UNO named a leader in providing equal access

The University of New Orleans is a national leader in providing equal access to higher education for students from all income levels, according to a new report by the Brookings Institution.

UNO ranked third in the nation among all selective, four-year, public research universities for educating the highest share of students from the lowest income households, according to the report.

At UNO, 16.6 percent of students come from families with income levels in the lowest 20 percent of the population. That’s more than double the national average, according to the research Brookings did on 342 public universities.

UNO trails only the University of Texas at El Paso and New Mexico State University in the proportion of its students who come from the most economically disadvantaged homes.

The analysis excluded data from historically black colleges and universities.

"Since its founding, the University of New Orleans has been committed to both access and success," President John Nicklow said. 

Brookings, a nonprofit public policy organization in Washington, D.C., argues in the report that public higher education is taxpayer supported on the premise that it provides public benefits and "high private returns on postsecondary investments."

Entergy Foundation to support LSU Health

The Entergy Charitable Foundation recently presented an $80,000 grant to support an LSU Health New Orleans program that is improving science education and attracting more young people to careers in the health professions.

The Science Youth Initiative Summer Internship Program provides high school and undergraduate students with real-world, hands-on experience as well as resources and connections important to their future careers.

The Entergy funding will support the training of 15 local high school and undergraduate students from diverse social and educational backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences, officials said.

During the summer, the students will learn how to conduct research, and many will present the results of their work at scientific conferences. Training will include one-on-one mentoring by faculty members from the LSU Health New Orleans basic sciences departments.

The Science Youth Initiative is led by Fern Tsien, an associate professor of genetics in the School of Medicine, and Martha Cuccia, an instructor of health policy and systems management in the School of Public Health.

The initiative began in 2003 to try to improve low science grades and test scores by making science more interesting and approachable for students. 

Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans, said the company is seeking to close the gap in the number of trained, qualified and available workers in local communities.

Cowen Institute gets $2.5 million in gifts

The Cowen Institute at Tulane University has received three gifts totaling $2.5 million from individuals and foundations that will fund the naming of the institute’s executive directorship, endow a fund for educational entrepreneurs to test innovative concepts and support a youth success fund for direct programming.

Amanda Kruger Hill, executive director of the Cowen Institute, said officials were "incredibly grateful" for the funding, which coincides with the institute's 10-year anniversary.

Sherry and Alan Leventhal pledged $1 million to name the institute’s executive directorship. Sherry Leventhal is a 1977 graduate of the Tulane School of Law and a member of the Board of Tulane and the Law Dean’s Advisory Council. Alan Leventhal is the chairman and CEO of Beacon Capital Partners, a real estate company.

The Priddy Family Foundation has pledged $1 million to support the Robert L. and Kikie Priddy Endowed Fund for New Ideas. This fund will allow the Cowen Institute to issue grants as seed funding to practitioners, school leaders and educational entrepreneurs.

Robert Priddy is a senior adviser at Comvest Partners, a private investment firm he co-founded. Kikie Priddy is a New Orleans native who attended St. Mary’s Dominican College and the Academy of the Sacred Heart.

The third gift is $500,000 from an anonymous donor for the Youth Success Fund. The money will go toward initiatives of the College and Career Counseling Collaborative, Tulane undergraduates’ work in the community and other direct service work with youth.

Follow Della Hasselle on Twitter, @dellahasselle.