Saturday, May 24, 2014

Yesterday Was a Special Day for the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University Commencement

Yesterday was a special day for the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University. It was graduation day for the law students. Every graduation is special for the graduates, and every student is special. 42 years of teaching law. 42 special classes of graduates. 42 years of incredible students and incredible persons. Every commencement is a joyous occasion. I watch the graduates walk across the stage in what is annually the happiest day of the year for me, but also the saddest. I see these wonderful young adults happily receiving their diplomas and looking forward to tomorrow with a beautiful smile. It is their day. Their families and friends are elated. It is also their day. I bask in their reflected glory. We have done our job. We have played our role in their maturation. We hope we have done something to make them better lawyers and better persons. And yet, as they walk across the stage, I am sad because I know I will never again see many of these wonderful young people as they proceed into the world. That is the lot of us teachers. We impart knowledge and values in each class of special students, and then they move on, as they must. I can tell stories about some of the special students, but that would be a disservice to the ones not mentioned. The cycle begins again each August Yesterday was special for the law school, which was founded in 1995. Yesterday was the 16th graduation for the Law School, but the first for the Dale E. Fowler School of Law. We unveiled a bust of Mr. Fowler in the Law School in front of him and his family prior to the commencement ceremony. Mr. Fowler, a graduate of Chapman College, made a fortune in commercial real estate in southern California, and is giving some of it back to Chapman University. He and his wife Sarah donated $55 million to the Law School last August with the dedication on September 10, 2013. The law building always had a name, Kennedy Hall, for Donald Kennedy who gave a major gift at the law school’s birth. The name of the school was reserved for a transformative gift. Yesterday’s graduates know Dale and Sarah have ensured the future of their law school and the value of their degrees. The students received their J.D.’s and LL.M.’s. Mr. Fowler an honorary degree. They all earned their degrees. Most commencements are not memorable in terms of who the speakers were or what they said. Most probably don’t appear on Youtube. A $55 naming gift is memorable. The graduates knew it. Dale and Sarah Fowler made the first graduation of the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University special for a special class of graduates.

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