UNO celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 1978.
Photo from The Privateer, the University of New Orleans yearbook, documenting the twentieth anniversary celebration of the school’s founding in 1978. In the center is Dr. Homer L. Hitt, UNO’s founding Chancellor. He would retire in the Summer of 1980. To Chancellor Hitt’s right, in the darker suit, is Lt. Governor James “Jimmy” Fitzmorris. To Hitt’s left is James Donelon. Now Louisiana’s Commissioner of Insurance, Donelon, a UNO alum, was a member of the Jefferson Parish Council at the time of this photo.
The students behind the dignitaries are a veritable rogues’ gallery of the school’s Student Government Association. On the left side, the two tall guys are Bernie Cyrus and then-SGA President George Vujnovich. Directly behind Fitzmorris and Hitt is Robert Quasius, SGA Vice-President. Directly behind Hitt and Donelon, with his head turned, is me. I was the director of the SGA’s Legal Aid Program that year, as well as a member of Student Congress from the College of Education. On the far right of the photo is Sal Lejarza, who would be SGA Vice-President the next year.
I’m sure I knew most of the other folks in the photo, but time has blurred my memory. Feel free to point out others in comments!
The state chartered the school as Louisiana State University in New Orleans, in 1958. The “LS” was dropped in 1974, and we’ve been the University of New Orleans ever since. Then-Governor Earl K. Long scored a coup over his biggest rival, Mayor Chep Morrison, with its establishment. Long and Morrison were bitter political enemies. So ugly was this rivalry that Morrison barred the Louisiana State Police from exercising their commissions in Orleans Parish. The tit-for-tat went on for years.
During World War II, the lakefront location that became the university was Naval Air Station New Orleans. The land was owned by the state, and administered by the Orleans Levee District. After the war, the Navy re-located NAS New Orleans to Alvin Callender Field in Bell Chasse. As Naval Aviation implemented jets, noise became an issue. With thousands of men and women using their GI Bill benefits, it made sense to open a satellite campus of LSU in the city.
Governor Long got on board with this idea, because it meant dropping a state-controlled facility in Morrison’s city. That was all the encouragement Long needed. His support of the school is why the library bears his name.
Having graduated from Brother Martin High School, just down the street, in 1976, I started UNO that summer. I joined SGA as a Student Congress member from Junior Division that fall. Such good times.Thanks, Angie, for sharing this photo and memory.