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5th Year Katrina Observance
Obama Remarks Video
Obama Remarks Text
Event Photobank


The Xavier campus has seen its share of dignitaries over the years (including world leaders and the Pope), but a new milestone was set this past month when President Barrack Obama chose the university as the site to deliver his Hurricane Katrina five-year observance speech.

An enthusiastic group of New Orleanians (including XU staff and students), as well as a host of national media and other White House invited guests, gathered in the University Center Ballroom to witness the historic event. Miss Xavier 2010-11, Jade Young, a junior chemistry/pre-pharmacy major from New Orleans (Ben Franklin High), was accorded the honor of introducing the President.

In his remarks, much of which focused on the effect the storm had on the Gulf Coast region and the progress that has been made since then, Obama praised the university – and in particular XU President Norman C. Francis – for its own recovery efforts.

“And we see that here at Xavier. Less than a month after the storm struck, amidst debris and flood-damaged buildings, President Francis promised that this university would reopen in a matter of months,” said Obama. “Some said he was crazy. Some said it couldn't happen. But they didn't count on what happens when one force of nature meets another.”

“And by January – four months later – class was in session,” he added. “Less than a year after the storm, I had the privilege of delivering a commencement address to the largest graduating class in Xavier's history. That is a symbol of what New Orleans is all about.”

If you were fortunate enough to attend the event and have photos or reflections to share, please send them to xunews@xula.edu.


Commencement '06 - click video to view full screen

The year was 2006, and Xavier president Dr. Norman C.
Francis was hoping to identify somebody special to address graduating seniors in their first Commencement since the campus had recovered from Hurricane Katrina's devastation less than a year before.

Who knew at that time that the promising young public servant selected for the task – U.S. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois – would go on to be elected as the 44th President of the United States, and the first African American president in the nation's history?

We are proud to be able to offer our web visitors an opportunity to view that speech as it was delivered to the Class of 2006.