A Celebration of Seven Careers

As the Georgia State Law sends off the class of 2012, the school is also bidding a fond farewell to several longtime faculty members.

Professors Mark Budnitz, Anne Emanuel, Bernadette Hartfield, Lynn Hogue, Nancy Johnson, E. R. Lanier and Charles Marvin are retiring at the end of this school year. Their careers, along with the 30th anniversary of the College of Law, were celebrated at a private reception during commencement week.

More than 300 colleagues, friends and former students from the classes of 1986 to the present gathered in GSU’s student center ballroom to honor the retiring professors. Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Roy Sobelson and professors Mary Radford and Corneill Stephens acted as emcees and paid tribute to their colleagues; more than a dozen alumni offered appreciations as well. The evening concluded with a video of the honorees reflecting on the College of Law and their GSU careers.

Professor Lanier was unable to attend the event because he is with students in Austria for his Summer Academy in International Commercial Arbitration. Dean Sobelson welcomed him to the event via Skype, however, and he was able to greet the group from a projection screen.

Three of the departing faculty members – Hogue, Johnson and Lanier – have been with the school since the first class entered in the fall of 1982 under founding dean Ben F. Johnson. At the time, these four constituted half of the College of Law faculty.

Lynn Hogue, who taught constitutional law and first amendment law, among other courses, remembers negotiating with Dean Johnson before giving up a tenured position elsewhere to commit to GSU.

“I said I wouldn’t make up my mind until I saw some tangible, physical proof that there was a law school,” Hogue says. Soon after, Hogue received in the mail a Polaroid of the College of Law sign on the Urban Life Building from Dean Johnson and made his commitment official.

Nancy Johnson began her GSU Law career in 1982 as well, as a reference librarian. She also enrolled in the College of Law’s part-time program and finished her J.D. in 1986, at which point she was appointed director of the law library, a position she has held under various titles ever since. Throughout her tenure at GSU, she has taught classes on legal research techniques and bibliography.

“I will miss the ‘library as place,'” Johnson says of leaving. “We always offered our students a reflective place in their hectic lives – not home, not work, and not the classroom.”

E.R. Lanier‘s relationship with GSU actually predates the formation of the College of Law. He first came to the University as a business-school adjunct in the mid-1970s; at the time he was a practicing attorney in Atlanta following several years of active duty in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He joined the full-time faculty in 1977, and in 1981 assisted Dean Johnson in organizing the College of Law following its establishment by the Board of Regents. Lanier has taught various procedural and international courses, including civil procedure, international moot court and the seminar on Georgia legal history.

In 1984, Bernadette Hartfield came on board, specializing in family law, juvenile law, juvenile justice and education law. From the beginning, “the College of Law’s commitment to racial diversity was strong,” she said. “Over the years, the College has been enriched by diversity of all kinds… Organizations like the Black Law Students Association have brought  speakers and programs that focus on social justice, which is an important issue for all who value the law.”

Charles Marvin and Anne Emanuel arrived at the College of Law in 1985 and 1986, respectively. Marvin had been working for the Canadian government at the time and wanted to escape the cold winters. For the past 27 years he has taught administrative law, antitrust law, comparative law, sustainable development law and more. Emanuel, who was a judicial clerk prior to joining the GSU Law faculty, has taught criminal law, criminal procedure, wills & trusts and fiduciary administration.

“When I started, we were unified in our determination to meet the challenge of ABA approval,” Emanuel says. “Once we accomplished that [in 1990], we were unified in our commitment to developing a curriculum that builds on tried and true protocols of legal education and also meets the needs of the present, and that provides our students with opportunities for professional growth. We still are.”

Mark Budnitz, who has taught courses on commercial paper and payment systems, consumer protection, sales and the law of electronic commerce, joined the faculty in 1988.

As he steps into retirement, Budnitz says that he will miss “the excitement of going to class and not knowing what interesting comments the students will offer and questions the students will ask. I’ll also miss spending time with a delightful faculty.”

By all accounts, the Georgia State Law faculty is a close-knit, collegial cohort, and the seven departing professors are held in high regard by colleagues and students alike. This group has seen the College of Law through its formative years, milestones and decades of growth – working toward and achieving accreditation, expanding the faculty and student body, becoming the first law school in Georgia to win the National Moot Court Competition, planning for a new campus home – and, although they are stepping back from full-time teaching, their influence will continue to be felt at GSU Law for years to come.

+ The College of Law Office of Development and Alumni Relations has set up a Web page where current and former students and colleagues can leave notes of thanks and tribute to these professors. Add yours at http://law.gsu.edu/facultytribute.

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