Lehman Brothers case examiner to receive honorary degree

Will Doreza

Anton Valukas ’65, a lawyer charged with the examination of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2009, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the Class of 2012 commencement ceremony on June 10.

Valukas will serve as the primary speaker for the ceremony. “He will be able to inspire the students to do something of significance,” commented Provost and Dean of the Faculty David Burrows. “To do something that makes a difference, to do what is right and to be courageous.”

The chairman of the law firm Jenner & Block, based in Chicago, Valukas was appointed by a federal judge as the examiner for the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2009. He reviewed numerous documents and interviewed almost 300 witnesses to compile a 2,200-page report on the case.

Valukas graduated from Lawrence in 1968 with a degree in government before attending the Northwestern University School of Law in 1968.

Valukas served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for four years, is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been named “Litigator of the Year” by The American Lawyer.

The Committee on Public Occasions, which includes faculty and students, searches for candidates based on nominations received from anyone in the Lawrence community. Candidates are not limited to Lawrence alumni.

“Our focus is on persons who have a record of outstanding achievement in some area of activity,” commented Provost and Dean of the Faculty David Burrows on the selection process. “This person can serve as an inspiration to the graduating class, but [being an alumnus] is not a requirement.”

President Jill Beck added: “LU alumni are chosen when they represent superlative achievement and admirable examples of humanitarian spirit. Dr. Steitz, our Nobel prize winner and Anton Valukas are examples of that standard.”

Honorary degree recipients in the recent past have included Nobel Prize recipient Thomas Steitz ’64 and Senator Russ Feingold.

The committee’s attention to Valukas was brought on by a recent presentation on the factors leading to the collapse of the real estate market. “[It] was very impressive,” commented Burrows. “We know that he will speak well at the commencement and we feel honored to have a person who has played such a major role in an important contemporary issue.”

“One of the goals of Lawrence is to have students be ready for ethical and effective action in the world,” added Burrows. “Mr. Valukas is a great representative of what can happen when someone is ready to do that — to make a difference.”