May 19, 2011 — U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will deliver the commencement address to the University of Virginia School of Law's Class of 2011 on Sunday.
"The Class of 2011 is thrilled to have Attorney General Holder as our graduation speaker," former Student Bar Association President Chris Martin said. The association oversees invitations to the commencement speaker each year, and Martin said graduating students voted overwhelmingly to invite Holder to speak.
"In addition to his highly distinguished record as an attorney, Mr. Holder has been a dedicated public servant throughout his career," Martin said. "He is a true embodiment of the Jeffersonian ideal of the citizen-lawyer, and we are honored to welcome him to North Grounds this May."
Holder will speak soon after the ceremony starts at 1:15 p.m. on the Law School's lawn. Inclement weather moves the ceremony to the school's Caplin Auditorium. The event is open to the public, but media representatives should contact Mary Wood at 434-924-3786 for credentials and instructions.
President Obama nominated to Holder become the 82nd attorney general of the United States, and he took office in February 2009.
In 1997, Holder was named by President Clinton to be the deputy attorney general, the first African-American named to that post. Prior to that, he served as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. In 1988, Holder was nominated by President Reagan to become an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
A native of New York City, Holder attended public schools there, graduating from Stuyvesant High School, where he earned a Regents Scholarship. He attended Columbia College, majored in American history, and graduated in 1973. He graduated from Columbia University Law School in 1976.
While in law school, Holder clerked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Department of Justice's Criminal Division. After law school, he moved to Washington and joined the Department of Justice as part of the Attorney General's Honors Program. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section in 1976 and was tasked to investigate and prosecute official corruption on the local, state and federal levels.
Prior to becoming attorney general, Holder was a litigation partner at the law firm Covington & Burling in Washington.