Volume 39 No. 03
March 08


XU Strategic Plan
Begins to Take Shape

569 Scholars Make
Fall '07 Dean's List

Remembering St.
Katharine Drexel

COP Hosts Health
Disparities Conference

UNCF Honors Alums
George, Nicholls

Dentistry Just One
of Dr. Smith's Talents

Xavier Writes

Xavier in the News

3 Basketball Update

Gold Rush: The Xavier men closed out the regular season with a 51-43 win over Dillard this past weekend at the New Orleans Arena to sweep the season series between the crosstown archrivals.

The Gold Rush ( 22-8 overall, 12-6 in conference play) have earned the No. 3 seed in the GCAC and will host No.6 seed Loyola in a quarterfinal game 7:00 p.m. Wednesday (March 5) in the Barn. In all likelihood, the nationally unranked Rush need to win the conference tournament to secure a spot in the NAIA national tournament.

Visit HERE for the latest GCAC tournament info.

Nuggets: The XU women also closed out the regular season by beating Dillard68-53, also sweeping the season series.

The Nuggets (24-6 overall, 14-4 in conference play) are the No. 2 seed in the GCAC tournament and will host either Spring Hill or SUNO in a quarterfinal game Thursday (March 6) at 7:00 p.m. Ranked ranked 24th in the nation, the Nuggets need to win the conference tournament to ensure themselves a national tournament bid, but still have an outside chance of getting an at-large bid if necessary.
Visit HERE for the latest GCAC tournament info.

3 KD Shrine Named
National Shrine

The United States Episcopal Conference has named the shrine of St. Katherine Drexel as a national shrine, making it the 27th shrine with that title in the U.S.

"It was with great pleasure that I received the news that the Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel has been elevated in status to a National Shrine,'' said Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia. "I pray that the honor bestowed upon the shrine will open opportunities for others to hear God's word and reflect upon St. Katharine's message of love and service to all."

Mother Drexel built the shrine in 1893, two years after founding the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She spent the final 20 years of her life in prayer and reflection at the mother house in Bensalem, located just outside Philadelphia. Her body is entombed under the main altar of St. Elizabeth Chapel.

3 XU Honored for Community Service

Xavier is among 10 Louisiana colleges and universities named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts and service to disadvantaged youth by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovativeness of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

The Honor Roll is jointly sponsored by the Corporation, through its Learn and Serve America program, and the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, USA Freedom Corps, and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

Other colleges honored included Centenary, Delgado, LSU, LSU-Eunice, Loyola, Nichols State, Tulane, River Parishes Community and Southern.

3 Miranti Heads
Division of Education

Dr. Judith G. Miranti has been appointed the Director of the Division of Education, which includes graduate programs in Counseling, Educational Leadership, and Curriculum and Instruction. She is also a professor of counselor education.

Miranti comes to Xavier with 25 years of higher education administration experience, after having served as an academic Dean and as a Vice President for Academic Affairs at Our Lady of Holy Cross College in New Orleans.

She has held numerous leadership positions in professional counseling organizations at the state and national level, including serving as president of Chi Sigma Iota – an international professional and counseling honor society – and co-chairing the national Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation board. Xavier’s counseling program is in the process of completing its self study for initial accreditation by the CACREP.

3 IBCS Outlines 2008
Summer Sessions

Catholic ministers and lay people will have the opportunity once again this summer to hone their skills and learn new ones at the XU Institute for Black Catholic Studies 2008 Session, June 27 through July 19.
The IBCS offers degree courses as well as certificate and enrichment programs for catechists, youth and young adult ministers and religious and lay leaders in the Church.
In addition, the Institute for Black Catholic studies offers participants seminars for liturgical musicians, and Black religious expression workshops in art, liturgical dance, liturgical music and drama. 
The "Taste of the Institute" offers a week of experiences for men and women over 21 years old, while the "Eldership Retreat" is for men and women 60 years and older who wish to explore their vocations as elders in the church and the community. 
For more info visit the IBCS webpage or call (504)520-7691.

3 N.O. Alumni Host
Day at the Races

New Orleans Alumni Club #1 will sponsor its annual Day at the Races, this Sunday, March 9, at the Fairgrounds Race Course. Click HERE for more details.

3 XU in the News

Black Leaders Gather in N.O.
1Houston Chronicle
University Applications Jump2Lafayette Daily World
Black History Profile: NCF
1Diverse Issues
The Future of HBCUs



President Norman Francis applauds the unveiling of a new postage stamp in the U.S. Postal Service's Black Heritage series honoring renowned African American educator, lawyer, columnist, lecturer, entrepreneur and author Charles W. Chesnutt by New Orleans Postmaster Yulonda Francis-Love during the university's annual Black History Month Convocation. The English Department and chair Dr. Thomas Bonner, Jr. were instrumental in coordinating the USPS' local cancellation ceremony on campus.

photo by Irving Johnson III


When we last visited the university’s latest strategic master planning effort [Xavier Gold magazine, Spring '07], Xavier was in the very early stages of re-evaluating its place in today’s changing higher education landscape and charting a course to take it into the future.

Since last fall the campus has turned its attention to producing a strategic plan that will map out our strategic direction for the next five years. This plan will be completed and reviewed by the Trustees at their meeting in early June. The strategic plan will complement the campus master plan.

Throughout its history, Xavier has excelled with a liberal arts based curriculum serving a young, predominantly Black and Catholic student population of full-time students. But today it finds itself a “traditional” style college at a time when higher education is becoming increasingly more “non-traditional”, predominantly Black at a time when African Americans are no longer the largest underserved minority group, and Catholic-based at a time when more than two-thirds of its own students are of other religious faiths.   

Flourishing in this changing climate is what developing a Strategic Plan is all about. And the plan that emerges from this on-going process will be our guide over the next five years.  The University Strategic Planning Committee has organized itself into eight workgroups that are addressing such overriding issues as mission; student recruitment and retention; teaching, scholarship and research capacity; role of faculty in governance; serving city and region; student life, facilities and our social/spiritual environment; programs as flagships; and the role of technology.

In working to develop the plan over the past year, the university has made a conscientious and determined effort to involve all those who have a stake in Xavier’s future, including its Board of Trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Dr. Ronald Durnford, XU vice president for planning and institutional research and the campus facilitator of the planning process, said mobilization of the entire community was crucial since acceptance is the key to ensuring the ultimate success of any plans that are developed. Apparently those efforts to be all-inclusive have met with some success.

“I have been encouraged by the response,” he said, noting an enthusiastic response to the request for volunteers for the task forces that today are addressing specific issues and questions, as well as healthy community participation in a series of open forums, town-hall type meetings, faculty and staff lunches and departmental meetings which have been held.

Over the past year, strategic planning workgroups have been engaged in “spirited” debate on eight critical topics, including Xavier’s mission; recruitment and retention; teaching, scholarship and research capacity; flagship programs; student life, facilities and social/spiritual environment; service to the city and the region; the role of technology; and faculty role in governance.

“These are all interwoven,” said Dr. Thomas Scheye, a distinguished service professor of English and former Provost and Academic Vice President at Loyola College in Maryland, who is acting as a consultant to Xavier’s strategic planning project.

“The plan issues from the mission as it affects recruitment and retention. The university competes for students by the quality of its academics – reflected in the work of the faculty in teaching and research and in the programs it offers – and in the quality of life on campus and its surroundings,” he said. “The students’ experience is also affected by Xavier’s location in New Orleans and by the role technology plays in learning and everyday life.”  

The working groups addressing those specific areas are expected to submit their initial reports by mid-March so that they can be reviewed by the full committee and woven into a set of goals and benchmarks for the strategic plan.
Durnford said each report is expected to include an analysis of data that the group has reviewed as well a discussion of the conclusions to be drawn from that data; a list of issues to need to be resolved or questions that need be answered; a set of recommendations, goals and objectives for the future; and suggested observable benchmarks by which progress toward the goal can be measured.
Although the workgroups will hand in their initial reports later this month, their work is far from finished. The full Strategic Planning Committee will review the eight reports and identify key goals and benchmarks to be incorporated into the strategic plan.  They’ll need to re-address their findings in light of the responses they get from the academic assembly, the board and others.

Likewise, the university is still planning to elicit additional feedback from the rest of the Xavier community as the planning process continues. Town hall meetings are already been planned for April 8th as well ( details will be announced soon).

Durnford said his office will soon have a website up and running where reports, documents, could be posted along with instructions on how the community can communicate directly with task force facilitators, as well as the develop of a web newsletter to give up-to-date progress of the strategic planning effort.

So when will the plan be finalized?

“Strategic planning is an on-going process – you’re never really finished,” said Durnford. “But we will have a draft plan for Board of Trustees review during their June meeting.”

569 Scholars Make Fall '07 Dean's List

A total of 569 student scholars made the Dean's Honor Roll during the fall ’07 semester, according to records released by Avis Stuard, registrar. Students merited a spot on the honor roll by earning a semester grade point average of 3.3 or above while taking at least 12 semester hours. For the complete list of honor students, click HERE.



Garrett Anderson, a senior biology/premed major from Hinesville, Ga. (Bush High), has been accepted into medical school at Texas A&M, the University of Texas-Houston, University of Texas-Galveston and the University of North Texas Osteopathic.

Kristen Buxton, a senior biology/premed major from Marlton, N.J. (Cherokee High), has been accepted into the University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey Osteopathic School of Medicine.

Candyce Chenier, a senior sales and marketing major from LaHabra, Calif. (LaHabra High) has accepted an advanced sales representative position the 3M Company.

Wonestta Collins, a senior chemistry/premed major from Donaldsonville, La. (Donaldsonville High), has bee accepted into medical school at LSU-New Orleans.

Chari Gary, a senior biology/premed major from Atlanta, Ga. (Mays High), has been accepted into the Temple University School of Medicine.

Lindsey Holloman
, a senior chemistry/premed major from Fayetteville, Ga. (Starr’s Mill High), has been accepted into the St. Louis University School of Medicine.

Danisha McCall, a senior biology major from Ontario, Calif. (Diamond Ranch High), has been accepted into the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Desmin Milner, a senior chemistry/premed major from Birmingham, Ala. (Ramsay High), has been accepted into medical school at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Chika Nwankwo, a senior biology/premed major from Rowlett, Texas (Rowlett High), has been accepted into medical school at the University of Texas-Houston.

Alyce Richard, a psychology/premed major from New Orleans (Ursuline Academy), has been accepted into the master’s program in medical science at Indiana University Medical School.

Kimberly Tran, a senior chemistry major from Harvey, La. (Archbishop Blenk), has been accepted into medical school at LSU-New Orleans.

Thao-Nguyen Tran, a senior biology/premed major from Marrero, La. (John Ehret High), has been accepted into medical school at LSU-New Orleans, LSU-Shreveport and Creighton University.



Students from Xavier Prep and St. Michael's Indian School – participants in the Blessed Sacrament Cultural Exchange program – visit the XU campus for a tour, lunch and other special programs. The high schoolers from St. Michaels, which is located on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, are being hosted by families from Prep and St. Augustine during their extended visit to New Orleans. Prep students lived on the Navajo reservation last October. XU, Xavier Prep and St. Michael's were all founded by St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

photo by Irving Johnson III
Remembering St. Katharine Drexel

March 3 is the Feast Day of St. Katharine Drexel, the founder of Xavier University, Xavier Prep, and the matriarch of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament religious order.

Her story cannot be repeated too often.

St. Katharine was the 19th century equivalent of an American princess, born into the privileged family of a wealthy Philadelphia banker and philanthropist. She could have lived her life in the lap of luxury, oblivious to the suffering of others. But instead, throughout the 1890’s and the first half of this century – long before taking up the cause of racial equality came into vogue – St. Katharine was at the forefront of efforts to improve the lives of others.
St. Katharine Drexel

During these decades shadowed by the segregation and degradation forced on Blacks – combined with the dispossession, relocation and betrayal of Native Americans – the name of St. Katharine Drexel shone out as a beacon of hope. St. Katharine was at the forefront of efforts to educate African-Americans and Native Americans with an eye toward helping them to develop their own leadership and self-determination. Her schools were always open to all faiths; and the nuns who followed her lived among the poor they served.

Katharine Drexel was born in 1858 to wealthy Philadelphia banker and philanthropist Francis Drexel and his wife Hannah, who died a mere five weeks after giving birth. Her father remarried two years later. It was from her parents – revered for their own generosity and charity to the less fortunate – that St. Katharine learned early the lesson of stewardship and responsibility to the poor.

Early on, St. Katharine indicated her intent to establish a bureau to distribute her wealth to Indians and Black missions, and to enter a cloistered religious order. But instead, during a trip to Rome with her family, she accepted the challenge of Pope Leo XIII and established a brand new order – the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament – which went on to found and staff schools and centers in the inner cities of the North and East, the Indian reservations of the west and across the Deep South.

Despite the many obstacles placed in their path, including strong opposition from whites, by 1942 the Sisters were operating black Catholic schools, convents and mission centers in some 13 states. So extensive was her influence in the Black, rural areas of New Iberia, St. Martinville and other Acadiana parishes that she is often referred to as the “Patron Saint of South Louisiana.”

St. Katharine’s presence was also felt in urban New Orleans, where the Sisters not only opened a Catholic high school and several elementary schools, but also established Xavier – which was to become the capstone of her educational system.

Originally a coeducational secondary school, Xavier evolved into a teacher’s college and by 1925 had achieved full university status. A College of Pharmacy – now one of only two pharmaceutical schools in the state – was added two years later. That same College of Pharmacy is today among the nation’s top three producers of African American Doctor of Pharmacy degree recipients.

It is estimated that St. Katharine – who during her lifetime shared the annual income from her father’s trust fund with her two sisters – gave away more than $20 million.

The stresses and strains of building a nationwide network of schools for black and Indian children were hard on St. Katharine. The heavy workload and awesome responsibilities that she shouldered for more than a half-century finally took their toll in 1935 when she suffered a near-fatal heart attack. For 20 years she was confined to the infirmary at the Motherhouse in Bensalem, Pa., where she is said to have spent most of her waking hours in prayer and meditation. She died in 1955.

St. Katharine was officially canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in October of 2000 by Pope John Paul II. During a rain-soaked canonization ceremony that drew tens of thousands to the Vatican, Pope John Paul II said that her life brought about “a growing awareness of the need to combat all forms of racism through education and social services.

Only the fifth American to have been canonized and only the second American-born Saint, she is now in the select company of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, Rose Philippine Duchesne, Bishop John Neumann and Mother Elizabeth Seton.

In a special effort to honor its founder, the University is finalizing plans for the Saint Katharine Drexel Chapel, which will be designed by the famous architect Cesar Pelli, who recently completed design of the new St. Thomas Moore chapel at Yale University.

The College of Pharmacy’s Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education (CMHDRE) will host the second annual regional conference on health disparities April 10-12 at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place.

The symposium, “Improving Medical Effectiveness and Health Outcomes to Eliminate Health Disparities through Multidisciplinary Collaborations,” is a comprehensive educational and informational forum of workshops and general sessions related to increasing scientific, clinical, and research knowledge about health disparities and healthy behaviors.

It is designed for health professionals who manage patients with chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases as well as health educators, health policy makers and researchers. It is supported in part by the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The conference will examine and create replicable cross-disciplinary collaborative models, networks and strategies that integrate all levels of providers to improve health outcomes, increase medical effectiveness and eliminate health disparities.

“We hope that participants will actually use these models as they return to their respective communities to begin to make an impact on eliminating health disparities in this country,” said Dr. Kathleen Kennedy, Director of the Center.

One of the highlight of the conference will be a town hall meeting on Friday evening, April 11, featuring a panel of several national experts on health related topics.

The CMHDRE was created in 2002 with an endowment award from the NIH. This award initially established the Xavier Pharmacy Endowment for Minority Health. XU has since received additional funding for the center, whose mission of the Center is to support research and provide clinical training and community outreach aimed at eliminating health disparities.

UNCF Honors Alums George, Nicholls

Two alums – Maria Sly George ’58 and Elise Turead Nicholls ’63 – have been honored by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) for their service on the local and national level.

George, a retired educator with the Orleans Parish School System, was selected as the Outstanding

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year by the Xavier National Alumni Association. George was selected for this honor due to her dedication and years of service to the New Orleans Alumni Chapter and National Alumni Association. Nicholls, Program Director of the Washington Seniors Wellness Center, was awarded the UNCF’s Cecilia E. Washington Award. The late Cecilia E. Washington was a 1940 graduate of Xavier University and past president of the National Alumni Council. The CEW award is given to an alumnus who has made noteworthy contributions to the United Negro College Fund in the areas of fundraising, fund giving, facilitation of government contribution to UNCF, and for performance of extensive work with UNCF member groups. Nicholls has attended all UNCF conferences since 1977.

George and Nicholls were honored at the UNCF NAC/NPAC Conference held in Montgomery, AL in February. George is the immediate past president of the XU New Orleans alumni chapter and Nicholls is past president of the XU National Alumni Association and Washington, DC alumni chapter.

Gwenevere Weatherspoon, a senior chemistry major from Hoover, Ala. (Hoover High), has been accepted into medical school at St. Louis University, the University of Tennessee, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and Meharry and Morehouse Colleges.


Ja’Nell Blocker ’06, has been accepted into the University of St. Eustasius Medical School.

LaBentria Brooks ’07, has been accepted into Life Chiropractic College.

Emmary Butler ’07, has been accepted into medical school at Meharry College.

Megan Butler ’07, has been accepted into medical school at Meharry College.

Laketa Entzminger ’07, has been accepted into the St. Louis University School of Medicine.

Antonio Funches ’06, has been accepted into medical school at Howard University.

Mark Harris ’93, has been named an associate with Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, LLP, a national law firm with approximately 35 offices focusing in the area of tax law. He works out of the Dallas (TX) office. 

Kimberly Hodge ’06, has been accepted into medical school at Howard University.

Connie Ray Labat ‘65, has been promoted to vice president of ambulatory care services for the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center Foundation.

Ann Turk Lecompte ‘71, has been named Executive Director for Bristol Hospice Hawaii, LLC in Honolulu.

Danielle Major ’07, has been accepted into the graduate program in pharmacology at the LSU Health Science Center in New Orleans.

Dr. Charles Monteith ’92, has joined the staff of the  Chapel Hill Tubal Reversal Center (NC) as new tubal reversal surgeon.

Diedra Williams ’07, has been accepted into Life Chiropractic College.


Dr. Ronald Dorris '72 (English/African American Studies) presented a paper, "Harlem Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Diaspora" at the Southern Conference on African American Studies, Inc. in Atlanta, Ga.

Dr. Chris Faircloth (sociology) has been nominated for the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interactionism’s Charles H. Cooley Book of the Year Award for his co-edited volume, Medicalized Masculinities, published by the Temple University Press.

Eloise Gordon (post office) has retired from her position as mail clerk after 35 years of service to the University.

Robert Skinner (University Librarian) had an article, “Lone Star Iliad: The Western Novels of Benjamin Capps” published in FIRSTS magazine. In addition, his article, “Nor Any Drop To Drink: New Orleans Libraries in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina” was reprinted in Dealing with Natural Disasters in Libraries.



Dr. Ambrose Martin III '76 and his wife Maribel enjoy the view from the luxury Hornets Suite at the New Orleans Arena during the annual Xavier-Dillard crosstown basketball match. Close to 2,000 were in attendence at the event, which saw the Gold Rush and Nuggets both victorious on the court.

photo by Irving Johnson III
Where Are They Now?


Dr. Michael Smith ‘01 never stops learning.

He's a student of medicine. He's traveled across the country. He's a former dual-sport athlete. He enjoys going to museums and going to the movies. He's played the piano, drums and a slew of other instruments. Just last weekend he attended a leadership class.

"I have a very analytical mind," he said. "I'm like a kid who likes to ask why."

An All-City basketball player in high school and a state champion in hurdles, Smith decided to turn down scholarships in both sports to pursue a career in medicine. Smith, who turns 29 this month, works as a general dentist at Warfield Dental Center in Clarksville, Tenn., where he has been since receiving his doctorate of dental medicine from the Tufts

smith Dr. Michael Smith

University School of Dental Medicine in Boston in 2006. He also attended the Howard University Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency.

Smith earned his undergraduate degree from Xavier. He said growing up with two parents who were physicians and watching his sister attend Harvard before becoming a lawyer helped him decide to attend Xavier. "If I'm going to do it, then why not go to the best?" he said.

Smith said he never went to work with either of his parents, but has always been interested in medicine. "I liked dealing with people, helping people," he said. "I just thought it was the right thing to do."

But he pinpointed two unique occasions in his life that really drove his decision. During his junior year in college, Smith participated in a six-week dentistry program for minority students at the University of California-San Francisco. In high school, Smith fractured his jaw twice in a single month while playing basketball. The second time, a blow to his face pushed his teeth backward. An oral surgeon just popped it back in place. Rather than being disgusted, he wanted to learn from it.

"I just thought that was interesting," Smith said. "That experience, along with that (San Francisco) program, fielded me to want to go into dentistry."

As a black doctor, Smith said he thought he would face some resistance from patients. Most of the patients who left upon his arrival, though, did so because they were unfamiliar with his practices, he said. He said a doctor's reputation should come down to quality of care given to patients.

"There are probably a select few who have that thought in the back of their head," Smith said of people who still judge by skin color. "If you give proper care, then they don't care what color you are."

Smith said he actually experienced a bigger culture shock while learning and practicing medicine in San Francisco and Boston, where he saw fewer black physicians than growing up in Atlanta. Out of 252 students at Tufts, Smith was one of four black students — two of whom hailed from the Caribbean and the other from Boston.

"That was a culture shock because of growing up in Atlanta and New Orleans, but I still didn't see it as a big deal," he said.

Smith said he was thankful both of his parents were involved in his life. But in a time when more children are being raised by single, working parents, he said it's important for youths to have a constant figure in their lives. That person doesn't need to be a doctor, he said, but someone who can lead children in the right direction.

"There needs to be a positive role model for kids to turn to," he said. Smith credits much of his success and personal drive to the multiple sports and musical instruments he played while growing up.

He encourages youths to follow suit and participate in after-school activities that will keep them active and keep them learning.

"Do stuff besides school – something that will give you culture," he said. "Not going to movies or playing music, something that will stimulate your mind."

Adapted from an article / photo by Nate Karlin, The Clarksville TN Leaf-Chronicle.

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