GRAMBLING, LA – It seems as though it was only yesterday when Whitney Houston graced Grambling State University’s commencement stage in the summer of 1988 to receive 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. Our sincerest sympathy is extended to the Houston family.

Ms. Houston was the most awarded female artist of all time, according to the Guinness World Records. She received 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. She held the all-time record for the most American Music Awards of any single artist and shared the record with Michael Jackson for the most AMAs ever won in a single year with 8 wins in 1994. In November 2010, Billboard released its “Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years” list and ranked Houston at number three who not only went on to earn eight No. 1 singles on the R&B Hip-Hop Songs chart, but also landed five No. 1s on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Although she released relatively few albums, she was ranked as the fourth best-selling female artist in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America, with 55 million certified albums sold in the US alone. Ms. Houston was the first artist to be given a BET Lifetime Achievement Award.

Grambling State University President, Dr. Frank Pogue states, “Whitney Houston was the most naturally gifted singer I have ever heard. 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.”

“The life of an entertainer is difficult and very demanding”, says Dr. Larry J. Pannell, GSU Acting Head of the Department of Music and Director of the GSU Tiger Marching Band. “The rigorous pressure of trying to stay on top makes it tougher. 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,” Pannell said.

“I was really saddened to hear of the loss of Whitney Houston,” states University Photographer Glenn Lewis. “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,” Lewis commented.

Ms. Whitney Houston’s passing is a great loss to the world of music, her fans, family and the Grambling State University family. Her voice is forever etched in our memories.

NOTE: Photos of Ms. Whitney Houston receiving honorary degree and Bayou Classic performance. Referenced from CNN