ABA's President-Elect to Address Duke Law Graduates

Main Content

Commencement celebrations for the Class of 2003 will be held on the weekend of May 8-11, with the Hooding Ceremony scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 10. Other weekend events include a Graduation Gala on May 8, a bluegrass barbecue as well as an international student dinner on May 9, and University Commencement exercises on May 11.

This year's Law commencement speaker is Dennis W. Archer, president-elect of the American Bar Association. The class also will also be addressed by JD and LLM speakers who are elected by classmates.

Archer, slated to become ABA president in August 2003, is the first person of color nominated to that position. He served two four-year terms as mayor of the city of Detroit (1994-2001), and, during his last year there, he was president of the National League of Cities. Since leaving the mayor's office, Archer has become chairman of Dickinson Wright PLLC, a 200-person Detroit-based law firm with offices in Michigan and in Washington, D.C.

Archer earned his JD from the Detroit College of Law, now Michigan State University Detroit College of Law, in 1970. He has worked as a trial lawyer and a partner in several Detroit firms, and he has served as associate professor of the Detroit College of Law and adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School.

In 1985, Gov. James Blanchard appointed Archer an Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. He was elected to an eight-year term the following year. In his final year on the bench, Archer was named the most respected judge in Michigan by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Archer has been president of the Wolverine Bar Association (1979-80), the National Bar Association (1983-84), and the State Bar of Michigan (1984-85). He is a Life Member of the Fellows of The American Bar Foundation and the National Bar Association; a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers; and Life Member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference.

In 2000, Mayor Archer was named Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine. He received an Award of Excellence and was named 1998 Newsmaker of the Year by Engineering News-Record magazine, a sister publication of Business Week. In addition, Archer has been named one of the 25 most dynamic mayors in America by Newsweek magazine; one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony magazine; and one of the 100 Most Powerful Attorneys in the United States by the National Law Journal.

Following is a list of Commencement Weekend activities:

  • Thursday, May 8
    -Graduation Gala, Durham Marriott at the Civic Center, 6 p.m.
  • Friday, May 9
    -Bluegrass barbeque, Doris Duke Center, Duke Gardens, 5 p.m.
    -International student dinner, Law School courtyard (weather permitting), 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 10
    -Hooding Ceremony, Cameron Indoor Stadium, 6 p.m. (students assemble at 5 p.m.)
    -Reception to follow, Law School.
  • Sunday, May 11
    -Law School Continental Breakfast for graduates and guests, 8 a.m. to 9:15a.m.
    -University Commencement exercises, Wallace Wade Stadium, 10 a.m. (students assemble at 9 a.m.).
    -Featured speaker will be United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
    -Law School farewell reception, front lawn. Graduates and their guests invited for light refreshments.
    -Diplomas to be distributed at the Law School Registrar's office (Room 2028),11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, contact Kurt Meletzke, (919) 613-7214 or