Volume 39 No. 10
October 08


XU Alum is Named
2008 MacArthur Fellow

Special Honor for Professor
Behind XU's Pre-Med Success

Academic Affairs
Announces New Faculty

Four New Academic
Chairs Provide Leadership

COP Celebrates
Pharmacy Month

Remembering St.
Katharine Drexel


1834 UNCF Fund Run
Sunday, Oct. 5

The Xavier community is encouraged to participate in the 21st Annual United Negro College Fund 5K Run this Sunday, Oct. 5.

Come out and join thousands of walkers/runners in support of XU and Dillard, with all proceeds being used to support local students. The race begins and ends on the Riverview area directly behind Audubon Zoo.

Another campus registration drive will be Oct. 3 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on the first floor lobby of the University Center.

Event day registration begins at 7:30 a.m., rain or shine, and the 5K race (or walk) begins at 9:00 a.m. The New Orleans Track Club will administer the race and prizes will be presented to top finishers.

The cost is $25 and includes a race T-shirt, food, drinks and complimentary admission to the Zoo. Student registration is only $5 and includes transportation to the race site.

Contact Nannette Smith at 520-7684 or nsmith11@xula.edu for more info.

Honoring an Icon litho


Commemorative Art
Tribute Now On Sale

A limited-edition, original art print celebrating Dr. Norman Francis’ 40th Anniversary as president is being offered for sale by the National Alumni Association.

The print, entitled “Honoring an Icon”, is an artistic rendering of Francis’s life and varied accomplishments – from shoe shine boy to the nation’s longest serving college president. Designed and created by alumnus Steve Prince ’91, copies of the original artwork are being printed by the world-renown Brandywine Press.

The 22" x 30" commemorative artwork will be available both as limited-edition lithographs and screen-print posters. Forty special lithographs (signed by Francis and the artist) are available for $1,000 each, while another 200 lithographs (signed by the artist only) will be sold for $500. In addition, 400 unsigned, full-color silk-screen posters will be offered for $60.

Proceeds from the sale will support establishment of the XU National Alumni Association scholarship in honor of Dr. Norman and Blanche Francis.

Click HERE to download an order form, or contact Kimberly Reese, XU director of alumni relations, at 1-877-WE LUV XU or kreese@xula.edu.

1834 New Alumni Directory
Set for Publication

Xavier has contracted with the Harris Publishing Company to produce a new alumni directory.

Scheduled for release in August 2009, the directory will be the most up-to-date and complete reference on more than 20,000 Xavier University alumni ever compiled. This comprehensive volume will include current names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail and business/career information bound into a classic library-quality edition.

In order to compile information for the book, Harris will be mailing and/or e-mailing questionnaires to all alumni with known addresses in January 2009. Please be on the lookout for yours.

The last alumni directory, which was printed by Harris in 2004, was well-received.


Cosby to Emcee
Francis 40th Gala

Add comedian Bill Cosby to the entertainers who will be on hand for the 40th Anniversary Gala honoring Dr. Norman C. Francis presidency and lifelong commitment to excellence and service.

The XU community is invited to join in a memorable evening featuring legendary vocalist Gladys Knight and Cosby Nov. 21 at the New Orleans Convention Center Theater.

Net proceeds will be used to establish the Norman C. Francis Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Tickets are now on sale for $50, $75, and $100. Exclusive patron party tickets are also available at $500 each.

For more info please contact Nannette Smith at ext. 7684 or email nsmith11@xula.edu.


Alumni Homecoming
Draws Closer

Jot down these dates on your calendar – Nov. 20-23 – that's when XU alumni will make the journey back to campus for Alumni Homecoming 2008.

Although this year’s celebration will honor the 16 five-year anniversary Classes of 1928, 1933, 1938, 1943, 1948, 1953, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2003, all alums are encouraged to participate in the festivities.

For info on planned activities, visit HERE or contact Kimberly Reese, Director of Alumni Relations at 1-877 WE LUV XU (1-877-935-8898) or kreese@xula.edu.  

1834 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.

1834 Xavier in the News

1Associated Press
As Enrollment Rises,
Colleges Assess Storm Impact

2Diverse Issues
Secretary of State Rice Calls
for Investment in HBCUs
1Inside Higher Ed
Who Produces Black Ph.D.’s?2Diverse Issues
Report: Black Colleges Crucial to Grooming New Scientists

e2campus SIGN ME UP

Students (from left) Tracy Daniel, Jalessa Novalez and Kevin Barnes take a few minutes to re-enlist in the University’s e2Campus emergency text message alert system for the new academic year. The system was used twice last month for messages about weather related campus closures, but the database was recently purged so only current XU students, faculty and staff would continue to get messages. More than 1,200 members of the campus community signed up during the first week of re-enrollment.

Photo by Irving Johnson III


Dr. Regina Benjamin ‘79, a rural family physician in Bayou LaBatre AL, has been named a MacArthur Fellow for 2008. She is one of 25 new MacArthur Fellows announced this year – each of whom will receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years.

 “The MacArthur Fellows Program celebrates extraordinarily creative individuals who inspire new heights in human achievement,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. Visit HERE for more info on the annual award.

The rural doctor is the second Xavier grad to receive the award, also known as the “Genius Grant.”  The late John T. Scott ‘62, a legendary artist, received the award in 1992.

Benjamin is an inspiring model of compassionate and effective medical care in one of the most underserved region of the United States. In 1990 she founded the Bayou LaBatre rural Health Clinic to serve the Gulf Coast fishing community of Bayou LaBatre AL, a village of approximately 2,500 residents devastated twice in the past decade by Hurricane Georges in 1998 and Katrina in 2005. 

Despite scarce resources, Benjamin has painstakingly rebuilt her clinic after each disaster and set up networks to maintain contact with patients scattered across multiple evacuation sites. She has established a family practice that allows her to treat all incoming patients, many of whom are uninsured and frequently travels by pickup truck to care for the most isolated and immobile in her region.

Dr. Regina Benjamin
Benjamin is skilled as well in translating research on preventative health measures into accessible community based interventions to decrease the disease burdens of her diverse patient base which includes immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos who comprise a third of Bayou LaBatre’s population.

A committed local physician, she also plays key roles statewide and nationally helping others establish clinics in remote areas of the country and serving in leadership positions in such health related organizations as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians. 

She is the first African-American woman and the first person under age 40 to be elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. She was later elected President of the Medical Association State of Alabama, making her the first African American woman president of a state medical society in the U.S.  She continues to serve as a founding board member of the Catholic Health East and is a member of the board of Catholic Health Associations of the United States.

With a deep firsthand knowledge of the pressing needs and health disparities afflicting rural high-poverty communities, Benjamin is ensuring that the most vulnerable among us have access to high-quality care. In recognition of her work among the poor in her Gulf Coast community, and her courage and determination, Benjamin was awarded the St. Katharine Drexel Justice Award from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (Bensalem, PA) in 2007.

In addition to her Xavier degree, Benjamin holds a medical degree from the University of Alabama- Birmingham. She also holds an MBA from Tulane University. She completed her residency in family practice at the Medical Center of Central Georgia 1987.

The CEO of the Bayou LaBatre Rural Health Clinic she has also served as the associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama’s College of Medicine. She is also currently a board member for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


The driving force for more than thirty years in establishing America's premier pre-Med undergraduate program for African American students has been recognized for his role by one of the nation's premier medical schools. 

Meharry Medical College presented an honorary degee [ photo ] to XU chemistry professor and pre-med program director Dr. JW Carmichael earlier this week as part of the medical school’s 133rd Convocation.

Carmichael was recognized for his success in making Xavier the undisputed leader in African American medical school acceptances. In fact, the nation's only Historically Black & Catholic college leads the nation annually in the number of African American students who gain acceptance to medical, dental, doctoral and other health professions programs.

For the past 15 years, Xavier has successfully sent more African American students to medical school each year than any other university in the nation including Harvard, Howard and other larger schools. Xavier is also among the top three annual producers of African Americans with Doctor of Pharmacy degrees.

Carmichael’s close contact with and guidance of his pre-Med students have contributed much to Xavier’s success. Previous honors have included being named a National Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), also the Charles A. Dana Foundation award for his innovations in teaching science, and the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education.


Forty new professors and instructors have joined the faculty at Xavier for the 2008-2009 school year according to the Dr. Loren Blanchard, vice president for academic affairs. 

They are listed below by department:

Art - Mora Beauchamp-Byrd
Biology - Dr. Partha Bhattacharjee, Dr. Hector Biliran, Jr., Kristal Huggins xxxxxxxxxxxxx and Dr. Shampa Mukerji
Business - Gordon Stewart
Chemistry – Dr. Kelly Johanson, Dr. Chandani Kodikara, Dr. Shawn Llopis, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxand Dr. Lamartine Meda
Communications – Franklin Davis and Dr. Wendy Hajjar
Education – Dr. Kristy Brumfield and Dr. Rachel Davis-Haley
English - Danielle Bray, Dr. Oliver Hennessey, Carlton Powell, Jeremy Tuman xxxxxxxxxxxxxand Dr. Daniel Webre
History – Dr. Elizabeth Manley
Languages - Everados Barrios
Library - Nancy Hampton and Susan West  
Mathematics – Dr. David Anderson, Shelley Kumar, Dr. Ahmed Usman xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxand Jhacova Williams
Music - Dara Rahming and Dr. Dan Shore
Pharmacy – Dr. Ariane Conrad, Dr. Lovie Lewis, Dr. Monique Mansfield, Dr. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxJohn Okogbaa, Dr. Miroslav Sarac, Dr. Maureen Shuh, Dr. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxRaymond Strong and Dr. Ashley Taylor
Physics – Dr. Frank Wesselman
Psychology – Dr. Annette Iskra
Theology – Dr. Lourdes Rincon


Four academic departments in the College of Arts and Sciences are under new leadership this year, according to Dr. Loren Blanchard, vice president for academic affairs.

Taking over the chairmanship in their respective A&S disciplines are Dr. Andrea Edwards in computer science, Dr. Judith Miranti in education, Dr. Nicole Greene is English/African American Studies and Dr. Timothy Turner in music.

Edwards, who has also served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Science since August 2007, has been at Xavier for nine years. A Ph.D. in computer science (Tulane University), she has taught data structures, graphics, and robotics, but spends most of her time on administrative matters. Case in point, she is the principal investigator for a new $500,000 grant offering full tuition/board for select freshmen majoring in computer science, computer information systems, mathematics, or physics.

Miranti, appointed Director of the Division of Education in February 2008, is starting her second full year at Xavier. She has 25 years of higher education administration experience, having previously served as academic dean and vice president for academic affairs at Our Lady of Holy Cross College. A Ph.D. (University of Nevada) in counselor education, she teaches such counseling topics as ethics, organization and administration, career and lifestyle development, assessment and clinical supervision. Her primary reserach interest is in the controversal area of spirituality in counseling.

Greene, who received her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, has been at Xavier since 2000. She has taught a variety of courses including composition, world literature, writing in the sciences, English education, and British and Irish literature.  She is also the editor of Xavier Review and Chair of Xavier Endowment for the Humanities, and has co-edited a book, Basic Writing in America: A History of Nine College Programs, which was published this year. While she continues to investigate issues of access in higher education, she is also returning to her research on Irish literature.

Turner, director of the university’s Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble, has served at XU a total of 10 years, during which time he has taught music theory, orchestration, composition, jazz orchestration and arranging, counterpoint, conducting, applied brass and music appreciation. The holder of a Doctor of Musical Arts, he is currently working on a jazz arrangement of "Georgia On My Mind" for the Jazz Ensemble, in addition to some marching band arrangements he hopes to have published by Warner Bros.

Fourteen other faculty chairs have returned to guide their respective departments for yet another school year. They include: Mrs. Map Kinnard-Payton in art, Dr. Shubha Ireland in biology, Dr. Anil Kukreja in business, Dr. Cheryl Stevens in chemistry, Dr. Dominique Gendrin in communications, Dr. Jonathan Rotondo-McCord in history, Dr. Susan Spillman in languages, Dr. Gurdial Arora in mathematics, Dr. Thora Bayer in philosophy, Dr. Murty Akundi in physics/engineering, Dr. Pamela Waldron-Moore in political science, Dr. Lisa Schulte in psychology, Dr. Amy Bellone-Hite in sociology, and Dr. Jerry Farmer in theology.



Meredith Sanders, a senior sales & marketing major from St. Louis MO (Pattonville High School), has accepted a retail sales representative position with the Nestle Purina Company.


Cheri Morial Ausberry ’89, has been promoted to vice president for community development banking at Capital One Bank. She was also presented the company’s highest honor – the Circle of Excellence Award – recognized for her contributions Capital One Bank’s volunteer program (Community Corps Board).

Troy Baldwin ’79, is serving as chief of staff for the Vice President of Academic Affairs office at Dillard University. She has also entered the Ph.D .program in higher education at Jackson State University.

Miranda Bradford '08, is pursuing a master of fine arts degree at Hollins University in Virginia.

Shantina Rayford Dixon ’98, MA ’00, has received her Ph.D. in school psychology from Texas A&M University. She is currently employed as a school psychologist in Bryan TX.  

Dr. Melanie Duckworth '88, has been appointed as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Senior Management Official assigned to the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee FL. Her previous assignment was as a Senior Public Health Advisor assigned to the South Africa Ministry of Health.  

Dr. Lisa Epps Farmer ’77, has earned her Doctorate of Education from the University of Central Florida.

Ebonee T. Johnson, M.S. ’05, is employed as a medical case manager working with clients with HIV/AIDS with Volunteers of America.  She recently earned a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling from Southern University after completing 600 hours of internship with Louisiana Department of Social Services.

(Phyllis) Candace King ’86, has published her third book, You Can Cook – a cookbook that also gives the reader a glimpse of life in the south, and how people, food, and living with purpose has changed her forever, and for the better.

Nneke McGee '97, now serving as English teacher in Arlington TX after having practiced law for several years, has had her second novel Sola – written under the pseudonym Dakota Knight – published by Urban Books, a subsidiary of Penguin.

Nafeesa Hunt Owens ’98, has accepted a position as associate director for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Program at the National Science Foundation, an annual awards program identifies highly qualified mathematics and science teachers from across the country and honors them in a week-long celebration which includes meeting the President of the United States and a host of professional development activities. She previously worked as biologist at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Dale Valdery ‘75, has been named the new men’s head basketball coach at Southern University-New Orleans (SUNO). He previously headed both the Xavier men’s (1990-2002) and women’s (1977-78, 1979-84) basketball programs.

Tiffany Zeno '96, has been hired by WNBC in New York City to produce their 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekend evening shows. A news producer for 11 years, she previously served as a freelance producer/writer at WCAU in Philadelphia and as a broadcast journalism professor at Temple University.


Dr. Anil Kukreja (chair, business) and Dr. Joe Ricks, Jr. (associate chair, business) co-authored a paper, “Using Six Sigma for Performance Improvement in Business Curriculum: A Case Study,” which has been accepted for publication in journal Performance Improvement

Robert Skinner (University Librarian) has his fiction discussed in Dr. Sinead Moynihan”s essay, ”Marginal Man and Hard-Boiled Detective: Racial Passing in Robert Skinner’s Wesley Farrell Series” in the fall issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection.


Former NASA astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. engages XU students following his presentation at a Freshman Seminar. He is founder of the non-profit Harris Foundation, Inc. to advocate for more effective math/science education and youth crime prevention programs.

Photo by Irving Johnson III



She was the 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 the 20th century – long before taking up the cause of racial equality came into vogue – St. Katharine Drexel was at the forefront of efforts to improve the lives of others. 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.

She 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 University of Louisiana – 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.

The stresses and strains of building a nationwide network of schools for black and Indian children were hard on St. Katharine. The never-ending work 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 remaining waking hours in prayer and meditation.

St. Katharine died on March 3, 1955. She was officially canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in October of 2000 by Pope John Paul II. She is 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.

“(Katharine) Drexel is an excellent example of that practical charity and generous solidarity with the less fortunate that has long been the distinguishing mark of American Catholics,” the Pontiff said during a rain-soaked canonization ceremony that drew tens of thousands to the Vatican, noting that her life brought about “a growing awareness of the need to combat all forms of racism through education and social services.”

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.

2008 Founder’s Day Convocation
Tuesday, Oct. 7
12:15 p.m., The Barn

St. Katharine Drexel

COP Celebrates
Pharmacy Month

The College of Pharmacy celebrates American Pharmacists month this October with activities designed to reach out to patients and celebrate the pharmacy profession. 

Among the activities planned are a Men’s health summit, the annual Operation diabetes event at Lakeside Shopping Center, Osteoporosis screening during the campus wellness week and senior citizen prescription and medication reviews.
Home to the only College of Pharmacy in Southeast Louisiana and one of only two pharmacy schools in the state, Xavier is among the top three national producers of African American pharmacists. The current enrollment is 673, which is more than 20 percent of the university’s total student population.

Here are the activities and dates:

Oct. 1-3 - American Pharmacists Month Kick-off in the University Center Lobby

Oct. 11 - Men's Health Summit, 9:00 a.m, University Center Ballroom

Oct. 18 - Operation Diabetes (Lakeside Mall)

Oct. 20-24 - Osteoporosis Screenings during Wellness Week (campus)

Oct. 25 - "Make a Difference Day"

For more info on American pharmacists Month, contact Dr. Conchetta White Fulton cwfulton@xula.edu. or 520-7402.

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