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CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien to address Dillard Class of 2011

18th March 2011   ·   0 Comments

CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien to address Dillard Class of 2011

President Hughes’ six-year tenure to be celebrated during Commencement Week

The Dillard University Class of 2011 will make its way down the Avenue of the Oaks for commencement exercises at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, 2011. The graduation ceremony and its weeklong buildup will celebrate the accomplishments of the senior class and serve as an opportunity for President Marvalene Hughes, who recently announced she would soon transition out of the presidency, to bid a fond farewell to Dillard after six years of service.

Award-winning journalist and CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien will keynote the commencement ceremony. “I am proud that this accomplished professional will share her insight with our students,” said President Hughes. “Her work has had a tremendous impact on changing worldviews through her in-depth analysis of real-life individuals and institutions. She is among the most thorough and insightful journalists I have known. We are honored to have her as our 2011 commencement speaker.”


During commencement, O’Brien will receive an honorary degree from the university.


Soledad O’Brien is an anchor and special correspondent for “CNN: Special Investigations Unit,” reporting hour-long documentaries throughout the year and filing in-depth series on the most important ongoing and breaking news stories for all major CNN programs. She also covers political news as part of CNN’s “Best Political Team on Television.”


Most recently, O’Brien has reported for the critically acclaimed “CNN Presents: Black in America,” a sweeping CNN on-air and digital initiative breaking new ground in revealing the current state of Black America 40 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The landmark programming features six hours of documentaries and weekly reports with a focus on fresh analysis from new voices about the real lives behind the stereotypes, statistics and identity politics that frequently frame the national dialogue about Black America.


O’Brien joined CNN in July 2003 as the co-anchor of the network’s flagship morning program, “American Morning,” and distinguished herself by reporting from the scene on the transformational stories that broke on her watch. Her efforts following Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Phuket, Thailand, have earned her numerous awards and critical acclaim.


President Hughes took office as the first woman and sixth overall president of Dillard University in the summer of 2005, just weeks before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans. Over the following six years, Dr. Hughes oversaw the restoration of the Dillard campus and dozens of its buildings; the construction of two new, state-of-the-art, LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) registered buildings, the Professional Schools and Sciences Building, and the Student Union and Health & Wellness Center; the creation of a Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, funded by the National Institutes of Health and subcontracted with LSU Health Sciences Center; and the restructuring of the university’s academic offerings under a four-college system.


Prior to coming to Dillard, Dr. Hughes served as president of the University of California at Stanislaus, where she oversaw more than $70 million in infrastructural campus improvements, and was credited with increasing enrollment by 40 percent and achieving many national rankings for the first time in the institution’s history.


An international leader, Dr. Hughes delivered the keynote address at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China to the International Conference for Women University Presidents, of which she is a member.


Dr. Hughes received her undergraduate degree from Tuskegee University and her Ph.D. from Florida State University.

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