LSU alumni Ava Leavell Haymon and Cordell Haymon, of Baton Rouge, have made a $1.2 million gift to the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts to fund an endowed chair in music therapy.

The Haymons’ gift, which will be eligible for $800,000 in competitive matching funds from the Louisiana Board of Regents, will establish the first music therapy program at a public university in Louisiana.

As an endowed gift, providing year-after-year funding in perpetuity, the Ava and Cordell Haymon Chair in Music Therapy enables the College of Music & Dramatic Arts to offer a new degree program in a revolutionary field of study. The Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy will leverage an interdisciplinary approach, enriching the learning experience of Music & Dramatic Arts students by incorporating curricula from the College of Science and College of Humanities & Social Sciences.

The LSU Music Therapy program will intertwine with related efforts of local community health partners, including Baton Rouge General Medical Center and The Emerge Center.

Ava Leavell Haymon earned her master’s degree in English from LSU in 1967. Cordell Haymon is a 1968 graduate of the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. The couple has supported LSU philanthropically for more than 35 years.

Herb Society learns about Middle Eastern foods

Ruth Harb and Ruby Homayssi, both expert Middle Eastern cooks, presented a program ranging from marinated broiled lamb to hummus to dessert when the Baton Rouge Unit of the Herb Society of America met March 28.

The emphasis was on the herbs used in Middle Eastern cooking, and they shared recipes with members and guests. The recipes are posted on the Herb Society website,

At its meeting on Thursday, April 25, the Herb Society program will be propagating herbs from cuttings." Debi O'Neill will demonstrate techniques to grow healthy herb plants from your own plants or from cuttings from friends. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. at the LSU AgCenter at Burden Botanic Gardens Conference Center, 4560 Essen Lane. The cost is $5; free for members.

Suburban Reviewers greet new officers

New officers for the Suburban Reviewers Book Club were introduced when the group met April 3 at Janie Rainey's home in Denham Springs.

The 2019-20 officers are: Judith Nesom, president; Kathy Spring, vice president; Kathy DeGeneres, secretary; and Gayle Brown, treasurer. Treasurer Juanita Latimer presented outgoing President Cissy Benton Grantham with a gift certificate and a book from members in appreciation for her two years of service.

Events Chairwoman Theresa Dendinger gave an update on the May outing to the West Baton Rouge Museum. Sharlet Wax gave a brief history of the club from its organization in 1965 until 2004. Meeting hostesses were Nancy David, Theresa Dendinger, Jennifer Miller, Alice Pittman and Rainey.

LSU Retirees hear Electronic Arts leader

Madu Irondi, senior leader at Electronic Arts Baton Rouge, spoke about interactive video gaming on April 8 to the LSU Faculty and Staff Retirees Club.

Irondi noted that EA is the world’s largest video game publisher. He said team members work in 220 studios around the globe. Teams of 20 to 200 work on each facet of a game, such as graphics, sound or design. Irondi pointed out that EA is the sole game developer for the NFL, and the Baton Rouge site's major role is quality assurance. 

Barbara Aldrich, Marsha Arrighi, Jane Beyer, Martha Cedotal, Pat Lee and Robin Montgomery provided refreshments. The club holds meetings, tours and social events through the academic year and is open to all retirees and their spouses. Contact

BRAC CEO speaks to Civic Associations

Adam Knapp, chief executive officer of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, discussed the proposed new Mississippi River bridge at the Federation of Greater Baton Rouge Civic Associations's meeting on April 11 at the East Baton Rouge Main Library.

The bridge is proposed as part of the solution to the city's daily traffic gridlocks. The funding streams to cover costs, including tax increases, will be identified, he said, as well as the timeline for legislative approval, construction and completion. Knapp also discussed blight and redevelopment efforts in north Baton Rouge.

For information on FGBRCA, go to or call President Nancy Curry, (225) 315-1206.

Antique needlework topic for Baton Rouge DAR

Marian Harden explained how to clean and repair antique needlework items and delicate fabrics when the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution met April 15 at the State Archives Building.

Harden gave the history of church dolls and explained how heirloom handkerchiefs and pillowcases can be used to make dolls and other keepsake items today.

Recognized as longtime DAR members were: Betty Breaux, Judy Burch, Lea Evans, Katherine Herring, Carrie Martin, Elise Muller, Amalia Rogers, Louise Strong and Margaret Thompson, 10 years; Georgianna Tuuri, 20 years; Cynthia Barksdale, Deborah Crifasi and Hasseltine Lamb, 30 years.

June McGraw and Susan Smith provided refreshments.

DAR membership is open to women 18 or older who can prove lineal, bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence. Email for information.

LSU announces teaching awards

LSU University College announced four LSU faculty teaching awards at its annual “Celebration of Excellence” Spring Awards program in March at The Club on Union Square.

LSU School of Education instructor Elecia Lathon received the George H. Deer Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes outstanding teaching at the freshman level at LSU.

The University College Tiger Athletic Foundation Teaching Awards went to Brett Boutwell, LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts, Department of Music; Roxanne Dill, instructor at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication; and William Wischusen, LSU College of Science, Department of Biological Sciences.

LSU names Tiger Twelve honorees

The LSU Office of the Dean of Students honored the Tiger Twelve Class of 2019 on April 6 during a reception in the rotunda of the Business Education Complex.

Tiger Twelve is an award that has been presented annually since 2003 to a dozen exceptional seniors. The Tiger Twelve exemplify the seven tenets of LSU’s Commitment to Community through volunteer service, according to a news release.

The Tiger Twelve Class of 2019, with major and hometown, are: William Boles III, microbiology, Monroe; Michael Brands, biological sciences, Mandeville; Devon Clancy, psychology, sociology, history, Basking Ridge, New Jersey; Macie Coker, mechanical engineering, Chalmette; Joseph DeCorte, mathematics and biochemistry, New Orleans; Alarii Levreault-Lopez, petroleum engineering, Woodstock, Georgia; Sheila Mallenahalli, biological engineering, Lafayette; Olivia Obot, biological sciences, Hammond; Anesha Pink, kinesiology, Houston; Emilie Robillard, early childhood education, Watson; Madelyn Smith, natural resource ecology and management, Lafayette; and Sidney Thomas, psychology, Natchitoches.

Three from LSU win GRFP scholarship

Two LSU students and a recent graduate are among the recipients of the 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. 

Matthew Jordan, a doctoral student in chemical engineering from Pittsburgh, Texas; Grant Landwehr, a chemical engineering major from Covington; and Breanna Lee, a recent graduate in chemical engineering from Baton Rouge now pursuing her doctorate in biomedical engineering from Emory University and Georgia Tech, received the honor.

The GRFP provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period — a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution. That support is for graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM field.

Women's Caucus scholarship recipients named

The Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus has announced recipients of its 2019 scholarships.

Recipients of the College Women of Excellence LLWC Foundation Scholarships for $2,500 are Abigail Elizabeth Martin, LSU, Lake Charles, and Victoria Martin Rocquin, Southeastern Louisiana University, of Lutcher.

Recipients of the High School Women of Excellence LWCC Foundation Scholarships for $2,500 are Abby Frances Blaize, St. Joseph's Academy, of Baton Rouge, and Gabrielle Elyse Fontenot, Sacred Heart High School, of Ville Platte.

Recipients of the Educational Advancement Opportunity Scholarship for $1,000 are Sofia Marta Akinniyi, Baton Rouge Magnet High School, of Baton Rouge; Maili Osana Bartz, East Beauregard High School, of DeRidder; Bailey Nichole Kingan, East Beauregard High School, of Pitkin; Ally Rose Mills, Louisiana School for the Agricultural Sciences, of Moreauville; and Brooke Danielle Smith, LSU, of Benton.

The scholars will be recognized at the Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus Foundation's 12th Annual Women of Excellence Awards and Scholarships Ceremony and Reception at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at the Governor's Mansion. Tickets for the event can be purchased online at

Pride High School reunion set

The annual Pride High School all-classes reunion will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 27, at Duke's Seafood and Steakhouse, 33920 La. 16 in Watson. Contact Shirley Forbes McCoy, (225) 654-5384.

Compiled by Advocate staff writer George Morris. The “Community” column runs every Tuesday and Friday in The Advocate. Items should be submitted to “Community,” Advocate eatplaylive section, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821, or emailed to Events should be submitted in a timely fashion. By submitting photos to The Advocate, you agree that they can be published in any of The Advocate’s print or digital publications.

Follow George Morris on Twitter, @GWMorris.