AUWCL The Champion Newsletter - Winter 2023

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The Champion

Dean Roger A. Fairfax has said that one of his primary priorities is to provide “a world-class student and alumni experience” at American University Washington College of Law. What does this mean? From the moment students step onto campus through their retirement years, the WCL community seeks to remain a meaningful and impactful force in the lives of its graduates over the course of their careers.

Intellectual Property Alumna Propels Campaign to Support PIJIP

For two decades, as senior director of intellectual property policy at Microsoft Corp., Susan Mann, WCL/JD ’86, led the tech giant’s intellectual property policy advocacy in Washington, D.C., and helped forge the company’s partnership with American University Washington College of Law.

As a cornerstone of its engagement with the law school, the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center in D.C. hosted an annual networking event that brought WCL alumni in intellectual property practice together with students in WCL’s pathbreaking Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP).

“PIJIP is an important and interesting program that has done great work and is going to continue to do great work,” Mann said of the internationally recognized research and education platform. In tandem with her retirement from Microsoft at the end of October 2022, Mann has ramped up her commitment to PIJIP, becoming the lead donor in a campaign to endow a $50,000 fund to advance the program’s work.

“PIJIP is a powerful supporter of the right-to-research, which has implications for machine learning and artificial intelligence,” Mann said. “It is important that we have responsible scholarship from programs like PIJIP and that students have access to programs that examine a responsible balance between user rights and intellectual property rights, between speech and intellectual property rights.”

WCL has one of the oldest intellectual property law programs in the nation, and PIJIP’s influential role on the global stage underscores the law school’s leadership in that area. PIJIP is an advocate of the right to research under copyright law and the proponent of a worldwide open-research network

of researchers, libraries, museums, archives, and digital rights activists.

“What we’re doing at PIJIP is futureproofing copyright,” PIJIP Associate Director Sean Flynn has said. “Copyright is a barrier to doing the kind of research that people want to do. PIJIP is advancing the human right to research … and to have access to information.”

Continued on inside

At American University Washington College of Law, our strength comes from our people — exemplary faculty, dedicated staff, talented students, and, of course, our extraordinary alumni.

WCL alumni are prominent across the legal landscape. They stand out in corporations, public interest law firms, in government agencies, and in tech firms. They work as public defenders and prosecutors, and are ensconced in human rights and civil rights organizations. They serve clients in small towns and big cities across the United States; they practice in countries around the world.

The financial support from our alumni is critical to our school’s mission of producing lawyers who Champion What Matters. The generosity of our alumni allows us to recruit and retain leading faculty and staff, expand diversity and access to legal education through scholarships, expand our tremendous programmatic offerings, and enhance our school’s impact on the lives of the many people our students serve

What your annual giving gift to WCL can do

• $10,000 funds a partial scholarship

• $5,000 funds a summer public interest stipend for a student

• $2,500 funds a Dean’s Fellow or a Writing Fellow

• $1,000 funds a career exploration lunch for 1Ls

• $500 funds a diversity outreach event

through clinics and other experiential learning opportunities. We are grateful for your continued commitment to WCL through your giving.

However, the value of alumni engagement stretches far beyond philanthropy. Our alumni are pivotal in advancing the work, reputation, and student experience of this great institution. They are our ambassadors. Their successes demonstrate the power of a WCL education and inspire applicants to consider a WCL education. They are role models and mentors, they facilitate experiential learning opportunities for our students, and they provide our graduates with meaningful employment. Furthermore, their on-theground insight helps us ensure that WCL continues to prepare our students for the modern practice of law.

Ensuring that WCL provides a worldclass alumni experience is one of my top priorities, and we have begun to expand and strengthen our network of alumni. We want to elevate our law school as a lifelong resource for our graduates, to ensure that we are an asset to alumni at all stages of their professional careers.

I am truly excited about the increased engagement with our alumni. We are seeing more alumni at our events and public programs — both in the audience and as speakers and panelists. We are making it easier for our alumni to mentor students, serve on our advisory councils, and hire from within our WCL community. You will see more of our distinguished graduates in future issues of the newly redesigned The Advocate magazine and on our social media profiles.

Our alumni are champions of what matters in law, and their engagement with WCL is essential to advancing our school and its transformative contributions to our communities, our country, and our world.

Thank you for all that you have done, all that you are doing, and all you will yet do for the American University Washington College of Law.


TO RECOGNIZE AND HONOR OUR MOST LOYAL DONORS TO WCL, the John Sherman Myers Society recognizes donors making annual contributions of $2,500 or more. The Myers Society was established to honor former Dean John Sherman Myers and his wife, Alvina Reckman Myers, who dedicated their professional lives and personal wealth to WCL and our students. Since its inception three decades ago, the Myers Society has had a visible impact on WCL students by providing critical funding for scholarships, technological developments, facilities, academic initiatives, and student services.


Alumni Engagement = Alumni Impact

If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that community matters. Whether it is a cadre of law school classmates with whom we navigate life events or a group of co-workers with whom we brave daily challenges, these communities provide us structure, resilience, and comfort in an everchanging world. We surround ourselves with people who inform our views and influence our values. Our communities celebrate our victories, share our tears, and inspire us to move forward.

At WCL, we take great pride in our alumni and the difference that each of you make in your communities every day. From offering pro bono counsel to serving on nonprofit boards and committees to advocating for positive social change, you provide legal knowledge and aid to help balance the scales of justice and build a better future.

That is why we are strengthening our commitment to connecting our alumni with intentionality — by region, discipline, and affinity. Greater alumni impact begins with increased alumni engagement, and we hope you will join us.

For the past three years, we have been unable to host our annual Legends and Leaders reception to recognize our talented students and to thank our generous donors. However, we look forward to welcoming everyone back in spring 2023.

Right now, our most active regional community is our New York City chapter, but big plans are underway to galvanize our alumni in the greater Washington, D.C. area, where we have the largest number of graduates. We are currently recruiting and training alumni volunteers to lead these efforts, and we look forward to hosting events each fall and spring to rekindle friendships, broaden professional networks, and keep you apprised of campus news and scholarship.

Our alumni affinity groups are also building bridges among alumni and students, while providing essential mentorship, support, and career connections.

Finally, our advisory councils bring WCL alumni together to guide university policy and to support best practices across a range of disciplines. The Dean’s Advisory Committee, which I am proud to serve on, contributes more broadly to the overall mission of the law school, bringing together some of the law school’s most dedicated advocates to further the success of the enterprise.

As chair of the Myer’s Society, I am deeply grateful for the unfailing support of those who give to our beloved American University Washington College of Law. You are among our greatest friends and ambassadors, and we are committed to making this community more tangible, accessible, and engaged. From publications like The Advocate and The Champion to reunions and regional events to dynamic webinars, we are here for you — and we hope you are here for it.





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2023 Rankings from U.S. News and World Report

PIJIP hopes Mann’s $10,000 gift will spark other alumni to step forward to support the program.

In addition to her personal philanthropy, Mann has requested a Microsoft corporate match for her gift, and she has agreed to become the first member — and chair — of the new advisory council that PIJIP is forming.

“Susan Mann has given extraordinary support to the development of PIJIP as one of the leading intellectual property research centers in the world,” Flynn said. “She has been a mentor to our students, a convener of our most important studentalumni mixer of the year — known commonly as “the Microsoft mixer” for its location at the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center downtown — and a liaison between PIJIP’s research arm and Microsoft experts on text and data mining and open access.

“She is the perfect person to help us construct an advisory board to continue our growth and impact,” he added.

PIJIP continued from front cover

Lifetime Philanthropy Award: The Impact of Sustained Service & Support

While every gift to American University Washington College of Law makes a difference, strengthening our programs, scholarship and student aid, a few alumni have distinguished themselves through decades of service and support that has had a profound and lasting impact.

In 2019, WCL chose to recognize the value and importance of sustained giving by awarding the Lifetime Philanthropy Award to Peggy Wakefield WCL/JD ’79 during the Legends & Leaders Dinner. Then the pandemic hit, and it has been three long years since we have been able to applaud our most dedicated donors and the talented faculty and students their gifts support.

We look forward to welcoming our finest WCL ambassadors back to campus in spring 2023, but in the meantime, we would like to collectively recognize the most recent recipients of the Lifetime Philanthropy Award, who were awarded privately. These alumni have each given generously of their time, service, and financial support for more than half a century, helping to shape and advance the law school we know and esteem today.

Retired Ambassador Robert F. Pence WCL/JD ’71, who received the Lifetime

Philanthropy Award in 2021, has a long and storied history of supporting students, faculty and facilities. He served on the AU Board of Trustees from 1989-98 and on the WCL Dean’s Advisory Council from 2004-18. In 2004, Pence and his wife Susan endowed the Pence Law Library, which has since been relocated within the Warren Building on the Tenley Campus. The couple also established the Robert and Susan Pence Endowment Fund and the Susan Pence Undergraduate Recognition Award, and they continue to support Yellow Ribbon Scholarships. As founder and chairman of The Pence Group, a full-service development company since 1977, Pence has made it a philanthropic priority to enhance access to legal education and to enrich the experience of WCL students.

In 2022, the Lifetime Philanthropy Award was presented to Herb Morgan

WCL/JD ’60, who has continued to serve the AU community for decades as a past president of the WCL Alumni Association, alumni campaign chair, and member of the AU Board of Trustees from 1989-95. In 1988, he made a major pledge and led alumni efforts to fund construction of The John Sherman Myers and Alvina Reckman Myers Law Center, and he continues to support scholarships. Regarding his award, Morgan said, “This is the most honorable thing that’s ever happened to me.” At the recommendation of his former colonel, Morgan came to WCL as a night student with a GED, 12 credit hours, and a full-time job as a special agent in the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations. Though he initially planned to return to his station in Arizona, after passing the DC and Virginia bar exams, he took a position with a title company in Arlington that he eventually bought. “I’m the luckiest country boy who ever walked in Virginia,” said Morgan, who has been sharing his good fortune to build a more just society ever since.

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