The 389 graduates who received degrees in two commencement ceremonies over May 17 and 18 were advised to use their educations to make the world a better place.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell advised Delaware-campus graduates to remember that they have an obligation, as lawyers, to ensure everyone is treated equally under the law.
“You’ve all chosen a career path that is defined by public service. Others will look to you to defend the rule of law and the independence and integrity of our judicial system,” Markell said. “Our moral codes have always recognized that with tremendous power comes tremendous responsibility.”
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene A. DePasquale ‘02, was the featured speaker at the commencement program for the Harrisburg campus. He urged the graduates never to be too proud to “grind it out” and champion for cases and causes that others avoid.
“You will do this university, this law school, these professors and your whole family proud,” DePasquale said. “You will make a difference.”
The Delaware campus commencement, held Saturday, May 17 on the school green, also featured remarks by valedictorian Jordan Strokoff of Camp Hill, Pa. Law Dean Linda L. Ammons
gave the outstanding faculty award – decided by a vote of the graduating class – to Associate Professor Leslie A. Johnson
. The dean gave the Douglas E. Ray excellence in faculty scholarship award to Ruby R. Vale Professor of Corporate and Business Law Lawrence A. Hamermesh
and Professor Laura K. Ray
The Harrisburg campus commencement, held Sunday, May 18 at the Forum in Harrisburg’s Capitol Complex, featured remarks by valedictorian Camille Howlett of Dauphin, Pa. Ammons gave the outstanding faculty award to Professor Juliet M. Moringiello
. The dean gave the Douglas E. Ray excellence in faculty scholarship award to Associate Professor Anna P. Hemingway
Widener University President James T. Harris III told the graduates that famous people are more often defined by their enemies than their friends. He challenged them to find an enemy worthy of their gifts and talents.
“Make racism your enemy. Make global warming your enemy. Make disease your enemy. Make poverty your enemy,” Harris said. “If you do so, I guarantee you’ll live a more fulfilling life and your impact on the world will be lasting.”
Ammons told the graduates that the Widener Law tradition includes being passionate about service and she expressed pride at their level of civic engagement. She commended the classes’ spirit, with 75 Delaware-campus graduates donating 9,690 pro bono hours of service since their first year of law school, and 42 Harrisburg-campus graduates donating 6,784 pro bono hours of service.
Ammons, who is retiring, said it has been her privilege to serve as dean, noting her life “has been enriched and forever changed because I chose this path.”
Then she told the graduates that lawyers have the capability to change lives and affect history.
“I have been a witness to that fact, right here on this campus. It is not hyperbole to say that we are guardians of democracy and champions of justice. The tools we use are words,” Ammons said. “Use the word to make this world a better place.”