Santa Clara University

SCU Today

Back to Blog

Noted civil rights lawyer Morris Dees to speak at 151st SCU commencement on Saturday

SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 12, 2002 - Morris Dees, a nationally prominent civil rights attorney who founded the Southern Poverty Law Center, will speak at Santa Clara University commencement ceremonies on Saturday, June 15.

At the 8:30 a.m. ceremonies in Buck Shaw Stadium at the SCU campus, Dees will be given an honorary degree by SCU President Paul Locatelli, S.J., before speaking to approximately 1,100 members of the Class of 2002.

More than 15,000 family and friends of Santa Clara University graduates are expected to fill the stadium on El Camino Real in Santa Clara this weekend to see degrees awarded in separate undergraduate and graduate ceremonies.

The undergraduate commencement ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 15. Graduate degrees in business, engineering, counseling psychology, education and pastoral ministries will be awarded in ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 16. The speaker on Sunday will be noted Silicon Valley marketing consultant Regis P. McKenna, a member of the SCU Board of Trustees and chairman emeritus of The McKenna Group.

Santa Clara University's first commencement occurred in 1851, the same year it was founded as California's first institution of higher education. The University expects to confer 1,100 undergraduate degrees on Saturday. In Sunday ceremonies, the University expects to confer approximately 660 graduate degrees: 335 masters in business administration, 73 master of arts in counseling and counseling psychology, 70 masters of arts in education, 18 masters in pastoral ministries, 167 masters of science in engineering, and one Ph.D. in engineering.

SCU's Class of 2002 valedictorian is 22-year-old Seattle native Brendan Wesley Donckers. The English and philosophy major and Phi Beta Kappa graduate was co-president of the Ruff Riders Student Association, a student athletic booster club, and will be working after graduation for Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott.

He also is to be recognized along with 500 classmates at the annual awards and honors convocation at 2 p.m. Friday at the Leavey Center. The honorees include 34 members of Phi Beta Kappa, and the following University Awards to four graduating seniors: Joseph McNally (Student Life Award), Charlotte Vallaeys (Very Rev. Peter Hans Kolvenbach Award), Francis Kreikebaum (The Nobili Medal), Jessica Williams (The Saint Clare Medal).

Also at Saturday's undergraduate ceremonies, these honorary degrees will be awarded: John W. Donohue, S.J. (Doctor of Humane Letters), Barbara Zahner (Doctor of Public Service), Thomas J. Reese, S.J. (Doctor of Letters), Anna Halprin (Doctor of Fine Arts), Morris Dees (Doctor of Laws). On Sunday, speaker Regis P. McKenna will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

Saturday's commencement speaker, Morris Dees, is the son of an Alabama farmer who sold a successful mail-order publishing company, then became a civil rights lawyer in the late 1960s, including a suit to integrate the Montgomery YMCA. In 1971 he co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama.

Dees has received numerous awards in conjunction with his work at the center: Trial Lawyers for Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year in 1987; Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award from the National Education Association in 1990; American Bar Association Young Lawyers Distinguished Service Award; American Civil Liberties Union Roger Baldwin Award; University of Alabama Humanitarian Award in 1993.

Dees is chief trial counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center. He devotes his time to suing hate groups, developing ideas for Teaching Tolerance, the Center's education project, and mapping new directions for the Center. His books include an autobiography, A Season For Justice (1991), Hate on Trial: The Case Against America's Most Dangerous Neo-Nazi (1993), and Gathering Storm: America's Militia Threat (1996).

Regis McKenna founded his own high tech marketing firm, Silicon Valley in 1970 and the firm has evolved from a marketing business focused on high tech start ups to a broad-based marketing strategy firm servicing international clients in many different industries. He retired as an active partner in the firm and became chairman emeritus of The McKenna Group in 2000.

Companies that he and his firm worked with as start-ups include: America Online, Apple, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Intel, Linear Technology, Lotus, Microsoft, National Semiconductor, Silicon Graphics, 3COM, and many others. McKenna helped launch some of the most important technological innovations of the last 30 years including the first microprocessor, the first personal computer, the first recombinant DNA genetically engineered product, and the first retail computer store.

McKenna's books on technology business strategies and marketing are: The Regis Touch, Who's Afraid of Big Blue, Relationship Marketing (1992), Real Time, Preparing For The Age Of The Never Satisfied Customer (1997), TOTAL ACCESS, Giving Customers What They Want in an Anytime, Anywhere World (2002).

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 7,400 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by the third-highest graduation rate among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. More information is on line at

<p>Civil rights lawyer Morris Dees speaks at Undergraduate Commencement on June 15.</p>

Tags: dees

Printer-friendly format