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XU Commencement 2016

XU Convocation Center 10:00 a.m.

College of A&S
College of Pharmacy
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Dr. Helene D. Gayle, CEO of McKinsey Social Initiative, a nonprofit organization that implements programs bringing together varied stakeholders to address complex global and social challenges, will delivered the commencement address at Xavier University of Louisiana’s 89th annual graduation ceremony Saturday, May 07, at 10:00 a.m. in the Convocation Center.

Dr. Gayle, who addressed some 540 undergraduate, graduate, and pre-professional students and their families, was also awarded an honorary degree. She was joined on the podium by three other honorary degrees recipients: pathologist Dr. Bennet Ifeakandu Omalu, educator Dr. Gilda A. Barabino ’78, and businessman Michael Rue.


Dr. Helene D. Gayle is CEO of McKinsey Social Initiative, a nonprofit organization that implements programs that bring together varied stakeholders to address complex global social challenges.

As the inaugural CEO, Dr. Gayle is setting direction and building the organization. McKinsey Social Initiative’s first program, Generation, addresses the problem of youth unemployment, with programs in five countries—India, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, and the United States—and a goal of connecting one million young people with skills and jobs in five years. -more -

dr helene gayle
Dr. Helene Gayle

Dr. Bennet Ifeakandu Omalu, chief medical examiner for San Joaquin County CA and president of Bennet Omalu Pathology, was the sixth of seven children of a civil engineer and a seamstress in Nigeria. A shy but gifted student with a fertile imagination, he was admitted to the Federal Government College at age 12 and began medical school at the University of Nigeria at age 16.

After earning his degree, Dr. Omalu was accepted into a visiting scholar program at the University of Washington in 1994. He then served his residency at Harlem Hospital Center, where he developed his interest in pathology. In 1999, he moved to Pittsburgh to train under noted pathologist Cyril Wecht at the Allegheny County Coroner's Office. - more -

Dr. Bennet Omalu

Dr. Barabino is Berg Professor and Dean of The Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York (CCNY). She holds appointments in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering and the Sophie Davis School of Medicine.

She is a noted investigator in the areas of sickle cell disease, cellular and tissue engineering, and race/ethnicity and gender in science and engineering. She consults nationally and internationally on STEM education and research, diversity in higher education, policy, workforce development and faculty development.

- more -

Dr. Gilda Barabino

Mr. Rue is the President and CEO of Marketplace Properties, a commercial real estate development and management company located in Anaheim, CA. He has served in this capacity for over 31 years.

He is also co-owner of Common Areas, a real estate and facilities management software company, and a partner in The Bruery, a family owned Belgium-style craft beer company located in Orange County CA. The company was started by his son, Patrick.

Mr. Rue has served on the Xavier University of Louisiana Board of Trustees
since 2005. He is currently chairman. - more -

Michael Rue


Information Session / Senior Roll Call

Monday, May 02 - Convocation Center
9:00 a.m. (A&S) / 10:00 a.m. (COP)

Baccalaureate Mass & Awards Convocation
Friday, May 06, 4:00 p.m., Convocation Center

College of Pharmacy Hooding Ceremony
Friday, May 06, 7:00 p.m., Convocation Center

Barnes and Noble Bookstore Hours
University Center
May 07 - 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


Previously, Dr. Gayle was president and CEO of CARE USA, a leading international humanitarian organization with approximately 10,000 staff whose poverty fighting programs reached over 97 million people in 87 countries. An expert on global development, humanitarian, and health issues, she also spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), focused primarily on combating HIV/AIDS. She was appointed as the first director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, and achieved the rank of Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General in the U.S. Public Health Service. Dr. Gayle also served as the AIDS coordinator and chief of the HIV/AIDS division for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Dr. Gayle then directed the HIV, TB and Reproductive Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, directing programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues.

Dr. Gayle serves on public company and non-profit boards including The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the New America Foundation, the Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative, and the ONE Campaign. In addition, she serves on the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Public Health Association, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Named one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women,” Foreign Policy magazine's "Top 100 Global Thinkers," and Newsweek's top 10 "Women in Leadership," she has been featured by media outlets as diverse as the New York Times, Washington Post, ForbesWoman, Glamour, O Magazine, National Public Radio, CNN and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She has also authored numerous articles on global and domestic public health issues, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and social justice.

Dr. Gayle was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. She earned a B.A. in psychology at Barnard College, an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University. She is board certified in pediatrics.

Her contributions have been honored with awards from Columbia University, Barnard College, Spelman College, Bryn Mawr College, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the U.S. Public Health Service and AARP, among others. She has received 13 honorary degrees and holds faculty appointments at the University of Washington and Emory University.

Omalu (cont)

He continued his education at the University of Pittsburgh, completing a fellowship in neuropathology in 2002 and a master's in public health and epidemiology in 2004.

While working at the coroner's office, Dr. Omalu examined the body of Mike Webster, a former pro football player with the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, who had displayed patterns of distressing behavior before his death from a heart attack at age 50. After careful examination of the brain, he discovered clumps of tau proteins similar to a degenerative disease documented decades earlier in boxers, though it had yet to be connected to football players. Dr. Omalu named the condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy and submitted a paper titled "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player" to the medical journal Neurosurgery.

Following publication in 2005, Dr. Omalu was informed that the NFL's Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) Committee was demanding a retraction. Undaunted he pressed forward with his examination of Terry Long, another former football player who had committed suicide at age 45, and discovered the same buildup. His follow-up paper to Neurosurgery was published in 2006.

The NFL attempted to discredit Dr. Omalu's research as "flawed" and refused to acknowledge a link between the sport and the brain damage in former players. However he scored a victory when Mike Webster's family was awarded a significant settlement in late 2006. Later NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell convened a "concussion summit" to discuss the issue with league doctors and independent researchers, although Dr. Omalu was not invited to participate.

Dr. Omalu moved to California in the 2007 to begin his new position as chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, though he continued his post-graduate education at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University and earned his MBA in 2008. That year, he also published his first book, Play Hard, Die Young: Football Dementia, Depression, and Death, and he advanced the study of CTE by branching out to athletes from other sports and war veterans.

By 2009, Dr. Omalu's exhaustive work on the subject began to bear fruit. He was profiled in a September issue of GQ, which detailed his efforts to raise awareness of football-related brain injuries and the NFL's refusal to cooperate. Commissioner Goodell and other NFL executives were soon called to testify before a House Judiciary Committee, sparking an overhaul of the MTBI and rule changes to enhance safety, as well as a lawsuit brought forth by thousands of former players against the NFL.

Dr. Omalu's story eventually reached the hands of Hollywood power player Ridley Scott, who released a feature film starring actor Will Smith. The release of Concussion served as the ultimate vindication for years of hard work, and provided a spotlight for other endeavors.

Barabino (cont)

Prior to joining CCNY, she served as Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and Professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory. At Georgia Tech she also served as the inaugural Vice Provost for Academic Diversity. Prior to her appointments at Georgia Tech and Emory, she rose to the rank of Full Professor of Chemical Engineering and served as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Northeastern University.

Dr. Barabino received her B.S. degree in Chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1978 and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).

She was the Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer for 2012-2014 and is the recipient of numerous awards including the BMES Diversity Award, the BMES Distinguished Service Award, the American Society for Engineering Education/Dow Outstanding Faculty Award, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Minority Affairs Committee Distinguished Service and Eminent Chemical Engineers Awards. She is the Immediate Past-President of BMES and is the President-Elect of AIMBE. She serves on the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Advisory Board and directs the NSF Minority Faculty Development Workshop.

Dr. Barabino has decades of experience in leading initiatives for women and minority faculty and students and is the founder and Executive Director of the National Institute for Faculty Equity.

Rue (cont)

A licensed California real estate broker and a member of the California State Bar, Mr. Rue has previously served as the Executive Vice President of Westar Associates, a company engaged in the acquisition, development and management of real estates including neighborhood, community and freeway shopping centers, apartments, self-storage and hotels.

He also served as the Assistant General Counsel of Vons Grocery Company, a division of Safeway, Inc., the second largest supermarket chain in southern California.

Other affiliations include: Vistage, which helps CEOs and companies improve and grow their businesses through peer advisory groups and sharing experiences businesses performances would improve; the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC); the Worldbed Project, organization that delivers cot-sized mattresses to places that have suffered with disasters; and the Donor-Hunger Project Initiative.

Mr. Rue is also a member of the Loyola Marymount University Board of Regents.


Please note that only official University photographers will be allowed on the floor during the Commencement ceremony. Candid Campus Photography will be photographing each student as they receive their degree as well as an official after-shot. These will be available for purchase on their website. Information regarding this will be mailed to the student's home address of record.




List of Graduates

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Helene Gayle

Other Honorary
Degree Recipients

Dr. Bennet Omalu

Dr. Gilda Barabino
Michael Rue


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Graduation Requirement
Checklist (2016)

Other Important
Graduation Info


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Live Streaming

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

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