COMMUNICATIONS AWARD: Two Metairie women and one from LaPlace were among four recent graduates of Southeastern Louisiana University’s organizational communication master’s program who were recognized with the Top Paper Award for a presentation made at the annual conference of the National Communication Association held in Chicago.

The students, Mallory Lindsly and Megan Caldwell, of Metairie; Piyawan Charoensap, of Mandeville; and Lauren Broussard, of LaPlace, all earned their master’s degrees in May. Theirs was one of four papers selected out of nearly 70 to be presented in the training and development division of the NCA, the largest association of communication professionals in the U.S.

The paper, “Evaluation of a Soft Skills Training Program,” was prepared as part of the requirements for their course in research methods, said Claire Procopio, associate professor of communication.

“The students evaluated the effectiveness of a soft skills, face-to-face employee training program as opposed to one offered online at a large area hospital,” she said. “They looked at the effectiveness of each form of training on the degree of learning, behavioral change and willingness to learn.”

Procopio said results of the study showed that neither the willingness to learn nor method of delivery affected degree of comprehension by the participants.

“However, both had major effects on the reported behavior change by the participants, with the People Style Model Training Method of training appearing to be more effective in teaching employees how to ‘flex’ their personal style and to improve their relationships with others. The research by these students suggests various implications and directions for future study.”

DEGAS EXHIBIT: The Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University will present an exhibition of works on paper by Edgar Degas, from a single private collection through May 24 on Tulane’s Uptown campus. “Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist, Works on Paper by the Artist and his Circle,” will feature drawings and prints along with photographs, monotypes and sculpture. In addition to Degas’ familiar horses and dancers, lesser-known depictions of antique sculpture and old masters will be on view.

For a list of other events, including a Collector’s Talk on Feb. 19, visit">www.newcomb

TASTE OF DILLARD: More than $1,000 in cash and prizes will be at stake in the Taste of Dillard Cook-Off from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 7, on the campus at 2601 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans. Competitors must register by Friday, Feb. 20. Registration is $75 for individual chefs and $150 for those sponsored by a company. Tickets to attend the event and sample the food are $20.

The event is sponsored by Dillard University and the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, and proceeds will go toward scholarships for Dillard students. Winning chefs will host a cooking demonstration on campus and also film a cooking show for online exposure and promotion of the Ray Charles Program in African American Material Culture.

For a full list of rules and regulations or to buy tickets, visit http://www.iaap-nola.org">