Monday Morning Message 5.16.22 Our Most Resilient Class.

Posted 2022-05-16 1:25pm

“ The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law logo says this:  Learn Law.  Live Justice.  Learn is an action verb; so is live. They look good on a logo; it is when you embed this vision into your future that you will change the world for the better…..I urge you on this day of new beginnings for you:  remember the action verbs in the mantra of this, your soon-to-be alma mater:  Learn Law. Live Justice. You don’t need it to be easy. You just need it to be possible.” – CSU President Laura Bloomberg

“As you grow your network in the legal community – and in life – do not look for the differences you have with others. Look for the common ground and the ways you can admire your adversaries. Because a courtroom battle should not be a fight to the death. The law should prevail. And in the future, you may find yourself on the same side of a different issue or case and you want to be able to work well alongside all kinds of capable people. It will make you stronger. What starts as good manners and civility can lead to friendship. So, your last law school lesson – let it be from me – and let it be that civility must prevail.” – Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor ’80, Commencement Speaker

 “Speak up for yourself and others loud and proud because you are your best asset. This degree will carry us far and I implore you to use it wisely for the good of our community, family, friends, and yourself.  We have to find the good and go do it! Leave a meaningful mark on this world. Let’s be remembered for what we gave!” –Davona Mason’22, Student Bar Association President

 “Living justice should not be limited to our legal work. Having a law degree gives us a powerful tool to live justice, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t live justice outside of law. Down the line, we’ll all find our own ways to live justice in our lives, but I hope that that continues to include each other—helping each other find jobs, giving advice, and celebrating our wins.” – Lucy Richman’ 22, Class Valedictorian

“The fire that burns inside you shines brighter than the fire that burns around you. ….So, my fellow graduates, as we embark on our next journey …do not let anyone or anything take your fire away, not even yourself. Be the change amongst the stagnant. Be the voice amongst the voiceless. Be the dissatisfied amongst the complacent. Never stop fueling your fire. “ – Tayler Gill ’22, Dean’s Learn Law, Live Justice Award Recipient

Yesterday was our 2022 Commencement where we celebrated the accomplishments of the most resilient class to ever graduate from our law school.

Early in the second semester of their first year of law school, the world turned upside down.

The pandemic challenged the way we taught and the way they learned. Our students were forced to juggle the usual pressures of being a law student with a range of new and unexpected challenges, not of their making. They faced sudden and unexpected stress and faced these anxieties without the direct support networks they had built on campus. They united as a community in the face of a shared crisis.

They adapted and excelled. I have no doubt that the unprecedented challenges they faced will make them even better lawyers and leaders.

The Class of 2022 worked exceptionally hard like most people won’t, so they can change the world in ways that most people can’t.

Our 148 graduates included 133 graduating with a JD degree, 4 with an LLM degree, 11 with a Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree, and 13 with joint degrees. They came to us from more than 70 colleges and universities across the country and around the world. 

We heard inspiring remarks from CSU President Laura Bloomberg and Commencement Speaker Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor ’80.

We also heard from four exceptional student leaders: Davona Mason ’22President of the Student Bar Association (SBA), Lucy Richman ’22Class Valedictorian, and Tayler Gill ’22, recipient of the Dean’s Learn Law. Live Justice Award, given to a graduating student who shows promise for embracing their new law degree as a force for good.  Ashley Nemeh ’22, an accomplished singer-songwriter, sang America the Beautiful and a song she wrote, Anything is Possible.

We honored Professor Carole Heyward and Professor Steve Lazarus as the SBA Faculty of the Year and Jamie GayAssistant Director of Student and Career Services, as SBA Staff Member of the Year.

 We also honored Adjunct Professor Joseph Dunson ‘07 and Adjunct Professor Theophilus Hudson ‘12 with the Judge Richard M. Markus Adjunct Faculty Award. Sadly, Judge Markus, who last year was inducted in our Hall of Fame, recently passed away, but his legacy lives on.

Associate Deans Carolyn Broering-Jacobs and Jonathan Witmer-Rich read the names of each graduate as President Bloomberg and I handed each graduate their diploma.

Joining us were Tim Cosgrove ’87, Vice-Chair of the CSU Board of Trustees Dr. Nigamanth Sridhar, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Allison Taller Reich ’09,  President of our Law Alumni Association (CMLAA),  Robin Wilson ’96, CMLAA President-Elect Jurist-in Residence Judge Patricia Ann Blackmon ’75, Leaders-in-Residence Steve Percy ’79,  Carter Strang ’84, and Sonali Wilson, CSU General Counsel and Secretary to the CSU Board of Trustees, and Adjunct Professor Matthew Fitzsimmons.

 Also joining us were many of our distinguished judicial alumni:

Ohio Supreme Court

Justice William O’Neil ‘79 (retired)

8th District Court of Appeals of Ohio

Administrative Judge Sean C. Gallagher ’89

Judge Eileen A. Gallagher ’87

Judge Patricia A. Blackmon ‘75 (retired)

Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas

Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams ‘90

Judge John J. Russo ‘92

Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold ‘76

Judge Andrew J. Santoli ‘06

Judge Deborah M. Turner ‘96

Cleveland Municipal Court

Judge C. Ellen Connally ‘70 (retired)

Magistrate Joanna Lopez Inman ‘10


Special thanks to Jill Natran, Administrative Coordinatorand Holli Goodman, Executive Assistant to the Deanfor leading the planning and execution of our very successful 2022 Commencement.

We are heartbroken, outraged, and unsettled by the tragic hate crimes in Buffalo this past weekend. I hope and trust that it will make our 2022 graduates even more determined to pursue our mission of “living justice.” We charge them to use their legal education to fight against hate and injustice anywhere, advocate for justice everywhere, and to help heal our divided nation.

 Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Committed to Living Justice.

Have a great day. Have a great week.

My best,


Lee Fisher
Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
| Cleveland State University
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law

For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages.

Subscribe to Dean's Monday Morning Message

Subscribe to C|M|LAW Newsletter

  • Share