Inauguration 2009

Inauguration 2009

Happy Birthday to Prof. Mary Beth Matthews!  That day was a very profound and moving day for me.  As you all might recall, it was the inauguration of our 44th President, President Barack Obama.  His inauguration holds great significance for me as a lawyer, as a person of color, and as someone who has championed equality and diversity.  It was an amazing day.  Many of us in the law school community came together to watch the inauguration in the Norma Lea Beasley entrance hall.  The inauguration itself was incredibly powerful and moving.  One of the most impressive things was the fact that even with all the people who were there, those many people, there were no disruptions, no discord, no arrests, just love, excitement and positive energy.  I think the most moving part to me was when President-Elect Obama walked down the stairs and the cameras showed his view of the scene, all the people of different races, colors, ages and gender gathered together to celebrate his inauguration.  It was a very personally powerful and moving experience to watch that moment along with the other members of the law school community.  It will always be a day that I will remember and treasure.

Scott Varady, University General Counsel and my very good friend, came over and joined us for a while to watch the inauguration.  He and I then retreated to my office to eat a hasty lunch of sandwiches from the coffee shop and to catch up a little bit.  Before I became Dean, we used to have lunch every month and now it just seems like our schedules don’t let us get together as much.  I know that Scott was as excited as I was about the occasion and it was really good to be with him on that very special day.

At 1:30 p.m. I attended the Council of Deans meeting.  We were joined by the officers of the Associated Student Government who talked about ways to work more closely with the academic deans.  They shared the results of a survey they’d done which gave us an idea of what some of the concerns of students.  They had clearly put a lot of thought and work into their presentation and the dialogue was very helpful to all who attended.  It was a very good meeting.


After that I returned to my office to finish preparing for my MLK presentation for the University community which was to be held in the courtroom.  I adopted the title, “Realizing the Dream by Embracing Change,” the theme of the Northwest Arkansas MLK Committee.  It was very important to me to give a speech on this particular day commemorating Martin Luther King’s birthday given the inauguration earlier in the day, and the gamut of emotions I felt, including hope, excitement and pride.  We had a very good turnout and many thanks to everyone who came to hear me.  I frankly was surprised because I know a lot folks were glued to the t.v. watching the inaugural events, so I appreciated all those who came out to hear my brief remarks.

Afterwards, I went to dinner with Dean Collis Geren and his wife Lois at Bordinos.  It was Dean Geren’s treat because I had agreed to be the MLK speaker and we were joined by my good friend and cruise buddy, Carol Gattis.  We had a blast!  Carol and I got there early and toasted to our new President and were then joined by Dean and Dr. Lois Geren.  We had a fabulous and lively conversation.  Many thanks to Collis, both for the honor of being chosen as the campus-wide speaker, and for the lovely dinner with he and Lois.