Professor examining potential laws to regulate de-extinction

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

LAWRENCE — Science has a way of catching up with fantasy. While movies like “Jurassic Park” brought dinosaurs back to life, few imagined that the day might come when extinct creatures could be revived. But the possibility of such revival is not only real, it’s getting closer all the time. A University of Kansas law professor is part of a group of scholars working to propose legal framework to address the myriad questions “de-extinction” will bring to the table.

Andrew Torrance, professor of law and Docking Faculty Scholar at KU’s School of Law, recently took part in a de-extinction conference at Stanford University and is crafting suggestions for potential law to deal with the controversial science as it becomes reality.

“I have a weakness for exactly this kind of project,” Torrance said. “It’s very cool from a scientific perspective, plus I think I was like every kid growing up who thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I could see a dinosaur some day?’”

While dinosaurs won’t be revived — the fossils are too old and contain no usable DNA — other more recently extinct creatures such as woolly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers and passenger pigeons could potentially be revived. The biotechnology is mostly in place. What’s not in place is law to address questions such as who would own such revived creatures, how their habitat would be governed, international relations among countries housing such creatures and who would be responsible for potential damages among others. Torrance, who holds a doctorate in biology and law degree from Harvard University, was part of the Harvard conference to address the legality of such matters. Other scholars addressed the ethical and philosophical questions.

“The basic science is already there. You have to somehow get a full genome, which is not a trivial problem, but a lot of those breakthroughs have been made,” Torrance said. “In some ways, though, the technology is not as important as the ethical and legal questions. If you resurrected a mammoth, would you set it loose in Times Square? And who would be liable for the damage it caused?”

Torrance advocates for developing a legal framework to address de-extinction before it’s common practice and says there are precedents that can be used to start the process. At the conference he cited the Endangered Species Act, a popular bipartisan law/legislation that allows for protection of endangered species. The law and its implications must be considered in respect to de-extinction he said, as the incentive to protect endangered creatures might wane if people believe they can simply bring it back in a generation or two.

“It changes the idea of what endangerment means. And it changes the meaning of extinction,” Torrance said. “If a creature can be brought back, was it ever really extinct?”

Torrance also addressed the question of how revived species would affect current ecosystems. He cites numerous laws that are in place to deal with invasive species. The United States and international laws have addressed such questions in many cases, and similar efforts would need to be made to address potential damage or changes revived species could have on modern ecosystems.

Genetic modification is another question domestic and international lawmakers will need to consider, Torrance said. In the United States genetic modification is commonly accepted especially among crops such as corn and wheat, but it is not as freely accepted in other nations. International treaties such as the Cartagena Protocol allow nations to suspend normal trading rules to prevent genetically modified products from entering their country if they object to their presence. Such treaties would need to be considered for revived species, especially considering that many animals tend to migrate or spread across borders, Torrance said.

The first several generations of revived species would almost certainly be genetically modified by definition, he said, especially if scientists need to borrow DNA, even in small amounts, from species related to those being revived.

Torrance and colleagues will continue to craft scholarly articles and policy recommendations for consideration by lawmakers. The time to act is now, Torrance said, because the science will be in place eventually, whether the law is ready.

“I think law is at its worst when it’s reacting,” Torrance said.

By working together proactively, scientists, lawmakers and the public can craft regulations that would prevent many potential problems as well as avoid heavy-handed regulations that would stifle innovation.

“De-extinction is something we do need to regulate, but in proportion to the potential risk it could create,” Torrance said. “The law will react one way or another. I think it would be best if it reacts in a way that’s both beneficial to the science and public interest and in a way that keeps costs minimal.”

Professor argues judicial oversight needed for fines leveled by SEC

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

LAWRENCE — Since the financial crisis of 2008, attempts to penalize and curb activity that caused the crash have drawn criticism for being too arbitrary and leaving the sentencing to an ineffective agency. Also under scrutiny are regulations that may disproportionately affect small banks and agencies more than larger, repeat offenders. A University of Kansas law professor has authored an article arguing that federal courts should approve or deny penalties on financial wrongdoers, thereby leveling the playing field and creating a more fair economy.

Quinton Lucas, associate professor of law at KU, has authored “Rubber Stamp Review: Federal Court Deference to the SEC.” In the article he argues that by requiring the Securities and Exchange Commission, commonly known as the SEC, to levy transparent, meaningful fines in cases of financial wrongdoing, federal courts can provide a balance to a system in which investors and the public have lost confidence.

“There are cases that are filed all the time. The majority are settled out of court, but is there a way courts can help us avoid what happened before?” Lucas asked, referring to the 2008 financial crisis. “We currently are not seeing sufficient deterrence in white collar crime and related areas. Especially when compared to what could be called traditional, blue collar crime.”

The 2010 Dodd-Frank act was intended to prevent financial malfeasance on a large scale. An unintended consequence has been harshly punishing small banks while allowing massive firms to get away with relatively small fines for large-scale wrongdoing, Lucas argues. He cites two examples. In 2009 Bank of America absorbed Merrill Lynch, which was failing, on the condition it not pay executive bonuses that year. It later paid $3.6 billion in bonuses, and the SEC levied a fine of $33 million. In 2011 the SEC levied a fine of $95 million against Citigroup after it nefariously sold weak investments, which resulted in $700 million of investor loss.

In both cases a federal judge rejected the sentences, stating they were unclear in how the fine amount was reached and not proportionate to the losses suffered. The SEC has appealed, claiming they have sole authority to determine public interest and that courts should simply approve sentences it hands down. Lucas holds federal courts both can and should be able to reject such sentences.

“My argument is that courts don’t have to be a rubber stamp. If they follow the SEC model, that is all they will be,” Lucas said.

He compares the situation to a criminal case. If a defendant makes a plea bargain with prosecutors, it still has to be approved by a judge, preventing overly lenient deals. Federal judges could do the same by reviewing an alleged financial crime, reviewing the statutes that govern it and deciding whether a penalty levied by the SEC is acceptable. Judges should also be able to allow sentences to vary, based on the severity of the wrongdoing, Lucas said.

He proposes a system by which the SEC makes clear a set of criteria through which it set penalties, and why and how it determines fine amounts. Such a system could also return the deterrent factor, making it clear that large recidivist firms will not be able to simply view small fines as a “cost of business.” Such an approach would also help stop small firms from being disproportionately punished for minor misgivings and help businesses as well by making it clear what sort of actions are not tolerable. All of that could ultimately lead to increased consumer confidence and a stronger economy, Lucas said.

The question of whether federal courts can reject SEC penalties is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit. If the court finds that the federal court overstepped its bounds in the previous cases, the question may come before the U.S. Supreme Court. It is likely that similar cases will continue to crop up in other circuits, Lucas said. Whatever the decision is, he maintains there is a role for courts in ensuring regulation and prevention of financial malfeasance similar to that which led to the global economic crisis.

“If you hold for the SEC, you’re saying that the court has to simply be a rubber stamp,” Lucas said. “If Congress doesn’t want the courts to have a role, they need to rewrite the statutes. There is a way to ensure that effective regulation is happening.”

SCOTUS rules that human DNA cannot be patented

In what might be something of the Court trying to find a middle ground, justices did say something they create out of gene isolation could be patented making it a win for Myriad genetics – one of the players in this case – because they created a synthetic form of the genes.

Host Carmen Russell-Sluchansky spoke with Andrew Torrance, a law professor at the University of Kansas, and Dr. Caleph Wilson, of the Translation Research Unit and the Department of Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania, to discuss the story.

 

Law professor named to KU's new class of senior administrative fellows

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

LAWRENCE — Ten University of Kansas faculty members have been named senior administrative fellows for 2013-2014.  

Fellows are selected annually from nominations and applications submitted during the spring semester from across campus. Fellows learn more about senior administration in higher education by meeting with senior administrators, visiting administrative units across campus, discussing national trends in academia and developing their leadership skills. The program has been in place for more than 20 years and is directed by Mary Lee Hummert, vice provost for faculty development, with the assistance of Jenny Mehmedovic, assistant to the provost. 

The new class of fellows is: 

  • William Elliott, associate professor, School of Social Welfare 
  • Judith Emde, librarian and assistant dean, KU Libraries 
  • Michael Engel, professor, ecology & evolutionary biology, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Mechele Leon, associate professor and chair, theatre, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences 
  • Lumen Mulligan, professor, School of Law 
  • Scott Reinardy, associate professor, School of Journalism 
  • Susan Scholz, professor, School of Business 
  • Joan Sereno, professor, linguistics, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences 
  • Kelli Thomas, associate professor, curriculum & teaching, School of Education
  • Z.J. Wang, Spahr professor and chair, aerospace engineering, School of Engineering.

All tenured faculty members at KU are eligible to apply. Requests for nominations and application instructions for the 2014-2015 senior administrative fellows will occur in April 2014.  

Law school honors top graduates for scholarship, leadership, service

Thursday, May 23, 2013

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law honored more than 170 graduates at a hooding ceremony Saturday, May 18. During the ceremony, eight students received awards for distinguishing themselves in scholarship, leadership and service to the law school and the community.

The recipients:

  • Michael Andrusak, Salina, Class of 1949 Leadership Award
  • Ebonie Davis, Kansas City, Kan., Janean Meigs Memorial Award
  • Ashley Dillon, Orinda, Calif., Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement
  • Joy Isaacs, Topeka, Walter Hiersteiner Outstanding Service Award
  • Eric Sader, Salina, Robert F. Bennett Award
  • Joe Schremmer, Derby, Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership and Service Award
  • Isabel Segarra, Austin, Texas, Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award
  • Henry Thomas, Overland Park, Class of 1949 Leadership Award

The award winners were part of a class composed of 174 recipients of the Juris Doctor, seven Doctor of Juridical Science graduates and two Master of Laws in Elder Law graduates.

Also honored during the ceremony was Uma Outka, associate professor of law, who received the 2013 Moreau Award. The award is given annually to the faculty member who, in the eyes of law students, has been particularly helpful in advising.

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.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Overland Park

Henry ThomasHenry Thomas was one of two recipients of the Class of 1949 Leadership Award, given to the student who has contributed most significantly to the overall experience of students in Green Hall. Thomas raised hundreds of dollars and gathered hundreds of books for children at surrounding hospitals and collaborated to create a successful Diversity Banquet during his term as president of the Asian Law Students Association. He spent a year serving indigent clients in Douglas County as a participant in the Legal Aid Clinic and three years as a Student Ambassador, advising and educating prospective law students. During the 2012-13 academic year, Thomas served as editor-in-chief of the Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy. Thomas is the son of Zach and Mary Thomas and a graduate of Rockhurst High School and Marquette University.

SALINE COUNTY
From Salina
Michael AndrusakMichael Andrusak was one of two recipients of the Class of 1949 Leadership Award, given to the student who has contributed most significantly to the overall experience of students in Green Hall. Andrusak served two years as president of the Student Bar Association, reorganizing its structure to encourage continuity of its leadership. He spearheaded fundraising events and spoke at new student orientation, welcoming students and acclimating them to law school. He attended Board of Governors and other similar meetings, ensuring that students enjoyed a voice in law school governance.  And, of course, he organized events, such as football tailgates, that allowed students to socialize and build relationships to last well beyond law school. Andrusak is the son of Janet Andrusak, was home-schooled through high school, and graduated from Pepperdine University.

Eric SaderEric Sader 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. Sader graduated with a joint degree in law and social work. For two years, he served as a resident assistant in the law school’s Journey to J.D. program.  He is a student representative on the board of directors for Ecumenical Campus Ministries at KU and, in 2011, was named one of KU’s Men of Merit in recognition of his role modeling a positive definition of masculinity through action and leadership. Sader has served as chief justice of the university’s Student Court of Appeals and an audio-reader for the visually impaired. He was recently selected as the new executive director of Jana’s Campaign, an organization dedicated to reducing gender and relationship violence. Sader is the son of Dale Sader and Mary Cook and a graduate of Salina High School South and McPherson College.

SEDGWICK COUNTY
From Derby
Joe SchremmerJoe Schremmer received the Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership and Service Award, given to the graduate who has most distinguished himself or herself in the combined areas of scholarship, leadership and service. Schremmer graduated with a joint degree in law and business, and his grades were among the best in his law school class. He served two years as a Lawyering Skills teaching assistant and two years in the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program, providing tax preparation assistance for low-income Kansans. His scholarly note, “Avoidable Fraccident: An Argument Against Strict Liability for Hydraulic Fracturing,” was selected for publication in the Kansas Law Review before he became the publication’s editor-in-chief. Schremmer is the son of Richard and Janice Schremmer and a graduate of Derby High School and KU. 

SHAWNEE COUNTY
From Topeka
Joy IsaacsJoy Isaacs 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. As a Shook, Hardy & Bacon Scholar, Isaacs mentored members of the first-year class to help improve their academic performance. She founded the law school’s 3-to-1 mentorship program, which matches successful upper-level students with entering first-year students. Isaacs served on the Kansas Law Review and still found time to coach volleyball at The Barstow Middle School. Isaacs is the daughter of Stan Noakes and Linda Noakes and a graduate of Washburn Rural High School and KU. 

WYANDOTTE COUNTY
From Kansas City, Kan.
Ebonie DavisEbonie Davis received the Janean Meigs Memorial Award, given to the student who has demonstrated a caring spirit in service to the students of the law school or the community at large. Davis served two years as a teaching assistant in the Journey to J.D. program designed to mentor and encourage diverse young people to consider law school and pursue legal opportunities in the region. She also served as president of the Black Law Students Association. In that role, she spearheaded BLSA’s annual Thanksgiving food drive and organized Thurgood Marshall Law Day, which annually hosts dozens of local high school students. She also serves as a mentor for the MODELS Mentoring Program, a community organization for teenage girls ages 12-17. And she has made these contributions to school and community while also caring for her own family, which includes two sons, ages 3 and 6. Davis is the daughter of Barbara White and a graduate of Wyandotte High School and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

CALIFORNIA
From Orinda
Ashley DillonAshley Dillon received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement, which goes to the graduating student selected by the faculty as having made the most significant contribution toward overall legal scholarship. Dillon’s scholarly note about the Kansas Uniform Trade Secrets Act was published in Volume 60 of the Kansas Law Review. She also served as executive note and comment editor on the Law Review and a chief justice of the Moot Court Council. Dillon spent two years as a Lawyering Skills teaching assistant, mentoring lawyering students in the first-year. She has accomplished all of this while maintaining an outstanding grade point average throughout all three years of her studies. Dillon is the daughter of Kent and Lynn Dillon and a graduate of Miramonte High School and the University of Missouri.

TEXAS
From Austin
Isabel SegarraIsabel Segarra received the Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award, given to the graduate who has most distinguished him or herself through leadership in the law school. A passionate environmental advocate, Segarra reinvigorated KU’s Environmental Law Society, serving as president during the 2011-12 academic year.  As president, she brought various environmental law attorneys, including representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, to Green Hall for career panels and other educational functions; she lobbied the administration to stop purchasing Styrofoam products; and she encouraged faculty, staff and student participation in the Lights Out Energy Competition among different units on campus. This year, Segarra moderated a panel discussion on the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples during KU’s annual Tribal Law and Government Conference. She has written for the Journal of the Kansas Bar Association and was a member of the Jessup International Moot Court team that qualified for the international finals. Segarra is the daughter of Dolores Treviño and a graduate of Liberal Arts and Science Academy and Texas A&M University.

Professor Martin Dickinson honored with Steeples award

Thursday, May 16, 2013

LAWRENCE – Through teaching, research, advising and mentoring, the faculty members of the University of Kansas serve a large audience through their work. Some go even further in their service to the state of Kansas. Three such faculty members have been honored for their exemplary contributions to the people of Kansas with the Steeples Service to Kansans Award.

The recipients of the 2013 Steeples award are Martin Dickinson, School of Law; John Hachmeister, visual art, and Kelly Kindscher, environmental studies.

Don Steeples, the Dean A. McGee Distinguished Professor of Applied Geophysics, and his wife, Tammy, established the award in 1997 to honor Don Steeples’ parents, Wally and Marie Steeples, and to recognize outstanding service by KU faculty to other Kansans. The award provides recipients with $1,000 and an additional $1,000 base adjustment to their salaries.

Martin Dickinson is the Robert A. Schroeder Distinguished Professor of Law. He was nominated primarily for his work relating to tax law and estate planning. Over four decades he has served on numerous state-level advisory committees relating to property taxes, income tax, estate tax and trust administration. These committees have suggested important revisions to Kansas law that have protected the elderly and helped ensure a fair system of revenue generation for the state. While serving as dean of the KU law school from 1971 to 1980, Dickinson created new admission criteria, recruited outstanding faculty and convinced legislators to fund a new building, all of which strengthened the school’s profile regionally and nationally.

John Hachmeister is an associate professor of sculpture in the School of the Arts. The Steeples Award recognizes his promotion of “the arts in the community” in and around Kansas. Perhaps the best example of this is his 25-year commitment to preserve and maintain the Garden of Eden folk art site in Lucas. Lucas has since been designated as the “Grassroots Arts Capitol of Kansas.” Hachmeister was also instrumental in developing a partnership between KU and the Kansas City School for the Blind. The program, Accessible Arts, connects KU art students with children at the Kansas City School for the Blind to create tactile objects used as learning aids for many subjects including math and science. Most recently, Hachmeister connected four area artists with a trustee to create four larger-than-life statues in Independence depicting works of Kansas-born playwright William Inge.

Kelly Kindscher, courtesy professor of environmental studies and ecology and evolutionary biology, has served the state of Kansas for more than 20 years as a voice for the environment of Kansas, especially its plants and prairies. Kindscher, who is also a senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey, has always focused on public education and engagement in his work, whether speaking to city and community groups, leading walks introducing Kansans to native plants and prairies or providing environmental advice across the state. Kindscher's research interests are focused on prairie and montane meadow plant communities, wetland and prairie restoration, conservation of Midwest/Great Plains ecosystems and ethnobotany.

Funds for the Steeples award 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.

Law professor's book explores 'constitution of international trade law'

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

LAWRENCE — For nearly 60 years, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, better known as GATT, brought down barriers, encouraged trade among nations and changed the way the world does business, yet received surprisingly little attention in the world of scholarly law. A University of Kansas law professor has changed that with a two-volume, 3,000-page exploration of the “constitution of international trade law.”

Raj Bhala, associate dean for international and comparative law and Rice Distinguished Professor at the KU School of Law, has authored “Modern GATT Law: A Treatise on the Law and Political Economy of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and Other World Trade Organization Agreements” second edition. The book is an extensive examination of GATT, all 38 of its articles, their applications in the law, related WTO influence, examinations of theories critical of unlimited international trade and much more.

“It came about as a passion for the topic,” Bhala said of the treatise. “I’ve always been fascinated by GATT. Unintentionally, it became the constitution of international trade law. It was a shining example of the reality and effectiveness of international law. It was functioning effectively, and yet no one was paying attention to it. Even after the birth of the WTO in 1995, GATT remains, and its rules and principles get reincarnated in new areas, such as services and intellectual property.”

Bhala wrote the first edition in 2005. Since then, international trade law has both flourished and changed dramatically with the influence of the WTO and its roughly 160 member countries. More than 400 cases have been adjudicated at the WTO, dealing with all manner of trade law topics, including ones directly relevant to Kansas, like subsidies for agricultural products and airplanes. That prompted the second edition, published like the first, by Sweet & Maxwell.

Drafted beginning in 1945 and enacted in 1948, GATT was hugely influential in bringing nations together through international trade. GATT grew in members from 23 in 1947 to more than 125 by 1995, including poor, newly independent, Muslim and nonwestern nations. “Modern GATT Law” explores how the membership grew more diverse, including the importance of developing nations and how nations such as China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Laos and Tajikistan gained positions of varying degrees of power within the organization.

Among its 85 chapters “Modern GATT Law” not only examines all articles of GATT and related WTO provisions, but it offers applicable case studies and examines all WTO rounds, including the failed Doha round, which declared fighting terrorism and extremism through trade as its top priority. Bhala examines how trade has become a tool in international diplomacy and element of national security, as illustrated in part by sanctions placed on Iran and North Korea. He also examines controversial topics such as mad cow disease and its effects on trade between nations and how GATT increasingly links law and other areas of scholarship.

“The treatise this time really goes over the essential precepts, essential interdisciplinary foundations of politics, religion, economics and philosophy as they relate to law,” Bhala said. “International traders and their lawyers have become much more conscious of those links over the years and are not as likely to look at trade law as an isolated topic.”

International trade and global commerce have come under increasing criticism in recent years, often justifiably so, Bhala said, when the drive for profit results in human rights abuses, environmental degradation, labor violations, poverty and other outcomes contrary to human dignity and the common good. The treatise analyzes such criticisms and evaluates emerging theories of how international trade law can be reformed to comport better with social justice, offering neither justification nor condemnation of any one theory, but lending insight into how each one fits into modern international trade law.

Early demand for the book has been strong in several countries.

“It’s rare for a book to appeal to the international markets in the way that ‘Modern GATT Law’ does. It’s a testament to the quality of the text that our subsidiaries in America, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand have all expressed their interest in disseminating the title within their jurisdictions,” said Andrew Moroney, publishing editor at Sweet & Maxwell in London. “In fact, each presentation about the book to those companies has met with unanimous praise for the scope and breadth of the contents list alone, so we expect to hear great things when the books land on their desks.”

In addition to being a useful reference for international trade lawyers, scholars and anyone interested in cross-border commerce, Bhala said the book is both an homage to the visionary work of the founders of GATT and an invaluable teaching tool. Students at the KU School of Law were intimately involved in all aspects of the book’s creation. In particular, the student research assistants, who hail from across Kansas and from multiple nations, gained an experience not available in the traditional classroom.

“I give a great deal of credit to the research assistants,” Bhala said. “A two-year project like this simply could not have been done on time, or with quality, without my research assistants at the KU Law School. They were enthusiastically engaged through legal research and writing on sophisticated topics. I learned a great deal from their productive output, and they are testaments to the synergy between teaching and research. Plus, we had a lot of fun.”

KU law school bestows Distinguished Alumni Award on three public servants

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

LAWRENCE — A Kansas Supreme Court justice, a former state legislator and a former chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents have received the highest honor given by the University of Kansas School of Law.

From left are Justice Carol Beier, Timothy Emert and John Vratil.Justice Carol Beier, Class of 1985, Timothy Emert, Class of 1965, and John Vratil, Class of 1971, received the Distinguished Alumni Award during a ceremony Saturday, May 11, in Lawrence. The award is presented annually to graduates who have distinguished themselves through exemplary service to the legal profession, their communities, KU and the state or nation.

“Justice Beier is an active and loyal alumna who has worked to improve the law school experience for all its students,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school. “She has had incredible success in the legal profession, and she used her success to benefit her community, her state and her alma mater.”

“Regent Emert is the consummate public servant. He has spent a good portion of his legal career pursuing policies that have benefited the people of Kansas. And John Vratil’s devotion to improving the educational system for all Kansans is worthy of merit. The law school is honored to have him as a graduate.”   

Also recognized at the ceremony were new recipients of the James Woods Green Medallion, named in honor of the law school’s first dean. The school presents medallions to its major financial contributors. This year’s honorees were Jennifer Gille Bacon, Class of 1976; William (Brad) Bradley Jr., Class of 1980; Richard Sias, Class of 1954; Charles Hostetler, Class of 1963, and Julie Hostetler; Jeffrey S. Nelson, Class of 1980, and Lisa K. Nelson; Patrick Peery, Class of 1981; the law firm of Snell & Wilmer LLP; and John Stewart, Class of 1940, and Hannah Stewart.

More about the Distinguished Alumni Award winners:

Appointed to the Kansas Court of Appeals in 2000 and the Kansas Supreme Court in 2003, Justice Carol Beier is the first female graduate of the KU School of Law to serve on the high court. She has authored about 600 judicial opinions for the citizens of Kansas. A native of Kansas City, Kan., Beier graduated from KU with a bachelor’s in journalism in 1981 and a law degree in 1985. In 2004, she received her Master of Laws from the University of Virginia School of Law. She began her legal career as a law clerk to Judge James K. Logan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and then worked on family income security, education and employment issues at the National Women’s Law Center. Beier entered private practice at Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn and later became a partner at Foulston Siefkin LLP in Wichita. Beier’s community and professional service includes membership in the National Association of Women Judges, Kansas Bar Association and Kansas Women Attorneys Association. She was named to the KU Women's Hall of Fame in 2012.

Timothy Emert is the only Kansan to have served as chairman of the Kansas State Board of Education and the Kansas Board of Regents. He earned a bachelor’s in journalism in 1962 and a law degree in 1965 from KU and entered private practice as a sole practitioner in his hometown of Independence, Kan., where he has continued to live for 48 years. He was a member of the Independence Public Library board of directors, the local board of education and the Kansas State Board of Education. His public service continued in the Kansas Senate, where he represented the 15th District for eight years, spending four years as majority leader and six years as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Emert has served as a member of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, Kansas Commission on Public Broadcasting and Kansas Children’s Campaign. After leaving the legislature, Emert served as chairman of the advisory board for the Juvenile Justice Authority and a member of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. In 2010, he was appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents by Gov. Mark Parkinson.

John Vratil graduated from KU with a bachelor’s in education in 1967 and a law degree in 1971, having served as an editor of the Kansas Law Review. He received a scholarship through KU’s Direct Exchange Program and continued his studies abroad at the University of Exeter in England. Vratil was a partner with the law firm of Lathrop & Norquist (later Lathrop & Gage) from 1992 to 2011, where his litigation practice focused on matters involving school law and finance, property taxation, contracts, employment claims, secured transactions, real estate and zoning. He currently serves as general counsel for the Blue Valley Unified School District. A Republican representing the 11th District, Vratil was first elected in 1998 and served three terms in the Kansas Senate, including 11 years as Senate vice president. Vratil was president of the Kansas Bar Association in 1995-1996 and served on the Kansas Judicial Council from 2001-2009. In 2012, he received the Friend of Education Award from the Blue Valley School District and the Leawood Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame Award.

View previous Distinguished Alumni Award recipients on the law school’s website.

LaVerta Logan receives employee of the year award

Thursday, May 09, 2013

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas awarded employees of all categories who have reached landmark years of service at the annual employee recognition ceremony on Thursday, May 2, in the Kansas Union Ballroom.

“Our dedicated employees have been part of incredible change over the past few years, and we’re grateful beyond words for their hard work. Our great university is the result of our great employees,” Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said.

The chancellor acknowledged employees for their years of service and presented the awards to the Employees of the Year.

The Unclassified Staff Employee of the Year for 2013 is Daniel DePardo, engineering technician senior. DePardo began working in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science in 1993. DePardo will receive a $1,500 award and a reserved parking space for one year. 

LaVerta Logan, administrative associate senior, was honored as the 2013 University Support Staff Employee of the Year. Logan currently works for the Law School’s Career Services Office and has been working for KU since 1996.

Recognized with the 2013 Team Award was the team from The Library Preservation Emergency and Disaster Planning Committee. The nominated teams for recognition were as follows: Common Book Leadership Team, Edwards Campus Academic Program Planning Team, PeopleSoft Project CORE Functional and IT PeopleSoft Administrators Team, LGBT Discussion Panel, Edwards Campus Security Implementation Team and Libraries Preservation Department.

More information about employee recognition at KU is available here.

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