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Five Feted as Honorary Alumni

February 19, 2008

New Wave staff

Some individuals go about the work of Tulane University for decades, becoming more dedicated to the university perhaps than to their own alma maters. The Tulane University Alumni Association recognized five of these dedicated Tulane employees by making them honorary alumni at a reception on Friday (Feb. 15).

Leland Bennett and John Clements

Proud of their new status as honorary Tulane alumni, Leland Bennett, left, and John Clements, right, are among five honorees at a Tulane Alumni Association reception. Bennett is director of the Lavin-Bernick Center, while Clements is a professor and department chair in the School of Medicine. (Photos by Sally Asher)


One of those persons honored, Leland Bennett, serves as the director of the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life, the venue for the honorary alumni awards.

During his 41 years at Tulane, Bennett also served as director of the University Center, and formed and directed the Tulanians singing group that toured the United States and Europe from the 1960s to the 1980s, promoting the university.

“The Tulanians and our performances were a highlight of our undergraduate experience,” says Mary Rickard, a member of the singing group, who graduated from Newcomb College in 1974.

“A sax player, Leland also was part of the Jubilation big band and directed the Summer Lyric Theatre orchestra.”

Steve Slattery, president of the Tulane Alumni Association Board of Directors, presented certificates “to induct five pillars of Tulane University into the Tulane Alumni Association for their many years of guidance, wisdom and service. These are people who have served Tulane for 25 years or more and who have been instrumental in our rebirth and growth.”

In addition to Bennett, receiving the honor were:

Paul Barron, a member of the Tulane Law School faculty for more than 30 years. Barron served twice as the interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, and now serves as chief information officer and vice president for technology. Barron was cited for lending “his colossal experience and perspective to President Scott S. Cowen’s cabinet.”

George Bernstein, who began teaching in Tulane’s history department in 1980, has taught more than 25 courses and seminars at Tulane, served as dean of Tulane College, and is serving as interim dean of the School of Liberal Arts.

Earl Retif, Paul Barron and George Bernstein

With nearly 90 years of Tulane service between them, (from left) Earl Retif, Paul Barron and George Bernstein are new honorary Tulane alumni. Retif is vice president of enrollment management, Barron is chief information officer and vice president for technology and Bernstein is interim dean of the School of Liberal Arts.


John Clements, who has been with Tulane for more than 25 years, serves as professor and chair of the microbiology and immunology department at the Tulane University School of Medicine.

After Hurricane Katrina, he led an eight-vehicle convoy on Sept. 15, 2005, to the storm-damaged downtown campus to secure biological samples and recover research data.

Earl Retif, who has been with Tulane for 31 years and enhanced the university’s academic ceremonies and traditions as registrar, co-created the University Commencement in 1999 that revived the grand regalia of a formal ceremony and the amazing sight of a full-university processional.

Retif has served as vice president of enrollment management since 2005, leading the university’s admission applications to record numbers.

According to Charlotte Travieso, alumni affairs director, bestowing honorary alumni membership is a rare occasion. “Before Scott and Margie Cowen received the honor last April, it had been quite a while since the association had given honorary membership status to any members of the Tulane community,” Travieso said.


Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000