Early in my presidency at Philander Smith College, I read about ways to improve communication. Several presidents talked about periodic updates they did for the campus. One of the more famous ones was from Syracuse University’s Buzz Shaw. At Philander Smith I called them PSC Unplugged. The title of course is an extension of my personal brand as the hip hop president. Unplugged was a simple, direct way to communicate to faculty and staff. I used it to offer congratulations for all kinds of achievements, reminders to participate in major university events (like athletics, concerts, etc.), or even to share thought provoking articles.

When I started at Dillard in July of 2012 I immediately launched Bleu Notes. In jazz and blues, a blue note is one at a slightly lower pitch from the major scale, used for expressiveness. They are also similar to relative pitches in African work songs. And of course the famous Blue Note Records was founded in 1939. Jazz organist Jimmy Smith was one of the more prominent artists on the label.

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As I keep thinking about ways to share our story, I am going to start sharing some of my Bleu Notes on the blog as well. Some of the stories and updates may have been shared on other platforms, but it is probably impossible to overcommunicate. And I am realizing that we need to make sure we are documenting the work we do because folks will show up late and act like they have done a better job than you.

So here are some of the notes from August of 2019:


o Dr. Robert Collins provided analysis of the governor’s race:

o 2 great stories about the Apple Coding Academy with pictures and quotes from Dennis Sigur in computer science, as well as student Elliott Hudson

o I did an interview with USA Today about the US News rankings:

o Our 2018–19 Miss Dillard Ke’Adria Miller is in a recent Ebony magazine story on the HBCU campus queens:

o The cover story for Offbeat magazine, “Raj Smoove, the greatest DJ in the world, takes on the New Orleans music industry,” is about Dillard alum Roger Dickerson II — he is helping us strategize on our music industry program.

o Alana Fortune ’20 was featured in the article “University of South Alabama programs shaping future for more diverse physicians” (NOTE: Alana will be attending USA this fall for medical school)


o “Dr.” Cynthia Charles defended her dissertation in August

o Dr. Marc Barnes finished his classes and has defended as well, so he too is a new Ph.D.

o Dr. Sheryl Haydel passed by Accreditation in Public Relations exam Wednesday, July 3.

o This year’s Coca Cola Pay It Forward Interns are Bryette Jones and Tazhawn Moliere

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o Dr. Eric Buckles, Dr. Nia Haydel, Dr. Janice Thompson-Sanchez and Dr. Yolanda Page published the article, “Implementing a Corequisite Algebra Gateway Course” in the Winter/Spring 2019 edition of the AAC&U publication Peer Review.

o Dr. Ashraf Esmail presented a paper entitled “An Interdisciplinary Approach to Instructional Redesign, Advancing Educational Opportunities within Fragile Communities or Student Veterans at HBCUs” at the 2019 International Centre for Innovation Conference in Houston, Texas.

o Dennis Sigur and Rona Tyger attended the HBCU C2 — Everyone Can Code and Everyone Can Create using Apple Swift programming language at Tennessee State. The overarching idea of adding diversity to the field of coding and app development.

o Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is the recipient of the 2019 Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award.

o Carolyn Nur (Humanities) was informed by the Women and Theatre Program and The Association for Theatre in Higher Education that her play, MAGDALENA’S CROSSING (A modern tale of life on the Southwest border set between El Paso, Texas and Juárez, Mexico) is one of the four Honorable Mentions for the 2019 Jane Chambers Feminist National Playwriting Award.

o India Walton ’20 was a press intern for the Committee on Homeland Security — Majority staff under Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS).

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o Dr. Tomekia Simeon’s project entitled, “Building and Maintaining a Pipeline for Diversity in the Aerospace Sciences” has been selected for funding through the Louisiana Space Grant Consortium (LaSPACE). The award amount is $40,000.

o Dr. Ruby Broadway’s project entitled “GP-EXTRA Urban-Wide Advanced Transdisciplinary Environmental Research (Urban-WATER)” was recommended for funding by the National Science Foundation in the amount of $316,792.

o Zaria Evans presented at the National Leadership Alliance Conference, Hartford, Connecticut on July 27th.

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o Lots of physics accomplishments:

· Abdalla M Darwish, Sergey S Sarkisov and Darayas N Patel, Nanocomposite luminescent solar concentrators: Optics for green energy, Asian Journal of Physics 27 (9–12), 625–636 (2018).

· Darwish AM, Muhammad A, Sarkisov SS, Mele P, Saini S, Liu J, Shiomi J, Thermoelectric properties of Al-doped ZnO composite films with polymer nanoparticles prepared by pulsed laser deposition, Composites Part B Engineering Journal 167, 406–410 (2019). doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/ j.compositesb.2019.02.043.

§ Two PATENTS issued: Abdalla Darwish, Sergey Sarkisov, Paolo Mele, Nano-composite thermo-electric energy converter and fabrication method thereof, U.S. Patent №10,283,691 B2 issued May 7, 2019; and Abdalla Darwish and Sergey Sarkisov, Method and apparatus for open-air pulsed laser deposition, US Patent №10,316,403 B2 issued June 11, 2019. ( 6 pending and two will be submitted)

§ Dr. Darwish received grant funding for Instrumentation for the Research and Education in the Field of Organic- Inorganic Nano-Composite Films funded by DoD, Army Research Lab, $400,000 One year.

§ Physics students summer internship 8–10 weeks of research

· Ebonie Collins: Tulane University, SMART program

· Army Research lab: Jamaya Wilson, Kevin Thompson, Todd Welch

· Dillard University Air Force AFOSR Project : Justin Matthews and Richard Grayol

o Dr. Samantha Gerlach (biology) spent the summer with the Brain Chemistry Labs Research Institute in Jackson, Wyoming. The Institute studies diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS and Parkinson’s.

o Rodricka Taylor ’20 was named among WayUp’s top 100 interns of 2019. She interned with KLFY in Lafayette.

o Oluseun Joaquim Oyewale ’18 is our first student to be admitted to the Columbia University HBCU Fellowship — a full ride master’s degree in economics.

o Dr. Danette Saylor was selected to participate in the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute (NORLI) Class of 2020.

o Dr. Tomekia M. Simeon’s proposal, “Computational Approaches to Understanding the Shape Memory of Ionic Polyimides for Additive Manufacturing” was selected by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).

o Dr. Kristen Broady (new dean of business), along with Darlene Booth Bell, Coastal Carolina U. and Daisha Martin, Harvard U., presented “Preparing Minority Workers for the Future of Work with Automation” at the 2019 Academy of Management Conference in Boston. She also was appointed to serve on the Board of Directors for the East Coast Colleges Social Science Association.

o Shondra Casby and Rashaan Bass presented in the Rising Star category their literature review — Quality of Life and Adolescents with Hemophilia (Casby, Bass, Brown, & Favis-Spencer, 2019) at Sigma Theta Tau International’s 30th Research Congress held in Calgary, Canada.

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o Adria Kimbrough received the Dr. Norman C. Francis Award from the Louis A Martinet Society, which recognizes exemplary educators for outstanding contributions to the legal community, scholarly disclosure, and civic education. A couple of years ago she won the Louis A. Martinet award, which is given to a member who helped to advance the programs of Martinet.

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o The Martinet Legal Society Gala Committee reviewed the pre-law scholarship applications and ALL FOUR students selected were from Dillard! In the past, one scholarship recipient was selected from each HBCU in our city by the school’s pre-law advisor. This year they changed the process to require that each undergraduate applicant submit an essay and resume for consideration, and reviewed each applicant without regard to the school that the student attends so that we could truly pick the best candidates, and all four are Dillard students. They are Jamya Robinson, Khaelyn Jackson, Ashley Jack, and Amaya Ronczyk.

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o HR director Brittney Richardson was reappointed to the New Orleans Civil Service Commission

o Dr. Eric Buckles and Dr. Yolanda Page were awarded a five-year, $1.25 million HBCU-UP grant to Dillard University from the National Science Foundation. The grant is in support of Improving Minority Participation and Completion (IMPACT) through STEM initiative.

o In July, Dr. Ruby Broadway was designated as the 2019–2021 Distinguished Professor Endowed Chair Award recipient by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. during their National Convention. The university will receive $200,000 for work on health issues in the African American community.

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The Prez

Written by

7th president of Dillard University

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