Former Governor Honored By NIU Law School

May 27, 2013

Former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson never attended Northern Illinois University…but this weekend, his connections to the law school earned him an honorary doctorate.

Scoreboard shot of former Governor Jim Thompson receiving his honorary degree from NIU's law school Saturday, May 25th.
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Thompson considers DeKalb the second home of his childhood: his parents were born and raised in the county, he spent a number of Christmases at his aunt’s there, and he counts the Sandwich Fair as HIS county fair.  That’s half the reason he chose to spend part of his holiday weekend accepting an honorary doctorate from NIU’s law school.

It was a great pleasure to be able to bring the NIU College of Law to campus. It was one of my proudest moments of my administration.

In 1979, under Thompson’s administration, lawmakers acquired the law school for NIU from Lewis University.  Thompson also gave the keynote speech at Saturday’s law school commencement. He urged the grads to avoid “Ivy Envy,” and assured them that out in the real world, “no one cares where you went to law school, as long as you work hard and use the skills you learned there.”

The honorary doctorate is a first for NIU’s law school.  He was chosen for the honor because of his “lifetime of public service.”

Meanwhile, former Governor Thompson says he’s watching Illinois lawmakers closely as this legislative session draws to a close. He says he’s disappointed with “the partisan rancor” in Springfield…but doesn’t blame the usual suspects:

We have four fine legislative leaders in Springfield and I think that things will get better.

Thompson says he’s hopeful: he has seen bipartisan support in a number of areas this legislative session, including concealed carry and pension reform.