May 12, 2009


Hon. McConnell to Address College of Law Graduates

118th Commencement Exercises Also Includes Conferment of 216 Degrees, Presentations of Distinguished Alumni Award to Orlans, and Honorary Degree to McConnell

East Lansing, MI — The Honorable Michael McConnell, a Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, will present the Law College's commencement address on Friday, May 15.

Judge McConnell will speak to the graduates and their guests at 2 p.m. in the Wharton Center for Performing Arts on the MSU campus. He will also be awarded an honorary doctor of law degree to be conferred during the ceremony.

Before his appointment to the bench, Judge McConnell taught constitutional law and related subjects for 17 years, first at the University of Chicago Law School and later at the University of Utah College of Law. Prior to teaching, he served as a law clerk to Chief Judge J. Skelly Wright on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Associate Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., on the U.S. Supreme Court. He also argued 11 cases in the Supreme Court before his appointment to the bench, and served as Chair of the Constitutional Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools, Co-Chair of the Emergency Committee to Defend the First Amendment, member of the President's Intelligence Oversight Board, and special counsel to Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw.

McConnell recently announced that he will step down from the bench and direct the Stanford Constitutional Law Center beginning in fall 2009. McConnell has written widely on such subjects as freedom of religion and constitutional history and theory, and is regarded as a highly accomplished constitutional scholar.

Judge McConnell earned a Bachelor's degree from Michigan State University in 1976. He completed a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Chicago Law School in 1979.

Also during the ceremony, 1987 graduate Linda Orlans, the founder and Managing Partner of Orlans Associates and an MSU Law Trustee, will receive the Honorable George N. Bashara, '61, Distinguished Alumni Award. Trustee of the College David L. Porteous will present commendation and posthumous Trustee Emeritus status to the family of Hon. Robert E. Weiss, an MSU Law Trustee who passed away in January.

The Law College's president, Clifton E. Haley, '61, and Dean Joan W. Howarth will preside over the commencement exercises.

MSU College of Law was in founded in 1891 as the Detroit College of Law and was devoted exclusively to professional education in law. The Law College is one of only a few private law schools to be affiliated with a research university, enabling it to provide a comprehensive interdisciplinary legal education program. Classes offered in its state-of-the-art facilities provide students the benefits of a Big Ten campus while maintaining a small school culture. For more information about the Law College, visit


320B Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824