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
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: Honorable Nathan L. Hecht
May 2016: Darren Walker
May 2017: Honorable Debra Lehrmann
May 2018: Linda L. Addison
May 2019: Neal Manne
May 2020: Honorable Robert Pitman
May 2022: Sandra Phillips Rogers
Program, 1983 (PDF)