The University of New Orleans has a specific mission. We are a comprehensive urban research university committed to providing educational excellence to a diverse undergraduate and graduate student body. We advance shared knowledge that contributes to the region’s industry, culture and economy. In an effort to better integrate the research and education components of our mission, the Office of Research will now be overseen by the Office of Academic Affairs. Going forward, the provost will be responsible for research activities on campus.
Historically, a significant portion of the University’s extramural research funding has come from the federal government. Given the close relationships between UNO’s research specialties and the region’s economic strengths, the University has always enjoyed enthusiastic support from the Louisiana congressional delegation in our efforts to secure federal funds for research. Until 2009, members of congress routinely “earmarked” funding from various agencies for research and economic development projects in their home states and districts. The practice of congressional earmarking during the federal appropriations process was eliminated in the wake of the Great Recession. Additionally, sequestration has made pursuit of federal funding even more highly competitive in nature.
The University will continue to compete for funding from the Louisiana Board of Regents and apply for funding from private sources. The federal government, however, remains a robust source of support for a wide variety of research endeavors, and UNO has developed a strategy to maximize its competitiveness in that funding arena. The strategy marries UNO’s areas of expertise with the research priorities of federal agencies. Although the Office of External Affairs has been eliminated, the Office of the President retained one of its employees, Crystal Ellerbe, who is an expert in federal appropriations and government relations. As Director of Federal Affairs, Crystal has worked with deans and researchers to establish a federal agenda for the University. The federal agenda directly supports our strategic plan, UNO 2020, and is aligned with my vision for the University.
The federal agenda for research funding encompasses the following areas: information assurance and cybersecurity; advanced materials and manufacturing; coastal resilience; smart-grids and power systems engineering; naval architecture and marine engineering; and urban resilience. On a regular basis, representatives from UNO visit with members of Congress, congressional committee staff, agency officials and other stakeholders in the federal government to share progress and explore opportunities regarding our research priorities. By leveraging our assets to gain federal support for these areas of research, the University will continue to function as a premiere source of shared knowledge and a major catalyst in the region’s economy.
As the end of the semester approaches, I am looking forward to one of my favorite annual events, Crawfish Mambo. I hope that you’ll join Lori and me on Saturday, May 9 from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Cove as the UNO International Alumni Association hosts this fourth annual crawfish cook-off and music festival. Mambo is open to all faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the community-at-large.
Tickets are only $20 in advance and $25 at the gate, with children 7 and under admitted for free. Admission includes all-you-can-eat boiled crawfish prepared by more than 50 teams, free parking, and an all-day live, local music lineup: UNO Jazz All-stars, Tank and the Bangas, Stooges Brass Band, Bucktown All-Stars, Shamarr Allen, and Honey Island Swamp Band. Teams will be competing for $1000 and the ultimate boiling championship. Mambo will also once again host an Artists’ Village and the UNO Panhellenic Council will host a Kid’s Tent.
I am proud to witness the continued growth of this festival that brings more people to our lakefront campus than any other event throughout the year. The 2015 Crawfish Mambo Committee, led by UNO College of Business Administration alumni Dennis deBoisblanc ’04 and Todd Tournillon ’97 and College of Engineering alumnus Glenn Scorsone ‘80, has recruited more teams, has raised more sponsorship dollars and will attract more attendees, all of which will ultimately help to impact more students than ever before.
Proceeds from Mambo allow the Alumni Association to expand programs that support UNO student success, such as Resume & Café au Lait, Dine Like a Professional and networking events to name a few.
For additional information or to purchase tickets online, please visit the event’s official website at www.crawfishmambo.com. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the UNO Federal Credit Union, a great Mambo partner.
All spring I have been back and forth to Baton Rouge in an effort to educate our legislative leaders and their staffs on the value and programs of the University of New Orleans, the “Heartbeat of the Crescent City.”
The third week of the legislative session comes to an end today with six weeks to go until it is over. Since the session began, I’ve been very encouraged by the public sentiment in support of stable funding for higher education. Our students have played a central role in bringing the issue to the forefront. At the April 15th rally at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, UNO students were the largest and most vocal group. News reports conveyed the passion and resolve of our students and why their academic futures are worth preserving. Some of the reports are here and here.
It seemed very clear that lawmakers are paying attention. That same day, The Times-Picayune editorial board published an op-ed stating that the health of UNO and other public colleges and universities in metro New Orleans is vital to the region’s economic vitality and to the future success of thousands of young people.
The following week, The Times-Picayune published a guest editorial that I submitted as an assertion of UNO’s value to the entire region. That same day, the New Orleans Advocate printed a letter to the editor from Dr. Peter Schock, the chair of our English department, on how our state’s public institutions have been cut enough, and encouraging people to take action.
Our message, that UNO is essential and worth supporting, is resonating. The goal is to translate that public support into legislative action. At this point, it remains unclear as to how lawmakers will fill the $1.6 billion dollar budget deficit and spare public higher education a cut of more than $600 million. For the sake of all of our citizens, it must happen.
Time is precious, so if you have not already joined the Privateer Advocacy Network, please do so by visiting the website. It’s a joint effort of the UNO Alumni Association and the UNO Foundation. It helps make our collective voices heard by the people who matter most—state legislators.
I will provide additional updates as I get them. Thank you for all that you do for the University of New Orleans.