A Message from the Dean
Pandemic Proofing
A Campus Crossroad
Five All-Stars 40 and Under
Berger Recalls Early Role in Space Program
The Brief
Graduation/Reunion
Faculty News & Publications
Philanthropy
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam
Case Closed
 
A Message from the Dean  

Michael A. Fitts  
MICHAEL A. FITTS
Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law
 
To the Penn Law Community:
I AM OFTEN REMINDED when I read or watch the news how much of a role the law plays in virtually all of our most pressing issues. But I am also aware that no one discipline holds a monopoly on ideas nor contains all the answers. In today’s world, where problems cross borders and defy predictable silos, it is incumbent upon us to widen our scope of vision if we are to solve our problems, whether they be diplomatic, economic, or scientific.

As it turns out, one such problem presents grave challenges to our resources and ingenuity, but opportunities as well. I refer to the rising threat of pandemics. Last year at this time, concerns about bird flu riddled the news. Policy-makers, abetted by the media, worried about a vaccine shortage, and America's lack of preparedness. Although such talk has receded, overshadowed by more disquieting developments around the world, I suspect it is premature to dismiss these potential perils. Better to put a protocol in place, should the threat re-materialize. This is exactly what Penn Law professor Eric Feldman and a team of bioethicists, doctors and public health experts are intent on doing, as documented in our cover story. Feldman and company will soon embark on a project of incredible dimensions. Their goal is to develop an equitable system of development and distribution that could decrease episodes of communicable disease in the developing world and, best case, control future epidemics.

Suffice to say, this interdisciplinary effort involving other parts of Penn, scholars from Columbia and the University of Tokyo shines a spotlight on your law school. We are in position to clarify a multitude of issues and create a battle plan for leaders and health organizations involved in the fight against pandemics. Of course, this is but one example of the important interdisciplinary work going on every day at the Law School on subjects as diverse as international tax inequities, the implications of the information revolution on health care, and the effect of international tribunals on the policies of sovereign states.

The benefits of this interdisciplinary culture can be seen as well among our students, increasing numbers of which take classes with students from other schools on campus. As you will read in our story titled “A Campus Crossroad,” infusing different points of view leads to stimulating discussion and perhaps attracts a range of excellent students to law school.

Speaking of interesting backgrounds, this issue would not be complete without stories about alumni; in this case, five inspiring (and aspiring) young alumni. Each shows what one can do with a law degree; each exhibits an astonishing level of accomplishment at a relatively early stage in their careers; and each leaves me feeling that the world is in good hands.