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Public Servant, Alum Caplin to Deliver Graduation Address

Mortimer CaplinFebruary 17, 2003 -- Mortimer Caplin, a former top government official and leading advocate of public service who also made his mark as a collegiate boxing champion, will deliver the commencement address at the University of Virginia.

Caplin, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service during the Kennedy administration, will be the speaker at Finals Exercises on May 18 at 10 a.m. on the Lawn. He is a 1937 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences and graduated from the School of Law in 1940.

When he entered U.Va. at age 17, Caplin committed himself to all aspects of University life. He was a standout athlete from 1933-37 in the University’s leading sport, going undefeated in the ring for three years in the mid-1930s, including his last two on the team. Although he suffered a broken hand, he still won the NCAA middleweight title.

He also served as coach of the boxing team and was president of the University Players drama group. In addition, he graduated as the top law student in his class and was editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review.

Known for his deep commitment to public service, teaching and the educational process, he was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law in 2001. He was a member of U.Va.’s Board of Visitors from 1992-97. His generosity as a benefactor to the Law School funded the Law School’s Caplin Auditorium, the Daniel Caplin Professorship, the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Scholarship, the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Award, the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center and several major improvements to the school. He has served as a trustee of the Law School Foundation, and, since its inception in 1990, as chairman of the University’s Council for the Arts.

Caplin taught tax law at U.Va. from 1950-61, while serving as president of the Atlantic Coast Conference. After serving as commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service from 1961-64, he founded Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, one of the nation’s leading tax law firms. The U.S. Treasury Department presented him with its Alexander Hamilton Award for "outstanding and unusual leadership" when he left government service.

Caplin has been chairman of the board of the National Civic Service League and the American Council on International Sports and a trustee of the Peace Through Law Foundation in Washington. His many honors include the Tax Executives Institute’s Distinguished Service Award and the American Jewish Committees Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award.

Dr. L. D. Britt, a 1972 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences who now is a professor and chairman of surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School, will give the Valedictory address on May 17 at 11 a.m. on the Lawn.

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