As Kathy Hochul assumes the position as the first woman to serve as New York’s governor, the state’s public law school wishes her great success.
“New York State’s law school is very proud of Gov. Kathy Hochul, our longtime partner and honorary alum,” says Dean Aviva Abramovsky. “We wish her the very best as she leads the Excelsior state ever upward.”
Hochul was born in Buffalo, New York and is a law graduate of Catholic University. Her deep roots in Western New York have included a long association with UB School of Law. She has been a frequent presence at the law school. She commanded the podium as keynote speaker for the School of Law’s 2017 Commencement ceremonies—a first for her, she said, in front of a law school graduating class.
“You are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America,” she told the graduates. “You are no longer a bystander in democracy, you are sworn to protect it. So I’m calling on you to protect the people who live under that democracy. You now have a credential that is beyond the reach of most Americans. You’re held in esteem for what you’ve achieved. You literally possess the power to change people’s lives. Use that power, your intellect, your UB training in the law as swords of justice, whether it’s in your daily practice or your pro bono work. You can give hope to the hopeless, for you may be the only hope they have.”
Throughout her tenure as lieutenant governor, Hochul was known for maintaining a fast pace, visiting all of the state’s 62 counties and advocating relentlessly for the administration’s economic development and human rights initiatives.
It was in keeping with that agenda that she came to O’Brian Hall in January 2019 to send off four students, plus four advisers, from the UB School of Law Puerto Rico Recovery Legal Assistance Clinic. This cohort of clinic students traveled to Puerto Rico to help residents whose lives were upended by Hurricane Maria in 2017. In remarks to the student attorneys and staff, Hochul commended the group for its commitment to helping the U.S. territory and reminded them of the widespread impact of their work.
Hochul has also spoken at the past three presentations of the Jaeckle Award, the School of Law’s highest honor, including at this year’s event. And she has been honored by the law school and the UB Law Alumni Association with a Distinguished Alumna Award in 2016, for contributions by a non-alumnus of the school, and with the Dean’s Medal—given annually to an individual who is distinguished by his or her commitment to justice and the rule of law—in 2019.
Accepting the honor at the 2019 Commencement ceremony, Hochul challenged the graduates to keep their professional focus on those they serve. “The rest of your life, you’ll be measured by what you do… Don’t just defend the words on the document that created our democracy, defend the people who live in that democracy.”
She reminded them to periodically ask themselves, “How many lives have you made better because you walked this earth?”