All posts filed under: From the Dean

JoAnne Epps receives the Woman of Spirit Award from Women Against MS

Slow Down and Notice What’s Coloring Your World

I really am not sure what qualifies me to be standing before you today. There are so many more worthy honorees – people who have done much more than I have, who have made far more of a difference, whose accomplishments are far more worthy of recognition. So when Molly first called me about this, I said “Thank you, but no”. It didn’t take long, though, for me to change my mind and accept. Let me tell you why I first said no, and then said yes.

Moot Court Room Judges Bench

Making History and Making Progress, But More Work Remains to Be Done

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court made history recently when it appointed two African American women to the highest posts in the Philadelphia court system, formally known as the First Judicial District. The Honorable Sheila Woods-Skipper (LAW ‘83) and the Honorable Jacqueline Allen (LAW ‘79) became the Chair of the Administrative Governing Board and Administrative Judge for the Trial Division, respectively, for the First Judicial District. Together, they will lead a system with a $110 million annual budget and a 2,400-member workforce. This is a historic moment. Neither post has ever been filled by an African American or by a woman, despite the presence of many qualified candidates among the ranks of the judiciary. With these appointments, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has signaled its willingness to listen to African American leaders who have been calling for more diversity in leadership positions within the state judicial system. I commend the Court for listening to these concerns and for acting on them with such conviction, and I (like many others) hope the Court continues to make progress along this …

Spirit of Excellence Award Winners

We Are All An “Other”

When we think about diversity, we must ask ourselves what diversity really means and why we care about it. Diversity is not just “not a white male”. Those who are physically disabled can be seen, but are too often overlooked. Many of our differences, however, are hard to “see”. Those fighting depression, survivors of sexual assault, those who must decide every day whether to come out as LGBTQ, or a first generation college student who must balance gratitude against the crushing weight of expectations. These are people who offer valid perspectives – if we are open to receiving them. My point is that when you think about “other”, compared to the person next to us, we are all “an” “other”. We are all different. We are all, in some form or fashion, diverse.

Bryan Stevenson at Temple Law School

Bryan Stevenson and the Gift of Inspiration

Many days, we do our best to work hard, be of service to our friends and family, and, if we are fortunate, have some experience that nurtures and sustains us, giving us energy for our next day. Guests of Temple Law School were treated to such a gift when Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, recently visited The Law School. Those who attended this event were fortunate, indeed. Over the course of the evening, Bryan celebrated the best parts of humanity, encouraged us to re-commit to be our best selves, and reminded us why lawyers matter. Because lawyers do matter. First, it is important to note that Bryan is an extraordinary speaker. At Temple, we pride ourselves in recognizing and educating accomplished speechmakers. So we recognize a Stratavarius in the world of violins. Bryan is a Stratavarius. The content of his message is compelling and important, made all the more remarkable because of its delivery. He is a gifted speaker, both in content and delivery. But let me turn to his content. …

Law Students at Orientation

Just Starting Law School? Here’s My Advice

Not only did I feel overwhelmed when I started law school, but I didn’t even know what to do about that. Luckily, I’m now in a position to help you escape, if not survive with, those feelings. The bad news: these are not emotions that go away quickly. The good news: they are totally normal, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Trust me. Here’s how you get there.


Food for Thought

Monday was a very special day at Temple Law School. Esteemed lawyer Floyd Abrams delivered the Arlin and Neysa Adams lecture in constitutional law. Our thanks first goes to Judge and Mrs. Adams for endowing this lecture series, which has brought many distinguished speakers to the law school. Floyd Abrams is a partner and member of the executive committee of Cahill Gordon and Reindel. He has argued numerous cases, successfully, in front of the United States Supreme Court, is the author of two books on the First Amendment, and has received honors too numerous to list here. Mr. Abrams focused his speech on First Amendment issues still outstanding, and addressed First Amendment issues still lingering on America’s college and university campuses. As a passionate supporter of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech, Mr. Abrams expressed concern about intolerance on college campuses.  He offered observations of historical and recent cases (including Citizens United), and talked about recent events in this nation (including the fraternity chant at the University of Oklahoma) that have severely tested our tolerance …

JoAnne with Bob Casey

Living Eulogies on the Senate Floor

Last Monday was a once-in-a-lifetime day for me. I spent the day in D.C., being honored on the Senate floor by Senator Bob Casey as part of a Black History Month tribute. It was an honor to be recognized by Senator Casey and by the presence of my Temple colleagues. In particular, President Theobald offered very warm and complimentary comments about my contributions to the University. All of the compliments did not take away from the eerie sense that I was listening to my eulogy, which was both surreal (am I dying?) and welcomed (I’m really gratified to know that the time I spent meant something). In the end, though, I was proud for Temple. Most of us don’t get the chance to hear our own eulogies, especially with friends and family assembled from such a wide range of venues. It was, and there really is no other word for it, magical. It re-doubled my commitment to be a good and kind person, which I remind myself means slowing down to be present in each …


First Introductions, Second Chances, and a City on the Move

I was honored to be among the hundreds of people attending the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Mayoral address. It’s not my usual venue. There were way more pure “business” types than lawyers, but there was a comforting presence of many Temple Law grads whose work makes this a worthwhile destination for them. David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation, stopped by our Temple table, where I was seated, to introduce us to Sharon Roy, a Temple freshman who was one of two Comcast Gus Amsterdam scholarship recipients. Ms. Roy, whose 19th birthday coincided with this luncheon, is a graduate of Girls’ High, and an aspiring physician’s assistant. Mayor Michael Nutter, who reminded the audience that this is his final address to the Chamber, spoke of the accomplishments of his administration and the work left to do. Among the highlights are a decline in violent crimes, a record number of new business ventures and peace with the City’s labor unions. Left undone are school funding and breaking the cycle of violence among young men …


Advocacy and the Rule of Law

As you know if you follow this blog, I have been in Beijing marking the 15th anniversary of the Beasley School of Law’s Rule of Law program in China. I’ve posted some thoughts about that event here, and even though the commencement exercises have concluded I find myself still thinking about some of the ideas they have inspired. In particular, I find my thoughts returning to the rule of law as the organizing principle for our American system of values, and to the role of advocacy in making that system work. I think that the best way to illuminate how advocacy makes our system work is to look at those times when the system has failed us. Take, for example, the era of Jim Crow in the American South. In last month’s Kolsby Lecture, Chilton Davis Varner shared some powerful reflections on how the law became a tool for dehumanization and political oppression during that time. Sanctioned inequality under the guise of “separate but equal” delegitimized the rule of law itself. One result, according to …

Beijing at Night

Greetings from Beijing

Greetings from Beijing, where it’s been my great privilege to attend commencement exercises marking the 15th anniversary of Temple Law School’s Rule of Law program in China. I could not be more proud of what Temple has accomplished through this program. Since its founding in 1999, the Temple Rule of Law program has educated a total of 1,281 legal professionals. Nearly two-thirds of these participants have been from the public sector. That figure includes 384 judges, 163 prosecutors, 115 government officials, 162 law professors, and 46 NGO legal staff. Temple’s LL.M. Program in Beijing, which was the first foreign cooperative law degree program in China, also remains unique: Many entities operate legal education programs in China, but to date, there is no China-sanctioned degree-granting program similar to Temple Law’s. All of this came from one idea. My predecessor, former Dean Bob Reinstein, and former Temple President Peter Liacouras, foresaw the emergence of China as a global force. Dean Reinstein recognized an opportunity to contribute to the shaping of Chinese legal culture by offering training in …