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Release: May 7, 2001

Former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh gives law commencement address

IOWA CITY -- Former U.S. Attorney General and former Pennsylvania Gov. Richard Thornburgh will give the University of Iowa College of Law commencement address during ceremonies at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12 at Hancher Auditorium. His commencement address is titled "Of Lawyers and Law." UI President Mary Sue Coleman will confer degrees on 150 law graduates at the law commencement.

Thornburgh, who is now in private law practice with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP in Washington, D.C., has enjoyed an illustrious career in public service. In addition to his stint as U.S. attorney general under Presidents Reagan and Bush, he was governor of Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1987, under-secretary-general of the United Nations, assistant secretary general of the United States in charge of the Criminal Division, and United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He also was the director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

While U.S. attorney general, Thornburgh negotiated key provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into federal law in 1990, and he helped implement the guidelines governing the administration of the Act. In his private law practice he serves as an active advisor and counselor to the firm's government affairs clients with respect to matters concerning federal, state and local governments as well as international organizations.

Thornburgh and his wife Virginia are visiting the law school community May 10-12, and each will take part in a number of public speaking engagements during that time.

-- 7 p.m. Thursday, May 10 -- Mrs. Thornburgh will convene a conference on making places of worship more accessible and welcoming for persons with disabilities. The "That All May Worship" conference takes place at Faith United Church of Christ, 1609 Deforest Avenue, Iowa City. Mrs. Thornburgh is director of the Religion & Disability Program for the National Organization on Disability (NOD).

The conference in Iowa City is one of 12 being held in various U.S. cities by NOD, an organization that promotes full and equal participation in all aspects of American life for the estimated 54 million persons with disabilities.

-- 10 a.m., Friday, May 11 -- The Thornburghs and Peter Blanck, law professor and director of the UI's Law, Health Policy & Disability Center, will lead a call-in discussion on disability issues as guests of the Iowa Talks radio program. The program will be produced and aired by WSUI-AM 910.

-- Noon, Friday, May 11 -- Thornburgh will lead a seminar for the law school faculty following a luncheon in the Faculty Lounge, located on the fourth floor of the Boyd Law Building.

-- 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 11 -- The Thornburghs and Blanck will host an informal roundtable discussion at the Law, Health Policy & Disability Center. For information on the events, see

-- 1:30 p.m. (approx.) Saturday, May 12 -- Thornburgh will present the commencement address at the College of Law commencement ceremonies at Hancher Auditorium.

Thornburgh received a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1957, a bachelor's degree in engineering from Yale University in 1954, and has received honorary degrees from 30 other colleges and universities.