By Dean Jane Korn
ur Centennial year has been wonderful so far and much is yet to come. World renowned author Scott Turow was the kickoff speaker for this year. A few weeks later, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit came to hear oral arguments at Gonzaga. Chief Judge Kozinski, Judge Christen and Judge Watford were kind enough to also attend several classes and engage with our students, in addition to hearing three cases. There was certainly a buzz in the air when they were here and we had a standing-room-only crowd in the Barbieri Courtroom.
We welcomed 132 new 1L students fall semester. Like most law schools around the country, our law school class was smaller than usual but the class is wonderful. They are smart, engaged and enthusiastic. The class is 44 percent female and members hail from 23 different states and 67 different undergraduate schools including Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, Santa Clara University, the United States Air Force Academy, the University of Delaware, the University of Alaska – Anchorage, the University of Colorado – Boulder, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington. They are also a remarkably interesting and diverse group. One of the unusual aspects of law school, unlike other graduate schools, is that the undergraduate major is virtually irrelevant and many are represented in this 1L class. Majors included finance, history, psychology, business, German, journalism, political science, English, philosophy, international studies and economics. Several have advanced degrees.
The entering class brings with it amazing and varied experience. Among the 1L class is someone who taught English in Korea and another who taught English in Austria. One created his own software company and someone else worked on a tugboat in Puget Sound. One of these amazing students started law school 25 years ago but left to work in Haiti. One served in the U.S. Navy, one is a certified dive master and one participated in Teach for America. Still another member of this diverse group was scouted by the New York Mets, one speaks Russian, one interned with the Council on American-Islamic Relations and another worked for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Our year was tinged with sadness, too. This past year has been a time of loss for the law school – we lost some real giants in our history – John Clute, Bill Clarke, Vern Davidson and Lew Orland. Many of our successes are built on their legacies and we owe them much.
We have also had to say goodbye to some beloved staff but we have welcomed others along with two new faculty. Holly Brajcich left us and Laurie Powers became our new Director of the Center for Professional Development (formerly known as Career Services). Catherine Brown moved from the WSBA in Seattle to become the Assistant Director of the Center for Law and Public Service, to run our Moderate Means program.
Jessica Kiser joined us from Loyola New Orleans to teach Intellectual Property and Kevin Michels left the College of New Jersey to become the J. Donald and VaLena Scarpelli Curran Chair of Legal Ethics and Professionalism. Associate Dean Vickie Williams will be stepping down from her administrative position to rejoin the faculty and to concentrate her efforts more on her interest in health law. Professor Sandra Simpson will become our new Associate Director of Academic Affairs this summer. Nancy Fike left us at the end of October to assume an exciting career opportunity. Susan Harmon and Al Tesdal both retired on Dec. 12 and were celebrated at our holiday luncheon. And last, but not least, Professor John Maurice is retiring from full-time teaching this spring.
We have much to celebrate about our recent grads. Although the overall statewide bar pass rate for the July 2012 exam was only 65.5 percent, our pass rate for first time takers was 78.6 percent. And while we all know that it is a difficult employment market for our new grads, I am also pleased to say that Gonzaga had the highest employment rate of any law school in the state this past year for full-time jobs that require a JD.
Please join us in celebrating our Centennial – you can see all the upcoming events at www.law.gonzaga.edu/100. This is a special year for us and I hope many of you will be joining us to mark this occasion and help make it a meaningful and joyful experience.