Judge Thomas B. Griffith to Speak at Commencement May 2

· April 16, 2019

Keynote Speaker

The Honorable Thomas B. Griffith, Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will address graduates, faculty, staff, students and friends of Southern Virginia University at Commencement on Thursday, May 2, 2019, at 10 a.m.

Judge Griffith was appointed by former President George W. Bush to the United States Court of Appeals in June 2005. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Before his appointment, Judge Griffith served as Senate Legal Counsel of the United States, as Assistant to the President and General Counsel of Brigham Young University, as General Counsel to the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, and as a member of the United States Secretary of Education’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, which examined the role of Title IX in intercollegiate athletics.

Since joining the Court, Judge Griffith has taught courses on Presidential Powers and Judicial Process at the Brigham Young University Law School and on the Role of an Article III judge at Stanford Law School.

Honorary Degree to Be Awarded

Former Congressman Bob Goodlatte will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University at the Commencement ceremony.

Goodlatte served in the United States House of Representatives for over 26 years representing the Virginia 6th District, in which Southern Virginia University is located. During his time in the House he served as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee of Agriculture. Goodlatte is a graduate of Bates College and Washington and Lee University School of Law.


Three valedictorians will be honored at Commencement: Summer Rathfon, John Mellor and Cassandra Johnson, with Johnson selected to speak.

Summer Rathfon is a biology major from French Lick, Indiana. During her time at Southern Virginia she played in the orchestra and Chamber Music ensembles and participated in a string quartet. Rathfon served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Barcelona, Spain. After graduation, she plans to work for the U.S. Forest Service on a national forest in Idaho and eventually attend graduate school to study Forest Ecology and Natural Resource Management.

John Mellor is a biochemistry major from Colfax, Washington. He played on the Southern Virginia football team all four years as a middle linebacker. Mellor served a mission for the Church in Budapest, Hungary. He plans to attend medical school to become a surgeon after graduation.

Cassandra Johnson is an English major with a concentration in international affairs from Gainesville, Florida. She served a mission for the Church in Bangkok, Thailand, and last summer returned to Thailand to intern in the U.S. embassy. Johnson met her fiancé at the University and will marry in May. She plans to go into international communications and have a family after graduation.

A reception will follow the commencement exercises. On the night prior to the ceremony, the University will host a Senior Reception in the Stoddard Center for graduating seniors and their families.

View the Commencement Schedule & Information