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U.S. Judge Thomas Cullen ’00 to Speak at Furman Commencement

Thomas T. Cullen ’00

Last updated April 24, 2024

By Clinton Colmenares, Director of News and Media Strategy

SCHEDULE UPDATE: Due to the rain forecast, the university is implementing Inclement Weather Plan B. Two ceremonies will be held at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium. The community lunch scheduled for 12 p.m. will now be held in the Dining Hall.

Thomas T. Cullen ’00, a Furman University trustee and the U.S. district judge for the Western District of Virginia, will be the commencement speaker for the Class of 2024.

Cullen, a 2004 graduate of William and Mary Law School, clerked for federal judges Robert E. Payne of the Eastern District of Virginia and Roger L. Gregory, currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He then worked as a federal prosecutor in Charlotte and later joined a private firm to lead white-collar and government investigations.

Democratic U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, who represent Virginia, recommended to former President Donald Trump that Cullen be nominated for U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke.

Cullen assumed that role in March 2018, and directed the federal civil rights prosecutions resulting from the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. His team obtained a life sentence for James Fields, who was convicted of killing Heather Heyer and injuring more than 30 protestors, and the convictions of several white supremacists under the federal Anti-Riots Act. His office also successfully convicted physicians and other healthcare workers for crimes related to the opioid epidemic.

The Washington Post profiled Cullen in an article titled, “The Trump Appointee Who’s Putting White Supremacists in Jail.”

In September 2020, Cullen moved to the federal bench, becoming the U.S. district judge in the same district in which he was the U.S. attorney.

Recently, Cullen spent two days at his law school alma mater as the 2024 Carter O. Lowance Fellow, where he spoke with students about criminal law, his experience as a U.S. attorney and his views from the bench.

Cullen’s father, Richard Cullen ’71, is a former Furman trustee and attorney general of Virginia who has represented former Vice President Mike Pence; U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay; Elin Nordegren, ex-wife of Tiger Woods; Boeing; the chairman of BP America; and many others in high-profile cases.

Furman’s commencement will be held Saturday, May 4, in two ceremonies at 3 and 7 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium. See the commencement website for more information, including a complete schedule of the day’s events and an inclement weather plan.

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Clinton Colmenares
Director of News and Media Strategy