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Wycliffe Gordon

Dr. Wycliffe A. Gordon
Class of 2006

 Wycliffe Gordon photo

At Commencement 2006, Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., President of The University of Scranton, and Dr. Harold W. Baillie, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs congratulate Dr. Wycliffe A. Gordon after awarding him the honor of the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Dr. Gordon also served as commencement speaker for the ceremony, delivering the address with his "real voice" - the trombone! 


     As longtime Scranton Jesuit the late Rev. William B. Hill, S.J., reminded us regularly, thanks for music. While speech can stress our differences and can deny our common humanity, music is a universal language that brings us all together in harmony and empathy.  
     Psalm 150 commands us to praise the Lord with this universal language of music, and Wycliffe Gordon has devoted his life to doing just that: achieving the Ignatian ideal of eloquentia perfecta through his music-making. With a heart at least as big as the huge sound of his trombone, Mr. Gordon upholds and passes on the legacy of the great jazz tradition of our nation constantly and joyfully through the sharing of his uniq ue gift for communication. As a performer, composer, arranger, mentor, and teacher, Mr. Gordon has indeed praised  the Lord with the sound of America's own music, and has done so in a stunning diversity of locales - ranging from public school classrooms in inner cities to great concert halls throughout the world, to the delight and enlightenment of everyone from small children to heads of state.
     The inventor of a compendium of original techniques that have expanded t he vocabulary of jazz (enabling the production of sounds like those of motor vehicles, various choirs and exultations of church congregations, and wildlife of all types and sizes), Wycliffe Gordon is a champion of our music - a music with its roots in New Orleans; a music that models the ideals of democracy through its performance demands for positive and productive interaction, honest communication, and commonality of soul; a music that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit over adversity .
     In recognition of his gift for articulating in our universal language the mystery, the joys, the triumphs and the sorrows that touch us all, we, the President and Trustees of The University of Scranton, in solemn convocation assembles and in accord with our chartered authority, declare 


     That he may enjoy all the rights and privileges of this, our highest honor, we have issued these letters patent under our hand and the corporate seal of the University in this twenty-eighth day of May in the year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six.

John D. Dionne, Chair, Board of Trustees                       
Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., President

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