Hartford mayor challenges School of Law graduates to seek different perspectives, ‘dream dreams of worlds yet to be’

May 10, 2024

A School of Law graduate holds her degree over her head.

Hartford Mayor Arunan Arulampalam, JD ’14, challenged the Quinnipiac School of Law Class of 2024 to seek out differences of thought and “dream dreams of worlds yet to be.”

Speaking to the 116 new graduates nearly 10 years to the day he delivered the student remarks at his own School of Law Commencement ceremony at Quinnipiac, Arulampalam urged them to “seek out those who think differently than you do and to build collaborative relationships with them and broaden your understanding from a place of humility.”

“The world needs those bridges,” Arulampalam said. “The world needs to heal. The world needs to work together. It’s a big and scary world and that may seem like a tall order. But I have confidence in you because I’ve sat in your seats and I’ve been terrified of the world around me.”
Hartford Mayor Arunan Arulampalam speaks from the Quinnipiac commencement podium
Arunan Arulampalam, JD ‘14, mayor of the City of Hartford delivered the keynote address.

A native of Zimbabwe whose parents were Sri Lankan refugees, Arulampalam worked as an attorney in Hartford before embarking on a career in public service. He was sworn in as Hartford’s 68th mayor in January after serving as deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.

“You are launching into a world that needs your unique voices, now more than ever,” Arulampalam said. “You can dream dreams that no one else can dream. Many of you will do things that your parents and your grandparents and your ancestors never thought possible.”

President Judy Olian praised the graduates for embracing challenges that have prepared them to lead an ever-changing world.

“When I look at this class, I see the trailblazers of tomorrow who are prepared to embrace accelerated change,” Olian said, “and to do more than that — you will lead change in the practice of law, in public advocacy, in business, government, non-profits, public interest and clerkships, always keeping your values as the guiding light of your professional life.”

In her final Commencement remarks as dean of the School of Law, Jennifer Gerarda Brown urged the graduates to “focus on what you can control” and “focus on what you can stretch to touch, and try to impact that, even a little bit, in a positive way.”

Elevated to dean in 2013, Brown’s remarkable, 30-year tenure continues in 2025 when she will return as a professor.

“We feel it now, don’t we?” Brown said. “We look around at the world into which you are graduating — a world crying for your knowledge and skill, your problem-solving and your peace-making — and the need can be overwhelming. Over my tenure as dean, I have contended with more things that are out of my control than I could possibly list.”

Brown cited the timeless wisdom of Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius, who said: “Events outside ourselves are often also outside our control, but we can control our reactions to those events.”

Brown added: “We cannot control the world around us. But if we focus on the things we can control, we learn that those things are inside us. Our thinking, our emotional regulation, our mindfulness, our patience, our generosity. We can control these things, and we can turn them for good.”

She then led the graduates in reciting their professional oath.

Matthew Ventricelli speaks from the podium during Quinnipiac Law Commencement
Matthew David Ventricelli, JD ‘24, president of the Student Bar Association delivered remarks to the Class of 2024.

Student Bar Association President Matthew Ventricelli, JD ’24, delivered the student address. He started by issuing a lighthearted mea culpa to Brown and Associate Dean of Students Kathy Kuhar, JD ’02.

“If their email inboxes could talk, it would probably plead for mercy after three years of bombardment from yours truly,” Ventricelli joked.

With Mother’s Day days away, he expressed his gratitude for his hero, his mother, whose “boundless love, sacrifices and selfless nature has shaped me into the person I am today,” Ventricelli said.

“But today, the heroes of the story are all of you — my classmates,” he added. “In three short years, we have been published in multiple journals and publications. We have excelled in competitions across the nation. Through the PILP auctions, we have raised nearly $100,000. And we’ve worked in our clinics, helping real people with real problems, and making a tangible, positive impact on their lives. We did not accomplish these feats by accident.”

The law Commencement exercises were the second ceremony held at the M&T Bank Center on Friday. Earlier in the day, 93 graduates of the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine were conferred the Doctor of Medicine. Commencement exercises for the remaining schools are set to follow on the Mount Carmel Campus on Saturday and Sunday.

For the second year in a row, Cameron Chaplen, JD ’24, performed the national anthem after Provost Debra Liebowitz began the proceedings with the call to Commencement. Adam Swanson, JD ’08, president of the law alumni association, concluded the ceremony by welcoming the new graduates into the community of Bobcat alumni.

Watch the School of Law Ceremony

Class of 2024 School of Law students sitting in chairs

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Watch the livestream recording of the School of Law Commencement.

Friday, May 10, 5 p.m.

Download the program (PDF)

Order of Exercises

Trumpet Prelude and Processional

Pomp and Circumstance, Sir Edward Elgar

Call to Commencement

Debra J. Liebowitz, PhD

National Anthem

Cameron Chaplen, JD ’24


Judy D. Olian, PhD


Jennifer Gerarda Brown
Dean of the School of Law

Introduction of Commencement Speaker

Jennifer Gerarda Brown

Commencement Address

Arunan Arulampalam, JD ‘14
Mayor, City of Hartford

Presentation of Candidates for Degrees and Conferral of Hoods

Jennifer Gerarda Brown

Kevin Barry
Associate Dean


  • Stephen Gilles, Professor of Law, Professor of the Year

  • Marilyn Ford, Professor of Law

  • Stanton Krauss, Professor of Law

Conferral of Degrees

Judy D. Olian


Matthew David Ventricelli, JD ‘24
President, Student Bar Association

Stephen Gilles
Professor of the Year

Alumni Welcome

Adam Swanson, JD ’08
President, Law Alumni Association


Arunan Arulampalam, JD ’14

Arunan Arulampalam, JD ‘14

Mayor of the City of Hartford

School of Law Ceremony | Friday, May 10, 5 p.m.

Arunan Arulampalam, JD ’14, was sworn in as the 68th mayor of Hartford on Jan. 1 and immediately went to work on energizing the city he’s called home for a decade. A native of Zimbabwe born to Sri Lankan refugees, Mayor Arulampalam worked as an attorney at the Hartford-based firm of Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C., before embarking on a career in public service. He went on to serve as CEO of the Hartford Land Bank, where he developed a first-of-its-kind program designed to rejuvenate blighted properties by turning residents into developers. Prior to his election, Arulampalam served in the Lamont Administration as deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. He lives in the Frog Hollow neighborhood of Hartford in a formerly blighted house with his wife, Liza, and their five small children.

A Message from the President

President Judy Olian

Congratulations to the Class of 2024 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 2024. 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 dealt with significant changes in constitutional law here at home, and devastating destruction and loss of life in wars across the globe. 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. I am honored to conclude my tenure as dean just as you are concluding your work as students. I hope we can all reflect back on this time at Quinnipiac Law as a period of growth, friendship, and joy in learning.

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)

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