Commencement 2019

2019 Commencement Speaker: Joseph G. Vernon, Dual JD ’05

Joseph G. Vernon is principal and resident director of Miller, Canfield, Paddock, & Stone PLC’s downtown Detroit headquarters. He is an experienced business lawyer and commercial litigator, who has represented clients in a variety of industries in arbitration proceedings and state and federal courts across the country. He specializes in complex commercial and intellectual property litigation, and he has served as lead counsel in a number of significant breach of contract, intellectual property trade secret, shareholder oppression, and automotive supplier disputes.

Vernon is also deeply involved in the community. He serves on the Young Leaders Board for the Detroit Economic Club, and as a mentor in its Career Readiness Academy. He also serves on the Board of Mariners Inn, a rehabilitation and homeless shelter. He is a co-chair of the Federal Bar Association’s Rules and Civil Practice Committee, and he is a proud member of Leadership Detroit Class XXXVII. He previously served as an adjunct professor at Detroit Mercy Law, where he taught an advanced legal writing and oral advocacy course for several years.

Baccalaureate Mass:
 Thursday, May 9 at 5:00 p.m. at Ss. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church in Detroit, Michigan

The Class of 2019 and their families are invited to join their fellow graduates and the Detroit Mercy Law faculty and administration for the Law School Baccalaureate Mass. Held at Ss. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church, adjacent to the law school, this mass offers a moment of quiet reflection and thanksgiving for your educational journey at Detroit Mercy Law, and an opportunity to ask for God’s blessing as you begin your legal career. Members of all faiths and traditions are welcomed and encouraged to attend.  Rev. Gilbert Sunghera, SJ will preside.

Graduates attending Baccalaureate wear their graduation academic regalia, including their hoods, and gather by 4:30 p.m. at the law school in the first-floor hall opposite the SBA office. Graduates and guests may park in the Larned and Christ Church parking lots.

 Friday, May 10 at 5:00 p.m. in Calihan Hall in Detroit, Michigan

The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law will celebrate the graduating class of 2019 at the Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 10 at 5:00 p.m. in Calihan Hall on the McNichols Campus of the University of Detroit Mercy. Graduates, dignitaries, and faculty are expected to arrive at Calihan no later than 4:00 p.m. Guests may begin to be seated in Calihan Hall by 4:00 p.m., and should be seated by 4:50 p.m. as the ushers stop seating guests at that time to make way for the academic procession. The graduation ceremony lasts approximately two and one-half hours. 

Preparation for Commencement:

The School of Law Commencement Ceremony will begin with members of the Class of 1969 leading the Commencement procession as golden jubilee anniversary graduates. The Motor City Brass Quintet will accompany a singer performing the national anthems of Canada and the United States. Detroit Mercy Law Dean Phyllis L. Crocker and University President Antoine M. Garibaldi will offer remarks, in addition to a graduate, who is selected by classmates to speak on their behalf. A graduate will lead the prayer inspired by St. Thomas More. The president of the Detroit Mercy Law Alumni Association will close the ceremony by welcoming the Class of 2019 to the Alumni Association.

Ordering Academic Regalia

Academic attire is restricted to University-approved tams, hoods, tassels, and gowns for professional schools. Graduates may order their academic regalia from Herff Jones. The last day to order a cap and gown online is Sunday, April 14, 2019. Academic attire is mailed to the address graduates list on their Herff Jones web order.  International students have their academic attire sent in care of the Student Service Center, Detroit Mercy Law, 651 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, MI 48226. 

Accommodations for guests with disabilities

Graduates who will have guests requiring accommodated seating should contact Kate Brink Harrison at to request accommodations. One family member is permitted to sit with those who require disabled seating. Please ask an usher for assistance upon arriving at Calihan Hall.

Handicapped parking, in front of Calihan Hall, is limited and restricted to those guests with valid handicapped stickers or license plates. 

Requests for alumni hooders

Graduates may request to be hooded by a family member who is a School of Law alumnus or alumna. Please submit your request to Dean Megan Jennings at by Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

Metropolitan Detroit Motels and Hotels

Visit the Detroit Mercy Law website for information about hotels in downtown Detroit.

Baccalaureate and Commencement Participating Restaurants


Maru Sushi and Grill
Sushi and Japanese fare including noodles, salads and shareable plates
160 Fort Street
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 315-3100

Mention Detroit Mercy Law on May 9th or 10th to receive a complimentary Firecracker Shrimp

Granite City Brewery
Fresh brewed craft beer with seasonal food, burgers, pasta, and more
100 Renaissance Center
Ste. 1101 Detroit, MI 48243
(313) 309-9120

Show Baccalaureate or Commencement program on May 9th or 10th and receive 10% off. Reservations required for parties of 10 or more. Special graduation packages available for parties of 20 or more. Please contact Brett at 313.878.1476 or for more details.

Union Street Detroit
American classics, pub eats, local craft beer
4145 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 309-9120

Reservations required. Mention Detroit Mercy Law graduation at time of reservation to receive 15% off food order.

Andiamo Detroit Riverfront
Fine Italian cuisine with beautiful riverfront views
400 Renaissance Center
Suite A-403
Detroit, MI 48243
(313) 567-6700

Mention University of Detroit Mercy School of Law on May 9th or 10th and guests will receive $5 off of lunch entrée and $10 off of dinner entrée.


Enzo’s Trattoria
1063 Erie Street East, Windsor, Ontario

Special Graduation Menu available

Mazaar Lebanese Cuisine
372 Ouellette Avenue, Windsor, Ontario

Free Dessert for Graduates

For both of the above deals, students should make advance reservations and should specify that they are law graduates. Students should also bring their student ID cards to show to the servers.


There is free parking for graduates and their guests in the lots accessible from the McNichols entrance to the University.  Vehicles may not drop off graduates and guests at the front door of Calihan Hall. 

Parking will be crowded. Please plan to carpool and allow for extra time to park. Handicapped parking, in front of Calihan Hall, is limited to those with valid handicapped license plates or stickers.

Guest seating

Calihan will open for guests at 4:00 p.m. No tickets are required for the ceremony, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. All guests are asked to be seated by 4:50 p.m. to allow for the academic procession to begin.

Graduate Check-in

All graduates must check in at the Calihan Hall northwest entrance by 4:00 p.m. Please wear your academic regalia.

Graduation Attire

Commencement is a formal academic ceremony. Academic attire is restricted to University-approved tams, hoods, tassels, and gowns for professional schools. Since you will be standing in line and processing, comfortable shoes are recommended.

Academic attire is mailed to the address graduates list on their Herff Jones web order. International students have their academic attire sent in care of the Student Service Center, Detroit Mercy Law, 651 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, MI 48226. 

Reciting the Prayer Inspired by St. Thomas More

All graduates stand and recite the prayer with the Graduate Prayer Reader selected during the Graduation Fair. 

Baccalaureate and Commencement Ceremony Protocol

Graduates are asked not to not chew gum or use any electronic devices during the Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies.

Given the solemnity of the occasion, please ask your guests to observe the following courtesies during Baccalaureate and Commencement:

  • Turn off all electronic devices, cell phones, and pagers.
  • Please do not bring food into the Church or Calihan Hall. 
  • No horns or balloons are allowed in Church or Calihan Hall.
  • Guests who wish to check a stroller during Commencement may do so by stopping at the Alumni and VIP check-in in the northeast lobby of Calihan Hall.

Commencement Photography

Detroit Mercy Law’s Commencement photography company is GradImages. During the ceremony, GradImages takes three photographs of each graduate: a photo with the President and two additional photos as the graduate crosses the stage. GradImages contacts each graduate after the ceremony with information about ordering Commencement photos.

During Commencement, guests on the main floor may take pictures from their places, but they may not move into the aisles, around the Hall, or into the upper sections. Guests seated in the upper sections may use cameras and recorders; they may not go down to the main floor to take photos. Graduates may return to the Hall after the Recessional for photographs as well.

Recommended Directions to Calihan Hall
4001 West McNichols Road
Detroit, MI 48221

From Metro Airport

Take I-94 East to the Lodge Freeway (M-10). Take the Lodge North to the Livernois exit. At the top of the ramp, turn right onto Livernois and proceed three-quarters of a mile North to W. McNichols (third traffic light). Turn right onto W. McNichols. The entrance is one quarter of a mile on the right.

From Downtown Detroit

Take the Lodge Freeway North out of downtown and follow the above directions from Metro Airport.

From Northwest on M-10

Driving South on the Lodge Freeway, take the Livernois exit. At the traffic light, turn left onto Livernois and proceed three-quarters of a mile North to W. McNichols (third traffic light). Turn right on W. McNichols and the entrance is one quarter of a mile on the right.

From the North on I-75

Driving South on I-75, exit Eight Mile Road and turn right off the ramp. Take Eight Mile Road West and proceed 2.5 miles to Livernois. Turn left (South) onto Livernois and proceed 2.0 miles to W. McNichols. Head East (left) onto W. McNichols and entrance is one-quarter of a mile on the right.