Wednesday, October 12, 2016

UNO International Alumni Association to Honor Distinguished Alumni and University Leadership

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The University of New Orleans International Alumni Association will honor distinguished alumni and university leadership at its annual Distinguished Alumni Gala on Thursday, Nov. 3, at the National WWII Museum’s U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. The event will also celebrate the investiture of the University’s seventh leader, President John W. Nicklow, who will be formally installed during an on-campus ceremony on Nov. 2.

The 2016 Distinguished Alumni Gala is the culmination of a weeklong schedule of events entitled “Making History: A Celebration of University of New Orleans Leadership” to salute UNO’s many accomplished alumni and celebrate the extraordinary contributions of UNO in educating its more than 75,000 graduates. The reception will feature music by UNO jazz studies students, entertainment by the Museum’s Victory Belles, a silent auction and an awards presentation.

Mark C. Romig, who earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant and tourism administration from UNO in 1978, will receive top honors as the 2016 University of New Orleans Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumni honoree. As president and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC), Romig has distinguished himself as an influential leader in the city’s tourism industry. He is also the stadium announcer for the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Distinguished Alumni Gala will also recognize distinguished alumni from each of University’s colleges. Those honorees are: College of Liberal Arts, Education and Human Development (newly merged), Melissa Ehlinger, an economic development and urban planning consultant, and Donna W. Joseph, chief human resources officer for Jefferson Parish Public Schools; College of Business Administration, Rick Gratia, co-owner of Muriel’s Jackson Square; College of Engineering, Joe Becker, general superintendent of the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board; College of Sciences, J. Michael Fitzpatrick, chairman of Aurora Plastics Inc; and Interdisciplinary Studies, Gerard Williams, assistant director of First Year Advising at UNO.”

The gala will be a major civic event designed to strengthen community engagement and pride in UNO, and to celebrate the University’s important contributions to the city and region. The gala’s venue is a testament to UNO’s lasting impact on the community—the National WWII Museum was conceived by UNO history professors Stephen Ambrose and Nick Mueller. Mueller currently serves as the museum’s president and CEO.

The week kicks off on Tuesday, Nov. 1 with the Homer Hitt Distinguished Presidential Lecture by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey, who will discuss “Justice, Community Service and the Rule of Law.” The free public lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in the Sen. Ted Hickey Ballroom of the University Center.

The Alumni Celebration will be held from 7–10 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3, at the National WWII Museum’s U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. Tickets are $125 in advance, $75 in advance for young alumni, and $150 at the door. Proceeds from the event provide critical support for UNO student scholarships and alumni engagement. Distinguished Alumni sponsorship packages are still available. To buy tickets or to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, visit or call (504) 280-2586.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Gerard Williams' position and misidentified College of Education honoree Donna W. Joseph. We regret the error.