April 13, 2020
We just completed our fourth week of online teaching and learning at SLU LAW. The abrupt and rapid shift has, without a doubt, been challenging and disorienting for our students, faculty and staff. Members of the faculty are working hard to deliver our exceptional program of legal education from a distance, and the dedicated staff has consistently been there to provide support, day and night. Things are going as well as can be expected, and I am proud of my colleagues. Naturally, I have heard from many students, faculty and staff who miss being able to come together in person. The SLU LAW community of people is one of our greatest strengths, and we all miss it. At the same time, navigating a crisis like this pandemic will reveal the true character of a community, and I have been struck by the generosity, compassion and selflessness that I have seen in the past four weeks. The character of this community is so strong.
The time before this global pandemic in some ways seems like a distant memory. But some terrific things were happening, some of which is highlighted below. It makes me optimistic about our bright future, even as we focus intently on overcoming the challenges of today. Among other things, you will see that the Center for Health Law Studies was once again ranked number one in the nation, recognition that is so richly deserved.
The 38th Annual Public Interest Fellowship Auction – what we all know as the “PILG Auction” – was scheduled to take place earlier this month. I know many of you remember this event fondly, and some of you may have even benefited from a Public Interest Fellowship Award when you yourselves were law students. As you probably know, the money raised at this event goes directly to the Irvin and Margaret W. Dagen Public Interest Fund that supports our students pursuing public interest summer opportunities. There is no better example of mission-driven work than the work that the students will do because the PILG Auction funds make it financially feasible for them to do it. I know you will get many requests to support worthy causes during this difficult time; I hope you will consider supporting the PILG students.
As I write this, Passover has just begun and Easter weekend is upon us. The pandemic has made it difficult at times to remember our routines and our traditions. Yet, this is a season for perseverance, renewal and hope. While religious tradition may be made more difficult by the need to be safe, still, faith remains, and the meaning of these holidays is more poignant than ever. There are challenges ahead, to be sure. But, guided by our mission and our values, we will get through this.
Be safe, and be well. You have my very best wishes.
William P. Johnson