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Loyola University New Orleans Honors Five Notables at Commencement 2018

Loyola press release - April 13, 2018

Five industry leaders and friends of the university will receive honorary degrees at Commencement 2018

Loyola University New Orleans will award honorary degrees to five industry leaders and friends of the university next month at Commencement 2018 on Saturday, May 12, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Rev. James Martin, S.J., one of the world’s most widely recognized Jesuits, will deliver the commencement address to more than 750 graduates.

Later the same day, President and CEO of Entergy Inc. Charles L. Rice Jr., J.D. ’95, will deliver the law school commencement address at Commencement 2018 for the Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law, which runs from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m., also in the Superdome.

“These extraordinary individuals have made lasting contributions to their fields and communities while living the Jesuit motto ‘men and women for and with others,’” 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.”

Best-selling author, Jesuit priest, and editor at large of America magazine the Rev. James Martin, S.J., will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters. A prolific spiritual writer, Fr. Martin is known for the wisdom, laughter, and light he brings to the page and to the pulpit as he contemplates the most challenging theological questions and significant issues of our time. Through his messages of compassion, humility, and understanding, he appeals to people of all faiths and backgrounds and has introduced a worldwide community to the Jesuit values of reflection, contemplation, and faith in action.

Fr. Martin is editor at large at America, the national Catholic review, and a best-selling author of 13 books on spirituality and religion, which have been translated into 21 languages. He is a frequent commentator on religion and spirituality in the national and international media. Since April 2017, he also has served as consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication, a role in which he has helped to shape and share the messages of Pope Francis.

Fr. Martin now serves the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City. From his desk, he communicates Jesuit values and aspects of the Catholic faith, using social media to connect globally with a new generation. His gift for sharing and interpreting the gospel has drawn speaking invitations from around the world. Loyola University New Orleans is the 15th Jesuit, Catholic university to welcome Fr. Martin as commencement speaker.

World-renowned conductor and music director of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Carlos Miguel Prieto will receive an honorary doctor of music. Prieto is known around the globe as an especially charismatic and dynamic conductor and regarded as the leading Mexican conductor of his generation.

Having conducted over 100 world premieres of works by Mexican and American composers, he is celebrated for championing and commissioning the music of Latin American composers, as well as the expressivity he brings to interpretations of classical works. Since 2007, he has been the music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México, and in 2016 he led the OSN on a critically acclaimed nine-concert tour of Germany and Austria performing the works of Mexican and Latin American composers. He is currently serving his 12th season as music director for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

Over the course of his career, Prieto has not only conducted and directed many orchestral programs globally but also continued to make significant local impact with his work. In 2017 and 2018 alone, Prieto performed with more than a dozen orchestras and music groups all over the world, and his work with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra was part of the meaningful cultural revitalization of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Prieto’s commitment to music education shines through his service as the music director of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas.

President and CEO of Entergy Inc. Charles L. Rice Jr., J.D. ’95, will receive an honorary doctor of laws. Rice currently serves as president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans Inc., a $750 million-a-year electric and gas utility, and has become a role model to our community as a leader committed to excellence.

His long and illustrious career has included roles as city attorney and chief administrative officer for the city of New Orleans, as well as private practice in the law firm of Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver LLC, where he was named partner. He assumed his current role as president and CEO in June 2010. Under Rice’s leadership, Entergy New Orleans has improved service reliability through hundreds of electric system improvement projects throughout the city. The company also is managing the industry’s largest natural gas rebuild effort in history – the replacement of approximately 844 miles of underground pipe damaged after Hurricane Katrina - and through generous philanthropy demonstrated commitment to the community.

Rice received the Loyola University School of Law Distinguished Moot Court Alumni Award in 2004, and in addition to serving on the visiting committees of the Loyola University College of Law and the Howard University School of Business, he serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana.

Francophone and cultural leader Courtney-Anne Sarpy will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters. Sarpy is beloved in New Orleans as a keeper of the city’s French heritage. In a career spanning more than 50 years, she has taught, translated, promoted, and preserved one of our culture’s most important origins, and her service has continuously reminded us of this history. Sarpy worked briefly as a translator in Paris before teaching French at the Academy of the Sacred Heart and Isidore Newman School. In 1965 she started her tenure at the Consulate General of France, where she served as executive secretary for 40 years.

Over the course of her career, Sarpy has served on the board of directors for several organizations, including the French Heritage Society, and served as a board member for several organizations, including the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. She is active with the Holy Name of Jesus Choir, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Since retiring from the Consulate General of France, Sarpy has joined the board of Ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle-Orléans and served as a member of the Monroe Library Visiting Committee. She co-manages a fund established by her late father and the Greater New Orleans Foundation in support of the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

Internationally acclaimed violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg will receive an honorary doctor of music degree. Praised for her compelling performances, daring interpretations, and electric stage presence, Salerno-Sonnenberg is renowned for her work both on stage and in the recording studio.

Her professional career began in 1981 when she won the Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition. In 1999, she was honored with the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, awarded to instrumentalists who have demonstrated “outstanding achievement and excellence in music,” and in May of that same year, she was awarded an honorary master of musical arts from New Mexico State University.

Salerno-Sonnenberg’s achievements have been celebrated widely. In 1989 she published Nadja: On My Way, her autobiography written for children, which discusses her experiences as a young musician building a career. She was the subject of the 2000 Academy Award-nominated film, Speaking in Strings, a documentary on her life, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2005 she started her own record label, NSS Music.

Salerno-Sonnenberg has served as resident artist for the Loyola University New Orleans College of Music and Fine Arts for the past two seasons, and during her time at Loyola, she introduced the conductor-less string orchestra, Loyola Strings. She now holds the title of extraordinary faculty and director of Loyola Strings.