Archives for the month of: June, 2008

Monday, June 30, began with Pilates as usual. Later that morning there was a reception to honor outgoing Chancellor John White and his wife, Libby (but I missed it while meeting with Teri Stafford and Dean Beard). Yikes!

At 11:30 a.m. one of my favorite folks came over (those of you who follow the blog have seen him repeatedly) Mike Johnson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities. Jay Huneycutt, Director of Planning and Capital Programming at Facilities Management, joined us as well. Once a year they come over to walk around the building and to discuss problems or issues of maintenance of the building and grounds. We walked around the building and I pointed out a number of concerns I have, particularly in light of the upcoming building dedication. Mike was very gracious in promising to work with me to get a number of these issues resolved, as well as to perhaps put in some new landscaping, particularly on the Maple Street side of the building. It is looking a little bit decrepit, particularly in contrast with the new building. After the walk around, we went to have lunch at Taste of Thai and I had the Pad See Eu and Thai iced tea and that was really good, as usual. After lunch, I walked around the building to visit with my colleagues and to find out what was new with them.

At 4:00 p.m. I met with one of our alums, Lisa Kelley. She had expressed an interest in the academic support position that we’re thinking about. I think I’ve mentioned it before. As it turned out, we decided to be a little bit more deliberate in our approach to the position. Although it would be helpful to the students to fill it sooner rather than later, we thought it important to have more input from the faculty in terms of the duties and structure the position, so we decided to wait a little bit. In the meantime I very much appreciate Lisa coming in to talk with me about it on a hot summer day. Hopefully, we’ll have a better sense of our needs this fall.

The conference started at 9:00 a.m. with a welcome from John Harvey, the President of AALS and Dean at Boston College. He is a very gracious and warm person. Professor Mike Green gave a few introductory remarks as well, as the chair of the planning committee for the 2008 workshops for all three conferences: new law school teachers, new law school clinical teachers, and the workshop on the retention of minority law teachers.

The substantive program began at 9:15 a.m. with a plenary panel on “Promotion and Tenure: Getting to Yes.” The panelists were Dean Harvey, Tanya Hernandez of George Washington University, and Mark Niles of American University. They gave a lot of useful pointers to new law professors on how to avoid the pitfalls on the road towards tenure.

The next session was entitled, “Teaching: Strategies to Success.” The speakers were Adrienne Davis, Timothy Davis and Serena Williams. The panel description noted that are a few “born teachers” who are able to command the classroom and foster an environment that encourages student participation and trust without breaking a sweat. But for most of us, there are a variety of specific challenges to face in the classroom, particularly for minority and female colleagues. The three panel members talked about some of those challenges and shared their experiences, and ways that they’ve overcome classroom challenges to engage students.

The AALS sponsored that afternoon featured Blake Morant, Dean at Wake Forest University as the keynote speaker. He is one of the loveliest people in legal education. He gave a very inspiring and thoughtful talk about why it’s important for all of us to remain in academy. He reminded us of what our contributions could and should be to legal education and to society more broadly.

That afternoon I was on the panel with Prof. Leonard Baynes of St. John’s Law School. Our panel was entitled, “Service: Strategies to Success.” During our presentation, we talked about the fact that new faculty should be careful about being overwhelmed by their service commitments. We engaged in a role play in which I was the most unreasonable dean on the face of the earth, who was requiring Len, the young faculty member (who happened to be the only person of color) to take on way too many service obligations. Len’s response demonstrated how a new faculty member could gracefully shuck some of those commitments. We talked suggested that a new teacher who has been tapped repeatedly by the dean to the extent that it is endangering her scholarship, might have senior faculty members or the associate dean intervene. We also answered questions about the various types of service and how each might be valued. As with the other panelists we reminded everyone that all rules are local and it is important for ne faculty members to know their institution and their specific faculty’s view on all these issues.

The next panel entitled, “Scholarships: Strategies to Success” was presented by Mechele Dickerson of the University of Texas and Xuan-Thao Nguyen from SMU. They gave a number of helpful tips on scholarship, specifically how to pick a topic, various types of research when to think about a scholarship agenda, how to start the writing process, what to do if you are stuck, when to circulate a draft, and what about SSRN. It was quite a thorough presentation.

One of the later sessions of the day was a small group discussion on scholarship which was very helpful, because attendees could raise issues that they really didn’t want to talk about in a plenary session. The senior faculty members were assigned to the various small groups to offer encouragement and advice. Afterwards, we gathered again for the final talk given by Dorothy Brown, “You Can Do This.” She was awesome and rocked the house, leaving all of us feeling empowered.

It was an honor to present during the conference. It’s important work, and just as important for the University of Arkansas to be visible encouraging new faculty members of color and to be visible on a national legal education programs.

Thursday evening, Professor Green invited me to attend the reception and dinner for the New Law Teachers Workshop which created a great opportunity to hang with two of our new faculty members, Professor Brian Gallini, and Professor Elizabeth Young. I met Brian in the lobby for a drink before the reception because he had a prior commitment that evening and couldn’t stay for the dinner. We were having a pleasant conversation when a very strange man walked up, and well, you’ll have to ask Professor Gallini what happened next. Let’s just say that he got things straightened our.

Brian and I took off then to find Elizabeth and the three of us attended the reception together. I was delighted to bump into one of my favoritest professors from Iowa, Jim Tomkovicz. He taught me Criminal Procedure, and that was a tall order. Seriously, I become fast friends with Jim and his family and even babysat for them while I was in school. Fortunately, Jim’s research area intersects with Elizabeth’s and Brian’s scholarship interests and he agreed to be a resource for them. Elizabeth, Jim and I sat together at the dinner and had a delightful time. It was the perfect ending to a long day.

Friday, I had an early flight to Houston, Texas where we were having our first law school reception at the Texas Bar meeting. We didn’t learn about this opportunity until a little bit late, so unfortunately we weren’t able to join the other law schools on Thursday night when they all had their receptions. Next year, though we’ll be there with the other law schools on Thursday evening. Fortunately, the Texas Bar Association was gracious enough to allow us to host a reception for our alums on Friday. Teri Stafford met me in Houston for our reception.

As usual on the way to the airport I visited with my cab driver. The topic of the day was the change from zone billing to metered fares. My driver, as you might imagine had very strong opinions about the change and felt it disadvantaged people who lived at the edges of the zones. Many of them he said, were working people who took a cab to work, but now most likely would not be able to afford it. It was, as always an interesting discussion, and the trip to the airport went by quickly.

The Texas Bar meeting was being held at the Hilton Americas in Houston and we had a little bit of time after arriving to gather our thoughts and freshen up before our reception that evening.

[I need to digress here to say that the Regional Director from my sorority Polly Sparks Turner (who I mentioned in an earlier blog posting because she came up to help the sorority celebrate it’s 10th anniversary of the chartering) lives in Houston, and when she learned I would be there she was amazing. She has a very good friend, Algenita Scott, who is very active in the National Bar Association which was having a reception the same evening. Thanks to Soror Polly, I was able to go from our law school reception the National Bar Association reception. Many thanks Soror Dr. Polly Sparks Turner for your thoughtfulness and for coming to our reception and for bringing Ms. Algenita Scott Davis, former president of the National Bar Association with you. What an honor to have them both as our guests. I also very much appreciate Algenita taking the time out of her busy day, prior to attending the National Bar Association reception, to come and meet me and to learn about the University of Arkansas.]

Teri and I were very excited about the U of A reception and we were delighted when a number of our alums attended including Mark Torian, Bob Middleton, Tina R. Green, Gary Holman, Cedrick Frazier and Charles Stewart. We gave them an update on the law school including the completion of the building, and also the upcoming academic and speakers programs, and ecouraged them to visit the law school. It was a wonderful, warm reception. Although we didn’t have as large a turnout as we would have liked, next year we’ll be visible with the other law schools. Then as people hop from reception to reception they’ll be able to stop in to learn more about the University of Arkansas. We’re looking forward to seeing many more of our alums. Also believe it or not, I ran into Rick and Clair Ramsay in the elevator. Rick is the outgoing President of the Arkansas Bar Association this year, and our alum. It was fun bumping into them at the Texas Bar meeting.

After leaving our reception, Soror Turner took me over to the National Bar Association reception. It was a fun event at which I was able to meet a number of lawyers, from around the country, who are active members of the National Bar Association. Although I am a long time member, I’ve never been to the annual meeting. Unfortunately, I had a conflict again this year again, I with SEALS, but I’m looking forward to attending in the future. In the meantime, it was just fun to hang out, to meet a number new folks, and to learn of upcoming the National Bar Association programs.

After that long week so it was time to head back to the hotel to get some rest. Saturday consisted of flying back to Northwest Arkansas and being grateful to be home.

Leaving for the Workshop on Retention of Minority Law Teachers, I ran into a number of folks who were headed to the National Conference for the Minority Lawyer including our alums, Ben Cormack and Sonya Dodson, and Sonya’s darling daughter, Parker. Sonya’s mom was also traveling with her to take care of Parker while Sonya was in meetings. Miguel Rivera and Myra McKenzie were on their way to the made conference. It was fun to visit with them at the airport before boarding my flight to AALS meeting.

As it turned out (per usual), my connecting flight was delayed so I ended up arriving in Washington, DC late, but also (per usual) I enjoyed a long talk with my cab driver upon leaving the airport. If you’ve followed the blog, you know that I tend to engage my cab drivers in conversations (or vice-versa). This time, the discussion centered on the issue of the upcoming presidential election and my driver’s thoughts about what was happening in the political arena. I have to tell you that it was a pretty lively and interesting chat. I will spare you the details, however.

That evening we met for a speaker review meeting during which we talked about what each of us would present the next day. Our meeting was chaired by Prof. Mike Green of Wake Forest who was also the conference chair (and my torts teacher at Iowa). After the speakers meeting, we all attended the opening reception, which was a fun event.

That evening a group of us went to dinner at an Indian restaurant called Little India. Yumm. I ordered a vegetarian platter. Blog followers know that I’m a big Indian food fan and there’s plenty of great Indian food in Washington, DC. The conference was held at the Marriott Wardman Park and fortunately for foodies like myself, there are a number of ethnic restaurants On Connecticut street including two Indian restaurants. My dinner companions were Prof. Len Baynes of St. John’s University Law School; Hazel Weiser, Executive Director of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT); Deb Post, President of SALT (Society of American Law Teachers); and Prof. Deleso Washington of Florida A&M.

I enjoyed having the opportunity to dine with them because I’d never met Hazel and she shared upcoming SALT initiatives. It’s always good too, to talk with and meet folks from across the academy who I don’t really know and who don’t teach in my area. Those conversations help me to learn of the issues that may be developing in legal education and to hear their thoughts. It’s also a great opportunity to share with them about the University of Arkansas. It was a lovely dinner and a good way to end the evening.

Tuesday, June 24, began with a meeting with Monika Szakasits. It was my last meeting with her in her role as Interim Director of the library because very soon Prof. Randall Thompson will join us to assume those duties. It was a great meeting, as always. Many, to Monika for all the hard work and long hours she’s put in to keep the library going during our search for a new director. She has been terrific to work with and has initiated a number of positive changes in the library while serving as Interim Director. It’s been terrific to work with her.

Later that afternoon Jane Archer visited the law school and took a tour with Teri Stafford and me. We enjoyed our visit with Jane. She is the granddaughter of Dean Waterman, and feels a strong connection to the law school. We are fortunate that she has an ongoing interest in the law school and its programs. Thanks Jane, for your continued support.

L to R: Jane Archer and Teri Stafford

After visiting with Jane, I met with Prof. Sheppard, Provost McMath, Dean Schwab of Arts and Sciences, and Dean Suzanne McCray of the Honors College about one of our adjunct professors, Henry McLeish. We met to

Dean Schwab

Dean Schwab

discuss how we might more creatively make the most of Henry’s visit to the campus each year. Henry brings a wealth of experience in EU law to the classroom and teaches in both the law school and the College of Arts and Sciences. (See the March 26th posting for more about Henry). Teri Stafford and I later had our weekly development meeting. Later that evening I worked out at Curves, and it felt great.

After the workout it was time to prepare for the trip to Washington, DC, to attend the AALS Retention of Minority Law Teachers Workshop and the opening of the AALS New Teachers Workshop. From there I would head to Houston for our first alumni reception at the Texas Bar Association Annual meeting.

Monday I didn’t have any of meetings, so I had time to catch up on correspondence and to return phone calls after having been out of the office for the trip to Texarkana. Monday evening I had a bittersweet social engagement, dinner with Professor Stan Adelman. Professor Adelman had been an adjunct and member of the law school community for many years. His expertise is in the area of criminal law, particularly bail to jail, post-conviction remedies and the penal system. Our students benefitted from the fact that he brought many years of practical experience to the classroom. We will certainly miss him. He is leaving us to pursue a wonderful opportunity to teach full-time at the University of Albany Law School.

Also, though it was a quiet day I have to give a special shout out to Dean Lonnie Beard whose 60th birthday is the 23rd of June. Fortunately for him, he was on vacation so didn’t have to endure any of our ribbing and teasing. Happy Birthday Dean Beard!

10 Years of Sisterhood: Phi Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Sunday started off with church as usual at 8:30 a.m. at Good Shepherd Lutheran followed by breakfast with the breakfast bunch. I finally remembered to take my camera and get some pictures of them, though not everyone was there. As a rule, we tend to eat at one of several places and that morning it was Sunset Grill, a wonderful family owned restaurant on 412 in Springdale. If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you know that my friend Dean Jim Chen University of Louisville Law School, had breakfast there, with us.

Sunday afternoon I attended a very special event. As many of you know, I am a member of the Phi Alpha Omega graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Our chapter was chartered in 1998 making this our 10 year anniversary. When we were chartered, there were 15 members and we have more 50 members of the chapter. Our sorors planned an anniversary event to celebrate the chartering and to honor the chartering members. It was a lovely affair that was held at Compton Gardens in Bentonville, a beautiful setting that also hosts the Benton County bar meetings.

It was wonderful to see again a number of the chartering members who we hadn’t in a long time. We were all gathered together and the South Central Regional Director for the sorority, at the time the chapter was chartered, flew in to join us from the Houston, Texas area. It was wonderful to be with her again too. Her name is Dr. Polly Sparks-Turner. She is an amazing, warm, accomplished woman. A pharmacist by training, she has endowed a scholarship in her name. The scholarship, the Dr. Paulie Sparks Turner Endowed Scholarship, is given to an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in the allied health profession. Those of us who were chartering members of the chapter have very strong, warm feelings for Dr. Turner. Though she has faced many challenges since we came to know and love her, including the storms that swept through Houston, and health challenges, she has weathered it all with dignity and grace. Soror Polly is a terrific lady; a wonderful role model, a warm friend, and a kind sister. It was wonderful to welcome her back to Northwest Arkansas.

The program was terrific. Dr. Margaret Clark, an Emeritus Prof. of the University of Arkansas, and Phi Alpha Omega’s first President, talked about how we came to charter the chapter. She shared our arduous route to the chapter’s chartering and how we celebrated on that day. She also highlighted some of the many programs of Phi Alpha Omega over the years. Soror Margaret is a Golden Soror, which means she’s been a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha for 50 years.

Soror Elecia Smith, another founding member us towards to move gracefully towards the future and reminded us what true sisterhood is all about. Soror Stacie Lambey graced us with a wonderful solo. There was a great deal of warmth and love in the room. Thanks very much to the program planners, in particular Soror Nikkela Tucker. For the foodies out there, both a wonderfully prepared and beautiful spread of hors d’oeuvres. We very much enjoyed the sisterhood, the program and the meal. Thanks again to my sorors of Phi Alpha Omega. It was a wonderful celebration of 10 years of sisterhood and love in Northwest Arkansas. I’m looking forward to what the chapter will achieve in the next 10 years. I know we will continue to serve Northwest Arkansas. What a full day and a blessed one.

The Saturday morning program was the official celebration which was billed as “The Saturday Hunt Event” at the Silas Hunt CDC.  In addition to those who had attended the reception the evening before, including Stephanie Flowers, there were a number new faces in the crowd on Saturday.  I was tickled to meet another of our law school alums, Garland Yarber.

L to R: Carlton Jones, Dean Nance, and Garland Yarber

L to R: Carlton Jones, Dean Nance, and Garland Yarber

Garland is in solo practice and family law and has represented the Army for 20 years.  In 1986, as a law student, he was awarded a Silas Hunt Award for leadership. Carlton Jones, also our alum and a prosecutor also came out to meet us and to celebrate Silas Hunt.

L to R: Dean Nance and Stephanie Flowers

L to R: Dean Nance and Stephanie Flowers

We were honored that several board members of the Silas Hunt Community Development Center attended the event as well.  After Precious welcomed everyone and gave a few opening remarks, Chris Erwin and I both gave formal remarks, bringing greetings from the University of Arkansas and recognizing the importance of this event for the University of Arkansas and the State of Arkansas.  Representative Flowers spoke about her dad’s involvement with Silas Hunt and how important his memory was to her personally. The programs concluded with a recognition of “friends of the Silas Hunt Community Development Center,” and members of the board. It was a memorable event.

Then it was time for Chris and I to head back to Fayetteville because that evening we both had special events to attend (more on that later).  We stopped in Mena, Arkansas for lunch at a really terrific barbeque restaurant, Branding Iron BBQ & Steakhouse.  All the while we had been driving North back to Fayetteville, I tried to reach Jake Looney, the former Dean of the Law School and a really good friend who is now a Judge in Mena, Arkansas.  The only number I had for him, it turned out, was for his farm house, so I wasn’t able to reach him.  I would have loved to seen him and to have him join us for lunch.  The meal was great, both in terms of quality and quantity. The well seasoned meat just fell off the bone.  If you are a barbeque fan, I recommend it if you find yourself headed down 71 South through Mena. The service was fantastic and warm.  What a meal.  Chris and I laughed about driving back the rest of the way because we had such a fantastic meal and it was going to be a challenge to stay awake but we were good company for each other, and enjoyed a pleasant trip home.

Once I got back to Fayetteville, I rushed into the house and changed into jeans to go to an informal, but wonderful and warm gathering in honor of Dean Dan Worrell’s 60th birthday. His wife, Diane, cooked a fabulous Mexican spread (as if I needed to eat again, I know).  It was terrific as were the margaritas. Of course after such a long week, I had no choice other than to enjoy.  Seriously, it was a wonderful event.  I got to meet Dean Worrell’s mom and to be part of a small gathering of friends (sorry no pictures).  It was a very pleasant way to relax after a long, eventful week.

Happy Birthday to Jacque Dunn, Senior Library Assistant!

After checking in that morning, I headed down to Texarkana, Texas with Chris Erwin from the School of Continuing Education & Academic Outreach. We left early because we wanted to have plenty of time to get there. We were going to an event at the Silas Hunt Community Development Center celebrating the fact that the School of Law had awarded a post humus degree to Silas Hunt this year on the 60th anniversary year of his admission to law school.

Chris and I arrived at the Courtyard Marriott hotel and had just enough time to spruce up before heading to the community center. On the way to the community center, Chris drove through Texarkana a little bit and we stopped at the state line. The court house there, for those who don’t know, straddles the Texas and the Arkansas border there in Texarkana. We took a few pictures before continuing on to the center.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a small group who had gathered at the Silas Hunt Community Development Center, including Janis Kearney. You may know about Janis’ amazing life. She was born in Gould, Arkansas as the 14th of 19 children born into a sharecropping family. She has written an autobiography of her life entitled Cotton Fields of Dreams. Though I haven’t read it yet, it’s on my “to read” list. Janis published the historic Arkansas State Press for a number of years and later joined President Clinton’s administration as his diarist. The Arkansas Alumni Association awarded her a distinguished alumni award from the University of Arkansas Alumni Association in 2006. Janis is truly an amazing person, and she’s warm and gracious on top of it all.

Among the many other attendees were some Arkansas alums, Carlton Jones who was a 1988 University of Arkansas Law School grad and an ‘85 undergraduate graduate of the University of Arkansas along with Imogene Scott who is also an alum of the University of Arkansas, and a classmate of Silas Hunt. It was a very wonderful, warm and welcoming group joined later by Stephanie Flowers who was there to commemorate the fact that as a result of legislation she sponsored in the legislature, February 2 is now Silas Hunt Day in the state of Arkansas. Representative Flowers’ dad was Harold Flowers, civil rights leader and lawyer for whom Arkansas’ National Bar Association Chapter Affiliate in Arkansas is named.

After we visited briefly, Precious Williams, Director of the Silas Hunt Community Center gave a few welcoming remarks which were followed by brief remarks from Chris Erwin and me. Afterwards the end of the program, there were munchies for everyone to enjoy. Chris and I went from there to dinner at the Red Lobster restaurant next to the hotel. It was really a fun dinner. We had a blast, then returned to the hotel to turn in early because the program was to start early Saturday.

Happy Birthday to Jan Ingram, a member of our staff who is our travel czarina.  We hope she had a wonderful birthday!

This was the day to speak at the Rotary Club, so that morning again, I pulled together the notes I’d put together for that speech and got over to the Rotary at 11:30 a.m.  I talked about some of the developments in legal education that I’ve blogged about before. I also talked about the Carnegie Report and Best Practices and how the law school is engaged in its own strategic planning process.  I shared with the Rotarians how the programs and courses offered by the law school address some of the concerns of Best Practices and the Carnegie Report including our extensive clinical program, our pro bono program, the skills competitions, our legal writing program, and the fact that we are looking again at restructuring our upper level writing requirement.  They were very interested and asked a number of questions including the progress of the courtyard, the number of students we have, what the class looked like in terms of diversity, whether they tended to be in state or out of state, and about new faculty members, so it was a very engaged and lively audience.  Thanks very much to Prof. Brill for inviting me to speak to the Rotarians.  There were a number of our alums there who are members of Rotary and it was great to interact with them.  When I got there, rather than going up to sit at the speaker’s table, I actually sat in the back with our alums who were pretty rowdy back there, and that included John Threet, the local Washington County Prosecutor, and Judge Kim Smith.

After speaking to the Rotary Club, I had a conference call with the Arkansas Code Revision Commission.  That lasted about an hour, after which, there was a going away party for Stan Adelman, but because I had to prepare to go to Texarkana first thing in the morning the next day, I didn’t make the party.  I knew I’d have dinner with Stan the next Monday and so I begged his forgiveness for missing his party. I hated that I missed it because I heard it was quite a fun time with a pretty big band and lots of dancing and food and a good time was had by all.

On the 18th of June I worked in the morning on a speech for rotary. I was invited to speak to the Fayetteville Rotary Club on the next day at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, so I wanted to make sure to be thoughtful about the remarks I shared with them.

At 11:00 a.m. I met with Prof. Flaccus and I want to say a special thanks here to Prof. Flaccus. She has worked tirelessly around the plants and the courtyard garden. The beautiful plants that you see in the courtyard are her work, along with Dr. Michael Hollomon and Prof. Ann Killenbeck. They are in charge of both designing and then overseeing the work of planting those and making sure that we have the very best plants in to honor the life and legacy of Dean Richard Atkinson. She and I had a meeting about some plants we had received that were not very successful and also about our ivy in the front and what we might do to both fill in the empty spaces there and the ivy that was receiving too much sun along the driveway that leads up to the entrance to the courtyard. That was a great meeting. I got the chance to walk around with her and visit with her around the various plantings and what was left to be done. And thanks to her for her very diligent work (all her own time and in many cases her donations) to fill in spots in the garden and to try new plants to make sure they would be successful. The garden is coming together very, very nicely and I think those of you who are not in the area will be very, very pleased with her work when you see it.

That afternoon I had lunch with Dr. Margaret Clark who retired from the College of Education and is a Sorority Sister with whom I’ve traveled abroad. We ate at Joe’s Bistro, which is in the Fiesta Square Shopping Center. I have to say foodies, this is not particularly highly recommended on my list of places to eat. The food was sort of adequate, but not particularly interesting. Go try it and see what you think.

After lunch with Dr. Clark, I came back and met with our Director of Career Services, Susan Schell. She talked about her plans for improving the Office of Career Services’ programs during the coming year. She will be creating an advisory committee of students to work with her around those efforts and has some ideas about bringing in smaller law firms and also programming around career opportunities that are available. Stay tuned for those new programs and services.