Speaker tells law graduates to make an uncommon commitment to the most ordinary of things

Quinnipiac conferred degrees to 124 graduates of the School of Law on Friday, May 12

May 12, 2023

Law graduates holding up their diploma and smiling

The Honorable Victor A. Bolden, U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut, urged the Class of 2023 to be extraordinary at Friday’s Commencement exercises for the School of Law. But not in the unremarkable context of the latest viral moment, which is soon forgotten.

Bolden urged graduates to make “an uncommon commitment to the most ordinary of things,” those precious opportunities in life to change the world for the better in a lasting way.

“The road from Plessy versus Ferguson to Brown versus Education, from state-enforced racial segregation to the point where the doctrine of separate but equal had no place in the law,” Bolden explained, “was paved with an uncommon commitment to the most ordinary of things.”

Honorable Victor A. Bolden speaks behind a podium at Quinnipiac Commencement
The Honorable Victor A. Bolden, United States District Court, District of Connecticut delivered the keynote address.

Bolden’s message was lasting and memorable on a day when Quinnipiac conferred 124 degrees during its Commencement ceremony for the graduates of the School of Law during a ceremony in the M&T Bank Arena.

Bolden pointed out that lasting social change requires sacrifice, purpose and engagement.

“These extraordinary achievements only happen because people from all races and from many, many places had an uncommon commitment to the most ordinary of things,” Bolden said.

President Judy Olian noted how the Class of 2023 nurtured concern for broader communities throughout its time at Quinnipiac.

“You’ve been leaders in critical conversations about the status of human trafficking victims in the legal system,” she said. “You’ve prompted provocative conversations, such as the student-driven symposium that explored whether cognitive testing of doctors aged 65 and older was necessary, or discriminatory?

“And, alongside this committed and comprehensive pro bono assistance to our community, you found time to manage a challenging course load and to produce scholarly work,” Olian said. “All of your experiences at Quinnipiac Law have led you to this moment, this springboard into the world of law.”  

School of Law Dean Jennifer Gerarda Brown acknowledged the turbulent and transformative times that shaped graduates' education and made them stronger, more holistic lawyers.

“So much has happened during your time at Quinnipiac; collectively, we have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and newly energized movements for gender and racial justice that have swept our nation,” Brown said. “Through it all, you’ve worked hard, you’ve mastered the law, and you have grown — emotionally and intellectually — to become ‘whole lawyers’ who will serve your clients and communities effectively, ethically and empathetically.”

Cameron Chaplen, JD ’24, sang the national anthem at the ceremony. Hugh T. Sokolski, JD ’23, the Student Bar Association president, delivered the student remarks.

“It is a tremendous honor to stand before you today as we celebrate our graduation,” Sokolski said. “This is a momentous occasion and represents the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and perseverance.”

Robert Farrell, who is retiring, was chosen by the Class of 2023 as professor of the year. His remarks were one part reminiscent, one part raucous.

“One of the great miracles of teaching for 39 years at a university setting is that while on the one hand, I get older, slower — this isn’t pleasant — heavier, my hair gets grayer, and then whiter,” Farrell said.

“But on the other hand, every year students miraculously are the same age. They arrive every fall enthusiastic, energetic, focused, curious and willing to participate actively in class discussions,” he said. “Students are the lifeblood of this institution.”

Farrell ended his remarks with an enduring Irish sing-along that lasted many stanzas with even more laughs. His signature sing-along has been a favorite item at the annual Public Interest Law Project (PILP) auction.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Regina Thornton, MBA ’88, JD ’00, extended an official welcome to the Class of 2023 into an alumni community of more than 60,000 worldwide, with a reminder that a Quinnipiac education is a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

Ceremony Recording

Graduates smile together while seated during ceremony

Law Ceremony

Watch the recording of the School of Law Commencement.

Friday, May 12, 1 p.m.

Download the program (PDF)

Order of Exercises

Trumpet Prelude and Processional

Pomp and Circumstance, Sir Edward Elgar

Call to Commencement

Khalilah Brown-Dean, PhD
Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs

National Anthem

Cameron Chaplen ’24


Judy D. Olian, PhD


Jennifer Gerarda Brown
Dean of the School of Law

Introduction of Commencement Speaker

W. John Thomas
Professor of Law

Commencement Address

The Honorable Victor Allen Bolden
United States District Court, District of Connecticut

Presentation of Candidates for Degrees and Conferral of Hoods

Jennifer Gerarda Brown

Mark E. Schroeder
Associate Dean


  • Robert Farrell, Professor of Law, Professor of the Year

  • Neal Feigenson, Professor of Law

  • Sheila Hayre, Clinical Professor of Law

Conferral of Degrees

Judy D. Olian


Hugh T. Sokolski Jr., JD ’23
President, Student Bar Association

Robert Farrell
Professor of the Year

Alumni Welcome

Adam Swanson, JD ’08
Partner, McCarter & English


Amor Vittorioso | G. Gastoldi
March | A. Valenti

Honorable Victor A. Bolden

Honorable Victor A. Bolden speaks behind a podium at Quinnipiac Commencement

School of Law Ceremony | Friday, May 12, 1 p.m.

Judge Victor A. Bolden was sworn in as a United States District Judge on Jan. 7, 2015, after being nominated by President Barack Obama. He received his A.B. from Columbia College in 1986 and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1989. After graduating from law school, Judge Bolden served as a Marvin Karpatkin Fellow for one year and then as a staff attorney for more than four years with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation's National Legal Department. He served as an assistant counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1994-2000. He then joined the law firm of Wiggin and Dana in New Haven before returning to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to serve as its general counsel. In 2009, he was appointed the corporation counsel for the City of New Haven, and served in that position until Dec. 31, 2014.

Story, Photos and Ceremony Recording

A Message from the President

President Judy Olian

Congratulations to the Class of 2023 as you celebrate the culmination of three years of hard work and a steadfast commitment to your dream. As whole lawyers who retain their personal values and sense of self while becoming skilled practitioners, you are well prepared to become leaders in your community and to advance social justice — both within and beyond the sphere of your practice.

As graduates of the Quinnipiac University School of Law, you have learned from a distinguished faculty and a committed staff. You also have learned from each other during this transformative time in your lives. Please stay connected to the Bobcat community and continue to draw upon the many friendships and mentorships you have formed here.

Your talent, drive, and purpose are sure to impact many and to make the world a better and more equitable place. Enjoy this day with your families, friends, and others who have helped you reach this milestone. Together, we are cheering for you, with utmost pride.

Judy D. Olian

A Message from Dean Brown

Jen Brown

Congratulations to the Class of 2023. As you embark upon your careers, I’m confident that you’re graduating fully prepared for the responsibilities that lie ahead, whether you’ll be working at a law firm, clerking for a judge, or lending your voice to the fight for social justice.

So much has happened during your time at Quinnipiac; collectively, we have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and newly energized movements for gender and racial justice that have swept our nation. Through it all, you’ve worked hard, you’ve mastered the law, and you have grown — emotionally and intellectually — to become “whole lawyers” who will serve your clients and communities effectively, ethically, and empathetically.

On behalf of the entire faculty and staff at Quinnipiac Law, I wish you long and meaningful careers and much success.

Kindest wishes,
Jennifer Gerarda Brown

Graduate’s Professional Oath

I am leaving the academic community of Quinnipiac University School of Law and embarking on a professional career. As a law student and future lawyer I understand that the study and practice of law carry both privileges and responsibilities. I willingly accept the responsibilities that accompany those privileges and the responsibilities that the faculty, the bench, the bar and the public entrust to me.

I promise to do my utmost to adhere to the ideals of the legal profession and to uphold the highest standards of professional honesty and ethical practice during my career. I will remember that my actions reflect not only on me, but upon Quinnipiac University School of Law, my fellow alumni and the legal profession.

To strengthen the legal community, I will conduct myself with dignity and civility and will treat all of my colleagues with kindness and respect.

I will conduct my professional and personal life so as to uphold the values and standards that are expressed in the Rules of Professional Conduct and the traditions of the legal profession.

Doctoral Hooding Ceremony

The 12th and 13th centuries saw the formation of universities under the jurisdiction of the Church. Most students of the day were clerks in the Holy Order, monks or priests. Cowls or hoods adorned their habits and protected the young scholars from harsh weather and the pervading dampness of the stone buildings in which they studied. Hoods also served to cover tonsured heads before the use of the skullcap.

Today, the cap, gown and hood have taken on a symbolic meaning. Color and shape conform to an academic code signifying a university’s conferral of the degree and the nature of the degree conferred. Gowns for the doctoral degree carry velvet panels and three horizontal velvet bars on the upper arm of the full, round, bell-shaped sleeves.

Mace and Medallion

The mace — a symbol of authority — has antecedents in both Roman and Medieval history. The Roman mace (fasces) was carried by a lictor before the chief magistrate of the city, as well as before the legions. During the Middle Ages, the mace (mateola), a weapon of war, became first a symbol of victory and then a symbol of authority. The mace emblazoned with the Great Seal of England became a symbol of authority in Parliament by the end of the 13th century. It is this form of the mace that was the prototype of those symbols of authority, not only of legislative bodies, but also of cities and universities.

In 1246, following some 20 years of strife, the University of Paris was finally conceded the right to its own common seal. Since then, the use of the seal engraved on the mace has come to symbolize the authority of the academic community. In July 2000, Quinnipiac commissioned the noted sculptor Robert Meyer of Westport, Connecticut, to design and execute a new mace for Quinnipiac University. Cast in bronze, the mace incorporates elements of the university seal.

The medallion (medal of office), like the mace and the seal, is also a symbol of authority. It is possible that its roots may be traced back to the Roman “bulla” (a gold amulet of honor). The obverse of the medallion shows the seal of the office the wearer holds — in our case, the seal of the university. Not infrequently, the reverse would show the personal seal or coat of arms of the bearer. Since the High Middle Ages, the medallion has been worn by such officials as the chancellors of England, mayors of cities, and rectors of universities, and came to signify the high personal position such figures occupied in their respective governments. During the Renaissance, medallion design reached unique artistic heights, and in certain portraits the medallion was given particular prominence. The medallion is worn by the university’s president. The Quinnipiac medal showcases the university seal, sculpted in relief and cast in bronze.

Download the program (PDF)

Professor of the Year addresses the graduates

Robert Farrell’s address

Watch Robert Farrell, professor of law, professor of the year, deliver remarks to and lead an Irish sing-along with the law graduates. 

Quinnipiac University conferred 3,141 degrees during six Commencement ceremonies May 12-14 at the M&T Bank Arena and the Mount Carmel Campus.

Get all the details at commencement.qu.edu

Stay in the Loop

Sign Up Now