Elizabeth Horton Sheff
Community activist Elizabeth Horton Sheff M'12, who filed the landmark Sheff v. O’Neill school desegregation lawsuit to address educational inequities in Hartford and surrounding communities, will be the guest speaker at this year's Fall Commencement ceremony.
The ceremony will take place on Sunday, Dec. 8, at 2:30 p.m., in Lincoln Theater.
During the ceremony, Sheff will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Just two years ago, Sheff was one of the graduating students at Fall Commencement, earning a Master of Education with a specialty in educational technology.
Fall Commencement was introduced in 1996 to provide a formal ceremony for undergraduate and graduate students who complete their degree requirements in September or January and cannot attend the University's traditional Commencement ceremonies in May.
More than 185 graduating students are expected to take part in
this year's Fall Commencement. The University will offer a live webcast of the ceremony for those unable to
attend in person. See complete information about Fall
A Life of Activism
Elizabeth Horton Sheff grew up in a housing project in Hartford, raised by a mother who gave her a healthy balance of love and discipline, and an understanding that everyone has a responsibility to make the world a better place.
Taking those words to heart, she has spent her life speaking out for the poor and marginalized, fighting for those in public housing and those with HIV/AIDS and working to increase food security for families.
She and 10 other families filed a historic desegregation lawsuit known as Sheff v. O’Neill that challenged inequities in the education provided in Hartford schools compared to surrounding towns. The long, arduous court battle has begun to address inequality through new magnet schools and other education reforms in Connecticut.
Sheff also served five terms on the Hartford City Council, during which she promoted civic engagement, literacy, and community policing, and founded a program to support grandparents who are raising grandchildren.
Sheff has won numerous awards, including the University’s Regents’ Honor Award and the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame’s Notable Women of Influence Award.
She currently serves as the director of community service for the Community Renewal Team, a nonprofit human services delivery agency, where she continues to carry out her mother’s lessons.
Elizabeth Horton Sheff