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Distinguished UF Law alumni recognized at commencement

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Three UF Law graduates who have dedicated much of their lives to public service and the pursuit of justice were named University of Florida Distinguished Alumni at the Levin College of Law graduation May 14.

The recipients were Florida Supreme Court Justice-emeritus Stephen H. “Steve” Grimes, longtime public servant Kenneth Hood “Buddy” MacKay Jr. and American Bar Association President-Elect Stephen N. Zack, who also delivered this year’s commencement address.

“In the entire history of the University of Florida until this year, the Distinguished Alumnus award has been presented only 333 times; 95 of those recipients, or one-fourth of all the awards ever presented, are graduates of this law school and today three more are added to the distinguished list,” said UF Law School Dean Robert Jerry.

Grimes was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in 1987 where he served as chief justice between 1994 and 1996. He has been recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer, and is among the “Best Lawyers in America” for white collar criminal defense, appellate law and commercial litigation. Grimes currently mentors young lawyers at Holland & Knight as a partner and “Senior Statesman.”

“Florida Supreme Court Justice Emeritus Stephen H. Grimes is a jurist known for his dedication to the law and public service, work ethic, intellect and personal integrity,” said Paul Robell, executive vice president of the University of Florida Foundation, Inc. “We are proud to honor him as a University of Florida Distinguished Alumnus.”

MacKay was presented with the award next.

During his nearly 30-year career in public service, MacKay has focused on improving the quality of life for Floridians, preserving and protecting Florida’s environment, and ensuring the fiscal responsibility of government.

“Mr. MacKay has been described as the most influential lieutenant governor in Florida’s history,” Robell said.

In addition, MacKay has served in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate. Following the tragic death of Gov. Lawton Chiles, MacKay became the state’s 42nd governor. Following his retirement from public office after his term as governor, MacKay continued to serve his country as a special envoy to the Americas, appointed by President Bill Clinton, between 1999 and 2001.

Zack was the last to receive the award.

“Stephen Zack will be this law school’s fifth graduate to serve as president of the American Bar Association, continuing our tradition of having more alumni serve as ABA president in the last half century than any other law school in the nation,” Jerry said. “He’s been a tireless advocate for the rule of law, and he is devoted to the judiciary and its role in guaranteeing the constitutional rights of every citizen.”

Zack will be the first Hispanic-American president in the ABA’s 130-year history. In addition to the long list of professional leadership roles he has held in the ABA, The Florida Bar, his local bar association and in his community, Zack is also a founding member of the Cuban-American Bar Association and was the first Hispanic-American – and youngest – president of The Florida Bar.

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Published: May 18th, 2010

Category: News

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