Less than a year after a special celebration to announce that he made the largest philanthropic commitment to Duquesne University in its 145-year history, Thomas R. Kline (L’78) will return to his alma mater to serve as the speaker at the Duquesne Kline School of Law’s 2023 commencement.

As part of the ceremony, the University will award Kline an honorary degree.

In September, the University announced that Kline had committed $50 million to provide transformational support to the 112-year old School. One of the nation’s most influential and highly regarded trial lawyers, Kline will address the first class of graduates from the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University. The commencement ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on May 13 at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

“I’m thrilled to have Tom Kline return to the Bluff as our commencement speaker,” said Duquesne President Ken Gormley. “As a Duquesne alumnus, he has supported the law school where he got his start in numerous ways, enhancing educational opportunities and providing generous gifts that will benefit our students, faculty and the profession itself for generations to come. It’s fitting that he address the first class to of law graduates to earn their degrees from the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University.”

Kline’s latest philanthropic commitment to his alma mater will broadly support student scholarships, faculty grants for excellence in teaching and scholarship, the School’s noted Bar Preparation program, new clinical offerings that benefit the community and other strategic priorities. Kline has given the University wide latitude in how best to invest the resources to maximize the benefits for students and the faculty of Duquesne Kline School of Law generally. 

In an earlier gift in 2018, Kline committed $7.5 million to establish the Thomas R. Kline Center for Judicial Education at Duquesne, to support the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in its ongoing efforts to enhance the administration of justice through high quality continuing education for judges across the Commonwealth.

“Tom Kline’s commitment to Duquesne, the profession, and most importantly, our students, is truly extraordinary,” said April Barton, dean of the Duquesne Kline School of Law. “Our students continue to excel, our pass rate for the Pennsylvania Bar Exam is consistently one of the best in the state, and our employment outcomes impressively outpace national averages —proof that we prepare our students for practice and what’s next in their careers. We look forward to further enhancing our legal education and skills training programs in a variety of ways, thanks to Tom’s wonderful gift.”

A champion of legal education, Kline is acknowledged to be one of America’s most respected and influential lawyers. He is a founding partner of the firm Kline and Specter and his groundbreaking cases have helped shape the law and resulted in corporate, institutional and governmental change and justice for his clients.

A graduate and recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award at Albright College, Kline earned his M.A. from Lehigh University and his J.D. from Duquesne’s School of Law in 1978, where he received the Distinguished Student Award and later earned the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2008. He is also an inductee into the Century Club of distinguished alumni at Duquesne.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 8,000 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim.

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March 15, 2023