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Brewer speaks at Dean's Session

April 22, 2009

In her 12th week as the CEO of the state of Arizona, Gov. Janice Brewer visited the College of Law and recited a favorite quotation from the 20th President of the United States, James A. Garfield.

"Things don't turn up in this world until somebody turns them up," the governor told a group of first-year students during a session with Dean Paul Schiff Berman on April 16. "And I think that you will be doing just that."

Brewer, a Republican who was Secretary of State for six years, took over for former Gov. Janet Napolitano in January when Napolitano became the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration. Brewer had last visited the College of Law when her son, Michael, was a law student.

She was introduced by Phoenix attorney Ernest Calderón, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents who characterized her as "a champion of higher education at a time when we have no champions."

Berman credited Brewer with working to "find a way to get through this budget crisis without completely decimating the university system." The governor understands the important role that universities long have played in educating citizens and providing a research engine for economic progress, he said.

Brewer also is "someone who cares about poor people," Calderón said. "She and I worked together on a major project to help the homeless in Phoenix against some very powerful foes who want to close their eyes to the homeless."

He was referring to Brewer's announcement that $771,000 is being awarded to help homeless shelters facing imminent closure. The funding, through the Arizona Housing Trust Fund, will enable five shelters in the Phoenix metropolitan area, Tucson and Prescott to continue helping more than 700 Arizonans into next fiscal year.

With a $10 billion budget, and a $3 billion deficit, "Arizona is facing a catastrophic time," Brewer told the law students. She expressed confidence, however, that first-year law students will survive the semester, and she will lead the state out of the budget crisis.

Brewer explained her primary jobs at the Capitol - appointing Arizona Supreme Court justices, and judges on the Appeals Court and on some Superior Court benches, reviewing clemency requests, and serving as a defendant in lawsuits challenging the state's laws and procedures. Recent budget problems have been time-consuming, the governor said, noting (ret.) U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra O'Connor recently offered her help with state issues.

"I believe you have every reason to be very, very proud that your college bears the name of this great jurist and Arizona legend," Brewer said.

The governor took a few questions from students, and also was accompanied by Richard Bark, her Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, and Joseph Kanefield, her General Counsel, who talked about their career paths and the importance of public service work.

"I encourage you to look at the public-sector service because it's very satisfying to know you are making a difference," Bark said.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law