Tulane professor's book looks at race

Jesmyn Ward, an associate professor of English at Tulane University and award-winning author, has published a new book that rekindles conversations about race, school officials said.

Called "The Fire This Time: A Generation Speaks About Race," the book is a collection of essays and poems by Ward as well as observations from 17 other writers gathered from social media.

The book was influenced by James Baldwin’s examination of race in America in his 1963 book "The Fire Next Time," and it compares similarities between his observations and conditions half a century later.

Ward was reminded of Baldwin’s "focus on racial tensions in America during the turbulent 1960s" by several deaths, including those of black youths Trayvon Martin in 2012 and Tamir Rice in 2014, according to an announcement from Tulane.

Ward also is the author of "Where the Line Bleeds," published in 2008, and "Salvage the Bones," published in 2011, which won the National Book Award in the fiction category. Two years later, her book "Men We Reaped: A Memoir" was named one of the best books of 2013 by The New York Times Book Review.

Early this year, Ward was named one of two winners of the Strauss Living prize for literary excellence. The award, given every five years by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, will allow her to devote two years to writing in lieu of her normal duties on campus.

UNO gets $100,000 for engineering school

The University of New Orleans has received a $100,000 donation from the Louisiana Contractors’ Educational Trust Fund. The money will be used to support the UNO College of Engineering by purchasing teaching lab equipment and financing student scholarships.

The mission of the fund, set up by the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors, is to promote programs used for contractor education at Louisiana universities. Fines and penalties levied against violators of the state's contractor licensing law are sent directly to the fund.

UNO is the only university in the New Orleans area that offers degree programs in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and civil and environmental engineering.

It also has the only naval architecture and marine engineering program in the region and one of the few such programs in the nation, according to school officials.

Delgado students help flood victims

Instructors and students from the Delgado Community College Technical Division’s carpentry program went to Baton Rouge recently to assist homeowners with post-flood demolition and debris removal.

Carpentry instructor Timotheus Davis said the trip provided an opportunity for students to experience the effects of a major disaster on the sorts of homes they're learning to build.

Flooding in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas last month destroyed or damaged at least 40,000 homes and affected more than 100,000 people.

“We get into (carpentry) for the money,” Davis said, “but it’s truly rewarding when it’s not about the money at all and you can use that skill to help someone. That’s what I wanted them to experience.”

The instructors and students spent a day ripping out drywall, hauling furniture and removing flooring, baseboards and other debris.

In the carpentry program, students are trained in both residential construction and residential demolition.

Delgado officials said the trip was made possible by donations from Kevin Griffin-Clark of 2K Photo NOLA, David Dao of Latter & Blum, Cliff Melerine of Gardner Realty, Gabriel Deculus, Jhanaiya Ward, Tomaseena Auzenna and Myriam Martinez.

Follow Della Hasselle on Twitter, @dellahasselle.