Volume 46 No. 05
May 2015







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Research on Display
All Business
Timely Intercession
to the front
To the Front
Community Garden
We Have a Winner
Phi Alpha Theta


Labat Named Interim VP for Academics

President Dr. Norman C. Francis has announced the appointment of XU Professor Emeritus Dr. Deidre Labat as interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA).

Labat, who retired in 2012 after 35 years of service at Xavier, teaching, research and service to the University, previously served in the position. She has been working since mid-April on a part-time basis and will move into full-time interim status on June 1, which will correspond with the departure of Dr. Loren Blanchard to his new position in the California State University System. Her appointment is intended to provide continuity to the University’s strategic goals and assure as seamless a transition as possible for the new president, who is expected to be named in May.

“I am pleased that Dr. Labat has agreed to return to Xavier for a period of time as her previous service in this office coupled with Associate Vice President Dr. Marguerite Giguette’s significant expertise and experience with Dr. Blanchard will be invaluable during this time of transition,” said Francis. “It is appropriate that my successor will recommend to the Board of Trustees the permanent appointment of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.”

He said the position of Provost will remain vacant until such time as the new President wishes to move forward.


Summer Programs
Applications Open

It’s not too early to start thinking Summer Sessions at Xavier.

The traditional slate of daytime and evening classes has given way to even more and better this summer as the university has added a significant number of evening and online/hybrid courses to the usual mix of day classes. Degree credit hours are priced as low as $240.

No less than 65 online/hybrid degree-credit courses will be available this summer, including offerings in English, business, communications, languages, mathematics, philosophy, and political sciences. The Graduate school is also offering a number of summer courses.

Registration for Session 1 is May 26; Session 2 is June 29. All courses are available to both Xavier and non-Xavier college students, Want more info? Start HERE..


Francis Legacy
Tour Underway

The Francis Legacy Tour may be heading to your town for special event honoring our retiring President.

Upcoming stops include Houston TX (May 23), New Orleans (June 04), and Los Angeles CA (June 15). Proceeds from the events will help fund scholarships that will ensure future generations of students the opportunity to attend Xavier.

Visit HERE for details and to purchase tickets.


Student Research Journal Available

The latest issue of XULAneXUS (Volume 12, Issue 2) – the University’s online journal of student research – is now available HERE.


Festival Chorus/ Tribute to NCF

XU Director of Choirs Dr. John Ware ’77 is calling all alumni/friends to participate in a special Festival Chorus that is being formed to perform a tribute to retiring XU President Dr. Norman C. Francis at this year’s Baccalaureate Mass on May 08 in the Convocation Center.

The chorus will be comprised of XU’s Concert Choir, University Chorus, Contemporary Choir, Campus Ministry Choir, the New Orleans Black Chorale, and alumni/friends of Dr. Francis.

Alumni/friends who wish to participate are asked to contact the Music Office at (504) 520-7597. Singers must attend a joint chorus rehearsal in the Music building May 02 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All participants are asked to wear all black to the rehearsal for the official photo.


Scholarship Offered to Chicago Students

Eligible students are encouraged to apply for two stipends being offered by XU Alumni Chapter of Chicago.

Criteria include: a permanent address or residency in Indiana, Illinois or Wisconsin, upperclassman status, at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA, and attendance at least one previous chapter event. Email xuaaofchicago@gmail.com with thesubject line “XUAAC scholarships” to receive an application.

Deadline for receipt of applications is May 11. Selected students must attend the William J. Hill Parent & Freshmen Reception August 01 in Chicago IL.


Vote for Miss Xavier in Ebony Contest

The XU community is encourage to cast their vote for Miss Xavier in the 2015 EBONY HBCU Campus Queens contest now live HERE.

You can vote for Jazmin Taylor by going directly  HERE NOW through  May 22.

shining stars SHINIING STARS

XU President Dr. Norman C. Francis is surrounded by alumni – all current or future doctors – during the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC) at which he was the guest speaker. On hand for the occasion were: (L-R) Telycia Peters ’12, Sarah Ann Anderson ’06, Dr. Jessica Isom ’10, Francis, Dr. Mary Fleming ’02, Asia Matthew ‘12, and Ashley Matthew ‘12.

photo courtesy PreMed Office


Dr. Norman C. Francis will preside over his final graduation University President as Xavier celebrates its 88th commencement May 09, at 10:00 a.m. in the XU Convocation Center.

Dr. Francis, a 1952 XU graduate whose remarkable career has made him the longest serving college president in the nation (47 years), will be one of five speakers to address the more than 550 graduates during the ceremony.

In a break from the traditional single speaker, four other distinguished national servant leaders from differing professions will also share life-lessons with graduates, including 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. All four will be awarded Honorary Degrees.

Visit HERE for more details.


Applications are being accepted for Xavier's new academic program leading to an Ed. D. (Doctor of Education) degree in Educational Leadership.

The new program, which recently received approval from the Southern Associate of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC), is slated to enroll its first class of students in fall 2015. The doctoral degree program, which will be administered through the Division of Education and Counseling, will draw on the Xavier’s success as a partner in the Louisiana School Turnaround Specialist Program.
The 60-hour curriculum will focus on urban education and school turnaround, utilizing a multidisciplinary approach that blends theory and applied research with practice. It is designed for the educator who wants to become a leader and agent of change in approaching the current challenges facing schools both locally and nationally.
- more -


COMMENCEMENT 2015 Felecia Woolens
Olivier Siewe Graduates Overcome Long Odds


In the aftermath of a no less than horrific automobile accident, doctors gave the parents of 9-year-old Felecia Woolens this frightening prognosis: she had less than a 10 percent of surviving of the accident, and in the improbable case that she did survive she would require a breathing ventilator for the remainder of her life. In all likelihood, she will have sustained significant permanent brain damage. The year was 2003.

Flash forward 12 years later, and again Woolens finds herself at a crossroads – only this one will involve tears of joy.  On May 09 the now 22-year-old will receive an undergraduate degree in political science at Xavier commencement. It also marks a turning point in her life, when she move away from the protective care of her mother and onto a more independent stage of her life.

“I’m scared and nervous, but at the same time I am really looking forward to this next segment of my life,” said Woolens, who is currently in the process of putting together all the complicated pieces for a move later this year to Baton Rouge, where she hopes to attend law school. “It’s something I feel I have to do, and I’m ready for it.” - more -

Felecia Woolens

Out of Africa

As a young boy growing up in the West African nation of Cameroon, Olivier Siewe cut a deal with the owner of a local bar in his hometown of Douala, trading used soda and beer bottles in exchange for the privilege of watching U.S. college basketball on the television set there.

Oh man, what he wouldn’t give to be one of those basketball players.

There were, of course, more than a few obstacles standing in the way of that American dream. First he was in Cameroon, where basketball as a sport ranked only slightly higher than tug-of-war. As a result he had received no formal training in the sport and had no immediate prospects of getting any; in fact, his “learning” of the game consisted of playing pick-up games with a soccer ball on a concrete court.

Then there were his parents, who disapproved of the sport anyway, noting – correctly – that his obsession with basketball was interfering with his education. Last but not least, he spoke no English, only some French and this tribal Batoit. - more

Olivier Siewe

education series cont

Interested applicants must already have a master’s degree – although not necessarily in education or educational leadership. 

“What makes this degree program unique is its focus on leadership values that include social justice and inclusion of all the organization’s stakeholders,” said Dr. Rosalind Hale, professor of education and one of the authors of the new program. “But like all our educational programs, it will be grounded in a conceptual framework that identifies six constructs – spirituality, diversity, professionalism, inquiry, competence, and technology)  -- passed on from the Division’s experienced professional team to those who will lead effective schools in the future.”

Degree candidates will learn strategies and skills that will engage all constituents in creating schools with sustainable high performance based on effective organizational models and best instructional practices. The platform to change is underpinned by the pedagogical successes of urban schools that consistently meet the academic needs of all children, including those who are poor and minority.
Hale said the new Ed. D. curriculum will be infused with a rich mixture of leadership theories, best practices, and entrepreneurial turnaround skills.

For more information or to apply, contact the XU Division of Education and Counseling at (504) 520-7536.

woolens cont.

The change of venue will certainly be challenging for Woolens, who is still wheelchair bound and has limited use of her hands and arms, but it’s no more insurmountable than the challenges she has faced in the past.

In 2003 the odds were heavily stacked against her. Following the accident, she spent two months in the hospital. But she had survived. Even more remarkably, two weeks before she was released, doctors removed the ventilator from her tracheotomy.

Even when Woolens returned home, the jury was still out on the extent of her brain injury and her powers of recuperation. Unable to perform even the most rudimentary functions on her own, she had to learn to do everything all over again, and required constant round-the-clock care. [She would not learn to write again until junior high school – still a mean feat considering that to this day her fingers do not move].

Nevertheless she began home-schooling only two weeks after leaving the hospital, and within months was back at school. Despite missing a complete semester – and, erroneously, having been placed in Special Education courses initially – she passed sixth grade with the rest of her class.

Despite her lingering physical limitations, Woolens went on to high school at Grace King where she served as an inspiration to her classmates. There she posted a 3.4 grade point average, and was named “Ms. Grace King” – an honor given for academic and leadership voted on by the school’s faculty and staff.

That stellar work earned her a scholarship to attend Xavier, where she found herself mainly focused on her schoolwork, although she did – with some difficulty – find ways to help others “less fortunate” than she.

“It’s hard to volunteer for community projects when you can’t drive and your mobility is limited,” reflected Woolens. “But I have enjoyed those opportunities that I have had to help displaced families and to participate in soup and jacket drives near the New Orleans Mission.”

Despite having finished her college coursework this past December, Woolens is still hitting the books hard – preparing for the LSAT exam.

It was in high school that Woolens got the first inclination that she would like to go into law, but, as she noted, “I have always loved to argue”. She hopes to focus on civil law, particularly in the areas of disability and general discrimination.

She admits to being somewhat inspired by the proceedings in her own law case, which dates back to the accident. The constant interaction with lawyers has given her a deeper appreciation of the justice system and has afforded her a unique perspective that others couldn’t possibly have.

Some would call that making the best of the situation.

“I know it’s been tough on Felecia because she has to rely on others, particularly her mother, to do even the most simple things that most of us take for granted”, said Dr. Pamela Waldron-Moore, one of her professors in the Department of Political Science. “In spite of the almost overwhelming medical complications she has had to endure, she continues to amaze me with the way she has learned to explore the positives in her life. She has become very dear to me over the past four years.”

Her doctors would tend to agree. To this day, they remain perplexed how “normal” a life she has been able to lead. And she’s just getting started.

siewe cont.

Incredibly fate took him by the hand one day, taking him down a long, winding road and through a chain of unlikely events that not only gave him the opportunity to play his beloved basketball, but today puts him on the cusp of making his even his fearful parents proud: earning a college degree and setting up what promises to be a bright future.

He’ll receive his undergraduate degree in business/management during Xavier's May 09 commencement at the XU Convocation Center.

“It’s been hard for me,” admits Siewe. “I’ve had to prove myself to many people: my parents, my teachers, my coaches, my teammates, and my classmates.”

His improbable success owes much to his friendly demeanor, his unwavering determination, his unflappable enthusiasm, and his ability to overcome cultural, language, and other barriers that might have curtailed a lessor individual. That said, Siewe would be among the first to acknowledge a series of guardian angels that have helped him along the way.

The first of those was Gilles Bouwe, his physical education coach in Douala, who recognized Siewe’s underdeveloped potential and brought him to the attention of Lemuel Jones, a former Northwestern State University and then athletic director/head coach at Piney Woods High School in Mississippi USA. Jones saw hidden talent there as well and offered Siewe a chance (and a scholarship) to play on his team back in the states.

It took some doing – his parents had to be assured that his academics would remain a priority and the Cameroon Embassy had to be convinced that the offer was legitimate – but soon Siewe was on his way to a new life in America. That was 2007, and he has not seen his parents or his eight brothers and sisters since.

At Piney Woods (a small boarding school with only 230 students) – under the watchful and skillful eye of Jones – basketball came easy. He was so impressive in his three years at the school that he drew some interest from the likes of Ole Miss and Mississippi State University.

Academics came much harder – the obvious roadblock being the language barrier. Here Siewe credits Jone’s then five-year-old stepdaughter, Shelisa Sutton, who helped him learn conversational English and spent countless hours coaxing him to read from her own books. He also received lots of help from his fellow classmates and teammates – both at Piney Woods and in college.

Cognizant that he was not really ready for the rigors of major Division I competition, Jones steered Siewe to much smaller Campbell University in North Carolina. Even there he failed to make the team. No longer in school and facing deportation, he caught another break when one of the coach’s colleagues recommended him to the coach at Southern University in Shreveport LA (where he subsequently played for two years), and then again to Xavier coach Dannton Jackson.

Starting Xavier as a junior, Siewe played on two regular season conference championship teams in 2012 and 2013, starting 28 of 32 games in his senior year. He never really blossomed into the star everyone hoped he could be – averaging just under three points and three rebounds a game – but no one ever questioned his effort.


Simone Brown, a senior music vocal performance major from Silver Spring MD (Sherwood High) has been accepted into the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University.

Kathryn Ford, a senior chemistry pre-med major from Birmingham AL (Homewood High) has been accepted into the University of Alabama School of Medicine’s Summer Health Enrichment Program.

Bria Joshua, a senior music liberal arts major from New Orleans (Edna Karr High), has been accepted into law school at Southern University-Baton Rouge. 

Justin Platt, a freshman biology/premed major from Chester PA (Chester High), has been accepted into the Summer Medical and Dental Education Programs (SMDEP) at both Case Western Reserve University and the University of Louisville.

Brittany Stepter, a senior chemistry major (creative writing minor) from New Orleans (Xavier Prep) , presented a panel on Music/Literature and read from her fiction at the Gulf Coast Creative Writing Teachers annual conference in Fairhope AL.

Two pharmacy students – Claire Reuter, a P4 from New Orleans (Dominican High), and Johlee Schinetsky, a P3 from Metairie LA (Chapelle High) – were among 85 individuals selected as 2015 AACP Walmart Scholars. The program provides $1,000 travel scholarships to student/faculty pairs to attend the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Annual Meeting and Teachers Seminar this summer. They are mentored by Dr. Ifeanyi Onor and Dr. Jessica Johnson, respectively.

Two students – Huda Afaneh, a P1 pharmacy student major from Gretna LA (West Jefferson High), and Vincenzo Ciccone, a junior mass communication major from Brooklyn NY (Aspirations High) – have been awarded 2015-2016 Truman Capote Scholarships for Creative Writing at Xavier. Each receives a total of $14,000 in scholarship support for the upcoming academic year, awarded for the quality of their fiction and poetry, respectively. XU was the first HBCU to develop an undergraduate creative writing program, a program supported since inception by the Truman Capote Foundation Trust.


Dr. Gilda Barnum-Barabino ‘78, dean of the Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York, was named president-elect of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. A respected researcher in the study of sickle cell disease, she is the first African American women to serve as a dean of engineering at a non-HBCU educational institution.

Julien Grayer ’13 has been accepted into the doctoral program in sociology at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He is currently completing his M.A. in Criminology at University of Alabama Birmingham.
Sika Koudou ’07 is graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a Ph.D. in Sociology this spring.

Dr. Sandra Williams Leconte ’74, a vocal music and piano teacher at Curie High School in Chicago IL, was one of 19 individuals selected nationwide to receive the 2014-15 Outstanding Music Educator of the Year Award by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Courtney Thomas ’11 is graduating from Vanderbilt University with a Ph.D. in sociology this spring.

Sade Wilson-Anumudu ’14 has been accepted into the master's degree program in public health with a concentration in public health nutrition at University of California-Berkeley.


Dr. Amy Bellone-Hite (Chair, Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences) had a second edition of co-edited volume, The Globalization and Development Reader: Perspectives on Development and Social Change, published by Wiley Blackwell.

Dr. Conchetta White Fulton ’85 ’98 (pharmacy) was recipient of the “Think HBCU” Honor at the 2015 South Central Regional Conference of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., held in San Antonio TX.

Jason Horn
(athletics) has been selected chair of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference athletic directors. Xavier is a charter member of the GCAC, which consists of seven universities in five Southern states.

Katheryn Krotzer Laborde
(English) gave a reading at Andalusia Farm – the home of Flannery O'Connor in Milledgeville GA – to close out Andalusia's annual February Four series of readings and lectures. In addition, she was a guest contributor to the Andalusia Farm blog.

Dr. David Lanoue (RosaMary Professor of English) gave the keynote speech at the joint meeting of the Haiku Society of America and the Meguro International Haiku Circle, in Tokyo. He is now serving his third term as president of HSA.

Dr. Joseph M. LaRochelle (pharmacy) made a presentation “Racial Differences in Communication Apprehension and Interprofessional Socialization in Fourth-Year Doctor of Pharmacy Students” at the American Educational Research Association Meeting. He also had a workbook chapter on the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit published in Pediatric Pharmacy Preparatory Review Course Volume 1. In addition, he made a presentation on the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Pediatric Pharmacy Preparatory Review Course in Chicago IL.

Dr. Biljana Obradovic
(English) presented a panel on Music/Literature and read from her poetry at the Gulf Coast Creative Writing Teachers annual conference in Fairhope AL. She also read from her poetry at the annual PCA/ACA annual conference in New Orleans.

Quo Vadis Webster ‘00 ‘10
(Premed Advisor) conducted a workshop, "So You Want to Be a Doctor: A Proactive Approach for Premed Students", at the Annual Medical Education Conference of the Student National Medical Association held in New Orleans.

Dr. Michael White ’76 [Rosa & Charles Keller Endowed Chair in Humanities] has been designated a “Jazz Hero” by the Jazz Journalists’ Association, a group with chapters in 21 U.S. cities and Canada, for his active participation in the jazz world and his noticeable impact on his community.
“Olivier was a joy to coach,” said Jackson, who thought enough of Siewe to keep him around as an undergraduate assistant for this past year’s squad. “He had a lot to overcome, but he was dedicated and hard-working. He was a real asset to the team, even as an undergraduate assistant.”

“If there were ever a student who fit the mission of St. Katharine Drexel ’s vision, it would be Olivier. He has really beaten the odds.”  

While his athletic career had sort of plateaued, his academics prospects soared to new heights at Xavier. Finding a comfortable niche in the Division of Business, the passion he had once reserved for basketball was soon focused on marketing, sales, and business management.

“He is one of the most dedicated, hard-working, loving individuals I have come across in my time at Xavier,” said XU business/management professor Dr. Cary Caro. “When you consider how he came to America – not speaking English, leaving behind his family and everything he knew – you can’t help but admire his maturity and courage. His is an amazing story.”
It’s a story that continues. Not content with just one degree, Siewe, now 25, plans to stay at Xavier after this May’s graduation. He is just 18 hours short of earning a second degree – this one in psychology – and he doesn’t want to leave that additional career option on the table.    

 “Xavier has just been simply amazing for me,” said Siewe, “I am grateful for all the support that I have received and will leave here feeling confident that I am prepared for anything that awaits me in the future, wherever that may take me.”
Ultimately he hopes to find work in international trade and commerce, where he thinks he can best utilize his management skills and maximize his extrovert personality. And while he hopes to stay in America in the short term, he can see himself returning to Cameroon at some point in the future.”

“I’d like to go back to Douala someday and be a role model to the young kids who are there,” he said. “I would like them to see that their dreams are possible.”

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