Widener Law graduates receive degrees
Public Relations - Published: May 23, 2011
The 413 graduates who received degrees in two commencement ceremonies over May 21 and 22 were advised to follow their dreams and remember there are always real people behind the legal matters they handle.

Delaware Supreme Court Justice Jack B. Jacobs gave Delaware-campus graduates a list of tips for pursing their dreams in a difficult economy, at a time when loan debts are significant and job opportunities limited. Be flexible, keep an eye on the long run and be realistic, he told them.

“Don’t let anyone tell you you are not good enough to fulfill your dreams,” he said. “Be optimistic that the obstacles you may face at the moment will not deter you for long.”

Harrisburg campus alumnus Michael J. Aiello ’94, corporate partner at Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP in New York, was the featured speaker at the commencement program for Harrisburg-campus graduates. He told the graduates Widener Law and its faculty have provided them the tools and the framework to succeed, but there is something else they must find in themselves for true success: the capacity to remember that each case involves real people with real lives at stake.

“Be mindful of the human element of being a lawyer,” Aiello said. “This is the ‘something else’ clients are looking for, often without even knowing it.”

The Delaware campus commencement, held Saturday, May 21 on the school green, also featured remarks by valedictorian David B. DiDonato. Law Dean Linda L. Ammons gave the outstanding faculty award – decided by a vote of the graduating class – to Associate Professor Nicholas Mirkay. The dean gave the Douglas E. Ray excellence in faculty scholarship award to Distinguished Professor Jean M. Eggen and Professor John G. Culhane.

The Harrisburg campus commencement, held Sunday, May 22 at the Forum in Harrisburg’s Capitol Complex, featured remarks by valedictorian Kirsten Kutler. Ammons gave the outstanding faculty award to Associate Professor Christopher J. Robinette. The dean gave the Douglas E. Ray excellence in faculty scholarship award to Associate Professor Michael R. Dimino Sr.

Widener University President James T. Harris III told graduates that, in a world where people are quick to judge and to criticize, character counts. He encouraged them to stand up for their ideals, but also be open to other points of view.

“Never lose your moral compass,” Harris said. “Words are inspiring, but deeds really matter.”

Ammons told the graduates a privilege of being part of the legal community is the ability to give back. She commended the classes’ spirit for public service, with 85 Delaware-campus graduates donating 11,952 pro bono hours of service since their first year of law school, and 37 Harrisburg-campus graduates donating 4,585 pro bono hours of service.

“Lawyers have the awesome capacity to change lives and affect history,” she said.