Since joining the law school’s community in January 2012, I have been gratified to learn that the school’s reputation for having a strong network of supportive alumni and friends is well-earned. Your affinity for and connection to the law school is an asset to our students, our faculty and staff and to your fellow alumni. As a law school graduate, I know firsthand that the legal education experience is intellectually difficult and emotionally intense. Vanderbilt’s ability to maintain its collegial community without sacrificing its rigorous preparation is a cherished achievement.
Among numerous alumni events this winter and spring, two stand out as great examples of Vanderbilt’s tight-knit community of alumni and friends.
More than 200 of you came to the law school January 19 to celebrate the life of Professor Don Hall at his memorial Blackacre. Perry Brandt ’77 (BA ’74), Robb Hough ’79 and Professor Bob Covington ’61 delivered hilarious and moving tributes, and guests came from all over the country to honor Professor Hall’s memory. In the months since his passing, dozens of admirers have made contributions to the Don Hall Scholarship, which was established in 2012 by members of the Class of 1979. Professor Hall was a fixture of the law school for 37 years, and the incredible range of former students and friends who joined us for the celebration speak to the powerful role he played in nurturing our culture.
At the Founders Dinner on April 12, our 2013 Distinguished Alumnus, Dick Aldrich ’75, and our 2013 Distinguished Service Award winner, Lee Cutcliff ’67, eloquently emphasized the positive impact of their friendships within the law school community on their lives and careers.
Dick credited three former Vanderbilt classmates—Mark Dalton, Michael Hammond and Conrad Roberts—for enriching his life with their friendship. In the early years of their careers, time was in short supply. “I could see Mark’s building from my office, but we never saw each other,” Dick recalled. The four classmates started an annual tradition—meeting for lunch at a very good restaurant—that continues today. Dick and his many Vanderbilt friends and colleagues have not only benefited from their shared relationship with the school; they also used their connections to spearhead the endowment of the New York Alumni Chancellor’s Chair in Law. That chair is held by Owen Jones, who directs the MacArthur Research Network in Law and Neuroscience, headquartered at Vanderbilt. Owen’s work has in turn significantly raised the international profile of the law school and the university.
In Lee’s remarks, he expressed gratitude for a lifetime of friendships from both his Vanderbilt undergraduate and law school days. His association with Vanderbilt continues to be meaningful to him. He met first-year student Christina Campbell ’15 through his service in the law school’s Admission Interview Program. Christina joined Lee’s family to see him honored with the Distinguished Service Award, demonstrating the tangible connection between a long-established alumnus and our current students. The commitment of alumni like Lee to the ongoing health of our law school has a powerful impact on our ability to attract students who will be the Lee Cutcliffs and Dick Aldriches of tomorrow, and to recruit faculty who aspire to match Professor Hall’s impact.
Several of you have helped us stay connected with each other and connect with prospective students by hosting events. I want to thank Justin Ishbia ’04 (Chicago), Minda Moor ’79 (Dallas), Mike Phifer ’83 (BA’79) (Houston), John Johnson ’82 (Birmingham), Arnold Weiss ’58 (BA’56) (Memphis) and Mark Schein ’91 (New York) for hosting alumni events in your cities.
There is no better way to convey the depth and breadth of the Vanderbilt Law community than meeting distinguished alumni face to face, and we are also grateful to Richard Hays ’86 and Robert Hays ’83 (Atlanta), Jennifer Redmond ’89 (San Francisco), David Lucey ’89 (Boston), David Gelfand ’87 (BA’84) (New York), Rita Powers ’90 (Chicago), Todd Overman ’02 (D.C.), Bass Berry & Sims (Nashville) and Dick Crane ‘64 (BA’61) (Los Angeles) for hosting well-attended receptions for admitted students in their cities.
This is a time when we need your gifts and your volunteer support more than ever. If you aren’t currently giving to the law school or volunteering with us, I hope you’ll consider doing both. I can assure you that you will find yourself among friends.
Assistant Dean for Development and Alumni Relations