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Noted civil rights lawyer Fred Gray to speak at School of Law commencement May 18

SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 15, 2002 - Fred Gray, a nationally prominent civil rights attorney who represented Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will speak at commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 18, for the Santa Clara University School of Law.

At the 10:30 a.m.ceremonies in the Mission Gardens at the SCU campus, Gray will be given an honorary degree by SCU President Paul Locatelli, S.J. The law school expects to award 259 J.D. degrees and 18 L.L.M degrees on Saturday, including: the law school's first three master's degrees in intellectual property law, as well as master's degrees for 15 foreign lawyers studying U.S. law. The foreign students are from Denmark, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Turkey.

This year's graduating class continues the law school's pattern of diversity: It is 57 percent female, and 43 percent male; 44 percent are people of color. The SCU School of Law is one of the 10 most racially and ethnically diverse in the U.S., according to U.S. News and World Report in April 2002.

This commencement ceremonies also will feature the announcement of SCU's first Outstanding Law Graduate: Bart Volkmer. Volkmer, who received his undergraduate degree from Creighton University and will graduate on Saturday summa cum laude, was selected by a student, alumni, faculty, and administration committee as "the graduating student who best represents in his class the type of student Santa Clara University is most proud to graduate by reason of demonstrated qualities of scholarship, community leadership, and a sense of professional responsibility."

This award carries a prize of $5,000 made possible through a gift from the Mabie Family Foundation and Ron Malone, an SCU law alumnus. The award will be memorialized in a plaque to be permanently displayed in the School of Law.

In addition, 56 of the law graduates are to receive certificates in high tech law, 43 in public interest law and 10 in international law and five in international high technology law.

The law school commencement weekend events begin on Friday, May 17, with a 1:30 p.m. open house, followed by a baccalaureate ceremony at the Mission Church at 4 p.m. That evening, law school alumni will gather on campus for the Alumni Distinguished Service Awards Dinner at 6:30 p.m.

The following California lawyers will be recognized for distinguished service: Rolanda Pierre Dixon, 1977 law graduate, deputy district attorney, Domestic Violence Unit, Office of District Attorney in San Jose; Ronald Hayes Malone, 1971 law graduate, partner/Litigation Department, Shartsis, Friese & Ginsburg in San Francisco; Leon E. Panetta, 1960 undergraduate and 1963 law graduate, co-director of The Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy in Monterey and former director of the Office of Management and Budget and White House Chief of Staff; Skip Paul, 1975 law graduate, chairman of IFILM Corp. in Hollywood.

Ceremonies for the 151st SCU undergraduate commencement will be June 15, and the graduate schools' commencement will be June 16, both at Buck Shaw Stadium, because they are on a different academic calendar from the law school.

The career of the law school commencement speaker reads like a history of the civil rights movement in the South. Soon after graduation from Case Western Reserve law school, Gray represented Rosa Parks when she was arrested for refusing to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. The event resulted to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and litigation that followed was instrumental in ending segregation in public transit systems (Browder v. Gale).

In many ways this served as a catalyst for the entire civil rights movement of the 1960s. Gray was Dr. Martin Luther King's first civil rights attorney. He represented plaintiffs whose suits ended segregation in Alabama's public schools (Lee v. Macon). He secured injunctive relief to protect the marchers from Selma to Montgomery, and in remedying the exclusion of African-Americans from jury service (Mitchell v. Johnson). He protected the NAACP from Alabama legislation and litigation seeking to exclude that organization from the state. He represented plaintiffs that established due process rights for students being expelled from state educational institutions (Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education). Most recently Gray was involved in disclosing and securing remedies for victims of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

Gray was one of the first African Americans elected to the Alabama legislature since Reconstruction. He was elected as president of the National Bar Association in 1985 and inducted to its hall of fame in 1995. He is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and has been awarded honorary degrees by a number of academic institutions.

About Santa Clara University School of Law

The SCU School of Law was founded in 1912. Approximately 900 students are enrolled in the law school, which offers specialty certificates in one of three areas: intellectual property law, international law or public interest law, and master's degrees in international law and intellectual property law. The law school offers internships at high-tech companies, local law firms, local public services agencies and in 13 foreign countries in Europe and the Far East.

The law school also offers interdisciplinary courses, and a joint J.D./MBA program. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and the State Bar of California, and is a member of the Association of American Law School, the Conference of Western Law Schools, and the Law School Admission Council.

The law school's East San Jose Community Law Center, its Santa Clara Law Clinic and the new Northern California Innocence project provide pro bono legal services and clinical experience for law students.

The SCU law library has nearly 280,000 volumes in hard copy and microform. The SCU law school has an Institute of International and Comparative Law, a High Tech Law Institute, a Public Interest Law Center, and the Edwin A. Heafey Jr. Center for Trial and Appellate Advocacy. Law school publications include the Santa Clara Law Review, the Computer and High Technology Law Journal, the Advocate newspaper, the Environmental Law Review, and the alumni magazine Et.Al.

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


For information about the Santa Clara University School of Law, see To arrange for an interview with Gray, or with law school dean Mack Player, contact Barry Holtzclaw at 408-554-5126

Civil rights lawyer Fred Gray speaks at School of Law commencement.

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