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May 03, 2021

SIU School of Law commencement ceremony is May 7

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Former Illinois State Sen. Paul Schimpf, a 2000 SIU School of Law alumnus, will deliver the keynote address during commencement ceremonies on May 7.

The in-person ceremony at 2 p.m. in Saluki Stadium is for 61 graduates in the Class of 2021 and 102 graduates from the law school’s 2020 class. The ceremony will follow protocols of the Restore Illinois Plan. Social distancing and masks will be required for all participants, guests and staff.

Chancellor Austin Lane will confer degrees at the ceremony led by Steve Macias, School of Law associate dean.

“We are very proud of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 for their resilience, cooperation and achievements during these challenging times for our community,” School of Law Dean Camille Davidson said. “We want to thank the faculty, staff, families and friends who provided invaluable support. We look forward to seeing all of our graduates as alumni in person at future School of Law receptions and reunions.”

The Class of 2021 selected Patricia Pfeiffer, a graduating law student from Carbondale, to be the class speaker, with Steve Ellingsworth of Paducah, Kentucky, a May 2020 graduate, representing that class.

The ceremony marks the 45th anniversary of the law school’s first graduating class of 1976. Professors Angela Upchurch and Cynthia Fountaine will represent the Classes of 2020 and 2021, respectively, as faculty speakers. The ceremony will also feature law school alumni formally hooding six family members who are students from the two classes.

Schimpf to deliver keynote address

SchimpfHeadshot-sm.jpgSchimpf, who is from Waterloo, is a former military prosecutor who served as chief American adviser to Iraqi prosecutors in former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s trial. After graduating from high school, Schimpf earned an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation. After attending law school, he continued in the military in several legal-related posts before retiring in 2013 and going into private practice. In February, Schimpf announced he was seeking the Republican nomination for Illinois governor.

As a public university, SIU does not promote or oppose political candidates. SIU complies with the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act and State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.

Ceremony will also recognize Pakistani attorney, human rights activist

Hina Jilani, a leading activist in the Pakistani women’s movement, will be recognized with the law school’s Rule of Law citation. The citation is a formal recognition by 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 will be placed on an empty chair to symbolize attorneys who are suffering for their actions as legal advocates.

Jilani and her late sister, Asma Jahangir, formed the first all-female legal aid practice in the country. She assisted in founding the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Women’s Action Forum, and assisted in creating Dastak, a shelter for abused women that also conducts workshops to bring awareness to human rights issues and protection of women. She is a member of The Elders, a group founded by Nelson Mandela. In 2020, Jilani, who is also president of the World Organization Against Torture, received the Stockholm Human Rights Award. She continues to practice law in spite of being arrested, intimidated and facing murder attempts on her and her family.