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New Orleans, LA – The 135th Commencement of LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans featured special tributes to the students whose educational experience was dramatically affected by Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath. The ceremony, which took place on Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. at the UNO Lakefront Arena, included the Katrina Triumph video which celebrates the extraordinary accomplishments through which LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans kept its educational commitment to its students and its health care compact with the citizens of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana. The students also received specially designed pins as a remembrance and a visible symbol of the courage, fortitude, commitment, and resilience of this class and the faculty and staff of LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans.

Nearly 600 students graduated in the allied health professions, nursing, public health, graduate studies, dentistry, and medicine, and became new members of Louisiana’s health care workforce. This graduation included the first class graduating with Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees. The Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree Program at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans is among the first in the nation and has been on the leading edge of the trend to higher educational requirements for physical therapy practitioners.

The Honorable Donna M. Christensen, MD, the first female physician in the history of the U.S. Congress, the first woman to represent an offshore Territory, and the first woman Delegate from the United States Virgin Islands,  delivered the Commencement Address. She has been very supportive of the recovery of the City of New Orleans.

Dr. Larry Hollier, Chancellor, was honored by the faculty, students, and staff of LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans for his extraordinary leadership through the most difficult time in the history of the university.

The 2009 Allen A. Copping Excellence in Teaching Awards were presented by Dr. Larry Hollier, Chancellor, Dr. Joseph Moerschbaecher, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Dr. John Lombardi, President of the LSU System. Recipients were Medicine--Dr. Betty Lo-Blais, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Pediatrics and Director of the Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program, Public Health--Dr. James Diaz, Professor of Public Health and Director of the Environmental/Occupational Sciences MPH Program, Nursing--Todd Tartavoulle, RN, MN, Instructor of Nursing, Dentistry-- Dr. John Dagate, Associate Professor of Comprehensive Dentistry and Biomaterials and Director of the LSUHSC Dental Clinic at Huey P. Long Medical Center in Alexandria, Allied Health Professions--Dr. John Zamjahn, Assistant Professor of Cardiopulmonary Science and Program Director of Advanced Respiratory Therapy, and Basic Sciences--Dr. Wayne Vedeckis, Amgen Professor of Oncology in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.







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