Volume 46 No. 03
March 2015








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all heart
All Heart
New Officers
look back
A Look Back
mardi gras
Doing Mardi Gras
top alums
Top Alums


Basketball Update

MEN: The Gold Rush, ranked No. 20 in the most recent NAIA national poll, sport a 21-8 overall record (10-3 in conference play) going into this Saturday’s Crosstown Classic with archrival Dillard.

Visit HERE for updates.

WOMEN: The Nuggets, unranked in the current NAIA national poll, are 15-14 overall and 8-5 in conference.

Check HERE for updates.


Pharmacy Hosts
Health Conference

The College of Pharmacy's Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, Research and Education will host its Eighth Health Disparities Conference March 12–14, 2015 in New Orleans.

Visit HERE for details.


NSF Grant Supports G-Ray Research

The National Science Foundation has awarded Xavier a two-year, $250,000 grant to support research and education designed to provide more precise measurements of gamma rays emissions produced by lightning.

Visit HERE for details.


Check Out Xavier's Summer Programs

Applications are now being accepted for XU’s diverse array of pre-college summer programs. Visit HERE for more details on the programs being offered and how to apply.


Track Team Ready for Spring Meets

The XU Track Team opens the spring season March 7 in the Mississippi College Opener in Clinton MS.

Visit HERE for more info.


Cucidati Workshop & St. Joseph's Altar

Xavier will observe the St. Joseph Altar tradition March 14 and 19 with a Cucidati (Italian Fig Cookie) workshop and a public altar, respectively.

Visit HERE for more details.


Dr. John Jackson IV '94, President/CEO of Schott Foundation for Public Education, returned to his alma mater to deliver an impassioned speech to students, staff, and faculty at the University’s annual Black History Month Convocation.

photo by Irving Johnson III

Four distinguished national servant leaders from differing professions will share life-lessons with graduates at Xavier's May 2015 Commencement.

This break from the traditional single speaker will be one highlight of the last Commencement over which retiring President Dr. Norman C. Francis '52, quintessential servant leader and role model of a true Xavierite, will preside.

Prior to addressing the students, each of the following will receive Honorary Degrees from Xavier: long standing civil servant and agent of change, Mary Landrieu; Carnegie Corporation of New York President and proponent of the essential impact of higher education on society, Dr. Vartan Gregorian; (former) U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder; and basketball legend and entrepreneur, Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Dr. Francis, who has served at his alma mater for almost 60 years and has been its esteemed leader for the last 47 years, will also address the graduates.

The 88th annual commencement will be held Saturday, May 9th, at 10:00 a.m. in the XU Convocation Center.

Dr. Vartan Gregorian is the twelfth president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, a grant-making institution founded in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie. He has served in that position since June 1997. - more -

Eric H. Holder, Jr. has served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States for the past six years. Nominated by President Barack Obama in 2008, he is the first African-American to serve in the position. He recently announced his retirement, pending Congressional approval of a successor. - more -

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Jr., a star basketball player on every level, played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) for 13 seasons. - more -

Mary Landrieu is the former U.S. Senator from Louisiana, a post in which she served for nearly 18 years. - more -

Vartan Gregorianholder
Eric Holder
"Magic" Johnsonlandrieu
Mary Landrieu


The College of Pharmacy has received reaffirmation of its accreditation by The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

The decision to reaffirm Xavier’s accreditation for eight years – the customary cycle between self-studies – was based on findings from an evaluation team that visited the campus in fall 2014. The Accreditation Action and Recommendations Report ensuing from the Board meeting concluded that the XU College of Pharmacy is compliant with all 30 ACPE professional standards, with only a few of those requiring additional monitoring during the accreditation period.

ACPE has also reaffirmed accreditation of the University’s Continuing Pharmacy Education Program for six years – again the customary cycle between self-studies.

“We are extremely proud of the quality education and career preparation that our students receive through our pharmacy program,” said XU President Dr. Norman C. Francis. “We are gratified that this professional assessment confirms that value.”

Xavier continues to be one of the top producers of African American pharmacists in the nation on an annual basis. Admission to its College of Pharmacy is highly competitive with more than 400 annual applications to be among the 150 students admitted for each first-year class. Of the 539 students who graduated from Xavier this past spring, 159 of them earned the Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

“The reaffirmation of our ACPE accreditation is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the Pharmacy faculty, students, and staff,” said Dr. Loren J. Blanchard, XU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Xavier. “It is vital for the Xavier name to be synonymous with excellence and high academic standards. This endorsement from ACPE contributes to that assurance.”

Underscoring the vitality of Xavier’s pharmacy program was the construction of a $30-million expansion in 2010, an augmentation which added an additional 65,000 square feet to the existing College of Pharmacy building including new classrooms, student spaces, offices, laboratories, and a vivarium. The Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion was supported by a major grant through the Qatar Katrina Fund.

Xavier is one of only two schools in Louisiana which offer degrees in pharmacy. The University of Louisiana at Monroe is the other.


A 2015 National Science Foundation (NFS) report, Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering shows that Xavier now ranks third in the nation in graduating African Americans who go on to obtain Ph.D.s in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

The report, released in January by NFS’ National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic, indicated that during the covered period – 2008-2012 – Xavier had 72 of its graduates earn doctorates in science and engineering. That placed it third behind only Howard University and Spelman College, with 106 and 86 graduates respectively.

“This report represents another testament to the rigorous academic environment at Xavier, which prepares undergraduates to perform at the highest levels and instills in them a never-ending desire to learn and grow in their chosen fields and professions,” said XU President Dr. Norman C. Francis.

According to the report, a total of 6,254 African Americans earned Ph.D.s in those fields during that same period, with the top 51 colleges and universities producing more than 28 percent of those graduates.

The full report is available HERE.

UNCOMMON UNDERGRADS (one in a series)
* A small sampling of Xavier's outstanding undergraduate students

Kaila Pulliam Collins
- An American in Paris

If you go looking for Kaila Pulliam Collins in a few years hence, Paris (France) will probably be THE place to start. She won’t be there any time in her immediate future – she has a laundry list of things to attend to first – but you can make book on it that come what may, Paris is where she will end up.

Kaila’s fascination with all things French began in elementary school, where she was exposed to the romance language in first grade. She took an instant liking to the language, which kindled an interest in learning about the country, its culture, and its people.

Kaila Pulliam Collins
By the time she hit high school (Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School), her command of the language that such that she was enrolled in upper-level and AP courses. Not surprisingly she jumped at a chance to spend two weeks in-country with a French family through a student-exchange program.

When it came time for college, Kaila, then thinking about a career in fashion design, decided to attend Drexel University in Philadelphia PA. It was there she learned of the Drexel family’s connection to Xavier, which turned out to be a good thing when,  one year into her college career, she ultimately decided that “design” was not her calling, and that Drexel was a little too small a college. The fact that her mother, Felicia Pulliam Collins ‘88, is a Xavier graduate, certainly did hurt the equation.

At Xavier, she moved into the business/marketing curriculum, which fits more in line with her ultimate career goal, which is to a  be “dream maker” and “image creator” in the marketing/and branding area of the fashion industry. “I want to be the one to create and tell the story that entices people to buy,” she said, noting that she plans to work three-five years before applying to a top business school and get an MBA.

Kaila has been an active member of the XU chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA), this year serving her second year as president. She also founded a student-run marketing agency.

She’s has already made some significant inroads into Corporate America, having already served two summer internships: the first via the University Talent Program with Coca-Cola Refreshments in sales here in New Orleans and the second via a highly competitive AMA internship in Global Marketing and Commercial Leadership with The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta GA. In between that, she spent the spring semester of 2014 at the American Business School in (you guessed it, Paris!), where in addition to attending classes she regularly hit the street markets, museums, and restaurants not regularly frequented by tourists.

She noted that the French were quite surprised by her grasp of the language. “It was almost funny, because I had natives asking ME for directions,” she laughed.

Kaila’s journey down the Yellow Brick Road has not been without adversity, and her ability to deal with sudden changes of fortune bodes well for her future. Early in her first year at Xavier she had to overcome the sudden death of her father, Craig Collins. Then, last spring while in Paris, she learned that the pain she had been experiencing for several months was the result of a deteriorating bone condition that required hip replacement surgery.



Two XU sophomores– Vashni  Balleste, a mass communication major and tennis athlete from Rock Tavern NY (Washingtonville High), and Kailey Williams, a biology major and track athlete from Ft. Worth TX (Martin High) – were among 27 individuals elected to serve on the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) proposed Association of Student-Athletes. If approved at the annual convention in April, the new group – made up entirely of students – would join the NAIA governance structure as the advocacy arm of the student-athlete collective.


Teniesha Biagas ’10 has been named Sponsorship Activation Director for ESSENCE Festival, where she serves as the main point person for all Festival sponsors working to seamlessly execute sponsor integration for the event. She had been serving as a fundraiser for former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.

Dr. Dianne Green-Smith ’76, Director of the School of Social Work at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids MI, was named recipient of the Phyllis Scott Activist Award by
Grand Rapids Community College as part of its annual Giants Awards program honoring and celebrating influential leaders in the African American community.

Sherrie Brown Littlejohn ’79, Executive Vice President and Head of Enterprise Architecture & IT Strategy for Wells Fargo in San Francisco CA, was named Member of the Year by her peers on the Information Technology Senior Management Forum.

Crystal Morris ’13
, who recently made her debut as a soloist with Mississippi Opera was named recipient of the Encouragement Award from the New Orleans District of the MET Council Auditions for 2015. She will also be singing a fundraising concert for the Natchez Festival later this month, while her graduate recital will take place April 2, at 5:30 p.m. at LSU.


Dr. Violet Bryan (English) was recognized for her years of service on the Executive Committee of the Southern American Studies Association at its annual conference in Atlanta GA.

Dr. Sarah Clunis (Interim Director, African American and Diaspora Studies) promoted the University’s Black History Month events on the WWL-TV Channel 4 “Eyewitness Morning News” program in New Orleans. She was joined by two other faculty members – Dr. Wilfred Delphin ’71 (music) and Dara Rahming (music) – and an alum – Anais St. John ’96 – all of whom performed on the show.

Dr. Ronald Dorris '72 (African American & Diaspora Studies and English) delivered a paper, "Booker T. Washington: Positioning the Lens on Historical Shortcoming," at the Southern Conference on African American Studies in Montgomery AL.

Dr. Norman C. Francis '52 (President) has been named recipient of the American Council on Education's (ACE) Lifetime Achievement Award. He will receive the honor during the Annual ACE March 16 Meeting in Washington DC

Jarred Honora '10 (Admissions) was inducted into the Phi Beta Sigma State of Louisiana Distinguished Service Chapter at the 2015 Louisiana State Meeting in Opelousas LA. This is the highest honor that the Louisiana State Board of Phi Beta Sigma can bestow upon a member of the Fraternity. At the age of 26, this will make Jarred one of the youngest to ever achieve this honor. Jarred was also named Sigma of the Year for 2015 at this conference and serves as a Regional Officer for the Gulf Coast Region of Phi Beta Sigma.

The Rev. Maurice Nutt (Director, IBCS) will serve on a panel, “Friends of Thea: Sharing the Joy,” March 29 at the Franciscan Spiritualty Center in LaCrosse WS as part of a series of events marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA (1937-1990), revered as one of the most significant figures in modern Catholicism for having dedicated her life working for the black community.

An article by Dr. Kim Vaz-Deville (Associate Dean, A&S), "They Call Me Baby Doll: Resurrection of a Tradition", which originally appeared in the Winter 2010-2011 issue of Louisiana Cultural Vistas Magazine, was used as the basis for a WWNO/Louisiana Endowment for the Arts radio spot. You can read the article HERE. It will air this Wednesday, February 4th at 8:30 am on WWNO, 89.9 FM.

“I was in a lot of pain, but that didn’t stop me from experiencing Paris to the fullest,” she said, noting that at the time her overriding concern was whether or not she would be physically able to attend the Atlanta internship that summer. “It was hard, but I was able to continue my therapy in Atlanta.”

Now recovered, she is looking forward to yet another internship this summer – she has already been offered a marketing position via the 3M Frontline program in Minneapolis MN – and her graduation in December 2015.

Paris beckons.

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