Commencement Weekend May 15-17, 2009 - Marjorie Osterlund Rendell
The Conferring of Honorary Degrees
Marjorie Osterlund Rendell
Citation Presented by Douglas E. Edlin, Associate Professor of Political Science
Conferring of the degree by William G. Durden, President
Judge Rendell we honor you today for your work and for your example of the value of public service.
You are a cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and you received your law degree from Villanova University. You were the second woman elected partner of your law firm, you served as a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, you received the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Sandra Day O’Connor Award for advancing the equal treatment of women, and you are now a member of one of the most important and influential federal appellate courts in the nation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. You are also married to some guy named Rendell, who evidently has a job with the Pennsylvania state government and a pretty nice house on Front Street in Harrisburg.
Your marriage to Governor Rendell also led to one of your many principled stances during your time on the Third Circuit. As Howard Bashman writes in the Journal of Appellate Practice and Process: “[I]n June of 2000, a federal appellate judge whose spouse had served in elective political office undertook to address publicly the appearance of impartiality arising from campaign contributions to her spouse. Third Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, whose husband had served as Mayor of Philadelphia and is now Governor of Pennsylvania, adopted a noteworthy recusal policy applicable to cases where the parties, their attorneys, or the law firms involved had made financial contributions to her husband’s mayoral campaign. Judge Rendell announced that she would recuse herself from all cases in which a party or its law firm made contributions of at least $2,501 to the political campaign of her husband, unless the parties agreed to waive the disqualification. The notice also stated that she would disqualify herself in cases in which a party or its law firm made a contribution of less than $2,501 to her husband’s campaign if any party objected to her participation.”
One of the people who will place the academic hood on your shoulders is Kelly Rogers, a member of Dickinson’s class of 2010. Kelly worked as an intern in your office as First Lady of Pennsylvania, where she assisted with your civic
engagement initiative: PennCORD, the Pennsylvania Coalition for Representative Democracy. The opportunity you afforded Kelly -- to observe your dedication, your professionalism, and your commitment to maintaining the responsiveness and accountability of our government—has had a lasting effect on her. Moreover, the degree that Dickinson College confers on you today is an indication of your importance to the many talented and dedicated students who aspire to careers measured by more than a paycheck. Even with all you have already accomplished, as a practicing attorney, as First Lady, and as a federal judge, and no matter what you go on to do, your finest and most lasting achievement is the example you set for the next generation of leaders and public servants.
For your demonstration of the value of public service on and off the bench—a value which does not fluctuate with any market, does not experience any downturn, and does not ever lose its equity – for your demonstration of this value to this Commonwealth, to this community, to this College, and to this Class of 2009, Mr. President I am honored to present to you Judge Marjorie Osterlund Rendell for the honorary degree of Doctor of Law and Public Service.
Marjorie Osterlund Rendell, upon the recommendation of the Faculty to the Board of Trustees, and by its mandamus, I confer upon you the Degree of Doctor of Law and Public Service honoris causa, with all the rights, privileges, and distinction thereunto appertaining, in token of which I present you with this diploma and cause you to be invested with the hood of Dickinson College appropriate to the degree.
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