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Penn Law community mourns passing of Matthew Parker L’00, Ed.D ‘15

November 07, 2016

Matthew Parker L’00, EdD’15, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Executive Director of Legal Education Programs at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, died Sunday, November 6. He was 43.

Matt was a beloved figure in the Penn Law community, known for his kindness, intelligence, humor, and generosity.

“Matt was a vital member of the Law School’s administration, a mentor to the students in our graduate programs, and a friend to everyone in the Penn Law community,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of Penn Law. “Through his vision and leadership he was instrumental in building programs that contribute to the educational vitality of this institution, programs which will benefit students and faculty alike for generations to come. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him; I consider myself fortunate to have known Matt.”

As head of the the Law School’s graduate programs, Matt oversaw the LLM, LLCM, and SJD programs, which bring talented, foreign-trained lawyers to Penn Law for further study. In addition, Matt led the Law School’s newest degree program, the Master in Law, which provides legal education to professionals in fields which intersect with the law, such as health care, finance, and technology. He also oversaw Penn Law’s growing legal education programs, including launching the Law School’s renowned high school program, on-site and off-site programs for lawyers around the world, and online courses and CLE.

Matt was a native of upstate New York and received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1995. He graduated cum laude from Penn Law in 2000 and, following his graduation, clerked for the Honorable Thomas N. O’Neill of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

After working as an associate at law firms in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Matt returned to Penn Law in 2005 to serve as Associate Director of Graduate and International Programs. In 2008, he was named Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs. In addition to his work at the Law School, he also earned his Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education in 2015.

“Matt began his career at Penn Law as a student and in the end taught us all so much about engagement and living a life of great meaning,” said Jo-Ann Verrier, Vice Dean for Administrative Services at the Law School. “Matt was a man of dedication: dedicated to his family, to the students he brought to Penn Law from around the world, to his colleagues here and throughout campus. Indeed, he was deeply dedicated to Penn Law, and we honor him and his family with our continued engagement in his meaningful work.”

Matt is survived by his wife and two children. Funeral and memorial arrangements will be announced in the coming days.

Penn Law has established the Matthew S. Parker LLM Student Fund in his honor, to provide emergency support for LLM students who experience difficulty while studying at Penn Law. Checks to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, noting the Matthew S. Parker fund, are also welcomed to The University of Pennsylvania Law School, 3501 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Those who wish to offer their remembrances of Matt may do so using our Remembering Matthew Parker form.

Comments from the Community

“Matt was so young. He deserved more from life. He touched everyones life whoever came in his contact in a very positive way. He was mentor to so many students esp. students like me who came for the first time in US. He was kind and very nice to everyone. We will never forget him. Its a very sad time to realise that he is no longer with us. RIP Matt. We will always love you.”

Aarti Crews LLM’12


“Matt was a mentor and a friend. His energy, enthusiasm, and positive attitude infected everything he did and those around him. Penn Law is richer for having experienced his tenure, as am I for having the great fortune of knowing him. He will be greatly missed.”

Andreas Kuersten L’14


“You were a true gentleman. Thanks for the hospitality and the beautiful memories.”

Akindeji Oyebode LLM ’11


“Matt is one of the persons who helped me most when I was studying at Penn. I still remember those difficult moments while I was seeking SJD, that every time I went to Matt’s office, knocked his door, sat at the chair in front of his desk and sought for help. I also remember the day to say goodbye to Matt before I graduated and left Philadelphia in Dec. 2014. I was totally unaware that was our last time to meet. I wish I could say thank you again to Matt in person. May Matt rest in peace.”

Chao-Tien Chang SJD’14, LLM’10


“It is unfortunate that we lost you so soon! You were always there for me during my time at Penn Law. Rest in Peace. I hope God give strength to your Family and Friends to cope with this loss.”

Shreya Tripathi Bhardwaj LLM ’10


“Very few people get to touch so many lives at such a critical moment like one’s education. One of those people for me was Matt. Matt believed in me and my work and made my graduate education possible not only by creating funding that didn’t already exist for me but also by being there as a perpetual source of support and cheering. I know that he knew this too but had it not been for him I would never have had the resources to pursue my masters and doctorate degrees at an Ivy League institution of the caliber of Penn Law. When education is a privilege people like Matt allowed some of us to believe in the materialization of dreams, social mobility, and academic inclusion. Matt, there aren’t enough words to thank you for your kindness, faith, generosity, and support throughout my 5 years at Penn Law. I was lucky enough to call you my friend. I hope all of us that you touched are able to return your blessings to your wife and children one day.”

Nadia Banteka LLM’12, SJD’16


“Matt you are beloved, kind, smart, generous, and most of all very funny!  I so enjoyed working for you, more a friend than a boss, and always willing to share your knowledge and a great story. You gave me great confidence that I could succeed. I learned so much from you, your loss is heartbreaking. With love to your entire family.”

Grace Wadell


“It is really hard to express the many ways with which Matt affected my career and my life. Matt gave me great advice as I was taking my first few steps in my journey in the US and my new legal career. I will always be indebted to this great gentleman. May his soul rest in peace.”

Jad Kazan LLM’12, L’14


“Thank you Matt for your kind assistance during my LLM program at Penn Law… Rest in Peace.”

Adetola Adeleye LLM’16


“I cannot believe it. Thank you for being there for all of us. You have been a great man! I will never forget your patience and friendly attitude. I wish I could have seen you before you are gone!”

Assel Nassimoldina LLM’10


“A great loss. Matt was an outstanding person, always approachable and nice. It’s difficult to pick one memory of him on my time at Penn. He will be greatly missed.”

Arnoldo Gutierrez LLM’10


“I am extremely saddened by this news. Matt provided tremendous help during my time at Penn Law as I was completing the SJD program. His assistance, encouragement and support truly made it all happen. Just a few months ago, he congratulated me at graduation and it is hard to believe that he is no longer with us anymore. My family and I will be praying for his family. He was such a kind hearted person who was always willing to help. I am thankful to have known him and he will always be in our hearts. Please rest in peace Matt.”

Seunghyun (Sally) Nam SJD’16


“Matt’s smiling face was the first thing I saw when I entered the courtyard on my introduction to the LLM back in ’09 and that memory will not fade. He provided an ear when needed and helped me through difficult times during my stay. He will be missed and I  think that even though the Penn community has lost a valuable figure, his tenure has left shoes very hard to fill and his legacy will live with all the students he touched.”

Alejandro Billinghurst LLM ’10


“I did not know Matt but I want to offer my sincere condolences to his wife and children and family and friends. He was much too young to be taken from you.”

Patricia Biswanger C’78, L’93


“While I didn’t know Matt well, he was always one to share a smile and a laugh. He had a very kind and gentle spirit and he was someone that I was always happy to see. I am not surprised that he came back to Penn Law and built his career helping others. That is something he always did as a law student. I remember his smart, thoughtful, and insightful comments from class. He seemed unafraid to interact with our professors, even as a 1L. He was clearly ahead of his time. I wish to express my deepest sympathies to his family and close friends. My thoughts are with you at this very sad time. I hope that his memory will be a blessing.”

Rachel Lasky Gerstein L’00


“An outstanding friend and a devoted Penn Law member. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends hoping for them nothing but a prompt resignation in the certainty that our beloved Matt is will not be forgotten. Thank you for your devotion, patience and kindness. We will miss you, Matt.”

Tomas Arankowsky LLM’08


“Matt was truly am amazing person. He had an infections sense of humor and was fiercely intelligent. It was an honor to get to work with him, and my heart goes out to the Parker family and entire Penn Law family.”

Beth McManus L’04


“My life as an LL.M. student started with an email from Matt. Then, during my first days in the Law School, his help was more than welcome. I am very grateful for his kindness.”

Maria Jose Lezana Illesca LLM’14


“Matt was such a joyful and wonderful presence at Penn Law. He will be sorely missed. Hugs to his family.”

Meredith Sherman (Calandra) L’09


“While I have not spoken with Matt since we graduated from the Law School in 2000, I have always felt, and still feel, a great connection with him. His joie de vivre and sense of inclusion of all was unmistakable. Always warm and friendly regardless of the situation. He was a scholar to the end and shared his love of learning with the thousands of students who walked the halls of 3400 Chestnut during his tenure. While I do now know his family, I understand he was, no surprise, a terrific husband and father. I know his legacy will live on through his loved ones, the Law School and his countless friends and colleagues. He is gone to soon, but made a mark that will live on for a long time to come.  We will miss you, Matt. God bless his family.”

Duane Holloway L’00


“You were always very kind and always ready to help and give back to others. You will be sorely missed. Thinking of you at this time of sorrow.”

Paul Lanois LLM’07


“Such sadness. All my thoughts go to Matt’s family, in particular to his wife Michelle and to their children who have respectively lost their husband/father far too soon, but also to the rest of his family. I was an LLM student in 2000, therefore graduating in the same year as Matt from Penn Law, and have memories of him. May he rest in peace.”

Christine Sales LLM’00


“It was really sad news that Matt passed away. I just graduated from Penn Law’s LLM program this summer and I attribute my great time at Penn Law largely to Matt’s efforts in making the program a warm family. I bothered him a lot, partly because I was the VP of the LLM program that year, but Matt was always nice and happy to answer any questions and do his best to meet LLM students’ demands. When he knew that I was applying to IR programs, he offered a reference which brought me to Oxford. Thanks to his kindness and generosity, I had a wonderful year at Penn Law and was able to further my study. Though I had expressed my gratitude to Matt on many occasions, I want to say thank-you once more to him and may he rest in peace.”

Yifan Zhou LLM’16


“He was a great man who give his time, advise and smile to all who needed it. He will be truly missed by us LLMs, and I will cherish his memories forever.”

Dede D. Nyeplu, II. LLM’13


“I am incredibly saddened to hear of Matt’s passing. When I was at Penn Law, Matt facilitated my study abroad at the University of Amsterdam. Even though Amsterdam wasn’t one of the official study abroad programs, Matt arranged it for me so I could be with my partner, who was working in the Netherlands at he time. Matt was such a friendly and kind person and I always enjoyed meeting with him. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Rachel Wechsler L’09


“We will dearly miss Matt, who was a passionate advocate and mentor for the international and graduate students under his watch as well as for the Penn Law community at large - he was a great listener and a true visionary who helped propel Penn Law into the 21st Century and beyond. Matt’s irrepressible and generous spirit will always inspire us.”

Stella Tsai, L’88


“So shocked to hear this news. Matt was a great person, very friendly, helpful and sincere. May his soul rest in peace and wishing his family peace and strength in this difficult time.”

Paddy Chinta LLM’00


“Matt cared deeply about how the LLM foreign lawyer candidates experienced Penn Law. He worked hard to make sure that their time in Philadelphia was spent not just studying but also being exposed to all that Philadelphia had to offer. I will miss his efforts to make sure that Penn Law LLM students had a superior experience inside and outside of the academic setting.”

Andrew S. Margolis C’84, L’87


“For a long time Matt has been an icon of Penn Law graduate programs. He always sought to do his duty in a way that was fair and acceptable to foreign students. I can only add to what has already been said, that his loss is one which it will be difficult to overcome. And I consider myself fortunate to have known Matt.”

Le Zhou, GL’11


“It was a honor to meet and work together with Matt. Matt had an enormous heart, he was there 100% for all his LLMs, not only during classes, but even afterwards. Four years after the program, Matt was still willing and able to help me raise funds for Ecuador’s Earthquake relief; helping not only an LL.M. alumni, but thousands of people he didn’t even know. Just because he could. The world really is a better place because Matt was here, now, Matt has inspired us to be more like him, and he will transcend in such a way, forever, if each of us is able to do the same in our own lives. Again, I am honored to try and continue this legacy of his.”

Pablo E. Bermeo LLM’ 11


“Thank you Matt for your kindness, generosity and support throughout our Penn Law days and after we graduated. Thank you for the fond memories during our Asia travel. You will truly be missed.”

Stephanie Chan LLM’11


I haven’t spoken to Matt in nearly 20 years - but we spent 1 year in China teaching English in rural Guangdong Province together after he graduated from Cornell. We were 2 hours from the nearest big city, so had to rely on each other for support and a little taste of Americaness. I will never forget his kindness and humor and optimism - I was glad to have known him, if only for that year. He will be missed - his students still remember him fondly.”

Terence Lau, UC Berkeley ’96


“You were loved by who those were privileged to be students of Penn Law LLM Program under your guidance.You will continue to be loved by us, though you have left this world. God bless your family.”
Tiancheng Wang LLM’12


“RIP Matt. He was a great man! I was enrolled at Penn’s LLM program in 2009-2010. I had some financial difficulty and Matt helped a lot with that. I just wanted to say that I cannot and will not forget that. Thank you Matt and thank you Penn Law!”
Rashid Aliyev LLM’10


“Matt contributed so much to the Penn Law community and helped shape the careers of a generation of young lawyers through the LLM and JD programs. He brought warmth, humor, and tremendous kindness to Penn Law. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Matthew S Erie L’08


“In honor and remembrance.”
Dr. Christopher Quandt LLM’01


“My thoughts are with the family. I will never forget our kids-talk at PLES 2011 Hamburg, where we discussed differences in education in Europe and the US together with Michelle. I wish a lot of strength to Michelle, Owen and Gwen.”
Lukas Jaroch LLM’06


“We will always remember Matt as the leading person to foster the diversity among the international LLM students, dedicating all his time, energy, knowledge and humor to his work. It was always an event to meet him when he was in Germany where besides his busy schedules he always found time to meet up with us Alumni. My thoughts are with his wife and children, and I hope they can find comfort in the knowledge that death is not the ultimate end.”
Dorothee von Einem LLM’09


“20 years ago, I taught English with Matt in rural Guangdong Province. During that year, he was a constant source of humor, kindness, intellectual curiosity and support. Although we haven’t had a chance to speak in many years, I’ve always held onto such great memories of the friendship we forged that year. That was his first year working with students, and it was clear how much he loved them and they loved him back. I’m so saddened to hear of his passing and wish his family comfort in knowing how many lives he touched.“
Amy Greenhouse Cornell ’96


“As an associate dean for graduate programs and international students, Matt was so kind and generous to international students of the Penn Law LL.M. program. I am sincerely feeling sorry for the Matt’s too early death, and ashamed that I have not yet been able to provide him anything in return. One of the events he kindly introduced during my time of the LL.M. was the pumpkin carving contest in October. Because of such event, I researched how to do a pumpkin carving and bought some tools for it, and, as a result, I got the “most creative” award together with 3 other Japanese classmates at the contest. Although many Japanese students tend to be too shy to actively participate in the class room discussion, I think Matt gave us a chance to do some active role in the pumpkin carving contest. After I got an email from Dean Ruger that Matt started hospice care in October, I was thinking of him and his great hospitality during I made a Jack-O-Lantern for this year’s Halloween together with my second son who was born in my graduate year of Penn Law (2008). Requiescat in pace.”
Yasunari Fuke LLM’08


“I have met Matt in 2005 when he just joined the PennLaw faculty from private practice. I have been in touch with him over the years and noted how much dedication he had for his job at Penn. I saw him last time in January 2016 during the PennLaw cocktail in NYC and hearing his speech I was amazed of how many progresses the LLM program did under his supervision. Matt will be sorely missed by the PennLaw community. I offer my deepest condolences to the family.”

Pietro Fontana LLM’06


“Thank you Matt. Rest in peace.”
Sho LLM’15

“It’s hard to forget someone, who gave us so much to remember. There is no one like you Matt. You had a wonderful blend of qualities that fit perfectly together. Thanks for sharing yourself with us. God bless and rest in peace.”
Michael Popko Penn Director Disbursements (and fellow Leadership@Penn cohort)


“I’ve always admired, and will always remember, Matt’s intelligence, his humor, and his incredible hard work and advocacy on behalf of our LLM students and alumni. I enjoyed working with him as a colleague and always felt a bond between us with our shared pathway that included stops in Ithaca for college, Philly for law school, stints in law practice, then a return back to our shared law school alma mater that we both cared for so deeply. I am so terribly saddened by this loss, and Penn Law and all of us in the Penn Law community will miss him very much. My thoughts are with his family and the many others in our community who had the pleasure of studying, working, or chatting with him over the years.”
Corey Ellen Fulton L’07 (and fmr Dir. of Alumni Relations at Penn Law)