BETHANY, W.Va. — Ralph Baxter, Chairman Emeritus of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, spoke to Bethany College’s 2013 graduating class as part of the institution’s 173rd Anniversary Commencement Weekend. Baxter delivered his remarks, “Times of Change are Times of Opportunity,” to Bethany’s 154 graduates on May 18 outdoors at the Tilock Amphitheatre in the Pennington Quadrangle.
“This is not only a milestone and a wonderful day for you but I think it is a moment for you to reflect on how fortunate you have been to be educated at this beautiful college, in this beautiful setting, more importantly in a setting that is as small as Bethany College is,” said Baxter.
“I believe that you are graduating at the most dynamic time in the history of human kind the world is changing faster today than it ever has. The change in the world is pervasive, it is universal, and it will create opportunities for all of you in your lifetimes,” stated Baxter. “Technology is changing very rapidly, it is affecting everything we do in our lives, everything that happens in business, happens in government and happens socially among us.”
“My belief for you this morning is that you are graduating at just the right time. The world is changing and it is to your advantage that the world is changing. You start this journey of yours in life, fully comfortable and informed on technology which is a driver of all that lies ahead,” said Baxter.
He concluded, “If you will apply yourselves affirmatively with confidence and ambition, and if you will make sure that you are learners for your entire lives and responsible members of your communities, you have a very bright future ahead.”
Baxter, who was presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Bethany College President Dr. Scott D. Miller, expanded, diversified and extended Orrick’s geographic reach, transforming it from a domestic firm with California origins to one of the world’s largest and most prominent law firms, with more than 1,100 lawyers in offices across the United States, Europe and Asia. He also launched several transformative initiatives that more closely aligned Orrick with its clients, including the firm’s new talent and pricing models, which distinguished the firm as a bold innovator in the legal industry.
Recognized as one of America’s “100 Most Influential Lawyers” by The National Law Journal, Baxter is a frequent speaker on business leadership and the evolution of the legal profession. He is the founder of the Law Firm Leaders Forum, one of the most significant gatherings of law firm leaders that annually examine the critical issues facing the legal profession.
Baxter currently serves on the Advisory Board of Harvard Law School’s Center on Lawyers and the Professional Services Industry. Also community minded, he led the firm’s efforts to contribute to the communities in which Orrick and its lawyers and staff work and live. Baxter played an active role in Orrick’s innovative Community Responsibility Program, which he helped create in 2001 to orchestrate the firm’s pro bono legal services, financial support and volunteer efforts. The program ensures that the firm’s resources are strategically organized and deployed to maximize both their community impact and the number of Orrick lawyers and staff who have a chance to participate directly in the firm’s sponsored activities.
Dr. Miller also addressed the graduates. “The world you enter as you leave college today is clearly not the same as the one you encountered when you first entered our halls.”
He continued, “Make no mistake. We live in challenging times. Your generation is called to address worldwide strife; to rebuild our nation’s roads and bridges; to preserve our fragile environment; to explore further sources of renewable energy; to foster innovation and economic growth. It’s a tall order-but generations of Bethanians before you have left these halls to accomplish all these goals and more.”
The Reverend Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr., Regional Minister and President of the Pennsylvania Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), delivered remarks to the graduating seniors during the College’s Baccalaureate service on May 17. Sullivan was presented with an honorary Doctor of Divinity during the Commencement Ceremony.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Sullivan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interpersonal Communication from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio; a Master of Divinity degree from Lexington Theological Seminary, Lexington, Kentucky; and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Economic and Social Justice from United Theological Seminary (UTS), Dayton, Ohio.
Prior to accepting the call to the Pennsylvania Region in October 2011, Dr. Sullivan was Senior Pastor of Fifth Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Cleveland, Ohio. As Regional Minister and President, Dr. Sullivan provides pastoral care to the unique relationship between pastors and congregations, while serving as the Region’s lead administrator and representative in denominational, ecumenical, interfaith, and civic arenas.
During his 30-year ministerial career, Dr. Sullivan has been Pastor for the Interim of Mercer Island United Methodist Church, Mercer, Island, Wash.; Regional Minister and President of the Northwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Senior Pastor of United Christian Church, Detroit, Mich.; Associate for African American Educational Ministries for the Disciples’ Indianapolis-based Division of Homeland Ministries (now Disciples Home Missions); Pastor of Second Christian Church, Jefferson City, Mo.; Associate Regional Minister (part-time) of the Disciples’ Mid-America Region, Jefferson City, Mo.; and Pastor of Hill Street Christian Church, Louisville, Ky.
Sullivan is known for his preaching and lecturing on congregational transformation, spirituality, social-justice, evangelism, anti-racism, and interracial partnerships. Some of his writings have appeared in books such as Out of Mighty Waters: Sermons of African American Disciples (Chalice Press, 1994) and Black Religion after the Million Man March (Orbis Books, 1998). Dr. Sullivan is the author of an article titled, “What Black Churches Can Teach White Churches,” published in the July/August 2006 issue of DisciplesWorld Magazine.
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. The College held its first Commencement on July 4, 1842.