Albany Law School faculty, staff, and graduates and their families gathered Friday, May 19 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Saratoga Springs, N.Y. for the School's 155 th Commencement. Of the 265 graduates, 254 received the Juris Doctor (J.D.); nine the Master of Law and Letters (LL.M.); and two the Master of Science in Legal Studies (M.S.).
Graduates were addressed by Michael Garcia—U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and class of 1989 valedictorian—who offered his personal trade secret for success: "Whichever road you choose, uphold the high standards of the bar, remember where you came from, and, as much as you possibly can, enjoy the adventure."
Garcia's 16-year career has led him to numerous victories in counter-terrorism and national security, including the convictions of four Al Qaeda members who conspired with Osama Bin Laden in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; the World Trade Center in 1993; and the planting of bombs aboard American passenger airlines in the Far East.
"They were terrific cases because I believed in what I was doing," said Garcia, who throughout his career has been nominated by President George W. Bush to the posts of Acting Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, among other titles.
Graduates were also briefly addressed by The Honorable George Bundy Smith, Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, and this year's recipient of an Albany Law School honorary doctor of law degree.
"This is a singular honor and one I will always cherish," Smith said. "Being a lawyer is a privilege and one of its singular demands is service."
President and Dean Thomas F. Guernsey surprised three faculty members for their contribution in each of the respective award categories:
Dean Guernsey also announced the elevated rank of the following faculty from associate professors to professors with tenure:
Faculty members Jenean Taranto and Evelyn Tenenbaum were elevated in rank from Associate Lawyering Professors to Lawyering Professors.
Professor Gregory Mandel was named Albany Law School's Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, a newly-created position for the school.
Professor James Thuo Gathii was named the Governor George E. Pataki Professor in International Commercial Law.
The awards portion of the ceremony ended with the Friend of the Class of 2006 award, presented to Henry Clay, a cafeteria employee, by Teodoro Siguenza, President. The Class of 2006 chose Clay for his commitment to Albany Law students' nutrition and health, an important aspect during their time on campus for the past three years.
Siguenza also presented the Class Gift, a $7,000 endowment to the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)—a loan subsidy/loan forgiveness program for recent graduates who enter the public interest field. Siguenza said that class contribution this year was 43 percent.