group 1Saturday – Graduation Day! I always feel excited and nervous about graduation day. I really want it to be the very best ceremony for the students and family and friends who have come from everywhere. I also feel a little bit melancholy about the students who will be leaving. That’s one of the quirks of teaching. Just as you get to really know the students, it’s time for them to go on into the next phase of their life. Anyway, graduation was at 2:00 p.m. at the Fayetteville Town Center.
Class of 2008 graduates:

Allison B. Adams
Parvez F. Ahmed
William Chris Allen
Jeremy S. Ament
D.J. Beaty
Jessica Michelle Beel
Justin G. Bennett
Dawn M. Bertram
Janice E. Bowden
Natasha Cheatham Bowman
Le Ann P. Box
Jason J. Boyeskie
Cherise A. Bozeman
Michael D. Brechlin
Emily Ruth Bridges
Joshua Sean Bryant
William M. Burk
Chase Carmichael
Harley D. Caudle
Kimberly C. Clark
Suzanne G. Clark
Kelly Christian Comarda
Christopher Cordero
George Adam Cossey
Sarah Emeline Cox
Blake Crawford
David B. Cripps
Seth Parker Crosland
John William Crow
Leta M. Darling
Dustin R. Darst
Jonathan DavisGroup 4
Christopher Dawkins
Matthew A. Dempsey
Robert L. Depper III
Suba Sruti Desikan
Asia N. Diggs
Amanda J. Dillon
Kimberly D. Dixon
Benjamin T. Donathan
Robert P. Dougherty III
Carey E. Dowdy
Heather Dunn
Timothy L. Evans
Patrick Feilke
Branch T. Fields
Samantha S. Fields
Ron Fink Jr.
Jennifer C. Fiser
Kristin F. Freeman
Robert B. Gibson III
Daniel B. Gold
Travis Allen Gray
Kevin Griffith, M.D.
David C. Hardaway
Dewayne Harley
Richard W. Hebar
Sara E. Heck
Ashley D. Henry
Jera Rae Houghtaling
Nichole C. Howard
Angela Hyde
Adam R. Jackson
Hope Lauresha Jackson
Matthew S. Jackson
Nicholas James Jackson
Timothy G. Johnson
Brett Kaehne
Jason P. Kearney
James Kemp
April N. Kersten
Matthew J. Kraft
Eugene Krupitsky
Jonathan Kwan
Joy E. Latimer
Alanna E. Martinsky
Brandon J. Massey
Madra Deanne McAdoogroup 3
Ashlei N. McAllister
Jesse L. McCombs
Shyretta Rochelle McCrackin
Alex R. Merritt
Matthew L. Mooney
Christopher A. Nebben
Ronald Noble
Trace T. Northcross
M. Christina Northern
Michael T. Nutt
Brandon Oliver
Benjamin Oxford
Matthew Panach
Talley R. Parker
Charles W. Pearce
Blake E. Pennington
William C. Pharis
David D. Phillips
Michael D. Pierce
Lecia V. Powell
Kendall P. Pringle
Virginia Ann Raffaelli
Justin M. Rains
Ryan A. Ray
Mark Robertson
James A. Roller
Michael Bayless Rowe
Lee Taylor Samples
William R. Sanders
Susan L. Scott
Timothy Ryan Scott
Stacey L. Self
Christopher R. Smiley
Emily A. Sprott
Teaven Stamatis
Rachel N. St. Fleur
Phillip Stone
Whitney Paige Strack
Kelvin P. Stroud
Michael Tate
Stephen Terry
Saundra M. Thompsongroup 2
Jonathan T. Torres
Pamela J. Tucker
Grady R. Turner
Thomas A. Watson
Carlyle C. White
Peggy Hirschey Williams
Eric Joel Wilson
Qiana N. Wilson
Kaycee Leigh Wolf
Ashley R. Wright
Wade A. Wright
Robert Ryan Younger
Guang Y. Zeng
The morning started when I brewed a pot of coffee and reviewed the graduation script, making last minute adjustments. Next, I arrived early at the Town Center and there were many hugs and photographs with graduates. Then it was time to find and to greet our speaker, Judge Bobby Shepherd, and our representative of the Alumni Association, Lewis E. Epley.
Judge Shepherd was confirspeakermed to the U.S. Court of Appeals on July 20, 2006. He has a distinguished record as a practicing attorney and magistrate judge with extensive civil and criminal litigation experience. He graduated magna cum laude from Ouchita Baptist University and received his J.D., with high honors from the University of Arkansas where he was an editor of the law review.

Lewis Epley, Class of 1961, is a native of Springdale. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1961 with a B.S. in public administration from Walton College and a J.D. from the School of Law. Since graduating, Lewis has built a combined career that has included law, banking, business and public service. His service to the University is exemplary. A former member of the Board of Trustees, he served as Chairman of the Trustees from 1996-98. He has continued his University ties serving as a member of various committees, including the steering committee for the Campaign for the 21st Century, the 2010 Commission and the Arkansas Alumni Board of Directors.

Also, this year we were delighted to have Chancellor Elect Gearhart (who is also our alum) join us as a member of the platform party as well as Provost Bob Smith. This was his very last UofA graduation as a platform official because he is stepping down as Provost. It meant SO much to me to have him there. He’s been such a wonderful friend and mentor to me. It was wonderful to have him attClass Speakerend our graduation as well. In addition, Johnetta Cross Brazzell and her husband, Dan, attended this year’s commencement. As you can see, we had quite a number of dignitaries and that’s not even mentioning the members of the Bar who also attended. Speaking of dignitaries, I’ve teased Dr. Henderson my dentist in my blog. He was there because, as it turns out, he is a friend of the family of Patrick Feilke.

At 2:00 p.m. sharp we processed in and went through the graduation ceremony. By the way if any of you are interested, we do record that and you can get a professional DVD of the ceremony. Our graduation speaker from the Class of 2008 was Tim Evans. Tim is originally from El Dorado, Arkansas. He received his B.A. in Economics from the University of Illinois. In addition to being a musician with a wicked sense of humor, Tim was an excellent student. He served as an Associate Editor of the Arkansas Law Review. He also participated in moot court competitions and was on the winning team of the 2007 Benjamin J. Altheimer Moot Court competition and was named best oralist in that competition. After graduation he and his family will move to Dallas where he will practice with the Thompson and Knight law firm.

One of the highlights of the ceremony besides conferral of degrees of course, are the awards given to aAward recipeint number of our graduates. This year those awards went to:

ï American Bankruptcy Institute Medal for Excellence in Bankruptcy Studies – Blake E. Pennington
ï ALI-ABA Scholarship & Leadership Award – Jera Rae Houghtaling
ï Medico – Legal Prize – LeAnn P. Box
ï Craig Sterne Memorial Award – Estate Planning & Taxation – Thomas A. Watson
ï M. Jeff Starling Jr. Award – Labor and Employment Law – Hope Lauresha Jackson
ï Bobby Fussell Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award – Susan L. Scott
ï W.B. Putnam American Inn of Court Pupil Award – M. Christina Northern & Justin M. Rains
ï Bogle-Sharp Award – Asia N. Diggs
ï Joe C. Barrett Award – Commercial Transactions – Richard W. Hebar
ï Trial Advocacy Prize – Jonathan Davis
ï The Lewis E. Epley, Jr. Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching went to Prof. Ned Snow who was selected by the Class of 2008 for that honor.
ï Bard Rogan Natural Resources Law Award – Timothy L. Evans
ï Appellate Advocacy Prize – Ryan A. Ray
ï Outstanding Contribution to the Law School Community Award – Ryan A. Ray
ï Outstanding Contribution to Law School Publications Award – Suzanne G. Clark
ï James H. McKenzie Award – Professional Responsibility & Ethics – Talley R. Parker
ï High Academic Achievement Award – Talley R. Parker
ï W.J. Arnold Memorial Award – Matthew Panach
ï T.C. & Rosemary Carlson Memorial Award – Constitutional Law – Robert Ryan Younger
ï Outstanding Academic Achievement Award – Robert Ryan Younger

This year the law faculty and university administration conferred a very special degree. In recognition of the 60th anniversary of the admission of Silas Hunt to the law school, we awarded to Precious Hunt Williams, his cousin, his degree. Chancellor Elect Gearhart joined me in presenting tHunt recipienthat to her. For those of you who don’t know, Silas Hunt was the first African American admitted to the School of Law in 1948. He was the first student to integrate a major southern university without incident and we’re very, very proud of that tradition. His legacy is remembered on our campus by Silas H. Hunt Hall, which houses the University’s admissions office, and by the Silas H. Hunt Distinguished Scholarships. The faculty and central administration felt that given the 60th anniversary of his admission it was especially appropriate to grant him this additional honor.

A number of very excited folks came up from Texarkana with Precious Hunt Williams to be present for that moment:

– Her daughter, Kandi L. Williams, and her three children, Jessika, Jasmine and David
– Rebecca Ollison (Board Member of the Silas H. Hunt Community Development Center)
– Joy Andrews (Board Member of the Silas H. Hunt Community Development Center)
– Patricia Whitaker (Board Member of the Silas H. Hunt Community Development Center)
– Janetta Kearney (Board Member of the Silas H. Hunt Community Development Center)
– Elmer Beard (Board Member of the Silas H. Hunt Community Development Center)
– Eddie Walker (High School Classmate of Silas)
It was an honor and a privilege to have them there to witness this wonderful event and for me to bestow a degree to Silas Herbert Hunt.

After graduation, there was a lovely reception on the terrace of the Town Center and after many, many pictures, hugs, greetings from family and graduates, and congratulatory remarks, I left. I had a very quiet meal at Basil’s Café in Village Parkway with my mom. It’s upscale dining featuring a variety of cuisines, including American, French and Italian. If you would like a place to compare it to, think Theo’s or Ella’s at Carnall Hall, but a little bit more out of the beaten path. I’d highly recommend Basil’s. It has very good food, an extensive wine list, and fresh ingredients.

My mom had a caesar salad and I had the basil salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, a variety of lettuces, a little bit of cheese, and the salad dressing was a Gorgonzola dressing. It was a very good salad. For dinner I had the crab cake pasta, which was crab cakes on top of rigatoni pasta with a nice cheesy cream sauce. Pretty decadent I know, but I didn’t eat bread. My mom had an interesting mushroom-crusted salmon served over a mushroom risotto. Basil’s serves very interesting selections with, again, an extensive wine list, excellent service, and quiet atmosphere.

It dawned on me last year after graduation – just the emotional roller coaster of it: preparing to pep up for graduation, all the excitement around it, the sadness afterwards of the thought of the class moving on- that it was a good thing after that to have a quiet, contemplative dinner. Last year we went to Bella Vista to Blackboard Café, which I’ve described to you before, but this time we went to Basil’s, which is actually a favorite before going to the Gridiron (a roast of local and national politicians put on by local journalists). For dessert mom had a very moist chocolate brownie with coffee ice cream on the side and I had a vanilla bean crème brulee and we headed back to Fayetteville to rest and relax after a very exciting day.