July 1, 2008
Photos: Paula Burch-Celentano and George Long
On May 17, the university’s graduating class, along with families, friends and faculty from all the university’s schools and colleges, gathered together under one roof for the 2008 commencement ceremony. And it was a very, very big roof.
For the first time since Hurricane Katrina, the university’s commencement ceremony took place in the Louisiana Superdome.
“It is completely and totally appropriate that this class graduate in this building,” political guru, commentator and author James Carville told the more than 2,000 graduates in attendance.
Carville, who shared the role of commencement speaker with his wife, political commentator, consultant and author Mary Matalin, reminded his audience that while the images of the Superdome most vividly seared into the public’s psyche are that of “the people who had no place left to go during Hurricane Katrina,” that the building has had a long and distinguished history of hosting prominent events, including an appearance by Pope John Paul II, the Republican National Convention and six Super Bowls.
“Many great things have happened here,” said Carville. “But you remember this for the rest of your life: Maybe the greatest thing that happened here is that this class came here to graduate.”
Throughout the program, graduates were lauded not only for commitment to return to the university and the city after the storm, but for their efforts in the recovery of both.
Carville told graduates that he had learned several lessons from them, the first being that “the age of cynicism is dead, and your fingerprints are all over it. You heard every reason that you shouldn’t come back, and you did.”
Matalin introduced her husband, who was raised in Louisiana, and recounted how they had recently moved with their two young daughters from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans, after Tulane President Scott Cowen and his wife, Marjorie, encouraged them to join in the rebirth of the city.
It was the 10th anniversary of Tulane’s unified commencement ceremony, which represents all of its schools and colleges. As customary, the event featured musical performances by Dr. Michael White’s Original Liberty Jazz Band, the Pipes and Drums of New Orleans and a performance of “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” by Wanda Rouzan.
This year also featured appearances by the Hot 8 Brass Band and the Yellow Pocahontas Mardi Gras Indians.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org