Southern New England School of Law Celebrates Final Commencement

UMass Law will be built on $23 million gift of SNESL assets; Graduates urged by Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville to advance the cause of educational equality across the Commonwealth and nation.

Southern New England School of Law awarded it's last law degrees today to 59 graduates who were urged by Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville to use their knowledge, energy and skills to advance the cause of educational equality across the Commonwealth and nation.

The commencement took on an historic flavor in light of SNESL's decision to donate its assets to UMass Dartmouth to create the Commonwealth's first public law school. The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education voted February 2 to authorize UMass Dartmouth to award law degrees and the two institutions intend to complete the transition by July 1 with the first UMass School of Law class entering this fall.

Citing the Massachusetts constitution' first-in-the-nation mandate to "cherish" education, Secretary Reville said lawyers such as John Adams, Horace Mann, and Thurgood Marshall have advanced the concept that education should be considered a "moral right" and SNESL grads should join that cause. Secretary Reville spoke after being awarded an honorary degree by the law school.

Also receiving honorary degrees: State Senator Joan Menard, D-Fall River, who is retiring this year after more than three decades of public service; Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree; and Southern New England School of Law Board of Trustees Chair Margaret Xifaras. Dean Robert Ward told graduates that the honorees -- all champions of expanding educational opportunity -- represent a "blueprint for your careers."

At the close of the ceremony, Chair Xifaras, noting that the last Southern New England commencement was the beginning of a new chapter of legal education in Massachusetts, introduced UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean MacCormack.

"You have been taught well," Chancellor MacCormack told the graduates and their families. "You have worked hard. You have had the support of many people along the way. Now it is up to you to re-pay the favor. I know you will, because you are graduating from a school whose heart, like that of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has been embedded in the life of its surrounding community. We, at UMass Dartmouth, welcome you all to our family and to our cause, and we look forward to building on the inspirational story that Southern New England School of Law has begun."

Less than four months after being approved by the Board of Higher Education, the University of Massachusetts School of Law-Dartmouth has already exceeded the application and enrollment goals set during the approval process.  More than 400 students have applied to the school and 127 have enrolled. In addition, the school has received nearly 1,000 inquiries about enrolling in fall, 2011. 

For more information on the school, please visit the school's web site at

John Hoey --
508.999.8027 or 508.264.5920 (cell)


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