Homer L. Hitt Presidential Lecture Series

University of New Orleans Founding Chancellor Homer L. Hitt wanted to have an annual distinguished lecture. Chancellor Hitt felt the “[e]xposure to new ideas and the opportunity to be involved in discourse about them are among the most important aspects of the university experience.” That philosophy provides the impetus for the Founders Club to establish a lecture series and to raise funds to make it an annual distinguished lecture in his name, The Homer L. Hitt Presidential Lecture Series. We gain our theme from this idea: “Exposure to new ideas!”

From Idea to Reality

A Homer L. Hitt Presidential Lecture Series was established and funded for a five year period on May 24, 2011, in a Memorandum of Understanding between the University and the Founders Club (superseded on March 15, 2013, to make technical changes required by the change in university systems) and Club name. The terms of the agreement remained the same with the lecture supported by The University of New Orleans up to $10,000 offset by any yearly interest generated by the Homer L. Hitt Presidential Lecture Series Endowment. University of New Orleans President Peter J. Fos made the inaugural lecture part of the Week of Excellence leading up to his investiture as President. “The Living Room Discussion” of the 2012 presidential election by husband/wife national political consultants James Carville and Mary Matalin on November 8, 2012, was an unqualified success by any measure. More than 800 people attended the standing room only presentation in the University Center Grand Ballroom. It was carried by local television and print media as well as the Baton Rouge Advocate and The New York Times.

Endowment Fundraising

The goal is for the Homer L. Hitt Presidential Lecture Series to have a lasting impact on community spirit by delivering sound repeating lectures of excellence and widespread interest. To do so the Founders Club must generate funds for a permanent endowment to support an annual lecture.

The Founders Club wants to create awareness of and impetus for giving to the Homer L. Hitt Presidential Lecture Series fundraising campaign. To do so, it created the series of Grand Soirées fundraising campaign. Because of the Carville/Matalin success, thousands of prominent New Orleans citizens many of whom are UNO graduates are now aware of the Hitt lecture. The Founders Club plans to sponsor 50 soirées over the next five years where we ask friends, faculty, staff, and alumni in face-to-face meetings to respond to our message. We place emphasis on “friends” of the University of New Orleans and define them as the business and culturally leaders of the city. UNO from inception has worked hard for the academic, financial, and cultural needs of this community. Some say UNO created the New Orleans middle class. We are convinced that our friends will want to give back tangibly to a university that bears the name of the community and that has given them so much.

We expect to generate $20,000 per soirée to produce a one million dollar endowment. We have successfully completed three soirées and are on target with the projected donations. When fully endowed, we will be able to fund a high quality Hitt Lecture in perpetuity. One outcome of a successful Homer L. Hitt Presidential Lecture Series is the enhancement our national, regional, and local reputation.

Into The Future

The Founders Club plans to continue the momentum gained from the inaugural Homer L. Hitt Presidential Lecture. Producing lectures of this quality not only would have satisfied Dr. Hitt’s goal of “exposure to new ideas,” it also met UNO’s need for a greater public profile.

Memorandum of Understanding for Hitt Lecture Series signed on March 15, 2013 (pdf)

University of New Orleans Graduate Hettie Haudenschield

Hettie Haudenschield was born in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1978. Her father was a lobsterman, and she spent much of her childhood with him on his boat staring at the sea. In 2002 she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The Museum School in Boston, MA. She began graduate studies at University of New Orleans in 2008, and completed requirements for the Master of Fine Arts degree in spring 2011. She has had a lifelong relationship with water, having consistently lived in areas that are celebrated for and endangered by the bays, harbors, and gulfs surrounding them.

Haudenschield explores ideas of water and danger in Katrina, an edition of twenty-five screen prints that depicts rising blue and green waves with undulating crests that indicate a buried topography. These waves fill the small-scale picture plane against a slab of grayed background, simultaneously suggesting the sublimity of the water and the fragility of the city it once consumed.

Haudenschield limited edition printHaudenschield Limited Edition Print presented
at the 2011 Founders Club Luncheon