Secretary Coleman delivers the 2008 Scharf Lecture
On Wednesday, October 22, Secretary William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr. delivered the Henry M. Scharf Memorial Lecture on Current Affairs.
Coleman's career has been marked with groundbreaking achievements in the legal, corporate, and government sectors. Coleman served in President Ford's Cabinet as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation from March of 1975 to January 20, 1977. He has served in advisory or consultant positions to six former U.S. Presidents, as well as the current president. Coleman co-authored of the legal briefs for Brown vs. the Board of Education which in 1954 persuaded the Supreme Court to outlaw racial segregation in public schools. Coleman has briefed and argued nineteen cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. He serves as Senior Director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., after serving as Chairman of the Board from 1977 to 1997.
In December of 1979, the President of France nominated Coleman as an Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honor. In 1993, he received the Harvard Law School Outstanding Alumni Award. Secretary Coleman received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995.
Coleman received the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc in 1997, the Thaddeus Stevens Award from the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia in 2000, and the Lamplighter Award for Leadership from the Black Leadership Forum, Inc. in 2000. In 2004, The American Lawyer Magazine named him as one of the twelve outstanding lawyers in the last twenty five years. That same year, Coleman received the "We The People" award from the National Constitution Center for his lifetime achievements in civil engagement and the Chief Justice John Marshall Award recognizing extraordinary improvements in the administration of justice. In 2006, he received the Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award and the District of Columbia Bar Association's "Legends of the Bar" Award. And in 2007, he received the American Bar Association's "Spirit of Excellence" Award, the University of the District of Columbia Law School's David A Clarke School of Equal Justice Award, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Founder's Award.
Secretary Coleman is currently a Senior Partner and The Senior Counselor in the national and international law firm of O'Melveny & Myers LLP.
The Honorable Elliott Lee Richardson, Coleman's longtime friend, colleague, and classmate, has described Coleman as "an individual of strong loyalties, deep commitment to humane values, and solid practical judgment. Harnessed to a clear and analytical mind and unflagging energy, these qualities make him an effective force in all of the many arenas in which he engages. Add a quick sense of humor and a gift for friendship, and you have in every sense a man for all seasons."
Dr. F. William Sunderman, a member of the Gettysburg College Board of Trustees and the class of 1919, established the Scharf Memorial Lecture on Current Affairs in 1976 in honor of his friend, Henry M. Scharf. Scharf was a member of the Gettysburg College class of 1925, a member of the Board of Trustees, the owner of the Gettysburg Hotel, and the builder of the Majestic Theatre. The Henry M. Scharf Memorial Lecture on Current Affairs continues to provide a podium for distinguished speakers and is one of the keynote lectures offered by the Eisenhower Institute.