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Loyola University New Orleans Environmental Communication Chair to receive “Green Spirit Award”

Loyola press release - July 14, 2016

Dr. Bob Thomas is recognized for his dedication to the environmental education of multiple generations of New Orleanians.

Loyola University New Orleans professor of mass communication and holder of the Loyola Distinguished Scholar Chair in Environmental Communication Robert A. “Bob” Thomas will be presented this fall a key award noting his contributions to environmental education. Thomas will receive Parkway Partners’ 2016 Green Spirit Award at its “Feast with Leah” gala on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, as two legends and a legendary event join forces, the nonprofit announced Tuesday.

The Parkway Partners board selected Dr. Thomas for the distinction because of his dedication to the environmental education of multiple generations of New Orleanians as a professor at Loyola and UNO, president of Louisiana Master Naturalists, and the executive director of the Louisiana Nature and Science Center.

“Through his undying commitment, we’ve come to value our priceless natural heritage,” said Ruthie Frierson, honorary chair of Feast 2016. “A born educator, Thomas, in the 1970s, was the first to educate the public about the trends of coastal loss, and the serious impact it would have in the future on Louisiana, the United States, and the world.”

Founded by Thomas, the Loyola University Center for Environmental Communication (LUCEC) is one of the few such centers in the United States that specializes in training communicators in covering environmental issues. Efforts are focused on spreading the word about the environmental issues facing Louisiana and beyond.

“We’re teaching key communicators and stakeholders, from environmentalists and scientists to industry leaders, policy makers and public affairs representatives, to see these critical issues from a variety of angles and to communicate them simply,” said Thomas, director of the center. “We help them to be better facilitators when problem solving, and to share information more effectively when working with other stakeholders, the media and the public.”

A leading environmental expert who has spoken widely on the impacts of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Thomas is a cherished herpetology and biology professor, as well as a journalism professor, at Loyola, where he recently served as Chair of the University Senate.

The Sunday jazz brunch gala at which Thomas will receive his award will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2016 at historic Dooky Chase Restaurant, a change of venue that led Parkway Partners to dub the event “Feast with Leah.” Traditionally called “Feast with the Stars,” the event is the organization’s annual fund-raising gala held every October and sponsored by local businesses, corporations and friends of Parkway Partners.

For the past 32 years, the annual gala has attracted hundreds who enjoy live jazz while dining on outstanding cuisine and specialty drinks. It also features a silent auction and raffle. Tickets to the Jazz Brunch Gala are available at www.parkwaypartnersnola.org or by calling 504-620-2224.

“I’ve been blessed by being surrounded my entire career by excellent, dedicated environmental thinkers and doers,” Thomas said. “My work and volunteer venues have afforded me the opportunity to think and act beyond the norm, and I’m grateful to Parkway Partners for this recognition. It is very special coming from such a civically dedicated organization that I’ve long admired.”

“Loyola University New Orleans is thrilled to see our very own legend, Dr. Bob Thomas, celebrated in October alongside the legendary Ms. Leah Chase, as he receives Parkway Partners’ 2016 Green Spirit Award,” said Maria Calzada, dean of Loyola University New Orleans’ College of Arts and Sciences.

“Bob’s contributions to Loyola, to the greater New Orleans community, to the region, to the environment and to science have helped to make the world a better place―and they set a profound example for Loyola students, as we encourage them to ‘go forth and set the world on fire.’”