Dean’s Message

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”

Winston Churchill

I write this letter from my office in Dineen Hall, where I am one of only three “essential” people still permitted in the building as a result of COVID-19 and the global public health crisis that has brought a swift end to residential learning this semester, closed the doors of Dineen Hall, and profoundly affected our lives and work.

Wherever they may be, like you, our always-resilient students, faculty, and staff are rising to the occasion and writing the stories we will read about for years to come.

Normally, spring is when we take time to appreciate in print our alumni and your stories. The Stories Book is our compendium of your fascinating achievements, your contributions to law and your communities, and your deep connections to your alma mater and one another.

This year our plan is no different. Because of COVID-19, however, our 2020 Stories Book must be an electronic edition, but rest assured, it is no less filled with inspiring histories and anecdotes.

The health crisis has led me to reflect about how much a law school education prepares us for leadership and management challenges, both predictable and unforeseen. In moments of crisis, that legal training comes to the fore and we have an opportunity to shine as leaders. It is serendipitous, then, that we chose leadership as a theme for this Stories Book—which also celebrates the College’s 125th anniversary this year.

In these pages, we profile four alumni whose path from law school has led them to the executive suite, where—in the words of one of them—“the drive, resilience, critical thinking, discipline, and time management that is demanded by legal studies” are indispensable. These profiles include that of 2020 Commencement speaker Joanna Geraghty L’97, whose consummate leadership skills are helping her pilot JetBlue—where she is President and COO—through these turbulent days.

In this edition, we also catch up with leaders in another field: literature. Communication is a key element of leadership, and the superior communications skills of these four alums have led them to publish critically acclaimed and best-selling works of both fiction and nonfiction. Starting with Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Strout L’82, our four writers examine how their law school careers influenced their life’s work.

Our quasquicentennial celebration continues with profiles of our first African American alumnus, William H. Johnson L’1903 and of the President and President-Elect of the New York State Bar Association, both proudly Orange. Sarah Shepp L’19 reflects on her family’s long history with the University and College, stretching back more than 100 years. And we meet two alums— John Elmore L’84 and Kevin Belbey L’16—whose connections to sports and the law have strengthened their community ties.

These are your stories. Let them inspire and warm you during these challenging times with the knowledge that across many industries—and in many communities around the world—there are Orange lawyers doing their best work and always making us proud.

Very truly yours,

Boise Signature

Craig M. Boise
Dean and Professor of Law