May 25, 2023 - News

Wendell Pierce, Jon Batiste among notable New Orleanians to receive honorary degrees this year

Photo shows Wendell Pierce smiling at the camera. He is wearing a blue suit jacket, white shirt and blue-patterned tie with a lapel pin.

Wendell Pierce was awarded an honorary degree this year from Juilliard. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

It’s traditional at any university commencement to give honorary degrees to big-name supporters and leaders in their respective fields.

  • We’re celebrating these notable New Orleanians who received a coveted doctorate at graduation ceremonies across the country this year.

Why it matters: These are people who've made contributions to the world beyond New Orleans, but who make our city a richer place in the process.

Wendell Pierce: The prominent actor received an honorary doctorate from Juilliard, which recognizes leaders in the arts world.

  • You probably know the New Orleans native from "Treme," "The Wire," "Suits," "Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan" and "Death of a Salesman" on Broadway.
  • Pierce received his bachelor's degree from Juilliard in 1985.

Jon Batiste: The five-time Grammy winner was the keynote speaker and recipient of an honorary degree from Loyola University.

  • The New Orleans native was also musical director and bandleader on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" for seven years until 2022.

Quint Davis: Tulane also recognized prominent New Orleanians this year, giving an honorary degree to Davis, who’s been the "driving force" behind Jazz Fest, the university said in a release.

  • Davis was a Tulane student when he helped launch the first Jazz Fest in 1970. He’s still involved 53 years later.

The bottom line: Celebrity or not, we want to send a big congratulations to all New Orleans graduates (and their parents). Y’all did it.


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