From the President: A time for celebration

April 26, 2001

Scott Cowen

This time in the spring of 1999, as we were leading up to the final days before Tulane's first universitywide commencement ceremony in 30 years, I have to admit no one was quite sure how it would be received. But the rationale behind it was sound: Tulane University's mission is to help develop the "habits of mind and heart" of our students and, because of that, celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates as an institution was not only appropriate but was needed.

It helped develop a sense of identity and purpose for what we do as an institution and helped graduates and their parents bring a sense of closure and celebration to their college experience. I am very pleased to say, as we head toward our third universitywide commencement on May 19, that not only has the celebration been a success, it has been a resounding success, according to the feedback received from graduating students and their families and friends.

Over the past two years, commencement has grown from a single unified event and collection of college events on a single day in 1999 to this year's full weekend of celebratory activity. The weekend will follow a logical progression from opening events on Thursday involving alumni and students through awards and inductions on Friday, the Wave Goodbye party on Friday night, the universitywide commencement celebration on Saturday morning and the individual school and college ceremonies on Saturday afternoon.

Over the course of the weekend, we will have the opportunity to recognize our outstanding students and faculty, to celebrate with friends and also to gather in celebration as an institution. To quickly recap the schedule, which is featured in more detail in the calendar of this issue of Inside Tulane, Friday, May 18, will feature a 50-year Club Luncheon for Newcomb College and the annual crawfish boil for graduating seniors and the Emeritus Club.

On Friday will be the various ceremonies and receptions for many of the schools and colleges as well as ROTC and Phi Beta Kappa. Last year's Wave Goodbye Party was such a success that this year, we have extended invitations not only to graduating students and their families and friends, but also to all faculty and staff of Tulane. It will be a terrific celebration on the Gibson quad with New Orleans music, food and fellowship.

Of course, it all leads up to Saturday, May 19, when we hold the universitywide commencement at 9:30 a.m. at the Louisiana Superdome. I am truly excited about this year's event, which will feature a very special speaker, Marian Wright Edelman.

Ms. Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans throughout her career. She has received many awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award, and, in 2000, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

We at Tulane are thrilled to have her serve as this year's commencement speaker. We will have another very special guest at the Saturday morning ceremonies. We will be honoring the Hon. Corinne "Lindy" Boggs, who recently returned to the United States from her work as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, for her outstanding contributions to our country and to our university. We also will be awarding Tulane University honorary degrees and paying special recognition to outstanding faculty members.

Tulane's graduates will have an opportunity to celebrate among their own classmates and faculty on Saturday afternoon as each school and college holds its own diploma ceremony. And, finally, the weekend will officially come to a close on Sunday when the School of Medicine holds its 50-year class brunch. I think it's easy for faculty or staff members at a complex university such as Tulane to go about our daily business focused on the immediate tasks at hand, losing sight of the magnitude of what we accomplish here.

During times such as commencement weekend, it is my hope that we can step back and reflect on the wonderful process and experience of which we are all privileged to be a part. I hope you'll join us as we celebrate, congratulate and, of course, Wave Goodbye.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000