Prominent author and attorney Scott Turow to speak at commencement

Honorary degree recipients also announced

The Muhlenberg College Office of Communications has officially announced this year’s commencement speaker, as well as the honorary degree recipients.

Scott Turow, legal author and attorney, will address the Class of 2019 at the 171st Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 19. Turow will be joined by Sarah Bloom Raskin, Dr. Alex Levin ‘78 and Kaitlin Rois-DeBellis, who will also be receiving honorary degrees.

Turow earned his undergraduate degree from Amherst College and attended Harvard Law School, where he received his J.D. His first book, One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School (1977), is an autobiographical account of his experience at the school. Among the 14 books Turow has written, four have been turned into films, including Presumed Innocent (1990) starring Harrison Ford. Four of his novels have become bestsellers, with Time magazine naming his 1999 book Personal Injuries the Best Fiction Novel of that year.

Along with selling over 30 million copies of his books, Turow was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1990, being described as the “Bard of the Litigious Age.”

In addition to his success as a writer, Turow has led a 40-year career as an attorney, working with the U.S. Attorney’s office as well as being a partner on an international law firm.

“Scott Turow is larger than life as both an author of crime and suspense novels focused on the law and the legal profession and as a practicing attorney,” said President John I. Williams Jr. “I feel so fortunate to have Scott as a friend, dating back to law school days, when Scott, my wife, Diane, and I were all classmates. It’s truly wonderful to have Scott Turow at Commencement to offer his wisdom to our graduates as Commencement speaker.”

Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis is an author and the founder of the organization Classes4Classes, which is described as “a social networking tool, for every student in the United States to learn: compassion, caring, kindness, empathy, consideration, through active engagement.” As a former first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Roig-DeBellis helped save the lives of her students during the 2012 tragedy, and was named a L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth and a Glamour Woman of the Year in 2013. Her autobiography, Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours was published in 2015. Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States described Rois-Bellis’s book, saying,  

“Kaitlin’s quick thinking and swift action saved her students’ lives. In Choosing Hope, she honors the memory of the children and educators whose lives were lost on that sad day.”

Rois-DeBellis earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut and her master’s degree in education at its Neag School of Education. As a public speaker, she talks all over the world, sharing her moving experiences. Rois-DeBellis has also received honorary degrees from from Bay Path College and Luzerne College.

Sarah Bloom Raskin, another Harvard Law School graduate receiving an honorary degree, is known for her promotion of financial-sector cybersecurity. She was also heavily involved in creating the G7 Fundamental Elements of Cybersecurity for the Financial Sector, a set of international guidelines with a goal of mitigating risk of potential threats in 2016.

Bloom Raskin is currently an attorney and Rubenstein Fellow at Duke Law School. She has previously served as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. In addition, under former President Barack Obama, she was the United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.

Dr. Alex Levin, from the Muhlenberg class of 1978, will also be receiving an honorary degree is currently board certified in pediatrics and opthamology. Following his graduation from Muhlenberg, he earned a master’s degree in bioethics from the University of Toronto in 2001, and he received an Alumni Achievement award from there in 2013. He is the chief of the Wills Eye Pediatric Ophthalmology and Ocular Genetics Service in Philadelphia.

Levin is often included in peer-reviewed journals, and has received numerous honors, including: The Investigator Award from Prevent Blindness America in 2012, The Helfer Award from The Ray Helfer Society in 2011 and recognition from Children’s Glaucoma Foundation in 2017.

Students can attend a discussion session with each honorary degree recipient on Saturday, May 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Baker Center for the Arts.

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