A Welcome from Dean Jacob H. Rooksby - Life in Stillness

Jacob H. Rooskby

September 29, 2022
Gonzaga Law

This past academic year was marked by achievement and flourishing in the face of prolonged periods of difficulty and uncertainty for our students and society. The pandemic once again impacted our ability to socialize, work, and travel freely. And just when we thought it was over, crisis-mode living persisted.

Fortunately, Gonzaga’s commitment to in-person instruction enabled us to continue living, working, and learning in an educational community noted for its compassion and concern for the individual. While the world at times seemed to stand still, we managed to find vibrant life in that stillness, forging connections, strengthening community, and manifesting care for the whole person in the best tradition of Jesuit education.

Our mission shines through the intangibles. This past year, we announced the elimination of conditional scholarships for all current and entering students. Going forward, each scholarship we offer is guaranteed for the duration of the student’s time with us. This promise aligns with our desire to walk with our students in support of their journey toward becoming attorneys, no matter the ups and downs along the way.

Our recent class sizes reflect strong interest in Gonzaga and life in the beautiful Inland Northwest. The class entering in fall 2021 was our largest since 2007, and our most diverse class ever. The class entering this Fall is just as accomplished, in quantity and quality. And as former Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire (’77 J.D.) told graduates at Commencement in May, the ability of ZagLaw graduates to impact the world is limitless. Gonzaga Law alumni consistently impress their peers, reaching the highest levels of influence in our profession and society.

Our Center for Civil & Human Rights (CCHR) and Center for Law, Ethics & Commerce (CLEC) continue to polish our prestige and focus, drawing new faculty to our ranks whose scholarly work supports these important academic centers that showcase, from different approaches, our concern for social justice. Professor Jeffrey Omari, an anthropologist and our former CCHR Fellow, returned to Gonzaga Law this year from Northern Illinois College of Law. Also joining the faculty are employment law expert Professor Dallan Flake from Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law, and health law and antitrust scholar Professor Theodosia Stavroulaki, a former Jaharis Faculty Fellow at DePaul College of Law.

Gonzaga Law donors and benefactors help us advance the Law School in important ways. With more than $5 million in cash gifts since 2018, I am extremely thankful for the financial generosity that enabled us to initiate new programs that underscore our attention to diversity – such as the Honorable Franklin D. Burgess (’66 J.D.) Law Scholarship, the Carl Maxey (’51 J.D.) Social Justice Scholarship Program, and the Lincoln LGBTQ+ Rights Clinic – as well as launch new initiatives that help build our brand and attract faculty, like the Gonzaga University Wine Institute, CLEC, and the Clute-Holleran Scholar in Corporate Law.

To embrace life in stillness is a daily feat of reflection and discernment. The challenges of our times require us to keep doing just that. Beauty surrounds us. Sources of hope are infinite. The only normal is now. And beyond zealous advocacy, the lawyer’s job also is to comfort and to connect. We are all leaders, leading all the time.

Swiss philosopher and poet Henri Frédéric Amiel captured well the opportunity and challenge we face: “Life is short. We have too little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind.” In that spirit, we proceed onward, as people and as an institution, with humility and a passion we put into practice.

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