National Council continues to evolve on cusp of 60th anniversary
By: James Grega
“Students first, always first,” has been the mantra of Dean Lincoln Davies since his arrival at Moritz in July of 2019. As his first year of leadership at Moritz comes to a close, that mantra is already taking a firm hold.
The National Council at Moritz, a collection of largely alumni, are ambassadors for the college and exist to advocate for the school and advance its students while valuing diversity, practicing inclusion, and always putting students first. As the National Council approaches its 60th year, its co-chairs Sue Richards (’74) and Mike Finn (’67) are looking at new, innovative ways to spark engagement.
“Any time there is a change, I think it is a fair time to ask, ‘What more can we do?’ It is in that spirit that we are looking at expanding the role and the scope of the council,” Finn said.
“We started to have these conversations about things we should do to reenergize the council,” Richards added. “So, we started to think about ways to reenergize people and engage them.”
Founded in 1961, the National Council has featured some of the most experienced faculty and alumni of Moritz through the years. Current members include former Ohio Supreme Court justice Yvette McGee Brown (’85), Chief United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit R. Guy Cole Jr. and many others.
Members of the council are appointed by the dean, as of July 2020, there were 100 members including the previous two deans of the college in Nancy Rogers and Alan Michaels in addition to Dean Davies. The council currently meets twice a year, but Richards and Finn are hoping to increase those meetings, even if they are virtual.
The hope of Richards and Finn is that additional meetings of the council will lead to more involvement in the Moritz community. Whether it be speaking engagements, forum discussions or mentoring programs, the idea is to give the council members flexibility on how they decide to contribute.
“I think that will allow people, whether they pick philanthropy, recruitment, public speaking or otherwise, it will allow for a more targeted engagement which I think will be helpful moving forward,” Richards said.
With the wide array of experts that currently sit on the council, Richards added that she would like to see guest lectures or panel discussions featuring council members speaking on current topics in their respective field.
“This gives us an opportunity to feature speakers that engage people on current issues where we might have experts,” Richards said. “I would like to see that expanded and utilize our council members more on certain issues.”
The council is also hoping to engage the faculty at Moritz, in hopes that their collaboration will only help further the education of the students.
“They are a very impressive group of professors and I think that the more people that are in the law school that can share their experience with students and graduates, I think it just prepares them even more to be great lawyers,” Finn said. “I have wonderful memories of my experience (as a student) and that is one of the reasons I have enjoyed being in the National Council.”
As the council moves toward its 60th year, the complications caused by COVID-19 have put a halt on their ability to meet in-person with students. However, a silver lining has come out of it. The emphasis on Zoom meetings has allowed the National Council to more easily hold meetings virtually, instead of its traditional twice-a-year meetings in Columbus.
The increased communication between council members and the college has everyone, especially the council, excited about the possibilities.
“It is an absolutely fabulous experience to spend time with the young people in our law school,” Finn added. “I am always impressed with our graduates and that is something I would love to do more of.”