNO sports gain greater visibility, with the idea that it would increase enrollment among more traditional college students. In March 2012, he decided that the university's athletic programs would remain in Division I, ending speculation that had begun after Hurricane Katrina that they would compete at a lower level.

Then-athletics director Amy Champion, a proponent of the Privateers playing at a lower classification, was let go and replaced with Derek Morel.

In August 2013, UNO rolled out a new "Heartbeat of New Orleans" commercial campaign and website targeting the parents of students deciding on college. Total enrollment for that semester fell below 10,000 for the first time since 1968, excluding the immediate drop after Katrina.

Fos strived to build stronger links between UNO and local workforce needs. In September 2013, the university forged an apprenticeship program with GE Capital to provide trained workers for the company's new technology center in New Orleans. A new year-round apprenticeship program with Laitram was also created for UNO engineering students.

Accompanying declining enrollment, fiscal pressures have been a constant through Fos' time in office. They led to the closure of UNO's day care center at the end of the fall 2013 semester, with administrators noting it was losing $200,000 a year. At the time, it had 81 children enrolled, ranging in age from 1 to 4. Faculty, staff and students protested the decision.

In February 2014, Fos announced UNO would lay off 28 staff members to trim $2 million from a $6 million budget deficit.

The following summer, Fos unveiled his strategy for more drastic changes, appointing a committee to evaluate all university programs to determine which ones should be eliminated and those that merited additional investment.

The results of the committee's work were made known in December 2014, with Fos endorsing its recommendation that UNO end seven degree-granting

27 2015-09-01
New Orleans

University of New Orleans President Peter Fos to retire in January after challenging three-year tenure


University of New Orleans President Peter Fos, who has spent more than three years with the unenviable job of shrinking an institution assailed by funding cuts and declining enrollment, said Monday that he will retire in January.




“I’m at the point here at the university that I think I’ve just about contributed all that I emotionally and physically can,” said Fos, 66. “I think it’s time now to retire ... and have someone else come here and take the university the rest of the way.”

The University of Louisiana system has not provided a timeline for when a new president will be selected. Fos will officially retire on Jan. 31, shortly after completing his fourth year at the helm of the university.

Rumors of his departure emerged late last week.

Fos said Monday that he started thinking about retiring about a month ago as he was writing up a self-evaluation for the University of Louisiana system and found himself unsure how much more he could “continue to push.”





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Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Dr. Peter Fos president of the University of New Orleans.
Source: UNO president expected to announce plans to step down; unclear whether he's resigning

Fos said he discussed his plan for retirement with system President Sandra Woodley and some board members. He said Woodley and the board have been “very kind” and are allowing him to retire on his own terms.

“The board and I express our gratitude to President Fos for his work over the past four years during a very difficult time for higher education,” Woodley said in a statement. “No institution has faced more challenges than the University of New Orleans. We wish Dr. Fos well in his retirement and look forward to working closely with him over the next several months to ensure a smooth transition.”

Fos has had to navigate UNO through wrenching cutbacks. The Lakefront university’s state funding fell from $56 million in 2008 to $28 million last year. Enrollment has fallen from 17,360 students in 2003 to 8,281 last spring.

In an interview last year, Fos lamented that the cash-strapped school had “really never made all of the hard, tough decisions” to reduce staffing and other costs as its enrollment fell, a trend that accelerated after Hurricane Katrina.

He has cut at least 140 positions and closed a popular on-campus child care center. Another 80 jobs may be cut when the university outsources its maintenance services work this fall, a move that is expected to save more than $1 million over five years.



In another cost-cutting measure, Fos has recommended eliminating six academic programs, one department and 22 faculty and staff positions to save $1 million this academic year and $2.8 million next year.

In response, the UNO faculty passed a largely symbolic vote of no confidence in his ability to continue leading the school.

Fos, a UNO graduate and New Orleans native whose time as president will be the shortest of any UNO leader in a generation, said he would still have taken the job even knowing that the state’s budget cuts would force him to make unpopular decisions. He said he is proud of having slashed the university’s deficit and put it on better financial footing.

“There’s a lot of good things I can look back on,” Fos said. “I’m walking out with my head held high.”

Still, he said his time at UNO often left him frustrated, and he didn’t feel, at times, that the return he received was commensurate to the effort he put in. The state funding cuts and constant threat of more cuts left him without sufficient resources to move the university as far forward as he would have liked, he said.



“I’ve gotten us on solid footing. I’ve gotten us on the right path,” he said. “Now it’s time for me to hand it off to somebody else to take us the rest of the way.”

Asked what kind of leader might be good for the job, Fos said, “A magician.”

“It’s not going to be easy for the next person,” he said. “It’ll be easier than when I got here, but it won’t be easy.”

Before joining UNO, Fos was a professor and program director of health policy and systems management at the LSU Health Sciences Center. He also spent three years as provost and executive vice president at the University of Texas at Tyler.

27 2015-09-01
New Orleans

5 parting thoughts from retiring UNO President Peter Fos


Peter Fos, president of the University of New Orleans, announced Monday (Aug. 31) he would be retiring from his post at the end of January.

He met with reporters Monday afternoon on the UNO campus, where he became leader in January 2012. Enrollment that fall was just more than 10,000. Since then, it's fallen to almost 9,000 -- well down from pre-Katrina levels exceeding 17,000.

Fos spoke about his attempts to increase enrollment and the financial difficulties he confronted during his tenure. Excerpts from his interview:

On funding and enrollment:
"The environment for funding higher education is not going to get any better. Ever. It's like you push a big rock a little bit every day, but it only moves so much every day. Maybe a new person can come in here with new ideas and push that rock a little further."

On who will replace him:
"I don't know if they'll have someone by January. There will probably be an interim president, and I'll work closely with that person and that person will get to work with my successor to develop a plan and I'll be here to answer any questions."

Words to successor:
"They really have a special group of people who want to be here, a student body that is unbelievably proud to be here ... They have enough people here with a will to move things forward."

Plan after retirement:
"I'm not going to be a university president again, that's for sure. It's a seven day a week, 24-hour a day job and you're never off and you're never on vacation and I'm 66 years old. I'm tired. I'll be as involved as I can be and as UNO wants me to be."

On where UNO stands 10 years after Katrina:
"We have higher ability students. I don't necessarily think we're in worse shape. Remember you need a 23 ACT score to get into UNO. Go back and check the ACT scores in Louisiana. It's tough to get into the University of New Orleans. We have a smaller student body, a much better student who is more college ready than we did back then and, by the way, our graduation rate is higher than it was before Katrina because back then you could just walk in the door and pay your

27 2015-09-01
Regional/National

Fos to retire as University of New Orleans president






NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The president of the University of New Orleans has announced that he will retire in January - four years after he took the helm amid lower post-Hurricane Katrina enrollment, turmoil over budget cuts and leadership changes.

Peter Fos (Fahs) made the announcement Monday. He was named president in December 2011, not long after UNO moved from the Louisiana State University System, into the University of Louisiana system, which oversees eight other universities around the state.





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Enrollment at the university has fallen from more than 17,000 prior to Hurricane Katrina, which struck in 2005, to below 10,000.

The New Orleans Advocate reports that UNO’s state funding fell from $56 million in 2008 to $28 million last year (http://bit.ly/1JxMtGc ).

School officials blame the enrollment decline on several factors, including stricter admission standards.






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27 2015-08-31
New Orleans

http://www.wired.com/2015/08/new-orleans-built-bustling-tech-hub-katrinas-wake/



27 2015-08-31
Regional/National

The New Orleans Economy Ten Years After Katrina


NEW ORLEANS—For Paul McGoey, Hurricane Katrina delivered the unlikely opportunity of a lifetime.

A month into the flood, Mr. McGoey heard from the owners of three suburban hamburger joints: Their managing partner had left town for good. Would Mr. McGoey run the chain in exchange for an ownership stake?

Mr. McGoey, at the time a restaurant consultant, took the deal and now employs 600 people at 15 restaurants and cafes across the metropolitan region.

“I say proudly but not braggadociously that we are the largest-growth restaurant company in the city, post Katrina,” said the 50-year-old Mr. McGoey, wearing jeans, Prada glasses and a mulberry-colored blazer at the bar of his Legacy Kitchen on Tchoupitoulas Street in the city’s hip warehouse district.

Mr. McGoey’s good fortune reflects the city’s resurgence in the decade since Katrina—as well as its shortcomings. Many say New Orleans has emerged more entrepreneurial and energetic. Along the Mississippi River, crowds fill city streets, even in the soggy summer heat.

In the years since the storm forced out about half the metropolitan area’s residents, the population has rebounded to 1.25 million people, 90% of its pre-Katrina level.

But as the $135 billion rebuilding winds down, federal employment data reveal a local economy increasingly skewed to low-wage jobs, especially restaurant work, one of the few sectors now employing more people than before Katrina. Those jobs drag down average incomes, analysts say, widening the economic divide between whites, who are generally richer than before, and blacks, who aren’t.

The number of jobs in the metropolitan region is close to 91% of pre-storm levels. But the region lost 3,800 jobs in the year that ended in July, while most U.S. metropolitan areas of more than a million residents gained jobs, federal data show.

In the city, meanwhile, there are almost 100,000 fewer black residents, who now make up 59% of the population, down from 67%, according to the local Data Center analysis group. And there are now proportionally more poor black households—44% compared with 42% in 1999—with incomes below $21,000.

“The poverty level is just as high as pre-Katrina,” said Allison Plyer, the demographer who runs the nonprofit Data Center.

The city now has a greater proportion of white residents—about 31% compared with 27% before the storm—and the percentage of white families with top-tier annual incomes—more than $105,000—has risen to 30% from 25% a decade ago, according to the Data Center.

New Orleans hasn’t yet become the high-tech mecca promised by the hopeful sobriquet Silicon Bayou or an economy transformed by entrepreneurs and artisans, among the dreams leaders espoused after Katrina.

Civic boosters these days trumpet the city’s new levees, revamped educational system and a new medical center that they hope will anchor a biotech corridor on Canal Street, the city’s main drag.

But even the most sanguine admit that the magnitude of change needed to fix an economy ailing even before the storm takes generations, not a decade. One of the most concerning facets of the new New Orleans is its shortage of middle-class work.

Creating a diversity of jobs is “kind of the fundamental challenge, over time,” said Michael Hecht, president of Greater New Orleans Inc., the local economic development agency. Well-paying jobs are needed, he said, to keep New Orleans from returning to the days when it risked “becoming, essentially, Key West, beloved but not important.”

For now, the economy is driven largely by waiters and others in food services. Restaurants employ nearly 60,000 people, according to federal data, making up more than 10% of the 558,000 jobs in the region, a higher proportion than in 2005.

Restaurant employees in Louisiana eligible for tips make a minimum of $2.13 an hour in base pay, though their bosses are supposed to make up the difference to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour if customers are stingy. These workers in and around New Orleans made an average of $17,378 last year, not including cash tips, less than half of the region’s average pay of $48,437, said Raymond Brady, an economist and vice president of the New Orleans Regional Council of Business Economics.

The local economic challenges predate Katrina and echo those in other U.S. cities that have lost manufacturing and industrial jobs. New Orleans never recovered from the oil bust of the 1980s, as the energy business shifted to Houston. By the time Katrina hit, the local economy depended on tourism, government, small business and colleges; the two largest private employers were hospital chains.

Regional employment peaked in 2001 at just under 635,000. New Orleans has since experienced a decline, made worse in recent years after the loss of a shipyard and its thousands of well-paying jobs. The port is bustling but water transportation jobs have dwindled. So has government work. The one major public company with a New Orleans headquarters is Entergy Corp., a regional utility.

For a while, many doubted that medical facilities would recover after the storm forced the closure of nursing homes and hospitals. Dr. Ricardo Febry, an internist, said the city’s medical society had lost about a third of its members by the time he was president in 2007.

The medical community has since stabilized, Dr. Febry said, though the remaining hospitals compete for insured patients with medical centers in Houston and elsewhere. Attracting young doctors is tough, he said, “though if you don’t mind potholes and broken sidewalks, everything else is delicious.”

Employment losses have been masked somewhat by the boom in construction after Katrina. While the number of workers employed in home-rebuilding projects are hard to track, those hired for major projects rose to 34,000 in 2006; the number has since dropped to 28,600, below pre-storm levels.

The rebuilding created local opportunities in environmental remediation, shoring up levees and restoring wetlands. The government tallied more than 33,000 jobs in scientific and technical services, which tend here to be in engineering and architecture, experts here say.

While those jobs may dwindle as rebuilding ends, some firms are finding new work—in the northeast, for example, after Hurricane Sandy. And local firms are likely to benefit from the billions of dollars BP PLC has agreed to pay for wetland restoration after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The city also is home to a budding tech industry, though the number of new jobs so far is small. Among the pioneers is Barrett Conrad, the 35-year-old owner of software engineering company CotingaSoft. He graduated from Tulane University in 2002 with a degree in computer science, and though he interviewed for West Coast jobs in 2005, he decided after the storm to stay.

Mr. Conrad has three employees and anticipates hiring more. “We’re in a growth phase,” he said. “It’s for real now.”

New Orleans tourism remains an economic anchor. Leisure and hospitality accounted for more than 86,000 jobs in the region the summer before the storm, when floodwaters inundated about 80% of the city, including many of the poor- and middle-class neighborhoods where hospitality workers lived.

The number of visitors in 2006 fell to 3.7 million from 10 million in 2004, according to the tourism and convention board. Mardi Gras drew a third of its usual one million revelers.

State and federal governments responded to the crisis by shelling out $30 million to re-image the city, focusing on the French Quarter—and food. Led by a convention of librarians in June 2006, visitors began returning to the city. Even the financial crisis and recession didn’t stop tourists. Last year, 9.5 million visitors spent a record $6.8 billion, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Despite the crowds of visitors, there are about 2,000 fewer hotel jobs, which generally pay better than restaurants, despite hundreds more rooms, according to federal data. John A. Williams, dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of New Orleans, said hotels have become more efficient with their staff.

Food service has made one of the biggest employment rebounds, which makes sense in this dining-obsessed region. The number of full-service sit-down restaurants has grown to 1,408 from 809 before Katrina hit, according to Tom Fitzmorris, a radio host and local dining authority. Only in the past eight months has the boom showed signs of leveling off, he said: “Quite a few new restaurants have opened, but an equal number have quit the business.”

In prospering neighborhoods from the Garden District to Bywater, new restaurants offer Brazilian, Vietnamese, Cuban, tapas, Indian and vegetarian cuisine, just to name a few.

Stan Harris, president of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, said that people who complain that the city is becoming too dependent on the industry don’t understand New Orleans food culture.

“Shipbuilding, manufacturing, they’re not here,” he said. “The people are still here and they need to have jobs. The hospitality industry filled that void.”

Matthew Fultz, a 36-year-old chef at Marcello’s Restaurant & Wine Bar isn’t sure how long the boom will last. “Not to be a pessimist but the bubble’s got to burst at some point,” he said. “I mean, how many restaurants can you have? But you’ll drive around some times and everybody’s packed.”

There is also the question of wages. The Brookings Institution in a new report found that New Orleans and its suburbs added close to 50,000 new jobs from 2010 to 2014. But 70% were in industries that paid less than the average annual wage in the region. Leisure and hospitality created the most jobs—more than 10,000—and had the lowest wages, about $25,000 a year.

William Parker, 28 years old, grew up in the city and worked as a waiter at a restaurant in the French Quarter. He said a good week earned him about $150 to $200 in wages and another $500 to $600 in tips.

Mr. Parker, who has a high school diploma, got no health benefits and is obligated to pay child support for four children. During a slow week in July, he made a total of about $300, which he described as “nothing but a smile.” He recently left to become a cook at another restaurant.

The financial squeeze also has an impact on workers in neighborhoods gone chic since Katrina. Robert Barnard is the 32-year-old sous chef at the Press Street Station restaurant that opened this year on the boundary of the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods. He said he couldn’t afford to rent where he works, citing “the whole hipster gentrification thing.”

Restaurants have opened even in the city’s hardest-hit areas, though success is more of a struggle. Tia Henry, age 36, studied biology at Xavier University, but with her contractor husband and his sister, she borrowed money to buy an old corner store in the Ninth Ward, near where her husband’s grandmother lived. It is now Café Dauphine, the only restaurant in the neighborhood.

Permits alone took four years, Ms. Henry said, in a break from her late-lunch customers. “I love it, it’s hard,” she said of the business, which is open seven days a week in a neighborhood where freshly painted houses square off with wrecked buildings and vacant lots.

Many of Ms. Henry’s 12 employees bicycle to work from nearby. Her own house is in New Orleans East, the storm-slammed neighborhood that had been home to much of the black middle class before Katrina. The cafe covers costs but is yet to provide Ms. Henry with a steady paycheck, she said.

“I thought after 10 years the city would be rebuilt better than it is,” Ms. Henry said.

Life is rosier for Mr. McGoey, who worked years for the Brennan restaurant clan. He got the phone call from the owners of the New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. chain, clients of his consulting work, asking for help a month after the storm.

A few weeks later, he and his team reopened one of the chain’s restaurants in Metairie, offering up gumbo and fried-shrimp sandwiches. “At 10 a.m., there were 100 people in line before we unlocked the door,” he said.

By 2008, he had raised money from friends and investors to open more restaurants in suburbs booming with folks displaced from the city.

Two years later he established his first New Orleans location, on St. Charles Avenue, including a coffee bar serving chocolate versions of the traditional fried beignets. His latest venture, Legacy Kitchen, offers a lobster roll made with Creole rémoulade sauce.

Mr. McGoey’s waiters get base pay of $2.13 an hour that with tips, he said, can total $15 to $40 an hour. “They can leave with $200 cash and go their merry way, and do that day after day after day,” he said.

Restaurants, he said, are leading an economic revival in many neighborhoods. “Three days after the storm, I said, ‘Man, it’s going to take 10 years for the city to come back,’ ” he said. “It came back for the average citizen five years ago. It’s exploding now.”

27 2015-08-27
New Orleans

UNO President and Wife Establish Education Scholarship


University of New Orleans President Peter J. Fos and his wife, Lori, have established an endowed scholarship to help support female students pursuing a bachelor's degree in education at UNO. The $25,000 scholarship fund was made possible by a donation from the Foses as well as contributions from friends of the University.

The Lori A. and Peter J. Fos Endowed Scholarship in Education is designed to specifically support women in education, with priority given to student-athletes. Beneficiaries will receive a $500 scholarship award for both the fall and spring semesters to help cover any education expenses.

"As first-generation students and UNO graduates ourselves, Lori and I are firm believers in the power of higher education," President Fos said. "If this scholarship can help a student, in some small way, achieve her goal of earning a college degree, it will be well worth it."

"Over decades, the University of New Orleans has built a reputation for graduating students who go on to be leaders in our local schools," Lori Fos said. "We hope this scholarship can help contribute to that legacy of preparing top-notch educational personnel."

Recipients must be a full-time female student who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in education and is in good academic standing. The first recipient of the scholarship is expected to be named during the fall 2015 semester.

27 2015-08-21
New Orleans

Letters: Like the city of New Orleans, the University of New Orleans has shown its resilience, resurgence since Hurricane Katrina


I am fond of telling people that the University of New Orleans should rightly be called the University for New Orleans. As the city’s only public research university, it is difficult to segregate the fortunes of New Orleans, the city, from the institution that bears its name. For nearly six decades, these two entities have been closely linked, and a decade ago, that bond became even more apparent. The fury unleashed by Hurricane Katrina did not have catastrophic consequences for the university but they were significant. Between flooding and building damage, our campus required about $80 million in repairs.




Ours is not an uncommon story. Like so many schools, businesses and faith groups, the lives of our community members were thrown into upheaval. They lost houses, belongings and loved ones. They scattered across the country, some never to return. But what happened in the weeks and months that followed make me endlessly proud to be both the president and a graduate of the University of New Orleans.

Administrators banded with staff and faculty to try to bring a university back to life in a matter of weeks, while enduring their own personal turmoil. Through resourcefulness and unyielding determination, UNO resumed classes on Oct. 10, 2005, by offering courses online and at the Jefferson Campus in Metairie. It was the first and only local university to reopen during the fall 2005 semester, and it did so just six weeks after Katrina came ashore. This milestone sent a message of resilience and commitment to all New Orleanians, not just UNO students and their families.

The experience, of course, left all of us changed. The university now has fewer students than it did a decade ago — a consequence of not just Katrina’s long-term effects but of higher state-mandated admissions standards. We have not, however, deviated from our mission of offering accessible high-quality education, conducting groundbreaking research and enhancing the industry, culture and economy of the New Orleans region. Many of our most in-demand programs are directly connected to our location, such as film and theatre; planning and urban studies; naval architecture and marine engineering; and hotel, restaurant and tourism administration. An overwhelming majority of our students continue to come from the metro area, and most of them will remain here after earning a degree. This is UNO’s heritage, and it represents true economic development for the region.

The university’s influence has not been limited to southeast Louisiana. In the past decade alone, UNO has educated students from all 64 parishes, all 50 states and more than 130 countries. These students are often the most effective and passionate ambassadors for our city, and their reach is global. They help spread the message that New Orleans is a proud, resurgent metropolis. The same could be said for one of its most vital public assets — the University for New Orleans.



Peter J. Fos

president, University of New Orleans

New Orleans

27 2015-08-20
New Orleans

Newspapers still a calling for UNO adviser


Some would agree that subscribing to and reading a daily newspaper seems to be waning with each passing day. Social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook quickly post links to stories and news apps on smart phones and iPads are literally at one’s fingertips.




But for Vickie Kennedy, newspapers still matter.

“I’ve always loved news and newspapers,” Kennedy said. “You can get more in-depth information by reading a well-reported, well-researched news or feature story. For me, a three-minute story on television or a brief few words on social media just isn’t the same. Both play an important role, but so do newspapers.”

Kennedy taught from 1983 to 2008 at Grace King High School in Metairie. While there, she was the adviser to the school’s monthly newspaper, Irish Eyes, from 1991 to 2007. Under her watch, the paper and its staff won dozens of local and state awards including the best student newspaper in the state for more than 15 years, several Silver Scribe competitions sponsored by Loyola University, the Columbia’s Scholastic Press Association and the Quill and Scroll competition.

Kennedy retired from Grace King in 2008, but her mentoring and advising of students isn’t over. As classes begin this month at the University of New Orleans, she resumes her second year as the adviser of the campus’ weekly newspaper, The Driftwood.



“What I missed when I retired from Grace King were the students, so being at UNO has really been great,” Kennedy said. “And what also has been interesting is there are members of our staff — both in editorial and in advertising — who are enrolled in various academic programs throughout the university such as business administration, marketing, film and theatre, political science, and hotel, restaurant and tourism. It’s a great cross section of people bringing new ideas.”

More than 20 people make up the staff of The Driftwood, and Kennedy said she is still recruiting members. She added that students who work on the paper do so as volunteers — it is not an elective or required class.

Kennedy said she’s had to adjust to the fact that she’s working with adults.

At Grace King, “my students were well, kids. It is still odd for me to hear the UNO students call me ‘Vickie’ instead of ‘Mrs. Kennedy,’ ” she said.

“As The Driftwood adviser, I’m working hard to make sure the staff is learning the importance of reporting the news fairly, what goes into publishing a paper, selling ads, how to use social media to our advantage and of course, the importance of good writing.”



Kennedy lives in Metairie with her husband Al. They have two children. A graduate of Archbishop Chapelle High School, Kennedy has a degree in communications with a minor in journalism from Loyola University. She also has a master’s in education from the University of New Orleans.

“The person who had the most profound influence on me as a student was Dr. Virginia Ziegler, my eighth grade teacher at St. Christopher School,” Kennedy recalled. “She had us read and write so much, and I loved it. It never occurred to me that I was good at it (writing), until she encouraged me.

“Also, my mother always subscribed to newspapers, both morning and evening editions, and we also maintained subscription to many magazines. I have always been a news hound and I still follow several news outlets.”

While at Loyola, Kennedy wrote for The Maroon, the campus newspaper. She also wrote for Loyola’s television and radio station, WLDC.

“I was managing editor and news director for WLDC,” Kennedy said. “I lived in the communications department. There were only a few females in the department in those days, so in addition to writing and producing news programming, I did on-air work for the radio and TV station.”



Kennedy said she encourages her students to “read everything and to treat topics you are writing about in depth.

“It has always been important to me to get students to become aware media consumers,” Kennedy said. “And what I mean by that is to not just take what you read online as the whole story. When you write a story, thoroughly research your subject and spend time talking to many sources. And listen hard to what people are saying.”

As the changes in the newspaper industry continue, Kennedy, 63, said “newspapers will still be influential.”

“In recent years, journalists have had to adjust to all sorts of changes,” she said. “The challenge may be in the platform.

“Because students rarely come to work on a newspaper thinking that they can influence their readers, one of my favorite experiences is observing them when something they have written makes a difference. I saw it happen dozens of times at Grace King and see it regularly at UNO. It is still a rush! And that’s the trick … get them to see they can make a difference

27 2015-08-20
New Orleans

New Students Immerse in the Privateer Plunge


Privateer Plunge, a joint effort of the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and the Office of Enrollment Services, provides new students a variety of opportunities to get acquainted with available campus resources and to meet fellow students as well as faculty and administrators. The six-week program began Thursday, Aug. 13 and continues through Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Privateer Plunge is completely voluntary, but those who choose to participate will find a combination of extended welcome week programming with orientation-style activities—as well as a little competition to sweeten the pot.

"This year's Privateer Plunge has more than 200 programs," said Dale O'Neill, director of UNO's Office of Student Involvement and Leadership. The six-week orientation challenge for new students is divided into five tracks representing academic opportunities and traditions; social and cultural events; health, wellness and personal development; community service; and a special track designed to benefit transfer students. Printed Privateer Plunge guides include a color splash next to each scheduled event indicating that event's category.

Participants are expected to attend at least 12 events, three in each category, within the first six weeks at UNO. Events are scheduled at varying times throughout the day. This year, the organizers will provide awards to students who have attended the most events in various tracks during Privateer Plunge. The prizes bring major incentives to participate, including New Orleans Saints tickets, UNO bookstore vouchers and upgraded campus parking.

Privateer Plunge is "not just fun and games," said Christy Heaton, associate director for orientation and first-year student success in UNO's Office of Enrollment Services. The six weeks includes academic success workshops, counseling career workshops and events hosted by academic departments, according to Heaton, who created the program together with O'Neill.

"Research shows that the first six weeks at a new university is the best time for campus leaders to help freshmen get incentive to form a new community ... making friends, meeting administrators and feeling at home. We want new UNO students to meet friends and feel like they have a home on our campus," said Heaton.

Students who attended last year's Privateer Plunge reported that the six-week welcome introduced them to resources that they previously did not know were available, according to O'Neill. Had they not attended these events, these students may not have known where to pursue critical resources or find the tools they needed for success.

Privateer Plunge's signature social events include a Welcome Back Luau on Thursday, Aug. 20, and Swampball on Saturday, Sept. 26. Privateer Plunge printed guides are available in the New Student Orientation Office (Earl K. Long Library, Room 112) and the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership (University Center, Room 222). For more information, visit the Privateer Plunge website.

27 2015-08-19
New Orleans

'Please Forward': Through blogging, Katrina survivors found their voice


Hurricane Katrina turned a lot of things upside down in New Orleans, including the way New Orleanians communicated with each other, about the storm, through it, and afterward. It's hard to believe that, in 2005, the notion of blogging was about as foreign as, say, texting.

Everyone, it seemed, had something to say, and everyone, it seemed, found a way to give voice to their pain. In "Please Forward: How Blogging Reconnected New Orleans After Katrina," University of Mississippi assistant journalism professor Cynthia Joyce has edited a collection of blog posts, essays, ramblings and musings — and, oddly enough, the occasional email from a certain former FEMA director trying to make sure his own dog was safe back in Washington, D.C.

"Please Forward" captures a range of New Orleanians, many journalists, doing everything from venting their angers and anguish to trying to explain with some form of clarity just what they were going through. Some were those already familiar with blogging, like Richard Read, the NOCCA Institute staffer and Running with Scissors theater troupe co-founder, who recounts in delicate and sometimes painful detail his re-entry into the city. And then there's Joshua Cousin, who began blogging a week after the storm from his evacuation spot inside the Houston Astrodome. Early on, he references the death of a family member with a simple poignancy:

"Gregory Estes.... He was cool people. The whole time he was at my house, he read the Bible. And quoted it also. He was studying to be a church deacon. He talked about how he loved his family as a whole. He even said it himself. 'If the lord wants me to die, he'd take me out in this hurricane.' He also said that 'This is me and my kids' first real hurricane and I know they'll remember this for the rest of their lives.' He was jolly the whole day...until he realized that one of his kids was at my cousin's. He walked his way through 3 or 4 feet of water. He got to a lower-lying area where waters were about 8 to 12 feet. He died while trying to save a boy's life. He was on his way to save his daughter & drowned."

Joyce, a journalist and former New Orleans resident, evacuated New Orleans in advance of the storm and worked as a senior producer at MSNBC before joining the Ole Miss faculty in 2011. She took a moment to answer some questions via email about the collection (published by the University of New Orleans Press) in advance of her two New Orleans book appearances this week: Tuesday (Aug. 18) at Press Street and Thursday (Aug. 20) at Octavia Books. The latter appearance will feature readings from contributors including Deborah "Big Red" Cotton, Michael Homan, and Bart "Editor B" Everson. (Full disclosure: Joyce briefly worked for NOLA.com.)



Tuesday, August 18 at 7:00 PM

"Please Forward" Book Launch

Press Street HQ

SEE FULL EVENT DETAILS

nola.com


Talk a little bit about how Hurricane Katrina was such a perfect setting for the advent of blogging, given the more traditional communications breakdowns going at the time.

I tend to think that blogging was to Hurricane Katrina what Twitter was to Arab Spring — it was the perfect tool for the time. In the case of Katrina, blogs wound up providing a real sense of "place" for many of the displaced. We don't feel that so much on the Web anymore, that sense of having a home page — the emphasis now is all on keyword searches and social media streams. But back then, having an online hub, with a permanent web address, was so reassuring, especially when your actual home was destroyed or inaccessible.

With each new communication technology, there's always talk of the ways in which they empower people, but we all know the reality of that — there's always a trade-off. But those are two recent examples I've seen where the rhetoric proved true, and people really were more widely and more deeply connected thanks to those specific platforms.

Can you give us an idea of who and how you chose for the project? This sounds like the kind of project where sifting through and sorting out what to leave in and what to take out not only would be a difficult task, but given the often-personal nature of the work, quite the potential emotional rabbit hole.

"A deep-dive into the emotional rabbit hole" was actually my suggested subtitle, but the publisher didn't like it.

And it probably was a little masochistic, deliberately weeding through so many of those memories. But I felt like, if I was going to be forced every anniversary to relive this horrible event, I at least wanted a more emotionally accurate account, one that felt true to my now fading memory of it. Not that I'd ever want to experience the awfulness again, but I also didn't want to forget the intensity of that time — not all of it was bad.

As one of the bloggers, Clifton Harris, put it in one of the entries: "Trying to get closure from yourself will only make you sad."



27 2015-08-19
New Orleans

The Rebirth of Gentilly


When you drive down I-610, one might not notice Gentilly at first. The neighborhood—resting quietly to the east of City Park to the industrial canal, from the interstate to the lake —doesn't scream its name from the rooftops. But those looking for a home in a solid neighborhood that's growing at an unprecedented pace, might just want to take the Paris Avenue exit.

"We¹re also seeing lots of families with children ... which is very heart warming," Charlee Jones of LATTER & BLUM INC. / REALTORS said. "It really helps make Gentilly a great neighborhood and a great place to live."

Suffering damage during Katrina, there were concerns whether the middle class neighborhood would make a rebound. But a decade since the tragedy, and hope springs anew. Gentilly's damaged homes and beloved institutions are being rebuilt. The Redeemer-Seton Catholic High School, damaged beyond repair in the storm, has now been re-established as the Holy Cross High School. A quick look at the other amenities Gentilly offers shows why the decision to move here is an easy one.

"The area is charming and desirable to many, but still more affordable than other areas," Sandra Green of GARDNER REALTORS said.

In addition to an explosion in retail redevelopment along Chef Menteur Highway, also known as Gentilly Boulevard, there's a strong educational component. Benjamin Franklin High School—ranked 16th best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report—is situated in the northern part of the neighborhood. The University of New Orleans and Dillard University also call Gentilly home, and the two help bring a regular infusion of fresh ideas and fresh faces. The LSU Dental School has also has their campus in the neighborhood. These institutions help to anchor the neighborhood's growth, driving a strong local economy.

"Many of the blighted homes are being removed, purchased, and/or renovated, revitalizing many areas and improving home values," said Todd Taylor of RE/MAX REAL ESTATE PARTNERS.

The interest in the neighborhood is growing particularly near City Park, and moving eastward. Green warns that younger families with lower budgets are rapidly getting priced out, as " demand is increasing all the time." Jones said its harder to see the influx of development along the main streets, and recommends prospective buyers look closely at some of the off-the-beaten-path parts of Gentilly—such as Cartier and Riviera Avenues. Terraced homes along the higher-elevation Gentilly ridge area, near Gentilly Boulevard, are drawing particular attention for their storm resistance and long-term investment potential.

"The neighborhoods also retain a lot of their old charm and the feel of community that many people want," Green said.

Not only do buyers get a great place for school and business, but it's also magnificently located. With easy access to I- 610 and Chef Menteur highways, commutes in any direction are easy. Homeowners in Gentilly enjoy easy access to the Fairgrounds for JazzFest. City Park offers many events and walking trails that also extend along Wisner Boulevard. Meanwhile, Gentilly itself is home to the 42-year-old Greek Fest, held around Memorial Day weekend each year. Taylor said the wide array of entertainment make Gentilly the virtual "center of the city's universe." It's a combination that is bringing everyone to the area.

"With all of the growth Gentilly is experiencing a lot more diversity," Jones said. "Residents of in Gentilly enjoy a wonderful location close to the city close to New Orleans City Park."

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina and the breaks at the London Avenue Canal struck a hard blow to a great neighborhood. In that time, Gentilly has proven itself tough, retaining its community and building for the future. With great schools, loads of business and ample green space, many are considering the jump to Gentilly from all over the area. Far from being undone by the storm, Gentilly seem to be bouncing back stronger than ever.

"Just a couple of years back, we had challenges with Gentilly properties appraising, but now that is not the case," Jones said. "Wonderful things are happening in Gentilly

27 2015-08-17
New Orleans

UNO welcomes largest freshmen class since Hurricane Katrina


NEW ORLEANS -- It's an exciting new day for freshmen and new students coming into UNO, but just like it's a new start for their academic career, it's also a new day for UNO, as this is the largest freshmen class the school has brought in since Katrina.

"First day of school is always so exciting to get new energy on campus, new students. It's what we're all about," said University of New Orleans President Peter Fos.

Fos chipped in a helping hand on move-in day Thursday as current UNO students helped freshmen get settled into their new space.

Ten years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Fos believes although UNO's growth has been rocky, it's been in the right direction.

"In some ways Katrina really washed us cleaner," Fos said. "The greatest tragedy of all times, we will never forget that. But I think now that we are poised we can really bring this university forward another step and hopefully the city as well."

The student population is half of what it was pre-Katrina, but Fos said the focus is on bringing quality students and not a quantity of students, and with the increase in admission standards just four years ago, it's making admission a little tougher.

"The average high school student from New Orleans can't be admitted to UNO, so we are probably going to level off at a number much smaller than Katrina, but the students that are coming are much more able, much more prepared, so more of those students will graduate. And that's what were here for, to educate and graduate."

School officials say that just a few years ago the dorms were only at 70 percent capacity, but Thursday they're telling us that they've reached a new mark at nearly 96 percent capacity.

27 2015-08-13
New Orleans

Navy experts present robotics summer camp at UNO


The New Orleans Detachment of the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command presented a robotics summer camp July 13-17 at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Campus.




The camp provided opportunities for 24 students to participate in hands-on activities such as robotics and design engineering. They also toured the New Orleans Navy Enterprise Data Center and help desk, and viewed demonstrations from NASA, FIRST Robotics Competition Team 3946, the Southern University of New Orleans physics department and the UNO department of computer science.

The SPAWAR Robotics Outreach Team used Lego Mindstorms EV3 robotics technology to inspire fourth- and fifth-grade students to dive into the fields of computer programming and robotics.

27 2015-08-06
New Orleans

Fun with NORDC: NORDC to host STEM Saturday at Treme center


“Harnessing the Power of Wind: Wind Energy” is the theme of the next STEM Saturday with Dr. Calvin Mackie from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Treme Rec Center, 900 N. Villere St. After learning about the principles of simple circuits, electricity and wind energy, students grades K-12 will design, build, test and evaluate their own wind mills.




STEM Saturdays take place at different NORDC Rec Centers each month. Students and parents may attend and learn together.

Registration is $60 per student. A limited number of free registrations, sponsored by NORDC and Entergy, are available for students who receive free or reduced-price lunch. To register, get information and see the STEM Saturdays schedule, visit www.stemnola.com.

STEM Saturdays is program of STEM NOLA whose mission is to grow future innovators, creators and entrepreneurs through inspiration, engagement and exposure to science, technology, engineering and math.

VOLLEYBALL REGISTRATION: Register through Aug. 17. For ages 9 to 14. For registration requirements and playground locations, visit www.nola.gov/nordc.



UNO YOUTH VOLLEYBALL CLINIC: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 19 at Gernon Brown Rec Center, 1001 Harrison Ave. Free for ages 9 to 15. The University of New Orleans Privateers volleyball players will teach fundamental volleyball skills and the value of communication and trust in team sports.

TEEN COUNCIL MEETING: Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Gernon Brown Rec Center, 1001 Harrison Ave. First monthly meeting of the 2015-16 school year. Guests and prospective members are welcome. Learn more about the Teen Council at www.nola.gov/teens.

27 2015-08-05
New Orleans

Higher education round up: UNO professor wins Public Scholar award


UNO professor wins Public Scholar award




University of New Orleans English professor Anne Boyd Rioux has won a Public Scholar Program award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Rioux’s $50,400 grant is the maximum amount that can be given under the Public Scholar Program, which is a new initiative of the NEH designed to promote the publication of scholarly nonfiction books for a general audience.

Rioux was selected for her book “Reading ‘Little Women’: The History of an American Classic.” She is writing a biography that illuminates how Louisa May Alcott’s classic was written in 1868 and how it has been read ever since.

Thirty-six writers earned Public Scholar grants.



Rioux, who has taught at UNO since 1999, is a professor of English and member of the women’s and gender studies faculty. She teaches courses in American literature with an emphasis on the 19th century, cultural studies and gender.

Rioux was named a NEH fellow in 2012. Her book “Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist” will be published by W.W. Norton in February.


27 2015-08-05
New Orleans

Fun with NORDC: NORDC to host STEM Saturday at Treme center


“Harnessing the Power of Wind: Wind Energy” is the theme of the next STEM Saturday with Dr. Calvin Mackie from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Treme Rec Center, 900 N. Villere St. After learning about the principles of simple circuits, electricity and wind energy, students grades K-12 will design, build, test and evaluate their own wind mills.




STEM Saturdays take place at different NORDC Rec Centers each month. Students and parents may attend and learn together.

Registration is $60 per student. A limited number of free registrations, sponsored by NORDC and Entergy, are available for students who receive free or reduced-price lunch. To register, get information and see the STEM Saturdays schedule, visit www.stemnola.com.

STEM Saturdays is program of STEM NOLA whose mission is to grow future innovators, creators and entrepreneurs through inspiration, engagement and exposure to science, technology, engineering and math.

VOLLEYBALL REGISTRATION: Register through Aug. 17. For ages 9 to 14. For registration requirements and playground locations, visit www.nola.gov/nordc.



UNO YOUTH VOLLEYBALL CLINIC: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 19 at Gernon Brown Rec Center, 1001 Harrison Ave. Free for ages 9 to 15. The University of New Orleans Privateers volleyball players will teach fundamental volleyball skills and the value of communication and trust in team sports.

TEEN COUNCIL MEETING: Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Gernon Brown Rec Center, 1001 Harrison Ave. First monthly meeting of the 2015-16 school year. Guests and prospective members are welcome. Learn more about the Teen Council at www.nola.gov/teens.



Victor N. Richard III is the chief executive officer of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission. For more information, visit www.nola.gov/nordc.

27 2015-08-04
New Orleans

UNO to launch first STEM training program for freshman class


The University of New Orleans is holding its first five-day training program for 45 students in its incoming freshman class who plan to pursue science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields.

The STEM Scholars program, which runs Aug. 5-10, is intended to encourage participating students to stick with STEM disciplines through the rest of their college career.

"Fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field complete a STEM degree," according to a 2013 report from the White House.

"We are launching this program to give STEM freshmen that extra push they need to do well academically, feel comfortable in their new college life and establish relationships that will carry through their time at UNO," said Wendy Schluchter, professor and chair of biological sciences at UNO.

The program will teach biology, algebra and calculus, allowing students to attend lectures from faculty in these fields and receive guidance from peer mentors.

The STEM Scholars program is modeled on other STEM training camps for incoming freshmen shown to be effective in improving grades in fall courses and raising the four-year graduation rate. It is being offered with the help of a $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

27 2015-08-03
Associated Press

Navy contract employing New Orleans workers changes hands


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - System Integration and Management has notified Louisiana officials it will lay off about 100 employees at its New Orleans site over coming weeks after its contract with the U.S. Navy ended.

The Navy tells NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune (http://bit.ly/1MDYIEG ) that Virginia-based Cosolutions EIS, the winner of a years-long bidding process over the work, will take over the contract at the University of New Orleans Research and Technology Park.

27 2015-08-03
New Orleans

UNO to outsource janitorial and grounds work, saving money but putting 80 jobs in jeopardy


The University of New Orleans plans to outsource its building services work this fall, a cost-cutting measure that the cash-strapped Lakefront school expects will save more than $1 million in five years at the expense of nearly 80 workers whose jobs are thrown into question.




It’s the latest in a series of moves that UNO has taken in recent years to trim expenses after years of steep funding cuts and declining enrollment.

UNO spokesman Adam Norris said Wednesday that affected employees were notified about the possible change two weeks ago. The Building Services Department includes janitorial and grounds employees.

Norris said 66 classified employees, those covered by Civil Service, and 10 unclassified employees will be affected.

“The reason we’re doing this is to run the university more efficiently and yet do it in a way that doesn’t sacrifice the quality of our academics or the quality of our student experience,” he said.



UNO officials haven’t decided yet who among the unclassified employees will be retained. It also hasn’t hired a contractor to take over the work.

UNO is expected to require the chosen company at least to interview the displaced employees, though there are no guarantees that they will be offered employment. “We’re hopeful, and we would expect, that many of those employees would be able to continue,” Norris said.

UNO has scheduled an Aug. 20 job fair on campus to help the affected employees find jobs, he said.

Norris pointed to the school’s bookstore as another example of a service that the school has outsourced in recent years.

As the school looks for ways to save money, the UNO faculty spent much of last year looking at ways to trim costs among its 80 degree programs, determining which areas should be shored up and which should be restructured or eliminated.



UNO President Peter Fos eventually recommended eliminating six academic programs, one department and 22 faculty and staff positions in a push to save $1 million this academic year and $2.8 million next year.

Since taking the helm in 2012, Fos has eliminated at least 140 positions.

27 2015-07-31
New Orleans

UNO will outsource facility services jobs to save money


The University of New Orleans is planning to outsource its facility services jobs this fall, a measure designed to save around $1 million and avoid further cuts to academic programs.

UNO spokesman Adam Norris said the outsourcing will affect 10 unclassified employees and 66 classified employees, who are covered by Civil Service and receive greater job protection.

Norris added that the new vendor has not yet been identified, though it may retain many of the classified employees.

"The University's decision to proceed with the outsourcing of the functions of the Office of Facility Services is part of an ongoing effort to operate more efficiently without compromising the quality of our academic programs or the services we provide to our students," Norris said in an emailed statement.

Warren Davis, the head of Facility Services at UNO, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Budget cuts and declining enrollment in recent years has forced UNO to make hard choices. In November, the university recommended closing three programs and restructuring 25 more in an effort to revitalize the institution.

The university estimated outsourcing facility services would save $1 million over a five-year period. The campus' Office of Facility Services consists of several departments, including building services, capital planning and construction, and facility maintenance.

Norris noted other universities around the country have outsourced certain operations as a cost-saving measure. Several years ago, an outside company took over the operation of UNO's bookstore, Norris said.

To help affected employees find work, UNO will hold a job fair on campus on Aug. 20.

27 2015-07-30
New Orleans

UNO English professor wins award to write 'popular' scholarly book


University of New Orleans English professor Anne Boyd Rioux is one of 36 writers in the United States to have earned a Public Scholar award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Rioux received a grant of $50,400, the maximum amount given through the award program, a new initiative through the NEH that promotes the publication of scholarly nonfiction books for a general audience.

Rioux was chosen on the basis of her book "Reading Little Women: The History of An American Classic," which sheds light on Louisa May Alcott's classic novel and its critical reception since its publication 147 years ago.

Other recipients of the grants include Pulitzer Prize-winner Diane McWhorter, who is working on a book about the Moon landing, and National Book Award-winner Kevin Boyle, who is writing about an early 20th century anarchist.

The Public Scholar award program is the brainchild of NEH Chairman William D. Adams, now in his second year in office, who wants to make academic writing and research more accessible to lay readers, according to the Washington Post.

Rioux, a member of the women's and gender studies faculty, has taught at UNO since 1999 and was named an NEH fellow in 2012. Speaking to the Post, she noted that universities have stopped offering as many sabbaticals, limiting the amount of time professors have to work on books.

Small advances from trade publishers have made it even more difficult to support the writing of a research-driven project, she told the Post. "It is nearly impossible, if you aren't a David McCollough, to earn an advance large enough to support the writing and research of a serious nonfiction book."

Read the full story about the program in the Washington Post he

27 2015-07-29
New Orleans

SUNO Chancellor Victor Ukpolo responds to NOLA.com stories on professor deaths


Southern University at New Orleans Chancellor Victor Ukpolo on Tuesday (July 28) issued a statement in response to a series of articles published by NOLA.com | The Times- Picayune that questioned whether conditions in a building on campus contributed to the deaths of four SUNO faculty members in 2013 and 2014.

Ukpolo was given the opportunity to respond to questions as the stories were being reported and declined.

In his statement, Ukpolo wrote that SUNO "overcame incredible challenges to rebuild" after Hurricane Katrina and served as a pathway for "thousands of displaced citizens" to return to New Orleans in the months after the storm.

Repeating a statement included in the investigative series, which ran on NOLA.com July 22-24 and in the Times-Picayune on July 26, Ukpolo wrote that "SUNO never placed the lives of its employees or students at risk," and that employees "only occupied facilities that were deemed safe by the state."

Ukpolo further noted that "state officials declared that the Multipurpose Building and three other buildings would be demolished and subsequently replaced with new buildings." This decision, Ukpolo wrote, was made "a few years ago."

In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency deemed the Multipurpose Building eligible for replacement only after submitting an environmental assessment report in December 2014, according to FEMA spokeswoman Julie Bradford. It was after that point, Bradford said, that the state elected to demolish the building and construct a new building in its place.

Ukpolo went on to say that "many of the observations raised in the article were inaccurate," though he mentioned only one. That observation had to do with the title of the third article in the series, "40 minutes pass before emergency help reaches dying SUNO professor," which centers on the death of Guillarne Leary, who collapsed in a campus building in February 2014 and died days later at Tulane Medical Center.

According to Ukpolo, "official records indicate that SUNO police officers were on the scene within two minutes after answering an emergency call, and other first-responders arrived shortly thereafter."

Interviews conducted with more than a dozen SUNO students, faculty and staff who witnessed the incident contradict that claim.

Witnesses said campus police officers did not immediately respond to phone calls, prompting several people to call 911. A lawsuit filed against SUNO in March 2015 by the Leary's daughter said "emergency personnel allegedly failed to arrive for more than 45 minutes."

Once the campus police officers did arrive, witnesses said they stood by and watched as SUNO students with nursing degrees performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Leary, who had collapsed in the hallway of the Lake Campus' Modular Building.

Leary had moved her office into the building weeks before, after spending five years on the second floor of the Multipurpose Building. Three other professors on that same floor died within three months of Leary's death on Feb. 22, 2014.

According to several nationally recognized mold experts, moldy conditions inside the building may have played a role in the four fatalities.

Read the articles in the series here, and Ukpolo's complete response below.











Document















Zoom




Southern University at New Orleans Chancellor Victor Ukpolo on Tuesday (July 28) issued a statement in response to a series of articles published by NOLA.com | The Times- Picayune that questioned whether conditions in a building on campus contributed to the deaths of four SUNO faculty members in 2013 and 2014.

Ukpolo was given the opportunity to respond to questions as the stories were being reported and declined.

In his statement, Ukpolo wrote that SUNO "overcame incredible challenges to rebuild" after Hurricane Katrina and served as a pathway for "thousands of displaced citizens" to return to New Orleans in the months after the storm.

Repeating a statement included in the investigative series, which ran on NOLA.com July 22-24 and in the Times-Picayune on July 26, Ukpolo wrote that "SUNO never placed the lives of its employees or students at risk," and that employees "only occupied facilities that were deemed safe by the state."

Ukpolo further noted that "state officials declared that the Multipurpose Building and three other buildings would be demolished and subsequently replaced with new buildings." This decision, Ukpolo wrote, was made "a few years ago."

In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency deemed the Multipurpose Building eligible for replacement only after submitting an environmental assessment report in December 2014, according to FEMA spokeswoman Julie Bradford. It was after that point, Bradford said, that the state elected to demolish the building and construct a new building in its place.

Ukpolo went on to say that "many of the observations raised in the article were inaccurate," though he mentioned only one. That observation had to do with the title of the third article in the series, "40 minutes pass before emergency help reaches dying SUNO professor," which centers on the death of Guillarne Leary, who collapsed in a campus building in February 2014 and died days later at Tulane Medical Center.

According to Ukpolo, "official records indicate that SUNO police officers were on the scene within two minutes after answering an emergency call, and other first-responders arrived shortly thereafter."

Interviews conducted with more than a dozen SUNO students, faculty and staff who witnessed the incident contradict that claim.

Witnesses said campus police officers did not immediately respond to phone calls, prompting several people to call 911. A lawsuit filed against SUNO in March 2015 by the Leary's daughter said "emergency personnel allegedly failed to arrive for more than 45 minutes."

Once the campus police officers did arrive, witnesses said they stood by and watched as SUNO students with nursing degrees performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Leary, who had collapsed in the hallway of the Lake Campus' Modular Building.

Leary had moved her office into the building weeks before, after spending five years on the second floor of the Multipurpose Building. Three other professors on that same floor died within three months of Leary's death on Feb. 22, 2014.

According to several nationally recognized mold experts, moldy conditions inside the building may have played a role in the four fatalities.

Read the articles in the series here, and Ukpolo's complete response below.











Document















Zoom




Southern University at New Orleans Chancellor Victor Ukpolo on Tuesday (July 28) issued a statement in response to a series of articles published by NOLA.com | The Times- Picayune that questioned whether conditions in a building on campus contributed to the deaths of four SUNO faculty members in 2013 and 2014.

Ukpolo was given the opportunity to respond to questions as the stories were being reported and declined.

In his statement, Ukpolo wrote that SUNO "overcame incredible challenges to rebuild" after Hurricane Katrina and served as a pathway for "thousands of displaced citizens" to return to New Orleans in the months after the storm.

Repeating a statement included in the investigative series, which ran on NOLA.com July 22-24 and in the Times-Picayune on July 26, Ukpolo wrote that "SUNO never placed the lives of its employees or students at risk," and that employees "only occupied facilities that were deemed safe by the state."

Ukpolo further noted that "state officials declared that the Multipurpose Building and three other buildings would be demolished and subsequently replaced with new buildings." This decision, Ukpolo wrote, was made "a few years ago."

In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency deemed the Multipurpose Building eligible for replacement only after submitting an environmental assessment report in December 2014, according to FEMA spokeswoman Julie Bradford. It was after that point, Bradford said, that the state elected to demolish the building and construct a new building in its place.

Ukpolo went on to say that "many of the observations raised in the article were inaccurate," though he mentioned only one. That observation had to do with the title of the third article in the series, "40 minutes pass before emergency help reaches dying SUNO professor," which centers on the death of Guillarne Leary, who collapsed in a campus building in February 2014 and died days later at Tulane Medical Center.

According to Ukpolo, "official records indicate that SUNO police officers were on the scene within two minutes after answering an emergency call, and other first-responders arrived shortly thereafter."

Interviews conducted with more than a dozen SUNO students, faculty and staff who witnessed the incident contradict that claim.

Witnesses said campus police officers did not immediately respond to phone calls, prompting several people to call 911. A lawsuit filed against SUNO in March 2015 by the Leary's daughter said "emergency personnel allegedly failed to arrive for more than 45 minutes."

Once the campus police officers did arrive, witnesses said they stood by and watched as SUNO students with nursing degrees performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Leary, who had collapsed in the hallway of the Lake Campus' Modular Building.

Leary had moved her office into the building weeks before, after spending five years on the second floor of the Multipurpose Building. Three other professors on that same floor died within three months of Leary's death on Feb. 22, 2014.

According to several nationally recognized mold experts, moldy conditions inside the building may have played a role in the four fatalities.

Read the articles in the series here, and Ukpolo's complete response below.











Document















Zoom













































































27 2015-07-27
New Orleans

UNO and SUNO's responses to moldy buildings differ greatly



The damp and moldy conditions faculty and staff reported inside Southern University at New Orleans' Multipurpose Building between 2008 and 2013 were found in countless buildings damaged in the floods that accompanied Hurricane Katrina. But the way SUNO responded to employee complaints about the conditions differs from the way the University of New Orleans reacted to similar complaints after the storm.

All 11 buildings at SUNO were flooded and lost power, while only about a quarter of the buildings at UNO were affected. Still, parts of UNO's campus remained under water for three weeks. The state Office of Facility Planning and Control later determined certain buildings were contaminated with mold.


NO ROOM TO BREATHE

An investigative series exploring the mysterious deaths of four professors at Southern University at New Orleans

Wednesday:

Did mold kill 4 SUNO professors

Thursday:

Mold problems and health concerns got 'Band-Aid solution'

UNO, SUNO response to moldy buildings differs greatly

Friday:

Professor's death reveals emergency response flaws on SUNO's campus

Former SUNO facilities director questions campus leadership

One of those buildings was Bienville Hall, an eight-story residence hall. While UNO administrators remained in Baton Rouge in the months after Katrina, the university's facilities management team was tasked with returning the affected buildings to operational status.

Jim Royer, director of construction and design at UNO, said mold was visible on the first floor of Bienville Hall.

"A few weeks after the storm, you could see patches of red, yellow and black mold on the walls," Royer said. "You knew it would be a problem when it dried."

At the time, the state was rushing to hire contractors to remediate hundreds of state-owned buildings before they became damaged beyond repair. In early 2006, it hired Zimmer-Eschette to tackle Bienville. The licensed mold remediation contractor in Metairie would also handle the 2008 remediation of the Multipurpose Building at SUNO.

It took three separate cleanings, Royer said, but air sample tests finally proved the building was safe to occupy that spring. According to a UNO spokesman, students returned to the dorm rooms in May "with the expectation that they would leave once the new residence halls were completed."

A year passed with no complaints. In the fall of 2007, students moved into the new Pontchartrain Halls North and South. UNO's facilities, purchasing and athletics departments then moved into Bienville Hall. But two years later, staff in those departments began complaining of "allergy-like symptoms," according to UNO.

The university vacated the building. AIMS Group, the Metairie company that holds the environmental assessment contract for all state buildings, retested the air on the first four floors. The tests, Royer said, indicated mold had reached a level that could potentially affect human health. The building has not been occupied since.

"Environmental remediations don't always catch everything," Royer said, adding that he had worked with Zimmer-Eschette and AIMS Group on previous occasions and found them reliable. "They can overlook a hidden mold colony somewhere that, in a few months, can spread harmful spores throughout the building."

In the case of Bienville Hall, UNO's facilities management determined the ductwork had not been properly cleaned. The building was built in 1969, and the ducts contained fiber insulation on the inside, Royer said, allowing mold and mildew to grow and spread over time.

UNO faced a tough financial decision. Replacing the building would cost $14 million, said Warren Davis, UNO's associate vice president for facility services. Renovating it again would cost about $7 million, though another renovation offered no guarantee the mold issue would be resolved.

In the end, UNO chose the least costly alternative: demolish the building and convert the property to green space. The university is now seeking $3 million to $4 million in demolition costs from the state, Davis said.

The fate of Bienville Hall illustrates the challenges state universities damaged in Hurricane Katrina faced after the storm. It also points to how hard ridding a building of mold can be. In the absence of federal regulations on what constitutes a safe amount of mold, humans are often forced to act as canaries in a coal mine, alerting building managers to air quality issues.

As such, facilities managers at SUNO and UNO represented a crucial link between the state and the universities faculty, staff and students in the rebuilding period after Hurricane Katrina.

"The state was rushing around the city trying to bring buildings back," Davis said. "Once they declared our buildings safe, it became our responsibility to let them know if it wasn't."

According to faculty and staff who had offices in SUNO's Multipurpose Building, the university showed a lack of concern for health complaints between 2008 and 2013. After performing an indoor air quality test at the building in the summer of 2008, AIMS Group said SUNO never requested another test for the presence of mold or other harmful particles in the air.




















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27 2015-07-22
New Orleans

UNO hosts cybersecurity training for teachers: Photos


High School and middle school teachers are participating in the GenCyber Cybersecurity Program for Teachers at the University of New Orleans Tuesday (July 21).

GenCyber allows teachers to learn about cybersecurity technology, design their own curricula and gain skills needed to train future generations of cybersecurity experts.

The two-week training program is funded by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation. Twenty teachers from around the country are attending, 7 from metro New Orleans schools.

UNO was one of only six institutions to host a GenCyber summer camp in 2014. This year 43 camps will be held on 29 college campuses in 18 states.
27 2015-07-17
Regional/National

New policies close off opportunities to college applicants in need of extra help


EW ORLEANS — Throughout high school, Wellington Coleman did everything he was supposed to do to get into college.

He went to one of New Orleans’ ambitious new charter schools, which focus on preparing students for university-level work. He worked hard and got decent grades. And he sent out a pile of college applications.

But Coleman’s timing was bad. Last year, just as he was finishing high school, the door to four-year public universities closed on thousands of students in Louisiana, most of them low-income. That’s because a state policy approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents in 2010 barred those universities from accepting students who need extra academic help, starting last fall.


Washington Monthly

This story also appeared in Washington Monthly

Scores of New Orleans high school grads like Coleman, who just missed the state’s cutoff score on the English ACT entrance examination, were left with one lone option for pursuing public higher education in Louisiana: community college.

They can still eventually transfer to a four-year university after completing remedial courses meant to help them catch up. But Coleman, who excels in math and wants to be a computer engineer, preferred to start at one. He was reluctant to go to Delgado Community College, which enrolls about 16,500 students across seven campuses in the New Orleans area; more than 70 percent of them require at least one remedial course.

Community college is a “second choice to most people,” Coleman said. “I didn’t look at any community colleges.” He said he also didn’t want to have to transfer from one school to another mid-way through his college career.

But state policymakers increasingly hold a belief that “four-year universities should exclusively be places for students who are prepared to go straight into college-level work,” said Iris Palmer, a senior policy analyst at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy organization based in Washington D.C.


“It’s kind of remarkable that the students are doing as much as they are doing to try to get into a four-year college.”

Walter Stern, history instructor

And not only in Louisiana. More and more, the least privileged students across the country are being funneled into the least prestigious, lowest-funded institutions, many of them two-year colleges.

This shift is being fueled by arguments that it’s more cost-efficient to have community colleges, rather than universities, specialize in remedial education. Critics counter with concerns about equity — namely, that the policy makes it harder for low-income students to pursue four-year degrees.

The debate speaks to an underlying tension over the future of American higher education: whether the system should funnel students of disparate skills and backgrounds along separate tracks, or let them choose their own paths.

Related: Confusing college financial-aid letters leave students, parents adrift

Louisiana is one of several states that have moved to push remediation to the community colleges; others include Ohio, Colorado, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Although most four-year public institutions here, such as Louisiana State University, have long had admissions standards, a network of less elite four-year public schools including Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), Nicholls, and Grambling have traditionally been open to most applicants. And that raises another problem: Without open admissions, these campuses stand to lose not only their historical role of taking underserved, academically underprepared students, but also much of their enrollments.

Partly with that in mind, the Louisiana Board of Regents has offered institutions like SUNO a temporary reprieve from the new policy, said Karen Denby, associate commissioner for academic affairs. Denby said some four-year institutions will be permitted until 2017 to enroll students who need just one remedial course. But unless they demonstrate in that time period that they can better serve and retain those students, the ban will resume in two years, she said.

In Louisiana, a student’s need for extra academic support, usually in the form of remedial courses, is judged largely by how well he or she performs on the ACT college entrance test. Those who score below an 18 in English or a 19 in math are routed into remedial courses. The national averages are 20.1 and 20.9, respectively; in Louisiana, they’re 19.4 and 19.2.

This effectively creates a two-tiered higher education system, since higher-income students score higher on the ACT than lower-income ones, according to research.

Last year, the average composite ACT score for New Orleans public school students was 18.4, meaning hundreds of them are eligible only for admission to a community college and not a four-year university.

For their part, community colleges are trying to tell potential students that it’s easy to eventually transfer to four-year universities for bachelor’s degrees. According to Delgado officials, about 13 percent of the students enrolled during the 2013-14 school year transferred to a different two- or four-year institution in 2014-15. They said 49 percent of the students who took a remedial course received a grade of ‘D’ or better that same year. Indeed, it’s hard to combat a longstanding perception that community colleges represent a lesser track.

“The door isn’t closed — it’s just a different pathway,” said Arnel Cosey, vice chancellor of student affairs at Delgado. “I think a lot of students thought the only entry point into higher education was a four-year institution.”

Related: Poorest states cut what experts say could help the most: higher ed

As for Coleman, he found a way to enroll at SUNO — sort of.


Walter Stern teaches at class in U.S. history through a special program at Southern University of New Orleans in April.


Walter Stern teaches at class in U.S. history through a special program at Southern University of New Orleans in April. Photo: Sarah Carr

He signed up for a new program called SUNO Connect that allows 180 students to take remedial courses on SUNO’s campus through a partnership with Southern University at Shreveport, an historically black two-year public college. The students can live in SUNO dorms even though they are not full-time students or taught by SUNO professors. The program gave the beleaguered SUNO, which was almost forced to close a few years ago, a pipeline to keep students coming, and better odds of survival. Students can enroll as full-time students at SUNO after completing a certain number of credits through the Connect program.

But SUNO Connect has its struggles. Taught entirely by part-time adjunct instructors, it “has the feel of something that is being developed and worked out on the fly,” said Walter Stern, who taught history classes through the program over the last two semesters. During his first semester, Stern said, he had no access to the Internet, no overhead projector, and no copy machine. His classes met in a building that was slated to be torn down. (The level of support has since improved, he said.) Coleman, who said some of the courses are easier than the classes he took in high school, earned the credits he needed after one year in the Connect program. He will start at SUNO full-time in the fall.

Stern said he was struck by his students’ desire to earn four-year degrees, and how hard they had to work to achieve that goal.

One juggled coursework with a day job as a cashier at a grocery store and a night shift at Walmart. A second worked at Taco Bell most nights until 3 a.m., often falling asleep in class. A third, who had a young child and was pregnant with a second, drove school buses to support her family, driving the bus to SUNO to attend Stern’s 12:30 p.m. class and heading straight to her afternoon bus route when it ended.

“It’s kind of remarkable that the students are doing as much as they are doing to try to get into a four-year college,” Stern said.

Related: Black colleges face uphill battle to survive

For all their effort, some students in the Connect program struggled more than Stern anticipated. “The amount of intensive literacy support they need to get up to level to do college work is more than what I can incorporate into a college history course,” he said.


A new state policy means hundreds of New Orleans public school students are now eligible only for admission to Louisiana’s community colleges and not its four-year universities.

Indeed, the rationale behind the standards was that two-year colleges with extensive remedial programs are better suited than four-year universities to provide intense academic help with the basics, said Denby. “The whole purpose behind admission standards was to try to increase graduation rates and to try to get students lined up at campuses where they can succeed,” she said.

Denby said graduation rates at Louisiana higher education institutions have been “slowly but surely” improving since the state started phasing in the admissions requirements. After holding steady at around 42 percent for several years, the six-year average rate across Louisiana’s public universities rose to 50 percent for students who started as freshmen in 2007, Denby said. But it’s unclear whether that’s because students are faring better, or some are choosing not to go to college at all.

Coleman and several of his Connect classmates think the elevated four-year admission standards are misguided and that community college is not the best option — for them, at least.

But in states including Louisiana, many students now have no other choice.

“I think [the standards] should be lower,” Coleman said. “Everybody should have a chance.”

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and

27 2015-07-16
New Orleans

UNO to offer cybersecurity training program for teachers


As part of a nationwide effort to prepare students for jobs in the country's rapidly expanding tech sector, the University of New Orleans will begin offering its second annual cyber-security program for high school teachers next Monday, July 20.

The two-week program, known as GenCyber, is designed to inform teachers about cybersecurity technology, how to design their own curricula and how best to prepare students for careers in the field.

Funded by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation, the program is free and taught by computer science faculty at UNO. Teachers from around the country will be participating.

UNO was one of six colleges to host a GenCyber summer camp last year. This year, 43 camps will be held on 29 campuses in 18 states, UNO said in a release. By 2020, the program is expected to expand to 200 camps.

The national focus on cybersecurity training was highlighted this week by the announcement that New Orleans' nonprofit Operation Spark will soon be hosting a three-month immersive training course that teaches at-risk youth to become software engineers.

A three-day hackathon, which was sponsored by Operation Spark and ends today, examined newly released data by the New Orleans Police Department as part of the White House's Police Data Initiative, an effort to make police department data more transparent.

27 2015-07-16
New Orleans

UNO to offer cybersecurity training program for teachers


As part of a nationwide effort to prepare students for jobs in the country's rapidly expanding tech sector, the University of New Orleans will begin offering its second annual cyber-security program for high school teachers next Monday, July 20.

The two-week program, known as GenCyber, is designed to inform teachers about cybersecurity technology, how to design their own curricula and how best to prepare students for careers in the field.

Funded by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation, the program is free and taught by computer science faculty at UNO. Teachers from around the country will be participating.

UNO was one of six colleges to host a GenCyber summer camp last year. This year, 43 camps will be held on 29 campuses in 18 states, UNO said in a release. By 2020, the program is expected to expand to 200 camps.

The national focus on cybersecurity training was highlighted this week by the announcement that New Orleans' nonprofit Operation Spark will soon be hosting a three-month immersive training course that teaches at-risk youth to become software engineers.

A three-day hackathon, which was sponsored by Operation Spark and ends today, examined newly released data by the New Orleans Police Department as part of the White House's Police Data Initiative, an effort to make police department data more transparent.

27 2015-07-13
Lafayette

UNO earns $96,000 grant to study cybersecurity risks


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The University of New Orleans will use a $96,000 grant from the U.S. Army Research Office to build equipment that will help address cybersecurity risks to the nation's critical infrastructure, such as gas pipelines and power plants.

UNO researchers will create a so-called "test bed" of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems, which is used to automate industrial and manufacturing processes. The "test bed" will contain scale versions of a pipeline, a water treatment plant and a power plant and allow accurate simulation of each.

The grant's principal investigator, Irfan Ahmed, says connecting those systems to larger networks makes them susceptible to threats. He says the proposed equipment will enable UNO's computer scientists to research infrastructure protection which, he says receives insufficient attention given its importance to society at large.

27 2015-07-09
New Orleans

Youth design playground, volunteers build it in Algiers


More than 200 volunteers from Aurora United Methodist Church, Alice M. Harte Charter School, InspireNOLA Charter School, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents of the New Orleans community joined together to create a place to play for area youth at the Alice M. Harte Charter School campus in Algiers.




The design of the new playground is based on children’s drawings created at a special design event in April. The playground is the second built by Aurora United Methodist Church and KaBOOM!

In addition to building a brand-new playground, Aurora United Methodist Church and the community were able to raise funds for an Imagination Playground and Rigamajig set for students at the school.

With a collection of oversized blue foam parts, Imagination Playground provides a changing array of elements that allows children to turn their playground into a space constantly built and rebuilt by their imaginations.

Rigamajig is a collection of wooden planks, wheels, pulleys, nuts, bolts and rope that allow children to follow their curiosity while playing.



Since Hurricane Katrina, KaBOOM! has invested $21.4 million to bring play back to the communities by building 194 playspaces. One in seven elementary schools affected by Hurricane Katrina received a new playground from KaBOOM!

The national nonprofit is dedicated to helping youths, particularly those growing up in poverty in America, thrive through balanced and active play.

For information, visit kaboom.org.

27 2015-07-02
New Orleans

Letters: The Public Affairs Research Council is wrong, because Louisiana has a ‘top-notch’ film school at UNO


I would like to respond to a recent article on the film tax credits whereupon the Public Affairs Research Council was quoted on several issues regarding the tax credits as well as other information pertaining to those credits.




While the PAR report contained many salient points, my specific issue is with the characterization of film programs in the state of Louisiana. The PAR report was quoted as saying, “If the state is truly going to be a player in the movie production game, it should have a top-notch film school.” Though woefully underfunded, the University of New Orleans has nationally recognized film and theater programs. We are the only university in the country to have an ongoing relationship with the American Film Institute, an accomplished faculty whose members have worked in the industry, our own film studio, state-of-the-art film equipment, internships with every major industry project in the New Orleans area and the only 2014 Student Academy Award nominee in the region.

My question for the PAR is, what do you consider “top-notch?” I would humbly suggest that a top-notch program exists and has existed for many years at UNO. Of course, we’re as interested in “direct investment” as anyone, but we pride ourselves on having managed to maintain a program of distinction even during excessive budgetary challenges.

David W. Hoover

chairman, Department of Film and Theatre, University of New Orleans



New Orleans

27 2015-07-02
New Orleans

Tulane, UNO have two of region's 'most underrated' theater programs, website reports


Theater programs at Tulane University and the University of New Orleans are among the 10 most underrated in the southern United States, according to OnStageblog.com.

While the report calls Tulane's program "quite strong," it credited the program's rank –- No. 4 –- to its design/technology program, which, the blog says, is "exceptionally strong" at undergraduate and graduate levels.

UNO, which occupies the No. 2 spot, doesn't offer a bachelor of fine arts degree, but the Department of Film and Theatre's bachelor of arts program is "one of the best in the country and a must-see," according to the report.

UNO, which also has an extensive graduate program, is the only American university with two American College Theatre Festival National Playwriting Awards and two National Irene Ryan Acting Awards, the website says.

Also in the top 10, in descending order, are Gainesville Theatre Alliance in Gainesville, Ga.; the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa; the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.; Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.; Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.; Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.; Savannah College of Art & Design in Savannah, Ga.; and the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Loyola University's theater program was accorded one of six honorable mentions. The other five are at Emory University in Atlanta; Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla.; the University of Florida in Gainesville; the University of Georgia in Athens; and Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Fla.

The survey considered schools in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

27 2015-07-01
New Orleans

UNO poet Carolyn Hembree wins 2 national awards


University of New Orleans English professor Carolyn Hembree has won two national awards for her forthcoming book of poetry.

Neil Shepard selected Hembree's book as the winner of the 2015 Trio Award, an annual award given by the Trio House Press for a first or second book of poetry by an emerging poet writing in English and currently living in the United States. Trio House Press, based in Sedalia, Colo., publishes both emerging and established American poets.

Hembree's "Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine and Other Ways to Escape a Plague" will be published in the spring of 2016 by Trio House Press.

Hembree also won the 2015 Marsh Hawk Press Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award, selected by Stephanie Strickland. Marsh Hawk Press is a poetry collective based in East Rockaway, NY. The judging process was blind for both awards.

Hembree is an assistant professor of English and the poetry editor of Bayou Magazine, UNO's literary journal. A native of Tennessee, she grew up in Birmingham, Ala.

Hembree's debut poetry collection, "Skinny," was published by Kore Press in 2012. Her chapbook, "Fever Dreams in Tongues without Skulls," came out from Nous-zôt Press in 2015.

Hembree's work has appeared in many publications, including Colorado Review, The Journal, Poetry Daily, The Southern Poetry Anthology and Verse Daily.

27 2015-06-23
New Orleans

Delgado, University of New Orleans renew transfer agreement for business degrees


Delgado Community College students who complete an associate degree in business administration are still eligible to earn a bachelor's of science degree from University of New Orleans' College of Business Administration. The two schools on Monday officially renewed their so-called 2+2 articulation agreement on Monday (June 22) for a period of three years.

"Articulation agreements are important in increasing education access and attainment, and improving career prospects for students in the greater New Orleans area," UNO president Peter J. Fos said in a news release.

The agreement allows Delgado students with an associate degree in business administration to be admitted as juniors in UNO's College of Business Administration, as long as they meet UNO's admissions requirements. Students can transfer up to 60 credit hours toward the 120 hours needed for a UNO bachelor's degree.

UNO participates in at least two other articulation agreements with Delgado: one in American sign language, and one in allied health. UNO also holds a similar agreement with Nunez Community College in business administration.

27 2015-06-18
New Orleans

UNO students excavate historic Royal Street site



27 2015-05-21
New Orleans

UNO vacates Metairie campus, sells it for $5.3 million



27 2015-04-14
New Orleans

UNO President Peter Fos says school facing substantial budget cuts; urges engagement



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UNO President Peter Fos says school facing substantial budget cuts; urges engagement
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UNO president Peter J. Fos (The Times-Picayune archive)
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Jed Lipinski, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Jed Lipinski, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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on April 13, 2015 at 10:43 AM, updated April 13, 2015 at 10:46 AM
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University of New Orleans President Peter Fos is urging UNO faculty, staff and students to stay engaged during the legislative session as Gov. Bobby Jindal and lawmakers wrestle with a $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

UNO faces a $23.6 million cut in state funds in the next fiscal year -- a drop of 82 percent -- should no money be found to help fill the budget deficit. If lawmakers pass all of Jindal's budget proposals, Fos noted, UNO would still sustain a $7.5 million cut, or 26 percent of its state funding.

"At the risk of stating the obvious, both of these proposed figures are enormous and challenging," Fos wrote in an email sent Friday afternoon (April 10).

To deal with the potential cuts, Fos said that deans and members of the faculty governance committee will draft plans for individual colleges. The vice president of business affairs, meanwhile, will engage in a similar process with the university's budget committee, Fos wrote.

To support UNO during this period Fos urged faculty, staff, students and other interested parties to join the Privateer Advocacy Network, a joint mission between the UNO Alumni Association and the UNO Foundation. In addition to providing updates throughout the legislative session, the network provides members with a path to contact lawmakers and communicate their views on the importance of higher education.

He also encouraged members of the university to sign up for the University of Louisiana System's weekly budget briefings, held each Friday and streamed online. The briefings, hosted by UL System spokeswoman Jackie Tisdale and UL System president Sandra Woodley, spotlight different issues relevant to higher education, allowing viewers to stay informed.

Read Fos' email here:
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nickelndime
nickelndime
13 hours ago

It is very difficult (probably impossible) to hold Louisiana legislators accountable and apply pressure - they are a wily group of saboteurs who change the content of their speeches to suit the audience. Jindal is a symptom of the overall dysfunction. He is the poster child. All of these people (lawmakers, government officials, etc.) have already done so much damage to this state, its residents, and public education that what Peter Fos is asking for amounts to giving a transfusion to a dead horse. These people have ruined anything and everything that is "public" in this state to the point that the "masses" can no longer afford to live and attend school here. 04/13/2015 5:36 PM
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saintsjoe
saintsjoe
17 hours ago

If by engaged, he means that UNO students and faculty, and their cohorts at all state universities sit in at the legislature I'm for it. Anything else is a joke. One last thing-a tuition increase is a tax increase.
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2yahtaheykmsoapLikeReply
kmsoap
kmsoap
17 hours ago

Let's be honest here. The administrators of our university system were put in place based on their willingness to do the bidding of Bobby Jindal.


What needs to happen is NOT signing up for some system of updates. Be smarter than that. A facebook page (or even a Twitter account) has a wider reach and allows people to forward calls to action. It's going to take sheer numbers to make any progress and in order to get and keep large numbers of people engaged, communication must be easy and accessible.


Obviously, the administration is not organizing this, so it falls to the students and educators to do so.


Get to work.
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Michael Roy
Michael Roy
18 hours ago

There was an episode of Game of Thrones on last night. The Wildling's leader would have rather burned alive and put his hundreds of thousands of people to death than surrender his army for everyone's greater good.


In this case, Bobby (short for Piyush) chose to burn instead of taking the money from the Federal Government to implement national healthcare. In the short run he was a hero, but in the long run "when everyone is dead" there will be no one left to tell his story of valor.

Any word against the Lannisters is considered treason, so speaking up will only get you deemed a liberal/wildling.

There are many fighting, claiming that they are king under all kinds of flags while our bastard child of an education system has been sent to castle black to defend the wall because it was a "noble" thing to take on.

For those of you who don't have HBO:

Cutting education is small potatoes when held up to the light against the majority of the state's budget shortfall. Cutting education in some places is needed, but those are not the intentions behind the proposed cuts.
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2kmsoapSapere21LikeReply
noladotcomusername
noladotcomusername
17 hours ago

@Michael Roy

This isn't small potatoes in the real world, but don't let that detract from putting this in terms of a flavor-of-the-month TV show.
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Michael Roy
Michael Roy
12 hours ago

Small potatoes in respect to 1.6 billion, yes I am afraid I am right according to math or whatever you use in the real world.
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Donald Marshall
Donald Marshall
19 hours ago

I am a UNO Ph.D. student in political science. I have been an outspoken critic of Dr. Fos and his plans to eliminate some programs, including the Ph.D. in poli-sci because process was and is flawed. However, Dr. Fos is correct that Louisiana public universities, and therefore UNO will be devastated if the projected cuts occur.

We must think out of the box to find funding for our public universities. We must also be willing to reorganize our system of higher education. This reorganization should include an honest debate on the advantages and disadvantages of such ideas as consolidating universities that are close in proximity, sharing professors statewide through the various long distance learning methods.

These are just a few ideas that should be considered. But as James Carville said we must invest in higher Ed if we are to have any kind of future. Dr. Fos is correct, we MUST engage our elected officials and demand they fund higher Ed. Those who said higher Ed needs to be reorganized are also correct.
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2kmsoapfoleysLikeReply
mtrelles
mtrelles
20 hours ago

Mr. Fos: The vast majority of state residents believe anything to do with government is BLOATED and wasteful in many areas. Until someone steps up to the mic and camera and admits it you are not going to convince anyone.
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yahtahey
yahtahey
19 hours ago

The vast majority are wrong, then. There's a reason why Tulane is more expensive school than UNO.

Expecting the state universities to maintain an administrative cost to teaching and research ratio commensurate with the more efficient operators is reasonable. Spending a few bucks on auditors or even an Inspector General is reasonable.

Expecting the universities to have their budgets slashed without a commensurate reduction in product is not reasonable.
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4foleysnoladotcomusernameWabaquassetkmsoapLikeReply
noladotcomusername
noladotcomusername
19 hours ago

@yahtahey

No, mtrelles is wrong.
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1yahtaheyLikeReply
noladotcomusername
noladotcomusername
19 hours ago

@mtrelles

The "vast majority" wants higher education to stop the bleeding and gain some weight.
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5foleysSapere21yahtaheymikeljLikeReply
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