May 21, 2004

Good Morning:

More than 2000 Tulane University graduates will receive their degrees this Saturday, May 22, at 9:30 a.m. This is the high point of the academic calendar and my favorite time of the year. Though I have attended and presided over countless commencements I never tire of their pageantry, excitement and hope.

I also believe our commencement, with its combination of academic pomp and circumstance and good ol' New Orleans fun, is among the most unique in the country. What other university graduation includes a second-line parade and entertainment by Dr. Michael White's Original Liberty Jazz Band and the great Wanda Rouzan? Who else has herald trumpets, a balloon drop, confetti cannons and an address by Louisiana's own Sen. John Breaux, one of our nation's most respected leader? I hope all of you will be able to join the celebration.

If you do attend commencement you may find that my robe seems to fit a little looser this year. Since January, after a routine physical in which I was reminded of the dangers of obesity, I have lost 50 pounds. I hope to lose another 5 to 10 pounds and, most importantly, permanently maintain this new weight. I decided not to follow any particular diet plan because, for me, a diet seemed episodic and what I needed was a significant lifestyle change.

Losing the weight was difficult but I feel great and am enjoying my new lifestyle of regular weightlifting, walking and sensible eating. I do appreciate the kind comments I have received from many of you. However, the proof is in the pudding (sorry, non-fat yogurt) as to whether I can sustain this effort.

To keep me focused, I plan to report back to you on an annual basis regarding the status of this effort. The public accountability will help my cause. I hope you don't mind being a part of my program.

Have a great weekend,


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