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Canceled: Horace Johnson to speak at Oxford College Commencement 2020
Horace Johnson, Superior Court Judge for Georgia’s Alcovy Judicial Circuit, will deliver Oxford's Commencement address.

Emory University President Claire E. Sterk announced the cancellation of Emory's traditional May commencement activities.

Commencement Exercises Canceled

Oxford has canceled our traditional May commencement activities.

An except from a message by President Claire E. Sterk: Commencement is a beloved tradition in our academic community and a singularly important moment for our graduating students and their families. It is with great sadness that I write to let you know we have made the difficult, but absolutely necessary decision, to cancel our traditional May commencement activities. However, I also want to share with you that planning already is underway to celebrate and commemorate the Class of 2020 as we are living in an extraordinary time.

We did not make this decision lightly. I recognize that it will cause disappointment, especially for our graduates and their loved ones. But cancellation of the on-campus activities is, at present, the one option that ensures the safety and well-being of our Emory community members. We must be proactive in our mitigation efforts against COVID-19. Nevertheless, I apologize that we will not have our regular graduation celebrations, and wanted to let you know as soon as possible to help you with your plans.

Thankfully, cancellation will not be the last word. Together, we will recognize all that you have accomplished and celebrate your creativity, resilience, and resolve. I wish you great success as you move forward into the next phase of your lives.

Oxford College will hold its 175th Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 9, at 10 a.m. on the college quad. Horace Johnson, Superior Court Judge for Georgia’s Alcovy Judicial Circuit, will deliver the Commencement address.

“Judge Johnson is not only a distinguished jurist,” says Doug Hicks, Oxford’s dean and William R. Kenan Professor of Religion. “He is an alumnus of Oxford College, and we take great pride in his many accomplishments in the legal field and decades of service to this institution as well as the local community. He will be an inspiring and compelling speaker for our graduates and guests.”

Johnson graduated from Oxford College and Emory’s Goizueta Business School and received his JD degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. Following 20 years as an attorney in private practice, he has served his judicial circuit, composed of Newton and Walton Counties, now for nearly 18 years.

During his tenure, Johnson has launched accountability courts for veterans and for parents who are behind in child-support payments. Designed to make use of alternative sentencing, accountability courts aim to decrease recidivism and overall costs while benefiting the local community. Johnson has been lauded for his success with these innovative judicial programs and has also received numerous community and professional awards and accolades.

The Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce presented him its prestigious R.O. Arnold Award in 2016. In 2016 he was elected president of the Council of Superior Court Judges, the first African American elected to lead the statewide group. He was awarded the State Bar of Georgia’s Chief Justice Commission on Professionalism Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017, and the 2018 Frederick B. Kerr Service Award, given annually by Leadership Georgia. In 2019 the Georgia Legal Awards honored Johnson with its Distinguished Leader Award, given to legal professionals who have used clear leadership skills to achieve remarkable results.

Since 1992, he has served as a member of the Oxford College Board of Counselors.

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