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President's Medallion, Graduate Ceremony

The University is pleased to honor the Graduate Commencement Speaker Hon. Ilana Diamond Rovner, and her husband, Dr. Paul Friedmann, for their inspirational service in their respective fields.


In 1992, Ilana Kara Diamond Rovner became the first woman appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Previously, she served as a District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois from 1984 to 1992.

Born in Riga, Latvia, and raised in Philadelphia, she attended Bryn Mawr College and studied law at King’s College-University of London, Georgetown University, and Chicago-Kent College of Law.

In 1977, Rovner became Deputy Governor and legal counsel to Governor James R. Thompson of Illinois. During her time in that office, she wrote the Governor’s Executive Order banning sexual harassment in the workplace and oversaw the creation of the Governor’s Office for Interagency Cooperation and the new Department of Human Rights.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the National Association of Women Lawyers Arabella Babb Mansfield Award, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois/Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women First Woman Award, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago and Chicago Bar Association Vanguard Award, the Jewish Judges’ Association of Illinois Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Liberty Museum’s Hero of Liberty Award, the B’nai Brith International “Chicago Woman of Valor” Award, and the American Constitution Society “Legal Legends of Chicago” Award.

In 2001, Judge Rovner was honored by Georgetown University Law Center as the first of its female students to be appointed to a United States Court of Appeals. The Chicago-Kent Alumni Association awarded her its Professional Achievement Award in 1986, and in 1992, the College inaugurated the Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Program and Moot Court Competition. 

Paul Friedmann, MD

Dr. Paul Friedmann was born in Vienna, Austria, and raised in Philadelphia. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he attended Jefferson Medical College, and received his M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School. He also holds an MBA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

He was Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Baystate Medical Center from 1971 to 1998, and was interim Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine from 1996 to 2001. He also has been appointed as the Dean’s Professor in Biomedical Innovation at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Prior to 2005, Dr. Friedmann served as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Baystate Health System and was Dean for Baystate at Tufts University School of Medicine from 1998 to 2005. He held the position of Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute from 2005 to 2013.

He has held numerous leadership positions, including President of the New England Society for Vascular Surgery, the New England Surgical Society, the Association of Program Directors in Surgery, and the Council of Medical Specialty Societies. He received a Distinguished Faculty Award from Tufts University School of Medicine in 2001, and a Lifetime Teaching Award from Tufts in 2007.