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Law students, alumni honor dean
Law students, alumni honor dean
Patricia White, dean of the Sandra Day
O'Connor College of Law, is hugged
by a student at a celebration honoring
White as she returns to teaching after
nearly a decade as dean.
(Photo by Tim Trumble)
Patricia White, dean of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, was praised for her vision, tenacity and personal caring, at a celebration arranged by law students and alumni on Thursday, April 17, on the lawn in front of the Ross-Blakley Law Library.
White was honored as she returns to teaching after nearly a decade as dean.
Brent Roam, who will graduate in May, said that trying to lead a strong-willed law school faculty and a bunch of smart, budding law students is like herding cats, and thanked White for her toughness, tenacity, perseverance and her vision to make the law school a better place.
He recalled his first dean's session, a course designed to introduce incoming students to various aspects of a life in the law.
"She reminded us we were among the fortunate few in our society to enjoy the great benefit of a legal education," Roam said. "She warned us about the potential pitfalls we may encounter in law school, and she challenged us to accept the mantle of responsibility that comes with our vocation: namely that we are duty bound to bring justice, equity, fairness and peace into our communities and to the world at large."
Roam also thanked White for helping the class plan and construct the new Student Plaza, where students can have their names inscribed on bricks in a fundraising effort to benefit College of Law scholarships.
Kelly Singer, vice president of the College of Law Alumni Association, said he graduated in 1999, the year White arrived.
"For the three decades prior to her arrival, the College was searching for its identity," Singer said.
Since her arrival, the College has excelled in its J.D. program as well as creating areas of unique emphasis in Indian law and law and science, he said
"During her tenure, the school found that identity. She made the path for us and it is up to us to travel on it," he said.
Carolyn Williams, another third-year law student who will graduate in May, said the speakers, court sessions, and events the dean arranged gave Williams a sense of her own identity.
"I'm grateful for her support of our efforts with Moot Court, and the Arizona State Law Journal," Williams said. "I never heard her tell me no."
Carrie Thompson Jones, a second-year law student, said she was touched by White's personal interest and awareness of "an average student."
"A lot of law students were big fish in our own respective worlds and ponds," Thompson Jones said. "We think we're pretty special and should garner respect and praise.
"To my shock and horror, I learned how average and anonymous I could feel on the bell curve that includes the smart people you see here today."
Thompson Jones recalled approaching White after a large speech at the law school to tell White about her summer job.
"I realized I had failed to introduce myself, but she said, 'Carrie, that's so great. I'm so happy for you.'
"I no longer felt anonymous," Thompson Jones said. "The very simple, very personal act of calling me by my name made me feel like I was talking to an old friend.
"She takes an interest in each of us as individuals, beyond our cloaks of anonymity, self-imposed though they may be."
Thompson Jones added that through the renaming of the school for retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, White increased the value of the ASU College of Law credential.
"And she remembered me by my first name. Thank you, Trish."