May 04, 2015

Law school commencement ceremony is May 15

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel will deliver the keynote address during the commencement ceremonies for the Southern Illinois University School of Law on May 15. 

The commencement ceremony for 83 graduates -- including 11 who will receive a joint J.D./Master of Business Administration degree – is at 3 p.m. in Shryock Auditorium on the Carbondale campus. In addition, six graduates will receive a Master of Laws degree and three graduates will receive Master of Legal Studies degrees. SIU President Randy Dunn will confer the degrees at the ceremony led by School of Law Dean Cynthia Fountaine. The commencement is free and open to the public. 

A 1993 SIU School of Law graduate, Rosenstengel is a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, who was appointed by President Barack Obama. On May 19, 2014, she became the first woman to serve as a federal judge in the Southern District of Illinois. 

While in law school, she was president of the moot court board and “Casenote and Comment” editor for the Southern Illinois University Law Journal. After graduation, Rosenstengel worked from 1993 to 1998 as an associate at Sandberg, Phoenix & von Gontard, where her practice primarily involved products liability, medical malpractice and Jones Act litigation. From 1998 to 2009, she was a law clerk to U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy, and from 2009 to 2014 she served as Clerk of the Court in the same district. 

Rosenstengel earned a bachelor’s degree in 1990 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Assistant Professor of Law Jennifer Camero, who was named this year’s “Outstanding Professor” by the graduating class, and Martin Parsons, who was chosen by his classmates to represent the Class of 2015, will also speak at the ceremony. 

The ceremony will also recognize Joan Kagezi, the Ugandan international crimes prosecutor who was assassinated March 30, with the law school’s Rule of Law Citation. The citation is a formal recognition by the law school faculty of the important tradition of the legal profession that “requires lawyers to stand firm in support of liberty and justice in the face of oppression and, by their words and actions, to honor and support the Rule of Law, even at great personal risk.” 

A commencement hood and scroll placed on an empty chair in the front row with law school faculty symbolizes the law school standing with lawyers who are suffering for the Rule of Law. 

Kagezi, 47, was head of the International Crimes Division of the nation’s high court. She was preparing for the start of a trial of 13 al-Shabaab militants suspected in twin suicide bombings in an Ethiopian restaurant and a rugby center, killing 76 people, during the World Cup finals in Kampala in 2010. A mother of four children, Kagezi was a public prosecutor for 21 years and secured many high-profile convictions in the nation. Kagezi was gunned down by gunmen riding a motorcycle after she stopped at a roadside fruit stand.