Xavier to hold black history event, and other higher-education news

Xavier University will hold its annual Black History Month Convocation on Tuesday. The event will start at 12:15 p.m. in the university’s Convocation Center.

The featured speaker will be Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Edwin Lombard.

Two excerpts from Xavier music professor Daniel Shore’s opera “Freedom Ride” also will be performed.

The opera, which features Xavier students, tells the story of a young African-American woman deciding between staying in college and dropping out to join the Freedom Riders in the 1960s.

Tulane team discovers flower

A research team lead by Tulane University biologist John J. Schenk has discovered a previously unknown flowering plant in a remote corner of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

The discoverers named the plant Mentzelia canyonensis, after the Grand Canyon, the only place it is known to exist.

The plant has white to light-yellow flowers that bloom from May through November. It is a shrubby perennial herb with a taproot adapted to finding moisture in the loose, rocky soils of the canyon’s arid landscape.

The team’s discovery is described in a recent article by Schenk and his colleagues, Wendy Hodgson and Larry Hufford, in Brittonia, a journal devoted to systematic biology.

“As threats to plant communities increase due to urbanization, habitat alteration and climate change, describing Earth’s biodiversity is increasingly imperative before these species are lost to extinction and gone forever,” Schenk said. “Many of the new species to be discovered are likely to be cryptic, very localized and rare.”

Kenyan acrobats to perform

The Kenya Safari Acrobats will show off their high-flying skills at Loyola University on Wednesday. The free performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall. It is open to the public.

Their performance, called “Lost in Africa,” is a musical that combines humor and playfulness. The acrobats perform human pyramids, balancing, tumbling, limbo dancing, hurdling through hoops and breathtaking contortions.

They often bring audience members on stage and work them into the plot of the musical.

The Kenya Safari Acrobats learned acrobatics as children on the beaches of Kenya as a means to break free from pervasive poverty. They now serve as artistic ambassadors for Kenya.

For more information, contact Courtney Williams in the Office of Co-Curricular Programs at (504) 865-2588.

UNO named ‘Best Value College’

The University of New Orleans has been selected as “one of the best value colleges” for 2014 by the Princeton Review.

The company chose 150 undergraduate schools, 75 public and 75 private, to include in the list. UNO and LSU were the only Louisiana schools selected.

According to the Princeton Review, the schools are chosen using surveys it conducts with students. It also takes into consideration the percentage of graduating seniors who borrowed from any loan program and the average debt those students had at graduation.

“We are pleased to be honored by the Princeton Review as a ‘best value’ college,” said President Peter Fos.