La. Gov. John Bel Edwards to Address Loyola Law Graduates at Commencement
A devoted Catholic and advocate for criminal justice reform and health care, Edwards will receive honorary doctorate from Jesuit university
(NEW ORLEANS) – March 20, 2019 – Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards will deliver words of wisdom this spring to the 101st graduating class of the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. A lawyer himself, he will deliver a commencement speech in a special ceremony to be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 11, in the Louisiana Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
A devout Catholic and advocate for criminal justice reform and health care, Edwards will receive a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from the Catholic Jesuit university. Earlier the same day, Loyola will present honorary degrees to New Orleans musician Deacon John Moore; Rabbi Alexis Berk of Touro Synagogue; Hiroshi Motomura, an internationally recognized advocate and scholar in immigration and citizenship law and philanthropist and businesswoman Gayle Benson, who will deliver the commencement address to undergraduates.
“In a short four years, Governor Edwards has made a profound and far-reaching impact addressing the basic human needs of the people of Louisiana and protecting ‘the least among us,’” said College of Law Dean Madeleine Landrieu, J.D. ‘84, H ‘05. “A leader in criminal justice reform, a champion of education, and an avid protector of civil rights, Governor Edwards lives out daily the Jesuit ideals of excellence in all endeavors, respect for human life and dignity, and commitment to social justice.”
Born and raised in Amite, Louisiana with a family of Tangipahoa Parish sheriffs, the 56th governor of Louisiana learned the importance of public service at an early age. Gov. Edwards graduated in 1988 from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as vice chairman of the panel that enforced the West Point honor code. Edwards completed Airborne School in 1986, while he was a student at West Point. He served eight years as an Airborne Ranger on active duty with the United States Army and commanded a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. He graduated from the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center and set up a civil law practice in his home town of Amite.
In 2008, he was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 72, where he served eight years, until he was elected governor of Louisiana in November 2015. His time in the legislature included two terms as the Minority Leader of the Louisiana House of Representatives and service as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
He credits his father for having taught him the skills of decision making and taking all aspects into consideration before affecting the lives of the people of Louisiana. He is revered for being a strong member of the Catholic community as a Eucharistic minister, altar server, and liturgical reader.
Throughout his political career, Gov. Edwards has been a champion of veterans, an anti-discrimination leader, a protector of civil rights, and a champion for the health and welfare of children and families. In 2016, he enacted Medicaid expansion, cutting the number of Louisianans without health insurance in half. He has worked since his election to safely reduce the state prison population and is an advocate for teachers and school support workers.
In his first term as governor, Gov. Edwards inherited the largest budget deficit in the state’s history. After years of hard work, he and a bipartisan group of legislators worked together to stabilize Louisiana’s budget for the first time in a decade. In addition, his tenure as governor has been marked by securing the largest economic development project in the state’s history, providing healthcare to the working poor, and working to make Louisiana’s economy the largest it has ever been.