Letter From the Dean

Return. Reflect. Reconnect.

I’d like to begin by thanking the many of you who returned to campus for our centennial celebration on October 10.

Dean Johnson and Baron Dean Johnson and Baron

More than 300 alumni, faculty, staff, and special guests packed Boley Law Library to celebrate our 100th anniversary as the Northwestern School of Law and the 50th anniversary of our merger with Lewis & Clark College. Reconnecting over local food and libation, we set the stage for the next century of success. Thank you for your continuing support of your school and excellence in legal education.

We have many reasons to celebrate:

Our students. In 1915, the Northwestern College of Law welcomed 55 students, including two women, Ida Ruth Gordon and Harriet E. Moore. In 2015, we welcomed 175 first-year students as our 100th class. Women comprise 51 percent of this class. In addition, 26 percent of the first-year students are ethnic minorities. Our first-years come from 39 states and attended 109 different undergraduate colleges and universities. Like their upper-division counterparts, these new students are bright, energetic, and eager to join the legal profession. They have diverse interests ranging from environmental law to intellectual property. Like their peers from 1915, our students continue to support each other and serve their communities. I am especially proud to report that last year our students performed more than 11,000 hours of pro bono and community service.

Our faculty. Our faculty remains among the finest in the country. We hold fast to the Lewis & Clark tradition of collegiality and excellence in teaching. First and foremost, we are teachers. We are continually refining our program to develop and adopt the best methods to educate our students as they join an ever-changing legal profession. In addition, part of the faculty’s educational mission is to engage in scholarship advocating law and policy reform. Often working in collaboration with our students, faculty members participate in scholarly forums and conferences and regularly publish in respected law journals throughout the country. As part of that same mission, you will often hear our faculty on radio and television news broadcasts explaining complex issues to the listening public.

Our alumni. In my first year as dean, I have enjoyed the great pleasure of meeting and reconnecting with many of our alums. I look forward to meeting with many more of you this coming year. I am continually amazed at the wonderful accomplishments of our alumni. Perhaps my favorite event last year was the McCarty Luncheon attended by graduates of 50 years or more. I loved the stories of the days when Northwestern was a downtown night school where many attended, but few graduated, given the rigors of the program and the tough standards of the faculty. Rest assured that today’s graduates face an equally demanding program that prepares them for the privilege of joining you as alumni.

We are grateful for your support as volunteers, mentors, and employers of our graduates. We also need and appreciate your financial support. This year we will launch a centennial fundraising campaign and look forward to engaging with you in a dialogue that listens to your stories that form both the fabric of our history and the framework for our future.

As we celebrate our 100th anniversary, we invite our alums to return to campus, to reflect upon their law school experience, and to reconnect with the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College. I am honored to serve as your dean as we look forward to the next 100 years!

Jennifer Johnson
Dean and Erskine Wood Sr. Professor of Law