Congratulations UK Law Class of 2015
On Friday, May 8, 2015, the University of Kentucky College of Law held its Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2015. Family and friends gathered in the Singletary Center for the Arts to honor and celebrate the graduating students.
Dean David A. Brennen congratulated the graduating class and highlighted the Class of 2015’s many accomplishments during their time at law school. “The College of Law Class of 2015 is a collection of students who have formed a community that extended beyond the classroom. In the three years this class has been a part of the College of Law, these students have achieved extraordinary accomplishments.” The accomplishments included volunteering in the VITA clinic to assist with the preparation of hundreds of tax returns for low income taxpayers, competing in numerous co-curricular legal and practical skills activities, providing pro bono legal services, hosting legal symposia, engaging the community by providing on-line commentary on legal issues surrounding the 2014 elections, serving as mentors for local high school students, and hosting numerous guest speakers. This class demonstrated its compassion and commitment to each other by coming together to help fellow classmates through difficult times of need.
Professor Collin Schueler, selected by the graduating students, delivered remarks on behalf of the College of Law faculty. The Class of 2015’s dedication to public service was a common theme among the given remarks as Professor Schueler also boasted of students’ service to the community and told them this was the legacy they would leave behind. A legacy he said was fitting due to the retirement of Professor Robert Lawson, “a man who has devoted his entire life to public service.” Professor Schueler paid tribute to Professor Lawson.
“A man who has been a law professor at UK for 50 years half a century.
A man who twice served as Dean.
A man who wrote Kentucky’s Penal Code and our Rules of Evidence.
A man who has fought his entire life to reform our state’s prisons and jails.
A man who has given so much to you and to me and to generations of students, lawyers, judges, public officials, and members of our community.
And so, today, on this graduation day, when we celebrate your extraordinary commitment to public service, we also honor and thank the most incredible public servant in our law school’s history Professor Robert Lawson.”
Professor Lawson received a standing ovation from the entire assembly in honor of his retirement and service to the College of Law and Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Dean Brennen continued to praise the class for its “pay it forward” gift made to the law school and future law students. “The Class of 2015 demonstrated an outward-focus that will continue to serve them as they begin their careers in law,” Dean Brennen said. “As a further demonstration of a special type of commitment to the College of Law, this year’s graduating class came together to ‘give back.’ As a result of financial donations by the class, a new piece of art will hang in the halls of the UK College of Law.”
Michael Hill, as the highest-ranked student of the class, gave the greetings for the graduates. He humored his classmates and attendees with analogies comparing law school to prison. The motivation for this analogy came because he described seeing scribbled next to a hole in a law school basement wall, “Andy Dufresne was here,” in reference to the main character in The Shawshank Redemption. However, he concluded his speech by acknowledging the strong impact his law school education made on the way he and his classmates view the world. “Law school has fundamentally changed the way you think about daily life and approach the world.” He noted that he and his classmates are now better equipped to handle issues that may arise throughout their life experiences.
Bill Johnson, President of the Kentucky Bar Association, spoke on behalf of the practicing bar. He encouraged the graduates to remember who they are serving throughout their practice. “I suggest you always remember that you are serving a person who needs your help. We, as part of the profession, have a duty to serve the public. We are not always paid in money for our services but we are always rewarded when we help our fellow man and woman.”
The faculty selected Kevin Havelda as this year’s Faculty Cup Recipient, and Dean Brennen presented him with an engraved silver julep cup during the presentation of awards. The Faculty Cup recognizes a graduating student whose endeavors, both in and out of the classroom, made the law school a more interesting place in which to teach and a more pleasant place for faculty and students alike. Dean Brennen then presented members of the graduating class with certificates signifying attainment of the degree of Juris Doctor.
Noelle True, the College of Law Alumni Association incoming President, welcomed the new graduates as distinguished alumni.*
Congratulations Class of 2015! We look forward to the remarkable achievements of this class in years to come.
*Noelle True’s Adaptation of Robert Fulghum’s All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten to the legal profession:
- First – be a nice person. Play fair, don’t hit people, and don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Second – own your mistakes. Clean up your own mess and say you’re sorry when you hurt someone.
- Finally – give back, and stay connected. Share everything, and put things back where you found them.