May 13, 2005

Good Morning:

This year there seems to be even more excitement than usual as we approach Commencement. NBC Nightly News has even requested a tape of our ceremony for use in their national commencement coverage. Apparently, a second-line parade, performances by Dr. Michael White's Original Liberty Jazz Band and jazz great Wanda Rouzan along with confetti cannons, herald trumpets and a balloon drop don’t accompany the conferral of academic degrees in all parts of our country.

Another measure of the building excitement is the record number of staff volunteers for this year’s ceremony. The flawless pageantry you witness on graduation day is the result of the generous, tireless and sometimes frantic efforts of our many wonderful volunteers. My heartfelt thanks to them all.

Excitement is also building for our Commencement speaker, best-selling author Michael Lewis. Michael sent me a draft of his commencement address. It was hilarious, nostalgic and poignant all at the same time. You don’t want to miss it.

In addition to our more than 2000 graduates, honorary degrees will be given to Ellen Gilchrist, National Book Award-winning author of Victory Over Japan, and David D. Ho, whose research championing combination antiretroviral therapy has resulted in dramatic reductions in AIDS-associated mortality. I will also present the President’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching to Ila Berman, associate professor and associate dean in the School of Architecture, and Byron Crawford, associate professor of pathology in the School of Medicine.

All of our guests and graduates, including our student speaker Melody Baham of Newcomb College, are ready for the big moment, but the day won’t be complete without you. Please make every effort to attend this pinnacle of the academic year and cheer on our graduates as they receive their hard-earned diplomas. For a full listing of Commencement 2005 events visit


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