MSU Law honors Class of 2023 graduates at commencement ceremony


Photos courtesy of MSU Law

By Jake Jenkins

Approximately 230 graduates were recognized and awarded degrees by Michigan State College of Law for Juris Doctor, Master of Jurisprudence, Master of Laws, and Master of Legal Studies May 12 in the Jack Breslin Student Events Center.

In her second Commencement since becoming dean of MSU Law in June 2021, Dean Linda Sheryl Greene opened the ceremony by expressing her gratitude toward not only the graduates, but their parents and other supporting members who helped them along the way.

“We thank all who helped them to reach this day,” she said. “We do live in unusual times, but your faith in the future brings us hope today and tomorrow.”

Before continuing to honor graduates for their achievements, Dean Greene acknowledged those who were affected by the tragic events on campus this past February, followed by a moment of silence.

“We gather today while being mindful that our community is still mourning the violence our community experienced on February 13,” she said. “It may feel uncomfortable to celebrate while that occasion still consumes so many of our thoughts and feelings. We are dedicated to supporting everyone who was affected by this event, including the students who were injured, witnesses to the violence, and families of those who were injured or passed.”

Judge Sean F. Cox served as the guest speaker for this year’s commencement ceremony.

Cox served as chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan since February of 2022 and was nominated by President George W. Bush in September 2004 and began his career as U.S. District Judge on June 12, 2006.

Cox said he was grateful for the chance to return to his alma mater to address the graduates. He acknowledged he was not a top academic student, and that serves as a reminder that success in law school does not determine the future of one’s career.

“I’m honored because I’m a proud graduate of this great law school and have tremendous respect for MSU’s record of producing excellent lawyers who lead change and transform lives,” he said. “I was not exactly the top of my class, just your average law student. I’m sure my old law professors are rolling in their graves right now knowing I’m here giving this commencement address.”

In addition to faculty and staff, Dean Greene and Justice Cox were joined on stage by the Class of 2023’s class officers — Kennedy Potts, Claire Moore, and class president Richard Harris, who all delivered remarks and presented awards.

Joseph McCarthy, selected class speaker, shared a moment to talk among his fellow classmates and remind them that they achieved something challenging.

“Law school will be hard; it will be demanding; and it will be unyielding. Nevertheless, all of us chose to ignore this piece of advice, and we came anyway” McCarthy said. “Do not go to law school. I’m grateful that I chose to disregard that piece of advice. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to meet so many amazing people.”

A variety of awards were presented. Eric Sabree, ‘96, the Wayne County, Mich. Treasurer since 2016 and an ardent supporter of the MSU College of Law for years, was awarded George N. Bashara Distinguished Alumni Award; Kristina Bilowus, assistant director of Career Development, was this year’s staff award recipient; and Barbara O’Brien received this year’s faculty award.

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