By Daniel Schwalm and Domonique Tolliver
Classes began at Xavier University of Louisiana on Aug. 16 amid a citywide surge in coronavirus cases fueled by the delta variant. Between Aug. 7 and 13, Xavier reported three new positive Covid cases. Two students tested positive along with one employee.
For the seventh year, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art has partnered with the New Orleans Chapter of The Links, a women’s volunteer service organization, to present a showcase featuring art from students at a historically Black college or university. This year, 12 students from Xavier University have work featured in the exhibit: Kennedi Andrus, Allana Barefield, KaLya Ellis, Barriane Franks, Lauren Gray, Ashley A. Miller, Reid Hobson-Powell, La’Shance Perry, Michael Riley, Makeda Wells, Bryce Williams and Maliya Vaughan. For many students, it’s the first time their work is featured in a gallery. La’Shance Perry, a senior at Xavier from Cincinnati, Ohio, majoring in mass communications and minoring in art, said the experience has made her feel validated as an artist, something that she has struggled with lately. “I guess I’ll say I can be self-conscious about my work, which is why I haven’t shared a lot,” she said.
With spring graduation ceremonies canceled or postponed, many class of 2020 graduates are disappointed that their official graduation day won’t be recognized the way they had anticipated. “That walk across a stage was earned through four (in my case, five) years of hard work and panic attacks — just to be taken away within a blink of an eye,” said Loyola University senior Christian Willbern in an Uptown Messenger column. While few deny the public health necessity of closing colleges, it was heart-rendering for many seniors to be abruptly banished from their campuses in the final months of their final year. Universities are finding ways to commemorate the day, often through virtual ceremonies to be followed by a delayed ceremony. Tulane University’s virtual ceremony marking the conferment of degrees to the class of 2020 will take place May 16.
Xavier University is the first site in a campaign bring COVID-19 testing to medically vulnerable communities. Walk-up testing will be available at Xavier from Tuesday (April 21) through Friday of this week. LCMC Health, the New Orleans Health Department and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center will be conducting a mobile testing campaign for COVID-19 across the metro area over the coming weeks. At a press briefing on Monday, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the New Orleans Health Department, urged residents of the Xavier neighborhoods such as Gert Town, Hollygrove and Dixon to take advantage of the testing this week. To be eligible for testing, you must be 18 years of age or older and either recently exposed to COVID-19 or recently showing symptoms of the virus.
Xavier University of Louisiana, in partnership with The Louisiana Creole Research Association, will celebrate the opening of “Picturing Creole New Orleans: The Photography of Arthur P. Bedou” on Saturday, Oct. 26. The exhibition is part of LA Creole’s 15th annual conference, and it will feature collected photographs by the heralded New Orleans native who was personal photographer to Booker T. Washington. “The purpose of the conference is to showcase Creole life in New Orleans in the early 20th century through the lens of Mr. Bedou,” conference organizers said. Lectures, a panel discussion, presentations, and workshops inspired by Bedou’s legacy will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Xavier University’s Convocation Center Annex, 7401 Stroelitz St., Building 62 (at Fern St.).
Xavier University of Louisiana has received a three-year, $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support initiatives designed to expand its community college student pipeline and to establish a new summer bridge program. The grant will fund ongoing university efforts to engage and enroll more community college students by streamlining its transfer administrative process, clarifying course and major requirements, and reducing any course-related hindrances to graduating in four-years. It will also fund a new pilot summer immersion program, Mellon Humanities Summer Scholars Initiative at Xavier, which will provide potential community college transfer students an opportunity to “test drive” the university prior to matriculating. During the six-week residential bridge program, specifically target potential transfers in the humanities, participants will benefit from experiential classroom learning, an introduction to research, mentoring by college faculty, counseling, and career development. Upon successful completion of the program, the students are guaranteed conditional admission to Xavier after completing their two-year degree requirements.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded Xavier University of Louisiana a $500,000 grant to fund the Center for Equity, Justice and the Human Spirit at Xavier. The grant will fund initiatives aimed at improving child well-being, building leaders, and advancing community engagement and racial equity through a focus on building stronger ties between community, policy and practice in education, health, environment and criminal justice reform. Established in August 2018, the Center for Equity, Justice and the Human Spirit is a research, teaching and public engagement endeavor housed within the Division of Academic Affairs. In keeping with Xavier’s founding mission and commitment to social justice and social impact, the Center for Equity, Justice and the Human Spirit works to advance equity, achieve justice and elevate the human spirit through the practical application of knowledge and resources toward an improved the quality of life for current and future generations. The center will inaugurate research, reflection, and calls to action in the areas of pre-K through 16 education equity,criminal justice reform, and environmental justice and sustainability.
The new administration at Xavier University of Louisiana has made plans to remove and restructure the entire Office of Student Affairs, which means key staff members will lose their jobs. Over the past few weeks, that plan and other decisions have sparked disapproval from alumni, staff and students, who circulated a petition that garnered nearly 2,800 signatures. Some recent actions have made the Xavier community question the administration’s strategic plans and the identity and direction of the university itself. Xavier’s President C. Reynold Verret and Vice President of Student Affairs Curtis Wright laid out plans for staff restructuring in emails sent to the Xavier community earlier this month. Wright’s May 16 letter went into detail about the changes:
“In order to serve the expanding needs of students, the Office of Student Affairs has determined the need to restructure the division.
For decades, Xavier University has ranked first in making African-Americans into medical professionals. This status led three young men to study at the university twenty years ago. Xavier’s 2019 commencement featured alumni Dr. Pierre Johnson ’02, Dr. Maxime Madhere ’02, and Dr. Joseph Semien, Jr., ’01 as keynote speakers and honorary degree recipients. The three—who formed a brotherly bond at Xavier—now practice medicine and have co-authored a book about their journey to success. Since leaving the university in the early 2000s, the three gained doctorates in medicine and their own practices in three different cities. Dr. Johnson got his doctoral degree from University of Illinois and practices in Chicago, IL.
In an unprecedented accomplishment for the university, six Xavier University of Louisiana students received awards at the 2018 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) for their innovative research in the Science, Technology, and Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) fields. Students presented their research to a panel of experts in such areas as chemistry, biology, neuroscience, psychology, and physiology at the conference in November. Six Xavier students were among those receiving an award for their presentations:
Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) scholars Blaine Deribgny, a junior chemistry major; Lauren Thornton, a senior biology major; Chandler Golden, a senior psychology major; and Ashley Mello, a junior biology major
Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) scholar Dailia El-Desoky, a senior physiology major
Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) scholar, Camilla Do, a senior chemistry major
All award recipients received a certificate and a $300 check. The four-day conference saw more than 2,000 poster and oral presentations given by undergraduate and post baccalaureate students, and featured scientific and professional development sessions, over 380 exhibit booths, networking opportunities, plenary speakers, conference programming tracks for undergraduates, graduates and postdoctoral scientists, and non-students, and an awards banquet. Learn more about Xavier University of Louisiana’s stem programs.