The commencement speaker for this year’s graduating class of the University of Dallas will be Mr. Paul Clement. As a lawyer, Clement has argued over one hundred cases before the Supreme Court including cases of religious freedom such as defenses of the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby. He served as a clerk under Justice Antonin Scalia, and was the U.S. Solicitor General for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008.
Dr. Philip Harold, dean of the Constantin College of Liberal Arts, said: “One of the hardest things to do as a lawyer is argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, and [Clement] has done that over a hundred times, including a number of blockbuster cases. He is one of the very best oral advocates in the whole country.”
Clement has garnered much respect in the Catholic community for his staunch defense of the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby.
Fr. Joseph Paul Albin, chaplain and rector, said, “Anyone who is good to the Little Sisters of the Poor is good in my book.”
In 1988, Clement graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service summa cum laude. In 1989, he received an M.Phil. with distinction from Cambridge University’s Darwin College where he did his graduate study in economics. He then attended Harvard Law School, graduating with a Juris Doctor magna cum laude in 1992.
In 2022, Clement established his own practice — the law firm Clement & Murphy. He is an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law and a Distinguished Lecturer in Law at Georgetown University.
The process of selecting the commencement speaker involves the president of the university, Dr. Jonathan Sanford, as well as the executive cabinet and the chairman of the university’s board of trustees. After consultation with these two parties, the president has the final say.
UD is ready to welcome Clement and proud to have him address its graduating class.
Harold said: “Paul Clement is an excellent choice for commencement speaker. He will give a great commencement speech for our graduates.”
Clement is a practicing Catholic with a strong moral code, and he presents a strong role model for all UD students.
Ryan Reedy, chief of staff for the president’s office, said, “Mr. Clement is a faithful Catholic and exemplary public servant.”
Being a Catholic school, UD also celebrates a Baccalaureate Mass on campus the night before graduation. This year, the Baccalaureate Mass is scheduled for May 13 at 6:30 pm. For the past few years the Mass has been celebrated on the Mall. The dais is before the tower, and Mass is celebrated by Bishop Burns, and concelebrated by the bishops and priests who either work at, or have a connection to the university.
Since there are no indoor locations on campus that are large enough for the baccalaureate mass, the only options are to host it outdoors on campus or at a separate location. Sanford said, “In order for us to hold it in the Toyota Music Factory, it would cost an additional $30,000 to have another day, and that seems like maybe not the most ideal arrangement.”
Still, Sanford said that there is a strong desire at UD to hold at least part of the commencement weekend on our campus. Celebrating mass outside under the Texas sun in mid-May might sound like a recipe for disaster, but the time of the mass was moved back into the evening so that most of the mall will be shaded during it. “It’s not a perfect situation, but it seemed the best of the available options,” Sanford said.
Since the Baccalaureate Mass is meant to honor the graduating students, there is a longer procession. This includes the students graduating, the professors, the staff, and of course the priests and bishops celebrating the Mass.
Speaking on the importance of the Baccalaureate Mass, Fr. Albin said: “It is a chance to thank God for the many gifts we have received. At moments of achievement it’s important to stop and recognize the Giver of all good gifts.”
The day of commencement is approaching and with it will come mixed emotions of joy and sadness.
Fr. Albin said: “Both the Baccalaureate Mass and commencement are always bittersweet. We of course want to celebrate the achievements of our students, and at the same time it’s sad to see them go.”
Commencement is set to take place on Sunday, May 14 at the Toyota Music Factory at 9 a.m.