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Garret Morris word

Written by: University Communications & Marketing

New Orleans, LA – Actor, comedian Garrett Morris will deliver the Founders’ Day Address at Dillard University on Sunday, Oct. 18, at 3 p.m. in Lawless Memorial Chapel. Tracing its history back to its predecessors Straight College and New Orleans University, Dillard is commemorating 146 years as an institution of higher education.

“This Founders’ Day Convocation has added significance because we are celebrating two other milestones at the university,” said Yolanda W. Page, vice president for Academic Affairs. “Along with the storied history of the institution and its founders, we are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Theatre Program and the 60th anniversary of Lawless Memorial Chapel,” she added.

As a native of New Orleans and 1958 graduate of Dillard, Page says Morris was an obvious choice for the 2015 convocation speaker and provides the opportunity to give special recognition for the oldest historically black university theatre program in the country.

Morris, who was raised by his grandfather, a strict Baptist minister, began singing in the church choir at age 5. After graduating from Dillard, he travelled to New York to begin a career on stage while also studying at the Julliard School of Music. Few in the industry have matched Morris’ versatility.  From his pioneering role as an original cast member of Saturday Night Live to his more than decade-long stint as a soloist and arranger with the Harry Belafonte Singers, Morris has done it all.  A true comedy legend, Morris also spent ten years as a stage performer and playwright, with numerous Broadway credits under his belt, and has co-starred on television and in film alongside some of America’s most recognizable talents. With a career spanning nearly six decades, Morris can now be seen every Monday night on the CBS hit 2 Broke Girls playing the role of Earl, a 75-year-old former jazz musician and current ladies’ man who is the cashier at the Williamsburg Diner.

The Founders’ Day Program will also give special recognition to the 80th anniversary of Dillard’s theatre program. In 1935, Randolph Edmonds moved from Morgan College to Dillard University, where he organized the first theatre department at a historically black college and founded the Southern Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts (SADSA). Edmonds' career as a playwright began in 1922, with the one-act folk play Job Hunting, for which he won honorable mention in Opportunity magazine's drama competition. Edmonds accepted the chair of the drama department at Florida A & M in 1948, in which his continuing writing career earned him the title, "Dean of Black Academic Theater."

In conjunction with the theatre program, Lawless Memorial Chapel will celebrate its 60th anniversary. Lawless was erected in 1955 in the southwest corner of the campus as part of former president of Dillard University, Dr. Albert W. Dent’s renovation priorities. In fall of 2009, Lawless Chapel was rededicated during Founder’s Day festivities marking Dillard University’s 140th anniversary and its post-Katrina restoration. In a brief ceremony prior to the program, Dillard’s Chaplain, Rev. Earnest Salsberry, will lead a litany of dedication taken from the 1955 occasion. For more information on the annual Founders’ Day Convocation call 504-816-4800 or visit

Dillard University featured Rap and Religion Ghuru Dr. Monica Miller in fall Lectures PDF Print E-mail
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9-30-2015 Monica Miller Lecture on Religion and HipHop003 copy

Rap and religion converged this fall at Dillard University when Dr. Monica Miller gave two lectures on the subjects. On September 30, Miller, an assistant professor of Religion and Africana Studies and the Director of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Lehigh University, delivered a public lecture and then spoke to President Walter M. Kimbrough’s Philosophy #444 class.  

The first lecture, “‘Respect the Technique’: How Hip Hop’s ‘God Complex’ Changed the Face of Black Religion,” drew from Real Recognize Read: Aporetic Flows and the Presence of New Black Godz in Hip Hop, a book that also features Michael Eric Dyson and two chapters from Miller and Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain in the US (Bloomsbury), with Dr. Pinn and rapper Bernard "Bun B" Freeman. In the second lecture, for Kimbrough’s class, she discussed Bad B***h': Gender, Sex, and the Politics of Keeping it 'Real' and 'Right' in Hip Hop. Prior to the talk, the class was tasked with reading  "Scapegoats, Boundaries, and Blame: The Civic Face of Hip-Hop Culture" from Religion and Hip Hop (Routledge, Monica Miller, 2012/2013).

Miller’s research interests include religion in youth culture, popular culture, identity and difference, new black religious movements, and theory and method in the study of religion. She earned her Ph.D. in Theology, Ethics, and Human Science from Chicago Theological Seminary (2010), M.T.S. from Drew Theological School (2006), and B.A., in Religious Studies from Fordham University (2004).  Her website is and can be found on Twitter@religionhiphop

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Dillard University’s Renaissance Bleu: Pop Up Art & Dining Experience Set for Oct. 17 PDF Print E-mail
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Renaissance Bleu

NEW ORLEANS – Dillard University is hosting its inaugural “Renaissance Bleu: Pop Up Art & Fundraising Dining Experience” on Saturday, October 17, 2015. The event includes a five-course dinner, live entertainment plus an art exhibition with student, local and internationally known artists. The event is celebrating the University’s 80th year anniversary of theatre, the oldest degree granting program among HBCUs. The fundraising event will benefit the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture and the Theatre Department.

Festivities start at 5p.m., with a Dillard Live Arts Show that invites local artists, Dillard University students, and other students to exhibit selected works in contemporary art, film, theatre, music, fashion and more. This event is anchored by Lyrics, Beats and Brushstrokes, a collective of artists and stylists including: Myesha Francis, Artist and Owner of MFrancis Gallery, DJ Chris Stylez, Ayo Scott, Torrence Taylor, Cortez Jackson, Asia Palmer, Ursula Rochon and Charlie Vaughn. Admission is $15.00 for the art show only.  

The experience continues with a fundraiser from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., hosted by the Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture and Dillard Dining Services. The five-course dinner will be prepared by Dillard University’s Executive Chef Joel Williams, Chef Linda Green, “ The Yakamein Lady” and Deshawn McCalpine of D. Chef Catering. Sponsors include Heritage Link Brands and Cajun Fire Brewing Company. The courses include Shrimp & Crabmeat Dressing on Brioche, Redfish Courtbouillon, Thai Braised Cornish Hen with Creole Crawfish Sausage Pasta, and BBQ Brisket with Haricots Verts and more. Trumpeter Troy Sawyer will perform during the dinner that also features a presentation of awards honoring prominent members of the community in theatre, film, art and culinary arts. Two of the awardees include Chef John Folse and photographer Eric Waters, a Dillard graduate.

To launch the event, on Thursday, October 1, 2015, from 5p.m. to 8p.m., at Le Musée de f.p.c. on Esplanade Avenue, local New Orleans artists Myesha Francis and Sharika Mahdi will unveil an original work dedicated to the inaugural Dillard University Renaissance Bleu. Partners and sponsors for all events include: Stella Jones Gallery, MFrancis Gallery, Heritage Link Brands, Cajun Fire Brewing Company, Models for Success LLC, New Orleans National Conference of Artists, Le Musee de f.p.c. and Cuisine Noir Magazine.

 Tickets range from $60.00 to $125.00 and include the art show. Corporate and VIP Tables are also available for purchase. For more information, visit or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
 (504) 816-4091.For tickets go to

 About the Arts at Dillard University

Since 1935, when a theater degree was first offered, Dillard University has supported the arts and arts education. A plethora of greats have walked Dillard University’s historic Avenue of the Oaks and contributed to the arts. Some famous Dillard alums who have contributed greatly to the arts include Harold Battiste Jr., Garrett Morris, Ellis M. Marsalis Jr., Brenda Marie Osbey and Beah Richards. Famous African-American painters Elizabeth Catlett and Charles White taught art at Dillard University in the 1940s.

Thomas Dent, son of former Dillard University President Albert W. Dent, planned and organized the once famed Dillard University Afro-American Arts Festival that featured notables such as the famous poet Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka and jazz singer Abbey Lincoln.

SOAR Completes Enrolling into Dillard PDF Print E-mail
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Parting Ceremony

Upperclassmen welcoming incoming students in Lawless Memorial Chapel during Parting Ceremony. Photography by L. Kasimu Harris

Staff reports 

Student Orientation, Advising & Registration (SOAR) happens twice a year and completes the journey of enrolling at Dillard University. SOAR is designed to provide all new students,  freshman, transfer, resident, commuter or non-traditional, with a plethora of special events, programs, workshops and fun activities to acclimate them into Dillard University.

The university has SOAR in June and in the Fall where students are cleared with Student Health services, Financial Aid, and Business and Finance and residential life, advising and registration.

The university has concurrent parent orientation sessions that coincide with SOAR, where parents and/or guardians learn more about the University and what they can expect.

SOAR also offer social activity components like a history tour of New Orleans, skating or bowling to start bonding with the student leaders. A highlight of  SOAR is Parting Day, when parent and child go their separate ways so the child can begin college life as a young adult.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

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The Trials and Truth about Hazing Revealed PDF Print E-mail
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 Brain Food 2015 with Michael J. Morton

Michael J. Morton kicked off Brain Food, The Dillard University President's Lecture Series with A Conversation About Hazing: Trails and Truth on September 24, 2015 at the Lawless Memorial Chapel. Photography by L. Kasimu Harris 

Staff reports

Dillard University’s 2015 Brain Food Lecture Series began with Michael J. Morton, an ex-convict turned corporate and civic leader, whose life was forever changed while attending  college. On September 24, at 7 p.m., during “A Conversation about Hazing: The Trials and Truth,” Morton told a full house in Lawless Memorial Chapel  how a hazing conviction destroyed his life. “I was young and terribly misguided,” Morton said. He shared his prison experience with students from Dillard, Xavier, Southern University’s New Orleans and Baton Rouge campuses. “This is your moment so stay focused on your future,” he emphasized. Morton’s talk coincided with National Hazing Prevention Week, September 21-25.

In 2006, Morton was an honors student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Florida A&M University. He served as president of the Student Body Senate and two consecutive terms as President of the Alpha Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. After serving two years in prison Morton went on to earn a master’s degree from Rutgers and currently works for Johnson & Johnson.

The remainder of Brain Food’s lineup continues with a group of diverse and powerful speakers including Karrine Steffans, the former video vixen turned New York Times Best Selling Author and the Dance Theater of Harlem. Bryan Stevenson, attorney and human rights activist, will deliver The Revius O. Ortique Jr. Lecture on Law and Society.

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