A Historical Commencement
Although this year’s graduation marked the 181st commencement in Tulane’s history, for the School of Liberal Arts, May 16, 2015, it represented a new beginning. For the first time, SLA held its own distinct ceremony, allowing us to recognize the over 600 undergraduates who obtained liberal arts degrees – the largest number of any of the undergraduate schools.
Following closely on the heels of the unified, the ceremony vividly displayed the wide range of our students’ interests. Marching under 24 banners designating their majors, from African & African Diaspora Studies through Theatre & Dance, the soon-to-be graduates paraded across the stage – or in one case, cartwheeled – to the applause of their friends and family. As the graduation celebrated our incredible undergraduates, its spotlight was on our students: Sophie Cushman, a double major in Classical Studies and Art History, was chosen to deliver the student address, while graduating music majors John Aaron Jovaag, Sophie Kohn, and Alexander Sibley delighted the audience with their talent.
The SLA ceremony, in fact, was the culmination of a number of wonderful events. The day before, the School joined with the Schools of Medicine-Biomedical Sciences, Science and Engineering, and Continuing Studies to recognize those students receiving masters and PhDs. Representatives from all the undergraduate schools met again in the afternoon to name departmental and Newcomb-Tulane awards winners as well as acknowledge those who had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa and the William Wallace Peery Society.
What all these events had in common was a recognition of the special nature of Tulane students. Their academic work is creative, often crossing disciplinary work through multiple majors and innovative research. Their commitment to public service is remarkable; over the course of their time at Tulane they have left their mark on the city, and in many instances, on the world.
Through the slideshows attached to this newsletter, we hope you get a sense of the excitement surrounding these ceremonies. You will also see the SLA end-of-year picnic and the annual Shorty Fest that raises funds for our Trombone Shorty Academy. All of these occasions are both joyous and bittersweet. In commemorating the end of the year, they also mark the departure of students who are leaving the university for the next step in their lives. Like me, I know that you wish them all well and look forward to welcoming new Tulanians in the fall.