BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College graduate Greg Jordan, global managing partner at Reed Smith, one of the world’s largest law firms, gave the address at Bethany’s Fall Convocation ceremony September 8 in Commencement Hall. Jordan was also conferred an Honorary Doctor of Laws by Dr. Scott D. Miller, President of the College.
G. Ogden Nutting, long-time member of Bethany’s Board of Trustees and benefactor of the College, was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Nutting serves as publisher of The Ogden Newspapers, Inc., based in Wheeling, W.Va.
“The evidence is compelling that no matter where you want to go in life, no matter what you want to do, you can get there from here. You can get anywhere in life from here,” Jordan said.
Noting a wide variety of students who have gone on to professional success in law, insurance, technology, media, education and more, Jordan remarked, “All of those people . . . got where they got from here. This is what they have in common.”
Jordan’s own history is, he remarked, a typical Bethany story. He spent his childhood in Warwood, W.Va., with a mother who was a nurse and a father who worked with the railroad. They taught their children to be good citizens, Jordan recalled. And his father looked at Bethany as a special place. “He steered me quietly in my early years in high school to think about Bethany,” Jordan said.
After being recruited by the football coach and playing for one year, Jordan said he stayed and “let Bethany College work its magic and do what it’s done for people for more than 170 years: Open my mind. Give me some confidence that I can go out in the world. And really just prepare me for life. That’s what happens here every day and every year. And that’s what happened to me.”
Bethany, Jordan continued, gives students the important chance to get involved, to develop leadership skills and confidence and to experience internships and programs off-campus. “They were a powerful fuel to my development, my gaining confidence, and it’s right there for you. Every day you have an opportunity to do a little bit more, to get involved.”
“It’s hard to think of what I would be without Bethany College,” he said.
Speaking to students, he encouraged them not to let themselves be paralyzed by the news, saying the stock market will go up and down, unemployment will drop and go back up. “These are the cycles of life,” he noted. “Do not let this moment in time change what you do. This is your time. This is your chance to be transformed. Your place is here. Your job is here. Enjoy every minute of this opportunity.”
“Open your minds,” Jordan urged. “Open your ears and your eyes and let this faculty work its magic on you. You’ll be forever grateful . . . and it will transform you.”
Jordan concluded, “Remember that no matter what it is that you want to do and no matter where it is that you want to go, even here in this little tiny place in the rolling hills of West Virginia, you can get there from here.”
Jordan, a 1981 magna cum laude Bethany College graduate and 1984 cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law, has been with Reed Smith since 1984. He has served as the managing partner and chairman of the senior management team and the executive committee since 2001.
He has served as chairman of the Bethany College Board of Trustees since 2006.
During his tenure as managing partner, Reed Smith has completed a series of combinations in Europe, California, New York, Chicago, the Middle East and Asia.
In 2003, The American Lawyer named Jordan one of the country's top 45 lawyers under 45. The Lawyer named him to the Global 100, a list of the 100 most influential lawyers, in 2005. And Jordan has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 1995.
Jordan's practice involves primarily banking and financial services litigation, securities and derivative litigation, trade secrets litigation and media and first amendment litigation. He is also in high demand as a speaker, covering issues related to law firm leadership and growth.
Jordan’s expert leadership has led to repeated recognition of Reed Smith’s excellence in client service and commitment to pro bono work, as well as its award-winning diversity initiatives. A 2006 survey by The American Lawyer placed Reed Smith among the five best-managed law firms. And in 2009 the BTI Consulting Group named Reed Smith the leading law firm out of 400 serving Fortune 1000 companies in building and sustaining strong client relationships.
In addition to his role of Chairman of Bethany College's Board of Trustees, Jordan serves on the board of the Carnegie Science Center, the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.
The Fall Convocation is an annual tradition at Bethany, welcoming students back to campus and bringing the entire College community together to celebrate the start of a new academic year. In addition to the main speaker, the College also recognizes high academic achievement from the spring semester.
Dean of Students Gerald Stebbins announced the recipients of the Anna Ruth Bourne Award, the W. Kirk Woolery Award and the Richard B. Kenney Freshman Leadership Award.
The Anna Ruth Bourne Award is given each semester to the women's social group maintaining the highest scholastic standing. This semester’s award went to Alpha Xi Delta. This semester’s W. Kirk Woolery Award, given to the men's social group maintaining the highest scholastic standing, was presented to Beta Theta Pi.
The Richard B. Kenney Freshman Leadership Award went to sophomore Amber Ridings, an accounting major from Inwood, W.Va. It is given annually to a student who has demonstrated outstanding scholarship, leadership and character at Bethany.
Ridings was named the 2010-2011 Outstanding Freshman Kalon Scholar and as the Greek Freshman Woman of the Year. She is currently co-advisor for the Kalon Scholar Program. Ridings served as the president of her Freshman Class Council and has been an active volunteer in the community, including participating in Bethany’s Alternative Spring Break. She is the fraternity heritage chair and public relations VP officer for Alpha Xi Delta sorority and is also serving as a resident assistant in Phillips Hall for this academic year. She was named assistant treasurer for the Student Government Association and president of the Sophomore Class Council.
Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.