Revised-May 19, 2017: The Honorable Patti B. Saris, chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, was the keynote speaker at New England Law | Boston’s 106th Commencement on Friday, May 19, 2017. She was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree in recognition of her distinguished career in public service.
“We were delighted and honored to have Chief Judge Saris as our Commencement speaker,” said Dean John F. O’Brien. “She is a highly respected role model for our students.”
Chief Judge Saris was named to the bench in 1986, when she was appointed a U.S. magistrate judge. In 1989, she was appointed an associate justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. She was named to the U.S. District Court in 1994 and became chief judge in 2013.
She began her legal career as a clerk for the Commonwealth’s Supreme Judicial Court before entering private practice. She then served as staff counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and she subsequently served as an assistant U.S. attorney and chief of that office’s Civil Division.
A past chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, she has been active on various judicial committees, including The Defender Services Committee, serving as chair in 2005. She is a former board member of the Federal Judges Association. Her board service also includes the national board of Bottom Line, a nonprofit that helps lower-income students get into and succeed in college, and the board of Codman Academy, a charter school in Dorchester.
Chief Judge Saris graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Radcliffe College and cum laude from Harvard Law School.
Honorary degrees were also granted to Ralph F. Boyd, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of Massachusetts; Thomas P. Glynn, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority; and Reverend James F. Keenan, SJ, Canisius Professor in the Theology Department and director of the Jesuit Institute at Boston College, who delivered the invocation and benediction. Juris Doctor degrees were awarded to 218 students.
As in years past, graduates processed from the law school to the Boch Center, Wang Theatre.