April 13, 2004

Ceremony honors law students' achievements

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An awards ceremony later this week will recognize the academic achievements and hard work of law students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Students will receive nearly $500,000 in scholarships and grants.

"I think one of the best things about the awards ceremony is it gives us a chance to not only recognize students for their achievement, but it allows the law school community in one opportunity to hear about the great things that are happening at the school of law," said Michael P. Ruiz, law school director of admissions, media and communications.

The awards ceremony is at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 15, at the Carbondale Civic Center. The event is free to the public. A reception at 5 p.m. starts the evening.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the awards ceremony. For more information, contact law school director of admissions, media and communications, Michael P. Ruiz, at 618/453-8858, or Elizabeth Murphy, law school director of alumni affairs and annual giving, at 618/453-4811.

Approximately 75 students will receive 61 awards, with some awards recognizing multiple winners. The awards are for accomplishments during the spring 2003 semester through this academic year, said assistant clinical professor John Erbes, who chairs the awards committee.

The committee selects some award winners, while external sources select other recipients, Erbes said.

Several awards honor individuals who served the law school, or who had an interest in the law school. For example, one endowed scholarship to a current second-year student honors the late Richard E. Richman, a longtime First Judicial Circuit judge. Another award, the Gilbert Family Memorial Scholarship, goes to students from Southern Illinois who show economic need and evidence of service to the law school. Among other awards are the Illinois State Bar Foundation, the Women's Bar Foundation in Chicago, and the Julius and Norma Johnson Scholarship, which is for third-year African American law students with the highest GPA at the end of their second year.

Erbes said the awards program continues to grow, noting that the law school is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

"I think for the size of the law school, being a public institution and being a relatively new institution, it is very significant," he said. "There is a substantial amount of money, and the donors have shown clear support for the law school."

The ceremonies also allow family members to share in a student's achievement, said Erbes.

Law school "is a big commitment for the students as well as their families, especially those who have families and children," he said. "It tops off their accomplishment that they have been able to make it through two or three years of law school."

Achieving excellence in graduate and professional programs is among the goals of Southern@150, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.