University of New Hampshire

School of Law

School of Law

UNH Law Announces John Lewis as 2012 Commencement Speaker

Sen. Olympia Snowe and Judges Randall Rader and Jeffrey Howard to receive honorary degrees

Congressman John Lewis, a legendary figure in the civil rights movement, will give the commencement address at the University of New Hampshire School of Law's 37th graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 19.

While still a young man, Lewis became a nationally recognized civil rights leader. In 1961 he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. He was an architect of, and a keynote speaker at, the historic March on Washington in 1963.Congressman John Lewis

He then helped spearhead the march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in Alabama. News reports documenting the marchers being attacked by state troopers revealed the cruelty of the segregated South and helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, Lewis has remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence.

Lewis was born the son of sharecroppers outside of Troy, Alabama. He grew up on his family's farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama, before graduating from Fisk University.

He was elected to Congress in 1986 and has served Georgia's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Atlanta and surrounding areas, since then.

“We are truly honored to have John Lewis as our commencement speaker. His decades of heroic public service and his commitment to holding our nation to its highest ideals are an inspiration to us all,” said John Broderick, dean of UNH Law. “An abiding commitment to social justice has always been a hallmark of UNH Law, and as our graduates prepare to embark on their legal careers, we trust that the principled leadership of Congressman Lewis will resonate with them for years.”

In addition to giving the commencement address, Lewis will receive an honorary degree at the ceremony. Also in attendance to receive honorary degrees will be US Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Chief Judge Randall Rader of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and Judge Jeffrey R. Howard of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Senator Snowe was first elected to the US Senate in 1994. Before her election to the Senate, she represented Maine’s 2nd Congressional District in the US House of Representatives for sixteen years. She is the first woman in American history to serve in both houses of a state legislature and in both houses of Congress.

Widely regarded for her efforts to build bipartisan consensus, Senator Snowe currently sits on the Finance Committee (which she was only the third woman in history to join), the Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as the committees on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, and on Commerce, Science, & Transportation.

Chief Judge Rader was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit by President George H. W. Bush in 1990 and assumed the duties of Chief Judge in 2010. He was appointed to the United States Claims Court (now the U.S. Court of Federal Claims) by President Ronald W. Reagan in 1988.

Rader has taught courses on patent law and other advanced intellectual property courses at law schools throughout the world. He has also co-authored several texts, including the most widely used textbook on U. S. patent law, “Cases and Materials on Patent Law,” and “Patent Law in a Nutshell.” Rader has led dozens of government and educational delegations to every continent (except Antarctica), teaching rule of law and intellectual property law principles.

A Claremont, NH native, Judge Howard served in the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, rising to become Deputy Attorney General. In 1989, he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to become United States Attorney for the District of New Hampshire. In 1993, he was nominated by Governor Steve Merrill to be New Hampshire’s Attorney General. After leaving that post in 1997 and spending several years in private practice, Howard was nominated to the First Circuit Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush in 2001.

This is the school's second graduation as the University of New Hampshire School of Law, after changing its name from the Franklin Pierce Law Center as a result of the 2010 affiliation with the University of New Hampshire. Members of the school's second graduating class, from 1977, will be joining the second class of UNH Law graduates to commemorate the event.

UNH Law's commencement ceremony will be held in White Park, across from the law school, at 2:30 p.m. For more information, visit