NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 2, 2018) – A power outage did not stop Dillard alumnus Dr. Henry C. Lacey from sharing highlights of Dillard University’s past at the quincentennial Founders day convocation on Oct. 21 in Lawless Memorial Chapel, noting you must understand the past to thrive in the future.
Lacey, Class of 1965, was back at Dillard two years after graduation to serve as the English program coordinator. He eventually became vice president for Academic Affairs.
Speaking without a working microphone to a crowd of seniors, school personnel and parents, Lacey recalled how Dillard was a pioneer for many initiatives, in New Orleans and beyond. For example, he said, Dillard created Upward Bound, an intensive eight-week program for new students, and the program was adopted by other schools to transform the lives of students. And the thousands who flock to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival every year can thank a group of students at Dillard in the late 1960s and ‘70s who created its predecessor, the African American Arts Festival, he said.
“People believed [Hurricane] Katrina would take us out; there was even talk of moving Dillard to Atlanta. But just like those resilient oaks outside, we came back stronger after the storm,” he said.
“Dillard, for 150 years, has played a major role in shaping New Orleans, and vice versa,” he said. “Dillard is New Orleans, and New Orleans is Dillard.”
Lacey said graduates who desire to be successful must stay tenacious once they leave the gates: They must be adaptable and go the extra mile that some of their counterparts may not take.
“As time continues to change, so must our Dillard and so must we,” Lacey advised as he pointed to more recent programs on campus, such as the Film major and the Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture.
Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Dillard University president, reminded seniors, wearing their black robes for the first time, “You were the dream of your ancestors 400 years ago when they didn’t have lights. They only had their convictions and the dream of each and every one of you in these seats. The lights going out shows they are here with you now.”