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Dean Jeffries
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Virginia Leadership

John C. Jeffries, Jr. ’73

This issue of UVA Lawyer profiles graduates engaged in public leadership.  The concept of public leadership lies near the core of our sense of institutional identity.  Of course, the Law School is the gateway to a great profession, but it is much more than that.  The Law School is also an institution founded on honor, imbued with civility, and dedicated to civic leadership.  Personal integrity and a sense of public responsibility are every bit as important as professional training, and equally central to what it means to be a Virginia lawyer.

The four individuals profiled in these pages serve the public in very different ways.  John Warner ’53 has represented Virginia in the United States Senate for nearly 30 years.  Anyone who holds elective office makes choices with which others disagree, but John Warner’s choices command respect, even among those who do not share them.  He is as good an example of dedicated public service as the Senate or the nation can provide.

Janet Napolitano ’83 is also in electoral politics.  She was elected Governor of Arizona in 2002 and four years later was re-elected in a landslide.  Janet Napolitano differs from John Warner in gender, generation, party, and politics, but she is at the outset of a career that promises to match his in length, distinction, accomplishment, and approbation.

Gerald Parsky ’68 serves the public from the private sector.  In 1991, he founded Aurora Capital, a Los Angeles investment firm, but his influence extends far beyond venture capital and finance.  Gerry Parsky is a Republican leader in a state with consistent Democratic majorities, and has played a special role in negotiating judicial appointments between the Bush Administration and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California.  He has served on the Board of Regents of the University of California since 1996, and in 2004 was unanimously elected chair.  Unanimous election from a board not always known for agreement is testimony to his great personal skills, as well as to his constructive and effective leadership.

Finally, we honor my long-time colleague Richard Bonnie ’69.  Professors serve their students and sometimes the larger world of scholarly inquiry, but it is rare for a full-time academic to have a major impact on public policy.  Richard Bonnie’s engagement with the criminal law and with the medical and scientific disciplines that abut it has led him to ever-wider spheres of influence and responsibility.  As the article explains, Bonnie is the author of the current version of the insanity defense that prevails in federal law and in the law of many states.  On that and other issues, Bonnie has become the legal profession’s ambassador to the world of psychiatric medicine and the chief implementor of medical and psychiatric insights in the world of law.

Of course, limiting our coverage to these four graduates is essentially arbitrary.  There are hundreds and thousands of others who would warrant our praise.  In my mind, these four are representative of Law School alumni in their integrity, civic responsibility, and public leadership, and the diversity of their accomplishments is illustrative of the range of things that our graduates do well.