A.P. Tureaud Jr., W. Henson Moore Receive Honorary Degrees; 3,559 Students Graduate at LSU's 274th Commencement Exercises
More than 50 years after setting foot on campus as the first African-American undergraduate, and subsequently being rejected by students and teachers and being forced to finish his studies at Xavier University in New Orleans, Alexander Pierre "A.P." Tureaud Jr. is officially an alumnus of LSU.
Tureaud, along with this year's commencement speaker, W. Henson Moore, chair of the Forever LSU campaign and former representative of Louisiana's sixth congressional district for 12 years, received honorary degrees during LSU's 274th commencement exercises on Friday, May 20.
"Louisiana State University is pleased and privileged to honor you in the important role you played in the history of LSU as the first African-American student to enroll as an undergraduate," Gaines Foster, dean of the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences, said in reading Tureaud's honorary degree declaration.
Foster noted that LSU is honoring Turead for the courage and character he demonstrated, the example he set for thousands to follow, the grace he's shown and the reconciliation he's exemplified. Foster also pointed out Turead's work in revitalizing the A.P. Tureaud Sr. Black Alumni Association and his co-authorship of A More Noble Cause: A. P. Tureaud and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Louisiana.
"You serve as an inspiration and role model, not only for African-American students, but for all LSU students," Foster said. "Your presence on campus provides depth, purpose and the healing perspective that enriches the entire LSU community."
Tureaud received a standing ovation from the commencement audience.
“This is a marvelous experience for me to sit here … and to just think what it might have been for me 58 years ago to graduate from this esteemed university,” Tureaud said. “I would like to say thank you to everyone who made this transition, this healing and this statement of the importance of diversity, inclusion and celebration. I stand on the shoulders and I hold the hearts of my parents, of their colleagues, of people throughout this state and country who work together to bring us to the place that we are, which is a celebration of an American country that has great value and wants everyone to be the best American they can be. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Following Tureaud's remarks, LSU Chancellor Michael Martin told the crowd, "Last night at another ceremony, A.P. said 58 years ago, he didn't quite fit in. He fits in today. Thank you A.P."
Give Something Back
Moore, former U.S. congressman for the 6th congressional district of Louisiana, also received an honorary degree and delivered the commencement address.
"The Honorable William Henson Moore III – congressman, public servant and distinguished alumni – Louisiana State University is pleased to honor you," Foster said in reading Moore's honorary degree declaration.
Moore was recognized for his service to the state and nation; for more than a quarter of a century of extraordinary dedication to public service; and for his leadership to LSU, serving on the Forever LSU fundraising campaign, effectively communicating the needs of the university and successfully reaching the goal of raising $750 million.
"You are a role model for LSU students and a source of pride and honor for the university," Foster said.
"If there's a better volunteer on the planet, I have yet to come across it," Martin added.
Moore thanked the faculty and the Board of Supervisors for the honor and having made it possible.
"My association with LSU goes back to 1958 when I registered here as a freshman student," Moore said. "All these long years that I've been associated, I've got to tell you, this takes the cake, this tops them all."
Moore delivered the commencement address and focused on a simple message: Give something back.
"Give something back," Moore said. "That's it. That's the message. That's all there is to it."
Moore told the graduates that the experience they've gained, the memories and friends they made and the education they received at LSU will grow in importance throughout their lives.
"You should begin to think and start to feel that maybe you received more here than you've given back and that just maybe you should start thinking of giving something back, soon not later," Moore said. "When you do that, you really are going to be a part of something bigger than you and something that is forever."
May 2011 Commencement Exercises
During LSU's 274th commencement exercises, 3,559 students received degrees. At the main ceremony, doctoral candidates received their diplomas individually, and degrees were conferred for all students. Separate diploma ceremonies for each college followed at various times and locations across campus. At those ceremonies, every student was recognized individually.
The May 2011 graduating class represents 57 Louisiana parishes, 44 U.S. states and 55 countries. Fifty-five percent of the graduates were women and 45 percent were men. The oldest graduate was 60, and three graduates were the youngest at 20.
Martin presided over the main ceremony and recognized the LSU class of 1961 and the Golden Tigers, or those who graduated at least 50 years ago. LSU Board of Supervisors Chairman James W. Moore Jr. conferred degrees, and LSU Faculty Senate President and Professor of English Kevin Cope served as mace bearer.
The processional and recessional music was provided by the LSU Commencement Band, conducted by Charles L. Taylor. Brandon Paul Hendrickson, who received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the LSU alma mater. The invocation and benediction were lead by the Rev. Jared R. Williams of University United Methodist Church.
During the main ceremony, Lt. Col. Mary L. McKeon, professor of aerospace studies, recognized the newly commissioned Army, Air Force and Navy ROTC cadets. The 23 cadets – nine cadets commissioned from the LSU Army ROTC program, including one who graduated from Southern University on May 13; 12 from the Air Force ROTC program, including one who graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University on May 14; and two LSU cadets commissioned from the Southern University Navy's ROTC program – were officially commissioned at a separate ceremony on Thursday, May 19, in the Bo Campbell Auditorium of the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student Athletes.
LSU also honored 32 graduating students with the LSU Distinguished Communicator Award. These students earned this honor by meeting high standards set by faculty in various colleges and by the LSU Communication across the Curriculum program. The students earned high grade-point averages in communication-intensive courses – based on written, spoken, visual and technological communication – and have built digital portfolios displayed as public websites that include their communication projects from courses, internships, leadership roles and public service.
There were 430 students who graduated with honors, including 50 students who received University Medals for graduating with the highest undergraduate grade-point average in the class. University Medalists were honored at a special ceremony on Thursday, May 19, at the LSU Union Theater.
This semester, 71 students graduated from the LSU Honors College, with 32 students earning College Honors and nine earning Upper Division Honors Distinction. These students participated in a specific honors program and successfully completed and defended an undergraduate thesis.
A posthumous degree was awarded to the family of Nassim Kashani during the School of Library and Information Science ceremony. Kashani, a graduate student in library science, died in January.
LSU's African-American graduates were honored at a Robing Ceremony on Thursday, May 19, in the Bo Campbell Auditorium at the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student Athletes. During the event, degree candidates received the traditional African Kente stole in LSU colors to signify the completion of their academic journey.
Among notable degree recipients this year is University Medalist Anna Normand, who was only the second LSU student to receive the prestigious Udall Scholarship. Normand, a native of Opelousas, La., is a chemistry major who graduated summa cum laude from the College of Science and Honors College. As an active participant in environmentally-focused public service, she is regularly involved in the annual Acorns of Hope bike ride across Louisiana, planting live oak saplings as she rides. Normand, a Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholar, also created Louisiana Marsh University, a service trip that brought 30 LSU students to plant beach grass on Grand Isle.
Tyler Crosby, a biological engineering major who graduated magna cum laude from the College of Engineering, was a Goldwater Scholarship recipient in 2010. A native of Bush, La., Crosby hopes to pursue a combined M.D./Ph.D. and conduct clinical research into genetic therapies for diseases after graduation. The Goldwater Scholarship can be used to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
Ace St. Romain, a history major who graduated from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, received his official invitation from the Peace Corps to work in Asia teaching English in area high schools. St. Romain, who will work in Asia for 27 months, will graduate with three minors – business administration, English and international studies.
A Family Affair
Commencement is always a family affair, but it was especially memorable for a number of graduates. Husband and wife Yunlong Yang, Department of Entomology, and Dongli Guan, Department of Biological Sciences, each received a Ph.D. in separate fields, while husband and wife Polwattage Kushil Pri Perera and Rangika Thilaksri Perera each received a Ph.D. in forestry, and husband and wife Terrance DeAce Brown and Tiffany Irene Brown each received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in music. Husband and wife Billy Overton and Vertina Underwood-Overton both earned their bachelor's degrees in general studies, and twins Shanna and Shunna Richard received their bachelor's degrees in sociology.
A number of LSU athletes graduated, including football's Joseph Barksdale, who was drafted in the third round of this year's NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders; starting offensive guard Josh Dworaczyk; 2003 BCS National Championship Game MVP Justin Vincent, who came back to school to finish his degree; volleyball's Brittney Johnson, winner of the 2009 Jesse Owens Athletic Award, which is presented annually to LSU's minority student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average; and softball's Kirsten Shortridge, 2010 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America First Team and two-time All-SEC First Team member.
For more information on commencement, visit www.lsu.edu/commencement.