The Flowers of May
Eighteen-century Scottish poet and playwright James Thomson once wrote, “Among the changing months, May stands confest, the sweetest, and in fairest colors dressed.” Although written nearly three hundred years ago, such words aptly describe the month of May at Tulane. As April marks the end of classes, May becomes a mosaic of pageantry and celebration. With each passing day, and through a number of remarkable ceremonies, we acknowledge students who have become members of Phi Beta Kappa, recognize those who are named to Tulane 34, salute those who have earned senior honors, and celebrate alongside our outstanding faculty and staff who have been named this year’s best. With our retiring faculty we look back on careers well spent, and applaud those who have been promoted to the next rank. We hood our graduate students, and wish them well as they set off on their careers.
All these May festivities are topped off by the unified and school graduations. Tulane graduations, of course, are like none other. Filled with music, confetti, and a second line, they pay tribute to the city that gave birth to the university, and the students who have dedicated their time here to making it a better place for all its residents. In this May’s graduation, we honor the actress and philanthropist Dame Helen Mirren, musician Branford Marsalis, civil rights leader Diane Nash, and psychologist Dr. Shelley Taylor who have left an indelible mark on the city, the country, and the world. In our own SLA ceremony, we share the pride of family and friends as our students walk across the stage, to the well-deserved applause of those around them.
In New Orleans, however, as we know all too well, May is not always about sunshine. At times, along the glorious days of spring, come the downpours that darken the skies. For us, the departures of our students, who have made such an important impression during their time here, become the showers we must endure, the clouds that serve, if only temporarily, to block the sun. But, in May, as the sun comes out quickly after the storm, we know that our students will forever be a part of Tulane and the School of Liberal Arts in which they flourished. They are, without a doubt, the best of our May flowers.
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