Northwestern State University honored six graduates by inducting them into the University’s alumni hall of distinction, the Long Purple Line. The 2018 inductees are Monty Chicola of Alexandria, Dr. Philip Cole of Shreveport, Linda Day of Baton Rouge, Justice James T. Genovese of Opelousas, the late Col. Randal D. Keator Sr., formerly of Shreveport, and Darryl Willis of Sunnyvale, California. Honorees were honored at a luncheon and induction program Friday in the Friedman Student Union Ballroom.
Since 1990, 125 NSU alumni have been named to the Long Purple Line.
Chicola is president of Real Vision Software based in Alexandria, a company he founded in 1992 after working as a programmer for 12 years. His company’s big break came when IBM saw the advantage of having Real Vision Software’s product along with IBM’s product covering mid-range businesses. They were later expanded to small businesses for IBM in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Central America. The company sells to businesses including banks, insurance companies, service bureaus, hospitals, government agencies, casinos, trucking firms, investment firms, manufacturers and utility companies.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and accounting at NSU in 1980. Chicola was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity where he served as president. He was a member of NSU gymnastics team and the Northwestern band. Chicola is president of the NSU Alumni Association and was an advisory, non-voting member of the search committee which selected Dr. Chris Maggio to be Northwestern’s president.
Cole graduated from Martin High School in Red River Parish then earned a bachelor’s from Northwestern in chemistry and biology. He went on to earn his M.D. from LSU Medical School in New Orleans. Cole received a master’s of health care management from the Harvard School of Public Health. He did his internship in general surgery residency and a colon and rectal surgical fellowship at LSU Health Science Center. Cole has 36 years of private and academic surgical practice. He is professor of surgery and public health and general surgery program director for LSUHSC and previously served as chief medical officer for Christus Health in Louisiana and Southeast Texas. Cole has served as president, vice president and secretary of the Louisiana chapter of the American College of Surgery.
In his career, Cole has published more than 40 national and international presentations of academic papers and book chapters. He serves as a deacon and member of the board of directors at Broadmoor Baptist Church. Cole was a member of the board of directors for LSU Health Science Center Foundation and chairman of the Investment Committee, the board of directors of Christus Health, Louisiana and the Juvenile Justice Committee for Caddo Parish. He is a Harvard University admissions committee interviewer and is on the LSU Medical School Admissions Committee. Cole has made more than 30 international medical mission trips.
Day served as executive director of the Louisiana Association of Educators for four years. She was a teacher in Caddo Parish. Day served as director of Louisiana Drug Policy and the Office of Drug Policy in the office of Louisiana Attorney General Richard Ieyoub. Day served as commissioner to the Education Commission of the States, received the LAE’s Human and Civil Rights Trailblazer Award and was one of 76 delegates from the United States to attend the World Confederation of the Teaching Profession in Stockholm, Sweden. She was elected vice president of the National Council of State Education Associations in 1993.
Day earned her bachelor’s and master’s at NSU. She did additional graduate work at NSU, LSU, Centenary and Southern University.
Genovese has been an associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court since 2017. He was a practicing attorney for 21 years before serving as a judge in the 27th Judicial District from 1995-2004 and a member of the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal from 2005-16.
A 1971 graduate of Northwestern State, Genovese has been a panelist, speaker and lecturer at conferences and continuing education seminars on recent updates, professionalism, ethics, summary judgment, writs and appeals, practices and procedures of the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals and judicial review in the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Genovese served on the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Judicial Council Appellate Court Work Point Values Working Group and the Trial Court Committee to Review the Need for Judgeships and as chairman of its Long-Term Subcommittee. He was the Supreme Court’s Appointee to the Juvenile Justice Reform Act Implementation Commission. Genovese is a board member of the Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society.
Keator, a highly decorated World War II veteran, earned his degree in 1939. The next year he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and after pilot training was assigned to the Philippines.
On Dec. 8, 1941, Keator and other members of the squadron intercepted Japanese fighter aircraft enroute to the Philippines. In the ensuing battle, he scored the first aerial victory in the battle of the Philippines, a feat which, along with another confirmed and a third probable kill, earned him the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest honor.
Life Magazine chronicled the exploits in its first issue following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the Louisiana Legislature passed a resolution honoring Keator for conspicuous gallantry in action. The next year he experienced a forced landing in the Pacific, a rescue by island natives and a last minute escape from Bataan in the face of advancing Japanese forces.
After the war, he pursued an illustrious career spanning 28 years and four continents. As an engineer in Air Force laboratories, he pioneered numerous systems used in military aircraft. He rose to the rank of colonel, commanding a 200-engineer organization providing support to the operational fleet at the time of his retirement from the military. He passed away in 1981.
Willis is an accomplished global senior executive with exceptional achievements leading businesses in the oil and gas industry. He has a proven track record of delivering growth and improving profitability for enterprises ranging in size from $1B to $5B in the United States, Russia, Asia and Africa. He has earned the reputation as an inspiring leader who develops people and builds high-performing teams. His leadership style, passion and deep knowledge of issues make his talents transferable to companies of various size, in early or mature stage, or reorganizing with new leadership.
He was selected to lead the Deepwater Horizon claims process for BP, became spokesperson for the company and provided expert testimony before Congress and state legislatures in Florida and Louisiana.
Willis was recently appointed vice president of Oil, Gas and Energy at Google. Prior to that, he was president and chief executive officer of BP Angola and senior vice president and deputy head of subsurface for BP. In his distinguished 25-year career, his global technical and management experience includes subsurface, commercial, operations, strategy, safety, ethics and compliance, public affairs, supply chain, drilling, crisis management and technology across North America, United Kingdom, Russia, West Africa and Southeast Asia.
Willis earned a Master of Science in Management from Stanford University with concentrations in Managing Global Businesses and Social Responsibility, a Master of Science in Geology and Geophysics from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry & Literature from the Louisiana Scholars College at Northwestern State.