XU Convocation Center 10:00 a.m.

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U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin will deliver the commencement address at Xavier University of Louisiana’s 86th annual graduation ceremony Saturday, May 11, at 10:00 a.m. in the Convocation Center.

Benjamin, a 1979 Xavier graduate, is expected to address more than 550 undergraduate, graduate and pre-professional students and their families at the commencement ceremony. She will receive an honorary degree.
regina benjamin

It will be the University’s first commencement on campus since 1983.

For the past 29 years Xavier has held its commencement in various city venues, most recently the Kiefer Lakefront Arena and the New Orleans Arena. Earlier commencements, traditionally, had been held outdoors in the campus Quad. However, torrential rains in 1983 prompted the decision to hold all future events indoors even though there was no facility on campus large enough to hold the anticipated crowds. The new Convocation Center has addressed that problem.

“Commencement is always an extraordinary time for Xavier, and bringing the exercises back to campus will certainly make very special,” said XU President Dr. Norman C. Francis.

The annual Baccalaureate Mass and Honors Convocation will be held the preceding evening, Friday (May 10), at 6:00 p.m. in the Convocation Center. The Very Rev. James Pawlicki SVD will be the homilist at the Baccalaureate, while former XU trustee and retired Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Carmon SVD will be the celebrant.


Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, a 1979 graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, is the 18th Surgeon General of the United States. As America’s Doctor, she promotes good health and disease prevention based on up-to-date information and scientific research. Her care and concern reaches beyond individuals and the public health of the nation to the operational command of 6,500 uniformed public health officers who serve in locations around the world to promote and protect the health of the American People.

From her commitment as the founder of a rural health clinic in Alabama – which she kept in operation despite damage and destruction inflicted by hurricanes Georges (1998) and Katrina (2005) and a devastating fire (2006) – to her worldwide advancement of preventive health care, Benjamin has forged a career that has been recognized by a broad spectrum of organizations and publications.

In addition to her B.S. in chemistry from Xavier, she holds an M.D. degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and an MBA from Tulane University. She attended Morehouse School of Medicine and completed her family medicine residency in Macon, Ga.  Dr. Benjamin is the recipient of 18 honorary degrees.

A former associate dean for Rural Health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile and past chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, Benjamin was the first physician under age 40 and the first African-American woman to be elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. She served as president of the American Medical Association Education and Research Foundation and chair of the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. In 2002, she became the first African-American female president of a state medical society in the United States when she assumed leadership of the Medical Association State of Alabama.

A member of the Institute of Medicine (the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences) and is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, she was chosen as a Kellogg National Fellow and a Rockefeller Next Generation Leader. Past board memberships include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, the Catholic Health Association, and the Morehouse School of Medicine.

She was named by Time magazine as one of the “Nation’s 50 Future Leaders Age 40 and Under.” She was featured in the 1995 New York Times article, “Angel in a White Coat;” the December 1999 cover of Clarity magazine; in the 2002 People magazine’s article, "Always on Call;” and was featured on the January 2003 cover of Reader’s Digest as one of the national publication’s"Everyday Heroes." She was also named “Person of the Week” on ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, and “Woman of the Year’ by CBS This Morning. 

In 1998, Benjamin was the United States recipient of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights. She received the 2000 National Caring Award and was recognized with the Papal honor Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Pope Benedict XVI. In 2008, she was honored with a MacArthur Genius Award Fellowship. In 2011, Dr. Benjamin became the recipient of the Chairman’s Award during the worldwide broadcast of the 42nd NAACP Image Awards.

“Xavier University is proud of Dr. Benjamin because of all her accomplishments,” said Xavier President Dr. Norman C. Francis, “but more importantly because she embodies the vision and core values articulated by St. Katharine Drexel when Xavier began.”


Information Session / Senior Roll Call
Monday, May 06, 9:00 a.m., Convocation Center

College of Pharmacy Honors and Awards Program
Thursday, May 09, 7:00 p.m., University Center Ballroom A/B

Baccalaureate Mass & Awards Convocation
Friday, May 10, 6:00 p.m., Convocation Center


The campus Barnes & Noble Bookstore (University Center) will be open for Graduation 2013 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m on May 11.. The Bookstore will be open until 5:00 p.m. Friday (May 10).

The St. Katharine Drexel Chapel will be open to the public on May 11 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.


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Baccalaureate and Commencement will both be available for viewing online. Visit the XULA homepage on
the day of the event.

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Keynote Speaker
Dr. Regina Benjamin '79


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