Dean’s Message

When Gregory Hayes Swanson registered for classes on Sept. 15, 1950, he became the first African- American student to attend the Law School and enroll at the University of Virginia. Swanson believed that his admission to UVA would represent “a triumph in the struggle to break down segregation and discrimination.” Indeed, it did. In that moment, an in­stitution founded in 1819 — on the eve of its bicentennial as I write — changed forever.

This past Feb. 5, with Caplin Pavilion filled to capacity with members of the Swanson family, students, faculty, staff, University leaders and returning alumni, the Law School commemorated Swanson and the new era he initiated in our history.

Dean Risa Goluboff

With the inauguration of an annual Gregory Swanson Award and the hanging of his portrait in the entrance to the Arthur J. Morris Law Library, we hope that Swanson’s story and example will endure as part of our future as well as our past. Swanson exemplifies the very best of the UVA lawyer, then and now. He reminds us that the law is at its most inspiring when individuals identify a problem the law can address, take responsibility for it and feel empowered to act. The best tribute we can offer Swanson is to educate both our community and the broader public about the man and his history — to remind us always of the courage, perseverance and imagination that a commitment to justice requires.

Beyond his own story, Swanson’s enduring legacy is the diverse and inclusive community we have become. In this issue of the magazine, you will learn more about Swanson and the many African-American students who have followed him to the Law School. Given the challenges of race in America these past 60 years, many of them also followed his example of seeking justice by personally investing in the betterment of the Law School, the law and the larger society. They have succeeded wildly in every sector of the profession and well beyond it.

In the months ahead, we will be celebrating more of our history as we mark the bicentennial of the Law School and the University. I look forward to hearing your stories and memories, for together we make the Law School the esteemed and vibrant institution that it is today. You are the source of its strength, and as we plan for our third century, you will carry us forward.

This past Feb. 5, with Caplin Pavilion filled to capacity with members of the Swanson family, students, faculty, staff, University leaders and returning alumni, the Law School commemorated Swanson and the new era he initiated in our history.

With the inauguration of an annual Gregory Swanson Award and the hanging of his portrait in the entrance to the Arthur J. Morris Law Library, we hope that Swanson’s story and example will endure as part of our future as well as our past. Swanson exemplifies the very best of the UVA lawyer, then and now. He reminds us that the law is at its most inspiring when individuals identify a problem the law can address, take responsibility for it and feel empowered to act. The best tribute we can offer Swanson is to educate both our community and the broader public about the man and his history — to remind us always of the courage, perseverance and imagination that a commitment to justice requires.

Beyond his own story, Swanson’s enduring legacy is the diverse and inclusive community we have become. In this issue of the magazine, you will learn more about Swanson and the many African-American students who have followed him to the Law School. Given the challenges of race in America these past 60 years, many of them also followed his example of seeking justice by personally investing in the betterment of the Law School, the law and the larger society. They have succeeded wildly in every sector of the profession and well beyond it.

In the months ahead, we will be celebrating more of our history as we mark the bicentennial of the Law School and the University. I look forward to hearing your stories and memories, for together we make the Law School the esteemed and vibrant institution that it is today. You are the source of its strength, and as we plan for our third century, you will carry us forward.

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