By Laura Ewald
GW Law commencement ceremonies
are always a marriage of tradition and new beginnings, as
pomp and circumstance send graduates into the future. That
statement is especially true this year, as Senate Minority
Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), JD ’64, who spoke to the
Class of 2005 at the diploma ceremony in the Smith Center
May 22, discussed how lessons from his past at GW Law shaped
his present career. Reid’s relationship with the Law
School—the ups and downs of which he discussed candidly
in his address—was renewed as he received an honorary
Doctor of Laws degree.
And earlier that day, for the first time,
the Law School took part in GW's commencement on the Ellipse
between the White House and the Washington Monument. As GW
President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said while observing the
fine spring sunlight, “no university in America . .
. has as nice a place for its graduation ceremony.”
Along with the rest of the University, GW Law graduates were
treated to the wit and wisdom of longtime 60 Minutes correspondent
Andy Rooney, who received an honorary Doctor of Public Service
At the Charles E. Smith Athletic Center
ceremony, Interim Dean Roger Trangsrud paid tribute to the
past and present by welcoming both the new graduates and the
“Old Guard,” alumni from the classes of 1955 and
before. Russell E. Carlisle, JD ’55, served as Grand
Marshal of the Old Guard. Earlier that morning, the Old Guard
was recognized at a special brunch in the Steven A. and Barbara
Tasher Great Room of the Jacob Burns Law Library attended
by Reid and Trangsrud.
Interim Dean Roger Trangsrud with
members of the graduating class.
Photos by Abdul El-Tayef/WPPI
Trangsrud thanked the Class of 2005 for
donating the first “Senior Class Gift” to the
Law School. The class gift benefits GW Law School’s
Loan Reimbursement Assistance Program, which provides loan
forgiveness to a significant number of alumni serving as government
attorneys or working on behalf of the public interest.
Professor Gregory E. Maggs received the
Distinguished Faculty Service Award, presented each year by
the Juris Doctor class. Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Teaching
Awards went to David E. Brunori, BA ’84, MA ’94;
Francis A. Gilligan, LLM ’70, SJD ’76; and Kenneth
E. Melson, JD ’73. Emeritus status was conferred on
Professors Lynn E. Cunningham and Gerald P. Johnston. Daniel
Diggs, BA ’03, Law School systems specialist, received
the Distinguished Staff Service Award.
Three students were recognized during the
ceremony for their accomplishments. The John Bell Larner Award
went to Kimberly L. Sikora Panza for the highest cumulative
average in the entire course for the Juris Doctor degree.
Thomas A. Janczewski received the Anne Wells Branscomb Award
for the highest cumulative average in the part-time evening
division. The Class of 2005 awarded Christina D. Rodriquez
with the Dillon Cooley Memorial Award.
Reid stands with President
Trachtenberg, who displays the honorary Doctor of Laws
degree awarded to Reid by the University during the
The road to Washington for Reid began in
Searchlight, Nev. The hard-rock miner’s son’s
strong work ethic guided him through Utah State University
and GW Law—while taking evening classes, he worked as
a Capitol police officer to support his young family. Reid’s
public service career includes acting as Nevada’s youngest
lieutenant governor, the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission,
and two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, where
he introduced the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. In his current
post, he relies on his reputation as a hard worker and fair
player to unite both sides of the aisle.
Reid, living up to his political reputation
as a straight-shooter, said that an important lesson he learned
at “one of the world’s finest law schools”
he learned the hard way. While balancing the demands of being
a full-time law student, Capitol policeman, husband, and father,
Reid fell on to hard financial times and sought advice from
a Law School dean. Reid says the dean suggested he quit his
law studies, which in turn discouraged Reid. But out of disappointment
came the lessons of determination and forgiveness, traits
Reid said are key to his political career.
Reid, who has been a central figure in the
dialogue surrounding recent judicial filibusters, said bipartisan
teamwork is crucial on the matter to free up time for finding
solutions to key problems the nation faces today—“rising
gas prices, failing pensions, failing schools, and a wobbly
“My advice is that you play the game
hard, play by the rules, and if the game goes against you,
work harder, train harder, and play again,” Reid said.
“And whatever you do, don’t quit.”
Professor Gregory Maggs received the
Distinguished Faculty Service Award.
Graduates, guests, and members of
the Law School community celebrate in Kogan Plaza after
Former GW Board of Trustees member
Jean Fugett, JD ’81; Sen. Harry Reid (D.-N.V.),
JD ’64; Interim Dean Roger Trangsrud; Vice Chairman
of the GW Board of Trustees Patricia Gurne, JD ’69;
and Chairman of the GW Board of Trustees Charles T.
Manatt, JD ’62, await the start of the diploma
Members of the Old Guard were recognized
by Dean Trangsrud during the ceremony.
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2005 Table of Contents