I can hardly believe that on May 16, I will leave the Law Tower for the last time. I can still remember that sunny day in July, 1987, when I walked through the tower doors to begin this incredible journey as Dean of Students. In my office, there was no computer, just a desk, chair, phone and file cabinets. Email had not been invented. I was nervous but excited. What would it be like? Would I connect with students? Would I be able to make their lives better? Was I actually ready to leave law practice? There were many challenges—class sizes of 430; not enough chairs in classrooms; no real community. And those elevators! But there was one constant—BU Law simply had the best students. As I settled into my new job, it quickly became clear that this school was the best fit for me. And I never looked back.
In reading the many notes and emails I have received from the BU community, I’ve had time to reflect on what these years have meant to me personally and professionally. Dean O’Rourke often says, “It’s about the people, not the building.” She is so right. The people at BU Law are amazing, especially our students and alumni. They and you are smart, creative, caring, involved, committed to service, funny, and resilient. It takes a special kind of person to come to, and thrive in, a “unique” concrete, vertical building where one day you wear a tank top and the next a winter coat, plus you may get stuck in an elevator. BU students “get” that it is about the people. I found I work best in an environment that values openness, tolerance, creativity, energy, and looking beyond where one went to college, or how much money he/she has. I can’t think of a place that better fits my philosophy and values.
I have a confession—I loved the academic side of law school. But I didn’t like the unhealthy “stuff” that went with it. I saw law school do a number on many students, robbing them of their sense of dignity and worth, and sometimes pitting one against the other to achieve a grade or class rank. I wanted to help create an environment where BU Law students could learn from a terrific faculty without the other stuff getting in the way. I also wanted to normalize asking for help. Lawyers and law students tend not to ask for help because they are used to excelling and working out problems by themselves. But there are times when we all get “stuck,” and need help. I have worked with many students who have severe depression or anxiety, or who struggle with alcohol or substance abuse. I’ve seen students who suffered losses, had a debilitating illness, or faced challenges related to a disablity. It is so important to reach out for professional help when you face these difficulties, and to know that there are people who will support you, and who can help you get unstuck. If I am remembered for anything, I hope it’s that I conveyed the value of reaching out for help.
You have taught me so much, and your courage and strength have helped me when I had tough times in my own life. I always felt like we had a true partnership, based on hard work, mutual respect, and caring. I owe Boston University, the law school, and especially the students and alumni, so much. Thank you for giving me the best years of my life.