August 27, 2019

New Orleans LA -- The Louisiana State Board of Regents has approved the appointment of Dr. Camellia Okpodu as a Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA)/State of Louisiana Endowed Chair in Science.

The appointment of Okpodu, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and a professor of biology at Xavier, brings the number of endowed chairs at the University to six. Some 46 professorships are also endowed.

The Board of Regents’ Endowed Chairs for Eminent Scholars and Endowed Professorships programs, established in 1987, represents a partnership between state government and private philanthropy. Louisiana colleges and universities are required to raise a percentage of the total value of the endowments (which is $1 million for endowed chairs and $100,000 for endowed professorships) in order to receive matching state funds.

Both state programs are designed to allow higher education institutions in Louisiana to recruit highly sought after scholars and research faculty both locally and from across the country.

"We are tremendously excited about what this endowed chair will do to enrich Arts and Sciences and Xavier as a whole," said Dr. Anne McCall, XULA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, noting that Dr. Okpodu’s leadership is crucial to ensuring that Xavier continues its tradition of excellence in educating students to become servant-leaders of the future.

She added that the funding of the Endowed Chair is also a great testament to Dr. Okpodu’s outstanding credentials and accomplishments.

Okpodu has served as A&S Dean at Xavier since July 2018. Previously she had been a professor of biology, Director of the Group for Microgravity and Environmental Biology, and Director of a Designated IC Center of Academic excellence at Norfolk State University.

She holds a B.S. in Biochemistry and Ph.D. degree in Plant Physiology/Biochemistry from North Carolina State University. Her Post-Doctoral work in Plant Molecular Biology was conducted at Virginia Tech.

Her research focus on environmental topics including climate change, sea-level rise and coastal resiliency, and agriculture is timely and resonates particularly with our region. She has spoken at several national environmental conferences and published multiple articles in her discipline as well as on minority student retention in STEM fields.

Xavier’s five other endowed chairs (and the individuals holding those) include: the Endowed Chair in Public Health (Dr. Regina Benjamin), the Pharmaceutical Chair (Dr. Daniel Sapong), the Conrad Hilton Endowed Chair in Computer Science (Dr. Andrea Edwards), the Conrad Hilton Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship (Mark Quinn), and the Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities (Dr. Michael White).


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