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Empowered with a New Degree, Class of '08 Sets Forth

Co-Dean Fred L. Morrison opens the 120th Commencement Ceremony
Co-Dean Fred L. Morrison opens the
120th Commencement Ceremony
MAY 17, 2008—The weather graciously remained bright for the Law School's 120th Commencement ceremonies as Co-Deans Guy-Uriel E. Charles and Fred L. Morrison welcomed the Class of 2008, guests, faculty and distinguished speakers May 17 at Northrop Auditorium.

Dean Morrison, in his remarks to the class, urged graduates to remember the lessons of perspective and ethics they learned at the Law School, since the public would place much faith in their leadership. "People will defer to your judgment, so use that power wisely," Morrison said. "Remember that as possessors of the special power of the law, you also have an obligation to protect the weak, the poor and the oppressed."

Before introducing the keynote speaker, University of Minnesota Regent David Metzen took a moment to extend thanks to Co-Deans Charles and Morrison for their two years of hard work as interim deans.

Commencement speakers:

Governor Tim Pawlenty
Governor Tim Pawlenty
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a 1986 graduate of the Law School, delivered the keynote address. Pawlenty, a South St. Paul native, served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 10 years before becoming governor in 2002.

Pawlenty encouraged graduates to appreciate their legal training, but to never lose perspective on the rest of life. Staying in touch with one's personal life and being there for friends and family is part of living a balanced life, and being a good person is just as important as being a good lawyer, he noted.

Nicholas A. Smith
Nicholas A. Smith
The Class of 2008 J.D. Address was given by Nicholas A. Smith. He highlighted a number of this classmates' activities and accomplishments, noting their contributions to their causes. He also reflected on the process of becoming a lawyer, including learning how to communicate with those who hold opposing viewpoints from one's own. "How we deal with people with whom we disagree may have more to do with where we are in 20 years than our ability to give them 15 reasons why they are wrong."

Meng (Mikayla) Che
Meng (Mikayla) Che
This year's LL.M. Class had 22 graduates from 14 countries. Meng (Mikayla) Che was chosen by her peers to deliver the LL.M Address. Che, who has emigrated to America from China, credited the LL.M. program with helping her start her new life. The LL.M. students may have come from different countries and cultures, but they had a common goal, she said: "We came here to build and be part of a powerful international legal network, and we came here to sharpen our professional skills."

Faculty Awards:

Four Law School faculty were presented with Stanley V. Kinyon Teaching Awards for excellence in education, named for the late Professor Stanley V. Kinyon.

Teacher of the Year: Stephen F. Befort
Tenure-Track Teacher of the Year: Daniel Schwarcz
Tenured Teacher or the Year: Barry C. Feld
Clinical Teacher of the Year: Kathryn J. Sedo

The Law School also recognized two law faculty members who won university awards earlier:

Professor John Matheson received the 2007-2008 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education (to read this news story, click here).

Associate Professor of Clinical Law Prentiss Cox received a 2008 University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Service Award for his work on the home mortgage foreclosure crisis (to read this news story, click here).

Student awards:

Stephen Barrows, the Class of 2008 Student Graduation Committee Chair, presented the Class of 2008 student awards.

Left to right: Vice Provost Aalene Carney, Co-Dean Fred L. Morrison, Governor Tim Pawlenty (’86), Co-Dean Guy-Uriel E. Charles, Regent David Metzen
Left to right: Vice Provost Arlene Carney,
Co-Dean Fred L. Morrison,
Governor Tim Pawlenty (’86),
Co-Dean Guy-Uriel E. Charles,
Regent David Metzen
Matthew W. Ramage-White received the Class of 2008 Most Outstanding Contribution Award, which honors the student who has contributed the most through leadership and participation in academic programs and extracurricular activities. Ramage-White served as president of the Law Council, as a student director for the International Moot Court, and was a member of the student drama group, the Theatre of the Relatively Talentless (T.O.R.T.)



The Class of 2008 Excellence in Public Service Award was given to Sarah Corris Riskin. Riskin served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Law and Inequality and was a crucial part of the Martin Luther King Raise the Bar Day of Service Program, a volunteer service effort for projects in the Twin Cities. She also was a member of T.O.R.T.

Left to right, front row: Michael A. Smith, Carrie Ryan Gallia, Sarah Corris Riskin, Assistant Dean of Students Erin Keyes (’00)
Back row: Matthew W. Ramage-White, Stephen H. Barrows, Nathan J. O’Konek, Karen P. Seifert, Christopher John Diedrich
Left to right, front row: Michael A. Smith,
Carrie Ryan Gallia, Sarah Corris Riskin,
Assistant Dean of Students Erin Keyes (’00)
Back row: Matthew W. Ramage-White,
Stephen H. Barrows, Nathan J. O’Konek,
Karen P. Seifert, Christopher John Diedrich
Dean Charles presented the William B. Lockhart Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Leadership, and Service to Carrie Ryan Gallia. While pursuing her law studies, Gallia also worked on the Minnesota Law Review, taught in the Law School's Legal Research and Writing program for two years, and won a 2008 Leonard, Street & Deinard Award for Excellence in Board Writing. Lockhart, the award's namesake, was the sixth dean of the Law School and held a deep recognition of the law community's obligation to serve as leaders in the community.



Many other student awards had been presented earlier, at a special ceremony and reception May 16 (to read this news story, click here.)

After the degrees were conferred, Dean Morrison addressed the university's newest lawyers: "Graduates, our Declaration of Independence recognizes the right to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' Our Constitution protects our 'life, liberty, and property.' With the education you have received and the degree you have earned, you now have the right—indeed, the obligation—to go forth to champion those rights for all."

The T.O.R.T. Alumni Trio (Karen P. Seifert, Christopher John Diedrich, and Nathan J. O’Konek) sang the school Anthem to conclude the ceremonies. Immediately following, guests enjoyed a champagne and hors d'oeuvres reception on the Northrop Terrace and Mall.

 
Graduates entering Northrop Auditorium

Before

 
 
 
Graduates exiting Northrop

After