Please click on the button below to sign in to your school community.
Bryan Batt '81 Named Recipient of 2009 Distinguished Alumnus Award


The Alumni Association is pleased to announce that the 2009 recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award is Bryan Batt '81. He will be honored at an event this spring. Batt says he is proud and humbled by this lovely acknowledgment from the institution that gave him so much.

Bryan Batt credits his Newman drama teacher and friend Kitty Greenberg with inspiring him to become an actor. As he was busily making his way through high school, attempting to conform to the more typical path, Greenberg had her eye on Batt. She had never forgotten his third grade performance as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in the winter play. She cornered him in the hallway and pointedly said, "When are you going to audition for my play? You know you want to and you know you will be good." He did, and it was that personal, intuitive interest by his Newman teacher that ignited his passion for acting and set him on his career path.

Batt graduated from Tulane University and took to the Broadway boards shortly thereafter. He has appeared in leading and principal roles in nine Broadway shows and numerous Off Broadway productions including: La Cage Aux Folles, Beauty and the Beast, Seussical the Musical, Sunset Blvd., Saturday Night Fever, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats, and Starlight Express. Off Broadway credits include: Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back and Forbidden Broadway Cleans Up Its Act. Batt is most proud of originating the role of Darius in Paul Rudnick's groundbreaking comedy, Jeffrey, in both New York and Los Angeles. He won the Drama Desk Award for his performance and recreated the role opposite Patrick Stewart in the Hollywood film adaptation. Recently Batt was named "Vocalist of the Year" by Back Stage magazine for his New York one man show.  

Currently, Batt portrays "Salvatore Romano" in AMC's critically acclaimed dramatic series "Mad Men." The runaway hit has received 6 Emmys, 3 Golden Globes, the Peabody, and numerous Writing and Director's Guild awards. In January, Batt received the coveted Screen Actor's Guild award for Best Ensemble Acting in a Drama Series.

In 2003, Batt and his partner of 20 years, Tom Cianfichi, opened Hazelnut, a nationally noted fine gifts and home furnishings store in New Orleans. The Magazine Street store and his award-winning fabric design, "New Orleans Toile,"  have  been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, House Beautiful, Southern Accents, Town & Country and InStyle. After Katrina, a portion of all sales of the signature fabric raised funds for Second Harvest Food Bank, under the direction of Batt's lifetime friend and fellow Newman graduate, Leann Moses '81. Hazelnut's other causes include Children's Hospital, The Human Rights Campaign, Save The Oaks and The Anti Defamation League.

Since Katrina, Batt has hosted, performed and appeared in countless fundraisers and philanthropic events both in New York and New Orleans benefiting Habitat For Humanity, the Contemporary Arts Center, LA-SPCA, Preservation Resource Center, New Orleans Museum of Art, Friends of City Park, YaYa and many more. In 2005, just weeks after returning from evacuation, he founded Magazine Street Retail Relief, now a much-anticipated yearly event, in an effort to jump-start commerce for local merchants.

Batt has worked tirelessly for causes dearest to his heart. For the last 15 years he has been a major force in raising millions for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids; locally he sits on the boards of Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre and N.O. Aids Task Force.

Other Honors include OUT magazine's "Artist of the Year," Human Rights Campaign's "Equality Award," and Gambit's Big Easy Award "Entertainer of the Year."