Sandra Day O’Connor spoke at Georgia Southern University in 1990

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor appeared at Georgia Southern University the week of Oct. 8, 1990. The visit is described in “The Southern Century,” a book that details the institution’s history. (Courtesy Georgia Southern University)

Credit: via Georgia Southern University

Credit: via Georgia Southern University

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor appeared at Georgia Southern University the week of Oct. 8, 1990. The visit is described in “The Southern Century,” a book that details the institution’s history. (Courtesy Georgia Southern University)

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who died Friday, spoke at Georgia Southern University in 1990 at the invitation of then-university President Nicholas Henry. The two met in Arizona, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported at the time, while she served on the Arizona Court of Appeals and he was a dean at Arizona State University. She spoke about the Bill of Rights.

Here is the original article from October 1990.

STATESBORO, Ga. – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor gave a history lesson Monday to more than 2,000 students, faculty member and guests celebrating Georgia Southern University’s recent promotion from college to university.

Justice O’Connor, who spoke on the Bill of Rights, gave the keynote speech at ceremonies kicking off University Week at Georgia Southern, which became a university on July 1.

Now billed by campus officials as the fastest-growing university in Georgia and the only public university in the southern part of the state, Georgia Southern boasts 12,000 students, according to University President Dr. Nicholas Henry.

In introducing Justice O’Connor, Dr. Henry drew parallels between the “challenging circumstances” of her early years in a remote ranch in Texas, her struggle to gain acceptance as a female attorney, and the efforts of Georgia Southern to become a university.

“After years of privation, pursuit and progress, the people of South Georgia now have their university,” Dr. Henry said. “This campus symbolizes all that is best in South Georgia.”

Justice O’Connor, who met Dr. Henry when she was serving on the Arizona Court of Appeals while he was a dean at Arizona State University, said she was pleased to take part in University Week activities.

“I am delighted to share this new day with you,” she told the crowd assembled under oak and magnolia trees in Sweetheart Circle on the 457-acre campus.

Early in the day, fog swathed the campus and the city in damp gray folds, but the sun appeared just in time to shine in the faces of Justice O’Connor and other dignitaries seated on a raised dais before the crowd.

The only woman on the U.S. Supreme Court shaded her face with a program until time for her speech.

Then she squinted into the glare and invited those who were standing to find comfortable seats on the grass, because, she said, she planned to lecture at length on “another very special birthday.”

Next year, she said, will mark the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

After serving nine years on the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor admitted she was “still awed” by the document.

Although advances of “time and technology” challenge present-day interpreters, Justice O’Connor urged those attending the ceremony to “keep a little room in your hearts to appreciate the freedoms we enjoy because of the Bill of Rights.”

About the photo from 1990

The first photo in this story is courtesy Georgia Southern University. Here are some additional details about that day, provided by a university spokeswoman. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor appeared at Georgia Southern University during a crucial point in the institution’s history. Declared a university in the summer of 1990, then Georgia Southern President Nicholas “Nick” Henry organized a convocation the week of Oct. 8, 1990, to celebrate the achievement. He chose O’Connor as the keynote speaker. They had become friends when Henry was an administrator at Arizona State University and she was eager to help him celebrate Georgia Southern’s new status according to “The Southern Century,” a book that details the institution’s history. In her address, O’Connor “noted that Supreme Court justices struggle constantly to interpret the constitution.”

See the story for more details on this photo. (Courtesy Georgia Southern University)

Credit: via Georgia Southern University

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Credit: via Georgia Southern University

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