Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will become only the sixth recipient of a honorary doctorate from The University of Southern Mississippi on Saturday, May 15, when he is awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the university’s Centennial Celebration Commencement.
Upon receipt of the honor, Giuliani will join an exclusive list of Southern Miss honorary degree holders, a list that includes the university’s most famous benefactor, Oseola McCarty, and the first woman to hold statewide office in Mississippi, former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Gandy.
“Given the short but impressive list of individuals who have received honorary degrees from Southern Miss, there are few, if any, other awards from the university that are more prestigious,” said Southern Miss President Martha Saunders.
In receiving the honorary doctorate, Giuliani will join approximately 1,600 others receiving Southern Miss degrees that day.
“Mayor Giuliani is very much deserving of this distinction, and I am eagerly looking forward to adding his name to the ranks of Southern Miss alumni,” said Southern Miss Alumni Association Executive Director Bob Pierce. “I am excited to have him here to help us celebrate the 100th anniversary of the institution’s founding.”
The commencement ceremony, set for 9 a.m., will feature an address on crisis management by Giuliani. As New York’s mayor on Sept. 11, 2001, Giuliani was the administrative leader of a city in crisis and the comforter of a nation in mourning. In recognition of his leadership following the terrorist attacks, Time magazine named Giuliani the 2001 “Person of the Year.” He was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and was presented the Ronald Reagan Presidential Freedom Award by former First Lady Nancy Reagan.
“Leaders need to be optimists, especially in times of crisis,” Giuliani said. “Crisis situations define leadership abilities. We dealt with that in New York on 9/11. The University of Southern Mississippi and the Gulf South dealt with the crisis of Hurricane Katrina and now the university is taking a leadership role in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Giuliani said conviction is a common trait held by leaders.
“There are many qualities that make a great leader,” Giuliani said,” but having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times is the most important characteristic. I encourage all Southern Miss graduates to commit to become leaders in their every endeavor, and use the leadership examples they have seen from President Martha Saunders and others on campus. In doing so, they will honor the legacy of Southern Miss which has spanned 100 years, and they will become good stewards of the world they will soon lead.”
Almost 1,600 students are expected to participate in the ceremony in M.M. Roberts Stadium on the Hattiesburg campus, including students from the university’s campuses in both Hattiesburg and Long Beach. Southern Miss has graduated more than 120,000 students in its 100-year history.
Giuliani is Chief Executive Officer of Giuliani Partners, a New York-based consulting firm specializing in security, preparedness and crisis management. He also is the author of the best-selling book, “Leadership” (2002), in which he reflects on decision-making, management skills and the 9/11 crisis. A one-time contender for the Republican Presidential nomination, Giuliani has been a name partner in the Bracewell & Giuliani law firm since 2005.
For more information about the Centennial Celebration Commencement online, visit www.usm.edu/commencement.Rudolph Giuliani
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.