Law School Holds 130th Commencement Ceremony
On an overcast, cool, and crisp Saturday morning, the Law School held its 130th commencement exercises at Northrop Auditorium on May 12.
In his opening remarks, Dean Garry W. Jenkins congratulated the students on their hard-earned success and welcomed them to their new role as legal professionals who will be entrusted with the lives and affairs of their clients.
“No matter the practice area, I guarantee you, at some point in your career, you will be the most important person in someone else’s life,” Jenkins said. “You might help them gain citizenship in the United States, or to enter into a contract that provides a family with financial stability, or you will ensure that someone’s last wishes are carried out. While that all may seem like a daunting proposition, it is one that we know you are ready for.” In fact, the dean pointed out, many of the graduating students have already had exposure to clients and real-life legal problems through the Law School’s wide variety of experiential learning opportunities.
Jenkins also announced the three faculty winners of the prestigious Stanley V. Kinyon Teaching Awards. In addition to the faculty recognitions, five students received awards for distinguished academic and service achievements. A number of other student awards were presented at the 2018 Student Awards & Recognition Ceremony held a day earlier at the Law School.
After the awards portion of the commencement program, Mahgol Momtahen, an international student from Iran, delivered a poignant LL.M. class address.
Momtahen described how much the mentoring of Professor Mitch Zamoff meant to her in helping her get through the program during a time when she was struggling. “His words inspired me, and propelled me to work harder, and never be afraid of any challenge,” she said. “And now, to my disbelief, I am standing here not only graduating with an LL.M. degree, but I have also been accepted to continue on in the J.D. program.”
In an emotional moment, Momtahen described how her parents wanted to be at the ceremony, but were unable to attend because of the current restrictions on travel from Iran.
Andrew Miles ‘18 delivered a J.D. class address that was at times humorous, nostalgic, upbeat, and aspirational. “As soon as we walk across this stage, we are ready to take on the world, and be the future leaders of tomorrow—the ones who will be making law, setting policies, and being leaders in our communities,” he said. “We have the opportunity to help those who are having some bad luck, and do a lot of good in this world.”
Arne M. Sorenson ’83, president and CEO of Marriott International, next delivered a thoughtful keynote address with some excellent career and life advice for grads.
Another compelling moment in the commencement ceremony came when Professor Bob Stein ’61, former dean of the Law School, presented the first S.J.D. degree—“which some describe as a Ph.D. in law”—ever awarded by the Law School to Mohammed Al Mulhim of Saudi Arabia. His dissertation is entitled “Judicial Independence in Saudi Arabia: Prospects and Challenges.” He plans to return to King Faisal University, where he has been a lecturer, and establish a Human Rights Center. (See “Saudi law school grad makes history at University of Minnesota” in the Star Tribune).
Al Mulhim received a rousing round of applause from the audience when he walked across the stage.
The ceremony ended with a lively rendition of “Hail! Minnesota” lead by student TORT singers and the traditional recessional march.
A video of the full commencement ceremony is available for viewing.