Arizona State University President
Michael M. Crow presents a
turned-wood vase to Patricia D. White,
outgoing dean of the Sandra Day
O'Connor College of Law,
at the 40th Annual Law Society
Dinner on Tuesday, April 1, held at
A scholarship fund, planned to be the largest at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, has been established in honor of Patricia White, who is stepping down to return to teaching after nearly a decade as dean of the College.
The fund, established by the Law Society of Arizona State University, was announced at the 40th Annual Law Society Dinner, held at the College on Tuesday, April 1, and attended by nearly 100 members of the legal community, as well as White's family and friends.
White called the fund extraordinary.
"It was a great privilege to be dean," White said, and thanked her family for making enormous personal sacrifices in their lives to allow her to do the job.
"I want to express my sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of you."
Law Society President Timothy J. Burke praised White's leadership of the College and cited many of her achievements, which include doubling the budget and the faculty, creating a stronger and more diverse student body, improving specialty programs like the Indian Legal Program and the Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology, creating a vastly broader curriculum including new interdisciplinary programs in philosophy, psychology, international law and real estate, supporting a wide array of opportunities for practical experience and pro bono work, and increasing annual giving from less than $50,000 to nearly $3 million annually.
Many say White's crowning achievement is the renaming of the College in 2006 for retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
ASU President Michael M. Crow said White has helped build a law school that makes him proud.
"The trajectory the law school is on is fantastic," he said.
Crow said White has hired faculty who are significant intellectuals and contribute to academic literature and intellectual discourse, that she has been one of the most significant fighters within the institution for access and has achieved a significant level of diversity in the faculty and students of the College, and that she has promoted programs that demonstrate a strong commitment to public service by increasing legal aid clinics and engaging faculty and students in the spirit of public service.
"As we go forward in what lies ahead for ASU and for the school, we're doing that on the basis of what Trish has in her inner core -- intellectual engagement, intellectual grounding and public service.
"I thank you, Trish, for having instilled that into the core genetic material of this law school."
Crow said that the achievements of the College are impressive, particularly because of its relative youth, seating its first class in 1967.
"We're only 40 or so years into this, and Trish has been dean for a quarter of that time," Crow said. "That makes us among the younger of well-known law schools in the country.
"How long does it take to build a world-class law school? Those that have attainted that kind of status have been at it for a very long period of time. We're just at the end of the start-up phase."
Crow said that, when the American Bar Association began accrediting law schools in 1923, there were 39 charter members.
"Of the top 50 or so law schools, of which we are one, only four were accredited by the ABA after 1968," Crow said. "Only four. All the others were accredited mostly in the 1920s, a few in the 1930s, and the University of California at Los Angeles in 1950.
"We were accredited, along with George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.), the University of California at Davis, and Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah), after 1968. In the business of law schools, in the way that we look at law schools, we are a newbie law school with a fantastic trajectory."
Crow said that only 73 of the 196 accredited law schools in the United States are public institutions, and that very few have the commitment to egalitarianism, access and democratic principals in the way that ASU does.
"When this city of four million is seven million and the state is 10 million, in this complex place that will eventually evolve on a scale equal to Chicago or London, what will the great public university law school in that city of seven million people be?
"I think it has to be at the center of where that city is going, at the center of these core objectives we're building for this university around what we call excellence," Crow said.
"Trish has laid the foundation for us to be able to build on the base we have. The next dean will have to take it to the next level from our already significant level of achievement."
Booker T. Evans, a shareholder with Greenberg Traurig and longtime member of the Law Society, thanked White for allowing him and other lawyers to connect with students.
"I'd never met a lawyer before I went to law school, and I thought it was an experience students should have," Evans said. "And I want to thank you for your intense attention to the service element of the practice of law."
Paul Eckstein, a partner at Perkins Coie Brown & Bain, told of his "interview" with White for dean in 1998, when they ate Chinese take-out and watched the NCAA finals in which the University of Utah, where White was teaching at the time, met the University of Kentucky, in which Eckstein said he "literally" was invested. Kentucky won, and White was hired.
"Trish has been everything we could want in a dean," Eckstein. "She has been inspired in every task she has undertaken. It's one thing to be inspired, it's another thing to be inspiring to get others to buy into your vision.
"She leaves huge shoes to fill."
Ruth V. McGregor, Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court and a 1974 graduate of the College, said the college came into the 21st century when White became its first woman dean and that White has been a superb leader.
"We did not truly understand how much we would benefit from Trish as dean," McGregor said.
McGregor said White's perseverance and her personal quality of appreciating others allowed her to achieve great things at the College, including upgraded physical facilities, higher level of faculty scholarship, an improved level of giving and the renaming of the school for O'Connor.
"She saw the honor it would bring to this great Arizonan and the honor it would bring to this College and this university."