U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren Delivers Inspiring Commencement Address at Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University

May 17, 2023
Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking at podium

Sen. Warren: “Have courage. Take a risk because our nation–our world–needs you.”

QUEENS, NEW YORK (May 15, 2023) — U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivered Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University’s 45th commencement ceremony address to graduates at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York. Together with Harvard Professor Bruce H. Mann, a legal scholar and historian, she received the Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, the highest honor conferred by the Law School, recognizing their lifelong contributions to public service and the legal profession.

Sen. Warren encouraged graduates to “be courageous” and to take chances just as she has during her remarkable career in public office, calling upon them to consider using their law degrees where the need is great.

“That means trust yourself. That means don’t sell yourself short. Don’t settle for work that you don’t believe in. Don’t assume that you can’t make a difference,” she said.

Sen. Warren told students further that the world “desperately needs” them.

“We are living in a time of great uncertainty and instability. Multiple pandemics have made clear that humanity is fragile. The wealth gap continues to grow, while greedy corporations pump filth into our air and pour poison into our water. If that reality wasn’t enough, right now, an army of corrupt legal minds are conspiring with hateful politicians across America to silence our voices, steal our votes, and deny us our freedoms. They want to attack transpeople, give comfort to white supremacists, and declare themselves the ones to judge a woman’s personal medical decisions,” she said. “I say no!”

Sen. Warren was a Harvard Law professor and consumer advocate when she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. She is widely credited for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Obama. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Sen. Warren served as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Horace E. Anderson Jr., Dean of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, presided over the commencement ceremony. Delivering the opening address was Pace University President Marvin Krislov, who asked students to “remember to use your unique privileges and responsibilities as lawyers in good and fair ways.”

He said further: “You must remain dedicated to understanding other people, even your adversaries. You must uphold fundamental rights for everyone. No principle is more important to our legal system than the idea that every single person deserves representation — the poor and underserved as much as the rich and the powerful. You must make sure you fight for the rights of the powerless — whether in your daily practice or through volunteer, pro bono work. And whatever you do in your careers, please remember that lawyers are instrumental to the working of our democracy.”

For some of the law school graduates, this was their first in-person graduation since high school, many having celebrated their undergraduate commencements virtually in 2020.

In his speech, Dean Anderson focused on the ways that the Class of 2023, who began their law school journeys in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic, helped Haub Law thrive. He said students made significant contributions toward the Law School’s number one national ranking in environmental law, its top rankings in trial advocacy and among the best law schools for women, the launching of new programs, and the development of new initiatives.

“This past year has been a very special time for Haub Law. We have created new programs, partnerships, and opportunities for our students, providing them with an even richer learning experience, and connecting that experience even more deeply with the work of our private and public sector partners,” Dean Anderson said. “The Law School has become, once again, the epicenter for important programs, public forums, and policy debates in the region, in partnership with public officials, community organizations, alumni and law leaders who share our vision regarding the role that law students and faculty can play in their work,” he said.

Commencement 2023

Pace University Trustee Liliane A. Haub and University Distinguished Professor of Law Bridget J. Crawford joined Dean Anderson to present the honorary degrees to Sen. Warren and Professor Mann, recognizing the recipients’ dedication to the law, commitment to public service, and their inspiring example to others within and outside the legal profession.

This year’s 2023 graduating class from Haub Law included 253 Juris Doctor degrees, eight Master of Laws degrees in Comparative Legal Studies, 12 Master of Law degrees in Environmental Law, and one Doctor of Juridical Science degree. Included were 30 part-time graduates, 23 of whom represented the Law School’s first full graduating class of students from its Part-Time Flex JD Program, which was expanded in 2019 to ensure more access for working professionals and others to pursue a career in law.

Remarkably, this year, four outstanding students tied at the top of their class, which is unprecedented in the Law School’s history. The students, Sabrina Bellantoni, Francine Michel, Christina Avery, and Kaitlin Campanini shared joint remarks acknowledging the strong support and mentoring of their Haub Law professors, and the help of their families and friends in graduating.

“And, my parting piece of advice: Remember that a napkin at a bar can be a binding contract, so please be careful what you assent to tonight,” Campanini said.

SJD and LLM graduates were hooded by Associate Dean and Professor of Law Jason Czarnezki. JD graduates were hooded by Professor Crawford and Adjunct Professor Robin Frankel, who were selected by the Class of 2023 as recipients of this year’s Barbara C. Salken Outstanding Professor of the Year Award.

Two exceptional members of the Class of 2023 also received the prestigious Dean’s Award: Kaitlin Flores, a JD graduate, and Chad Weiss, a part-time JD graduate.

Watch Senator Warren’s commencement address

About Elisabeth Haub School of Law

Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University offers JD and Masters of Law (LLM) degrees in both Environmental and International Law, as well as a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) in Environmental Law. The School, housed on the University’s campus in White Plains, NY, opened its doors in 1976 and has more than 9,000 alumni around the world. The School maintains a unique philosophy and approach to legal education that strikes an important balance between practice and theory. Haub Law launched its Environmental Law Program in 1978, and it has long been ranked among the world’s leading university programs, with a current #1 ranking by U.S. News & World Report. For more information about Haub Law, visit https://law.pace.edu

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