Skip to main content

President's Blog: From the Heart

Look Upward — And Inward

By Eric F. Spina

I urged nearly 100 new lawyers to "look upward — and inward at what you’ve shown yourselves to be. Then take meaningful action that will shape your future and make the world more just for all." The full text of my remarks at the University of Dayton's virtual law degree conferral ceremony May 9 follows. Click here for the ceremony.

Good morning, about-to-be attorneys!

I offer you my warmest congratulations on reaching this pinnacle. What an outstanding achievement! You have worked incredibly hard, and while we cannot be together physically today, I trust you can feel the enormous pride of your professors, classmates, and families over the miles.

Life never unfolds perfectly, but even the keenest minds in your class could not have predicted this unexpected moment in history. We are living through a truly unprecedented time when Zoom calls and a toilet paper shortage have become the norm, and handshakes are suddenly impolite. Such a time has brought with it a lot of uncertainty.

I feel your anxiety and understand your worry. I want you to know your alma mater is here to help you chart your best path forward.

As president of a Catholic university, I would also encourage you to look upward —and inward at what you’ve shown yourselves to be. Then take meaningful action that will shape your future and make the world more just for all. Here’s why I am confident about the prospects for the Class of 2020:

You are resilient. You may not have envisioned taking part in an oral argument over the phone or resolving a dispute on a Zoom call, but the practice of law in the days ahead will require you to be flexible, creative and open to “practicing outside the box,” perhaps in a remote environment. The resilience you have shown in the last two months tells me that you have the fortitude to be a strong and effective advocate, no matter the complexity of the issue or the desperate need of the client.

You are flexible. After all, you quickly tapped into remote classes and adjusted to a new way of learning. The Marianist identity charges this University to educate for adaptation and change, and your flexibility shows you learned that lesson — a lesson that will continue to serve you well, since nothing in life is ever certain (notwithstanding Benjamin Franklin’s purported quip about death and taxes).  

You are a problem solver extraordinaire. Think of all the hands-on practical experiences — from representing clients in the law clinic to working side by side with lawyers in the greater legal community during your externships — that have challenged you to figure out the most complex of situations, so that you could counsel others, serve as an advocate for justice and, at times, be a voice for the voiceless. All of the 1,000-piece puzzle doers that emerged in the pandemic have nothing on you.

With your University of Dayton law degree, fortified by a Catholic, Marianist mission as your moral compass, you are prepared to adapt in a changing world. And because you are competent, compassionate, empathetic, and creative, you will persevere through these challenging times and whatever life may bring you in the future. You will not just persevere; you will thrive.

Again, congratulations!

Previous Post

Senior Class Portrait

The Class of 2020 will always hold an extra special place in my heart because we started our University of Dayton journey together.

Read More
Next Post

Even Apart, We Are One

"We are ONE UD. We are one human community." That's the message I delivered at virtual spring degree conferral ceremonies for the Class of 2020. Even apart, we are one.
Read More