Volume 39 No. 01
January 08


Growth Leads to Creation
of Division of Business

Hammer Named
CAT Director

BET’s Jeff Johnson Keynote Speaker for MLK Week

XU Alumna Earns
Ph.D. in Mathematics

Alumnus Works to Save Preserve Historic Homes

Xavier Writes

Xavier in the News

3 SCMLA Publishes XU Katrina Essays

The South Central Journal, published by the South Central Modern Language Association and the Johns Hopkins University Press, has just published in its fall issue a special section of essays devoted to the English Department of Xavier and its Katrina experience.

Dr. Nicole Greene edited the section and contributed an introduction and an article "Flushing out the Basements: The Status of Contingent Composition Faculty in Post-Katrina New Orleans – And What We Can Learn from It." The section includes Dr. Thomas Bonner, Jr.'s essay "Facing the Flood: The English Department as High Axle Vehicle," Katheryn Krotzer Laborde's essay "Show and Tell," and "Dr. Bonnie Noonan's essay "When Life Gives You Lemons: Katrina as Subject."

Xavier students contributed their writing in two of the essays. Dr. Noonan acknowledges the major contribution of Kashana Adams to her essay, while Laborde includes sustained passages from La'Kiraa Lillard, Erin Hill, Latoya Wright, Van Le, Ismaelite St. Felix, Devonte Williford, Elisha Johnson, LaShundra Hooker, Darren Wallace, Hoa Tran, Shavayza Fortson, Huong Pham, Sabrina Moore, Patrick Dupart, and Shaakira Horbrook.

Richard Golsan, editor of South Central Review, writes in his introduction that he and the other editors wish "the faculty, staff, and students of Xavier University – all the people of New Orleans – our very best in their lives and in the recovery of their beautiful city."

3 Basketball Update

Gold Rush: The Xavier men, 10-2 on the season overall, open up Gulf Coast Conference play this Thursday (Jan. 3) at Belhaven, followed by a second road game at Spring Hill on Saturday. The Rush return to the Barn Jan. 10 for their conference home opener vs. SUNO.  

Senior guard Mark Stewart of Destrehan, La., leads the team in scoring with 13.3 points a game, while Jarrel Lake, a sophomore forward from Los Angeles, Calif., currently leads the club in rebounding, (7.3. per game) and second in scoring (12.8).

Visit HERE for a look at the remaining schedule.

Nuggets: The Xavier women, 10-2 on the season, also open up Gulf Coast Conference play this Thursday (Jan. 3) at Belhaven, followed by a second road game at Spring Hill on Saturday. The Nuggets open their conference home schedule Jan. 10 vs. SUNO.

Jarryn Cleaves, a senior guard from Memphis, Tenn., leads the team in scoring with 13.9 points a game, Erica Turnbull, a senior forward from Baltimore, Md., is second in scoring with 13.7 points a game and first in rebounding with 6.8 per game.

Visit HERE for the remaining schedule.

3 XU-DU Basketball in the Arena March 1

Oh, and mark your calendars for Saturday, March 1, 2008!

That's when the Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets will face off against archrival Dillard in the final game of the basketball season at the New Orleans Arena.

Plenty of good seats available. Information on times and ticket availability is forthcoming.

3 Got News for TMAX?

Recently been accepted into professional or graduate school, earned an advanced degree, received an internship or scholarship, won an award, secured a grant, had a book or article published, accepted a new job or promotion?

If so, why not share the good news with the XU community? Send an e-mail to the TMAX at rtucker@xula.edu – it’s really that simple.

3 XU in the News

1New Orleans CityBusiness Campus Comebacks
Faculty Lured by Challenge

Local Schools Going Over Safety Procedures

Lafayette Daily Advertiser ULL Honors Xavier Head
Clifton a Part of History
Well-founded Fun (HC Gala)



Over the holiday break, work crews take advantage of the lack of foot and vehicle traffic on the XU campus to make needed physical improvements to the grounds, including pouring new, wider sidewalks plus blacktopping some existing and additional new parking areas.

photo by Irving Johnson III

Besides enjoying a national reputation as a school where students attend to major in the sciences and health related fields, one of the fastest growing areas at Xavier has been in Business. That growth has resulted in the creation recently of a new Division of Business, to replace what had been an academic department inside the university's College of Arts & Sciences.

Nationally accredited, with more than 250 students enrolled as majors, the Business department was already growing and expanding before Hurricane Katrina came along and delayed this latest expansion. According to department chairman Anil Kukreja, because of its increasing enrollment and after being accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, there was even discussion into the possibility of becoming a college of business. Those plans have been scaled back, but Business at Xavier is nevertheless pressing forward.
The department's ascendancy in November 2007 to become the Division of Business makes it the second academic division in the College of Arts and Sciences (the other being the Division of Education.)    
“Our business program is unique in that we have four separate programs,” said Kukreja, adding that Xavier's programs of study in accounting, finance, management and sales and marketing cover the areas students want and where the demand is greatest in the business world.
“We’re excited about our change to a Division,” said Kukreja. “This new status will give us increased visibility and is a significant step towards our ultimate goal of becoming a college or school of business.”
For now the new Business division is focused on recruitment and building the program. Says Kukreja, "We've streamlined the curriculum, and we’ve done our homework to make ourselves ready for growth. There is a lot of growth potential in business, and we’re glad the University has shown its commitment by making us a division.”
Xavier students have consistently been successful in obtaining employment with Fortune 500 companies and they are also winning various regional and national business competition. A team of Xavier University business students won the 2007 Ford-HBCU Business Plan Competition, a national contest; plus, a team of Sales and Marketing students won recently at the Bayou Sales Challenge Competition.
The Xavier Division of Business currently hosts two pre-college programs, Business Scholars and Business Achievers for high school seniors. Students in both courses take an "Introduction to Business" course and obtain college credit.
The Division of Business has five endowed professorships and one endowed chair.  In addition Xavier has three joint programs with Tulane University where students may obtain an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in finance or accounting or an MBA degree. Currently there are four business students enrolled at Tulane in the joint programs.


Elizabeth Yost Hammer has been named Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

Hammer, who is also a professor in the Psychology department, received a bachelor of science in psychology from Troy State University (Alabama) and both a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Experimental Social Psychology at Tulane University.

Her research interests focus on the scholarship of teaching and learning, and she has published on service learning, mentoring, collaborative learning, and the utilization of social psychological theories in the classroom in publications such as The Handbook of the Teaching of Psychology and the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

She is a National Past-President of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology and was recently elected as Treasurer for the Society for the Teaching of Psychology.
She is a co-author on the textbook, Psychology Applied to Modern Life (9th edition). She is currently co-authoring a book entitled Psychology of Disasters for Blackwell Publishing.

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching is an academic resource for Xavier University's faculty and the broader educational community. The Center’s mission is to advance the art and science of teaching and learning.


Social activist, international journalist, and executive producer,  ‘Cousin’ Jeff Johnson, will be the keynote speaker for the 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Week for Peace, Jan. 19-25, 2008.

The Martin Luther King Week for Peace is presented by Xavier, Tulane, Loyola and Dillard Universities. The theme for 2008 is “Are You Engaged, where do you stand?”

In addition to the featured Thursday lecture – at which Lifetime Achievement and Student Community Service awards will be presented – other MLK week activities include an interfaith service, a community service day, a candlelight march and an Expressions of Unity celebration. All events are free and open to the public.

Jeff Johnson is a political motivator and a social commentator, most widely known for his appearance on Black Entertainment Television (BET) on the shows “The Jeff Johnson Chronicles” and “Rap City.”  On these shows, Johnson is known to speak of and challenge the issues of violence and voting. He is currently a commentator for several radio shows as well as BET and CNN.

A native of Cleveland, OH, Johnson attended the University of Toledo. He   was elected President of the Black Student Union twice, and played an integral role in the formation of black student awareness on campus. He has served as National Director for the NAACP’s Youth and College Division, and later, Vice President for the Russell Simmons Hip Hop Summit Action Network.

All of the Week’s events are free and open to the public. The complete calendar of MLK activities are as follows: 

Saturday, January 19, 2008

8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. - Community Service Day (MLK Outreach New Orleans)

Students choose from eight sites including schools, neighborhood clean ups, playground building and more. http://www.mlkoutreachnola.tulane.edu

Monday, January 21, 2008
Interfaith Service - 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Holy Name of Jesus Church, 6331 St Charles Avenue

Thursday, January 24, 2008
MLK Convocation: Reception - 5:30 to 6:15 p.m.; Convocation - 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
    Lifetime Achievement Award
    Student Community Service Awards
    Speaker: Jeff Johnson
Dillard University

Friday January 23, 2008
Candlelight March from Tulane Pocket Park to Xavier’s University Center - 4:45 p.m.
Expressions of Unity celebration follows in the XU University Center.   


Calandra Tate ‘99 received a special gift on her 30th birthday last month – from herself and mentors she gratefully acknowledges.

Tate, a graduate of Northeast High School in Zachary, graduated with her doctorate in applied mathematics during commencement exercises at the University of Maryland in College Park.

With that degree, Tate joins a select group of African-American women with a Ph.D. in mathematics. Among those are former Southern University President Dolores Spikes, who earned her doctorate in 1971 from LSU focusing on commutative ring theory.

It was only seven years ago that the first black women from the University of Maryland – three of them – received doctorates in mathematics. The National Science Foundation reports that of 4,300 doctorates in mathematics and statistics awarded in the eight years between 1998-2005, only 48 were earned by African-American women.

Tate is currently teaching statistics and probability at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., through a special assignment with her employer, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Aldelphi, Md.
Her dissertation topic, “An Investigation of the Relationship Between Automated Machine Translation Evaluation Metrics and User Performance on an Information Extraction Task,” grew out of her work at the laboratory.


Airat Agebtoba, a senior biology/pre-med major from Houston, Texas (Bush High) has been accepted into medical school at the University of North Texas Osteopathic, the University of Texas-Galveston, Texas A&M University, and the University of Texas- Houston.

Brandon Dawkins, a senior biology/pre-med major from Atlanta, Ga. (Pace Academy), has been accepted into medical school at Howard University.  

Breyanna Grays, senior biology/pre-med major from Grand Blanc, Mich. (Grand Blanc High) has been accepted into medical school at Michigan State University and Indiana University.

Leonard Johnson, a senior chemistry/pre-med major from Mobile, Ala. (St. Paul's Episcopal) has been accepted into dental school at Marquette University and Howard University.

DeShondra Leonard, a senior chemistry/pre-med major from New Orleans (Warren Easton High) has been accepted into dental school at Meharry College and Howard University.  

Arielle Norris, a senior biology/pre-med major from Denton, Texas (Denton High), has been accepted into dental school at Baylor University.

Kimberly Onyirioha, a senior biology/pre-med major from Houston, Texas (Debakey Health Professions High) has been accepted into medical school at the University of Texas-San Antonio.  

Arie Shaw, senior biology/pre-med major from Monroe, La. (Neville High), has been accepted into medical school at the University of Rochester.

Erica Stevens, a senior biology/pre-med major from Mobile, Ala. (Murphy High), has been accepted into medical school at the University of South Alabama and the University of Tennessee.

Maesha Twyner, a senior chemistry/pre-med major from Pass Christian, Miss. (Pass Christian High), has been accepted into medical school at Wayne State University and the University of Tennessee.  


Kinitra Brooks '00, is completing her dissertation for a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Dr. Reggie Dampier ’92, president and director of Northpark Eye Clinic in Ridgeland, Miss., has been named recipient of the 2007 Young Optometrist of the Year award by the Mississippi Optometric Association in recognition of his significant contributions to the profession. He has been nominated for similar awards on the regional and national level, to be announced next year. He is in the process of opening his private practice, Ridgeland Eyecare Clinic, in February.

Bettina Benoit Durant ’94, has been named to the Alpha Birthday Celebration Team and charged with the duty of assisting with publicity for the upcoming Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Centennial Celebration in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12-15, at Howard University.

Lateef Johnson ’07, has been accepted into medical school at the University of South Carolina.

Sophia Mai ’07, has been accepted into LSU-New Orleans School of Medicine.

Kandyce Pearson ’07, has been accepted into medical school at the University of Iowa.


Dr. Bonnie Noonan (English) had an article, "Thad: Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Technical Writing", published in the fall/winter issue of Issues in Writing.

Linda Rodriguez (English) has received a Professional Equity Project (PEP) Grant, sponsored by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) with support from Thomson Wadsworth Publishers. Along with a monetary award, this grant includes a paid conference registration and a one-year membership.

She attended graduate school on a STARS Fellowship from the Research Laboratory and worked summers there while completing her coursework and then became a full-time employee.

Unlike many youngsters, Tate said she has always liked math. She just never planned to major in it in college, despite encouragement from her teacher to do so.

“She was just a fantastic student,” said Diane Covington, a retired educator who taught most of Tate’s math classes at Northeast. Covington, who also sponsored the Northeast Beta Club, said Tate was “really active” in that club and “very outgoing.”

By her senior year in high school, Tate had completed all the math courses offered at her school.

“I could have transferred to another school, but I decided not to,” Tate said. Being co-captain of the varsity cheerleading squad might have had something to do with that decision.

Despite remembering that she had laughed at Covington’s suggestion, Tate couldn’t get away from her affinity for mathematics and before the end of her first year at Xavier, she had switched from pre-med to mathematics.

At the same time she was considering that switch, Susan Spillman, chair of the Languages department and her French professor at Xavier, was also encouraging her to enter her field. Tate had studied French throughout grade school and was an exchange student in France the summer between her junior and senior years in high school.

“I tried my best to convert her,” Spillman said, who nevertheless, when she learned that the Harcourt Scholarship was open to mathematics majors for the first time, encouraged Tate to apply and wrote one of the recommendations.

Tate also received a fellowship sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program encourages under-represented students to pursue doctoral degrees by providing mentorship, funding and resources from one’s junior year through graduate school.

“It was by far one of the major programs I attended that aided me in pursuing an advanced degree,” Tate said.

In addition to her studies at Xavier, Tate was active in campus life including student government and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Her senior year, she received two coveted Xavier awards: the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award for community service and the Mother Agatha Ryan Award for exemplifying the spirit and standards of the school through “reverence, personal integrity, loyalty, service and scholarship.”

Tate has continued to win friends and supporters at the University of Maryland. Johnetta Davis, associate dean of the graduate school, said both she and the school are “so excited about Calandra.”

“We’re just so proud. She has great potential and the world can expect great accomplishments from her.”

Thirteen of her family members from Louisiana, including mom and stepdad, Desireé Tate Taylor and Johnny Taylor, of Zachary, were there when she received her Ph.D. Her father, Riley Jerome Tate, is deceased.

– adapted from an article by Relma Hargus, Baton Rouge Morning Advocate

Where Are They Now?

Alumnus Works to Preserve Historic New Orleans Homes

Stephen Peychaud ’91 is a man on a clearly defined mission. As the recently appointed director of outreach and education for the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, his top priority is saving historic homes from demolition.

As you might expect, in post-Katrina New Orleans, there are few hotter, more push-button issues.

“In Pontchartrain Park, Faubourg St. Roch, Holy Cross and other neighborhoods, many owners inherited their homes, and they’re not planning on returning,” said Peychaud. “I want to reach out to these people, who are often quick to sell for a very low price, and help them understand the financial benefits of getting a mortgage and renovating their historic homes.”

It’s what Peychaud calls “generational wealth” – something he wants desperately to help preserve not only for the individuals involved, but for the city as a whole.

As his entry into the demolition-preservation fray, Peychaud presented a workshop earlier this month called “You and Your Equity,” aimed at helping owners understand the value of renovating their historic homes instead of demolishing them. That first workshop was held at the at the PRC headquarters on Tchoupitoulas Street. He now has plans to take this workshop and others in the formative stage into the neighborhoods so residents can easily attend.

Peychaud has also already begun building relations with some groups who don’t understand the economic concept of preservation.

“It’s a bad word in some communities,” he said. “Some friends from New Orleans asked me why I was ‘moving to the ghetto’ when I decided to come back to Treme in 2002. I told them it’s close to downtown and the Quarter, and the architecture is second to none.”

But it was even more than that. It was economic, and it was personal.

Stephen Peychaud

“I have ties to Treme. My house has been in my family since the 1940s. My great grandfather, grandfather and uncle were bricklayers, plasterers and house movers,” he said. “Each one of them had worked on my house from time to time over the last 60 years.”

“I couldn’t let the house go,” he added. “And I knew if I was willing to put money back into the property after the storm that it would become more valuable than a newly built house. I had learned that lesson long ago while working summers for my grandfather.”

In addition to educating and reaching out to citizens, Peychaud is also directing PRC’s Ethnic Heritage Preservation program, which places markers on former homes of New Orleans’ great musicians and renovates blighted house connected with jazz musicians in an effort to raise awareness of the community’s history.

The goal is always to encourage people to move into neighborhoods that have suffered from neglect and flight and to rebuild the population base. As part of the PRC/National Trust Home Again! Project, Peychaud’s department will renovate the home of George “kid Sheik” Colar in Holy Cross and stage the annual “Ladies in Red” gala to raise money for the rebuilding.

Peychaud is becoming a regular at neighborhood association meetings, taking the preservation vs. demolition challenge right into the districts where it is most relevant. Working with NORA and Neighborhood One – the city’s housing department – he is also advocating for historic preservation as a tool to revitalize neighborhoods and developing partnerships with government entities handling post-storm housing issues.

Peychaud came into his PRC position right off an almost two-year stint with FEMA, where as a member of the senior staff, he directed Intergovernmental Affairs and Recovery Support. Responsible for managing planners, architects, engineers and FEMA program officers, he facilitated the long-term recovery process while also serving as the official liaison between FEMA and national, local, parish and state officials.

Prior to that, Peychaud managed a land use planning firm, representing clients through the planning, permitting and zoning processes. In 1998 and 1999 he was chief of staff to Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Irma Dixon.

In addition to his bachelor’s degree in political science from XU, he holds a degree from the University of New Orleans master’s degree with a concentration in urban and regional planning. He has been an appointee to the Historic District Landmarks Commission since 2004.

“I wanted to join a dynamic organization where I could use my experience to improve the quality of life in New Orleans,” said Peychaud of the PRC. “I know I made the right decision.”

Founded in 1974, the PRC is dedicated to the revitalization and preservation of New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods and architecture.

    – adapted from an article by Mary Fitzpatrick in Preservation in Print, reprinted with permission. Photo by Alex Lemann.

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