As was the case with our founding dean, Ben F. Johnson Jr., it is impossible to overstate the significance of Steve’s leadership. Dean Johnson’s job was simply stated, but not easy to achieve. Working from scratch, he had to create an accredited public education facility equally accessible to students, mostly in the Southeast, seeking full-time and part-time legal education.
Once Dean Johnson and his successors had achieved that basic goal, though, it was no small task to figure out where to go from there. We could, for example, focus our attention on attracting the best-credentialed students available, reaching beyond the Southeast to the entire world.
We could hire faculty with proven academic excellence and promise of greater prominence nationally or internationally, attracting them with opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary work at Georgia State and other schools, as well as governmental and community organizations. We could develop specialty programs to provide unique academic and practical opportunities.
We could build a spectacularly inviting facility, reflecting the newest trends in legal education and design and providing conference space for university, community and private functions. We could work with local government, the bar and private enterprise to make the law school an internationally recognized center for dispute resolution. Or we could focus on experiential education, adding new classroom, clinical, externship and center activities for the benefit of our students and the community.
What’s so impressive about Steve is that he has achieved all of these things and more. Every day, he has demonstrated two of the most important qualities a leader can have. First, he fosters an atmosphere in which everyone is encouraged to think outside of the box and be bold. And second, he’s been willing — no, anxious — to develop and use our resources to make those bold initiatives a reality.
Steve sometimes says no, of course. But he is never afraid to say yes, which is why we have come so far in such a short time. Bravo and thanks, Steve, for a job very well done.
— Roy Sobelson, professor of law and former associate dean for academic affairs