U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been selected to send off University Law School graduates at the school’s annual commencement address during Senior Day festivities, the Law School announced today.

Holder, who is the country’s first African-American attorney general, will speak to approximately 370 graduating seniors at Hill Auditorium on May 6.

Law School Dean Evan Caminker said he is looking forward to a commencement speaker that represents the public sector in a positive light and has been chosen in conjunction with a student advisory committee.

“Traditionally, the commencement speakers discuss their personal experiences after law school, someone who has taken different paths that can provide advice or inspire our graduates,” Caminker said. “I hope that Attorney General Holder follows in that tradition.”

The excitement surrounding the announcement of Attorney General Holder’s visit to the University contrasts popular sentiments of the previous year’s choice of commencement speaker, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R–Ohio), who has a voting history against LGBTQ rights.

Holder earned undergraduate and law degrees from Columbia University before accepting his first position at the Department of Justice in 1976. After serving as Deputy Attorney General in 1997, he worked in a private firm before assuming his current position as Attorney General on Feb. 3, 2009.

He has been appointed to legal posts by several presidents, including former President Ronald Reagan and former President Bill Clinton. Caminker said Holder’s prominence in the public sector prompted the law school to consider Holder as a prospective speaker.

“We examine people who are nationally prominent, whether in public office or private industry,” Caminker said. “I hope that the attorney general can offer students insight on ways of committing one’s self to parts of the industry.”

In a statement this afternoon, Adora Andy, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Justice, said Holder will speak to graduates regarding the “critical role attorneys play in strengthening our country.” Andy added that Holder will also discuss how graduates can use their legal education to make a difference in their communities.

Law student Sarah Palmer, former co-chair of Outlaws, a political and social organization that serves the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community at the University, said she is pleased that Holder will be delivering the speech after her involvement in protesting Portman’s speaking arrangement last year.

“It’s encouraging that Dean Caminker consulted with some students before making the choice this year,” Palmer said. “Hopefully it’ll be a lot more representative of the community.”

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