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U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Roberta Achtenberg to deliver 2015 commencement address at the U's S.J. Quinney College of Law.

By Melinda Rogers

Roberta Achtenberg, a 1975 University of Utah College of Law graduate who President Obama appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 2011, will be the commencement speaker at the S.J. Quinney College of Law on May 15.


Roberta Achtenberg

Achtenberg is a civil rights attorney with more than 30 years of senior-level leadership experience in business, government and law. She currently serves on a number of private and public sector boards in industries including banking and finance, housing and economic development, workforce training and post-secondary education

“We are truly delighted that Ms. Achtenberg has agreed to return to her alma mater as this year’s commencement speaker,” said Bob Adler, dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law.

“Ms. Achtenberg’s impressive accomplishments, in areas ranging from civil rights to economic development and high tech to education, reflect both her extraordinary level of accomplishment and her unflagging commitment to promoting positive change in the world,” said Adler. “Her commencement speech will inspire this year’s graduates to pursue their own dreams with the same kind of zeal and energy that she has long demonstrated.”

Adler noted that Achtenberg’s visit is particularly inspiring to students, because she is a Utah law alumna serving as civil rights commissioner as the nation continues to observe the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In addition to her leadership role on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Achtenberg is a current member and past chairwoman of the California State University Board of Trustees, the nation’s largest four-year university system.  She is a director of the privately held enterprise software company, Andrew J. Wong, Inc. and of the Bank of San Francisco, where she serves as vice chair of the board.  She served for five years as a director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, where she chaired a committee on affordable housing.

Achtenberg held several appointments in the Clinton administration. She served as assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and later as senior advisor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Her law resume includes a teaching fellowship at Stanford Law School, dean of New College of California School of Law, staff attorney of the Lesbian Rights Project of Equal Rights Advocates, Inc. and founder of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Commencement for law students will be held at 10 a.m. on May 15 at Kingsbury Hall. Seating will be limited and those planning on attending are encouraged to arrive early.