Distinguished Virginia Legal Expert to Speak at Averett’s Winter Commencement

Posted on December 10th, 2019 by Cassie Jones

Elizabeth A. McClanahan, dean (CEO) and the Street Distinguished Professor or Law at Appalachian School of Law, will speak to more than 160 graduates at Averett’s Winter Commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 14. The ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m., will be held at the University’s E. Stuart James Grant Athletic and Convocation Center at the North Campus, 707 Mt. Cross Rd. in Danville.

Averett University will graduate 164 students between the Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS), IDEAL and traditional programs this commencement. More than 75% of the graduates are adults who completed their degrees within the GPS program. Among the graduates, 13 are veterans and six are international students from Argentina, Finland and Uzbekistan. The graduates range in age from 19 to 59.

Honorary speaker McClanahan recently returned to her small hometown in Buchanan County, Va., to work at Appalachian School of Law after 35 years of legal experience. She served on the Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Supreme Court of Virginia for a combined 16 years. Prior to being appointed to the bench, McClanahan served as the Chief Deputy Attorney General for Virginia, responsible for managing the daily legal operations of the Virginia Office of the Attorney General.

She began her legal career in private practice, representing a number of energy companies at Penn, Stuart & Eskridge, where she later became a shareholder, director and management committee member. During this time, she was a nationally recognized expert in coalbed methane development, having published and/or presented almost 40 papers on coalbed methane, mineral tittle rights and regulatory issues. She was admitted to six state bars, earned a Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating and has received numerous professional awards throughout her career.

In higher education, McClanahan currently serves on the board of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and has served as Chair of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia; Vice Rector of her alma mater, the College of William and Mary; Williamson Fellow at William and Mary College of Law; Street Memorial Distinguished Visitor in Real Estate Law at Appalachian School of Law; El Paso Natural Gas Fellow at the university of Colorado School of Law; and on the faculty for the Summer Management Program at Wake Forest School of Business and Accountancy. She also has served as a director on several professional and nonprofit boards.

McClanahan has received numerous civic awards, including statewide Virginia Jaycees, Outstanding Young Virginian; David M. Young Award, Virginia Oil & Gas Association; Virginia Lawyers Media “Influential Women of Virginia;” Virginia Business Legal Elite; and the Williams Skelton Extension Leadership Award, Virginia Cooperative Extension.

All those attending Commencement will need a ticket to enter, and bags will be checked at the door. Every graduate has an allotted number of tickets for their guests. Doors will close at 9:45 a.m. for the procession and reopen after the invocation.


Editor’s note: Please be aware that construction crews on Mt. Cross Road continue to work around the entrance to North Campus, and the road is temporarily downsized to one lane each way. This is expected to cause some traffic delays the morning of Commencement, so graduates, their guests and all attendees will need to use extra caution and allow plenty of time to arrive. Please remain vigilant while traveling in the area.