New Orleans area higher education briefs for Dec. 24,2012

Tulane professors help Jersey Shore

Tulane School of Architecture Dean Kenneth Schwartz and a team of colleagues will be working with New Jersey Institute of Technology and the beach community of Seaside Heights as it begins restoring what was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

Schwartz said that after Hurricane Katrina, more than a dozen architecture schools from around the country reached out to help New Orleans, and NJIT was among them.

“They came down and did some good things with their students,” Schwartz said. “And we were grateful for that.”

Schwartz and his staff are helping NJIT set up a program similar to Tulane’s CITYbuild, which after Katrina matched architecture schools with some of the city’s nonprofits and neighborhoods. In the coming weeks, Dan Etheridge, associate director of Tulane’s City Center, an urban outreach and research program, will travel to the Jersey Shore to assist in the development of a similar outreach model.

In March, Schwartz will take a group of Tulane students to Seaside Heights for an alternative spring break, doing hands-on construction work.

Delgado names workforce leader

Larissa Littleton-Steib of Harvey has been appointed interim vice chancellor for workforce development and technical education at Delgado Community College.

Littleton-Steib is executive dean of the West Bank Campus in Algiers and interim executive dean of the Technical Division.

Delgado is combining two administrative positions — executive dean of the Technical Division and vice chancellor for workforce development and education — into a single position of vice chancellor for workforce development and technical education.

A national search is under way to fill the new position.

Littleton-Steib holds a doctorate in urban higher education administration from Jackson State University.

She has held positions at Delgado in workforce development, continuing education, economic development and corporate training.

She was executive assistant to the chancellor before being named executive dean of the West Bank Campus in January 2011.

Kristine Strickland of New Orleans, LCTCS vice president for student services and student financial assistance, will serve as interim executive dean of the West Bank Campus.

Tulane professor wins poetry award

Peter Cooley, poet and professor of English at Tulane University, won the Faulkner Society gold medal for poetry for an 800-word excerpt of “Aftermaths,” a massive poem he is writing about Louisiana that now stands at 194 pages.

“I wanted to explore and to put (Louisiana) into my own words,” Cooley said.

The poem is “exploring the inside of myself and exploring the outside — the external.

“The river’s in it. The weather’s in it. A waitress in Cancer Alley is in it. The leper colony in Carville is in it.”

Cooley received an ATLAS (Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars) grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents in 2011-12 to research and write the poem about the effects of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.

Delgado among fastest growing

Delgado Community College ranked No. 12 on a Community College Week list of the top 50 fastest-growing two-year colleges with enrollments of 10,000 or more.

Delgado graduated a record 828 students during Fall 2012 Commencement exercises last week. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Delgado has experienced a 50 percent increase in the number of awards — degree, diplomas, certificates — from 579 in the fall of 2001 to 86 — this fall.

Researcher finds target for ALS

Research led by Dr. Udai Pandey, assistant professor of genetics at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, has found that the ability of a protein made by a gene called FUS to bind to RNA is essential to the development of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The discovery identifies a possible therapeutic target for the fatal neurological disease.

The research is available online in the Advanced Access section of the journal Human Molecular Genetics website and will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal.

The project advances Pandey’s ALS research by teasing out specifically how the FUS gene causes the disease.

The researchers are working with fruit flies — the first animal model of FUS-related ALS, a model Pandey developed.

The fruit flies were engineered to carry and express a mutated human FUS gene. This mutated FUS gene has been shown to be one of the causes of both familial and sporadic ALS.

“Our findings may pave the way for development of drugs targeting the biological processes responsible for causing ALS, and leading to treatments or prevention of this currently fatal, incurable condition,” Pandey said.

The research team also included J. Gavin Daigle, Nicholas A. Lanson Jr., Ian Casci, John Monaghan, Astha Maltare and Charles Nichols at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans.

Also on the team are Rebecca Smith from St. Jude Children’s Research Center and Frank Shewmaker and Dmitri Kryndushkin at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.

The research was supported by funding from the Robert Packard Center for ALS at Johns Hopkins, the National Institutes of Health, and the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association.

UNO gala raises scholarship funds

The University of New Orleans raised $200,000 for veterans scholarships at its investiture gala last month.

The money will help launch the new EdVets scholarship program, which will supplement the Post-9/11 GI Bill with enhancements that include summer study abroad.

The $200,000 will fund 20 EdVets scholarship students in the 2013-14 academic year.

Approximately 600 people attended the gala, which was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The event capped off a week of activities surrounding President Peter J. Fos’ investiture ceremony, where he was formally installed as the first president and the sixth leader in the history of the University of New Orleans.

The gala, which featured music from Irma Thomas and Paul Varisco and the Milestones, honored Fos and U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey, who has named the 2012 UNO International Alumni Association Alumnus of the Year.

Professor named
to eye council

Jayne S. Weiss, who chairs the department of ophthalmology at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans has been invited to serve on the National Advisory Eye Council by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Weiss, who holds the Herbert E. Kaufman, MD Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology and is director of LSU Eye Center of Excellence, will serve a four-year terms.

She is among 12 members chosen in the United States and the only member from Louisiana.

According to the National Eye Institute (one of the institutes of the National Institutes of Health), the council advises, assists, consults with and makes recommendations to the secretary of Health and Human Services and the director of the National Eye Institute on matters related to the activities carried out by and through the NEI and the policies respecting these activities.

Compiled by
the New Orleans bureau