Janet Reno, the country’s first female attorney general, will present the keynote address at GW Law School’s Commencement May 27. Reno will also receive an honorary doctor of law degree from the school, GW announced last week.
GW Law School Dean Michael Young said GW is honored to host Reno at the law school’s 134th Commencement.
“Her position and outspoken frankness as attorney general has made her a world-recognized figure of strength, vigor, tenacity and commitment,” Young said. “She will be a great speaker on a great day for this law school.”
Reno, who left her position as the nation’s second-longest-serving attorney general in January, held a record of effective management and crime reduction. During her tenure, Reno focused on alternative punishment for first-time offenders, crime prevention programs with children and civil rights.
The former attorney general attended Cornell University as an undergraduate before enrolling at Harvard Law School in 1960 as one of 16 women in a class of 500. After graduation she worked to revise the Florida Judicial system, as staff director of the Florida’s Judiciary Committee.
In 1978 she was appointed state attorney general for Dade County, Fla., and won re-election four times.
Reno helped establish the Miami Drug Court, which now serves as a model for courts nationwide. The court provides alternative punishment for non-violent offenders with substance abuse problems. More than half of those who have completed the program remain drug free. Former President Bill Clinton appointed Reno Attorney General in 1993.
During her eight years in the Justice Department, Reno dealt with cases such as the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas, the hunt for “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City and the custody fight for Elian Gonzalez.
Reno will join a distinguished group of past Commencement speakers at GW, including Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist, retired Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun. and D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams.
Reno will speak at the Smith Center on May 27 at 1:30 p.m.