Volume 40 No. 03
March 09


Francis to Receive
SBS Justice Award

Pharmacy Hosts Health
Disparities Conference

543 Scholars Make
Fall '08 Dean's List

Music Ensembles
Ready for Spring Tour

Committee Approves
Seven Faculty Promotions

Remembering St. Katharine Drexel on Her Feast Day



Basketball Update

MEN: The Gold Rush, 19-11 overall and 11-7 in Gulf Coast Conference (GCAC) play, closed out the regular season this past weekend with a disappointing loss to archrival Dillard at the UNO Arena.

The men now move on to conference postseason tournament. Seeded 5th, the Rush will travel to No. 4 Spring Hill for a quarterfnal game Thursday (March 4) at 7:00 p.m.

The Rush need to win the GCAC tournament in order to ensure themselves a fifth straight berth in the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Championship tournament.

WOMEN: The Gold Nuggets, 22-8 overall and 13-5 in conference play, also completed a season with a tough loss to Dillard. ending a season-high six game winning streak.

The women, seeking their eighth consecutive berth in the NAIA Division I National Championship tournament, are the No. 3 seed in this week’s conference tournament and will host a quarterfinal game Wednesday (March 3) against No. 6 Tougaloo seed at 7:00 p.m. in the Barn.

Keep current with both teams postseason progress by visiting HERE.

1834 Senior in Chile for Astronomy Research

The hills are alive with the swirling of telescopes.

That’s the hills of the Andes Mountains of La Serena, Chile, where XU senior Benjamin John Moore of New Orleans (Ben Franklin High) is currently participating in the international Research for Undergraduates (REU) program in astronomy.

One of only six U.S. students chosen for the program, the physics/Spanish double major is serving as an undergraduate research assistant working alongside professional astronomers from around the world at the famous Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. He is also taking classes at nearby University of La Serena.

The 10-week program is funded by the National Science Foundation through the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

1834 Women’s Studies Hosts Roundtable

The XU Women’s Studies program will host a dinner and roundtable discussion with local activists in recognition of International Women’s Day (March 8) and Women’s History Month.

“We’re celebrating the strides that women have made over the years and acknowledging the ongoing struggles we encounter,” said coordinator Dr. Pamela Waldron-Moore.

Titled, “The Kitchen Table in Flux: Activist Voices on Women, Housing and Social Justice,” the event is scheduled for Thursday, March 12, at 5:00 p.m. in Room 205 of the University Center. The event is free but you must RSVP to Dr. Waldron-Moore or Dr. Robin Vander.

The XU community is invited to join the conversation exploring the intersections between women’s issues and global health, housing, environmental justice and human rights.


Applications Accepted for Summer Programs

The University is now accepting applications for its array of summer academic enrichment programs and degree-credit courses.

Among this year’s enrichment offerings are several programs specifically catering to incoming college freshmen (including EPsAR, Business Achievers, Upward Bound, and STEM Scholars Summer Bridge).

Still others are open to elementary and high school students, including The Mardi Gras Indian Arts Summer School, the  Summer Science Academy’s popular quad of MathStar (grades 8-9), BioStar (grades 9-10), ChemStar (grades 10-11) and SOAR (rising seniors), and SuperScholarEXCEL, an intensive four-week residential summer enrichment program.

For more info on any of the XU summer programs visit the HERE or call 504-520-7633.


Harris Collecting Data for Alumni Directory

The Harris Publishing Company is compiling information for the new XU alumni directory.

Due to be pulished in August 2009, the directory will be a complete and up-to-date reference on the University's more than 20,000 living alumni. The comprehensive volume will include current names, street and e-mail addresses, phone numbers and business/career information bound into a classic library-quality edition.

Harris is currently collecting information through a series of e-mailings and postal inquiries to all alumni. If you have not yet been contacted, please contact the company HERE.

The last directory, also printed by Harris 2004, was well-received.

1834 Xavier in the News

2TMC News
Med Student Interns
- Lesli Brown '05
1Ajax World
UNCF Announces Awards
- John Jackson '94
2Associated Press
XU Students Head for Galveston1Louisiana Weekly
Mahalia Captured on Stage
- Danielle Edinburgh Wilson


Business professionals (from left) Debra Cross of Philip Morris USA, William Dawson of the National Urban League and Donald Naylor Jr. ’96 of Reliant Energy address a classroom of Xavier students during the annual campus visit of the Youth Motivation Task Force/Black Executive Exchange Program (YMTF/BEEP).

Photo by Irving Johnson III


President Norman Francis is slated to receive the St. Katharine Drexel National Justice Award from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS).

“Dr. Francis is being honored for his national leadership not only in education, but also in the fields of social justice and community relations, not to mention as an outstanding president of the University for 40 years,” said Sr. Patricia Suchalski, president of the SBS, whose Philadelphia-born founder, St. Katharine Drexel, established Xavier University and scores of other schools for African Americans and Native Americans across the nation.

The award will be the latest to recognize the achievements of Francis, who is the nation’s longest-serving university president. In December 2006 then-President George W. Bush presented him with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his leadership over Xavier’s recovery following Hurricane Katrina while at the same time serving as Chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority created to oversee the state’s recovery.

The SBS National Justice Award gala will be held Saturday evening, March 14, at Celebrations, 2201 Galloway Road in Bensalem PA. Honorary chairs for the event include Mary McLaughlin, sister of former SBS president Mother Mary David Young, and Wendell Young III, a 2008 award recipient. The event is being hosted by the Xavier Alumni Chapter of Philadelphia.

The Rev. Kenneth Brown ‘71, a XU alumnus and former English faculty member, will serve as master of ceremonies for the gala and as celebrant for a Mass March 15 at the Motherhouse.


The College of Pharmacy will host the 3rd annual Health Disparities Conference, "Building Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities: Effective Chronic Disease Management Models to Improve Health Outcomes,” April 19-21 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel.

The conference, presented by COP's Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, will offer topics focused on successful interdisciplinary models to reduce health disparities through community, academic and health system partnership interventions around disease states that include cardiovascular, cancer and diabetes, among others. Issues relative to patient and provider communications and cultural and linguistic competence areas will also be explored.  
"This conference highlights the critical role of pharmacists, nurses and other allied health professionals and health policy makers, educators, researchers, public and community health leaders at the community level where the improvement in health disparities realistically takes place,” said Program Chair Dr. Kathleen Kennedy, associate dean for the school of pharmacy. “Our plenary sessions, workshops and posters provide an excellent opportunity for information exchange between the soldiers in the field."

The main purpose of the conference is to provide learning sessions and to review and develop skills, techniques and approaches which influence outcomes.


A total of 543 student scholars made the Dean's Honor Roll during the fall ’08 semester, according to records released by Avis Stuard, registrar.

Students merited a spot on the honor roll by earning a semester grade point average of 3.3 or above while taking at least 12 semester hours. For the complete list of honor students, click HERE.

Opening keynote speaker for the conference is Congresswoman Donna Christiansen, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust, who will discuss the legislative involvement in eliminating health disparities under the new Obama administration.  

The conference pre-registration deadline is April 3 and the deadline for submitting abstracts for poster presentation is Feb. 23. For more info visit HERE or call (504) 559-6191.


The XU Department of Music hits the road March 10-18 for its Spring 2009 Tour, which includes performances in five eastern U.S. cities.

“We’re excited to join with the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS) in honoring Dr. Norman C. Francis for 40 years of service to Xavier as he receives the National Justice Award March 14 in Philadelphia,” said department chair Dr. Tim Turner. “The tour is focused around this celebration.”

In addition to that event, the Xavier Jazz Band, Concert Choir and University Chorus will also perform free concerts in Atlanta GA, Durham NC, New York NY and Washington, D.C. Faculty members participating in the tour include Dr. Malcolm Breda '56, Dr. John Ware '77, Dr. Wilfred Delphin '71, Dr. Timothy Turner and Dara Rahming.

All XU alumni and friends in those areas are invited to attend. Look HERE for the complete calendar of the tour.



Pauline Smith, a senior psychology/pre-med major from Detroit MI (Bishop Borgess High), has been accepted into medical school at Howard University and Meharry College.

Three students – sophomore chemistry/pre-pharmacy majors Corey Anderson of Eunice LA (Eunice High) and Chioma Obih of New Orleans (Dominican); and P2 pharmacy major Ifeanyi Onor of Nigeria – participated in the National Catholic Student Coalition Leadership Conference in Atlanta GA. At the event, Ifeanyi was elected international relations chair. RADM Stephen Rochon ’84 paid the conference fees for the three to attend.


Youshea Berry ’98, a Washington DC attorney, has received the 2008 National Outstanding Young Lawyer Award for her professional excellence, service to the profession and the bar, service to the community, and reputation for legal ethics and professional responsibility.

Demetria George Caston ’98, has joined the staff of the University of North Texas- Dallas as director of development. Previously she served with Uplift Education, a non-profit organization in the Dallas area which operates five public charter school campuses, where she spearheaded a $26.6 million comprehensive campaign for growth and sustainability. 

The Honorable Lee Faulkner, Jr. ’87, is serving as Judge of Division P in Jefferson Parish, La.

John Jackson ’94, president and CEO of The Schott Foundation for Public Education, has been named recipient of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) 2009 “Ones to Watch Award”, which honors recent graduates of UNCF member Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) whose careers are marked by both great accomplishment and potential for decades of further service.

Dr. Regina Whitfield Kekessi ’92, is a practicing OB/GYN with Group Health Associates in Cincinnati OH.



Members of the University Concert Choir – from left, junior music performance-vocal major Gregory Dixon of Houston TX (Westfield High), junior music liberal arts major Theodore Brown of St. Paul MN (St. Bernard High), senior music liberal arts major Shakeatha Davis of Baldwin LA (St. Mary’s High) and freshman music performance-vocal major Christopher Taplin of Opelousas LA (Opelousas High) – belt out a rousing musical selection during the annual Black History Month Convocation.

photo by Irving Johnson III


The University Rank and Tenure Committee has approved the promotions of seven faculty members in seven different disciplines, according to Dr. Loren Blanchard, vice president for academic affairs.

Two members of the faculty – Dr. Thora Bayer in philosophy and Dr. Dominique Gendrin in communications – were promoted to the rank of professor, while four others – Dr. Mark Gstohl in theology, Dr. Syed Muniruzzaman in biology, Dr. Steven Salm in history and Dr. Thomas Wiese in pharmacy – were all promoted to the rank of associate professor. James Shade III in English was promoted to the rank of assistant professor.

Bayer is in her 11th year of teaching at Xavier. A Ph.D. in philosophy from Emory University, she serves as chair of the Department of Philosophy and is the RosaMary Foundation Professor of Liberal Arts. Her teaching is centered on Health Ethics and Logic. She is the author of Cassirer’s Metaphysics of Symbolic Forms and co-editor of Giambattista Vico: Keys to the New Science, addition to authoring of numerous articles in scholarly journals, including the Journal of Value Inquiry, Journal of Aesthetic Education, and Chicago-Kent Law Review. Her research concentrates on values, philosophy of culture, and German and Italian philosophy.

Gendrin, who holds a Ph.D. from LSU, is in her ninth year at the university. Her teaching credits include public speaking, interpersonal communication, small group communication, and independent study (undergraduate research). She is co-writing a book on African American identity, self-construals and communication, and working with three undergraduate students on two projects: the communication correlates of African American gender roles, and the cognitive dimensions of African American and Vietnamese American college women's self-construals.

Gstohl, who holds a Ph.D in systematic theology and a M.Div from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, teaches courses in historical theology, including The Christian Faith, Christianity in the Early Period, Christianity in the Modern Period, Theological Perspectives of the Reformation and Readings in Greek. He is currently working on a chapter for the text, Teaching Undergraduate Research in Religious Studies to be published by the Oxord University Press and a text on the Reformation.

Muniruzzaman has taught at Xavier since 2002, concentrating in the areas of general microbiology and general biology. He holds a Ph.D. in applied microbiology from the University of Kagawa in Japan, with postdoctoral training in at the University of Arkansas Medical Science Center and the University of Texas Health Science Center. He has


received grants for several research projects, including a look at enhancing diversity in environmental biology and a study of the quality of supply water in the New Orleans.

Salm has been with the University since 2003. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas at Austin and teaches a variety of courses in African history, the Black Atlantic World, world civilizations, and research methods. In spring 2010, with the support of a CAT/Mellon Foundation grant, he will be offering a new course on the history of popular culture in Africa. For the last three years, Salm and Dr. Wendy Gaudin (history) have worked on an oral history project, “The Diaspora in Segregated Louisiana,” that involves students in the collection and analysis of oral history interviews. He has published a book, Culture and Customs of Ghana.

Shade is a New Orleans native and a 1987 Xavier graduate. After stints in journalism (The Times-Picayune, WWL-TV), local politics and doing grunt work on movie sets on the West coast, he returned to his hometown to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of New Orleans. His play First Friday has been performed onstage and he is currently working on both a novel and a screenplay about the desegregation of New Orleans. He teaches screenwriting and playwriting.

Wiese teaches molecular biology-biotechnology, medicinal chemistry and cancer biology lecture and laboratory courses while also maintaining an active research laboratory. In 2007,

Dr. Cheryl Keyes ’79, an associate professor of ethnomusicology at UCLA, has won a NAACP Image Award in the category of “outstanding world music album” for her debut CD, Let Me Take You There.

Brandon Mack ’07, has been accepted into dental school at LSU.

Regina McCutcheon ‘06, a medical student at Tulane University, is serving as chair of the 2009 Women’s Health & Economic Summit to be held March 14 at Delgado CC in New Orleans.

he was appointed the XU Associate Director of the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium (LCRC) that includes Tulane and LSU Health Science Centers, responsible for continuing to build the University’s collaborative cancer research and education programs and acting as a research mentor for XU students from pharmacy, chemistry and biology. The primary theme of his research is the molecular mechanisms involved in nuclear toreceptor mediated endocrine disruption. Wiese holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Wayne State University.


March 3 is the Feast Day of St. Katharine Drexel, the founder of Xavier University, Xavier Prep, and the matriarch of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament religious order.

During her lifetime, St. Katharine established many ministries among the poor and led a life devoted to Eucharistic prayer and outreach to the poor. Since her death in 1955, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament have faithfully continued her work.

Her story cannot be repeated too often.

St. Katharine was the 19th century equivalent of an American princess, born into the privileged family of a wealthy Philadelphia banker and philanthropist. She could have lived her life in the

St. Katharine Drexel
lap of luxury, oblivious to the suffering of others. But instead, throughout the 1890’s and the first half of this century – long before taking up the cause of racial equality came into vogue – St. Katharine was at the forefront of efforts to improve the lives of others.

During these decades shadowed by the segregation and degradation forced on Blacks – combined with the dispossession, relocation and betrayal of Native Americans – the name of St. Katharine Drexel shone out as a beacon of hope. St. Katharine was at the forefront of efforts to educate African-Americans and Native Americans with an eye toward helping them to develop their own leadership and self-determination. Her schools were always open to all faiths; and the nuns who followed her lived among the poor they served.

Katharine Drexel was born in 1858 to wealthy Philadelphia banker and philanthropist Francis Drexel and his wife Hannah, who died a mere five weeks after giving birth. Her father remarried two years later. It was from her parents – revered for their own generosity and charity to the less fortunate – that St. Katharine learned early the lesson of stewardship and responsibility to the poor.

Early on, St. Katharine indicated her intent to establish a bureau to distribute her wealth to Indians and Black missions, and to enter a cloistered religious order. But instead, during a trip to Rome with her family, she accepted the challenge of Pope Leo XIII and established a brand new order – the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament – which went on to found and staff schools and centers in the inner cities of the North and East, the Indian reservations of the west and across the Deep South.

Despite the many obstacles placed in their path, including strong opposition from whites, by 1942 the Sisters were operating black Catholic schools, convents and mission centers in some 13 states. So extensive was her influence in the Black, rural areas of New Iberia, St. Martinville and other Acadiana parishes that she is often referred to as the “Patron Saint of South Louisiana.”

St. Katharine’s presence was also felt in urban New Orleans, where the Sisters not only opened a Catholic high school and several elementary schools, but also established Xavier – which was to become the capstone of her educational system.

Originally a coeducational secondary school, Xavier evolved into a teacher’s college and by 1925 had achieved full university status. A College of Pharmacy – now one of only two pharmaceutical schools in the state – was added two years later. That same College of Pharmacy is today among the nation’s top three producers of African American Doctor of Pharmacy degree recipients.

It is estimated that St. Katharine – who during her lifetime shared the annual income from her father’s trust fund with her two sisters – gave away more than $20 million.

The stresses and strains of building a nationwide network of schools for black and Indian children were hard on St. Katharine. The heavy workload and awesome responsibilities that she shouldered for more than a half-century finally took their toll in 1935 when she suffered a near-fatal heart attack. For 20 years she was confined to the infirmary at the Motherhouse in Bensalem, Pa., where she is said to have spent most of her waking hours in prayer and meditation. She died in 1955.

St. Katharine was officially canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in October of 2000 by Pope John Paul II. During a rain-soaked canonization ceremony that drew tens of thousands to the Vatican, Pope John Paul II said that her life brought about “a growing awareness of the need to combat all forms of racism through education and social services.

Only the fifth American to have been canonized and only the second American-born Saint, she is now in the select company of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, Rose Philippine Duchesne, Bishop John Neumann and Mother Elizabeth Seton. In a special effort to honor its founder, the University is finalizing plans for the St. Katharine Drexel Chapel, which will be designed by the renown architect Cesar Pelli, who recently completed design of the new St. Thomas Moore chapel at Yale University.


Mildred Higgins (director, financial aid) has been honored by the executive board of the Louisiana Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (LASFAA), which renamed its annual student scholarship award the “Mildred D. Higgins High School Scholarship” in recognition of her 40 years of dedication to the education of students and to the training and professional develop of her financial aid colleagues. 

Dr. David Lanoue (RosaMary Professor of English) has published an essay, "America’s First Haiku Masters: Jack Kerouac and Richard Wright," in Philosophical Alternatives.

Melva Williams (ITC) has been named interim vice president for technology administration. She has been at XU for the past 11 years, serving in a variety of different capacities, including her role as director of internal operations.

Michelle Woods (library) has been awarded the Kate Mara Grant to attend the Southwestern Association of Law Libraries (SWALL) Conference in Albuquerque NM.  

Three members of the English Department made presentations at the 2009 Mississippi Philological Association Conference held at Mississippi College in Clinton. Dr. Thomas Bonner (Emeritus) gave the keynote address "New Orleans and Its Writers' Burdens of Place;" Jason Todd gave the paper "'Hit's what paw says': Language, Balance, and Authority in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying;" and Robby Ponds read from and discussed her novel-in-progress The Grass Widow.
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