2017 American University Washingotn College of Law Commencement

2018 Commencement: Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference, to Deliver AUWCL's Commencement Address

May 14, 2018

American University Washington College of Law will welcome Vanita Gupta, president and chief executive officer of The Leadership Conference, and former leader of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, to its 2018 Commencement on Sunday, May 20, at 1:00 p.m. at American University's Bender Arena (4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW).

In AUWCL's spring 2018 class, 332 students will graduate with a Juris Doctor (JD) and 53 students will graduate with a Master of Laws (LL.M.) The class of 2018 also includes graduates from August and December 2017, which included 39 JD graduates, 60 LL.M. graduates, and three graduates with a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD).

Vanita Gupta is an experienced leader and litigator who has devoted her entire career to civil rights work. She served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division from October 2014 to January 2017. Appointed by President Barack Obama as the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Gupta oversaw a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and protect equal opportunity for all during one of the most consequential periods for the division.

Under Gupta's leadership, the division did critical work in a number of areas, including advancing constitutional policing and criminal justice reform; prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; promoting disability rights; protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals; ensuring voting rights for all; and combating discrimination in education, housing, employment, lending, and religious exercise.

Prior to joining the Justice Department, Gupta served as deputy legal director and the director of the Center for Justice at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She began her legal career as an attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.

Gupta graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and received her law degree from New York University School of Law.

The entire American University Washington College of Law community is looking forward to this momentous occasion and to celebrating our new alumni as they reach the end of their legal education and the beginning of their careers.

Learn more about the AUWCL Commencement.


In 1896, American University Washington College of Law became the first law school in the country founded by women. More than 120 years since its founding, this law school community is grounded in the values of equality, diversity, and intellectual rigor. The law school's nationally and internationally recognized programs (in clinical legal education, trial advocacy, international law, health law, and intellectual property to name a few) and dedicated faculty provide its JD, LL.M., and SJD students with the critical skills and values to have an immediate impact as students and as graduates, in Washington, DC and around the world. For more information, visit wcl.american.edu.