UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Commencement and UCLA Medal Presentation


Good afternoon! Congratulations, Class of 2017!

As chancellor, I’ve been honored over the past decade to be part of many historic moments at UCLA, and today is one of those special moments, one that many of us have been looking forward to for a long time. Today, we celebrate the first graduating class of the Herb Alpert School of Music.

Class of 2017: you represent the dreams of so many who have come before you, the dreams of those who worked long and hard to establish the first standalone music school in the University of California system. Thanks to their efforts, and yours, we now have a school that deepens UCLA’s impact and excellence throughout Los Angeles, California, and the world.

You understand how the arts, and music in particular, can be forces for good in the world, and instruments of progress and change. Music is essential to our society.

It has the power to bring people together, bridge differences and inspire societies across oceans and generations. And everyone here on this stage is confident that you can use your talents and your education to change the world.

That’s exactly what our honored guest, Herb Alpert, has done. Herb understands the transformative power of music. In fact, he’s made it his mission to champion music and music education.

His life’s work, his passion, his philanthropy, his art are now evident throughout the country, from New York to Los Angeles. And it’s on full display today in the students who are about to walk on this stage to graduate.

For this, and for so much more, we are honored to bestow upon Herb our highest honor, the UCLA Medal.

The UCLA Medal was established in 1979 as the University’s highest honor. It’s reserved for individuals who have made truly extraordinary contributions to their professions, to higher education, to our society and to the people of UCLA.

Previous recipients include heads of state; renowned scientists, artists, and scholars; peacemakers; social reformers; and giants in the realm of commercial enterprise. Today we are very proud to add Herb Alpert to that distinguished group.

The UCLA Medal bears the University seal on one side and a depiction of our landmark Royce Hall on the other. The Medal is accompanied by a citation, which reads as follows:


As one of America’s most gifted and multi-talented artists, you have generously provided transformative leadership and support to the arts and arts education.Your endowment to UCLA established the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and fostered an innovative model for creating musicians and scholars with interdisciplinary and cross-cultural understanding and mastery. You have inspired people of all ages and backgrounds to develop their talent, pursue their dreams, and lead richer, more fulfilling lives. For your uncommon empathy for others, your passion for creativity, and your unwavering faith in the power of art, we proudly bestow upon you the university’s highest honor, the UCLA Medal.