A Message from the Dean
A Woman's Place is on the Bench
African-Americans Reach Out to One Another in New Alumni Group
Witness to the New Frontier
The World According to Charles Hill
The Brief
The Board of Overseers
Faculty News & Publications
Philanthropy
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam
Case Closed
 
A Message From The Dean  

To the Penn Law Community:
MICHAEL A. FITTS
Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law

LAST SEPTEMBER I had the distinct pleasure to preside over one of the most memorable and heartwarming events in my five years as dean. We honored five extraordinary women (judges all) whose portraits now hang throughout this Law School in which they share provenance.

The honorees were Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch L44, Justice Yvonne Mokgoro GL90, Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz L77, Judge Norma L. Shapiro L51, and Judge Dolores K. Sloviter L56. All of these exceptional alumnae have helped to reshape the judiciary and the profession and made their alma mater ever so proud in the process. What made the proceedings especially moving was the evident esteem in which these distinguished alumna were held by the large number of alumni and friends in attendance and the judges ongoing connection to and love for Penn Law. Also striking was the clear message that resonated through the event merit matters.

For much too long, the legal profession shut its doors to women, relegating them to the most junior positions, if that. The jurists we honored refused to accept second-class status. With intelligence and dedication, each broke down barriers and forged remarkable careers in what had been a male-dominated profession. Our society is the beneficiary of their commitment.

These judges, whose stories form the spine of this issue, did not make it to the top alone, however. They drew strength from the example, for instance, of Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, who, in 1927, overcame even harsher tests to become the first African-American women to graduate from Penn Law School.

Sadie everybody knows her by her first name is a revered, almost sainted figure in the Law School. Our Black Law Students Association (BLSA) sponsors an annual conference in her memory, and there is an ongoing effort to raise money for a civil rights chair to honor Sadie and her husband, Raymond Pace Alexander. Joining that effort is the new Penn African-American Law Alumni Society (PAALAS), which will be a vehicle for fund-raising and social activities. In this issue, we introduce this new and vital group and feature stories of five African-American alumni whom all of us would do well to emulate.

We feature as well two men who have been near the center of power in Washington. Myer (Mike) Feldman W35, L38 served as deputy special counsel to President Kennedy and special counsel to President Johnson. His story makes for fascinating reading, as does the rendering of Charles Hills L60 life. Hill was an aide to foreign policy lions, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. Today he holds forth on international policy at Yale, dispensing his wisdom to a new generation of students eager to lead the world. And to think that he, like the other alumni featured in these pages, received his legal training at Penn. Now thats a portrait in excellence.