St. Mary’s University School of Law held its 75th commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16, with Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor and St. Mary’s alumnus Peter Kinder delivering the keynote address.
Kinder was awarded his Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s in 1979. Before becoming an elected public servant in 1992, Kinder worked as an attorney, a real estate representative and associate publisher of the Southeast Missourian. Kinder served 12 years in the Missouri Senate, where he was elected President Pro Tem. He was elected Missouri’s 46th Lieutenant Governor in 2004. Throughout his career he has been a champion for seniors and veterans, helping create and pass the Missouri Rx Plan, the 2006 Assisted Living Bill and the Missouri Military Family Relief Fund.
At the commencement ceremony, 203 new Juris Doctorate degrees were awarded as well as five Master of Law degrees. Blake Wilson Stribling finished first in the class as the Class of 2009 Valedictorian.
St. Mary’s honored local attorney Roy R. Barrera Sr. with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Barrera graduated from the law school in 1951 and founded the law firm Nicholas & Barrera with his partner. His legendary career has spanned half a century. Barrera served as Texas’ Secretary of State from 1968 to 1969. He has been named by Texas Monthly Magazine as one of the Top Ten Criminal Lawyers in Texas and as a Texas Super Lawyer many times. Barrera was St. Mary’s 1975 Distinguished Law Graduate.
The law school also presents two awards to those who have made exceptional contributions to the legal profession and education. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was awarded the Rosewood Gavel Award; he was not present at the ceremony and will receive the award at a later date. The St. Thomas More Award was presented to Phil Hardberger, San Antonio Mayor and Retired Chief Justice for the Fourth Court of Appeals.