La. lacks female, minority judges, Tulane finds

A new report issued by Tulane University has found that the judiciary in Louisiana doesn’t reflect the state’s gender or racial diversity.

The numbers of women and minority men serving as judges lag well behind their representation in the population, according to political scientists Sally J. Kenney of Tulane's Newcomb College Institute and Salmon Shomade of Emory University.

Kenney and Shomade compared the racial and gender representation for judges in federal, state and parish courts in Louisiana with U.S. census data. While they found that the number of women and minorities holding judgeships in Louisiana was similar to many other states, the authors saw little reason to celebrate.

While 51 percent of Louisiana's population is female, women hold only 31.6 of all state and federal judgeships in the state.

Likewise, racial minorities make up 36 percent of Louisiana’s population yet hold just 22.3 percent of the judgeships.

In the state's three U.S. district courts and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, whose judges are appointed by the president, women constitute 40 percent of all judges but racial minorities only 14.3 percent.

In Louisiana state courts, where judges are elected, women make up 30.8 percent of all judges and racial minorities 23.1 percent.

In New Orleans, where racial minorities constitute about 66 percent of the population, non-white judges make up 85.7 percent of the Orleans Civil District Court bench and 66.7 percent of the Criminal District Court bench. Women judges constitute 78.6 percent and 50 percent of those courts, respectively.

Director of Loyola institute visits Africa

The director of the Loyola University Institute for Ministry, Dr. Thomas Ryan, traveled to Africa earlier this month to further the school's efforts for sustainable development and international ministry education, the school announced.

Ryan went to Nairobi, Kenya, to participate in the conference "Catholic Sisters: Champions of Sustainable Development in Africa" from Oct. 16 to Oct. 18.

The event was sponsored by the Catholic Sisters Initiative of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the African Sisters Education Collaborative. More than 100 religious sisters from 10 African countries attended.

The Loyola Institute for Ministry has more than 40 Catholic sisters, over half from Africa, among its students.

The purpose of the conference was to frame Catholic sisters’ work in Africa as advancing the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, which relate to the poor and "most vulnerable," according to a Loyola news release.

"This meeting also helped congregations of nuns from around Africa to collaborate and leverage their resources in support of making the world a more just and peaceful place," the release said.

UNO student gets $2,000 engineering scholarship

University of New Orleans senior engineering student Ana María Muñoz Solis has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship by the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi.

Muñoz Solis is a mechanical engineering major who hopes to obtain a doctorate in biomedical engineering. She came to UNO from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where she was born and raised.

As a bilingual high school student, Solis volunteered in her home country as a translator for medical brigades who traveled to Honduras to provide clinical care in underserved areas, according to a UNO news release.

At UNO, Muñoz Solis is president of both the Society of Women Engineers and the UNO Ambassadors, a student group that represents the university at events on and off campus. She also is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Association of Drilling Engineers.

Muñoz Solis won one of Tau Beta Pi’s Record Scholarships, which are named in memory of Leroy E. Record, a former member.

According to the release, Solis hopes to use her degree to research and design affordable ways to deliver quality health care to people in need.

A UNO engineering student has won a Tau Beta Pi scholarship every year for the last four years. Past recipients were Mark Parsons, a naval architecture and marine engineering major; Tesla Medina Berrios, a civil engineering major; and Kyle Tyson, a naval architecture and marine engineering major.

Follow Della Hasselle on Twitter, @dellahasselle.