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Humanitarian and CNN Political Commentator Van Jones Headlines Loyola University New Orleans Commencement 2017

Loyola press release - May 16, 2017

Jones, a renowned lawyer, civil rights activist, and champion of social and environmental justice, receives honorary doctorate, delivers commencement address

Humanitarian and CNN political commentator Van Jones addressed graduates of Loyola University New Orleans at Loyola’s Commencement 2017, held Saturday, May 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Jones, a renowned lawyer, civil rights activist, and champion of social and environmental justice received an honorary doctorate from Loyola University New Orleans, the largest Jesuit Catholic university in the South. Bearing the motto “men and women with and for others,” the century-old institution has a mission of faith, truth, justice, and service.

“Van Jones has had a long and meaningful career that has had tremendous impact on issues that affect us all,” said Loyola University New Orleans President the Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D. “At Loyola University New Orleans, we teach our students — and encourage our graduates — to be civic-minded. We ask them to ‘seek what matters most,’ to seek justice for others, and to deploy their skills and talents to help better the world around them. Throughout his lifetime and from the heart, Van Jones has worked to advance and fulfill these values.”

In a rousing and compelling speech, Jones reflected on his own experiences as he shared advice for a meaningful and successful life beyond graduation. He paid tribute to the parents and families of students and spoke of his own as he talked to the graduating class about destiny, soul, and the state of the country.

“Everything has that call to greatness, and you have that,” Jones urged graduates. “And that call to greatness in you has to be respected. The world is not going to tell you every day about that call to greatness, but you have to tell yourself that these are not crazy dreams, these are not impossible goals.”

For his humanitarianism, his commitment to civil rights, his impact on social and environmental justice efforts, and his reporting of important aspects of our nation’s history and culture, the Board of Trustees and the Faculties of Loyola University New Orleans presented Jones with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa. He delivered a commencement address to more than 750 graduates and a crowd estimated at 8,000.

A Yale-educated attorney, Jones has founded and led numerous organizations engaged in social and environmental justice, including: Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Rebuild The Dream; The Dream Corps, which operates three major advocacy initiatives: #YesWeCode; #cut50, and Green for All. Jones served as President Barack Obama’s special adviser and primary advocate for the Green Jobs Act, leading the interagency process that oversaw the multibillion-dollar investment in skills training and jobs development within the environmental and green energy sectors. Jones is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books devoted to environmental and social justice issues: The Green Collar Economy and Rebuild the Dream. His contributions to social justice have been recognized around the world.

Also receiving honorary doctorates at commencement 2017 were: world-renowned jazz musician Kidd Jordan and internationally recognized restaurateur Ella Brennan.

In true New Orleans fashion, Loyola capped off commencement with a traditional second-line celebration led by the Kinfolk Brass Band.