Virginia Supreme Court Justice Leroy Hassell, Sr. will be the keynote speaker for Virginia Tech's 2003 spring commencement ceremony on May 9 at Lane Stadium.

Hassell, 47, is the first African American Chief Justice to be elected to the Court in its 224- year history. Hassell's term began on Feb. 1 when he replaced Harry L. Carrico who retired after serving 42 years on the Court, including 22 years as Chief Justice. Hassell is the 24th Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court.

"We are delighted and honored that Chief Justice Hassell will address the graduating class. Even before his election to this honorable position, he already had accomplished much, and it will be a privilege for our students, their families, and the faculty to hear his message," said Virginia Tech president Charles W. Steger.

First appointed to the Court at the age of 34 by Governor Gerald L. Baliles in 1989, Hassell went on to be elected to a second 12-year term by the 2002 General Assembly. Prior to his appointment, he was a partner at McGuire Woods LLP in Richmond.

Born and raised in Norfolk, Hassell graduated with honors from the University of Virginia in 1977 with a degree in government and foreign affairs. He then received his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 1980.

In addition, Hassell was the youngest person to serve as Chairman of the Richmond School Board. He also served as former Director of the American Red Cross, Virginia State Conference of Christians and Jews, Richmond Renaissance, Inc., Legal Aid of Virginia, and The Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts.

Written by Meredith Trotter, Intern in the Office of University Relations

Contact: