At Elon University School of Law's commencement exercises for the Class of 2010, 98 graduates received Juris Doctor degrees. Their contributions to Elon Law, to the profession, and to society were celebrated through a commencement address by United States Senator Kay Hagan. North Carolina business leader Robert E. Long, Jr. received an honorary degree for outstanding civic leadership.
The commencement ceremony for the Class of 2010, held May 23 at The Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro, emphasized the importance of lawyers who contribute throughout their lives to the betterment of society.
United States Senator Kay Hagan delivered the commencement address. In her remarks, Hagan emphasized the opportunities that the Class of 2010 will have to shape the law in service to civic society.
“You will be successful if you focus on being a good lawyer, because no matter the economic circumstances, good lawyers will always be in demand,” Hagan said. “What I mean by ‘good lawyer’ is someone who respects the law, as a foundation of our democracy, the protector of our rights and freedoms, and the codified expression of how we, as a society, live our lives.”
Following remarks of welcome by Class of 2010 member Kelly Dees, Jeb Brooks delivered the student address, speaking about the contributions that the Class of 2010 has made to the program of legal education at Elon Law and the importance of maintaining the relationships that the class built across three years of law school.
“We are part of a tradition that will build for thousands of years,” Brooks said. “We’re at the front. And we helped to do that by building relationships with each other. None of us on our own are as capable as all of us together … the truth of the matter is that the only thing that matters are the relationships we build in this life.”
Elon Law professor Helen Grant presented Class of 2010 member William Warihay with the university’s David Gergen Award for Leadership and Professionalism. The award bares the name of David Gergen, adviser to four United States presidents, Director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, one of the country’s preeminent political commentators, and chair of the Elon University Law School Advisory Board.
In selecting Warihay for the award, Grant highlighted his role in the creation and success of Elon University’s Mock Trial program, among a wide range of contributions he has made to higher education and to society.
“He has provided outstanding service to Elon and the broader community at a local, regional and national level,” Grant said. “As an undergraduate, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Mock Trial program at Elon. Since entering Elon Law, he has continued this endeavor, taking on the primary role of teacher and mentor, training and traveling each year with members of the undergraduate team as they compete in the American Mock Trial Association National Championship program, helping to shape both the program and its students.”
Jim Melvin, former Greensboro mayor and president of the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation of Greater Greensboro, presented Robert E. Long, Jr. with an honorary degree on behalf of Elon University. The degree was conferred by Elon University President Leo M. Lambert.
During the degree presentation, Melvin remarked that Long was one of the most successful business entrepreneurs in North Carolina and that he had played a pivotal role in the economic revitalization of the region. Melvin detailed Long’s contributions to the development of Elon University School of Law, Greensboro’s downtown baseball stadium, and the nationally-acclaimed Wyndham Championship golf tournament. Long is a founding member of the law school’s advisory board and a founding donor to the law school.
“Bobby Long is the ultimate role model for all of you,” Melvin told the Class of 2010. “He is a true success by every business standard, but he has spent day in and day out trying to make mine and your lives better, and what better can you say about somebody.”
In his charge to the graduating class, concluding the ceremony, Elon University president Leo M. Lambert said, “Today, you are charged to use your knowledge for justice, your intelligence in the pursuit of goodness, your keen minds for seeking truth, your understanding of the complex in the cause of creating a better society, your discernment for making fair decisions, your leadership in the cause of peace making. This is what your alma mater, your nurturing mother, expects of you. Good luck and god speed.”