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MAJOR EVENTS Symeonides Named Inaugural Holder of the Alex L. Parks Distinguished Chair In early March, the College of Law hosted a public lecture and private dinner with Dean Symeon C. Symeonides, who was named the first holder of the Alex L. Parks Distinguished Chair in Law. More than 120 members of the legal community gathered to hear Symeonides present “The Grand Dilemmas of Private International Law,” the inaugural Parks Distinguished Chair lecture. Introducing Symeonides to the audience, University President M. Lee Pelton thanked Penny Parks Knight and Philip H. Knight, who donated $5 million to the College of Law to endow the chair named for Mrs. Knight’s father. “As exceptional as the Knights are, so is the first holder of this chair,” Pelton said. “It is an understatement to describe Symeonides as an outstanding scholar; he may in fact be the world’s top scholar in his field.” Pelton officially presented the Parks Distinguished Chair to Symeonides following dinner that evening. In his acceptance speech, the dean recounted his unlikely journey from a small village in Cyprus with no electricity or running water to being named the Alex L. Parks Distinguished Chair in Law. Along the way, he witnessed his father’s false imprisonment by the British government, farmed olives and tomatoes to help support his family, served in the Cypriot army during the 1974 Turkish invasion, earned four law degrees, and dedicated his life to academic excellence. Symeonides also reminisced about the many people who helped him along that journey. Quoting his favorite Southern playwright, Tennessee Williams, Symeonides said he “owes much of his success to the ‘kindness of strangers.’” “Just as I was supported by countless selfless acts of others throughout my life, future generations of Willamette students will benefit from the generosity of Penny and Phil Knight,” he said. “Once again, I thank these two noble philanthropists from the bottom of my heart.” International Law Scholars Honor Dean Symeonides During the presentation of the inaugural Alex L. Parks Distinguished Chair to Dean Symeonides, President Pelton read excerpts from remarks provided by renowned international law scholars, who provided their impressions of Symeonides’ scholarship and contributions to American and comparative private international law. A few highlights are included below: “Congratulations, Symeon, on an honor much deserved.… You have, in so many ways, helped shape how we think about and teach this most confusing of subjects.” — Dean Larry Kramer, Stanford Law School “The honor of being the inaugural holder of the Alex L. Parks Distinguished Chair is much deserved — so much so that I would say that it is not the chair that honors Dean Symeonides; it is Dean Symeonides who honors the chair. Those who follow him in this chair will have much to live up to.” — Professor Joseph Singer, Harvard Law School 4 | Willamette Lawyer “Dean Symeonides is simply the leading conflicts scholar in the United States and among the very small group of world leaders in the field of private international law today. It is safe to assume that there is nobody who knows the field of American conflicts law as thoroughly as he does, just as there is nobody among the current generation of scholars with an equal mastery of its comparative dimensions.” — Professor Mathias Reimann, University of Michigan Law “Symeonides gives us ‘pure’ academics a bad name. He works too hard, he reads too much, he writes too much, he listens too much, he is too reliable, he is too unflappable and he takes on the dirty work of academia — the annual survey of U.S. private international law. To top it all, he does all this with a welcoming smile. I am proud to consider him my friend.” — Professor Peter Winship, SMU Dedman School of Law

Willamette Lawyer | Spring 2009 • Vol. IX, No. 1

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