May 18, 2008 -- The 141th Commencement of The George Washington University Law School was held yesterday with 501 J.D., 128 LL.M., and 3 S.J.D. graduates receiving degrees at the University Ceremony on the National Mall at the foot of the Capitol and at the Law School Diploma Ceremony in the Smith Center.
Diploma Ceremony Highlights
The Law School Diploma Ceremony was held at 2:30 p.m. in the Smith Center following the Commencement Ceremony. As thousands of family members, friends, and Law School and University community members looked on, the graduates were led into the ceremony by Faculty Marshals Scott Pagel, Alfreda Robinson, J.D. '78,
and Joan Schaffner
. Senior Associate Dean Steven Schooner, LL.M. '89
, Marshal of the Law School, announced the Commencement. Bridget Crawford, Bryan Mechell, Adriana Schick, and Reverend Robert Wolcott
, all class of 2008 graduates, sang the National Anthem. Reverend Wolcott
then delivered the Invocation.
Following a welcome address by University President Steven Knapp, Dean Frederick M. Lawrence acknowledged the Stockton Guard, graduates from the class of 1958 and earlier. Professor Emeritus Ralph Clarke Nash, Jr., J.D.,'57, served as Grand Marshal of the Stockton Guard.
Professor Ralph G. Steinhardt received this year's Distinguished Faculty Service Award, which is voted each year by the graduating Juris Doctor class. Bryan King, J.D. '08, SBA president for the '07-'08 year, presented the award. Awards also were presented to acknowledge outstanding adjunct faculty teaching. Professor Lecturers in Law Randall D. Eliason, Douglass Letter, and the Honorable Randall R. Rader, J.D. '78, were recognized with the 2008 Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Service Awards. Senior Assistant Dean for Student Affairs David M. Johnson received the Distinguished Staff Service Award, voted by the graduating class.
Dean Lawrence also announced three student awards:
Jonathan C. Bond received the John Bell Larner Award for the highest cumulative average in the entire course for the Juris Doctor degree.
Jonathan A. Direnfeld received the Anne Wells Branscomb Award for the highest cumulative average in the part-time evening division.
Bridget Crawford received the Michael Dillon Cooley Memorial Award, voted on by her classmates.
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye, J.D. '52, United States Senator from Hawaii, delivered the address. He intertwined his own life experiences--particularly from his childhood as he and his family persevered through anti-Japanese-American sentiments and policies during World War II--into what the Declaration of Independence means to him.
"A week ago, I spent four hours watching the first four chapters of HBO’s special documentary on John Adams. I did this to remind myself of the pain, anxiety, and sacrifices that our founding fathers had to endure for an idea. For this idea, they were willing to give up their lives, their families, and their fortunes... I was mesmerized by the scene of Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin debating the text of the Declaration of Independence. This Declaration with its key sentence of 35 words has been an important part of my life since my early youth. I have found myself thinking of those 35 words in my mind during difficult moments of decisionmaking: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.'"
Following an address by Senator Inouye, each graduate approached the stage to receive her or his diploma from Dean Lawrence.