KU's Project for Innocence wins murder conviction reversal in federal court

Monday, July 20, 2015

LAWRENCE – A learning experience for one University of Kansas law student turned into a second chance last week for a woman serving life in prison in connection with a high-profile Topeka murder.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 15 ruled that Kimberly Sharp was unconstitutionally convicted in the 2006 slaying of a Topeka homeless advocate. The court handed down the decision based on an appeal by KU’s Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies.

“We determine Ms. Sharp’s confessional statements following the promise of no jail time were involuntary, the state trial court erred by admitting them at trial in violation of Ms. Sharp’s Fifth and Fourteenth amendment rights, and the error was harmful,” judges wrote in a 3-0 decision.

Abby West, a 2015 KU Law graduate from Shawnee, authored the brief in the Sharp case while enrolled in Project for Innocence last summer. She spent hours poring over trial documents and prior decisions, including an unsuccessful appeal to the Kansas District Court. Project Director Jean Phillips supervised West’s research and writing.

“It was overwhelming at the beginning because I had never done any criminal defense work before,” West said. “At the same time, it was really interesting to familiarize myself with the case. I never got to meet Kim, but I read so much about what happened to her.”

In challenging the constitutionality of Sharp’s conviction, West set out to prove that her client’s rights to due process and equal protection under the law were violated when the trial court admitted statements Sharp made to police that were not freely and voluntarily given.

Sharp made those statements to police during the course of their investigation into the murder of David Owen, a self-professed homeless advocate known for ransacking homeless camps. In June 2006, he confronted Sharp and her three male co-defendants at a Topeka homeless camp.

After a brief altercation, two of the men dragged Owen into the woods and tied him to a tree, where he was later found dead. During an interview and re-enactment with police, Sharp made statements that implied she was a minor participant in the events and was subsequently charged in state court with first-degree felony murder and kidnapping.

Sharp moved to suppress her confessional statements, arguing they were involuntary because the police promised she wouldn’t go to jail and to help find shelter for her and her two young children. That effort failed in Shawnee County District Court, and a jury found Sharp guilty on both counts. The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas denied Sharp’s petition for habeas relief.

After reviewing the interrogation videos, however, the 10th Circuit agreed that Sharp cooperated with the interviewing officer because he promised no jail time and that any statements she made after that promise should not have been admissible in court. The state now has the option to retry Sharp.

Federal habeas corpus cases are nearly impossible to win, said Phillips, a clinical professor of law at KU who presented oral arguments in Sharp’s case before the 10th Circuit. West deserves high praise for the latest victory, Phillips said.

“Our goal in the project is for students to take ownership of their cases. We don’t want them to be glorified paralegals,” Phillips said. “I’m the safety net to make sure that nothing gets missed and everything gets argued. But Abby took ownership. She did a great job with that brief.”

West, who is studying for the bar exam and finalizing her job plans, was excited to learn about the court’s favorable decision. Working on Sharp’s case and others in the Project for Innocence proved to be the best experience she had in law school.

“It was the one chance I had to work for a client who really needed my help. There are people out there who don’t have access to the justice system,” West said. “It showed me how important it is – even if you do corporate law – to try and do pro bono work or donate to people who do. As a law student, I see it as a privilege to be able to get this education. I think we have a duty to the public to give back.”

Photo: Recent KU Law graduate Abby West, left, discusses with clinical professor Jean Phillips last week’s favorable federal appeals court decision in a case that West handled as a student in KU’s Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies.

Researchers: Indigenous knowledge can be key to fighting climate change

Tuesday, June 23, 2015



LAWRENCE — While indigenous communities have developed knowledge over centuries to manage their lands and adapt to challenges such as rising sea levels or wildfires, they are still deeply affected by climate change. Two University of Kansas professors have authored research exploring cases of indigenous communities that have had success in applying traditional knowledge to fighting climate change and how American and international law falls short in preventing exploitation of those tribes and methods.

Joseph Brewer II, assistant professor in environmental studies, and Elizabeth Kronk Warner, professor and director of the Tribal Law and Government Center at the School of Law, have published a working paper, “Guarding Against Exploitation: Protecting Indigenous Knowledge in the Age of Climate Change.” The study shares examples of tribes that have developed knowledge in how to ameliorate drastic effects of climate change on their native lands as well as indigenous communities that have developed their own laws on ways which their traditional knowledge can be used outside of their communities. 

“The inspiration for this article was everyone would talk aspirationally about how we should be using traditional knowledge to help fight climate change, but none of us knew exactly how to do that,” Kronk Warner said. “Unfortunately, we came to the conclusion there really isn’t a good legal remedy in the existing categories of intellectual property law to protect traditional knowledge.”

The authors explore several examples of traditional knowledge: One prime example is the Alaskan village Huslia, an interior community of roughly 300 residents, mostly Native Alaskan or Koyukon Athabascan, located in the boreal forest climate system. Like much of Alaska, the area has seen drastic temperature changes in the last 15 years and intense fires in the summer. Residents have long known ways to manage types of trees in the area to build buffers around the community and suppress fire by planting and culling undergrowth at certain times. That knowledge, like flood prediction methods of other Alaskan communities, could help countless people, yet the potential for someone to commercialize the knowledge without sharing the benefits is very real.

“Alaska is the face of climate change,” Brewer said. “Many communities don’t want to see their traditional knowledge commercialized or used in a way that can damage the tribes. There are examples of tribes that will share knowledge, but it’s paramount to honor tribal protocols first and foremost in the relationship-building process on the road to sharing knowledge.”

American intellectual property law is not effective in protecting indigenous knowledge because it tends to favor a small group of innovators or one person who developed an idea in a definable time period.

Brewer, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and Kronk Warner, a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, argue perhaps the most effective way for native communities to both protect and share indigenous knowledge is to develop their own tribal laws governing the use of traditional knowledge as it applies to climate change. The benefits would include tribes' ability to practice sovereignty, decide how traditional knowledge can be used and ensure the community benefits from its use while helping others fight and adapt to climate change. There are challenges to enacting such laws and codes, including communities often not knowing such a method is an option, lack of funding and other community problems taking priority.

Without tribal environmental laws in place, tribes are left to primarily rely on academic Institutional Review Boards to protect their interests. This is because academic researchers are often the ones who interact with indigenous communities most extensively. Researchers are often governed by Institutional Review Boards of their own universities, which can provide an ethical framework on how researchers and communities can work together, but fall short of legally preventing exploitation of traditional knowledge.

There are, however, several examples of communities that have had success. The authors point out three tribes: The Colorado River Indian Tribes, Ho-Chunk Nation and Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate have enacted laws to protect traditional knowledge while allowing for partnerships with academic researchers and sharing of valuable ideas. 

“In my view, this can be a way to show policy makers that indigenous knowledge has value,” Kronk Warner said. “We have been practicing adaptation for a long time. Indigenous communities have a strong history of resiliency.”

Photo: 2005 King County Creek fire, Alaska, courtesy WikiCommons. Public domain.

KU’s 2014 law grads achieve best employment outcomes since 2007

Monday, June 01, 2015
LAWRENCE — University of Kansas School of Law graduates in the Class of 2014 continued the school’s upward trend in employment success, securing jobs at a rate not achieved since before the Great Recession, according to data released this spring by the American Bar Association.

By mid-March of this year, 92 percent of the 2014 class had secured positions, representing a 6 percent rise in overall employment from the previous year and a 12 percent increase since 2011. This achievement places KU Law inside the top 20 percent of schools nationally for overall employment.

Moreover, the quality of jobs obtained by graduates also continues to improve. Many regard full-time, long-term jobs that either require bar passage or where having a law degree is an advantage as the highest quality positions for new graduates. The percentage of KU law students landing these “best jobs” rose to 80 percent, a 3 percent improvement from the previous year and part of an 18 percent rise since 2011. With these results, KU Law has the highest percentage of students in “best jobs” among law schools in Kansas and Kansas City, and ranks among the top 26 percent of law schools nationally in this category.

“KU Law graduates are in high demand by a broad array of employers. Our rise in ‘best jobs’ includes traditional positions with top firms and agencies, highly coveted judicial clerkships and prestigious ‘nontraditional’ careers, such as joining consultancies like KPMG that advise international companies,” said Arturo Thompson, assistant dean of career services. “When you combine the affordability of a KU Law degree with the ability to pursue careers across disciplines and around the globe, we see a bright future for this class and those who follow.”

National Jurist Magazine ranked KU Law the 18th “best value” law school in the country, based on high bar passage rates, strong employment numbers and affordability. The law school also ranks 27th in the nation for lowest debt at graduation, up two spots from last year, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“Without the burden of excessive student loan debt, KU Law graduates are free to choose jobs that best fit their interests,” said Stephen Mazza, dean and professor of law. “To help maximize those opportunities for students, we have reduced our class size by 30 percent, amped up direct faculty and alumni involvement in job searches, and increased career-building resources through initiatives like our Traveling ‘On-Campus’ Interview program.”

Over the past five years, KU Law students and graduates have accepted summer and/or permanent employment with law firms, businesses, government agencies, public interest organizations and judges across the country, including one recipient of a prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowship. A considerable number of graduates accept judicial clerkships, including seven from the Class of 2014. Recent graduates have been law clerks at all levels of federal and state courts.

Employment data for KU and all ABA-approved law schools can be viewed on the ABA website and analyzed at Law Jobs: By the Numbers. Find an infographic with complete Class of 2014 employment data on the KU Law website.

Pictured: Cassandra Dickerson, left, and Christopher Shelton, both 2014 graduates of the KU School of Law, speak with employers during Legal Career Options Day in 2011. Dickerson is now director of student-athlete development at KU Athletics, and Shelton is an attorney at the Law Offices of Roderick H. Polston PC in Oklahoma.

Law school honors top graduates for scholarship, leadership and service

Friday, May 22, 2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law honored Class of 2015 graduates at a hooding ceremony May 16. During the ceremony, nine students received awards for distinguishing themselves in scholarship, leadership and service to the law school and the community.

The recipients:

  • Zak Beasley, Kansas City, Kansas, Class of 1949 Leadership Award
  • Paige Blevins, Great Bend, Robert F. Bennett Award
  • Jordan Carter, Topeka, Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership and Service Award
  • Tamara Combs, Salvador, Brazil, Janean Meigs Memorial Award
  • Jason Harmon, Orem, Utah, Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award
  • Jacob McMillian, Kansas City, Kansas, Walter Hiersteiner Outstanding Service Award
  • Paul Mose, Emporia, Janean Meigs Memorial Award
  • Hillary Nicholas, Atchison, Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement
  • Abby West, Overland Park, Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement

Banner carrier Genevieve Hursh, Shawnee, was also recognized during the ceremony. The banner carrier is a student who has excelled academically and who carries the highest grade-point average by the end of the fall semester in the third year of law study.

The award winners were part of a class composed of 136 recipients of the Juris Doctor, four Doctor of Juridical Science graduates and two Master of Laws in Elder Law graduates.

Funds for the awards are managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

Student award recipients are listed below by hometown.

Hillary Nicholas, L'15

Hillary Nicholas received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement, which goes to the graduating student(s) selected by the faculty as having made the most significant contribution toward overall legal scholarship. Nicholas served as editor-in-chief of the Kansas Law Review during her third year of law school. Even with all of the responsibilities accompanying this leadership role, she maintained an outstanding class rank. She represented state and federal prisoners in appellate and post-conviction litigation through the Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies. She also served as treasurer of the Public Interest Law Society and, in her first year, was a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board. As a Rice Scholar, Nicholas attended KU Law on a full-tuition scholarship. She is the daughter of Cathy Coronado and George Nicholas and a graduate of Atchison High School and New York University.

Paige Blevins, L'15

From Great Bend
Paige Blevins received the Robert F. Bennett Award, recognizing a graduate whose undergraduate degree is from a Kansas university or college and who has demonstrated leadership qualities through public service. As symposium editor for the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, Blevins planned and executed a highly successful symposium on access to justice, which featured, among other expert speakers, a judge from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. She mentored incoming students as a Dean’s Fellow for two years, including as head Dean’s Fellow during her third year of law school. Blevins served as events coordinator for the Public Interest Law Society, planning the primary fundraiser to offer stipends to law students working in non-paying, public interest jobs. She also assisted low-income patients in need of legal assistance through the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic. Her paper highlighting a cutting-edge Medicare topic was published in the Law Journal, and she excelled as a member of KU Law’s Moot Court Council, finishing third in the in-house competition. Blevins is the daughter of Ralph and Laura Blevins and a graduate of Great Bend High School and KU.

Abby West, L'15

Abby West received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement, which goes to the graduating student(s) selected by the faculty as having made the most significant contribution toward overall legal scholarship. West was one of the top students in her class by grade-point average and earned the highest grade in several of her law school courses. She selected and edited articles for the Kansas Law Review in her role as articles editor. Her own comment, “A Meaningful Opportunity to Comply,” which addressed the use of discovery in China during litigation in the United States, was selected for publication in volume 63 of the Law Review. West also wrote many briefs for KU’s Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies and participated in the Guardianship Assistance Program, helping Wichita residents apply for guardianships for adult children with disabilities. West is the daughter of Gretchen and James West and a graduate of Blue Valley North High School and KU.

Paul Mose, L'15

Paul Mose received the Janean Meigs Memorial Award, given to students who have demonstrated a caring spirit in service to the students of the law school or the community at large. Mose served as a tutor for the KU Law Academic Resources Program. In accepting that role, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to give back, explaining that “he had been helped by so many people that he wanted to return the favor.” He also helped students in Professor Lou Mulligan’s jurisdiction class hone their oral argument abilities and tighten their brief-writing skills, as a teaching assistant. He served as a Dean’s Fellow and a note and comment editor for the Kansas Law Review. Mose swept the awards in KU’s in-house moot court competition – winning both best brief and best oral advocate – and was known in moot court circles for showing up at 6 a.m. to help coach other teams. He also teaches an introduction to law course at Emporia State University as an adjunct instructor. Mose is the son of Susan Vargas and a graduate of Emporia High School and Emporia State University.

Jordan Carter, L'15

From Topeka
Jordan Carter received the Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership and Service Award, given to the graduate who has most distinguished him or herself in the combined areas of scholarship, leadership and service. Carter was among the very top students in her class and has maintained an outstanding grade-point average while serving as a student ambassador, a teaching assistant for lawyering skills and a Shook, Hardy & Bacon Scholar in KU Law’s academic success program. She also served as a student member of the faculty Curricular Innovation Committee. Carter writes a guest blog for Ms. JD that discusses law and life, and she also authors blog entries for KU Law’s Office of Admissions. She served as executive note and comment editor for the Kansas Law Review, overseeing each of the scholarly pieces written by fellow law students. Carter also volunteered with Boys & Girls Club in Lawrence. She is the daughter of Vincent Carter and Lisa Hecht, and a graduate of Topeka High School and Washington University in St. Louis.

Zak Beasley, L'15

Kansas City
Zak Beasley received the Class of 1949 Leadership Award, given to the student who has contributed most significantly to the overall experience of students in Green Hall. Beasley led the Student Bar Association as class president during his first and second years of law school before taking on the role of SBA executive president his third year. With a nod to KU Law’s history, he revived back Fun Day, a year-end social event that brought together law students, faculty, staff and alumni. A 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, Beasley founded the KU Military Law Society, served as a student ambassador and wrote articles for the online news blog the Kansas Law Free Press, all while earning a joint degree in law and journalism. He also taught 100-level courses to undergraduate students as a graduate teaching assistant in the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications. Beasley is the son of Stephanie Sandelich and Mark Beasley, and a graduate of St. Pius X High School and KU.

Jake McMillian, L'15

Jake McMillian received the Walter Hiersteiner Outstanding Service Award, given to the graduate whose service to his or her fellow students demonstrates the greatest promise for contribution to the legal profession and society. McMillian served on Chancellor Gray-Little’s Sexual Assault Task Force, a group composed primarily of faculty, assigned to study sexual violence on the KU campus and propose methods to better handle and reduce such cases. As a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, he advised Dean Stephen Mazza on pressing law school issues. He served two years as an officer of OUTLaws & Allies, playing an instrumental role in planning the 2015 Diversity in Law Banquet and delivering moving remarks at the event about the importance of inclusivity to law schools and KU in particular. McMillian has promoted KU Law to current and prospective students as the diversity and outreach coordinator for KU Law’s Office of Admissions and in his role as a student ambassador. He has also written about diversity in the Journal of the Kansas Bar Association and The Federal Lawyer. McMillian is the son of Jan and Kay McMillian and a graduate of Bishop Ward High School and Ottawa University.

Jason Harmon, L'15

Jason Harmon received the Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award, given to the graduate who has most distinguished him or herself through leadership in the law school. Harmon ranked among the top students in his class academically. He served on the Kansas Law Review, and his comment, “Procedural Misjoinder: The Quest for a Uniform Standard,” appeared in Volume 62, Issue 5 of the Review. He and teammate Paul Mose won KU’s in-house moot court competition during their second year of law school. Harmon served as a teaching assistant for lawyering skills and a Dean’s Fellow, advising and counseling first-year students. When the team on which he was competing at the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition unexpectedly bowed out early, he immediately switched from participant to coach, selflessly and enthusiastically supporting and encouraging his fellow competitors as they advanced to the final phase of the competition. Harmon is the son of Phillip and Janet Harmon and a graduate of Timpanogos High School and Utah Valley University.

Tamara Combs, L'15

Tamara Combs received the Janean Meigs Memorial Award, given to students who have demonstrated a caring spirit in service to the students of the law school or the community at large. Combs was an officer in KU’s Black Law Students Association during her first year of law school. She later became a Shook, Hardy & Bacon Scholar, helping first-year students improve their study habits and promoting their academic success. She worked extensively with international students who were writing dissertations, especially students for whom English was not their first language. Combs served as symposium editor for the Kansas Law Review, organizing experts from across the country to talk about issues of human migration and oppression. Combs is the daughter of Inalva Valadares Freitas and a graduate of Colegio Dois de Julho, Armstrong Atlantic State University and Clemson University.

KU expanding accelerated program to earn bachelor’s and law degrees to other Kansas universities

Friday, May 15, 2015

LAWRENCE – Students at state universities across Kansas will have an opportunity to accelerate their legal education and save a year of tuition through an expansion of the 3 Plus 3 Program at the University of Kansas.

The program will allow high-ability students at participating Regents universities to maximize their undergraduate coursework, earning a bachelor’s degree and a KU law degree in six years instead of seven. Students will spend three years on requirements for the bachelor’s degree from their undergraduate institution and three years on requirements for a KU law degree. They will graduate with a bachelor’s degree after their fourth year and already have one year of law school under their belt.

“We are excited to expand this opportunity to students across Kansas in collaboration with our Regents partners,” said Jeffrey S. Vitter, provost and executive vice chancellor. “It saves students a year of study and undergraduate tuition, and in addition it helps ensure that high-achieving students interested in legal careers earn their law degrees in Kansas. We know that students who graduate from a Kansas institution are more likely to stay in the state after graduation to work and serve the people of Kansas.”

The 3 Plus 3 Program is entering its third year at KU with growing enrollment each year since its inception.

Known as the LEAD (Legal Education Accelerated Degree) Program, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the School of Law collaborated on the degree track to provide a new opportunity for high-ability students to maximize their coursework at KU.

“We at the Board are always happy to see collaboration among the state universities,” said Kenny Wilk, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents. “The ability to move as seamlessly as possible throughout the public higher education system in Kansas is a top priority, and the 3 Plus 3 Program at KU is a perfect example of how working together improves our system in a meaningful way.”  

To be considered for the program, incoming freshmen at participating institutions must meet minimum academic standards, currently a GPA of 3.5 or higher and an ACT score of at least 26. Accepted students are guaranteed admission to KU’s law school after their junior year as long as they maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA and obtain a specified score on the LSAT exam, currently 157.

The KU law school anticipates that Kansas State University will become its next 3 Plus 3 partner. The expansion will be offered to all other state universities, which include Fort Hays State University, Emporia State University, Pittsburg State University and Wichita State University.

“KU Law is at the forefront of changing the way students gain a legal education,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school. “Through this expansion of the 3 Plus 3 Program, Kansas will become the first state with a statewide, guaranteed-admission accelerated law degree. Not only will Kansas students benefit from a great legal education at less cost and in less time, but the university and the state will also benefit by being able to recruit the best and brightest prelaw students nationally.”

Law class explores human trafficking, provides resources

Wednesday, May 13, 2015



LAWRENCE — The common perception of human trafficking might be that of young people forced into prostitution or substandard working conditions. The ways in which attorneys, and even law students, can help prevent and respond to human trafficking might not make the headlines, but a new class at the University of Kansas School of Law is helping those on the front lines fight human trafficking and serve victims.

Katie Cronin, clinical associate professor at the law school and in the Department of Family Medicine, taught Human Trafficking Law and Policy for the first time this semester. Cronin, who also directs the law school’s Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, said she wanted to teach this new class to help law students understand that attorneys in many different specializations will likely encounter this issue at some point in their careers. The course introduced students to international protocols and domestic laws that are designed to prevent human trafficking, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators and those who benefit from human trafficking. The students, in turn, wrote papers that speak to a particular facet of human trafficking or produced projects that will provide resources to attorneys, health care workers, police and shelters who assist human trafficking victims here in the state of Kansas.

“Human trafficking has been viewed as a coastal problem. People don’t always grasp that its victims originate in the Midwest as well,” Cronin said. “There are victims of all ages, both male and female, and it’s a problem both foreign and domestic. Sex trafficking often garners most of the media attention, but, statistically, labor trafficking is happening at a much higher rate, and there can be sexual victimization happening in the labor trafficking context. To think of sex and labor exploitation as always being two very distinct things is false.“

In addition to learning about laws like the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the class produced projects specifically designed to assist attorneys, victim advocates, police and health care workers in helping trafficking victims. The projects included a manual for pro bono attorneys working T visa cases, an immigration remedy available to foreign national victims, prepared with the help of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Lauren Bavitz prepared a Know Your Rights brochure for trafficking victims served by the Willow Domestic Violence Center. There are a host of legal issues for victims to consider, from protection orders to immigration issues to housing matters.

“I was interested in the class to understand the legal nuances in combating the issue. For example, I wanted to learn the different legal remedies between non-citizen versus citizen victims and the most effective way to prosecute perpetrators,” Bavitz said. “My project connects a victim-centered approach with practical legal resources, because often, legal remedies are unattainable for those who do not know where to look. I hope that in distributing the brochure throughout Kansas, I can connect a few victims and families to the legal remedies they need.”

Marci Mauch, a student in the class and a former MLP Clinic participant, produced training materials to help police officers and health care professionals at the University of Kansas Hospital recognize signs of human trafficking and appropriate ways to ask questions, respond and offer help. Trafficking victims often come into contact with police or medical professionals, and it is not always immediately clear that they may be involved in a trafficking situation.

“While working at (KU’s) Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, I learned that health care providers are in an excellent and unique position to identify victims of trafficking. I hope it will make a difference for all those that use it – for the health care providers to be able to identify the victims, the victims to receive the help they need to escape or overcome their situations and attorneys and law enforcement to be able to identify the traffickers, build a case against them and help the victims,” Mauch said. “Trafficking victims can be hidden in plain sight. If something seems off, it is better to say something than to ignore it. So many trafficking victims are rescued by good Samaritans that noticed something was wrong and reported it to the authorities.”

Students also researched and wrote about a range of topics, including:

  • Human trafficking and connections to the U.S. military
  • Ensuring multinational corporations are accountable and their supply lines are free from trafficking
  • LGBT youth and trafficking
  • Victims who are minors
  • Immigration and trafficking.

The value of examining the topic of human trafficking in a broad legal sense lies in the fact that the problem touches so many areas of law, Cronin said. Whether the students go on to work in immigration or corporate law, prosecution, victim services or numerous other specialties, they’ll be able to make a difference.

“We have this cohort of law students who will graduate and pursue a range of legal work but who will now have awareness of this complex problem,” Cronin said. “Knowing students have that awareness at the beginning of their careers excites me.”

Providing services and resources to those already working in the field also gives students valuable experience while proving they can help address societal problems while they are still students.

“I think the class was solution-focused. Of course, we started by gaining an understanding of what the problem is and its basis in the law, but then we looked at ways to use the law as a tool to tackle it,” Cronin said. “That corresponds with my understanding of what KU Law students are truly capable of achieving, and I think it corresponds with the abolitionist values of our state and university.”

Law faculty members earn promotion, tenure

Friday, May 01, 2015

LAWRENCE — Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has approved promotion and the award of tenure where indicated for 67 individuals at the University of Kansas Lawrence and Edwards campuses and 46 individuals at KU Medical Center.

Chancellor Gray-Little, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter, who chairs the University Committee on Promotion and Tenure on the Lawrence campus, and Dr. Douglas Girod, executive vice chancellor at KU Medical Center, issued a joint statement of congratulations.

“Congratulations to the outstanding faculty and researchers who’ve reached the next milestone in their careers. KU’s dedicated scholars and educators are addressing the challenges of our changing world and propelling this university forward as a major research institution. Their enthusiasm and contributions further our mission of educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The commitment they have to ensure students succeed is inspiring.

“As always, the University Committees on Promotion and Tenure on both campuses did an excellent job evaluating the many eligible candidates. We hope the entire university will join us in recognizing these educators who uphold the institution's ideals through research, teaching and service.”

KU Lawrence and Edwards campuses

To full professor

  • Glenn E. Adams, psychology
  • Ronald M. Barrett-Gonzalez, aerospace engineering
  • Henry Bial, theatre
  • Sharon A. Billings, ecology & evolutionary biology, senior scientist Kansas Biological Survey
  • Chris Brown, geography
  • Nathaniel A. Brunsell, geography
  • Byron Caminero-Santangelo, English
  • Andrew N.K. Chen, business
  • Dorothy M. Daley, public affairs & administration/environmental studies program
  • Dale Dorsey, philosophy
  • Ben Eggleston, philosophy
  • Jin Feng, mathematics
  • Kenneth J. Fischer, mechanical engineering
  • Truman C. Gamblin, molecular biosciences
  • Wonpil Im, molecular biosciences, bioinformatics
  • Yolanda Jackson, psychology, applied behavioral science, clinical child psychology program
  • Ted P. Juhl, economics
  • Paul T. Kelton, history
  • Audrey L. Lamb, molecular biosciences
  • Jennifer S. Laurence, pharmaceutical chemistry
  • Scott B. Murphy, music
  • Diane C. Nielsen, curriculum & teaching
  • Shannon O'Lear, geography, environmental studies program
  • Scott Reinardy, journalism
  • Emily E. Scott, medicinal chemistry
  • Sean J. Smith, special education
  • Joy K. Ward, ecology & evolutionary biology
  • Elizabeth A. Kronk Warner, law*
  • Tara S. Welch, classics
  • Stacey S. White, urban planning

*with tenure

To associate professor with tenure

  • Mizuki Azuma, molecular biosciences
  • Justin P. Blumenstiel, ecology & evolutionary biology
  • Mariana P. Candido, history
  • Yvonnes Chen, journalism
  • Jerry Crawford II, journalism
  • Alexander C. Diener, geography
  • Florence DiGennaro Reed, applied behavioral science
  • Heather Getha-Taylor, public affairs & administration
  • Nicole Hodges Persley, theatre
  • Sheyda Jahanbani, history
  • Kyoungchul Kong, physics & astronomy
  • Yan Li, East Asian languages & cultures
  • Amy N. Mendenhall, social welfare
  • Utako Minai, linguistics
  • Andreas Moeller, geology
  • Shannon K. Portillo, public affairs & administration
  • Derek D. Reed, applied behavioral science
  • Shenqiang Ren, chemistry
  • Kathryn A. Rhine, anthropology
  • Rebecca L. Rovit, theatre
  • Frederic Sellet, anthropology
  • Andrew Short, ecology & evolutionary biology, associate curator, Biodiversity Institute
  • Leigh A. Stearns, geology
  • D. Alan Street, music
  • Zsolt Talata, mathematics
  • Annie Tremblay, linguistics
  • Xuemin Tu, mathematics
  • Anne Williford, social welfare
  • Alesia Woszidlo, communication studies
  • Hui Xiao, east Asian languages & cultures
  • Kyoim Yun, east Asian languages & cultures

Academic staff

  • Pamela Keller, law, to clinical professor
  • W. Matthew Gillispie, speech, language, hearing: science & disorders, to clinical associate professor
  • Kristin Pedersen, speech, language, hearing: science & disorders, to clinical associate professor

Office of Research

  • Amy Gaumer Erickson, Center for Research on Learning, to associate research professor
  • Jean P. Hall, Center for Research on Learning, to research professor
  • Fernando Rodriguez-Morales, Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, to associate research professor


KU Medical Center campuses

To professor (previously tenured)

  • Sandra Bergquist Beringer, School of Nursing
  • Christine Daley, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Family Medicine
  • Timothy Fields, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Philip Johnson, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Radiology
  • Kenneth McCarson, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics
  • Jianming Qiu, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Microbiology

Tenure awarded (at current rank of professor)

  • Mazen Dimachkie, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Neurology

To professor (affiliate track, Mid-America Cardiologist, nontenure track)

  • Kamal Gupta, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Internal Medicine

To professor (affiliate track, Stowers Institute, nontenure track)

  • Michael Washburn, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

To professor (clinical track, part-time nontenure track)

  • Jacqueline Osland, School of Medicine-Wichita Campus Department of Surgery

To clinical professor (clinical track, full-time, nontenure track)

  • Katherine Fletcher, School of Nursing

Tenure awarded (at current rank of associate professor)

  • Mazin Alkasspooles, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Surgery
  • Francisco Diaz-Ceballos, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Biostatistics
  • Tomoo Iwakuma, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Cancer Biology
  • Susana Patton, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Pediatrics
  • Shahid Umar, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology

To associate professor with tenure

  • Sandra Billinger, School of Health Professions Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
  • Joshua Broghammer, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Urology
  • Vargheese Chennathukuzhi, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
  • Jill Hamilton-Reeves, School of Health Professions Department of Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Megha Ramaswamy, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Preventive Medicine

To associate professor on clinical scholar track (nontenure track)

  • Omar Aljitawi, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Internal Medicine
  • Wei Cui, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Mirsad Dupanovic, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Anesthesiology
  • Tuba Esfandyari, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Internal Medicine
  • Clinton Humphrey, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Otolaryngology
  • Christopher Larsen, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Otolaryngology
  • Angela Mayorga May, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science
  • Prakash Neupane, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Internal Medicine
  • Madhuri Reddy, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Matthew Sharpe, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Internal Medicine
  • Kerri Weeks, School of Medicine-Wichita Campus Department of Pediatrics
  • Sri Yarlagadda, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Internal Medicine
  • Jana Zaudke, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Family Medicine

To clinical associate professor (clinical track, full-time, nontenure track)

  • Yvonne Colgrove, School of Health Professions Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
  • Janet Hudzicki, School of Health Professions Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences
  • Mary Meyer, School of Nursing

To clinical associate professor (clinical track, part-time, nontenure track)

  • Kent Bradley, School of Medicine-Wichita Campus Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Robert Kraft, School of Medicine-Wichita Campus Department of Family and Community Medicine
  • Zachary Kuhlmann, School of Medicine-Wichita Campus Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Jane Sosland, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Pediatrics

To clinical associate professor (clinical track, volunteer, nontenure track)

  • Debra Desilet-Dobbs, School of Medicine-Wichita Campus Department of Radiology
  • Steve Hwang, School of Medicine-Wichita Campus Department of Pathology
  • Pavan Reddy, School of Medicine-Wichita Campus Department of Internal Medicine
  • Stephen Thornton, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Emergency Medicine

To research associate professor (research track, full-time, nontenture track)

  • Kathleen Gustafson, School of Medicine-Kansas City Campus Department of Neurology.

Law school professor honored with KU Sustainability Leadership Faculty Award

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Center for Sustainability will recognize 10 individuals and projects with Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards on Friday, April 24, as part of KU's Earth Month festivities. The event will take place at 3:30 p.m. on the Dance Pavilion west of Potter Lake and is open to the public.

“Students, faculty and staff throughout campus are developing solutions that address challenging social and environmental issues,” said Jeff Severin, director of the Center for Sustainability. “Our annual awards program is an opportunity to show our appreciation for just a few of the leaders in our community who are helping advance society toward a more sustainable future."

The Sustainability Leadership Awards recognize outstanding leadership and creativity in addressing issues of environmental, economic and social responsibility on the KU campus and in the broader community. Award recipients are nominated by their peers and selected by a committee that includes past award winners.

The 2015 Sustainability Leadership Award recipients by category:

  • Undergraduate Student: Sarah Graves, of Denver, chemical engineering
  • Graduate Student: Katrina McClure, of Rockford, Illinois, human geography
  • Faculty: Uma Outka, associate professor, School of Law
  • Staff: Kate Meyer, assistant curator, Spencer Museum of Art
  • Student Scholarship: David Szczucinki, of Leawood, environmental studies
  • Faculty Scholarship: Dietrich Earnhart, professor, economics
  • Social Justice: Liz Anstine, graduate student from Overland Park, curriculum & instruction
  • Greek Life: Sigma Kappa, Xi Chapter
  • Project: KU Student Farm & The Roasterie, Coffee Composting Project
  • Program: Centroamérica Indígena, Geography Applied Research Project

Details about the award program and this year’s honorees can be found at www.sustain.ku.edu/awards

Award recipients will be honored at the Earth Day ceremony along with campus departments receiving Green Office Recognition for adopting sustainable practices in the workplace, as well as students participating in KU Stewards, a first-year sustainability leadership program.

Law alumni, faculty honored for achievements, service, careers

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Hon. Julie Robinson is inducted into the KU Women's Hall of Fame, April 7,2015LAWRENCE — Twenty women with ties to the University of Kansas were honored April 7 during the 2015 Women’s Recognition Banquet hosted by the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity.

Event organizers inducted six women into the KU Women’s Hall of Fame as well as presented honors to a number of outstanding students, faculty and staff at KU. 

“KU has such a rich history of women who lead and make our community and our world a better place,” said Kathy Rose-Mockry, director of the Emily Taylor Center. “It’s a privilege to honor these individuals and add to this growing legacy of involvement and achievement.”

The Women’s Hall of Fame has honored more than 200 exemplary KU alumnae, faculty and staff women since 1970. It recognizes those who through their significant contributions and achievements, overall effect and outstanding character, serve as role models for students as career women and community leaders.

The Hall of Fame is on the fifth floor of the Kansas Union. A complete list of Women’s Hall of Fame inductees and their accomplishments is available online. In addition to the inductees, 14 women were honored as recipients of 11 different awards.

The Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity provides leadership and advocacy in promoting gender equity and challenging gender-related barriers that impede full access and inclusion. The center raises awareness of critical issues, provides opportunities to translate awareness into action and empowers individuals to advocate for themselves and others.

About this year’s inductees and honorees recipients:

Women’s Hall of Fame inductees      

Ann M. Brill, doctorate, dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications.

Brill joined the journalism school in 2000 and became dean in 2004.  Brill also serves as the president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (ASJMC), in addition to taking many other national leadership roles.

The school has flourished under her leadership and has received numerous grants from national foundations. She initiated significant curriculum revision for the school and oversaw the launch of its first doctoral program. Brill is dedicated to the students and has been extremely successful in raising support for the school.  She has created and endowed multiple new scholarships and awards, which greatly benefit the students, the school and the university. Her peers and colleagues describe Dean Brill as visionary.

Connie Burk, 1990 KU alumna, activist and author, NW Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse

Burk’s career of advocacy and activism began while she was studying at KU. As a student on campus, Burk was a member of many organizations — such as the February Daughters and Students Against Violence Against Women — and fought for progressive change. This activism spurred Burk to work for Women’s Transitional Care Services (now the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence), where she eventually became co-director. Under her leadership, the center expanded from sheltering survivors to raising awareness and educating the community about domestic violence. Burk also served as vice president of the Kansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

In 1997, Burk moved to Seattle to direct the NW Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse (The NW Network). Since then, Burk’s vision, focus and optimism has led the NW Network to new heights. With her guidance, the network established the National LGBT Training & Technical Assistance Initiative and the National Q&A Institute. In addition to her job as the executive director of the network, Burk also is executive producer of the award-winning documentary “A Lot Like You” and co-author of the book “Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others.” 

The Hon. Karen Mitchell Humphreys, 1970 and 1973 KU alumna, juris doctor, U.S. magistrate judge

As an undergraduate, Karen Mitchell Humphreys was an honors student. She was inducted into both CWENS and Mortar Board as well as being chosen as the outstanding woman of her sorority. She was one of only 12 women admitted to the School of Law in 1970.

In 1978, Humphreys was appointed to the position of district judge for the 18th Judicial District in Sedgwick County. She remained in this position until 1993, when she was appointed as U.S. magistrate judge. KU’s Emily Taylor was on the selection committee for Humphreys’ appointment. Humphreys was the first woman to serve in this position. From 2003 to 2013, Humphreys was designated as the chief magistrate judge and led other federal magistrate judges in the area. 

In this position, Humphreys led an effort to create a specialty court, known as KAN-Trac. This program, which assists felony offenders re-entering the community, has been extremely successful. Humphreys has been referred to as the “human glue” which holds the program together. In recognition of her work on KAN-Trac and other programs, she has received many awards from the Kansas Women Attorneys Association, the Wichita Women’s Association, the Kansas Bar Association and the Wichita Bar Association.

Humphreys retired in January after more than 20 years of service to Kansas and more than 40 years in the field. 

Barbara P. Lukert, 1956 and 1960 KU alumna, M.D., professor of medicine emerita, endocrinology and metabolism, KU Medical Center

Dr. Lukert’s career at the KU Medical Center spans more than five decades, beginning with her residency in 1961. Since joining the Department of Medicine faculty in 1965, Lukert has served as the Mary F. Roberts Distinguished Chair in Nutrition, the director of the Osteoporosis Clinic, the Metabolic Laboratory and as the medical director of the Medicine Outpatient Clinic. She has lead or co-authored 96 full-length manuscripts and written 11 books or book chapters, served on the Wyandotte County Medical Society, and she serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Dr. Lukert is a nationally recognized educator, scholar and researcher. Among her many awards are the Boy Frame Award for Excellence in the Field of Bone and Mineral Metabolism, the KU Chancellor’s Teaching Award in 1982, the School of Medicine Distinguished Alumnus award in 1990 and the Honorary Health Professions Alumnus Award in 1999. Dr. Lukert is also the namesake of the Lukert Academic Society.

The Hon. Julie A.  Robinson, 1978 and 1981 KU alumna, juris doctor, U.S. district judge, District of Kansas

President George W. Bush appointed Robinson as the U.S. district judge for Kansas in 2001. A trailblazer in her field, Robinson is the first African-American woman to be appointed to this position. Robinson has served as a U.S. bankruptcy judge in the District of Kansas, a judge on the 10th Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel and an assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Kansas. 

Robinson has received numerous awards for her work, including commendations from the Secret Service, the Kansas Dr. M.L. King Jr. Memorial Committee’s Women of Distinction Award, the Baker University Trustee Medallion for Distinguished Public Service Award and the National Bar Association’s Wiley A. Branton Symposium Award. Before her current appointment, Robinson taught trial practice courses at KU. She also has served on the KU School of Law Board of Governors as president and on various committees.

Rosemarie T.  Truglio, doctorate, 1988 and 1990 KU alumna, senior vice president of global curriculum and content, Sesame Workshop

Truglio joined Sesame Workshop in 1997 as the vice president of education and research for Children’s Television Workshop, now known as Sesame Workshop.  In her current role, she is responsible for the development of the curriculum shown on "Sesame Street" and oversees all of the educational research for the show.  Truglio and her team work to enhance the educational and entertainment content of the show. She has written numerous articles, presented her work at international conferences and is the co-editor of ­“G is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and 'Sesame Street.'”

Truglio’s leadership of the Sesame Workshop creates an incredible legacy. Research has shown that high school students who watched the program when they were in preschool receive better grades in their classes and read more books than the average student.  Truglio, who was only 20 when she began graduate school at KU, has received the Annenberg Public Policy Award for her innovative development process.

Danica Hoose receives the 2015 Outstanding Woman Student in Community Service Award.2015 Award Honorees 

Jo Hardesty, juris doctor, Outstanding Woman Staff Member Award

Hardesty currently serves as the director & managing attorney for KU’s Legal Services for Students (LSS). She has been with LSS for 35 years and has served as director for 29 years. In her time with LSS, Hardesty has demonstrated exemplary passion and leadership. Not only is she dedicated to the office’s mission of providing KU students with legal services and workshops, but she continues to inspire and mentor those around her, both students and colleagues. In addition to her work with KU, Hardesty also has been recognized for her work with the National Legal Aid & Defender Association for her service to the legal community and her commitment to social justice and equality, as well as her work with the IRS’ low-income taxpayer clinic program.

The award honors a female unclassified or classified staff member who, through outstanding work performance, has contributed to the academic and personal growth of KU students.

Danica Hoose, Outstanding Woman Student in Community Service Award

Hoose is a junior studying accounting and economics and a graduate of Parsons High School. She is a senator in KU Student Senate, works in the Office of the Provost and serves as the president for Omega Phi Alpha, KU’s only service sorority. She was elected president of her sorority after only one year as an active member, and the sorority has been very active under her leadership. 

The award honors a woman student who has made outstanding contributions to off-campus organizations or agencies.

Kellyann Jones-Jamtgaard, Outstanding Woman Student in Leadership Award

Jones-Jamtgaard is a doctoral student at the KU Medical Center and graduate of Duke University. She is president of Students Educating and Advocating for Diversity, vice president of the Student Governing Council and former president of Graduate Student Council. In addition she is involved in creating and collaborating on numerous projects and groups at KU. Jones-Jamtgaard also spearheaded the creation of the KUMC Childbirth Accommodation Policy, which is now used as a template at universities across the state. 

The award honors a woman student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills by taking an active role in campus or community organizations, developing a new project or addressing a current need.

Sharmin Kader, Outstanding International Woman Student Award

Kader is a doctoral candidate from Bangladesh studying architecture health & wellness with a focus on gerontology. She received her master's degree from Texas A&M University and her bachelor's degree from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology. Through her short career, Kader has already earned an international reputation for her academic and professional work. Most recently she received the International Fellowship by the American Association of University Women and the American Institute of Architects’ Arthur Tuttle Jr. Graduate Fellowship in Health Facility Planning and Design. She also presented at the Capitol Research Summit in 2014. Kader served as the founding president of the Bangladesh Student Association at KU, developing community support systems and organizing events in the area. In this role and in her personal life, Kader has served as a mentor and inspiration to many students.

The award honors an international woman student who has demonstrated academic achievement and has made a contribution to the campus and/or community through her involvement.

Jennifer Marcinkowski, Outstanding Non-Traditional Woman Student Award

Marcinkowski is a senior majoring in women, gender, and sexuality studies with a minor in history. She received her G.E.D. in 2001. Marcinkowski has faced many obstacles in her path to receive her degree, but she has persevered and will graduate this spring. Marcinkowski works as an accommodation specialist for the university and serves as the president of AbleHawks and Allies. AbleHawks is a student group dedicated to raising awareness, advocating for accessibility and promoting disability as multicultural issue. Marcinkowski is a passionate advocate and an effective leader. Through her work and her leadership of AbleHawks, KU has become a better place. 

The award honors a nontraditional woman student who has demonstrated academic achievement and has made a contribution to the campus and/or community through her involvement.

Erin McHale, Marlesa & Hannalesa Roney Student Success Mentor Award

McHale is a second-year graduate student at KU pursuing a master’s degree in higher education administration. She is a graduate of Iowa State University. McHale is the higher education graduate assistant for the Student Involvement and Leadership Center.

In her two years at the university, McHale has had an effect on the greek community and the campus community as a whole. She has served on numerous committees, developed programs, taught classes and facilitated retreats. She has been credited with showing passion and care for the students she serves.  McHale has demonstrated noteworthy dedication to sexual violence prevention and education. She has served on the Title IX roundtable, worked with the greek sexual assault task force and developed a program focused on the effects of overconsumption of alcohol and sexual violence. 

The award recognizes a woman graduate or undergraduate student who has contributed to the success of another student.

Shannon Portillo, doctorate, Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett Woman Mentoring Women Award.           

Portillo currently serves as an assistant professor and the undergraduate program coordinator for the School of Public Affairs and Administration. Women who’ve learned with, through and alongside Portillo point out that she teaches not just directly, but also by example. She is credited with showing deep care for her students through her accessibility and willingness to offer career advice and guidance. Moreover she offers inspiration and encouragement to overcome self-doubts and build confidence among her students.

The award honors a woman student, staff, or faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the support and mentoring of women at KU.

Jessie Pringle, Outstanding Woman Student in Partnership Award

Pringle is a junior majoring in history and environmental studies and graduate of Chanute High School.In addition to her academics, Pringle is involved in a sorority and has served as an orientation assistant and as the chairperson for the Finance Committee of KU Student Senate. Within Student Senate, Pringle has impressed her peers and mentors with her ability to lead effectively and to bring people to the table.

The award honors a woman student who has made outstanding contributions to students through her collaborative work and interactions with campus departments, services or organizations.

Monica Saha, Sally Mason Woman Student in Science Award

Saha is a second-year pharmacy student at KU, set to graduate in May 2017. She is a graduate of Blue Valley Northwest High School. Saha co-authored an article titled “Loss of GluN2A-Containing NMDA Receptors Impairs Extra-dimensional Set-Shifting,” which was published in Genes, Brain and Behavior, a notable scientific journal. Saha recently received a travel award through the Harvard Medical School to present at the New England Science Symposium in April. Saha also works with Hawk Link tutoring, is on the executive board for Kappa Psi, the professional pharmaceutical fraternity, and writes for the University Daily Kansan.

The award honors a female undergraduate or graduate student in the sciences who has demonstrated academic excellence, involvement in campus activities, and leadership in her academic department.

Melanie Wilson, juris doctor, Outstanding Woman Educator Award

Wilson currently serves as a professor and as the associate dean for academic affairs for the School of Law. An expert in her field, Wilson has served as an assistant attorney general in Georgia, co-authored four books and many scholarly articles, and she has won numerous awards and commendations for both her work as an attorney and as a professor. In addition to her other roles, Wilson is also the director of diversity and inclusion for the law school. Wilson continues to make sure students feel safe and empowered in every space. Wilson was recently selected to become the next dean of the University of Tennessee College of Law. 

The award honors a female professor, instructor, or student teaching assistant who, through outstanding teaching skills, has contributed to the academic and personal growth of KU students.

Four students were selected to receive the Alma Poehler Brook Memorial Award. The award honors Brook, who served as director of Corbin Hall from 1929 to 1944. Upon her death, friends established the Brook Memorial Fund to recognize worthy and deserving students living at Gertrude Sellards Pearson and Corbin Hall. Hall staff selected these recipients:

Nicole Johnson, sophomore in human biology from Lenexa

Rebekah Navarro, freshman, Holton

Marianne Rogers, freshman, Albuquerque

Victoria Peterson, freshman, Olathe.


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Why KU
  • One-third of full-time faculty have written casebooks used at U.S. law schools
  • 2 KU law faculty were U.S. Supreme Court clerks
  • KU’s Project for Innocence: 33 conviction reversals since 2009
  • 7,300+ alumni live in all 50 states and 18 foreign countries
  • #18 “best value” law school in the nation — National Jurist Magazine
  • 12 interdisciplinary joint degrees
  • 27th nationwide for lowest debt at graduation. — U.S. News & World Report
  • 70 percent of upper-level law classes have 25 or fewer students
  • Nearly 800 employment interviews at law school, 2012-13
  • Top 25% for number of 2013 grads hired by the nation’s largest law firms
  • 20th: for number of law alumni promoted to partner at the 250 largest law firms