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The University of New Orleans Announces 2023 Distinguished Alumni for Colleges, Athletics

NEW ORLEANS — In addition to 2023 Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumna of the Year Sabrina Farmer and 2023 Norma Jane Sabiston Young Alumna of the Year Avril Habetz, the University of New Orleans will also honor distinguished alumni from its four academic colleges and athletics at the annual Distinguished Alumni Gala presented by Entergy and Google. The gala will take place on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at The National WWII Museum U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.

The honorees are:

College of Business Administration: Joseph M. Dempsey. Dempsey is the chief financial officer of Crescent Crown Distributing, LLC, one of the largest beverage distributors in the country. A lifelong resident of metro New Orleans, he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UNO.

Dr. Robert A. Savoie College of Engineering: Kimberly S. Cook-Nelson. Cook-Nelson is executive vice president of nuclear operations and chief nuclear officer of Entergy. She is responsible for the operations of four nuclear power plants and five reactors in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as a nuclear headquarters, including almost 4,000 employees. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s degree in engineering management and an MBA, all from UNO.

College of Liberal Arts, Education and Human Development: Dr. Jericho Brown. Brown is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, professor and director of creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. He is the author of three collections of poetry, including “The Tradition,” which won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He earned an MFA in creative writing from UNO.

College of Sciences: Dr. Frank E. Juge Jr. Juge is an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He spent 51 years at UCF as a faculty member and administrator, including 12 years developing and teaching wine courses in the Rosen College of Hospitality Management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UNO.

Privateer Athletics: A. Wayne Cooper (posthumous award). Considered one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the University, Cooper went on to a 14-year NBA career with the Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers. After his playing days, he worked in the front office of the Trail Blazers and served as the vice president of basketball operations for the Sacramento Kings for nearly 20 years. He died April 11, 2022.

Proceeds from the Distinguished Alumni Gala increase funding for student scholarships and support the UNO Alumni Association’s programming to ensure student success and alumni engagement. To purchase tickets to the gala, click here.


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