U.S. Justice Sotomayor to receive honorary degree in January

U.S. Justice Sonia Sotomayor will receive an honorary degree from the University of Michigan next month when she visits campus for U-M’s bicentennial celebration.

Sotomayor will receive her degree on Jan. 30, the same day she and Justice Susanne Baer of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany are scheduled to participate in a conversation at the first of three Presidential Bicentennial Colloquia.

Sonia Sotomayor

The Board of Regents approved awarding Sotomayor an honorary degree at its Dec. 8 meeting.

Sotomayor follows a long line of Supreme Court justices who have been granted U-M honorary degrees, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Earl Warren.

Baer, a 1993 graduate of the Law School and William W. Cook Global Law Professor since 2010, also received a U-M honorary degree in 2014.

At the Jan. 30 colloquium, titled “The Future University Community,” Baer and Sotomayor will discuss how their experiences have influenced them as jurists and answer students’ questions at Hill Auditorium.

Journalist Michele Norris, former host of NPR’s All Things Considered and a 2013 U-M honorary degree recipient, will moderate the discussion.

Sotomayor, the first Latina judge on the Supreme Court, was born in New York’s the Bronx on June 25, 1954, to Puerto Rican-born migrants.

A first generation-college student, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated summa cum laude in 1976 from Princeton University. In 1979, she graduated from Yale Law School.

Sotomayor served as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office until 1984. Then, at New York City’s Pavia & Harcourt, she litigated international commercial matters and eventually became a partner.

President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, in 1991, and she filled that role until 1998. She then served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit until 2009.

In May of that year, President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. She assumed her seat Aug. 8 on the highest court in the United States.

Although honorary degrees typically are conferred during commencement ceremonies, U-M also has granted them at other times during the year.

During U-M’s sesquicentennial year in 1967, nearly one-third of the 60 honorary degrees conferred by the university were given outside of the two university commencement ceremonies.



  1. Marta W.
    on December 9, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Where and when can we get tickets for this event? Thanks, M

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