Volume 40 No. 06
June 09
Honor Graduates
Accent Commencement
One hundred thirty-eight of 540 graduates received their degrees with honors from the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Pharmacy, and Graduate Programs during Xavier’s 82nd annual commencement ... [ more ]
Incoming Freshmen
Experience Lagniappe
In the vernacular of New Orleans, the term "lagniappe" connotes "something extra" that you get when you purchase an item or services ... [ more ]
Math Science Institute Teachers Recognized The University recognized the inaugural class of the Xavier University/ExxonMobil Math Science Teacher Institute (MSTI) Fellows at special luncheon attended by Louisiana First Lady Supriya Jindal and Truman Bell, ExxonMobil's senior program ... [ more ]


heidi becnel


President Norman Francis congratulates Lauchland Roberts and Kenesha Pace after they were awarded the University's top service awards - the St. Katharine Drexel and Mother Agatha Ryan awards, respectively - at the annual Baccaluareate Mass and Honors Convocation. Visit HERE for more commencement photos, plus stories and videos.

photo by Irving Johnson III



One hundred thirty-eight of 540 graduates received their degrees with honors from the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Pharmacy, and Graduate Programs during Xavier’s 82nd annual commencement.

Thirty-seven students graduated with summa cum laude honors, while another 38 earned magna cum laude honors and 57 others earned cum laude distinction. An additional six students earned graduate honors.

National political strategist Donna Brazile delivered the keynote address and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, while award winning actor-director-producer Forest Whitaker received an honorary Doctor of Arts and Humane Letters degree.

In addition, six faculty members - Dr. Renee Akbar (education), Dr. Bryan Bilyeu (chemistry), Sister Grace Mary Flickinger, S.B.S. (biology), Dr. Ross Louis (communications), Dr. Karen Becnel Moore (languages) and Dr. Cheryl Stevens (chemistry) - were presented Norman C. Francis Faculty Excellence Awards.  

Nine  students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages headed this year’s group of summa cum laude graduates: including Joseph Drexler-Dreis of Shorewood WI (BA, theology), Kirk Lebouef of Reserve LA (Pharm.D), James Peavy of Baton Rouge LA (Pharm.D),  Brittney Richardson of Independence LA (BS, biology/pre-med), Rosica Stanilova of Metairie LA (BS, chemistry), Grace Thacker of Apam, Ghana (Pharm.D), Tina Tweedley of Mandeville LA (Pharm.D), Jade Vincent of Lafitte LA (PharmD) and Mona Wexler of Atlanta GA (BA, special education).

Also earning degrees with summa cum laude honors were:

Bachelor of Science – Brittany Allison, Meghan Bias, Donald Brown II, Candice Claiborne, Shelley Dailey, Nikkia Edwards, Justin Frederick, Lashundra Hooker, Bryttannie Mason, Keisha Mitchell, Sheronda Nash, Owokunile Otubusin, Marcia Richard, Lindsay Ross, Ashley Smith, Pauline Smith and Lauren Williamson.

Pharm.D. – Heidi Becnel, Tien Chung, Quana Clayton, Kisha Gant, Caroline Graugnard, Nicholas Hernandez, DeAndrea Hogg, Mai Le, Alana Powell, Kate Roussel and Danny Tran.

Earning their degrees with magna cum laude honors were:

Bachelor of Arts – Matthew Brown, Tracy Daniel, Carla Samuel and Maegan Williams.

Bachelor of Science – Alexandra Broussard, Krystle Deal, Candace Douglas, Jada Etienne, Hassan Hamide, Shanhai Heywood, Ashley Hinchen, Conisha Holloman, Brittani Howard, Nicole James, Sabrina Jones, Ebony McKinnies, Ashley McNeil, JaNiya Nelson, Kayla Nixon, Arianne Payne, Ayana Smith, Shelly Tran, Trevonne Walford, Brittney Williams, Jaynesha Williams and Lagina Williams.

Pharm.D. – Rebecca Boyer, D’Andrea Campbell, Brittany Cochran, Catherine Denny, Pamela Fahmi, Amber Kaleniecki, Arian Lemon, Jon Malveaux, Jensen Marshall, Kenesha Pace, Stacy Richard and Janay Woodard.

Earning their degrees with cum laude honors were:

Bachelor of Arts – Aaron Burgess, Samantha DeFlanders, Georgiaree Godfrey and Kristen Mitchell.

Bachelor of Science – De Jeune Antoine, Tyeshia Boyle, Jessica Brumfield, Dana Clark, Olufemi Fadahunsi, Nikkeia Finley, James Freeman III, Geannette Green, Joshua Hill, Maya Hills, Ayana Johnson, Joffre Johnson, Shari Johnson, Andrea Lee, Monique Lewis, Awndaasha Moore, Joyce Muruthi, Adrienne Noble, Mercianna Oliver,
Dominique Payne, Amanda Perrault, Leona Robinson, Chelsea Singleton, Ashley Sutherland, Jessica Taylor, Janae Thompson, Trisha Tran, Brandy Vital, Angela Wallace, George Washington, Lanita Williams, Brittany Willis and Davida Yarbrough.

Pharm.D. – Regina Alexander, Tien Banh, Tiffany Barras, Dana Bertuccini, Elise Crovetto, Christi Datri, Chasty Dedeaux, Vincent Dinh, Ambra King, Binh Le, Thuy Le, Jun Lee, Kavita Mandhare, Anthony Musacchia, Binh Nguyen, Duyen Nguyen, Dzuyen Nguyen, Heather Olivier, Vu Tra and Thaddaeus Wallace.

Receiving Graduate School degrees with honors were: (Master of Arts) Bridget Brown and Magdalene Ogah; (Master of Arts in Teaching) Jason Denlinger and Benjamin Ploeger; and (Master in Theology) Gerard Marable and Fessahaye Mebrahtu.


Lauchland Roberts and Kenesha Pace were named recipients of the University’s two most coveted service awards at the 2009 Baccalaureate Mass and Honors Convocation.

Roberts, a Pharm.D student from Tampa FL (C. Leon King High School), and Pace, a chemistry/pre-med major from Canton MS (Canton High), were presented the St. Katharine Drexel Award and the Mother Agatha Ryan Award, respectively.

They topped a short list of graduating seniors receiving awards, including:


 National Council, Knights of Peter Claver leadership awards:
xxxx – Anthony Wilson (the Gilbert Faustina Award)
xxxx – Joshua Hill (the Louis Israel Award)
xxxx – Takeena Reese (the Alphonse Pierre Auguste Award)

 Victor H. Labat Service Award – Olufemi Fadahunsi

Sister Thea Bowman Award – Samantha Purnell

William H. Mitchell Christian Leadership Award – Sabrina Jones

 Walter J. Barker, Sr. Award – Renata Carter

 Sister Eloise Sisson Award – Robert Graham


 Academy of Students of Pharmacy Service Award – Brittany Cochran

 Rho Chi Recognition Certificate – Robert Andrews, Devon Barbash, Ryan Boudreau, Elizabeth Cao, Sandy Dang, Ebisa Deressa, Yvette Estave, Metasebia Gedlu, Courtney Harrell, Maxwell Haslauer, Britany Jackson, Janeque Jones, Steven Lanosga, Tram Uyen and Luu Ngo

 KE Pharmacy Fraternity for Women Achievement Award – Bridget Narcisse

 Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity Service Award – Dirck Gilliam

 Phi Lambda Sigma Leadership Award – Takeena Reese

 Mary Munson Runge Activity Award – DeShawn Stevenson

 Special Pharmacy Faculty Awards – Takena Reese

 Student National Pharmaceutical Association Award – DeShawn Stevenson

 Roche Pharmacy Communications Award – Brittany Cochran

 Glaxo Smith Kline Patient Care Award – Jensen Marshall

 Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Outstanding Student Award – Kirk LeBouef

 Facts & Comparisons Award of Excellence in Clinical Communication – Heather Olivier

 Albert Lauve Hospital Pharmacy Award – Takena Reese

 Highest Scholastic Standing in Pharmacy Practice and Ethical Conduct – Heidi Becnel

 Mylan Pharmaceuticals Excellence in Pharmacy Award – Jun Lee

 Merck & Co. Award – Nicholas Hernandez and Jade Vincent

 COP Award for Excellence in Research – Kenesha Pace

 Lilly Achievement Award – Kisha Gant

 COP Award for Excellence – Kirk LeBouef, James Peavy, Grace Thacker, Tina Tweedley and Jade Vincent

 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the Pharmacy Student Forum I
Award – Geoffrey Gros and Tina Tweedley.


The University recognized the inaugural class of the Xavier University/ExxonMobil Math Science Teacher Institute (MSTI) Fellows at special luncheon attended by Louisiana First Lady Supriya Jindal and Truman Bell, ExxonMobil's senior program officer for education and diversity.

The Xavier/ExxonMobil Math Science Teacher Institute is designed to develop outstanding 4th through 8th grade math and science teachers whose effectiveness will close the achievement gap in these two vital subjects between students in Orleans Parish and their peers in the state and nation.
The program provides training and support to selected upper Elementary math and science teachers to help them build content knowledge, integrate effective instructional methods and enhance classroom strategies.  

Seventeen math teachers from nine New Orleans open admissions public schools made up the inaugural class of the Xavier/ExxonMobil MSTI Math Fellows. That group spent two



LaKeasha Batiste, a second-year (P2) pharmacy student from Marrero LA (L.W. Higgins High), has been accepted for an internship position within the Clincial Science Liaisons Department of Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc. in Deerfield IL.

Jalisa Mathis, a junior mass communication major from Belle Chasse LA (Belle Chasse High), was among 24 students selected nationwide for a two-week New York Times journalism institute at Dillard University. At the institute, which the National Association of Black Journalists helped organize, the students worked together with professional journalists in a newsroom-like environment.

Angelina Callis, a junior English major from Los Angeles CA (Dorchester High), was a first-team selection on the NAIA Women's Tennis All-America team.

Mike Green, a senior from Port St. Lucie FL (Barnabas Christian Academy), was named to the NAIA Men's Tennis All-America second team.   

Anastesia Opata, a junior mass communication major from Lawrenceville GA (Central Gwinnett High), was a first-team selection on the NAIA Women's Tennis All-America team. She was also named the regional women's Player to Watch for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association/NAIA Region IV (South).

Terry Richardson, a graduate student from Ellenwood GA (Stockbridge High) and a member of the men's tennis team, has been chosen to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District 6 at-large college division first team. It’s the latest in a slew of honors for Richardson, who was Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons, a second-team NAIA All-American and the NAIA South region winner of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship.


The Hon. Lois Bronz ‘48, has been inducted into the Spirit of Women Archives by the non-profit group American Women of African Heritage in recognition of her 40 years of service to the Westchester County (White Plans NY) area. The first woman and the first black to be elected chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, she recently announced her intention not to seek a ninth term.

Jessica Brunet '09, has been accepted to the Master's of Public Health-Health Policy program at Florida State University.

Melanie Cannon ‘94, director of Clinical Data Management and Analysis at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in Racine WI, has been named to the Board of Directors of the Arthritis Foundation.

Dr. Sharlene Sinegal DeCuir ’99, has earned a Ph.D in history from LSU-Baton Rouge.

CaSandra Cooper Gates ‘79, has been promoted to the position of senior vice president for administration at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port. She has worked for 28 years in senior management posts at LOOP, the nation’s only deepwater oil port capable of directly receiving supertankers offloading crude oil cargoes.

Allison Hudson ’08, editor of The Donaldsonville Chief (LA) newspaper, earned a first-place award in the Individual and Feature Writing competition and second place award for Best Sports Story in the Louisiana Press Association’s 2008 Better Newspaper Editorial Competition and Better Newspaper Advertising Competition.

Brian Jackson ‘82, a partner in the law firm of Liskow & Lewis in New Orleans, has been recommended to President Barack Obama for appointment as U.S. District Court judge for the Baton Rouge-based Middle District of Louisiana by U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. Jackson is a former first assistant attorney and interim attorney for the district.

Ebonee Johnson ’05, has been accepted into the University of Wisconsin's doctoral program in Rehabilitation Psychology. She was also awarded a Graduate Opportunity Fellowship which covers all tuition and fees and provides a yearly stipend of approximately $15,000.
Cum Laude Graduates
A. Smith
P. Smith

1834 XU Alumni Chapter
News & Information

The New Orleans Chapter will host its annual Jazz Round-up
June 14 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. Admission is free.  Contact Elvira Henry at 504-273-3351 for more info.

Do you reside in Oklahoma and want to reconnect with fellow alumni?  Please e-mail Kimberly Reese or Jimmie Wickham.

Do you reside in or near Jackson MS and want to reconnect with fellow alumni? Please e-mail Kimberly Reeseor Daveeta Cook.

The Chicago Chapter's Summer Boat Cruise is June 28 from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. For more info e-mail chapter president Danyale Ellis '96.

1834 Career Assistance
Offered to Alumni

Alumni Affairs and Career Services have formed a partnership designed to assist alumni currently in the job search process.

Whether you are a recent graduate or seeking a career change after many years, check out XU’s new on-line job bank and web-based recruiting system, Gold Rush Express.[username: your email address; password: xavier (all lowercase letters)]

1834 Xavier in the News

1Savannah Morning News Budget Cuts Could
Spell End of HBCUs
2ABC-TV News
'Class of Katrina' Graduates With Life Lessons
LSU Willing to
Share Hospital Power
2Catholic Spirit
Universities Put Speakers Through Vetting Process
Class of Katrina Moves
Past Emotional Chapter
Commencement Begins
for Katrina Class

intensive weeks on the Xavier campus last summer utilizing curriculum developed by Leading Educators of New Orleans and Marilyn Burns’ Math Solutions.

The program continued with five evening workshops, two all day Saturday Workshops and monthly classroom observation of each Fellow by a Master Teacher. 

According to Xavier University president Dr. Norman C. Francis, the Xavier/ExxonMobile MSTI program, made possible by a grant from ExxonMobil, is an example of Xavier's focus on 'teaching the teachers' to better serve the students in math and science.  

The 2008-09 MSTI Fellows include: Gloria Batiste (Edgar P. Harney Elementary), Jennie Christenson (S.J. Green Charter), Mark Cooper (G.W. Carver Elementary), Kevin Glapion (James Singleton Charter), James Hamilton (Andrew H. Wilson Charter), Grant Harris (S.J. Green Charter), Leslie Jones Lewis (Sophie B. Wright Charter), Eric King (Lafayette Academy Charter), Da Ven Lewis (Mary McLeod Betheune elementary), India McDougle (transitioning), Meghan Mercadel (Sophie B. Wright Charter), Cassie O’Neil (Andrew H. Wilson Charter), Darlene Rivers (Sophie B. Wright Charter), Jennifer Rogers (Andrew H. Wilson Charter), Ahmad Shakir (S.J. Green Charter), Joey Stalzier (S.J. Green Charter) and Sinnedra Taylor (James W. Johnson Elementary).

The 2009-2010 Fellows were also introduced at the luncheon.



Biology professor Dr. Deidre Labat accepts a medallion and certificate from Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Loren Blanchard and President Norman C. Francis during the first-ever Eminent Scholars Endowed Chairs and Professors Ceremony.

photo by Irving Johnson III


The University highlighted the academic work of its outstanding faculty and recognized the generosity, vision and commitment of its donors at the first-ever Eminent Scholars Endowed Chairs and Professors Ceremony.

Forty-seven faculty members who hold endowed chairs and professorships – and the representatives of the corporations, foundations, alumni and friends who provided the financial support to make them possible – were awarded medallions and certifications during a commencement week luncheon held on campus.

Each year the Louisiana Board of Regents awards grants to public and private colleges across the state to assist in creating special $1 million academic chairs and $100,000 professorships. Money from the Louisiana Education Quality Support Fund is added to private donations secured by the respective universities to create the endowed accounts. The state fund provides 40 percent of the cost of establishing an endowed chair or professorship, with private donors covering the balance.

Earnings from an endowment can be used to enhance a professor’s salary or pay for support items, such as travel or a research assistant.

Among the faculty honored were:

CHAIRS - Dr. JW Carmichael Jr., chemistry; Dr. Leonard Jack Jr., pharmacy; and Dr. Michael White ’76, languages

PROFESSORSHIPS - Dr. Murty Akundi, physics; Dr. Ann Barbre ‘70, pharmacy; Dr. James Bartkus, business; Dr. Jose Juan Bautista, business; Dr. Thora Bayer, philosophy; Ron Bechet, art; Dr. Amy Bellone Hite, sociology; Dr. Violet Harrington Bryan, English; Dr. Gary Donaldson, history; Dr. Ronald Dorris ’72, African American Studies; Dr. Jerry Farmer, theology; Sister Grace Mary Flickinger SBS, biology; Dr. Maryam Foroozesh, chemistry; Dr. Dominique Gendrin, communications; Dr. Nicole Pepinster Greene, English; Dr. Elizabeth Yost Hammer, psychology; Dr. Elliott Hammer, psychology; Dr. Tien Huang, pharmacy; Sister Barbara Hughes CSJ, history; Sister Maureen Hurley, biology; Dr. Subha Kale Ireland, biology; Dr. Kathleen Kennedy, pharmacy; Dr. William Kirchain, pharmacy; Dr. Vimal Kishore, business; Dr. Vlajko Kocic, mathematics; Dr. Anil Kukreja, business; Dr. Deidre Labat, biology; Dr. David Lanoue, English; Dr. Silas Lee, sociology; Dr. Joseph Lefevre, philosophy; Dr. Tarun Mandal, pharmacy; Dr. Joe Melcher, communications; Dr. John Mitchell, business; Dr. Kathleen Morgan, chemistry; Sister/Dr. Jamie Phelps OP, Institute for Black Catholic Studies; Dr. Leslie Richardson, English; Dr. Joe Ricks, business; Dr. Jonathan Rotondo-McCord, history; Dr. Lisa Schulte, psychology; Dr. Susan Fitch Spillman, languages; Dr. Cheryl Klein Stevens, chemistry; Dr. Pamela Waldron-Moore, political science; Dr. John Ware, music; and Clifford Wright, business.


In the vernacular of New Orleans, the term "lagniappe" connotes "something extra" that you get when you purchase an item or services.

That was the idea behind the University’s Lagniappe Orientation Weekend held the last weekend in May for regional students already admitted for the Fall 2009 semester. It is part of the university's strategy to address a nationwide need to better prepare incoming freshmen for academic life at the college level.

Students from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee participated in the program, where they had the opportunity to meet current Xavier students and talk to faculty in their prospective academic departments.

Advance placement tests were given in reading and mathematics, while those students requiring any developmental courses learned about XU summer sessions where they can take those courses – and many others – for credit and take advantage of the most affordable summer tuition in the city.

The new freshmen, who were invited to stay in the residence halls on campus to get a taste of student life at Xavier, also had the opportunity to complete their class registration for the fall.

Parents took advantage of the weekend to meet with representatives from administrative areas like financial aid, student health services, student accounts. Campus and city tours were also given.

U.S. District Judge Ivan L. R. Lemelle, '71, was named recipient of the 2009 GiseviusDistinguished Contributor Award by the Loyola College of Law Moot Court Board in recognition of his continued commitment to the school. He was also elected secretary-treasurer of the District Judges Association for the U. S. Fifth Circuit, an association composed of federal district judges from TX, LA and MS.

Diarra A. McCormick ‘05, has been awarded a M.F.A. in screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University.

Dr. Reanna Ursin '99, an assistant professor of English at McDaniel College in Westminster MD, presented the paper "Distinguishing 'Truth' from 'Fact' in Edward P. Jones' The Known World" at the American Literature Association Conference in Boston MA.

Trevonne Walford '09, has been named a 2009 Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholar by the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation. She will serve a nine-week position as staff to a congressional office and learn first-hand about health policy and the policymaking process.

Blaine F. Washington II ’02, has had accepted a position with Genesis Medical Center in Davenport IA.  A graduate of LSU-New Orleans Medical School, he is completing his residency at Rush University Medical Center.

Candace (Alfred) Weber '03, has earned a MBA in Leadership & Managing Organizational Change from Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and accepted a full-time position at AT&T within their Leadership Development Program, a 22-month rotation for developing and training the company's top talent, starting at corporate HQ in Dallas TX.
Dr. Randall Wright ‘94, Medical Director of the Neurovascular Institute of Conroe Regional Medical Center in Houston TX, is a finalist for the Houston Business Journal’s first annual Health Care Heroes Award, which recognizes innovative health care providers who serve their community and save lives.


Dr. Thomas Bonner, Jr. (emeritus) co-presented the paper, "Kate Chopin and Visual Art," at the Kate Chopin International Society session of the American Literature Association Conference in Boston MA. He also wrote four reviews of Southern literary studies for Choice and served as a consultant to the Mississippi Quarterly.

KiTani Parker Johnson (pharmacy) made a presentation, “How to Successfully Create Your Own Scientific Niche," for the George Howard Lecture Series at Meharry Medical College.

Dr. Susan Spillman (chair, Languages) participated as a team member in a Humanities Initiatives at HBCU/Colleges and Universities with High Hispanic Enrollment grant application review at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, DC. Team members evaluated 18 applications in a variety of disciplines.



Motorists traveling on the nearby I-10 Expressway are offered a grand view of the visible construction progress of the long-awaited Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion to the College of Pharmacy. Target date for completion is Spring 2010.

Photo by Irving Johnson III

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