University of New Orleans Honors Distinguished Alumni

Phillip May (left) and Roxanna Rodriguez-Torres have been selected to receive distinguished alumni awards from the University of New Orleans Alumni Association.

NEW ORLEANS — The University of New Orleans (UNO) will honor several former students during the Distinguished Alumni Gala, which will take place on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in the National WWII Museum’s United States Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.

Entergy Louisiana president and CEO Phillip May will receive the 2019 University of New Orleans Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumni Award, the UNO Alumni Association announced in a press release. Roxanna Rodriguez-Torres, the National Security Council’s director for Transnational Organized Crime, has been named the 2019 Homer Hitt Young Alumna of the Year.

“Alumni from the University of New Orleans excel in every imaginable endeavor,” said UNO president John Nicklow. “It is fitting that we are honoring Phillip and Roxanna because, while they work in very different fields, they exemplify the determination, perseverance and excellence found in so many of our graduates. They are both very deserving of this recognition.”

As president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana, May is responsible for the company’s customer service, regulatory and public affairs, resource planning, economic development programs and charitable contributions, as well as its financial performance. He previously served as vice president of regulatory services, vice president of transition management, and managing director of corporate strategic planning and analysis.

May, who joined Entergy in 1986, holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southwestern Louisiana and a Master of Business Administration from the University of New Orleans. He serves on the boards of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; GNO, Inc.; the Louisiana Nature Conservancy; Teach for America of South Louisiana; City Year Baton Rouge and Second Harvest Food Bank.

Rodriguez-Torres advises and supports the president, his senior national security advisers and cabinet officials on national security and policy issues related to transnational organized crime. In 2018 she served as the deputy assistant secretary for law enforcement policy under the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans. Her previous positions within the Department of Homeland Security include intelligence analyst and chief of staff for the Homeland Security Investigations Office of Intelligence. She also worked as an analyst for the U.S. Customs Service. She began her career as a counterintelligence agent and linguist with the Louisiana National Guard.

Rodriguez-Torres received a bachelor’s degree in general studies from the University of New Orleans. She has completed linguist certifications in Russian, Kurdish and Spanish from the Department of Defense’s Defense Language Institute.

May is the 36th honoree to receive the Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumni Award. Previous recipients include State Rep. Julie Stokes, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation President and CEO Mark Romig, engineer and executive Roy Glapion, television news executive Kim Bondy, former Gambit Communications Chairman Clancy DuBos and former Lieutenant Governor Melinda Schwegmann. The honoree is selected by a committee of former award recipients.

The Distinguished Alumni Gala will also recognize alumni from each of the University’s four academic colleges, interdisciplinary studies and athletics.

College of Business Administration: Timothy J. Adams. Adams is the president and CEO of Systems Application & Technologies, Inc. (SA-TECH). Headquartered in Maryland, SA-TECH currently provides program management, operations and maintenance, logistics and engineering support services to the Department of Defense. It employs more than 500 people in 20 locations. Adams holds an MBA from the University of New Orleans.

College of Liberal Arts, Education and Human Development: Jan Aronson. An accomplished painter, Aronson has exhibited her works both nationally and internationally over the past four and a half decades. Renowned for her landscape painting, she has traveled to remote parts of the world to capture her subjects. Later in her career, she turned her focus to portraits, including self-portraits. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of New Orleans.

College of Engineering: Riley Parker. Parker has worked for Shell Exploration and Production Co. since earning his undergraduate degree from the University of New Orleans in 1998. He began his career as a control and automation engineer with responsibility for several deep-water assets in the Gulf of Mexico. He is currently the discipline lead and technical authority for instrumentation and controls engineering for Shell in the Gulf of Mexico. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in engineering management from UNO.

College of Sciences: Dr. Fred H. Rodriguez Jr. Dr. Rodriguez spent 35 years with the Department of Veterans Affairs, including serving as the director of pathology and laboratory medicine at the New Orleans VA Medical Center. He also spent six years as the national director of pathology and laboratory medicine of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Rodriguez has been a member of the faculty of the LSU Health Sciences Center, Schools of Medicine (Department of Pathology) and Allied Health (Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences) in New Orleans since 1977. He progressively rose through academic ranks to the level of professor and in 2005, he was appointed the first Emma Sadler Moss Professor of Pathology at the LSU School of Medicine. Dr. Rodriguez earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of New Orleans.

Athletics: Randy Bush. Bush has spent 13 seasons as the assistant to the general manager of the Chicago Cubs. He previously served as special assistant to the general manager and interim general manager. Bush was the head baseball coach at the University of New Orleans from 2000-04. He spent his entire 12-year major league baseball career playing for the Minnesota Twins. In 1979, he led the Privateers to the Sun Belt Conference title and the second-best record in school history. Bush earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University.

The gala’s venue is a testament to UNO’s lasting impact on the community—the National WWII Museum was conceived in UNO’s history department by professors Stephen Ambrose and Nick Mueller, the museum’s former president and CEO.

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



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