What a pivotal moment we are at as a nation. The COVID-19 pandemic changed all of our lives in an instant. The horrific killing of George Floyd, along with so many other Black men and women who have lost their lives to police brutality, has highlighted systemic racism, and has rallied Americans to join the movement for racial justice. But we know that law has in many ways been an instrument of racial oppression.
As Wisconsin’s only public law school, we have a duty to respond and lead during this tumultuous time. We need to use all our tools, as lawyers and legal scholars, to engage vigorously in the movement to eliminate systemic racism. And we need to tend to our own community and do a better job of meeting the needs of our Black and Brown students, faculty, staff, and community. It’s time to move from hard conversations to action, and there is a lot of work to do. Many members of our community are engaging in this effort. Learn more in “No Justice. No Peace.”
As many of you know, the Law School will continue this important work under new leadership. I’m delighted to announce that, as of August 1, 2020, my new colleague, Daniel Tokaji, is the next Fred W. and Vi Miller Dean and Professor of Law. Learn more in “Introducing Dean Daniel P. Tokaji.”
In my nine years as the dean of the University of Wisconsin Law School, I had no idea that, in the last months of my time as dean, we’d face something as challenging and all-encompassing as the events of this spring and summer.
But what I know about our Law School, after nine years, is that we’ll respond. We’ll recommit to our justice mission, to great law-in-action teaching and learning, to doing clinical and experiential work that supports underserved clients with passion, commitment, and excellence, and to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment that serves the needs of every member of our community. We will ask ourselves hard questions, and we’ll do what we need to do to get better. With Dan at the helm, I know we’ll be well guided in that work. And I know he will welcome your input and support going forward.
The deanship is a lot like a relay race; I’m honored to pass the baton to the next great leg of the team. To serve this Law School has been my privilege, and I look forward to seeing us grow, thrive, and get better in the years ahead.
What we do makes a difference. There’s no better example of that than our recent graduate, Bella Sobah. Tragically, Bella unexpectedly passed away shortly after her graduation in May; she had just started her new job as an assistant in the Dane County District Attorney’s office. Bella was a wonderful student and campus contributor, a member of BLSA, the Law School, the campus, and the Madison community. We grieve her at the Law School and join her family and friends in mourning her. You can learn more about Bella on our In Memoriam. Her loss is a lesson to all of us: to use our time on earth to the fullest and to make the world better for others.