The Sunflower Ceremony provides a unique opportunity for the Dean, professors, and other Law School administrators to say a few words to the Law School’s new graduates. As then Acting Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and later Dean M. Michael Sharlot did in 1983, the speakers usually urge graduates to be thankful, successful, and upstanding lawyers and alumni.
Speakers frequently recognize and thank the friends and family that have supported law students during their education.
Numerous guest speakers, including judges, esteemed alumni, and even former Texas Governor Ann Richards, have addressed the Sunflower Ceremony as well. The focus of the commencement speech has changed over the years. In previous decades, the speech recognized an award or honor bestowed by the University of Texas School of Law. In modern times, guest speakers, selected for their impressive accomplishments, simply share some of their wisdom with the new graduates.
List of Sunflower Ceremony Guest Speakers (2000-2011)
May, 2000: Richard Warren Mithoff
May, 2001: Honorable Henry Cuellar
May, 2002: Robert A. Estrada
May, 2003: Patrick C. Oxford
May, 2004: Honorable Carolyn Dineen King
May, 2005: Honorable Wallace B. Jefferson
May, 2006: Judith Zaffirini
May, 2007: Honorable Ron Kirk
May, 2008: Honorable Diane P. Wood
May, 2009: Honorable Edward C. Prado
May, 2010: Paul Begala
May, 2011: S. Jack Balagia, Jr.
May 2012: Joseph D. Jamail
May 2013: Rodney Ellis
May 2014: Steve Patterson
May 2015: Nathan L. Hecht
Program, 1983 (PDF)
2012 Keynote Address: Joseph D. Jamail