A few weeks ago, I spoke to an American Bar Association luncheon about “Gender Equality in the Legal Profession: Past, Present, and Future.” With the centennial of the 19th Amendment upon us, mine is one among many reflections this year on how far women have come in the last hundred years and what mountains remain to be climbed. For me, those questions reflect not only the commemoration of women’s suffrage in this country but also an anniversary that is closer to home: our own centennial of coeducation.
As I’ve written before in these pages, it is impossible to capture the entire sweep of the Law School’s first two centuries in one edition of a magazine. With this issue, we continue the journey begun with our spring 2018 issue — when we saluted Gregory Swanson, the civil rights pioneer who integrated UVA Law and the University of Virginia, and told the stories of some of our remarkable African American alumni — and our spring 2019 issue, when we highlighted some of the change-makers who began their careers at UVA Law.
Here, with our centennial upon us, we honor some of the women who have transformed and strengthened the Law School over the past century. You will find a timeline of that history, as well as tales of the trailblazing women who enrolled in 1920, joined the Virginia Law Review in the early 1940s, and led the student body in 1972. And you will see, in the current news about the school, a portrait of the Law School as it is today: a place that celebrates the female students, faculty, administrators and alumnae who both enrich the life of the Law School and shape the world beyond North Grounds.
Of course, such stories belong to the present as much as the past. Just as this issue highlights the history of women at UVA Law, it also showcases 10 alumnae who have helped lead their industries — and all of us — to a better future. By sharing with us their experiences, these women teach us profound lessons about the challenges and possibilities that our graduates will face in the years to come.
These stories remind us that our history is made by each of us and all of us. When coupled with many others from our first two centuries, they form a picture of the school’s complex and gradual evolution toward a more inclusive institution that still affirms our founding values of educating lawyers with rigor, breadth, and a commitment to serve and lead our democracy.
Indeed, I hope that looking back inspires us to continue to strive to be, as UVA President Jim Ryan puts it, both “great and good.” We are committed to educating our students and alumni for careers defined by both professional success and service to others. We applaud our faculty for their groundbreaking scholarship as well as their contributions to the public and the profession. Because we know that healthy democracies are sustained, in part, by lawyers in the public and scholars in the academy, we announce in these pages the first Martha Lubin Karsh and Bruce A. Karsh Bicentennial Professors of the Karsh Center for Law and Democracy.
This October, we are launching the Honor the Future capital campaign. Our campaign priorities reflect who we are and what we value: the people — students, faculty and staff — who make this institution so special. As we launch this historic campaign, we look to the past and the future. We celebrate who we have become and anticipate who we yet will be. I thank you for the part you have played so far in UVA Law’s story. And I thank you for the role you will play in our future.