A Message from the Dean
Mission Iraq
Dealmakers
A 1L Odyssey, Part 2
Isabelle Johnston Bids Farewell
Gloria Watts, Beloved Registrar, Gets Big Send-Off
The Brief
Graduation / Reunion
The Board of Overseers
Faculty News & Publications
Philanthropy
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam
 
Isabelle Johnston Bids Farewell 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

He wrote, “Isabelle’s work in this office has been, in a word, indispensable. Her intelligence, intuition, judgment, and commitment to excellence underpin much of the work that is accomplished here. I, for one, simply could not have done my job without her.

“And Isabelle’s dedication,” Dean Fitts continued, “has accrued not only to my advantage and my predecessors, but also to the many faculty, staff, and students who have had the benefit of her wise counsel and institutional memory. Through her thoughtful advice and personal example, Isabelle has reminded all of us of our obligations to each other, and to the community.”

Isabelle took anything but a traditional route to Penn Law. She was in the convent when her mother got sick. Already planning a one-year leave of absence, Isabelle moved back home to care for her mother. In need of a job, she applied for secretarial positions at law firms. (She had been an attorney’s secretary for a year after high school.)

One day her cousin, who worked at Penn, encouraged her to apply for a job at the University. So she took a test, and what do you know, went on an interview and was offered a job the next day, as secretary to Bernard Wolfman, then a member of the faculty. When Professor Wolfman was named dean in 1970, she followed him, splitting duties with Rae DiBlasi, who had been assistant to Dean Jefferson Fordham.

Wolfman remembers his first encounter with Isabelle. When she arrived for the interview, he thought her an unlikely choice for the job, given her youth and lack of experience. But he was persuaded by her quiet confidence and evident interest in the position.
 
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