Entertainer Whitney Houston, who died Saturday, was the speaker at Grambling State University’s commencement in the summer of 1988 and received one of the university’s highest honors, the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

“The Grambling State University Family, like others across the world, was saddened to hear the news of a fallen alumnus,” officials said in a news release. “Our sincerest sympathy is extended to the Houston family.”

“Whitney Houston was the most naturally gifted singer I have ever heard,” Grambling State University President Frank Pogue said. “The fact that she was selected to receive an honorary doctorate, the most prestigious degree a university can confer, is a clear indication that Grambling has always recognized excellence.

The fact that she willingly accepted the award confirms her respect for the academic quality for which Grambling is widely known. Her contributions in music will live forever.”

Larry J. Pannell, GSU’s acting head of the Department of Music and director of the GSU Tiger Marching Band, said the life of an entertainer is difficult and very demanding.

“The rigorous pressure of trying to stay on top makes it tougher,” Pannell said. “As a whole, when you look at her life, Whitney serves as an inspiration to all musicians who are striving to be the best that they can be by emulating her. It’s a sad day for the world and for the world of music. The music will live on and her spirit will live on through her music.”

University photographer Glenn Lewis said: “I was really saddened to hear of the loss of Whitney Houston. She was a great singer and entertainer. Her 1987 Bayou Classic concert was simply superb. Seems like it was not that long ago (summer of 1988) when she walked across the T.H. Harris Auditorium stage and President Joseph Johnson awarded her the honorary doctorate.”

Courtesy of The News Star