Supreme Court Justice O'Connor speaking at Centre commencement

January 09, 2004

The alma mater of two former Supreme Court justices will welcome the nation's first female Supreme Court justice to campus this spring.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will speak at Centre College's 181st commencement. The ceremony will take place at the College's Norton Center for the Arts at 3 p.m. May 23. Nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, O'Connor is the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

For more than two decades she has helped shape the nation's highest court.

This is her second trip to Centre. She gave a lecture at the College in 1987.

"We're thrilled to welcome Justice O'Connor, an influential leader who has been a devoted public servant to our country," Centre President John Roush said. "The Centre community is excited about her visit, and we look forward to hearing her address our graduates."

O'Connor graduated from Stanford Law School in 1952. Her judicial career includes serving on the Arizona Court of Appeals and as judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix.


Prior to her career as a judge, she was appointed an Arizona state senator in 1969. O'Connor was re-elected twice and served until 1975. She was Senate majority leader and chair of the State, County and Municipal Affairs Committee. She was also on the Legislative Council, the Probate Code Commission and the Arizona Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations during her time as a state senator.

O'Connor has been active in many civic projects such as working with the Salvation Army and the Smithsonian, and has been a member of numerous boards and committees.

Centre has strong ties to the highest court in the land. Fred Vinson, Class of 1909, served as the Chief Justice of the United States from 1945 until his death in 1953. John Marshall Harlan, Class of 1850, served as an associate justice on the court for almost 34 years. He is widely regarded as one of the court's most distinguished justices.

Edward Farley will give Centre's baccalaureate address at 11 a.m. May 23. Farley, who received his degree in philosophy from Centre, is the Drucilla Moore Buffington Emeritus Professor of Theology at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, where he taught from 1969 to 1997.

Internationally respected as a theological scholar and author, Farley is considered one of the foremost scholarly interpreters of theological education in North America.

In 1983, Farley received Centre's Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 1991, he was inducted as an alumnus into the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Centre.

Also in 1991, Farley received Vanderbilt University's Sutherland Prize for Achievement in Research. Typically awarded to a faculty member in the sciences, he is the only winner of this award from the Divinity School.

Farley's wife, Doris (Kimbel), is an alumna of Centre. Her father, Dewey Kimbel, played football for Centre. He was on the team nicknamed the "Praying Colonels." That team accomplished what's sometimes called the greatest upset in college football history when Centre defeated No. 1 Harvard 6-0 in 1921. He received an honorary degree from Centre in 1953.

Lino Tagliapietra, an acclaimed Venetian glass artist from Italy, will also be recognized at Centre's commencement with an honorary degree. Tagliapietra was the Humana Visiting Professor at Centre in 2000. During his time at Centre he performed glass-blowing demonstrations and was featured in a video titled Lino Tagliapietra: Maestro of Glass, which aired on PBS stations around the country. Tagliapietra has taught at several schools around the world and has been recognized with many awards for his talent.

Tagliapietra began working in Venetian glass factories when he was 11. He achieved "maestro" status by the time he was 21. He is a dominant force in glass work.

O'Connor and Farley also will receive honorary degrees.

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