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Loyola University New Orleans Honors Leaders and Legends at Commencement 2017

Loyola press release - April 3, 2017

Loyola University New Orleans will award honorary degrees to CNN political contributor Van Jones, musician Kidd Jordan and restaurateur Ella Brennan at Commencement 2017, at 9:45 a.m., Saturday, May 13, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Jones will deliver the commencement address to more than 750 graduates.

Later the same day, Fourth Circuit Appellate Judge, the Hon. Madeleine M. Landrieu, J.D. '87, H '05 will deliver the law school commencement address at Commencement 2017 for the Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law, which runs from 5:45 to 7 p.m., also in the Superdome. In February, Loyola announced Landrieu would be the new dean of the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, starting July 2017. Retired criminal court judge, the Hon. Dennis Waldron, J.D. '73 will recieve an honorary doctor of laws.

“These extraordinary individuals have helped to shape New Orleans’ present, past, and future while making lasting contributions to their fields,” said Loyola University New Orleans President the Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D. “Their lives of achievement and service have been deemed worthy of special commendation, and we are pleased to present them higher education’s most prestigious recognition, an honorary degree ─ a distinction reserved at Loyola for eminent individuals whose lives of achievement and service exemplify the philosophy of Jesuit education.”

Van Jones

Humanitarian and CNN political contributor Anthony Kapel “Van” Jones will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters. Jones also will deliver the commencement address. Jones is a civil rights leader, former Obama White House adviser, and CNN political correspondent. He is the founder and president of Dream Corps — an incubator, platform, and home for world-changing initiatives that empower the most vulnerable in our society. The Dream Corps’ three programs, #cut50, #YesWeCode, and Green for All, work to close prison doors and open doors of opportunity.

A Yale-educated attorney, Jones has written two New York Times bestsellers: The Green Collar Economy, the definitive book on green jobs, and Rebuild the Dream, a roadmap for progressives. Over the past two decades, Jones has founded four thriving social enterprises, advancing solutions to some of America’s toughest economic and environmental problems. In 2009, Jones worked as the green jobs adviser to the Obama White House. There, he helped run the interagency process that oversaw $80 billion in green energy recovery spending.

Ella Brennan

Ella Brennan is the matriarch of one the most prominent restaurant families in the Southern United States. The Commander’s Family of Restaurants currently operates four restaurants, including: Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s of Houston, Café Adelaide & the Swizzle Stick Bar, and SoBou. Brennan has worked in New Orleans’ restaurant industry since 1940 and has revolutionized an industry; setting unmatched standards for service and developing a fresh interpretation of the nation’s most distinctive and celebrated regional palate, Creole cuisine. She has mentored some of the biggest names in the food world: chefs Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Shannon, and current Commander’s Palace chef, Tory McPhail. She is the author The Commander’s Palace New Orleans Cookbook and a memoir, Miss Ella of Commander’s Palace.

Kidd Jordan

New Orleans saxophonist and jazz patriarch Edward “Kidd” Jordan will receive an honorary doctor of music degree. Known since the 1940s for his improvisational techniques and avant-garde musical style, Jordan has been an educator and professional jazz musician for more than 50 years. He has taught hundreds, if not thousands, of students including well-known musicians, such as Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Charles Harrison, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Leroy Adams, Calvin Johnson, Sammie “Big Sam” William, Julius Handy, Curley Blanchard, Maynard Chatters Jr., Elton Herron, Carl Leblanc, Darrell Lavigne, Tony Dagradi, and many others. He has been a musical example to his seven children, including four well-known professional musicians: Kent, a master flutist; Marlon, an acclaimed jazz trumpeter; Stephanie, a jazz singer; and Rachel, a violinist.

Dennis Waldron

Retired Criminal Court Judge Dennis Waldron, J.D. ’73, will receive an honorary doctor of laws. A native of New Orleans’ Irish Channel, Waldron is a graduate of St. Alphonsus Elementary School, Redemptorist High School, Louisiana State University - New Orleans (now the University of New Orleans), and the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. A scholar and teacher, he was a member of the Loyola Law Review and taught at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School while attending Loyola law school at night.

Waldron served eight years as a prosecuting attorney with the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office and in 1982 was sworn in as judge of Orleans Parish Criminal Court. During his 27-year career as a criminal district court judge, Judge Waldron presided over 1,719 jury trials, the second highest number of trials in the court’s history. He served as an adjunct professor in the criminal justice program at Loyola University from 1974 to 2003 and at Loyola’s College of Law from 1986 to 2003.