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Dean Rougeau, Retiring Faculty Honored

In June, the BC Law community came together to celebrate three retiring faculty and the dean.

Photo/Reba Saldanha June 1, 2021 

The BC Law community bid farewell to Dean Vincent Rougeau and three retiring faculty at a recent celebration honoring their careers and contributions. Retiring professors George Brown, Francine Sherman, and Frank Herrmann have served over 110 years combined at BC Law. Both Sherman and Herrmann are also graduates of the Law School. Dean Rougeau recently accepted a position as president of the College of the Holy Cross after nearly 10 years at the helm of BC Law. His tenure will be remembered as one in which the school expanded its global reach, redoubled its support of students, and focused its efforts on advancing the cause of diversity on campus and in the legal profession. 

“I would like to extend my deep appreciation for all of [Dean Rougeau’s] work here with us, his calm leadership style, his focus on both the short and the long term, his optimism, and his strong commitment to a special vision of what BC Law School can offer both its students and society,” said former associate dean of faculty Diane Ring, who was recently named interim dean, starting July 1. Ring pointed out how Rougeau joined the Law School in the midst of a crisis, as the legal profession and legal higher ed was hit hard after the Great Recession, and steered the Law School through, just as he did during the most recent pandemic shutdown. “These challenges have highlighted the importance of real institutional leadership—the ability to do the job and to do it exceedingly well—not just despite these challenges, but building on them,” she said. “I wish him the very best as starts his next new challenge.”

Drinan Professor George Brown is retiring after 50 years of service to BC Law and the legal profession. At the event, William J. Kenealy, S.J., Professor James Repetti outlined some of the remarkable accomplishments of Brown’s career. “George has had an exemplary career in service to the federal government, to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to Boston College Law School, and to the common good through his scholarship,” Repetti said. In highlighting Brown’s many contributions to BC Law, Repetti pointed out that Brown served twice as academic dean, and also served as interim dean for a year during the search that eventually brought Rougeau into the fold. 

Repetti also outlined Brown’s role as a scholar and public servant. During his career, Brown published some 45 scholarly articles and has been cited more than 500 times in court opinions and law reviews, including by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in an influential dissent. Brown has served as legislative assistant to the Governor of Massachusetts and as assistant attorney general of Massachusetts. In 1994, Governor William Weld appointed him chair of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission. 

In the field of federal-state relations, Brown is best known for his articles on the jurisdiction of federal courts and on the federal grant-in-aid system. He has also served as chair of the Section on Federal Courts of the Association of American Law Schools.

Professor and former associate dean for experiential learning Judy McMorrow spoke of Professor Fran Sherman’s many contributions to juvenile law, especially with regards to representing young girls. Sherman built the groundbreaking Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project (JRAP), which she ran for 16 years. “It was innovative before clinics started to be innovative, with a policy component alongside the casework, and deep connections with both local and national juvenile advocacy groups,” McMorrow said, and pointed out the “powerful” role Sherman has played as a leader in juvenile justice. 

Sherman’s 2015 report “Gender Injustice: System-Level Juvenile Justice Reforms for Girls” (co-authored with BC Alum Annie Balck ’05) prompted many prominent politicians and nonprofit leaders to take a closer look at harmful policies that often resulted in locking up traumatized girls who are victims of sexual and other violence. Sherman testified at the White House as part of a juvenile justice reform conference, and in 2016, she received the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps Embracing the Legacy award. 

“JRAP’s clients need someone to represent their interest and hear them,” McMorrow said. “Kids have graduated high school because of JRAP, they’ve received appropriate special education support, and been guided through the juvenile justice system and positioned for success because of the clinic representation. And our JRAP students have gone on to become leaders in juvenile justice and in the bar.”

Professor Sharon Beckman spoke to honor retiring Associate Professor Frank Herrmann, SJ, recounting his legacy as a legendary defense attorney, unforgettable teacher, and devout member of the Society of Jesus. “To three decades of BC Law students, Frank is a beloved teacher and mentor,” Beckman said. She pointed out his range of impact from large podium classes like  Criminal Law, Evidence, and Advanced Criminal Procedure to his role helping lead the BC Defender Trial Clinic for 30 years, and more recently the Parole/Medical Release Clinic. 

Through the years, she said, his mission was clear. “Caring about his students as whole persons and helping develop lifelong habits of heart and mind; critical awareness of facts, especially of the lives of the poor and disempowered; reflection on those facts and on foundational principles of justice, and service rooted in justice and love,” Beckman said. “And for us, your grateful colleagues, we too have benefitted all these years from your scholarly contributions, your brilliant teaching and lawyering, your gentle guidance and compassion, and yes, that famous dry wit….You are the living embodiment of what Boston College Law School aspires to be.”