Dean’s Message

Dean Craig M. Boise

“The time is always right to do what is right” —Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

When Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 was sworn in as President of the United States, it was a moment of immense pride for Syracuse University and the College of Law. At 11 a.m. on Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden became Syracuse University’s first alumnus to reach the highest public office in the United States and only the seventh US president to graduate from a law school. He also became living proof of what we often tell our students: there is simply no limit to what a Syracuse Law graduate can achieve.

In this special issue of the Stories Book, we mark President Biden’s achievement by interviewing his College of Law classmates, teachers, and friends. For them, his election is the culmination of a lifetime of service and leadership, the beginning of which was evident at Syracuse in the late 1960s. We also highlight the voices of our current students and learn about the strength and inspiration they draw from President Biden’s example.

Alongside President Biden in this issue, you will find profiles of other, exemplary public leaders. Among them are US Rep. John Katko L’88; New York State Minority Leader Will Barclay L’95 and his late father Ambassador H. Douglas Barclay L’61; former FBI Special Agent John Hartmann L’88; US Department of Interior Chief Diversity Officer Erica White-Dunstan L’98; and US Department of State Operations Planning Specialist Adom Cooper L’12.

Their stories vividly illustrate the many reasons why our alumni enter public service: to effect meaningful change; to help the less fortunate; to keep communities safe and prosperous; to act as stewards of public commons; to uphold the rule of law; and to expand professionalism, ethics, and trust in public agencies.

The College of Law prepares students to serve in these roles with dignity, courtesy, wisdom, and responsibility. As Representative Katko says so eloquently, “I learned very quickly that there was a lot of good that someone could do with a law degree, and you could tell the College of Law deliberately worked to instill this lesson in us. All Syracuse Law students should know that it’s a distinct honor to serve the public.”

This edition of the Stories Book also includes our regular features about alumni lives outside the office. Following up on our last issue’s exploration of the connections between literature and the law, we include interviews with alumni-musicians whose experiences integrate music and the law.

This topic has special resonance for me. I began playing piano as a second grader, and still enjoy playing to this day. I find music-making to be a great stress therapy, and I enjoy losing myself for an hour or two playing Chopin or Rachmaninoff. I agree with David Miller L’69—himself a successful public sector attorney and accomplished jazz pianist—that a good lawyer is a well-rounded lawyer. “Be multidimensional,” he says, and don’t let go of your creative pursuits.

So, whether you take your inspiration from our stories of public service, the leaders we profile in “View from the Corner Office,” our “Lawyers in Love,” or the wise words of our alumni-musicians,

I hope you enjoy this issue. And I hope you note the bright threads woven among these stories that illuminate the many ways that the lives of our College of Law alumni intersect across the years.

If you have a story you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

Very truly yours,

Craig M. Boise

Dean and Professor of Law