Marketing & Communications

September 2018



Nothing says you’re officially a Xavierite quite like getting that XULA “Class of 2022” baseball cap as you near the end of New Student Orientation. Some members of this year’s class celebrate their new headgear.


Xavier welcomed the Class of 2022, their parents and other family members in grand style as this latest wave of freshman and transfer students are introduced to their new home away from home.

The “Rites of Passage” ceremony – symbolically marking their transition from high school to college – capped off the first three days of the week-long New Student Orientation, during which the participants experienced first-hand much of what Xavier and New Orleans has to offer. [ MORE ]


UNCF Regional Development Director Lajuana Chenier (center) is flanked by the four local recipients of the Kevin Hart Scholarships: (L-R) Dillard’s Jamaya Wilson and Xavier’s Lauryn Williams, Daja Brooks, and Mack Williams Jr. 


Following up on his generous $100,000 scholarship gift made through UNCF (the United Negro College Fund) to four deserving college students back in 2015, actor and comedian Kevin Hart has joined forces with UNCF and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) to help 18 more KIPP students earn a college degree.

Three of the 18 recipients are Xavier students: incoming freshman Lauryn Williams from Atlanta GA, junior speech pathology major Daja Brooks from Chicago IL (DRW Trading High), and junior mathematics major and BUILD scholar Mack Williams from West Helena AR (KIPP Delta High).  [ MORE ]


Members of the Joint Conference of Black Catholic Clergy, Black Sisters, Black Catholic Seminarians and Black Catholic Deacons convened at Xavier to announce a new effort to unite the causes and respective guilds working toward the canonization of five Roman Catholic African Americans and to establish a dedicated resource center at Xavier: (L-R) Bishop Fernand Cherie, XU President Reynold Verret, IBCS Director Sr. Eva Lumas, Sr. Greta Jupiter, and Fr. Gerard Jordan.


An effort to unite the causes and respective guilds working toward the canonization of five Roman Catholic African Americans was announced during a special event held in the St. Katharine Drexel Chapel.

Xavier and the Institute for Black Catholic Studies (IBCS) served as the host and administrator for the event, which set as its goal the goal the gathering of scholarly work and relevant academic studies for the purpose of elevating the respective causes for each of the candidates for Sainthood: the Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Venerable Henriette Delille S.S.F., Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, O.S.P., Father Augustus Tolton, and Julia Greeley. [ MORE ]


10 then-incoming freshmen – now officially Xavierites – joined Dr. Karen Moore (Languages) in Havana this summer as participants in a special program studying African culture in Cuba.


Xaverites who attended the University of Rochester Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF Program) caught up with several alums who are preparing to enter their first year of medical school there: (L-R) Sydney Barrett, Imani Miles ’18, Nicholas Hall, Jessica Carmon ’18, Robert Freter ’18, Hannah Mbony ’18, and Stacey Umeozulu.
Pharmacy students who have maintained a 4.0 GPA since entering the College of Pharmacy program – (L-R) Matthew Kersten (P3), Diari Gilliam (P3), Page Bankston (P2) and Cierra Frazier (P2) – were awarded Certificate for Academic Excellence by Dean Dr. Kathleen Kennedy during the semester-opening Student Body Assembly.

new mexico

Xavier students pose in front of a mural depicting Native Indian rituals during a summer visit among the Pueblos in New Mexico as a part of the English Department’s new course, Foundations of Native American Literature: Bridge between Orality and Literacy.


Xavier has announced the formation of the Center for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit, an intellectual and physical convening place for research, teaching, community engagement, and debate on issues related to race-based inequities, social identity production, and power relations. 

The mission of the Center, to be housed on the University campus, will be to engage in, support, and promote innovative thinking in a multiplicity of contexts and across disciplines regarding race, class, systemic inequities, and a faith that does justice toward a better understanding of issues impacting modern societies and vexing the human spirit. [ MORE ]


Xavier has received a $1.5 million gift from the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation. The gift will both name the Sanctuary of the University’s St. Katharine Drexel Chapel the Gayle and Tom Benson Sanctuary and establish the Gayle and Tom Benson Scholarship Fund.

The Sanctuary – the area of the Chapel immediately around the Altar – will be officially named during a special public ceremony Thursday, Sept. 06, at 2:00 p.m. in the Chapel, with a private reception to follow. The funds will provide operational and maintenance for the campus Chapel, which was opened in 2012. [ MORE ]


XU President Dr. Reynold Verret has announced that Patrice Bell-Mercadel will assume the role of Chief of Staff for the University. Patrice joined Xavier as Chief Marketing and Communications Officer in September 2017 and will maintain oversight of the university’s marketing and communications efforts as Chief of Staff.

“Ms. Bell-Mercadel brings with her over 30 years of effective leadership and public service strategy experience.  She will continue to elevate Xavier University’s profile and assist in the execution of my Vision 20/20: Xavier Learns Forward,” said Xavier President C. Reynold Verret. [ MORE ]


Xavier introduced 67 new staff and faculty for the 2018-19 school year – including three major appointments – during the annual semester-opening fall Faculty/Staff Institute.

Joining the University's administrative leadership team for 2018-19 are two newcomers: Dr. Camellia Okpodu, the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Curtis Wright, the new Vice President of Student Affairs. Patrice Bell-Mercadel, who had been serving as Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, was elevated to the position of Chief of Staff. [ MORE ]


Xavier has once again been singled out as one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education by The Princeton Review in the 2019 edition of its annual edition of "The Best 384 Colleges”.

In its profile on Xavier the guide praises the university for its academics, faculty, close-knit student population, and for providing undergraduates with “a myriad of great opportunities for everything from study abroad to professional development and career preparation”.  [ MORE ]


Five students – (L-R) Shelby Goodson, Mya Bolds, Jasmyne Bracy, Nigel Palmer, and Marloes Booker – made a presentation, “Student Driven Approaches to Campus Sustainability”, based on their campus research, field assignments, and surveys while working as interns in the Office of Facility Planning and Management at the APPA 2018 Annual Conference in Washington DC.


New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ’97 cuts a ribbon inside the XU Convocation Center  officially opening the Shell and Xavier co-sponsored NOLA Back to 2 School Fest during which close to 2,000 students were provided free school supplies, health screenings, haircuts and more.



  • Jeffrey Boudreaux Jr., a junior computer science major from New Orleans (Holy Cross High) recently completed a competitive summer internship with GOOGLE in Los Angeles CA.

  • Destiny Boutain, a P3 student from Belle Rose LA (Assumption High), was awarded a Barry Bleidt Scholarship during the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) National Convention.

  • Jasmine Grandpre, a P4 student from Marrero LA (Academy of Our Lady), won a $3,000 Walgreens Diversity Scholarship and was appointed the National Bridging the Gap Chair during the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) National Convention.

  • Sydney Morris, a junior psychology major from Birmingham AL (Indian Springs High), recently completed her second summer internship at Educational testing Service in Princeton NJ.

  • Jorian Reeves, a junior chemistry/pre-pharmacy major from Chicago IL (Lindblom Math & Science Academy), recently completed a four-week summer study abroad program emphasizing leadership and intercultural skills in Cape Town, South Africa. She was one of 10 students nationwide selected for the highly competitive Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship Program.

  • Cydney Stevenson, a senior business/accounting major from Fulshear TX (Westbury Christian), has been selected a 2018 HBCU Competitiveness Scholar by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She will represent XU at the National HBCU Week Conference, participate in monthly webinars and regional events, and network with other scholars to showcase individual and/or collective talent across the HBCU community. Stevenson recently completed her engineering program management internship with the Apple Corporation. She was the first Xavier student to intern with the company.

  • Sarena Weatherspoon, a junior communication studies major from Grandview MO (Grandview High), has created a Tumblr blog to investigate “the school to prison pipeline” as a digital humanities project, funded through a XULAneXUS digital enhancement initiative. You can visit it HERE.

  • Two P4 pharmacy students – Alahm Ayyad of Gretna LA (West Jefferson High) and Bria Wates of Katy TX (Seven Lakes High) – placed second (as a team) in the Clinical Skills Competition at the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) National Convention. They earned a grant (courtesy of Kroger) for the XU Chapter to expand on the College of Pharmacy’s a clinical skills program.

  • The XU Chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education was selected the Bronze winner in the organizations’ 2017-18 “Literacy Alive!” campaign for its project, “Shifting Policies and Paradigms Toward a Brighter Future.” There were more than 65 projects submitted nationwide.

  • The XU chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) was recognized in three areas – for its "Power to End Stroke Events" campaign held during 2017-18; its work/activities in Operation Immunization, Chronic Kidney Disease, Fighting Diabetes, Remember the Ribbon (HIV Initiative) and Mental Health; and for hosting the Region III, IV and V conferences – during the SNPhA National Convention.


  • Carla Gibson Baker ’77 won her third Women’s 60 Singles Tennis Title during the American Tennis Association’s 101st National Championship Tournament, held in Orlando FL. She previously won singles titles in 2011 and in 2016.

  • Bettina Benoit Durant ’94 has been appointed as a "Resource" to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated International Program Committee by the Sorority's 30th International President, Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover.

  • Opal Harrison ’02 has been named the new principal of Deady Middle School in Houston TX. The past six years she served in various administrative positions at Milby High School (also part of the Houston Independent School District, most recently as dean of instruction.  While at Milby she was named the HISD Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year. She holds a Doctorate of Education from Vanderbilt University.

  • Dr. Lamont R. Jones ’98, vice chair for the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit MI, has received a five-year, $895,814 grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund a research project titled, “Characterization of Keloid Specific Exosomes and Determination of Exosomal Critical Signaling Pathways in the Keloid Microenvironment. Get the details HERE.

  • The Honorable Ivan Lemelle ’71, Senior U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has been inducted into the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame. In addition, he was presented the Diversity & Inclusion Award by the Tangipahoa Parish African American Heritage Museum during its Annual Black Tie Affair, at which he also served as keynote speaker.

  • Dr. Shannon Braud Payseur ‘95, a personal wellness coach and recovery specialist located in the Dallas TX, was honored by Continental Who's Who as a Pinnacle Lifetime Member in the field of Wound Care in recognition of her role as Medical Director at the Advanced Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbarics.

  • Mark Raymond Jr. ’11, founder of the Split Second Foundation, which works to fund research on treatments for spinal cord injuries, has been named to the eight-member board that governs the Regional Transit Authority. The board oversees public buses, streetcars and ferries in New Orleans and Kenner LA.

  • Hallema Sharif ’96 has been named public relations and communications director for the Office for Inclusion and Diversity at Virginia Tech. She previously served as interim executive director of communications for Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts in Qatar.


  • Dr. Thomas Bonner, Jr. (Emeritus) presented the lecture "The Mississippi River in Print" aboard the American Duchess on the upper Mississippi River.

  • Dr. James Dunson (Philosophy) has published a new book, Sedation, Suicide, and the Limits of Ethics, which explores end-of-life ethics (specifically physician-assisted suicide and terminal sedation). It is available through Amazon.

  • Dr. Matthew Hayes (Physics/Computer Science) received the top award for his presentation on ring chromosome discovery using next-generation sequencing at the International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biotechnology in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

  • Jason Horn (Athletics) was named chair of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference athletics director committee for 2018-19 during the league’s summer meeting in Little Rock AR. He previously held the position in 2016-17.

  • Pat Kendrick (Athletics) was named chair of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference volleyball coaches committee for 2018-19 during the league’s summer meeting in Little Rock AR.

  • Katheryn Krotzer Laborde (English) published two works over the summer: a work of autofiction in Cosmonauts Avenue, and a piece of flash creative nonfiction in Free State Review.

  • Irwin Lachoff (Library) had his write up on the Association of College and Research Libraries/American Library Association’s’ Rare Books and Manuscripts Section Conference reception held at Xavier this past summer published in the organization’s Southwestern Archivist newsletter. In it he reports on the rare books and manuscripts – all housed in the University Archives – that were displayed during the event. See the article HERE.

  • Dr. David Lanoue (RosaMary Professor of English) gave a talk, “Gendai Issa,” for the Modern Haiku Association of Japan in Tokyo. A few days later he participated in an international renku session hosted by the city of Susono, in the foothills of Mt. Fuji.

  • Yhann Lummer (Athletics) has joined the university staff as the head coach of the men’s and women’s track/field and cross country programs. He comes to Xavier from Southern University at New Orleans, where in from 2006-17 his teams finished in the NAIA Top 15 nationally 11 times and also earned 11 top individual honors at the National Championships. He was named NAIA South Region Coach of the Year in men's and women's outdoor track in 2017.

  • Dr. John Okogboa (Pharmacy), faculty advisor for the XU Chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), was named the Advisor of the Year for Regions III, IV, and V during the SNPhA National Convention.

  • Dr. David Robinson (Institutional Advancement) was reappointed to the City of New Orleans Human Relations Commission by the City Council.


Friday, Sept. 14 – Atlanta Alumni Friendraiser & Mixer [ TICKETS ]

Friday, Nov. 16 – 40 Under 40 Awards Presentation [Nominations Deadline is Aug. 03]

Loyalty Society Profile

Xavier’s Loyalty Society honors those individuals who have made a long-term financial commitment by making gifts to the Annual Fund, the lifeline of the University’s operations, over a designated consecutive number of years (5 years for new graduates, 10 for others).

Dr. James Paschal '57

If you’re a high school student in Atlanta and you see Dr. James Paschal ’57 approaching you at a college fair or even at your own school, you know what he’s coming to talk about. But that’s okay, because he speaks with his wallet as well: Paschal and his wife, Zelma, have set up a scholarship fund to assist area students who are headed to Xavier.

Of course, Paschal will talk Xavier to anyone who will listen. In fact, the retired therapist now considers “selling” his beloved Alma Mater as Job #1. And he does more than talk. His involvement in alumni activities spans some six decades, which includes serving as President of the National Alumni Association the past four years and as President of the Atlanta Chapter for more than 11 years. In 2014 he was honored as the University’s top alumnus.

“I love Xavier University,” says Paschal, uttering one of the bigger understatements of all time. “I rank going to Xavier as among the best decisions of my life. It has been good to me since Day 1.”


But even beyond his talk and service, one thing that really sets Paschal apart from his alumni peers is his long-term financial commitment to the University’s Annual Fund, which stretches back some 35 years. Considering there are only 144 alumni whose giving currently qualifies them for the Loyalty Society, that’s quite a noteworthy achievement.

“I think that anyone who has benefitted from a Xavier education owes it to the next generation of students to help provide them with that same opportunity,” said Pachal. “I know that I make a conscience decision to support Xavier. Do I go to a movie or give to Xavier? Do I buy a new suit or give to Xavier? For me, it’s always been an easy choice.”  

Given his serious level of devotion, it’s not at all surprising either.

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