University of New Orleans President John Nicklow highlighted increased enrollment, gains in research productivity, and the University’s efforts to make the campus community more equitable and inclusive in a virtual version of his fall 2020 State of the University address.
Nicklow delivered the address in the Sen. Ted Hickey Ballroom in the University Center, as is customary, but he did so without an audience. The recorded presentation was shared via email on Wednesday. Nicklow noted that even if faculty and staff could not gather in the same space due to the pandemic, it was important for him to share updates with them, as he does twice a year in this format.
At the outset, Nicklow thanked faculty and staff for their commitment, compassion and creativity that have allowed the University to continue to serve its students during the time of the coronavirus.
“Meaningful learning and active research are still taking place and we continue to guide our students on their way to their UNO degree,” Nicklow said. “That noble mission remains uncompromised.”
Nicklow said the University has raised enrollment for the third consecutive year, which hasn’t happened in more than 15 years. Fall enrollment stands at 8,375 students with significant increases in the number of new freshmen, new freshmen from metro New Orleans, new African American freshmen and new graduate students.
UNO’s researchers have made significant strides in recent years, Nicklow said. In the 2019 fiscal year, the University’s total external grant and contract awards totaled $10.5 million. The following year, that number increased to $17.3 million, representing a 66% increase. He highlighted individual researchers who have secured grants for projects related to COVID-19
In spite of the economic hardship wrought by the pandemic, Nicklow said the University has continued to build momentum with fundraising. He said UNO is on target to raise $10 million during 2020.
“These milestones are not an abstraction,” Nicklow said. “They equal real dollars that will increase access to a UNO education through scholarships, allow us to hire and retain outstanding faculty, and improve our teaching and research spaces on campus.
“We are tapping into deep wells of support and enthusiasm for the University, and that’s been exciting.”
Nicklow also put the spotlight on the University’s efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion. The institution is holding a series called “Courageous Conversations,” intended to spark dialogue among faculty and staff about their own experiences related to bias, discrimination and exclusion.
The University is conducting a diversity and equity climate survey, which will ask faculty, staff and students to share their perspective. Nicklow said the University will offer professional development opportunities for employees and programming centered on social justice and racial equity.
“All of these initiatives, I believe, will help the University reach its full potential,” Nicklow said. “I look forward to joining with you in this work.”
Nicklow also announced the winners of four university awards.
• 2020 Cooper Mackin Medallion: Juliette Ioup, professor of physics
• 2020 Gordon “Nick” Mueller International Leadership Medallion: Irene Ziegler, program director, UNO-Innsbruck International Summer School
• 2020 Presidential Staff Medallion: Paul Weiser, application analyst, Office of Information Technology
• 2020 President’s Award for the Advancement in Diversity and Inclusion: Margaret “Peggy” Gaffney, assistant dean, College of Business Administration
“I am grateful for the important work that each of you perform, and I am thankful for your teamwork.”
Nicklow concluded his address with a reminder of the role the University plays in the metro area.
“The University of New Orleans remains one of the city’s and the region’s most important public assets,” Nicklow said. “We are still changing lives through education, even during a pandemic.”