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Reception for Law School Dean Ken Gormley September 2, 2010

Good evening and welcome to this special occasion. Although I am surrounded by lawyers in my personal life – my wife, Judge Sandra Dougherty; my daughter, son-in-law, and godson are all lawyers – I can say with some certainty that I have never been at a gathering with so many of the very best of a legal community. Your presence here today sends a powerful message of the standing Ken Gormley enjoys in our legal community, your commitment to Duquesne’s School of Law, and the type of support Dean Gormley can expect as he puts his plans for our law school into action.

I want to say just a few words about Ken, about our shared vision for the future of the Duquesne’s School of Law, and about my complete confidence in his ability to bring that vision to fruition.

Ken Gormley is a highly successful and respected teacher and scholar – both critical characteristics a university president looks for when selecting a dean. He is also a man of intelligence, character and the highest moral integrity. And, not surprising for a native son of Pittsburgh, he has a very strong work ethic. Again, these are all critical traits in the choice of a leader.

But there is one other characteristic of Dean Gormley that is made clear in his most high-profile publications. As you are all aware, Ken has authored two critically acclaimed books that chronicle two of the most controversial and partisan periods in American political history—one on the events that led to Nixon’s resignation and the other on the lead-up to Clinton’s impeachment. Both of these books have been exhaustively reviewed and analyzed from every conceivable angle and by partisans of all sides. Despite the variety of assessments, there is one element of common praise that emerges from these reviews. Every reviewer points out the extraordinary fairness with which the author treats these two highly polarizing events. Indeed, it was because of the remarkable fairness displayed in the earlier Watergate book that Ken was able to gain direct access to the key players in the Whitewater-Lewinsky matter. Individuals on each side of that episode felt that a book written by Gormley gave them the best shot at a fair written record of the period.

Now one does not – I would argue that one cannot – express this depth of fairness as an author without possessing fairness itself as a fixed temperament of mind. That kind of instinctive personal fairness is perhaps the most important characteristic for a dean, especially for the dean of a law school, and particularly for Duquesne University’s School of Law at this point in its history.

I hope you all received my recent letter to alumni in which I reflect on our goals for the future of the law school. I am sure Dean Gormley will offer you more on his vision during his remarks, so I won’t repeat the specifics of my letter. I do, however, want to assure you of the University’s commitment to work collaboratively with the School of Law toward achievement of these goals. The first and most important step in the process has been the appointment of a strong and highly capable leader. Now we will work together to set and attain the highest standards for our law school. We will be partners in seeking to secure the financial support needed to achieve these objectives. We will ignore the intentional distractions created by the few on the periphery who want to maintain an unacceptable status quo. And when the inevitable barriers to progress occur, we will work together to move past them and to maintain our momentum forward.

Duquesne’s national reputation is shining as never before, so that for the University as a whole, this is truly “a great time in the life of a great university.” I have never been as confident as I am today in saying that with Dean Ken Gormley’s leadership, we are on the threshold of “a truly great time in the life of a great law school.”

Please join me in formally welcoming the 11th Dean of the Duquesne University School of Law, Ken Gormley.