Congratulations to Class of 2007!
Memories, laughs, congratulations, and words of advice went on
stage at the Northrop Memorial Auditorium the morning of May 12.
The event was the 119th Commencement ceremony for the University
of Minnesota Law School and the final assembly for the Class of
Co-dean Fred L. Morrison got the event under way with a welcome
to students, faculty, family, and friends and introductions of
his co-dean Guy-Uriel E. Charles, other speakers and dignitaries,
and faculty members. He then turned his remarks to the class of
approximately 225 J.D. graduates and 21 LL.M. graduates.
Morrison summarized the "habits of mind" the faculty
hopes to have cultivated in the 2007 and all classes: a healthy
skepticism, precision in analysis, and a sense of professional
responsibility. Their education in law confers a special power,
he told the class, one they must use wisely. "Represent your
clients diligently, but also remember that as possessors of the
special power of the law, you also have an obligation to protect
the poor, the weak, and the oppressed," Morrison said.
Presenting the Commencement Address was Edward Toussaint, Jr.,
Chief Judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals since 1995 and a
person Morrison said "has a deep interest in and understanding
of legal education." Toussaint spoke about respecting and
valuing people beyond their job title, culture, or situation.
He described taking a quiz in his early law school days that ended
with the question, "What is the first name of the woman who
cleans the school?" When asked whether the question would
count toward a grade, the professor answered, "Absolutely.
In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant."
Toussaint said he had not known the answer, but he learned it
and has never forgotten the lesson of "Dorothy."
The J.D. Class Graduation Address was delivered by Sarah J. Vokes,
introduced by Morrison as "an engaged member of the Law School
community" for her public service, student instructor, international
advocacy, and impressive academic work. Vokes commented on the
transformation she saw take place as she and her fellow first-year
students became professionals who now read cases, think, and analyze
problems like lawyers. She encouraged her classmates to use their
law degree to serve the values that first inspired them to go
to law school.
Maurits A. Steinebach was selected by his fellow foreign law graduates
to give the LL.M. Class Graduation Address. As Morrison explained,
Steinebach plans to return to his hometown of Leverkusen, Germany,
to complete required training and take up a practice in international
human rights. Steinebach likened the Commencement exercises to
the Academy Awards, with 21 star actors from 12 countries. "During
the course of the year, everybody's role touched all of the other
genres as well," he said, concluding with special thanks
to Dorothy Schlesselman, Bree Richards, Dean Meredith McQuaid,
Riddhi Jani, and Muria Kruger.
Awards and their recipients
Scott Peterkin, chair of the Student Graduation Committee, treasurer
of the Law Council, and a member of the graduating class, presented
the Student Awards. Both the Excellence in Public Service Award
and the Most Outstanding Contribution to the Class of 2007 Award
went to Damon A. Thayer.
Amy Bergquist, editor-in-chief of the Minnesota Law Review,
was chosen by a faculty committee to receive the William B. Lockhart
Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Leadership, and Service.
"Amy has devoted her scholarship to issues of pressing importance
in the field of international human rights," Morrison said,
in addition to dedicating herself "to service both within
and beyond the Law School."
The Stanley V. Kinyon Teaching Awards recognize and reward excellence
in teaching. Six faculty members were honored with the award,
which is given in various categories:
- Professor Allan Erbsen: Teacher of the Year Award
- Professor Stephen M. Simon: Clinical Teaching Award
- Professor John Matheson: Senior Teaching Award (for more
than 15 years of service)
- Professor Dale Carpenter: Mid-level Teaching Award (for 5
to 15 years of service)
- Associate Professor David Stras: Junior Faculty Teaching
- Professor Brad Clary: Special Award for Legal Writing
To support the lasting friendships and sense of community they
enjoyed as the Class of 2007, graduates dedicated their class
gift to formation of a student lounge in the Law School.
Commencement of a life in law
The Class of 2007 chose Professors Ann M. Burkhart and John H.
Matheson to present the J.D. graduates. Associate Dean of Administration
and International Programs Meredith M. McQuaid presented the LL.M.
graduates. University of Minnesota Regent the Honorable Patricia
Simmons granted their degrees, and Morrison sent the graduating
class into the world with the following thoughts:
"Our Declaration of Independence recognizes the right to
'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' Our constitution
protects 'life, liberty, and property.' With the education you
have received and the degree you have earned, you now have the
right and, indeed, the obligation to go forth to champion those
rights for all."
Activities concluded with an adaptation of the school song, Hail!
Minnesota, by the TORT Alumni Quartet, composed of new graduates
Joshua L. Colburn, Trevor Scott Helmers, Karin K. Larson, and
Jessica Meghan Biehl Molyneaux.
The St. Anthony Brass Quintet, which also opened the
ceremonies with a prelude and provided the processional music,
supplied recessional music as graduates, faculty, and guests moved
to the Northrop Terrace and Mall for a champagne reception.