Sen. Bill Nelson '68 to Deliver UVA Law Commencement Address

Sen. Bill Nelson
February 21, 2013

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida's senior senator and a 1968 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, will deliver the commencement address to the UVA Law Class of 2013 on May 19.

"We are honored that Sen. Nelson will join us for graduation," said Dean Paul G. Mahoney. "His courage, wisdom and ethic of service will inspire our graduating students."

Nelson's career in public service began just months after graduating law school, when he was elected into the Florida legislature.  Starting in 1978, he served six terms in the U.S. Congress representing the Orlando area, and became known as an early champion of the environment.

In 1994, Nelson was elected to the Florida cabinet as state treasurer, insurance commissioner and fire marshal, a position he held for six years until he was elected to the U.S. Senate.  There, he has earned a reputation as a centrist with a commitment to environmental issues, including challenging BP on the company's statements after the Gulf oil spill. Now in his third term, Nelson has focused on lowering taxes and improving education, while protecting Medicare and Social Security. He also wrote a legislative blueprint forward for the nation's space program.

He serves on the Armed Services, Finance, Budget and Commerce committees, and he is chairman of the Special Committee on Aging.

"We are thrilled to have several UVA Law graduates serving in the Senate," said Student Bar Association President Alex Aurisch, who helped choose the speaker. "We felt Senator Nelson would be a terrific choice because he has often acknowledged how polarized politics have become and he has been committed to finding middle ground — something that we think resonates with UVA Law students."

A graduate of Yale University, Nelson joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 1965 and served on active duty from 1968-70. He served in the Army until 1971, where he attained the rank of captain. In 1986, he was a crewmember and flew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia.

The Law School graduation ceremony begins at 1:15 p.m. on the Law School Lawn.


Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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