January 25, 2013

Good Morning: 

Just before Thanksgiving we announced the exciting news that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters and deliver the keynote address to graduates at Tulane University's 2013 Commencement. 

This might be news enough for most schools, but at Tulane we want to make sure that our Commencement memories last a lifetime. So, in addition to the Dalai Lama, we will award honorary degrees to three other remarkable people who have made lasting contributions to New Orleans and the world. These include:

  • Dr. John, the Grammy Award-winning musician, whose one-of-a-kind blend of voodoo mysticism, funk, rhythm and blues, psychedelic rock and Creole roots music has gained him worldwide acclaim. The creator of hits such as "Right Place Wrong Time" and "Such a Night," Dr. John has also been a tireless advocate for New Orleans recovery, through fundraising concerts and recordings. We will show our gratitude by awarding the good doctor an honorary doctor of fine arts.


  • Allen Toussaint, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and one of contemporary music's most influential songwriters, composers and producers. "Southern Nights," "Working in a Coal Mine," "Mother-in-Law" and "Sneakin' Sally through the Alley," are just a few of the hit songs authored by this New Orleans native. His collaboration with Elvis Costello, "The River in Reverse," was the first major album recorded in New Orleans after Katrina. Toussaint has been helping to keep New Orleans music alive and thriving for decades, and we will be honored to award him an honorary doctor of fine arts. 


  • Natasha Trethewey, the United States poet laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Her first book of poems, Domestic Work, was selected by former Poet Laureate Rita Dove as winner of the inaugural 1999 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Other works include Bellocq's Ophelia, Native Guard and Thrall. Trethewey, a native of Gulfport, Miss., also published Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which details the struggles of her Mississippi family in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In recognition of her poetry that has helped a nation and a region make sense of their experiences, we will award Trethewey a doctor of humane letters.

With our speaker, honorary degree recipients and outstanding graduates, this is certainly shaping up to be a truly memorable Commencement. 

Have a great weekend,


Office of the President Emeritus, 1555 Poydras St, Suite 700, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-274-3638