Volume 46 No. 06
June 2015








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Our People in China
Faculty Awards

1834 Faculty Recognized
at Commencement

Six faculty members were named recipients of the 2015 Norman C. Francis Faculty Excellence Awards in recognition of their extraordinary performance in the areas of teaching, service, and scholarship.

Honored were:

Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching: (junior faculty) Dr. Lisa Flanagan in the Department of Communication Studies, and (senior faculty) Sister Donna Gould, S.B.S. in the Department of English.
Faculty Excellence Award in Service: (junior faculty) Dr. Margarita Echeverri in the College of Pharmacy’s Division of Clinical and Administrative Sciences, and (senior faculty) Dr. Thomas Wiese in the College of Pharmacy’s Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Faculty Excellence Award in Scholarship: (junior faculty) Dr. Richard Peters in the Division of Business, and (senior faculty) Dr. Biljana Obradovic in the Department of English.

Initiated in 2009, the awards include a monetary gift of $5,000, which is split evenly between the recipient and his/her academic discipline, and a medallion.

1834 XU Wins GCAC
All-Sports Award

Xavier has won the Thomas Howell Cup, the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference’s (GCAC) all-sports award, for the fifth consecutive year.

The Thomas Howell Cup, named for the GCAC's longtime commissioner, is awarded annually to the school with the most points based on order of finish in various sports. XU was boosted by GCAC championships in men's cross country, women's cross country, women's volleyball (regular season and tournament), and women's outdoor track and field. All four XU teams successfully defended their championships of the previous year.

Xavier and Edward Waters finished 1-2 in the Thomas Howell Cup standings for the third consecutive year. Xavier scored 38 points, and Edward Waters scored 30. Following those schools were Dillard with 26 points, SUNO with 24, Talladega with 20, Philander Smith and Tougaloo with 14 apiece and Voorhees with 12.

1834 Aetna Award Grant for Healthy Eats

The Division of Business has received a $25,000 grant from Aetna in support of the its Healthy Eats Program, an initiative designed to  educate residents of New Orleans’ on the importance of healthy eating habits through nutrition and gardening workshops.

By providing hands on demonstrations and information on how to begin home-based gardens, make healthy food choices on a budget, and actual instruction on how to prepare more healthful meals in the home, the program will give local resident the tools and education to be better equipped to live and lead healthier lives.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin assisted in creating the curriculum for the workshops and Agrowtopia, an urban farm founded by students at Xavier, will be the primary source for the salad greens used during the food preparation training activities.

“Community-based programs can have a powerful impact in changing people’s health and their lives, family by family and neighborhood by neighborhood,” said Sharon Dalton, senior director, corporate public involvement.  We are pleased to support a program that will help underserved residents of New Orleans lead healthier lives.”

Added Dr. Joe Ricks, Chair of the Division of Business, Xavier University, “Healthy Eats links public health issues with urban farming and entrepreneurship, and also represents another example of the interdisciplinary educational opportunities that the Division of Business is involved in.”

More information on Healthy Eats is available by calling 504.520.7505 or e-mail mquinn@xula.edu.

1834 21 Inducted Into
Kappa Gamma Pi

Twenty-one 2015 graduating Xavier students were inducted into Kappa Gamma Pi, the National Catholic College Graduate Honor Society.

Among the new inductees were:

(Undergraduate) -  Chantel  Bonner, Megan Bright, Duy Dinh Dang, Catherine  Fakler, Jasmine Haydel, Kyrianté Henry, Brianne Jones, Jessica Minor, Michael Moore Jr., Jymirah Morris, Hue Thu Nguyen, and Felecia Wollens.

(Graduate and Pharmacy) - Octavia Brown-Davis, Brittany Gorden, Rasheeda Kennedy-Henry, Kendall McManus-Thomas, Laneka Mumphrey,  Celita Owens, Logan Perkins, Enjoli Sims-Theodore, and La Donna Smith.



The Xavier Board of Trustees has announced that it has unanimously elected Dr. C. Reynold Verret as the university’s next president.

“I would like to congratulate and welcome Dr. Verret to the Xavier family,” said Michael Rue, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “While there were a number of highly-qualified candidates, Dr. Verret stood out for his proven leadership and experience expanding enrollment and increasing graduation rates. His record of achievement, personal history, and values set him apart as the clear choice to carry on the ideals that our founder, St. Katharine Drexel, and our longstanding president, Dr. Norman C. Francis, wove into the fabric of this institution.”

Dr. Verret is joining Xavier from Savannah State University where he has served as provost and chief academic officer since 2012. The university is recognized as the oldest institution of higher learning in coastal Georgia and the first public Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the state. - more -
Dr. C. Reynold Verret



Some 564 graduates received their degrees during Xavier’s 88th annual commencement May 09 at the XU Convocation Center.

Four honorary degrees were also presented during the ceremony to former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, Carnegie Corporation of New York President Dr. Vartan Gregorian; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and basketball legend and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

XU President Dr. Norman C. Francis, a ‘52 XU graduate who is retiring this June after serving at his alma mater for almost 60 years, also addressed the graduates.

Seven of those graduates headed this year’s group of 36 summa cum laude graduates with perfect 4.0 grade point averages, including:

Tarrin Casey, a biology/premed major from St. Louis MO; Sunku Choi, a pharmacy student from Rochester NY; Paige Estave, a biology/premed major from Kenner LA; Catherine Fakler, an English/English education major from Phoenix AZ; Kristen Fowler, a biology/premed major from Kenner LA; Brittany Gorden, a pharmacy student from New Orleans; and Haley Schexnayder, a pharmacy student from Metairie LA.

Summa Cum Laudes

Bachelor of Arts: Evangeline Dech, Catherine Fakler, Megan Riley, Melissa Riley, and Jennifer Tran.
Bachelor of Science: Kristia Abernathy, Shaniqua Bagley, Jamie Bolden, Tarrin Casey, Kayla Colbert, Armond Collins, Duy Dang, Paige Estave, Kristen Fowler, Christopher Hayes, Ivyanne London, Jymirah Morris, Hue-Hillary Nguyen, Nancy Pham, Tri Pham, Heba Sarhan, Treasure Stone, Theresia Sutherlin, Khalil Thompson, Victoria Thompson, and Chelsey Walker.
Doctor of Pharmacy: Trineqa Adams, Sunku Choi, Brittany Gorden, Jessica Green, Brittney Johnson, Meagan Piazza, Claire Reuter, Haley Schexnayder, Laura Waddell, and Faith Webre.

Visit HERE for the complete list of 2015 graduates.


Clarence Price III and Ivyanne London were named recipients of Xavier’s two most coveted senior service awards at the 2015 Baccalaureate Mass and Honors Convocation.

Price, a chemistry/premed major from Canton MS (Canton High), was presented the St. Katharine Drexel Award; while London, a business/accounting major from New Orleans (McMain High), was presented the Mother Agatha Ryan Award.

They topped a list of graduating seniors receiving awards at the Baccalaureate ceremony and the College of Pharmacy banquet, including:

General University Awards and Honors:

The Victor H. Labat Award – Erica Lang

The National Knights of Peter Claver Awards – (the Gilbert Faustina Award) Taylor Thibeaux, (the Louis Israel Award) Chianna Hart, and (the Alphonse Pierre Auguste Award) DeVon Pruitt

The Sister Thea Bowman Award – Kearns Louis-Jean

The Sister Beatrice Jeffries Student Life Leadership and Service Award – Taylor Martin

The William H. Mitchell Christian Leadership Award – Kamberly Tate

The Walter J. Barker, Sr. Award – Felecia Woolens

Music Awards – (the St. Cecilia Award) Zachary Gaston, and (the Sister Elise Sisson Award) Bria Joshua

Pharmacy Awards – (Outstanding Leadership) Claire Reuter, (Academic Excellence) Brittney Gorden and Haley Schexnayder, (Lilly Achievement) Carolkim Huynh, (Excellence in Research) Michael Ezebuenyi, and (Excellence in Patient Care Communication) Meagan Piazza.


A Xavier cooperative project with the dual purpose of seeking to improve the performance and safety of lithium batteries and creating a reliable pipeline of underrepresented minority undergraduates prepared for careers in STEM has been awarded a five-year, five-million dollar grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The grant was one of 10 awarded nationally totaling almost $47 million recently announced by NASA to minority serving universities under its Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP). The selected projects were chosen from among 76 proposals, which were reviewed by a panel of education and technical experts.

Other universities receiving grants include California State University, Delaware State University, Hampton University, Langston University, San Jose State University, the University of California-Merced; the University of California-Riverside; the University of Texas-El Paso, and the University of the Virgin Islands.

The Xavier project, “Solid High Energy Lithium Battery Institution”, is a cooperative effort involving scientists from Georgia Institute of Technology, Auburn University, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and the NASA Glenn Center.

Dr. Lamartine Meda, a professor of chemistry at Xavier and the principal investigator (PI) for the project, said has two main components: research and education.
- more -


Thirty-eight students are studying abroad this summer and fall in 18 different foreign countries, according to Dr. Torian Lee, Director of the XU Center for Intercultural & International Programs (CIIP).

More than half – 23 of the students – will be traveling and earning college degree credits in summer programs, fall semester programs, and full academic year programs through a variety of study abroad sponsors with which the University has affiliations. Thirteen other students will be participating in the Confucius Institute at Xavier’s (CI) Summer Study Abroad in China program. Two students from Delgado Community College will join the latter group.

“We are extremely pleased to have such a large contingent of students studying abroad this summer and fall,” said Lee. “In preparation for leadership, service and career development, study abroad exposes Xavierites to multiple languages, cultures and academic perspectives. Going forward, these academic experiences will help to shape the students’ outlook on the world and their career paths.” - more -

2015 Summas


Jade Crutch, a senior political science/French major from Garland TX (Lakeview High) has been selected as an English instructor in the Teaching Assistant Program in France, where she will teach at the secondary level from October to April in the Amiens region. The Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) offers young American citizens and permanent residents the opportunity to teach English in public schools across all regions of metropolitan France and in the overseas departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion.

Kayrah Jack, a P3 pharmacy student from Katy TX (Mayde Creek High) and pharmacy mentor Dr. Joseph LaRochelle presented a poster, “Clinical Interventions in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit: a Comparative Study”, at the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group Annual Meeting, held in  Minneapolis MN.

Devinn Rolland, a P2 pharmacy student from Harvey LA (Cabrini High) was named All-America for the third time in four years in the long jump at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, where she recorded a season-best jump of 18 feet, 9 3/4 inches. She was also one of four student-athletes named to the Capital One Academic All-District 2 Teams along with senior English/English Education major Catherine Fakler of Phoenix AZ (Xavier Prep), sophomore biology major Terri Cunningham of Nashville TN (MLK Magnet), and P2 pharmacy student Brent Kitto of Chalmette LA (Holy Cross High).

Two College of Pharmacy students – P4 Claire Reuter of New Orleans (Dominican High) and P3 Johlee Schinetsky of Metairie LA (Chapelle High) – were named 2015 Walmart Scholars by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). It’s the first time XU has had two recipients of this honor in the same year. The students are mentored by Drs. Ifeanyi Onor and Jessica Johnson, respectively.

Four students – senior psychology/premed major Armond Collins of Shreveport LA (Caddo High), senior biology major Kwame Jackson of Humble TX (Kingwood High), junior chemistry/premed major Taylor Smith of Mableton GA (Campbell High), and senior psychology/premed major Khalil Thompson of Sacramento CA (Mira Loma High) – and their mentor, Dr. Jeremy Cohen, made a presentation on their insular brain anatomy research at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA).


Justin Augustine III ‘80, regional vice president of Transdev Services, Inc., which serves the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in New Orleans, was awarded the Chevalier de L’Ordre National du Merite (Knight of the National Order of Merit) by the deputy ambassador of France in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the field of public transit.

Melanique LaBeaud Fairman ’10, has earned a Doctorate of Audiology (AuD.) degree from the University of Florida.

Dr. L'Issa L. Gates ‘03, a pediatrician & partner at Westside Clinics AMC in Marrero LA, has been recognized as a 2015 West St. Tammany YMCA Northshore Hero.

Frances Parker '67, author of Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes, was keynote speaker on African American healthcare disparities during Nurse Week at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit MI.

Michelle Snowden ’88 has earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Information Technology degree with a specialization in Information Assurance and Security from Capella University.


Ralph Adamo (English) had his book of poems, Ever, featured in a 20-page, cover story review-essay in the April issue of the literary journal The Hollins Critic, published at Hollins College.
Joseph Byrd
(VP for Student Services) was the keynote speaker for Black History Month at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Dr. Dominique Gendrin (Communications Studies), who is retiring after 25 years in higher education – including the last 16 at Xavier where she served as a professor and department chair, has been named “Professor Emeritus” by the University.

Dr. Charles Gramlich (Psychology) was included among “10 Must Take Psychology Professors in New Orleans” on the Careers in Psychology website. See the article HERE.

n pham
Nancy Pham
megan riley
Meagan Riley
K. Thompson

t pham
Tri Pham
melissa riley
Melissa Riley
v thompson
V. Thompson

gold fadegold fade

verret cont.

“I am deeply honored to be elected as the next president of Xavier and am excited to engage the entire Xavier community in envisioning a future that sustains the university’s distinct mission in a changing higher education environment and that responds to societal need,” said Dr. Verret.

“Upon arriving in this country as a refugee from Haiti in 1963, I was supported by many who nurtured my love of learning and science and gave me the encouragement and confidence to persevere. During my tenure at Xavier, I will continue paying it forward, helping generations of young people realize their dreams, regardless of their backgrounds.”

Dr. Verret is uniquely qualified by his experience, education, and values to guide Xavier’s mission of promoting a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society. His journey from immigrating to the United States as a young boy to guiding institutions of higher education to success has equipped him with distinctive skills and understanding to lead an HBCU in general, and Xavier in particular.

Dr. David Lanoue (RosaMary Professor of English) gave a talk, "Becoming a Child: Issa's Poetic Consciousness," at the 9th International Haiku Conference in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Dr. Biljana Obradovic (English) has received a $7,000 grant from the Ministry of Culture of Serbia to pay for translators for her upcoming publication, Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Poetry, which she is co-editing with Dubravka Djuric. It will be published by Dialogos Press of New Orleans.

“From its beginning, Xavier has been dedicated to empowerment of the underserved and voiceless through education, which is a vital instrument of societal strength and justice. In this regard, Xavier’s purpose remains relevant, and I am eager to sustain and strengthen it,” said Dr. Verret. “I have been shaped by the encounter of faith and reason, as a student of the Jesuits at the former Brooklyn Preparatory, of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and before then, by the Fathers of the Holy Spirit.”

Dr. Verret was identified through a national search that followed the September 2014 announcement that Dr. Francis would be retiring on June 30, 2015. During this period, the field of potential candidates was narrowed from an initial pool of more than 300.

This is the first time the Xavier Board of Trustees has ever selected a new president. In 1968, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the religious order that established the university in 1925, promoted Dr. Francis to the post of president. He was the first lay, first male, and first African American head of the university.

“This is one of the most important decisions that the Xavier Board of Trustees has ever had to make, and we made it fully knowing its significance to the future of Xavier and the nation. We remain deeply thankful to the Xavier community for the valuable guidance they have provided us over the course of this most important endeavor. The unanimous election of Dr. Verret is an indicator that the Xavier community’s voice was heard loud and clear,” said Gladstone Jones, III, who chaired Xavier’s Presidential Search Committee.

Following the Search Committee’s recommendation, Dr. Francis met Dr. Verret just prior to the vote by the Board of Trustees.

“I am most pleased to welcome Dr. Verret to Xavier. I have complete confidence that the Board of Trustees made a wise decision, and I know that Dr. Verret will carry on the mission and values of this institution far into the future,” said Dr. Francis, who is retiring after more than 56 years of service to Xavier with 47 years as its president.

“The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament celebrate the appointment of Dr. C. Reynold Verret.  We are confident that the depth and breadth of his experience as well as his appreciation of Xavier's unique mission and Catholic identity have well prepared him to be its next great president,” said Sr. Patricia Suchalski, president of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

Dr. Verret earned his undergraduate degree cum laude in biochemistry from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was also a postdoctoral fellow at the Howard Hughes Institute for Immunology at Yale University and at the Center for Cancer Research at MIT.

As a biochemist, his research interests have included the cytotoxicity of immune cells, biosensors, and biomarkers. He has published in the fields of biological chemistry and immunology.

nasa cont.

“The development of stable, ultra-high energy density and all-solid-state lithium batteries with excellent safety and rate performance are needed for enabling many technologies and are particularly important in NASA space-related missions, where space and accessibility are limited,” said Meda. “Investigators from the five partner institutions will collaborate to study the interfacial properties of these materials and improve transport and stability across the interfaces that will lead to the development of Solid High Energy Lithium Batteries (SHELiB).”
He said these collaborative research projects will lead to advances in the field of energy storage, which is of great importance to NASA.

In addition, Xavier will create a research center called the SHELiB Center that will unite faculty from its chemistry and physics/engineering departments. The goals of the center are straightforward: to perform world-class research that cannot be performed by individual investigators alone, instill its interdisciplinary culture in under-represented minority students, and cultivate excitement in STEM.

The project will contribute to improving diversity in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) workforce by recruiting and retaining undergraduate students from underrepresented minority (URM) groups and engaging these students in cutting-edge research and development in energy storage technologies for Space, one of NASA’s most critical projects. Xavier is the premier institution in graduating African American undergraduates in biology, chemistry, and physics. In addition, the center will strengthen and increase the research capacity and infrastructure at Xavier.
Xavier will develop related courses such as Materials Science and Characterization and a special topic course in Polymer and Solid Materials that will provide quality STEM curricular support for students that are majoring in STEM related fields.

The research program combined with the materials science curriculum at Xavier will ensure that Xavier’s undergraduate students receive the necessary skills to be successful in a materials science graduate program while creating a reliable pipeline of underrepresented minority undergraduates prepared for careers in STEM. Through NASA MUREP fellowships, highly qualified students will be exposed to research as early as their freshman year, and will benefit from continuing fellowships in later years to promote their retention. During the summer, Xavier students will perform research at NASA.

This project will train more than 60 undergraduate students and expose more than 300 K-12 students to STEM, and provide NASA experience to Xavier faculty and students.

study abroad cont.

Participating students (and majors) are listed below by destination:

Argentina: Kennedi Crosby (Biochemistry) and Ashley Taylor (Spanish)

China: Andres Anthaume (Delgado - nursing), Nia Bealsey (biology), Leon Burgess (pharmacy), Bria Carmichael (biology), Eric Craig (political science), Keajuana Crymes (business), Alexis Greer (psychology), Ogechi Iwvorie (pharmacy), Kelli Joseph (physics), Stanley Manton (Delgado – general studies), Anthony Nguyen (chemistry), Hoang Michael Nguyen (biology), Jusiah Lynn Prowell (psychology), Evan Reynolds (business), and Randi Thomas (biology) 

Costa Rica: Arielle Crook (biology) and Ashley Gragg (history)

Dominican Republic: Desire Guillory (biology) and Skky Martin (sociology)

England: Gabriel Jones (business) and Jalissa Latson (mass communications) [note: Latson will also studying in Austria, France, and Germany]

France: Sierra Armstrong (biology) and Aria Washington (French)

Greece: Alexandria Walker (biology)

Italy: Hannah Mbony (biology) and Camille Moorez (chemistry)

Japan: Jacqueline Baidoo (chemistry)

Mexico: Amber Dominique (Spanish), Jayda Watkins (biology/premed), and Jayla Watkins (biology/premed)
Haiti: Randall Johnson (pharmacy) and Erica Watson (pharmacy)

Peru: Ricaylah Citizen (psychology) and Kelsey Gardinar (biology)

Spain: Jordyn Winters (Spanish)

Tanzania: Torhianna Haydel (biology)

It’s the third year in a row that Xavier students will travel as a group to China, taking advantage of the University’s special relationship with Hebei University, a partner institution through the CI.

During their stay in China, the students – all of whom have studied the Mandarin language previously at Xavier – will receive additional intensive Chinese language training at Hebei, the flagship and only comprehensive university in Hebei Province near Beijing.

While in China the students will also attend seminars on folk music, calligraphy, Peking opera, Taichi, tea culture, and paper cutting, and participate in cultural excursions to such iconic places as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

“Learning, food tasting, and cultural exposure will all be highlights of this trip,” said XU CI Director Dr. Yu Jiang, noting that the two-week program provides students with an unrivaled opportunity to immerse themselves in China’s language and culture through personal interaction with the students at Hebei, as well as with local citizens.
Program costs for food, lodging, cultural excursions, and transportation in China will be covered in full by the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing. Most students also receive substantial financial aid to cover their international travel.

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