Hall of Distinction GALA
Presented by Crescent Bank
In recognition of its 65th anniversary, the University of New Orleans will once again honor a select group of individuals who have had a profound effect on the University and the city of New Orleans by inducting them into the Hall of Distinction.
“Inclusion in the Hall of Distinction reflects the respect and admiration held by the University of New Orleans for these individuals, both living and deceased,” said John Nicklow, President of the University of New Orleans.
The second Hall of Distinction Gala will take place at the architecturally historic and elegant NOPSI Hotel on January 21, 2023. This black-tie gala will honor Donald T. "Boysie" Bollinger, Ruby Bridges, Dr. Raphael Cassimere, Ellis Marsalis (posthumously), Norma Jane Sabiston (posthumously) and Dr. Robert & Lori Savoie. The University selected these individuals because of the profound effect they have had on the University and the city of New Orleans.
The Hall of Distinction Gala will again attract the most prominent and significant members of both the University and New Orleans community.
Bollinger is the chairman and CEO of Bollinger Enterprises LLC and former chairman and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards Inc., a family-owned marine construction and ship repair company. Bollinger Shipyards is the largest vessel repair company in the Gulf of Mexico. UNO’s Boysie Bollinger School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, one of the few such schools in the nation, is named in his honor.
Bridges is a civil rights icon, activist, author and speaker. In 1960, at the age of 6, she was the first Black student to integrate all-white William Frantz Elementary School, thereby single-handedly initiating the desegregation of public education in New Orleans. Her walk to the front door of the school was immortalized in Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Problem We All Live With.”
Dr. Cassimere is a UNO professor emeritus of history. He was the first Black instructor hired at the University, and he taught at UNO for more than 35 years. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNO. He was also a key figure in the New Orleans civil rights movement, serving as the president of the New Orleans NAACP Youth Council.
Marsalis was a UNO professor of music and a founding faculty member of jazz studies at the University. In 1990, he established Jazz at the Sandbar, a tradition of pairing UNO jazz students with professional musicians on the bandstand that has endured for more than 30 years. The acclaimed jazz artist and educator was the patriarch of New Orleans’ most famous musical family.
Sabiston, who earned a degree in political science from UNO, worked in politics for more than 30 years, as a strategist and consultant, as well as a political director and chief of staff for members of Congress. She was a former president of the UNO Alumni Association.
Dr. Robert A. Savoie is the president and chief science and engineering officer of Sev1Tech, a leading provider of IT modernization, cybersecurity, cloud services and engineering to government agencies and major commercial organizations. He earned a doctorate from UNO in engineering and applied science. UNO’s Dr. Robert A. Savoie College of Engineering is named in his honor. Lori Savoie previously served as a member of the board of directors of Geocent, LLC until it was acquired by Sev1Tech in 2021. An active civic leader, she is the chair of the WYES Board of Trustees, a member of the City Park Improvement Association and a member of the board of the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Inductees in the Hall of Distinction must demonstrate an outstanding record of achievement spanning his or her professional career, distinguished service to the community, sustained activities that show an exceptionally strong commitment to the University of New Orleans or the city of New Orleans, and the highest integrity. Honorees do not need to be alumni of the University.
Hall of Distinction is presented by: