Segall: College Reflects Kaminshine’s Values of Putting Students First
College, Alumni and Friends Celebrate Accomplishments of Dean’s Tenure
“It takes a village to build an institution, and this is a great institution and a remarkable village,” said Eric J. Segall, Kathy and Lawrence Ashe Professor of Law at a Thursday, May 18, for a reception honoring Dean Steven J. Kaminshine for his service to Georgia State Law. Kaminshine is stepping down as dean in June to return to faculty.
“This institution to a significant degree reflects the values of Steven J. Kaminshine and those values, of first and foremost are a complete commitment to students, to excellence, to professionalism, to ethical lawyering, and to the building an amazing community of alumni faculty and staff that will take us as far as we can go,” Segall said.
He shared a story that exemplifies Steve’s leadership and personality.
“During one crisis …there were 15 different points of view in the room, it was a very tense time. After everybody expressed their views over and over dogmatically, Steve came up with the solution. It was a great solution and it pleased everybody and that’s what he does,” Segall said. “When there is a problem in the room and five people are arguing for their slice of the pie, Steve will make sure each and every one of them leaves with a slice of the pie and 99 times out of 100, a fair and balanced slice of the pie. That is a personality trait that not only serves Steve well as dean, but makes him an unbelievable friend.”
Kaminshine leads with heart and dignity, he said. “He has an intuitive natural, organic, humanity and goodness that is just so rare. He hears all points of view, he is patient, he was always the last person in the room to speak.”
Georgia State University President Mark Becker called Kaminshine a team player.
“His commitment to the university and his willingness to do what is right for the university has manifested time and time again and for that the university thanks you,” he said.
Becker credited Kaminshine’s leadership for the continual growth in excellence of the college throughout his tenure as dean. He pointed to the fact that Kaminshine has served 12 years as dean when the average tenure for a law school dean is five years.
“That doesn’t just happen—the way you get to serve for more than a decade in this era in which there has been tremendous turnover and change is by being truly extraordinary, and Steve Kaminshine has been a truly extraordinary dean.”
Kaminshine accomplished much more than merely fulfilling his administrative duties as dean, Christopher “Sutton” Connelly (J.D. ’09) said.
“He embodied that which the College of Law attempted to instill in its graduates as he operated on an individual to individual basis, exhibiting determination, dedication and devotion to those around him,” Connelly said.
When his father died during his second semester of law school, Connelly felt “like a sail without wind.” However, when he returned to college, he found motivation and mentorship in Kaminshine.
“During that period, Steve met with me almost weekly to discuss everything from life to law, but subtly in every one of those meetings, making sure I was on top of that which I needed to be to complete my education,” Connelly said.
“He helped me to discover the determination needed to confront personal adversity,” Connelly said. “He also showed me the dedication to become what I like to think is a successful lawyer and as a result, I am devoted to this institution, the development of the legal minds that it produces and most of all, its longtime leader. You are most certainly a mentor to me as I am sure you are to many others. We applaud you for what you have done not only for the legal profession, but for the young minds you have helped to shape and mold.”
When Dawn M. Jones (J.D.’ 00) attended the college, starting in 1996, Kaminshine was associate dean for academic affairs, otherwise known as “the guy you go to when you have issues,” she said.
A part-time student, Jones took advantage of Kaminshine’s “open-door policy” to speak with him about something she and other part-time students had noticed. The majority of student organizations’ events were held during lunch. Part-time students were missing out on the programs—and the free food.
“Dean Kaminshine encouraged me to reach out to the student organizations’ leadership, to ensure that these programs involve part-time students. That conversation launched my political and board governance career,” Jones said. She became a representative of the part-time students on the Student Bar Association. “I then beat out two full time students for the vice president position and then ran for president of SBA. So Dean Kaminshine, I credit you with putting me on this leadership path—well, I actually credit you and pizza.”
Jones said Kaminshine was always available for guidance as a student, later as she was president of the alumni association and as a Board of Visitors member.
“I consider this law school a family,” she said. “[Dean Kaminshine] You embody dedication and service and we appreciate that. Thank you for the contributions you have made to build on the firm foundation of this law school, making it even brighter, a more shining example of the best legal education and commitment to service in the state.”
Catherine C. Henson (J.D. ’89) started Georgia State Law as a part-time student in 1985, the same year Kaminshine joined the faculty.
“Over the last 33 years he has been my professor, my colleague, my dean and my friend,” she said. “Steve has embodied the ethos of this place. It is hard to imagine another individual who has had or will have a greater impact on this institution than Steve. The depth and breadth of his impact on the faculty, on the curriculum, on the student body on the alumni is immeasurable. His crowning achievement, this fabulous, signature building, is a testament to his perseverance and dogged determination.”
Cheryl Jester-George, senior director of admissions said she has great admiration and appreciation for Kaminshine, who she has worked alongside for over three decades.
“You are not afraid to roll up your sleeves and get dirty as you work with the staff; your hard work and dedication has served us all well,” she said. “You became like that miner, digging for gold working long hours, days and nights, serving as an ambassador and as an advocate for the deans of the College of Law.
“Because of your vision, what was once invisible to others is tangible to all and we are so, so happy. We thank you for your great vision and leadership.”
Carelle Karimimanesh sent a message to Kaminshine via video. After losing their daughter, Naiyareh Karimimanesh (J.D. ’05) in a tragic car accident in 2007, Kaminshine became part of their family, Karimimanesh said. “He became someone we counted on, someone whose love was unconditional.
“I am thrilled that though he is moving on from being the dean, he will rejoin the faculty where he will inspire others to engage and be motivated toward improving our society through the law. This is who Steve Kaminshine was to my Naiyareh, and who he is to me. It is a great honor to count him as my friend.”
After a good-natured roast of Kaminshine, Roy M. Sobelson, professor of law and former associate dean for academic affairs, said Kaminshine has been like a brother to him in the 30 years they have worked together. One of the things he and other faculty members have appreciated about Kaminshine’s leadership as dean is the opportunities he gave them.
“And not just the opportunity to create and shine, but actually be recognized for it as well. I cannot express the admiration I have for you, the thanks I have for you, the incredible joy that it has been working with you. You are the most consequential thing that has ever happened to this school,” he said.
Kaminshine said he appreciated all of the remarks, but the credit doesn’t go only to him. “Let’s be clear. Celebrating a deanship is a proxy. We are a celebrating a College of Law and university and and the accomplishments we as a community built over 13 years. This isn’t false modesty, it’s the truth.”
He praised the faculty, students, alumni and staff for their respective roles in the success and welcoming environment of the College of Law, an institution that he loves “as a parent loves a child.”
“It’s very hard to come up with the words that will adequately show my gratitude and my appreciation,” he said.