The University of New Orleans will present Gordon “Nick” Mueller with an honorary doctorate during its spring commencement May 15 at the Lakefront Arena. Mueller is a former history professor and administrator at UNO, as well as a driving force behind the creation of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

“Nick Mueller’s distinguished work in his academic discipline, his commitment to preserving the history of World War II and his dedication to the University of New Orleans make him well qualified for this honor,” UNO President Peter Fos said. “His leadership and ambition have had a transformative effect on the university and the city of New Orleans.”

Mueller is the president and CEO of the National World War II Museum. He served as chairman of the board from 1998 through the museum’s grand opening on June 6, 2000. He also has guided it into an ongoing $325 million expansion.

Mueller previously spent 33 years at UNO as a history professor, dean and vice chancellor. He was the founding president of the UNO Research and Technology Park, where he was instrumental in acquiring the land, raising $50 million from public and private sources, and identifying tenants for the park.

As a faculty member, he established the university’s first international summer program in Munich, Germany, in 1973. Two years later, he moved the program to Innsbruck, Austria, where it is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Mueller holds a bachelor’s degree from Stetson University and a master’s and doctorate from the University of North Carolina.

Tulane engineers face ‘grand challenges’

More than 120 U.S. schools, including Tulane University, are joining forces to educate a new generation of engineers expressly equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century.

In a letter of commitment presented to President Barack Obama at the White House Science Fair, Tulane and other institutions said they plan to establish special programs to prepare undergraduates to solve “grand challenges” — complex yet achievable goals to improve national and international health, security, sustainability and quality of life in the 21st century.

The “grand challenges” include critical goals such as engineering better medicines, making solar energy cost-competitive with coal, securing cyberspace and advancing personalized learning tools to deliver better education to more individuals.

Together, the schools plan to graduate more than 20,000 formally recognized “grand challenge engineers” over the next decade.

Nicholas Altiero, dean of the Tulane School of Science and Engineering, said Tulane’s role is unique in that it will involve science majors as well as engineering majors.

“Most of the ‘grand challenges’ are in areas in which Tulane is very strong, such as health, environment, energy and cognition,” he said. “To address these challenges, we will need significant engineering breakthroughs that are based on breakthroughs in science.”

Loyola assistant PR professor honored

Loyola University assistant professor Valerie Andrews was named the Public Relations Educator of the Year by the New Orleans chapter of the Public Relations Association of Louisiana at an awards ceremony this month.

Andrews, who also is the director of the Shawn M. Donnelley Center for Nonprofit Communications, will advance to the state competition to be held later this summer.

Andrews joined the Loyola staff in 2007 as a full-time extraordinary faculty member in public relations and advertising and was named director of the Donnelley Center in 2011. She also has taught at Georgia College & State University, LSU, the University of Southern Mississippi and Tulane.

She has worked extensively in public relations and advertising for industries ranging from RVs and food service to printing and educational materials. She also has more than 30 years of nonprofit consulting and volunteer work experience.

“I was totally surprised and truly honored to be selected the PRAL Nola Educator of the Year,” Andrews said. “I’m proud to be part of this organization and its mission to provide networking opportunities and professional development for members. I love working with today’s PR students — tomorrow’s PR professionals — especially in the nonprofit communications arena.”