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Two Venerable Female Attorneys to be Honored Posthumously by College of Law

Two outstanding female attorneys who passed away in 2023 will be recognized posthumously at the College of Law’s graduation ceremony on May 10. Longtime public interest lawyer Cathy “Cat” McConnell and Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit will receive the 2024 College of Law Justitia Officium Awards. Established in 1978 to mark the 100th anniversary of the College of Law, the Justitia Officium is the highest honor bestowed by the law faculty in recognition of outstanding contributions and service to the legal profession.  Family members will accept the awards on behalf of the late attorneys. 

Cathy "Cat" McConnell

Cat McConnell served as the Executive Director of West Virginia Senior Legal Aid organization for over 25 years. She was a 1995 graduate of the WVU College of Law and a beloved figure in the West Virginia public interest community. She was a fierce advocate for disability rights and environmental justice who mentored many aspiring public interest attorneys. 

According to her daughter, Olivia, Cat was easily identified by the long flowing hair that she hadn't cut in decades, a wardrobe full of colorful tie dyes, and her beautiful singing voice. 

"Coming Home": Professor Annie Eisenberg discusses returning to Morgantown and her favorite teaching moments

Originally from Ithaca, NY, West Virginia University College of Law Professor and Research Director for the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development Annie Eisenberg was first interested in pursuing law after being advised that a law degree comes with power for making change in the world. 

She was also interested in the language of law. 

“I’m interested in language and how lawyers can use words to encourage different audiences to think about things differently, whether in the courtroom, as advocates or scholars, or wearing other hats,” said Eisenberg.

So, how did someone from the middle of the Finger Lakes make it to Morgantown, West Virginia? 

Two U.S. senators, business and law leaders, philanthropists, television writer and others to join graduates for WVU Commencement ceremonies

Eight honorary degrees will be awarded during WVU Commencement Weekend May 10-12 at the Coliseum. (WVU Photo/David Malecki)

Thousands of West Virginia University graduates will celebrate their successes Commencement Weekend May 10-12 alongside eight honorary degree recipients and two speakers during nine ceremonies at the Coliseum.

Eight honorary degrees will be awarded during WVU Commencement Weekend May 10-12 at the Coliseum. (WVU Photo/David Malecki)

“It is important for our graduates to see and hear from those who have successfully followed their own paths of purpose,” President Gordon Gee said. “Our esteemed honorary degree recipients and speakers, representing fields from politics to performance to philanthropy and more, are making the world a better place. Our hope is our graduates can find inspiration as they take important steps in their own lives.”

See the full Commencement Weekend schedule.

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