May 14, 2005
Speech at Graduation of the Class of 2005
2005 Class Speech
May 13, 2005
Thank you Dean Rogers for your kind words. [And thank you for the almost but not quite as good as Professor Shipman Teaching Award.] It is wonderful to see the Class of 2005 all in one place with your families. It is a glorious day for celebrating. I am bit nervous to see the faculty all in one place, however, a faculty meeting may break out. [I imagine my colleagues are also a bit nervous -- with me up here in front of an open mike.]
II. Class History:
The Class of 2005 went though 3 years together and, in so doing, developed quite a reputation. You folks are a sociable, relaxed group, slow to rile. [Earnestness? That’s for those 2Ls.] When riled, however, you will step up and put your name on a petition or two to the Dean.
Let’s do a quick review:
In Your First Year:
You chuckled when an over-enthusiastic Safety Officer greeted you at orientation telling you that you would either be assaulted or have your computer stolen and those of you lucky enought to have your computer stolen repurchase it in Dayton. You showed Professor Bronstein how to party -- at his house no less. You endured the faculty’s version of Cod Liver Oil: a class called “Legislation” [it tastes bitter going down, day I say it? The Funnel, but it’s good for you.]
In Your Second year:
I arrived in town and met 88 of you in Business Associations; you were the veterans of Drinko Hall and I the rookie. Stephany Cokes greeted me on the first day class with a question: “There is a rumor going around that you went to Michigan; is it true?” Nick Brannick, the second week of class, told me my teaching style would never work here; I held too many – well-- unusual opinions. [Then you discovered that I relish a good sharp counterpunch, one that pulls one’s classmates away from a free cell game for a moment of joint mirth -- and we got along better; I passed over into the “he’s a character” category].
I have taught at ten or so schools in four countries and by my second month here I told my wife “Something about the students here is unique and I cannot put my finger on it.” The next day in BA, arranging my materials for class from the podium, I looked up to see 87 students [ John McMillin was not there; are you out there John?] I looked up to see 87 students in animated conversation, laughing and smiling. Then I understood: Despite the inevitable competitive pressures of law school, the Class of 2005 genuinely enjoyed each other and, dare it say it, enjoyed conversing with their professors. What a delightful group you are and how lucky the staff and faculty were to have you here.
Moreover, I can to appreciate that members of the class 2005 are not one-dimensional. You introduced me to the largest and best run student organization, the Wednesday Night bowling league organized by Jason Job, so he could win. The breath of your extra-class activities is both heartwarming and amusing. Diana Parker threw her energy into volunteer work for children as did Bret Jortlan, Denise Pleska, Sheryl Trzaska and Justin Tyack. Andre Porter as you have seen is an accomplished R& B singer; Chris Reis owns and races thoroughbred horses; Chris Geigner has a blog (and thankfully I am not featured in it, yet); Kara Wolke who won a trip to the Grammies, can juggle balanced on a unicycle; Jack Saxbe produced experimental TV pilots; Dave Gillespie earned tuition dollars from poker.
Then In Your Third year:
Like marathon runners in the final stages of a race you grew weary. And you participated in our own version of a survivor reality show, “The MoPD” (to the families: our placement office) In my class, securities regulation, there was a not-so-tongue in cheek public discussion of interviewing for a job at a gas station listed on Monster.com.
Many of you have found work and those who have not, will. We are very fortunate to live in a country where persistent effort pays huge rewards; in country in which failure with a clean reputation is called experience. So, if you persist and maintain a personal reputation for integrity you will find that you can use your legal education to feed your families in a socially useful and personally rewarding way -- and this is what law school is all about.
This advice applies also to those who now have jobs; most of you will move 3 or 4 times in your professional career and several of you may change your profession.
In this regard my life has been a disorganized but wonderful wander: I have changed jobs five times and my wife, originally a lawyer, changed professions at age 50 (she is now a Methodist minister and I one of her most difficult projects).
So get up when you fall; look around when you are dissatisfied; nurture your reputation for honesty, conscientiousness, and professionalism; and take the opportunities when they present themselves.
In any event today you have broken the tape at the finish line and are happy just to be done. Your family knows and the faculty knows what you will come to appreciate more fully in time, that this is a grand personal achievement. Your family and, yes, the faculty, the faculty is very, very proud of you. We all wish you moments of joy to offset the inevitable sorrows of life.
The schooling is over; let the learning begin.
Bless you all.
May 14, 2005 | Permalink
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