May 14, 2010

Good Morning:

Tomorrow we salute the Tulane University graduating class I have dubbed the "Risk Takers." This is the first Tulane graduating class whose majority of members had no connection to Tulane prior to Hurricane Katrina, but still took a chance on a recovering city and university.

Like the "Katrina Class" before them, they helped us believe in ourselves and our future. We will be forever grateful to them. As a measure of our thanks, we have assembled a special Commencement line-up to celebrate their achievements and contributions to the university and city.

The keynote speaker for this "thank you" will be Tulane President's Medal recipient Anderson Cooper, anchor of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 and an advocate of New Orleans since the dark days of the storm. Honorary degrees will be given to U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, a Tulane graduate who became a folk hero for treating the poor of her hometown; Harlem Children's Zone CEO and President Geoffrey Canada, who is transforming the lives of young people in Harlem; and John Ruffin, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, who is working to increase the number of minority health professionals while fostering the study of health differences among the races.

When we New Orleanians thank someone there is always plenty of good music and fun and Commencement will be no exception. Entertainment will include the incomparable Dr. Michael White's Original Liberty Jazz Band and jazz great Wanda Rouzan, who will serenade graduates with the classic, "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?" There will also be herald trumpets, confetti cannons, a traditional New Orleans second-line procession and special surprise guests from the "Who Dat Nation."

This is a class that took a chance on us. Now I ask that you join me in honoring and thanking them. You don't need a ticket to attend tomorrow's Commencement, just a grateful spirit and a second-line hankie.

Have a great Commencement Weekend,


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