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As Seen by the Dean

photo of Dean Young

A Celebration For All

Everyone knows that Commencement is a great moment in the lives of the graduates, marking a rite of passage as they complete a stage of their formal education and move on to face new challenges and new opportunities. Commencement also is a great moment in the life of the school itself as we send another class of law graduates out into the world of clerkships, firms, government agencies, and business.

This past May, we all were proud to celebrate the great successes of the outstanding Class of 2008. As I was honored to hand out diplomas to more than 600 JD and LLM recipients, I was filled with a sense of great pride in these students. Each spring, it is a special privilege to share the excitement associated with graduation weekend and the commemorative activities enjoyed by our graduates, family, and friends.

It also was a pleasure to have many of our accomplished GW Law alumni with us to see with your own eyes what I see daily with our fine students. I appreciate your joining us in celebrating with our graduates their achievements and successful completion of their years of legal education.

As I told the graduates on May 18, deans are not supposed to have “favorite classes”! But I have to say that this class always will have a special place in my heart because most of them were first-year students when I began as dean in August 2005—we joined the GW Law family together. This class also has the distinction of having set a new record for class gift participation with an extraordinary rate of 75 percent giving. As a result of this record-setting rate, an anonymous alumni donor will contribute an additional $50,000 to the Class of 2008 Scholarship Fund. This achievement is a perfect example of the commitment of our graduates and the dedication and generosity of our supportive GW Law alumni.

One of our most distinguished alumni, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye JD ’52, honored us by delivering a moving and heartfelt address to this class of new attorneys. “Hero” has become, I fear, an overused word in our time. But I say without hesitation that Dan Inouye is a true American hero. We are fortunate that he is one of our esteemed alumni. The graduates—and indeed all those present—were inspired by the senator’s view of the 35 words that comprise the heart of the Declaration of Independence: “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.” These words have been tested time and again and still challenge us to work continually for equality and justice in today’s world. The Class of 2008 received a charge to take their first steps forward to positions of leadership and influence both here and abroad and to give voice and action to those 35 words as they make them a reality for those of their generation.

We all are justly pleased about the achievements of our graduates and eagerly look forward to their outstanding professional careers as they join your ranks as members of our great GW Law alumni. Look for them in your bar associations, in your law firms, in judges’ chambers, in government offices, and in your civic and social organizations. They will be there! I hope you will enjoy getting to know this smart, involved, and focused group of graduates just as we have here at the Law School. They are more than well-trained young lawyers; they are fine people.

When we celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates, we are in the deepest sense celebrating you, our dedicated and supportive alumni and friends. None of our successes would be possible without your continuing support. As I think of the Class of 2008, which has just graduated, and the class of 2011, which will arrive in the fall, I am especially grateful for the many contributions of our alumni that make it possible for us to deliver the legal education that we do. On behalf of all these students who are the beneficiaries of your generosity, thank you for all you do to support our efforts and to support them.

Frederick M. Lawrence
Dean nd Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law