Gayle Benson named to Tulane board, and other news of higher education

Gayle Benson named to Tulane board

Gayle Benson, wife of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, will be joining the board of Tulane University.

“Gayle is one of New Orleans’ most beloved figures. Her wisdom, devotion to the community and steady leadership will be indispensable as Tulane welcomes a new president and continues its journey of enhanced impact, quality and distinction,” Tulane President Scott Cowen said.

Benson began her career managing the New Orleans branch of a New York custom jeweler. She then became an interior designer, transforming historic homes and leading redesigns and renovations of hotels, grocery stores and car dealerships throughout New Orleans.

An accomplished seamstress, she also created a line of women’s clothing.

“As a New Orleans native, I have always been proud of Tulane’s role as one of the country’s leading universities. I now cherish the opportunity to help shape its future,” Benson said.

She is working on a campaign to renovate the second floor of the historic Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and consulting on a book about her husband.

UNO awarded grant to study cybersecurity

The University of New Orleans has been awarded a $223,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to integrate computer science with psychology for the detection of cybersecurity risk.

The project is a collaboration between two computer science cybersecurity researchers and a psychologist. It will generate data on attention and personality factors in cybersecurity.

The research will be conducted by professors Golden Richard, Carl Weems and Irfan Ahmed.

The premise of the research is that specific cognitive preferences and personality factors can be assessed in real time, and this information may aid in the detection and prevention of cybersecurity risks.

Researchers will recruit adult volunteers to participate in experimental computer sessions. Their reactions and responses will be monitored and analyzed by a software program that will be developed during the project.

The data from the study may allow future cybersecurity solutions to be better tailored to individual users’ traits and preferences. The research has the potential to benefit law enforcement, the military and corporations, as well as individual citizens, through improved cybersecurity.

Priest appointed to lead Xavier institute

The Rev. Maurice Nutt has been named director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University, according to Loren Blanchard, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Nutt comes to Xavier from the Redemptorist Parish Mission in Chicago.

Nutt, who specializes in preaching, evangelization, spirituality, African-American culture, and community and church development, earned a master’s degree in theology from Xavier in 1989 and has served as an assistant professor .

“We are blessed to have acquired the full-time services of Father Maurice, who will bring his boundless energy, dynamic leadership and profound scholarship to the institute, with which he has already developed such an intimate connection,” Blanchard said.

The institute, established in 1979 to help sustain the pastoral and intellectual needs of black Catholics throughout the United States, offers a master’s degree in pastoral theology and continuing education units in catechesis, leadership and youth/young adult ministry.

Nutt succeeds Pamela Franco, who served as the institute’s interim director for three years.

UNO professor to lead transportation board

University of New Orleans faculty member John Renne has been named a committee chairman for the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies.

Renne, a professor of planning and urban studies and director of the Merritt C. Becker UNO Transportation Institute, will chair the Transportation and Land Development Committee for a three-year term.

“This committee is a leading forum of experts that sets a national agenda on the topic of transportation and land use planning,” Renne said. “Given the economic recovery and a renewed interest in cities, transit and sustainable development, I am very excited to be taking over this committee at such a critical time in our nation’s history.”

Renne’s research focuses on sustainable transport, real estate, land use and transportation planning. He has co-edited two books, “Transport Beyond Oil: Policy Choices for a Multimodal Future” and “Transit-Oriented Development: Making It Happen.”

He served on the founding board of Bike Easy, New Orleans’ nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization.

The Transportation Research Board is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council, a private nonprofit institution that is the principal operating agency of the National Academies.