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UNO Announces 2023 Class of Hall of Distinction

NEW ORLEANS — The University of New Orleans will 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 second class of the Hall of Distinction. The inductees will be celebrated at a black tie gala on Jan. 21, 2023, at the NOPSI Hotel.

“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 UNO President John Nicklow. “These inductees have positively influenced our institution and the city it represents. They serve as an inspiration to all members of the University community, and we are grateful for their contributions.”

The 2023 honorees are:

  • Donald T. “Boysie” Bollinger. 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.
  • Ruby Bridges. Bridges is a civil rights icon, activist, author and speaker. In 1960, at the age of six, 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. Raphael Cassimere. 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.
  • Ellis Marsalis (posthumous award). 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.
  • Norma Jane Sabiston (posthumous award). 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 & Lori Savoie. Dr. Robert 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 chairman 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.


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