A dedication ceremony will commemorate the naming of Dean John Altazan Plaza in honor of the founding dean of the University of New Orleans College of Business Administration. The ceremony will take place May 9 at 9:30 a.m. in the Kirschman Hall atrium. Altazan passed away in January at the age of 89.
“The designation of this space is an ideal way to recognize John Altazan, his great career, and his contributions to the College of Business Administration and the University,” said John Williams, dean of the College of Business Administration.
Refreshments will be served in the atrium of Kirschman Hall. According to Williams, members of Altazan’s family, friends and a few former students will be on hand to offer remarks about his impact on their lives.
Altazan Plaza is a common area located at the entrance to Kirschman Hall, home of UNO’s College of Business Administration, on the building’s south side. The area welcomes hurried students on their way to business classes and provides a covered, shady spot with tables and chairs for reading, lunch or taking a break.
Altazan had a pioneering influence over the College of Business Administration, leading the first effort to obtain national accreditation and hiring the faculty who would be the program’s earliest architects. But Altazan’s main legacy, according to those who knew him, will always be the incredible and often life-changing influence he had on students.
Altazan grew up in Port Allen, La., where he graduated from Port Allen High School as valedictorian in 1943. He went on to get a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration from Louisiana State University, before obtaining a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois.
Altazan taught international trade for a time at Loyola University before he was recruited by UNO founder Homer Hitt in 1958 to join what was then known as Louisiana State University in New Orleans, teaching out of an old U.S. Naval Air Station barracks. Wife and chemistry instructor Marie Hayes Altazan joined him.
Those who knew Altazan said he was excited about the prospect of building a public university in New Orleans. They say he remained convinced throughout his 50-year career at UNO and until his death that the University was an essential asset to the city and state, especially in its ability to provide an affordable education to those who wanted to pursue professions otherwise unattainable without a degree.
“He related to the unique position UNO was in,” Williams said. “He knew that UNO could be the lifeline into jobs in the New Orleans area. He believed in that model.”
Altazan served as dean of the College of Business Administration for 30 years until 1989. He continued to teach at UNO until his retirement in 2008.