Claire Corlett

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Dean Timothy Fisher Speaks at 2019 UConn Law Commencement

Dean Timothy Fisher Speaks at 2019 UConn Law Commencement


It is now my pleasure to introduce the Dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law, Timothy Fisher. Well, welcome Class of 2019. What a great day! Congratulations to
all of. Did you ever think this moment was going to come? What about back in that first week of orientation? Did you have a sense of who you’d be by now? Did you have a sense that all that you would have done? So, consider all you’ve been through. The shock and awe that first semester. The late nights in the library, the cold calls in class. But look what you have to show for it. You now have the capacity to change the world. In fact, you already have in many of your own ways. You’ve worked in federal agencies and nonprofits, in the legislature and judicial chambers. You’ve argued for clients whose freedom depended upon you. You’ve advocated for abused and neglected children. You’ve spent a week in a Federal Detention Center helping immigrants who face deportation to places that put their lives at risk. And you’ve conducted fundraising for student projects. In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, my professor, my favorite professor in law school, “yes there are miles in front, but what a distance we have traveled.” What you’ve done already reflects something fundamental about you, because during your times here you have transformed yourselves from students into professionals. So we proudly launch you into your new careers. For many of you and for your families there’s something extra about this moment. You, who arrived here through life’s headwinds, whether apparent to others or not, or are the firsts in your families to go to law school or to college, we salute you. Your triumph over these obstacles is an extra accomplishment. Remember what I told you way back then at orientation, you belong here. but more than that, this school
belongs to you. And I also tip my hat to those of you
who come to us from lands far away. Not only to learn new laws and in a new
language, but in a very different classroom culture where your professors actually want you to challenge them. What an adjustment that’s been for some of you. But, there are some serious issues facing those of us who work in the law. There are voices that consider the law to be an annoyance when it gets in the way of a powerful person’s agenda or a popular ideology. If those trends take hold, then the rules that you have studied so hard to master, begin to lose their meaning. And we know where this leads because it has happened elsewhere Look at the world and think of the best and worst places to live. You see that what distinguishes them from us is where the law is present, and where the law is strong. And when it is not, society becomes corrupt and in the end violent and miserable. Our profession exists to protect society from that consequence. But you’re up to the challenge. For we know who you are. We know from your time here your tremendous energy and your good spirits, your willingness to hear
and embrace new ideas coming from people who are different from you. Your student
organizations have shown the way, collaborating from far different
political perspectives on joint programs that illuminate the questions that we
all must answer. You serve as an example to our entire country that we find the truth by working together and listening to each other. And you’re just getting started. Many of you have already taken jobs in places where you’ll continue this great public service. This tradition. As clerkships in the state and federal courts. The New York City Law Department.
Legal Aid, where you’ll be working in immigration rights. Judge Advocate General Corps. At the same time, many of you going into private practice will find countless ways to carry out the professions core ethic, of public
service. Well. what does this say about you? As Dumbledore said to Harry, “it is our choices that reveal who we are far more than our abilities.” So, through your spirit of service here and then the choices you’re making, now you have shown us who you really are. And you make us so proud. So speaking of making us proud, there is somebody on the stage who I told you I was going to give you a little information about, and that is Morton Katz, a member of the law school Class in 1951. Now, Morton’s life is one of the most striking examples of a spirit of service that you can imagine. For he is a member of that greatest generation. He got his bachelor’s degree from UConn Storrs, then World War ii broke out and he enlisted in the 82 Airborne. His unit saw service in North Africa, Sicily, the Anzio Beachhead, the invasion of Southern France, the liberation of the Vaivarian Concentration Camp. And then he served in the post-war occupation of Berlin, where he was promoted to full colonel. When he came back, what else could he do but enroll in UConn Law School? Became a lawyer in 1951, and has practiced low these 68 years since then. And here’s what’s remarkable: still today working as a special public defender today five days after his 100 birthday on Wednesday. Take a bow. Morton! Now, I know Morton set the bar pretty high for you guys, but you don’t have to wait till you’re 100 to show us how much more you can do with your degree. So, don’t be strangers. You are our success stories and the more
that we see and hear from you the happier we’ll be. In fact, fortunately, you’ve already elected a class secretary who will be
your official representative to us and alumni relations and will help organize
your first reunion in five years. Congratulations to the person you chose,
Amanda Carpenter! Amanda stand up! Oh yeah, there she is. So, before closing we should all tip our hats to the great faculty, who have done so much to get you to this day. You probably have no idea how hard it is to teach a good law class. How much more it entails than knowing the material and conveying it to you. You probably never have and never will had teachers of this quality in your lives. So please join me in giving them a big thank you. And let us also acknowledge the staff,
who have cared for you over these years in so many ways that you know and others that you’re not even aware of. Including a special thanks, as Dean Chill mentioned, to the facility’s, custodial and public safety teams that have made this possible and after these low 40 days and nights of rain have made this beautiful campus workable for us today. And then also to the staff that worked tirelessly to make this complex, choreographed ceremony possible. Deb King and Zitmarie Mestre, thank you guys. So, Class of 2019, we’re gonna miss you. Stay in touch. Answer Amanda’s texts and emails, for you’re always going to be part of this community. You’ve received this education thanks to the generosity of others who provided this community of scholars and
teachers for you. it’s your chance coming now to make the same difference. To pay it forward to the next generation, each of you in your own way. Class of 2019, the faculty of the University of Connecticut School of Law and I salute you. We acknowledge and honor the hard work you’ve done to reach this moment. Congratulations, to all of you!

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