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A Special View from Gibson - Our Commencement Speaker

Monday, March 6, 2017

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Dear Tulane Community,

I promise this is no Oscar night snafu. Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren will deliver the keynote address to Tulane graduates at Commencement 2017.Helen Mirren: Photo by Trevor Leighton

It is an honor to have one of the world’s most accomplished and versatile actresses, who has starred in roles ranging from real-life heroine Maria Altman in "Woman in Gold" to the voice of Dean Hardscrabble in "Monsters University," address our graduates, their families and friends.

Helen Mirren won an Oscar for her leading role in "The Queen," and also portrayed Queen Elizabeth II in the London and New York stage productions of "The Audience," for which she received England's highest theater honor, the Olivier, as well as a Tony. She also won an Emmy and Golden Globe honors for the mini-series "Elizabeth I."  Yet she is almost equally famous for her generosity in helping others.

Her public service commitments include the National Youth Theatre, which provides opportunities for disadvantaged youth; Barnardo's, a UK-based children's welfare organization that promotes foster care and adoption while fighting child poverty, sexual exploitation and domestic violence; UKHF, a charity devoted to supporting orphaned and vulnerable children in Uganda; and Artists for Peace and Justice, which supports education and health initiatives in Haiti. She also contributes to the Voluntary Responder Group, which supports emergency responders, and to ICAP Charity Day, an annual event that has raised millions for charities all over the world. For this and more, we will award Ms. Mirren an honorary doctorate during the ceremony.

We will also have a lot of fun hearing the wit and wisdom of this self-described "notoriously frank and uncensored British lady" who, in 2003, was named a Dame of the British Empire.

Commencement 2017 promises to be one of the best ever. We have had presidents, authors, comedians and even the Dalai Lama as commencement speakers, but never the Queen.