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News Posted on May 17, 2011

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye '84 Delivers 2011 Commencement Address

Commencement 2011

Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye '84 delivered an inspiring Commencement Address and Camille Papini-Chapla '11 was presented with the Law School Medal for academic achievement at the UC Davis School of Law 2011 Commencement Ceremony on May 13 at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.  The event also featured remarks from Dean Kevin R. Johnson, UC Davis Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter, Professor Dennis J. Ventry, Jr., and student speaker Richard H. Nguyen '11.  The Law School awarded 193 Juris Doctor and 17 Master of Laws degrees.

Video of the entire 2011 Commencement Ceremony (unedited)

Commencement video highlight reel, courtesy of MartinVo Studios

2011 Commencement Ceremony images on Flickr 

"Many congratulations on your accomplishments, and we look forward to everything you will accomplish in the next 50 years of your career," Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye said in her address.  "I would also like to extend my congratulations to Dean Johnson and the dedicated faculty of UC Davis School of Law for the amazing achievement of being one of the top 25 schools in the United States for law."

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye spoke about her "personal compass," the values of hard work, honor, respect for community, giving back, and appreciation for opportunity she learned from her family of working-class immigrants, as well as her "professional compass" values of respect for the rule of law, the need for diversity, and the importance of pro bono work she learned from her teachers and mentors in the legal profession.  The Chief Justice encouraged the Class of 2011 to develop their own "compasses" to provide guidance as they face the challenges ahead.

Provost Hexter spoke of the University of California motto, "Fiat Lux" or "Let there be light," and how it signifies the values of "reverence for knowledge and truth, commitment to do good and to benefit others, and the recognition of a shared humanity" that are at the heart of the university's mission.  "It is precisely because I believe that your class is such a shining example of the values of our university, the values expressed in our motto, that I look on all of you today with such great optimism for our future, and with such great pride. Truly, you will make a difference," said Hexter.

Dean Johnson also congratulated the graduating class and encouraged them to stay true to their ethics and principles.  "The great strength of the nation is its dedication to equality and liberty built upon the rule of law," he said. "As we see again and again in events around the world, lawyers are essential to enforcing the rules.  The Class of 2011, no doubt, will enforce the rules.  They remind me of that all the time.  They are hardworking, very smart, and no doubt will prove to be ethical and responsible, the best of the best."

Dean Johnson also spoke movingly of the loss of Professor Keith Aoki, who died on April 26 following a long illness.  "We have had a great three years, but I would be remiss to not acknowledge the somber ending of this year," said Dean Johnson. "We lost a beloved professor and dear friend, Professor Keith Aoki.  Professor Aoki had a lasting, positive impact on our faculty and students and touched our community in special ways, with his enthusiasm for life and his love of the students paramount."

Other speakers, including Professor Ventry and Richard Nguyen, also spoke of Professor Aoki's inspiration and how his example helped the Class of 2011 maintain a sense of community despite facing an increasingly challenging job market. 

Nguyen also mentioned the difficult job market, and called his decision to attend law school "the best mistake" of his life.  "I've never been pushed, challenged, and felt so satisfied in the same way as going to King Hall," he said. "Thank you, Class of 2011, for sharing in this experience with me, and congratulations!"