2009 Commencement Speakers Announced
Dean Morrison has heard numerous speakers during his attendance at the past eleven Commencement Ceremonies of The George Washington University Law School, but confessed that every year, he remains "anxious to hear what the speakers have to say." The 2009 graduating class is looking forward to hearing Alumnus Gregory G. Garre, 44th Solicitor General of the United States, deliver the diZerega Address at the Law School Diploma Ceremony, and Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama, deliver the Keynote Address at the University's Commencement Ceremony.
The George Washington University's Commencement Ceremony is scheduled to take place the morning of May 17, 2009 and the Law School's Diploma Ceremony will be held later that afternoon. In March, Dean Lawrence announced that Gregory Garre, who graduated from the Law School in 1991, would be the Susan N. and Augustus diZerega Jr. Speaker. GW University's President, Steven Knapp, announced that Rahm Emanuel would receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree at the Commencement Ceremony on the National Mall.
Gregory G. Garre has ties to the University that extend beyond his membership in the '91 graduating class and speaking at Commencement; Professor Garre is also a visiting member of the GW Law faculty. Professor Garre graduated from GW Law with high honors and was editor-in-chief of the law review; he went on to clerk for Judge Anthony J. Scirica, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and then for Chief Justice Rehnquist. As solicitor general, Professor Garre argued more than twenty-five cases before the United States Supreme Court.
Although not an alumnus of GW Law, Rahm Emanuel deserves some recognition in the Ceremony Speaker spotlight. Two days after Barack Obama was elected, the President selected Emanuel as the White House Chief of Staff, supplementing Emanuel's Congressional service since 2002. Emanuel led the Democratic party's effort to capture the majority in the House of Representatives in 2006 as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and served as senior adviser for policy and strategy for President Clinton.
The task of choosing the Law School's Commencement Speaker falls on Dean Lawrence, who made his selection after considering input and suggestions from the SBA and different students, as well as recommendations from the faculty. Dean Morrison explained that, "the Dean tries to get a speaker he thinks will have tremendous benefit to the graduating class; one who will be able to talk about experiences in their life, work they have done, opportunities they have had, and what their law degree has brought them since graduation." He continued to say that it is "very tricky" to get speakers, and that "Dean Lawrence must make his pitch to each speaker differently, because these types of things do not happen by mistake or coincidence." Dean Morrison noted that "this is a town of politics, and Dean Lawrence spends a tremendous amount of time learning who to call and how to ask the right questions" to ensure that the Commencement Speaker is the best candidate for leaving a lasting impression on the graduating class.
"Dean Lawrence truly cares about these events," Dean Morrison explained, "and spends a lot of personal time and personal capital in recruiting speakers to come, particularly for graduation, and for all of the events we have throughout the year at the Law School." Dean Lawrence feels very strongly about asking alumni to speak at the graduation ceremony because it is important that the graduating class see their school's alumni recognized as an expert in his field. "Everyone has a story of some type that they want to give to the young people entering a field in which they have expertise," Dean Morrison said, "and I am always interested to listen and to see those alumni pass on their experiences to the newest class of J.D. recipients." Dean Morrison has seen his fair share of Commencement speakers, but "has never been disappointed." He mentioned that he was "particularly taken by Senator Inouye and his comments. It was an outstanding speech, and I would expect Gregory Garre to provide the same thing in May."