NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — The most decorated football coach in New Orleans Saints history will lead the opening ceremonies at Loyola University in May.
President Tania Tetlow made the announcement in an email to students and faculty on March 25.
“From the very first home opener in a repaired Superdome,” the email read. “For a Super Bowl win in 2010, the Saints taught us how to win again. They made us believe in ourselves and in our city. They brought us together like nothing else has.
Tetlow calls Payton “a brilliant teacher who inspires excellence.”
“His enthusiasm and passion have always made the team even greater than the sum of the players. And he has demonstrated the quality of his character through his personal dedication to serving this community and his public appeal to the NFL on matters of diversity. Graduates will be able to hear their own Loyola version of his halftime speech in the locker room,” the email continued.
Loyola’s opening ceremonies take place May 12-14.
The full email is below:
Dear Loyola Community,
I am thrilled – and filled with more than a little hometown pride – to announce that our speaker for Commencement 2022 will be Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints for the past sixteen seasons.
As our own Loyola basketball teams reminded us this year, sport isn’t just about sport. When Coach Payton first arrived in New Orleans the year after Katrina, the city was on its knees. Not only did we face years of grueling work to rebuild, but also questions about our very existence. Led by Sean Payton, the Saints helped bring our mojo back. From the very first home opener in a repaired Superdome (when U2 played and Steve Gleason blocked his famous punt) to a Super Bowl victory in 2010, the Saints have taught us how to win again. They made us believe in ourselves and in our city. They brought us together like nothing else has.
Sean Payton is one of the most successful and longest-serving coaches in NFL history, which (in our language) means he’s a brilliant teacher who inspires excellence. His enthusiasm and passion have always made the team greater than the sum of the players. And he demonstrated the quality of his character through his personal dedication to serving that community and his public appeal to the NFL on diversity issues. Graduates will be able to hear their own Loyola version of his halftime speech in the locker room.
We will also present honorary degrees to several other notable individuals: internationally acclaimed musician George Porter, Jr., Holocaust survivor and attorney Anne Levy, city health director and pandemic hero , Dr. Jennifer Avegno, and Reverend Gregory Boyle, SJ, who has spent his life working with former gang leaders and helping them find employment and spiritual direction.
At the law school ceremony, we will honor and receive the wisdom of one of my personal heroes, the Honorable Calvin Johnson, retired Chief Justice of the Orleans Parish District Court and first Afro -American elected to serve on this tribunal. He has dedicated his life to making the concept of justice a reality, from reforming the criminal justice system to concern for the mentally ill. And directs with a rare combination of brilliance, courage and humor. Judge Johnson embodies our Jesuit mission.
I look forward to celebrating with you in May. The planning committee asked if we should end the ceremony with confetti, fireworks or a marching band. I said yes. All that!
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