New Orleans, LA – A pair of record-breaking performances by freshman Adriana Brown highlighted SUNO’s efforts at the 2013 GCAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Brown set meet records in both the 100m Hurdles (14.33) and 400m Hurdles (1:01.87) for the Lady Knights. Her time in the 100 meters was nearly 3 seconds better than the previous record and her performance in the 400m hurdle was almost 4 seconds better than the old mark. Her teammate, junior Tamara Hunter finished with a time (1:02.19) that would have been a record itself any other year. Sophomore Mackola Joseph smashed the meet record in the Women’s 800m with a blistering time of 2:18.01, finishing more than 9 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. The SUNO ladies were also able to win the Women’s 4x400m Relay event, finishing ahead of intracity rival Xavier on their way to a fourth place overall finish at the meet.
Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS – More than 100 candles lit Friday night outside police headquarters served as a sign of hope for Terrilynn Monette’s family.
Courtesy The Advocate
BY KORAN ADDO AND JORDAN BLUM
Capitol news bureau
April 07, 2013
NEW ORLEANS — On the outskirts of the Southern University New Orleans campus, administrators believe a key component for the future are the 21 buildings with the bright green rooftops overlooking Lake Pontchartrain.
The buildings, SUNO’s new student housing that are intended to revitalize the hurricane-ravaged campus, are at the heart of an agreement struck with the federal government that could result in saving many millions of dollars.
The loan modification agreement is part of a series of recent transactions to modify or forgive more than $400 million in federal loans for southeastern Louisiana. The loans were still pending after nearly eight years since hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
First, a deal was finalized between the historically black colleges of SUNO, Xavier University and Dillard University and the U.S. Education Department, the Treasury Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Then, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., successfully inserted into the federal budget continuation legislation wording that set up the forgiveness of nearly $300 million in community disaster loans that were still hanging over several Louisiana parish governments, school systems, sheriff’s departments and more.
The argument is that areas such as Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes were essentially punished by getting up and running more quickly after Katrina and Rita. Their sales tax revenues temporarily increased as victims bought new appliances and paid for restoration construction. The hike in sales tax receipts kept some agencies and institutions from receiving disaster loan forgiveness.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has until April 2014 to finish tweaking its rules and formula so the loans can then be forgiven.
Jefferson Parish government alone is looking to forgive nearly $55 million in loans.
“This puts us in a significantly improved position to get most, if not all, of it forgiven,” Jefferson Parish President John Young said. “Without this (change), it’s an extra tough burden on already strained finances … It would mean maybe a reduction of labor, a reduction of services.”
At SUNO, Chancellor Victor Ukpolo credited Landrieu for pushing through legislation to allow for certain loans to be modified so that much of the loan debt is forgiven after a number of years.
“These academic institutions are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, and repaying these loans under the previous structure would have been a serious financial setback,” Landrieu said in an email response.
Ukpolo explained that, in 2007, SUNO negotiated a $44 million loan with the federal government to build student housing — just under 700 beds total.
SUNO, which has traditionally been a commuter school, is making strides to become a residential campus. The goal is to get the school back to its pre-Katrina enrollment of more than 3,600 students. SUNO currently is about 400 students shy of that mark.
The details of the deal reached last month allow SUNO to stop payments on their student housing loan through 2018. The five-year freeze should save the school about $7.5 million Ukpolo said.
“We are expected to reinvest that $7.5 million back into SUNO,” he said. “We are starting to look at all the areas where we can improve. I’m talking about student life, retention, recruitment and our academic offerings.”
The idea is to use the money to make SUNO attractive enough to fill their new student apartments.
In three years, the maximum number of students living in student housing is about 225 — less than one third of the total 699 beds available.
The next phase of SUNO’s loan modification starts in 2018. At that point, Ukpolo said SUNO’s monthly debt payment would be set at a maximum of 3 percent of the school’s operating budget, or $47,500 in today’s dollars.
Under the terms of the deal, the federal government would subtract that new monthly loan payment from the original monthly payment of roughly $118,000 and put the difference — about $70,500 per month — in a placeholder account until 2037 when the deal expires.
The plan calls for the federal government to write off the balance of the placeholder account, which is a savings of roughly $25 million for the school, Ukpolo said.
Other levels of education are expected to benefit as well. No government body is affected by the community disaster loan forgiveness more than the St. Tammany Parish School Board, which is hoping to have up to $67.8 million of its loans forgiven.
St. Tammany School Board Superintendent Trey Folse said much was invested shortly after Katrina to ensure the damaged schools were quickly repaired and reopened.
“The thought was, ‘If we can get our schools back up, the people will come back,’ ” Folse said.
The plan largely worked and having the loans forgiven next year would play a critical role in improving the school system’s tight finances and keep class sizes from growing significantly, Folse said.
Similarly, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said his parish government could save nearly $9 million and more than $3 million for the sheriff’s department.
“It comes at a critical time when we’re scrapping together what we can with flood elevation and increased flood insurance,” Nungesser said. “It absolutely would affect services and flood protection and everything we’re funding on our own.”
It has been more than a month since New Orleans schoolteacher Terrilynn Monette went missing after a night of celebrating with friends, but the search continues for the 26-year-old California native. Monette, who had recently been nominated for “Teacher of the Year” was last seen in the parking lot at Parlay’s Bar in the Lakeview section of the city.
“This has affected the SUNO community so much because Ms. Monette is an educator, a young woman who clearly has a very bright future ahead of her,” said Chancellor Victor Ukpolo. ”Also for anything to have happened to someone, so near to our campus certainly raises our awareness for the safety of our students, many of whom come to our campus at night. We all must continue to be vigilant, not only in the search for Terrilynn Monette but in making good decisions about our safety.”
The city’s ”Teach NOLA” program, which sends new teachers to troubled schools, attracted Monette, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported. She is credited with significantly improving the performance of her students.
Monette is 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs about 180 pounds and has long brown hair. On the night she vanished, she wore a pink and yellow sweater and jeans. Her left leg is tattooed.
if you have seen Monette or have any information, please call the New Orleans Police Department at 504-658-4000.
NEW ORLEANS, LA – In front of an audience filled by local educational and political leaders, Southern University at New Orleans Chancellor Victor Ukpolo, Algiers Charter School Association CEO Adrian Morgan and O. Perry Walker Principal Mary Laurie signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will bring the first public 4-year university to the Westbank of New Orleans.
“This is a great moment for the unified L.B. Landry – O. Perry Walker High School,” said Mary Laurie. “To truly be a community school, we must serve our adults as well as our children, and by bringing SUNO to Algiers we have an opportunity to reach those who may have never had access to a college education and put them on a path towards a degree.”
ACSA CEO Adrian Morgan added, “Today marks the beginning of what we believe will be a strong and fruitful partnership with SUNO. ACSA has been a leader in expanding educational opportunities since 2005, and this is another example of how the Association is looking towards the future of Algiers and how we can continue to grow and impact the lives of the families here.”
Classes at the satellite campus are slated to begin in the Fall of 2013, offering first-year courses and utilizing SUNO faculty and resources. “We want to give the people of the Westbank the quality of education just as we provide on our main campus,” said Chancellor Ukpolo. “The potential economic impact for New Orleans by creating more college graduates is tremendous and it is our responsibility as a public institution to create avenues for success for the people of the city and this region. We are honored to take a partnership that began with O. Perry Walker years ago to a higher level for a much higher purpose.”
For more information, please visit www.SUNO.edu or call 504-286-5000.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David M. Grubb
(504) 286-5343 or (504) 810-3048
April 1, 2013
Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette J. Johnson to speak at SUNO Honors and Awards Ceremony
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Currently presiding as the first black chief justice in the history of the state of Louisiana, the Honorable Bernette J. Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the Southern University at New Orleans Honors and Awards Day ceremonies, to be held Wednesday, April 17 at 11:00 a.m. in the University Gymnasium.
Justice Johnson was first elected to the state’s highest court in 1994 and was chosen in 2013 to succeed Justice Catherine Kimball as the Supreme Court’s chief justice. Prior to that, she was the first woman elected to serve on the bench of the Civil District Court of New Orleans in 1984. Before becoming a judge, Bernette Johnson worked in the City Attorney’s office in New Orleans, eventually earning the title of Deputy City Attorney. Justice Johnson’s career has been notable in its focus on advocacy for social justice, civil rights and community organizing. She has worked with groups such as the NAACP and in grassroots organizations throughout the south. She has also worked in legal education as an adjunct faculty member at Tulane University and as an adjunct professor at SUNO, where she taught Legal Terminology and Business Law.
“We are honored to have a trailblazer like Justice Johnson as the speaker for this occasion,” said committee chairperson Dr. Brenda Jackson. “At Southern University at New Orleans we emphasize that superior scholarship must be a priority, and it is through the dedication to scholarship that individuals like Justice Johnson have been able to make history. Each year, through our Honors and Awards program we encourage, celebrate and applaud the academic excellence and community service efforts of our students. We are certain that they will be inspired by both the words and the example of Justice Johnson and we are grateful that she has chosen to participate in this day with us.”
Justice Bernette J. Johnson received her B.A. from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA and her Juris Doctorate from Louisiana State University. She has been honored with an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Spelman College and has been inducted into the LSU Law Center Hall of Fame.
This year, more than 700 students will be recognized during the annual Honors and Awards Day ceremony. This event is free and open to the public. For additional information please contact Dr. Brenda Jackson at (504) 286-5274.
NEW ORLEANS, LA – The Southern University at New Orleans College of Business and Public Administration will hold its 1st ever banquet on Friday, April 5, at Harrah’s Hotel located at 228 Poydras St. The event is scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm with a sit down dinner and awards program to follow.
These are exciting and historic times for the College of Business and Public Administration. Last year saw the opening of the new COB building on the University’s Lake Campus and this year the College earned accreditation from AACSB International, the standard bearer in business accreditation. This banquet serves as a showcase for these successes as well as an opportunity to honor faculty and students for their academic contributions as well.
“We have tremendous pride in the achievements of the College of Business and the direction in which we are heading,” said Dr. Igwe Udeh, Dean of the College. “This banquet will establish a yearly tradition and in coming years we would like to be able to reach out to our business community and develop the kinds of partnerships that will make the SUNO College of Business and its graduates successful.”
Tickets for the event are $30 apiece. Please contact the College of Business and Public Administration at (504) 286-5331 for additional information.
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Southern University at New Orleans placed three players on the NAIA All-America teams this season, April Perry and Sabrina Scott on the Women’s team and Clyde Moore for the Men, but there were some notable snubs as well.
April Perry, a senior guard from Long Beach, CA earned Second Team honors after leading Division I in scoring with an average of 21.92 points per game. Perry scored at least 20 points in 15 of the Lady Knights’ 24 games this season in leading SUNO to a 19-5 record, the GCAC Tournament championship and an appearance in the NAIA Women’s Division I Basketball Championship. She also averaged nearly 5 assists per game.
Junior Sabrina Scott appeared in just 16 games and started only eight contests, but had a big impact on the Lady Knights’ season. In those 8 starts, the 6’4” center from Tacoma, WA recorded three triple doubles, leading the nation in that category. Scott averaged 5.88 blocks per game and finished 3rd nationally in total blocked shots with 94. For the season, she collected four games of at least 10 blocks including a GCAC single game record of 15.
Senior Clyde Moore earned All-America recognition after averaging 15 points and nearly 7 rebounds per game. The 6’4” forward from Jackson, MS has been one of the most efficient scorers in the nation during his SUNO career, shooting better than 58 percent from the field for the Knights over two seasons.
Athletic Director and Head Women’s Basketball Coach Elston King was proud of the players who were recognized, but disappointed as well. “First, I have to just congratulate Sabrina and Clyde for being named All-Americans. They both had great seasons. But I can’t help but be frustrated by a couple of things. First, for April to have led the nation in scoring and to have helped lead this program to the NAIA tournament for the first time in thirteen years and end up on the second team is just wrong. She earned the right to be on the first team. Secondly, for (Senior guard) JaNee Morton to put up the numbers that she did (16 points and 8 rebounds), and to be the type of competitor and leader that she is and to not even earn Honorable Mention recognition, I think is another tremendous mistake by the voters. As far as I’m concerned, she’s an All-American and I know the teams she played against this season would say the same. That being said, none of these players did what they did for individual accolades and they know how much they’re respected by their teammates and coaches. Each one of them, especially the seniors will be remembered here for a long time.”
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) has a long history of service to non-traditional students and that history continues with the development of a Memorandum of Understanding between the University and the Algiers Charter School Association (ACSA) to develop a Westbank Satellite Campus at the L.B. Landry Education Complex in Algiers.
The agreement, which is to be signed during a ceremony at the complex located at 1200 L.B. Landry Avenue on Tuesday, April 2nd at 10:00 am, allows SUNO to offer courses across a broad spectrum of disciplines that residents will be able to apply towards earning a 4-year degree. The University intends to offer classes during the evening between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. during the Fall and Spring semesters. Students attending the new L.B. Landry- O. Perry Walker College and Career Preparatory High School who meet SUNO’s admissions requirements will also be eligible to enroll in courses offered by the program.
SUNO has partnered with O. Perry Walker High School for the past eight years as part of the school’s concurrent enrollment program. This expanded partnership is one of the many benefits for the students in the unification of L.B. Landry and O. Perry Walker high schools, affording more students the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school.
“This year, SUNO has taken great strides to broaden its reach, and partnering with Landry-Walker High School and the Algiers Charter School Association was an opportunity that we could not pass up,” said Chancellor Victor Ukpolo. “I must commend Principal Mary Laurie and the ACSA’s CEO, Adrian Morgan, for their vision for the community that they serve and for allowing SUNO to be a part of it.”
Morgan added, “Accessibility and opportunity are very important in showing our students, and the adults within our community, that their educational dreams are within their reach. By bringing SUNO to Algiers, we are providing people a chance to improve their lives and the lives of their children. This agreement is something that both organizations can be proud of and I look forward to seeing it grow and develop over the years to come.”
Published by The Advocate, March 20, 2013
Zohar uses drums to teach life
Advocate staff writer
A drum strapped to his chest, Baba Zohar leaned into the microphone to tell about the world’s first musical instrument.
“We have a story to tell that starts with a drum,” he said. “Does anybody know what the first drum was?”
The four-dozen schoolchildren seated in front of him at the Greenwell Springs Road branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Library began shouting answers. Bongo! Conga!
“The first drum is your heart,” Zohar told them. “The heart have to beat consistent.”
Then he started to pound out a rhythm like a heartbeat and sing a Jamaican song about flying away home to Zion. Unprompted, the children began clapping loosely along with the beat.
Drums and music run deep within Zohar. His group, Zohar and the Free Spirit Stilt Walkers, performs at schools and libraries several times a month, teaching the role of African culture in music and American life.
“It’s not the lyrics. It’s the music itself. It is so spiritual,” Zohar, a New Orleans native, said following the performance. “Being an African descendant, the drums are in our genes and chromosomes. So when we hear the drums they just activate something in your spirit.”
Along with two of his sons, Judah Israel and Solomon Israel, and Nailah Smith, a drummer and dancer, Zohar played African-inspired drumbeats. Then Zohar took up a flute and played while a woman in a sparkling red mask — Smith in disguise — danced from the rear of the room, eliciting shrieks from a few children. She sprung in the air, moved her undulating arms with the speed of the drums, and danced faster and faster before she sped out of the room as mysteriously as she came.
African and Caribbean culture is unknown to many of these children, Zohar said, even though the music and dance lie in their background. A lack of pride in their culture causes many issues facing inner-city children, Zohar said, and “self-hate” is rampant in poor neighborhoods.
“Our solution is, not just for African-American children but for all children, is to give them pride, give them self-esteem, make them feel better about themselves,” Zohar said. “If I stood up and just talked to them, they may not listen, but we add music, entertainment, dancing and drumming. It’s easier to get their attention.”
For the past 25 years Zohar has been performing for children and teaching them in summer and after-school programs. Previously he studied music at Southern University in New Orleans and performed in bars and at festivals in various bands, but that life was not for him.
“Children are the future, you know? If we prepare them and get their mind right, then we won’t have to be locking ourselves up (in our homes),” he said. “Today kids are really scared out there. I figured it would be my contribution. People talk about it and complain about it. I want to do something about it.”
Every show, Zohar also throws in some songs that teach students about their everyday lives. In one, they sing with him in a call and response.
“I am a genius and you are a genius,” he sang and the students repeated. “I can be a doctor. I can be a lawyer.”
Performing in New Orleans schools, Zohar has met many children who don’t expect to live beyond 21, he said. Growing up in the 9th Ward, he said he can relate to that mindset, but he hopes to correct it.
“You kind of stimulate their minds, and as they get older they start believing it and they start working toward that,” he said.
Seeing Zohar and his performers should inspire children to follow their passions and earn a living, said Yvonne Byrd, the children’s librarian at the Greenwell Springs Road library.
“If they were walking down the street, if they walked into the grocery store, you would not have any idea that they were talented or professional people,” she said. “When you speak that says volumes, when you act, that speak volumes. You don’t have to look a certain way to be professional or to have a professional career and do something you love. It is obvious they thoroughly love what they are doing.”
Another of Zohar’s songs taught kids what to do when they encounter guns. Never touch a gun, he told them.
“Don’t pick it up, call a grown-up,” he sang along with the drum beat. “If you see a gun, you know you better run!”
Then a trio of drum beats announced the arrival of the country devil, the 10-foot tall stilt dancer that appeared from the back of the room dressed in blue and silver. He ran past the crowd of children, causing a few screams, then danced along the front, kicking his stilted legs out, then balancing on one in a fury of movement.
Zohar’s high-school-age son, Solomon, was behind the mask, but the musicians never reveal the stilt dancer’s identity. An art form that passed from Africa to the Caribbean to folk dancing circles in the United States, Zohar first saw stilt dancing more than 30 years ago, then taught himself and his children.
“Stilt dancing, it defies gravity and also it causes discipline,” he said. “Once you get up in the air, the air is thin, a spiritual thing takes place, you put on the mask. It’s all different. You’re not that person. Whatever spirit you have inside, that’s what comes out on a stilt dance. It represents that tall spirit.”
With the country devil gone, Zohar began to wrap up the show, singing about giving love, peace and respect to everyone and encouraging everyone to dance as they do in Jamaica, into their 80s.
The show and the after-school programs Zohar teaches feature the drum, he said, but “it is really teaching life. I use drums as a vehicle to get their attention.”