Chancellor Sandra Day O'Connor to Deliver Commencement Address


Sandra Day O'Connor, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Chancellor of the College of William & Mary, will deliver the commencement address at the Law School's graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 11, 2008.

Approximately 220 law students will receive degrees during the ceremony, which will be held at 3 p.m. in the Sunken Garden. Seating will be limited to graduates and their guests.

O'Connor will also offer welcoming remarks at the College's commencement ceremony which will be held at noon in William & Mary Hall.

O'Connor spoke at the Law School's graduation ceremony in 2006, and her return this year is much anticipated. "Students could not be more thrilled to have Justice O'Connor speak at our commencement," said Sarah Fulton '08, President of the Law School's Student Bar Association. "Having such an important figure in modern history present at graduation is an incredible honor."

Interim Dean Lynda Butler noted that O'Connor's address "adds special luster to what is always a wonderful celebration for our graduates and their families. She has accomplished so much in her life and with her law degree. What a splendid way to send off our graduates."

Earlier this year, on February 8, O'Connor delivered the keynote address at the Law School's Citizen Lawyer Conference and met with the first-year class who engaged her with questions about her career and the judiciary.

After nearly a quarter of a century on the U.S. Supreme Court, O'Connor became the 23rd Chancellor of William & Mary in 2006, succeeding former Secretary of State Dr. Henry A. Kissinger in the post.

O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the Court, was nominated by President Ronald Regan, and served as an associate justice on the Court from 1981 until her retirement in 2006. Born in El Paso, Texas, she earned a B.A. in economics (magna cum laude) from Stanford University and a LL.B. from Stanford Law School, where she graduated third in her class.

After serving as Deputy County Attorney of San Mateo County, California, and as a civilian attorney for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Market Center in Frankfurt, Germany, O'Connor practiced law in Arizona. She served as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona from 1965 to 1969 and was appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969 where she was twice re-elected to two-year terms. In 1975 she was elected Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, where she served until her appointment to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979.

O'Connor is married to John Jay O'Connor III and they have three sons: Scott, Brian, and Jay.

W&M Office of University Relations Media Contact: Suzanne Seurattan, 757-221-1631,; Law School Contact: Jaime Welch-Donahue, 757-221-1840,