The NIU College of Law held its 2014 commencement exercises May 24 at the NIU Convocation Center.
During his address, Quinn emphasized the key role of lawyers and legal professionals in shaping policy and action in the political arena by drafting laws. He also spoke of his close personal connection to the law, having served as an attorney, and how his legal education and experience has shaped his term as governor.
Quinn lauded the achievements of the College of Law, in particular its devotion to public service law and its creation of new lawyers committed to improving their communities and maintaining a mission of helping those in need.
Gov. Quinn highlighted the efforts of Illinois State Sen. Toi W. Hutchinson, who was among the members of the NIU Law Class of 2014. Quinn recognized Hutchinson as a leader and champion of the rights of women and the under-represented. Hutchinson was unanimously appointed to serve as the state senator of the 40th Congressional District while she was a student at NIU Law in 2009, and she continued her degree on a part-time basis.
Receiving the final diploma of the ceremony, Sen. Hutchinson was hooded by Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton.
In addition to Quinn, Cullerton, Hutchinson and Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea, distinguished members of the platform party also included NIU President Doug Baker; NIU Provost Lisa Freeman; NIU professor and Illinois Rep. Mike Fortner; NIU Board of Trustees Chair John R. Butler and members Robert T. Boey, Robert T. Marshall Jr. and Marc J. Strauss; NIU Law Board of Visitors Chair Louis G. Apostol; NIU Law Alumni Council President Kenya Jenkins-Wright; NIU Vice President Lesley Rigg; Interim Vice President Brad Hoey; and numerous NIU Law faculty and staff.
Scholarship award winners from the graduating class were recognized and tributes were paid to retiring members of the NIU Law faculty and staff. The ceremony concluded with a reception, where the graduates and their guests continued the celebration of their achievements.