Leader of Tulane Hillel among top U.S. Jews

Rabbi Yonah Schiller, the executive director of Tulane University’s Tulane Hillel, has been named one of the 50 most influential, accomplished and interesting American Jews by Forward magazine.

Tulane Hillel is a center for the school's Jewish students. Hillel is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world. 

The magazine, one of the nation’s leading Jewish publications, released its "Forward 50" list on Nov. 2, describing Schiller as a leader who has “revolutionized Jewish outreach using a new model that is being examined and replicated across the nation.”

Schiller, 46, was commended for his efforts to reach more than 90 percent of Tulane’s Jewish population as well as 30 percent of the total student body by dissolving the existing student leadership board, giving leadership roles to more than 300 students and providing small grants for original student programming.

Schiller has served as executive director of Tulane Hillel since 2008.

He is also special projects consultant in the Social Innovation Social Entrepreneurship program at Tulane's Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, and is the founder of the Jewish Design Initiative, a national design incubator geared toward building scalable systems, models and projects.

Engineering society honors UNO professor

Norma Jean Mattei, a University of New Orleans civil engineering professor, has been named the first woman to be selected as a national honor member of Chi Epsilon, an honor society for civil engineering students and professionals.

Mattei received the honor during the 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers national convention in New Orleans. The society includes more than 11,400 members nationwide.

Mattei, who served as president of ASCE in 2017, earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Tulane University and spent several years in the private sector as a design and project engineer. She came to UNO in 1995 and has served as civil engineering department chair and interim dean of the College of Engineering.

She is one of three civilian engineers on the Mississippi River Commission, which advises Congress and the executive branch on matters related to the Mississippi River watershed.

Mattei has also served as a member of Louisiana's licensing board for professional engineers and land surveyors. She sits on the nominating committee for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority and has held multiple positions with in the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

Delgado, Alabama team to help students

Delgado Community College and the University of Alabama have launched a partnership to help students at both schools complete a four-year degree through the Bama Link program.

Through the partnership, students will be able to earn an associate degree from Delgado and then apply to a University of Alabama distance-learning program. If accepted, the students become eligible for a tuition grant that will cover tuition for one 3-credit hour course.

“For many students, transitioning from a two-year to a four-year college isn’t always a smooth process," Dixie MacNeil, the associate dean for UA’s College of Continuing Studies, said. “We wanted to create a program that makes the transition easier. Our community college relations coordinator assists prospective students and serves as a resource for students transferring to UA.”

Prospective students can choose from a number of degree programs offered online. Like other distance learners, Bama Link students pay one flat tuition rate, meaning students in Louisiana will not have to pay out-of-state tuition for the program.

Follow Helen Freund on Twitter, @helenfreund.