CCH Pounder ’75



When CCH Pounder ’75 returned to campus to deliver the IC Commencement address in 2010, she provided some wise words of encouragement.

“You’ve got to suffer sometimes to make change happen,” she told the graduates. “Moxie, courage, pluck—you have to learn those on your own. There’s no curriculum for that. But an education plus opportunity—that’s the pot at the end of the rainbow.”

A four-time Emmy-nominated actress, Pounder is best known for her starring roles in NCIS: New Orleans, Avatar, The Shield, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ER, and Bagdad Café. She was a founding member of Artists for a New South Africa and serves on the Board of the African Millennium Foundation, an organization committed to the social and economic empowerment of people in Africa, especially women.

Nearly 25 years after graduating from IC, Pounder spent a week on campus as a Visiting Multicultural Fellow, speaking with students and faculty in classrooms and informal gatherings and interacting with members of the surrounding community. She joined with other drama alumni in 2007 to support the first-ever Los Angeles showcase, at which seniors in the Department of Theatre Arts performed before a group of casting directors, managers, and agents.

Pounder received an honorary degree from IC in 2011 and spoke at the dedication of the Athletics and Events Center. Most recently, she recorded a video message for the Class of 2020 virtual commencement ceremony.