168th Commencement: Watch Live
Alexander Hamilton, posthumously, and Edward P. Swyer were
awarded honorary Doctor of Laws degrees at Albany Law School’s 167th Commencement on May 18, 2018.
One of the nation’s founders, an author of the Federalist
Papers, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and a founding member of a society
that was instrumental in abolishing slavery in New York, Hamilton was also a
talented and highly sought after lawyer who left government service to engage
in private practice. He studied law and prepared for the bar examination in
Albany, at a time when self-study and apprenticeship were the path to a legal
Watch the full ceremony here
Hamilton was awarded the degree in recognition of his legal
study and work in the Albany region, as well as his contribution to the United
States’ enduring Constitution and system of government.
“He was a hard worker, a brilliant writer. He was smart,
talented, and scrappy. In fact he sounds like someone who would fit perfectly
with you, the Class of 2018,” said President and Dean Alicia Ouellette.
Hamilton, played by Jean-Remy Monnay of the Soul Rebel
Performance Troupe, told the class, “Albany Law School? A school that teaches
law? That is a novel thing! … Stay with it, persevere, you will find that the
law is relevant and important, no matter in which century you live.”
Douglas Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s fifth great-grandson,
accepted the degree, calling Albany Law School the most fitting school for the degree, given that Albany was his place of study and a key city for his practice. .
Dean Ouellette then presented an honorary degree to Edward
Swyer, President of the Swyer Companies, who has been an important part of the
law school community since the 1980s, when his father built the Shaffer Law
Library. For more than 20 years he has assisted in developing Albany Law
School's Lewis A. Swyer Academic Success Program, which provides additional
academic support for first-year law students. He has also helped with the
clinics that serve domestic violence victims.
“We honor Mr. Swyer today for far more than his business
success,” Dean Ouellette said. “Mr. Swyer is committed to creating
opportunities for others to achieve the kind of success that he has achieved. He
makes our community stronger by finding creative ways to support individuals
who—like many members of the Class of 2018—are first in their families to get
an education, first to launch a business, and quick to give back to their
Most recently Swyer and The Swyer Family Foundation helped
establish the Community Development Clinic, where students provide legal help
to early stage start-up businesses and community organizations. In the past
year alone, the clinic helped more than 90 businesses and business owners.
“Ed Swyer changes lives,” Dean Ouellette said. “Ed Swyer
creates opportunities. And he has done just that at Albany Law School. … He
believes in the power of law, and the ways in which we can build and strengthen
a community—and give individuals opportunities to grow and thrive—by providing
free legal services, help with a growing business, and wise mentorship.”
“The Community Development Clinic’s potential to transform
our community for the better is exponential,” she added.
Swyer was awarded the degree in recognition of his
inspirational leadership in business, development of the community, and commitment
to Albany Law School.
Calling the Class of 2018 his classmates, he noted, "The
law school library was my father’s crown jewel of buidings. . . .When
I received the invitation that the trustees voted to honor me, I stared at it in disbelief. I am
humbled by this."