DeGeneres, Connick salute Tulane graduates
NEW ORLEANS: Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and actor-musician Harry Connick Jr. returned Saturday to their hometown of New Orleans to cheer on Tulane University's graduating "Katrina Class" — the students displaced by Hurricane Katrina nearly four years ago.
"Look at you," DeGeneres told the 2,000-plus graduates who received diplomas at the Louisiana Superdome. "Usually when you're wearing a robe at 10 in the morning it means you've given up."
The ceremony included a short film with images of Katrina's destruction and interviews with students. Clarinetist Michael White and his jazz band performed "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," and jazz singer Wanda Rouzan performed "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?"
But as in 2006, when she made a surprise appearance at the Tulane's first commencement ceremony after Katrina, it was DeGeneres who stole the show. She had the crowd laughing and dancing as she strutted through the aisles as she does on her television talk show, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
In 2006, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were delivering Tulane's commencement address when DeGeneres walked on stage wearing a white terrycloth bathrobe because, she deadpanned, she was told everyone would be wearing a robe.
Connick addressed the audience only briefly after he was given an honorary degree for his work in the city's recovery.
"You are my heroes," he told the graduates.
Tulane President Scott Cowen presented DeGeneres with the Tulane University President's Medal for her work to raise money and awareness for New Orleans after Katrina.