Supreme Court justice speaking at Centre

May 23, 2004

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will speak at Centre College's 181st commencement today.

The 3 p.m. ceremony is open only to ticketholders and will take place at the Norton Center for the Arts. Two-hundred and sixty-three seniors will receive degrees.

Nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, this is O'Conner's 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."


Centre is the alma mater of two Supreme Court justices. Fred Vinson, Class of 1909, served as the Chief Justice 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 and is known for his early stand in favor of civil rights for African-Americans.

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 to the post 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 been a member of numerous boards and committees. Edward Farley '51 will give Centre's baccalaureate address at 11 a.m. on 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 interpreters of theological education in North America.Farley has written numerous books on religion, including Divine Empathy: a Theology of God, which he discussed during a 1999 presentation at Centre. Other books include Faith and Beauty: A Theological Aesthetic; Practicing Gospel: Unconventional Essays in the Church's Ministries; and Good and Evil: Interpreting a Human Condition.

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. It's 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 Farley '53, is a Centre alumna. Her late father, Dewey Kimbel '23, played football for Centre as a member of the legendary "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. Kimbel received an honorary degree from Centre in 1953.

O'Connor and Farley will receive honorary degrees, as will Lino Tagliapietra, an acclaimed Venetian glass artist. Tagliapietra was Humana Visiting Artist at Centre in 2000. During his time at the College he performed glass-blowing demonstrations and participated in making 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.

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