HOMER HITT 2018-10-18T15:43:31-05:00

Project Description

THE ICON: Homer Hitt

THE LEGACY: Homer Hitt was associate dean of LSU’s graduate school when, in 1957, LSU President Troy Middleton asked him to lead what would be called Louisiana State University in New Orleans, or LSUNO. Enabled by state legislation authored by Sen. Ted Hickey, the new university — now known simply as UNO — would rise on a 178-acre tract near Lake Pontchartrain that had been a naval air station and which abutted the Pontchartrain Beach amusement park. As the school’s leader, Hitt set high standards, and colleagues recalled that, to make the new school flourish, he frequently had to fight state officials who were leery of underwriting a rival to LSU. “Homer wanted UNO to have the best academics you could possibly have,” said Tim Ryan, who was UNO chancellor from 2003 to 2010. “Homer had to fight so many battles to make UNO grow and prosper.”

THE ARTIST: Jeremy Paten

THE INSPIRATION: “The thing that gives me pride and satisfaction is to walk across the campus now and realize that when I came, it was an abandoned naval air station with barracks and hangars and concrete strips. Before it had UNO, New Orleans was the largest city in America without a public college. To walk across the campus now and be able to realize those things — well, few people are that fortunate in their lives.” — Homer Hitt, in a 1992 interview