Albany Law School faculty, staff, and graduates and their families gathered Friday, May 18, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center for the School's 156 th Commencement. Of the 238 graduates, 234 received the Juris Doctor (J.D.); three the Master of Law and Letters (LL.M.); and one the Master of Science in Legal Studies (M.S.).
Graduates were addressed by The Hon. Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York. Kaye talked about the responsibility lawyers have to make the world a better, more just, place. She urged the class to work to raise the perception of the profession.
Kaye also received the Trustees' Gold Medal Award-the Law School's highest honor-in recognition of her distinguished service to the school and the community. Kaye became the first woman to serve on New York state's highest court in 1983 when Governor Mario Cuomo appointed her associate judge of the Court of Appeals. In 1993, Governor Cuomo selected her to become chief judge of the Court of Appeals. She is the first woman to occupy that office, the state's highest judicial office. Kaye was recently reconfirmed to another term as New York's chief judge, making her the only jurist ever reappointed to the post.
President and Dean Thomas F. Guernsey surprised faculty members for their contribution in each of the respective award categories.
Paul Finkelman was awarded the 2007 Distinguished Educator for Excellence in Scholarship. Finkelman, the President William McKinley Professor of Law and Public Policy and Senior Fellow in the Government Law Center, has earned numerous awards for his latest books: Encyclopedia of African American History and A History of Michigan Law. He recently spoke at a Harvard Law School conference on the 150th anniversary of Dred Scott v. Sandford and served as conference director for "Congress & Slavery in the District of Columbia", an all-day, Washington, D.C. symposium on slavery, broadcast live on C-SPAN.
Joseph Connors, Clinical Professor and Director of the Health Law Clinic, was awarded the 2007 Distinguished Educator for Excellence in Service, due to the work he has done with students that has led to significant results for Clinic clients during the past year. Before leaving the stage, President and Dean Thomas F. Guernsey called back Connors to award him the 2007 Distinguished Educator for Excellence in Teaching award, an award that recognizes his commitment to the students.
The awards portion of the ceremony ended with the Friend of the Class of 2007 award, presented to Nicole Bedford, a Business Office employee, by Jonathan A. Grippo, President. The class describes Bedford as "always ready to answer a question, help out a student, and most of all, she is always smiling." The Class of 2007 chose Bedford for her hard work, patience and friendship for the past three years.
Jennifer R. Sunderlin presented the record-breaking Class Gift-$7,100 toward benches in front of the 1928 Building, as well as a memorial for classmate Stephenson Kim, who fell ill with cancer and passed away last September. Fifty-four percent of the graduating class participated, the highest percentage since 1995.
View the full program from Albany Law's 156th Commencement.
Photography by Tim Raab can be purchased online at http://timraabnorthern.com/. Click on "Client Access/Event on the header of the home page. Under "event code," type in "albanygrad." Sign into the guest book, and you'll be directed to the images.