MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA — The College of Law awarded degrees to 104 graduates on May 12 in a ceremony at the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre at the WVU Creative Arts Center.
"As you go forth to live your lives greatly within the law, it is vital that you do so with idealism, so as to bring distinction upon yourselves, upon your school, and upon the legal profession," Gregory Bowman, Dean of the College of Law, told the graduates.
John Taylor, the Jackson Kelly Professor of Law, was selected Professor of the Year by the Class of 2017 and he delivered the traditional commencement address.
Taylor advised the graduates that the world pays a lot of attention to talent, but talent alone does not make a good lawyer.
“Excellence in serving your clients comes primarily from hard work, and love for what you are doing is what enables you to embrace that work,” he said. “A sense of duty and a strong will can make you a good lawyer, but only love for your work and belief in what you are doing will make you the best lawyer you can be.”
The annual Justitia Officium Award recipients were recognized during Commencement. The award is given for outstanding contributions and service to the legal profession and it is the highest honor bestowed by the College of Law.
The Honorable Stephanie D. Thacker, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and retired attorney Elisabeth H. Rose received the 2017 Justitia Officium Award.
Both earned their J.D. from the WVU College of Law; Thacker in 1990 and Rose in 1979.
Joyce McConnell, WVU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, concluded the commencement ceremony with the official conferral of degrees and a few additional words of encouragement.
“Our world needs all of your skills. It also needs your passion, the commitment to the law and all of its nuances,” she said. “Lawyers open creative new pathways for innovation, protect and restore our natural environment, improve the lives of individuals and families, and rejuvenate communities. In doing these things, lawyers lead the way. And our world needs leaders.”
WVU Law degrees earned by the Class of 2017 include J.D., J.D./Online MBA, J.D./Masters of Public Administration and LL.M. in Forensic Justice and Energy and Sustainable Development Law.