Jeh C. Johnson, a partner in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, and the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, will serve as the graduation speaker at Fordham Law School’s 116th diploma ceremony on Monday, May 22. The ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. at Edwards Parade on Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus in the Bronx.
Dean Matthew Diller and Fordham University President Tania Tetlow will confer degrees on 630 graduates — 413 of whom will receive J.D. degrees, 102 of whom will receive M.S.L. degrees, 112 of whom will receive LL.M degrees, and three of whom will receive S.J.D. degrees.
At the ceremony, Johnson will receive an honorary doctorate of laws, conferred by the Board of Trustees of Fordham University.
From 2013 to 2017, Johnson served as the Secretary of Homeland Security — the third-largest cabinet department of the U.S. government at the time, consisting of 230,000 personnel. He served as General Counsel of the Department of Defense from 2009 to 2012, during which time he co-authored the report that paved the way for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He also served as General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force from 1998 to 2001, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1989 to 1991.
In private practice, Johnson has been a pathbreaker for attorneys of color. In 1993, he became the first African American person to be elected partner at Paul Weiss in the firm’s then 118-year history. In 2020, at the request of New York State’s chief judge, he led a comprehensive review of racial bias in the state’s court system and issued a detailed report on how to address the problems.
Johnson is a 2022 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, a 2021 recipient of the American Lawyer’s Lifetime Achievement Award, for being “an American statesman [who]has devoted his career to the public interest,” and a 2018 recipient of the Ronald Reagan Peace Through Strength Award, presented at the Reagan Presidential Library, for “contribut[ing]greatly to the defense of our nation,” and “guiding us through turbulent times with courage and wisdom.” He graduated from Morehouse College in 1979 and from Columbia Law School in 1982.
The Law School diploma ceremony will be held on Monday, May 22, 2023; 10 a.m. at Edwards Parade, Rose Hill Campus of Fordham University in the Bronx. Click here for complete details.