May 8, 2009

Good Morning:

NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, CBS News, CBS Radio, Nightline, the BBC, the Associated Press, C-SPAN and many more of the world's top media are converging to cover Commencement 2009.

This remarkable national and international media interest is obviously due to the stars who will be present at this year's Commencement - all 2,200 of them.

It seems the public cannot get enough of the "Katrina Class" who returned to the center of the country's worst natural disaster to help rebuild a city, renew a university and receive the education of a lifetime. They want to know why such bright young people, who could have attended school anywhere, chose to return to a city and university many had given up for dead.

I suppose every graduate has his or her own answer for this but when asked the question myself I am tempted to fall back on the answer Louis Armstrong gave when pressed to describe his music, "If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know."

If you've never toiled in the stifling heat to gut a stranger's home, you'll never know. If you've never tutored a child whose family was still dispersed around the country, you'll never know. If you've never helped a struggling family business find its way again, you'll never know. If you've never watched everything you love disappear under dark flood waters and then rise again to new life, you'll never know. If you've never experienced the sweet strains of jazz, the spice of gumbo or the scintillating conversation of a true New Orleans character, you'll never know. If you've never known what it means to miss New Orleans, you'll never know. If you've never been to Tulane, you'll never know.

I am glad you and I know. I can't wait to celebrate with our graduates on May 16 for what promises to be another historic moment at Tulane.

Have a great weekend,


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