A new era was launched when the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University moved into the Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix in 2016. As ASU Law thrives in its expansive new home, the law school’s alumni group is looking to seize on that momentum and chart a new vision for itself.
“I’m excited about all of the energy that has been infused into the law school in the past several years,” said Gregory Harris, elected as the new president of ASU Law’s Alumni Association at the group’s spring board meeting in April. One of his first goals is to increase the involvement of the school’s graduates.
“We need to energize the Alumni Association and the alumni to become more integrated with the large range of offerings that the law school is making available,” said Harris, a 1983 ASU Law graduate.
And Harris says engaging a greater number of ASU Law’s alumni — a group totaling more than 7,000 — starts with the simple step of awareness: “Awareness of the Alumni Association, and awareness of the opportunities for alumni.”
Along with Harris, the Alumni Association’s new officers are Vice President K Royal (2004), Secretary Anne Bishop Schrock (2006) and Treasurer Ted Wimsatt (2008).
When laying out his vision for the group, Harris said the primary goals are to support the law school and the ambitious efforts of Dean Douglas Sylvester.
“The vision is first to support the law school itself, which includes the administration and students, and to help them understand that there is a legal community out there to assist,” Harris said. “Second, the dean himself has built on his vision of creating a better and stronger presence for the law school. We want to support what the dean has put in motion. Third, with the decision to move downtown, there are new opportunities that didn’t exist when the law school was on the Tempe campus.”
When the law school moved from Armstrong Hall, its longtime home in Tempe, to the new Beus Center, the location, size and amenities of the new facility expanded the school’s presence and potential.
“Its location, close to where many of the firms have their offices, makes it more accessible to members of the legal community,” Harris said. “The space that exists within the new law school makes it possible for the law school to provide a home where important discussions about developments in the legal community can take place. The proximity of the law school to other programs that the university offers allows for the synergies that exist within the law and broader academic community. All of these things make for an exciting time for the law school.”
Julia Moore, who works closely with the Alumni Association as the director of alumni relations for ASU Law, is excited about the vision, leadership and enthusiasm of the new officers.
“I look forward to working together with Greg and the other officers over the coming months to plan and implement programming that will help engage and involve alumni in the life of the college,” Moore said. “I can think of so many ways that our officers and board members can help out and make a difference for fellow alumni and the law school, whether it is to greet alumni at events, meet new or admitted students, play an active role on our new ASU Law Alumni Network online community, or continue to support the annual alumni luncheon and scholarship, which is an established tradition.”
Although there is a social element to any alumni organization, Harris hopes to strengthen the group’s academic involvement.
“For the relationship to be effective, the Alumni Association needs to be informed about events and developments at the law school,” he said. “And the opportunity to be connected academically to the law school, as well as socially to the law school, is an important step.”
Affordability and job placement are top priorities for ASU Law, and Harris hopes the Alumni Association can become a strong partner in those efforts, serving as a resource for the school’s graduates.
“We are looking to grow participation and to encourage involvement in the law school, not only from the standpoint of helping to mentor new students and new grads, but also to provide opportunities for those who have graduated to expand their legal careers and the other opportunities that become available to graduates of the school,” he said, adding that as law school becomes more expensive, it’s important to help students with the economic challenges they may face upon graduation.
Asked what his overall message is for ASU Law alumni, Harris has a simple answer: “Engage.”
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