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Law Commencement set for May 15

May 9, 2016

Ohio Northern University’s Pettit College of Law will celebrate its 2016 commencement ceremony in the ONU Sports Center on Sunday, May 15, at 2 p.m. Approximately 100 students will be awarded degrees, and Daniel DiBiasio, Ohio Northern University president, will preside.

The ONU Sports Center is scheduled to open for the commencement exercises at 12:30 p.m. A musical prelude will begin at 1:30 p.m., followed by the procession of faculty and Juris Doctor candidates.

In addition to Juris Doctor degrees, ONU will confer LL.M. degrees to 10 lawyers from transitional and emerging democracies that have completed a yearlong course of intensive study in the Democratic Governance and Rule of Law program. There also are five students who concurrently earned a J.D. and LL.M.

Retired Col. William E. Orr Jr., a 1981 graduate of the Pettit College of Law, will deliver the commencement address. Emily Martin, a graduating third-year law student from Vienna, W.Va., will provide the student address.

Orr is the chief of strategic military justice legislation and policy for the United States Air Force Judiciary at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility Washington, Maryland. He is the key coordinator and advisor on military justice legislation issued by Congress, the president via executive order and the Department of Defense. Before assuming his current position, he served as the chief appellate military judge on the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals.

As chief judge, Orr ruled on appeals from Air Force courts-martial worldwide when the approved punishment included death, confinement for one year or more, or a punitive discharge. Decisions of the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals are reviewable only by the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and the United States Supreme Court. During his tenure, he was appointed by the secretary of defense to serve as an appellate judge on the United States Court of Military Commission Review to consider and rule upon appeals submitted by the detainees held at Naval Base Guantanamo, Cuba. Additionally, he orchestrated 42 and presided over 11 public hearings convened to discuss the Environmental Impact Statements for proposed changes to Air Force missions.

As the chief trial judge of the European Region, Orr supervised all trial judges in Europe and Southwest Asia. He presided over courts-martial and administrative hearings conducted at more than 20 overseas military installations and deployed to combat zones on four occasions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Earlier in his career, he deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield.

Orr accepted a direct commission as a first lieutenant and entered the United States Air Force in 1982. He is admitted to practice before all courts in the state of Ohio, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and the United States Supreme Court. He retired on Nov. 1, 2012, after serving more than 30 years on active duty. The secretary of the Air Force recalled him to active duty service on March 1, 2013. He retired a second time on Feb. 28, 2014.

Orr received his Bachelor of Arts in in history and political science from ONU in 1978 and his Juris Doctor from ONU in 1981.

Honorary degrees will be presented to Orr and Bernard M. “Bob” Shapiro, founder and partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, Washington National Tax Service.

Shapiro’s responsibilities include representing clients before the Department of the Treasury, before the IRS, and in legislative matters. He served on the Joint Committee on Taxation as chief of staff from 1977-81, assistant chief of staff from 1974-77 and staff attorney from 1967-74. Shapiro also has been an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center in the Graduate Tax Program. He received his B.A. and C.P.A. from Washington and Lee University and his J.D. and LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center. The Georgetown University Law Center has awarded him with the Charles Fahy Distinguished Adjunct Professor Award, the Vicennial Medal Distinguished Service Award and the Tax Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award. Shapiro has been involved with Ohio Northern University through the Advisory Board, through the Laurence Neal Woodworth Endowed Lectureship in United States Tax Law and Policy, and as a contributor and panelist.

Richard Bales will give remarks. Assisted by members of the tenured law faculty, Bales will next place the academic hood upon each candidate, which will be followed by DiBiasio’s presentation of the diplomas.

A reception for graduates and families will take place in the College of Law immediately following the ceremony.