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IU Northwest Graduates 760 Students

Indiana University will confer a total of 14,469 degrees during commencement ceremonies on its eight campuses throughout May. An additional 1,688 degrees from Purdue University will be awarded on the six campuses where Indiana University also offers courses.

Out of the 14,469 degrees, IU Northwest will confer 760 to its students. The figure includes IU Northwest degree recipients from December 2001, and degree candidates for May, June and August 2002. Also included are graduate students whose degrees have been or will be awarded on a monthly basis during the 2001-02 academic year.

The daily schedule of commencement observance for IU Northwest will begin May 9 at the Radisson Star Theatre in Merrillville at 5:00 p.m. Prior to IU Northwest's commencement activities a traditional presentation and reception held to award our annual honorary degree recipient will take place at noon in the Savannah Center on campus. This year's recipient is Hilbert L. Bradley, long-time lawyer and civil rights activist.

In 1947, Hilbert L. Bradley became the first African American student admitted to the Valparaiso University School of Law. In 1950, he was the first African American to graduate. At first, he claims his attraction to breaking the color barrier had nothing to do with wanting to desegregate the school or further civil rights. Instead, he says he "just wanted to be a lawyer" and had the money to pay for it courtesy of the G.I. Bill. In reality, though, this move would spark a long career as a lawyer and civil rights pioneer and advocate.

"Hilbert Bradley is an exemplary model of leadership and citizenship," says Danille Taylor-Guthrie, chair, Indiana University Northwest Department of Minority Studies. "An Indiana University graduate, he has devoted himself to causes that have improved life in this region. We here at IU Northwest believe it is important to not merely acknowledge his accomplishments but to honor them by presenting him to our graduates and community as the embodiment of the ideals for which Indiana University is noted."

A mere half century ago, the Indiana in which Bradley finished his education and started working was far different from today. When Bradley attended Valpo, fraternities had "whites only" clauses in their charters and professors told off-color jokes about blacks and Jews in class. No African Americans served in state or local elected office. In Gary, large numbers of African Americans worked as laborers in the steel mills but were barred from management jobs there-and were prohibited from working in most other Gary businesses.

Witnessing these injustices, Bradley began to change his concept of a lawyer's role in society. Working as an attorney in the Lake County Prosecutor's Office, Bradley concluded that lawyers should do more than litigate, provide legal counsel, and charge a fee for services rendered. Law should serve humanity, he decided, and thus began an advocacy of civil rights that continues to this day.

Bradley's first major civil rights action was the 1957 founding of Fair Share, a civil rights organization that worked to establish the political base for the election of black political officials, culminating in the election of Richard Hatcher as Gary mayor in 1967-the first African American mayor of a major city. Additionally, by picketing banks, grocery stores, and department stores, Fair Share members pushed private industry to hire some of the region's first African American managers. In 1963, Bradley led the Gary contingent that marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the historic March on Washington.

Certainly one of Bradley's greatest accomplishments was his role in adding people of color to Indiana's judicial bench. After watching the legal profession for decades, Bradley felt that African Americans were not making strides up the judicial ladder. In 1987, for example, only 5 of the state's 400 judges were African American. That same year, he helped to form the Indiana Coalition for Black Judicial Officials. Again, picketing would be the most effective course of action. Demonstrations at courthouses in Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago, as well as the Indianapolis Statehouse, finally resulted in Robert Rucker's 1991 appointment to the Indiana Court of Appeals by then-Governor Evan Bayh. Rucker currently sits on the Indiana Supreme Court, and a total of 17 African Americans judges serve the state. Bradley himself has served as an interim judge of the Lake County Superior Court.

In addition to commencement, IU Northwest schools and divisions hold closed receptions and award ceremonies for graduating students of 2002 and their families. They included the Division of Allied Health, School of Business and Economics, Division of Continuing Studies, Dental Education, School of Education, Division of Labor Studies, School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony, Division of Social Work, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Neal-Marshall. The School of Nursing and the School of Arts and Sciences also hosted an honors tea in recognition of the graduating class.

On April 30, IU Northwest's annual ring ceremony took place in the Gallery of Contemporary Art in the Savannah Center on campus. Close to 40 students received their class ring from IU Northwest's Chancellor Bruce W. Bergland.

Available exclusively to currently enrolled students, the official IU class ring represents the tradition and excellence of Indiana University. The design is taken from the first class ring offered by IU in 1820. It represents a common bond between those who have graduated in the past and those who will graduate this year and in years to come. The ring's uniqueness also comes from the fact that it is 56 credit hours of work, thereby achieving junior or senior status.

This year's class ring recipients include Nancy Lyn Barsic, Alvenia Bruce, Adam Clark, Kathlean Cooley-Ponds, Elizabeth A. Coy, Sylvia D. Denton, John B. Dube, Alfred W. Evans Jr., Denise Falcetta, Gisela Johanna Gardner, Juanita Gomez, Jesus A. Gonzalez, Luis Gutierrez Jr., Aaron Harris, Anna A. Hernandez, Lisa Marie Hernandez, Edward D. Hiatt, Sandy A. Hoover, Sarah Grace Howes, Julie Ann Johnsen Malekah Renee Lackey, Noe Lopez, Stephanie Martin, Darlene McCloud-Goss, Michael T. Mills, Amy L. Morrison, Dina T. Mustafa, Patrice O. Olive, Michael Shawn Pajkos, Jennifer K. Pelletier, Paulette Riley, Martin Roots, LouElla Smith, Ralph Edward Synder, Erika Paola Suarez, Williams A. White, and Michael Yates.



Media Contact:

Michelle Searer
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