Wednesday, August 14, 2019

First Day of School

Yesterday was the first day of 1L Orientation at Creighton University School of Law, which meant it was really my first day of school as a dean, too. I've been on the job for a month, but summer school has a very different feel.  This morning I also dropped my son off for this first day of high school.  (And my daughter starts 6th grade tomorrow.) It's a lot of firsts in our new city, at our new schools, and it's exciting. And perhaps a little intimidating. I am sure it was for our 1Ls, just like it was back when I started law school.  And I was about to turn 30.

There's lots of good advice for new law students our there (here, for example), so I focused my brief welcome to our new 1Ls on introducing myself and laying out my expectations for all of us.  This is obviously specific to Creighton Law, though I think and hope it is true at a lot of other places, too. I didn't actually write out a speech, but here's the gist: 

First, I let our new students know that we’re in this together. I chose to be here, and so did they. We all had options, and this is where we chose to be. I wanted to mark that so that we can remember why, when things get tough, we're here in the first place. The reason is at least slightly different for all of us, but we made the same choice. 

Next, I wanted them to know this: I have your back.  I have told the same thing to our faculty and staff, too.  That doesn't mean I can always say yes, but it does mean that I will work to see you, hear you, and help you.  

I also made clear that I would not ignore the past, but I will work to make sure we do not relive it, either. Our institution (like many others) has faced many challenges, internally and externally. We have a path forward and a group of people committed to our students.  I also wanted to make sure that they knew that even when, as a faculty, some of us disagree with each other, we all agree that our students come first. 

I then talked about how I plan to help us move forward: by building a foundation based on trust, faith, and hope. Trust in each other. Faith in our institution and values, spiritual and otherwise. And hope that working together, we can build a better, and more just, future for everyone. I noted that a key thing about faith and trust, is that they are personal choices. No one can give them to others. We can be trustworthy, which I will work to do. And we can support others in their faith.  But we each chose whether to trust and have faith.  By choosing to do this job, I am putting a lot of trust and faith into this institution and its people, and I hope others will do the same. 

Finally, I told our students what I need them to know:

You are a remarkable group. Every one of you belongs here, or you wouldn’t be here. We expect you to succeed, and we will help you succeed. I ask you to do everything you can to be all in. Be open and committed to what you are doing. This is a lot of work if you do it right, and it’s a lot of fun, too.

Good wishes to all of you in whatever your new beginnings may be. It's going to be a heck of a year.

Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Lawyering | Permalink


Josh - your faculty and students are very fortunate. Being a dean at any law school is likely a stiff challenge, but I am sure you will do the job well.

And today was a first for us too. I just dropped my oldest child off at his first day of kindergarten; it is already giving me new perspective on teaching.

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Aug 14, 2019 7:23:14 AM

Dean Fershee,

My name is Billy Pae, I am to be a third year law student at Creighton University School of Law. I was supposed to have a meeting with you this morning at 10:30AM. I missed it because as you know I have been having personal issues and I did not want to dive into all the hardships in my life with a new Dean and create what I thought would be more obstacles in my career path. I happened to look you up to see who I had avoided. I am pleased that I read this personal note from you to the world. I am hopeful that you have my back and care about all the students including me. Forgive me for missing our appointment this morning. May we reschedule? I would so look forward to discussing my issues with you as you genuinely seem to care. I get the feeling that you are a Christian and a kind person. And I find that refreshing as I am a good person too. Please contact me at billypae@[redacted].com to reschedule our appointment so that I may register for my final year of law school. I would so appreciate it. Thank you!

Posted by: Billy Pae | Aug 14, 2019 8:59:06 AM

Thanks for your note, Billy. I will email you directly.

Posted by: Joshua Fershee | Aug 14, 2019 12:12:25 PM

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