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Tulane University has been designated one of the nine hottest universities in America in the annual Kaplan/Newsweek "How To Get Into College" guide. The publication, released last week, said Tulane earned the place of honor due to its low student-teacher ratio and progressive curriculua in the areas of business, architecture, engineering and Latin American studies.

The Besthoff Foundation has made it possible for the New Orleans Museum of Art to break ground on the $8.5 million Besthoff Sculpture Garden next to NOMA in City Park. The foundation funded much of the construction and endowment costs of the garden, and donated 36 sculptures worth more than $20 million. The free attraction is scheduled for completion in late 2002. Other local sponsors include Lee Ledbetter Architects and the Burk-Kleinpeter Inc. engineering company.

Terence Blanchard has been named to assume the endowed chair of UNO's jazz studies program. Blanchard, the jazz trumpeter who earned the Big Easy Awards' Entertainer of the Year honor for 2001, replaces Ellis Marsalis, who retired after more than a decade at UNO. Blanchard, a native New Orleanian, has scored several films, is a Grammy nominee and has taught at the University of Southern California's Thelonius Monk Institute.

First Rate Investment Services and its president, Archie Jefferson, have been fined $25,000 for destroying an 1880s-era New Orleans house without a permit. Officials call the fine the largest penalty imposed for illegal demolition in the city's history. Jefferson, the brother of U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, says he razed the home after strong winds knocked part of it into his sister's house next door.

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