U.S. Judge Tells Graduates to Keep Building

Noting his “love affair” with Bradley started when he arrived on the Hilltop as a freshman 59 years ago, U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade ’59 MA ’60 HON ’13 encouraged graduates at the December commencement to continue building a better world. “You must have the glorious feeling I once had of a sense of unknown potential,” the 1990 Distinguished Alumnus told the crowd. “Unlike past generations, you don’t seem to be bound by inherited or cultural traditions or pretensions.”

Among the graduates were the first five students to complete the Hospitality Leadership program, which started in fall 2011. In total, 253 undergraduate and graduate degrees were conferred at the ceremony.

McDade, a basketball star at Bradley who played in two NIT championship games, is a member of the Centurion Society and was a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. A graduate of the University of Michigan’s law school, he founded the first racially mixed law firm in Peoria. He was the first African American to be named and the first to be elected a judge in Illinois’ 10th Judicial Circuit. He also was the first African American judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois. Appointed to that position in 1991 by President Bush, McDade was chief judge of the district from 1998–2004.

“In large measure, what I am, what I have become, and what I have learned are all related to my Bradley experience,” he said.

Edward Garrett Anderson 1914 inspecting the University's mace, which he handcrafted and then donated to Bradley in 1963. Photo courtesy Garrett Anderson.

Homemade History

Leading the commencement procession, as it does at many ceremonial events on the Hilltop, was the University’s mace (at right). Handcrafted over several months by Edward Garrett Anderson 1914, the mace is 32 inches long and made of a black, almost grainless wood. It has two sterling silver bands and a single red gem. Almost all universities and colleges in the United States have a ceremonial mace; they are symbols of internal authority and independence from external control. Anderson presented the mace to Bradley in 1963, when he was appointed honorary marshall for that year’s commencement.

He lettered in football, was active in debate and the English and Literary clubs, and served as editor in chief of the 1913 yearbook. Anderson, who died in 1969, retired as a teacher from George Washington High School in Los Angeles.

— B.G.