Experiencing Change of Different Kinds

bu-law-graduatesJust four short weeks ago, I had the honor of celebrating commencement with hundreds of graduates and their families and friends. It was a day to recognize the effort and achievements of our students.

This joyful event represented a time of change, with our graduates preparing to move from the familiar environment of our law school into what can be an unfriendly world. As they embark on their next adventures, BU Law graduates will be called upon to use their newly minted lawyering skills to make the world a better, more just place.

This will require integrity and leadership driven by humility, restraint, and action in the service of principles bigger than ourselves. Through my commencement remarks, I hoped to leave our graduates with several calls to action. You can view all of our commencement speakers on the BU Law website.

I know that our newest alumni will change lives and lift the spirits of those around them. I can’t think of anyone who better exemplifies the ability to inspire others and make a difference than my dear friend and colleague, Professor Mark Pettit, who passed away on Friday, June 8 after a long and hard-fought battle with cancer.


Professor Pettit inspired thousands of students in his forty years of teaching at BU Law.

Professor Pettit lifted the hearts of many with his humor, love of teaching, and genuine care for the well-being of each and every one of his students and colleagues. His passing brings change that is very hard to accept right now.

Countless people, including me, consider Professor Pettit a role model, for his expertise, academic and professional experience, and leadership—to the legal field and to the University. His work was widely recognized, including, for example, by his receipt of the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1993, a Silver Shingle Award for Service to the School in 2001, and the Michael W. Melton Award for Excellence in Teaching during this year’s commencement ceremony.

Experiencing change can mean different things. As we mourn the loss of our beloved colleague and friend, we can seek to navigate this change by honoring Professor Pettit in all that we do. We can remember and adopt his attitude of compassion toward others, his commitment to sharing a deep knowledge of the law through teaching, and his approachability, modesty, and sense of humor that he shared with us each day.

We were incredibly fortunate to have him here with us at BU Law for more than 40 years. Please take a moment to read more about Professor Pettit here and sign our guestbook.

One Comment

Bill Lewis posted on June 21, 2018 at 7:36 am

I would like to add my name to the hundreds of others for the fine work that Dean O’Rourke has done over the years. She has made BU Law proud, and I am honored to be a graduate of such a fine, progressive law school. I had Paul Siskind for my first year contracts class in 1969-70, and it was the best class I had during my three years at BU. Those were big shoes to fill but by all measures, Dean O’Rourke did just that. I am glad to say I know her, and I wish her continued success in whatever her future endeavors may be.

Bill Lewis, Law 1972

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