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Saturday, May 10, 2014

UC President Janet Napolitano Delivers 133rd UC Hastings Commencement Address

Invoked legacies of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens ’89, Mayor Willie Brown Jr. ’58, Congresswoman Jackie Speier ’76, and Clara Foltz, a divorced mother of five who sued UC Hastings for admission in 1879 and became the first woman lawyer on the West Coast.

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University of California President Janet Napolitano

May 10, SAN FRANCISCO – University of California President Janet Napolitano addressed an estimated crowd of 5,000 at the 133rd Annual Commencement Ceremony for University of California Hastings College of the Law today, congratulating students for entering a “family of alumni that has demonstrated an incredible commitment to public service—an incredible commitment to making a difference.”

“To be blunt,” began Napolitano, “I envy you. I envy what’s before you in life. Most of all, I envy all the fresh opportunities that lie ahead for you to make a difference in the world.”

As they enter the legal profession, students of the 2014 graduating class were urged to consider what they will do to make a difference.

“You see, my hope for you is this,” said Napolitano, “you will learn, in the coming years, that what matters is not the size of your paycheck. It is not whether your name is on the law firm door. You will learn that in the profession of the law, it’s not how much you make that matters, but whether you make a difference.”

Napolitano invoked the legacies of four legal giants whose reputations are bound with UC Hastings: Ambassador Chris Stevens ’89; Mayor Willie Brown Jr. ’58; Congressional Representative Jackie Speier ’76; and Clara Foltz, a divorced mother of five who sued UC Hastings for admission in 1879 and became the first woman lawyer on the West Coast.

She spoke of Stevens’ service in the Peace Corps and in Benghazi, where he was killed in an attack on the embassy. She spoke of Brown’s rousing speech at the raucous 1972 Democratic National Convention. And she spoke movingly about Rep. Speier’s injuries when she and Congressman Leo Ryan were shot, Ryan fatally, on a tarmac as they attempted to investigate the Peoples Temple cult in Guyana. The Jonestown massacre, as it came to be known, claimed the lives of 918 in 1978, most in a mass murder in which many were forced to take their own lives.

Foltz, Napolitano noted, authored a state bill that replaced “white male” with “person,” allowing women and people of color to become attorneys in California. In September 1878, she passed the bar and became the first woman admitted to the California Bar. At the insistence of its women students, UC Hastings College of the Law granted Foltz a posthumous degree of Doctor of Laws in 1991.

“Now it’s your turn,” concluded Napolitano. “So take the time today to celebrate this graduation. But as you celebrate this moment, and reflect on all the glories and travails of the last three years, don’t forget to also cast your eyes forward. What will be your path? What difference will you make? I, for one, am excited to see what this, the Class of 2014, will accomplish.”

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About UC Hastings

UC Hastings College of the Law was founded in 1878 as the first law department of the University of California. We are located in San Francisco’s Civic Center—steps from City Hall, the State and Federal Buildings, the State Supreme, Superior and Appellate Courts, as well as the United States District Court and Court of Appeals. More About UC Hastings

Media Contact

Alex A.G. Shapiro
Director, Communications & Public Affairs
UC Hastings College of the Law
Office: (415) 581-8842
Cell: (415) 813-9214
Email: shapiroa@uchastings.edu 

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