UNH Law's Class of 2013 Honored at Commencement
On Saturday, May 18, 2013, 146 students received degrees from the University of New Hampshire School of Law during the school’s 38th commencement.
The students, who came from 30 states and 9 countries, received a mixture of both traditional juris doctor and graduate degrees.
UNH Law Dean John Broderick opened the ceremony by honoring three retiring faculty members who have collectively given 81 years of service teaching at the school: Professors Mitchell Simon, Cynthia Landau, and Mary Pilkington-Casey.
Professor John Orcutt, who was selected by the graduating class as this year’s faculty speaker, urged students to take a long-term view of their careers.
“I’m supposed to provide you with some advice about the world you’re heading into,” he said. “The typical type of advice would be things like take risks, be ready for a changing world, don’t fear failure – but you don’t need that advice, you don’t need to be told to prepare for that kind of world. You live that every day.”
Rodrigo Moreno Gutierrez of Bolivia, the graduate student speaker, described his experience at UNH Law, and that of his fellow students, as a kind of mosaic of moments: all-night study sessions with friends, celebrating a diverse array of global holidays on campus, “irresponsibly going to the Barley House when we should have been studying for a midterm.”
“Life at UNH Law is special,” Gutierrez said. “These moments bind us together. Each and every one of us has shared in these experiences. UNH is a part of us now, and we are a part of UNH.”
Jacob Sullivan of North Carolina, speaker for the juris doctor students, had the audience laughing before he even took the podium, as he signaled the band to play “I Wish I Was in Dixie.”
“Whatever compelled you to come here, I think we can all agree that this school is a special place, and we have some pretty amazing faculty and staff, except for Buzz Scherr,” he said to laughs, naming a law professor particularly known for his sense of humor.
After Sullivan wrapped up his speech, to a standing ovation from his fellow students, three members of the class of 2013, Geoffrey Gallagher, Andrew Morabito, and Sarah Wait, presented Dean Broderick with a class gift: $1,000.13.
Four distinguished guests were also there to mark the occasion, and to receive honorary degrees from the school: former New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, retired federal judge Arthur Gajarsa (now the law school’s first Distinguished Jurist-in-Residence), and legendary attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson, the commencement speakers. A fifth honorary degree recipient was absent: Former U.S. Senator Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, who passed away in November, and for whom UNH Law’s new Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy is named.
“Today is Warren Rudman’s 83rd birthday,” said his widow, Margaret Rudman, who accepted the degree on his behalf. “Thank you for remembering him and honoring him today, and including him in your celebration. If he were here today, he would tell you to reach for your challenges and strive to make the world a better place.”
Boies spoke before Olson. He told the students, to laughter, “There are only two obstacles to getting your hard-earned degree: him and me.”
The three most important things, he said, are gaining trust and exercising good judgment, earning the respect of colleagues, and furthering the cause of justice.
“You didn’t come here just to make money, you didn’t come here just to get an education,” Boies told students. “Part of the reason you came here was because you believed in justice. Never forget that.”
Olson, a Republican and frequent opponent of Boies, a Democrat, in high-profile cases, recently appeared alongside his friend to defend same-sex marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court. He spoke of his long and respectful working relationship – and close friendship – with his colleague and sometimes adversary.
“Drink in the moment,” he told the graduates, and urged them to follow his footsteps in reaching out to colleagues on the other sides of issues, even ones they are passionate about.
And then he spoke the words that, he joked, the graduates really wanted to hear: “In conclusion, congratulations!”
More photos of UNH Law's commencement may be seen here.