Monday, April 29, 2019

Reflections on the Life of a Smiling, Selfless Educator: Rivers Lynch

Rivers

On Sunday morning, Rivers Lynch, a beloved member of my wife’s side of our family, died suddenly of natural causes. Rivers spent his professional life as an educator – over four decades as a teacher, an administrator, a driving instructor, and a coach of various sports. In 2007, he was inducted into the South Carolina Athletics Coaches Association Hall of Fame for his many successful seasons as a tennis coach, including 11 state championships. Even this year, at the age of 72, he continued to coach the Myrtle Beach High School tennis team.  

The outpouring of support on social media has been incredible to witness. Rivers, quite literally, positively affected the lives of thousands of students, colleagues, neighbors, and family members. A few of the countless posts include words like: “I’ve yet to meet anyone so kind and caring.” “Every single person was special to him.” “Truly humble…always greeting me with a smile and making me feel welcome.” “The truest most genuine person I’ve ever had the honor to know.” “A father like figure to all of us.” “A beautiful soul…that smile always brightened my day.” “Touched so many lives.” “Always championed students who were ‘underdogs.’” “My favorite teacher.” “The hero most of us didn’t deserve.”

How did Rivers make such a positive difference in the lives of so many people?

Three interrelated things spring to mind. A Genuine Smile. The headline for Myrtle Beach Online noted what so many people remember about Rivers – that he was “always smiling.” I can’t remember Rivers without his ear to ear smile that absolutely lit up every room he entered. Focused on Others. Rivers won numerous awards as an educator, but he always turned the attention to the success of others. He had well over 3000 Facebook friends (and many more in-real-life-friends), and he constantly celebrated the achievements of his students, colleagues, and family members. He was truly interested in the details of your life, had a remarkable memory for past conversations, and was always fully present. Relentlessly Positive. Rivers was an optimist. While I heard that he could be tough as a coach when the time called for it, he preferred to uplift. Sadly, at least one study shows that pessimism pays in the study of law, but Rivers’ approach to life always reminded me of the deeper benefits of focusing on the positive.

On June 22, 2010, I met Rivers for the first time. On that day, I drove from Charleston to North Myrtle Beach to meet my girlfriend’s extended family. I already knew Katie was the woman I wanted to marry, but I was a bit intimidated at the thought of walking into their family reunion at Rivers’ home. I convinced my youngest brother Sam to join me for support, and we stopped at an outlet mall where we bought him a respectable, collared shirt for the occasion. As I approached Rivers’ front door, I started to sweat even more than typical in the South Carolina summer heat. But, as soon as Rivers opened the door--beaming and offering some spectacular lemonade--I instantly felt welcomed. I remarked to my now mother-in-law that in just a few hours Rivers made me feel like his best friend. Reading over the Facebook comments again, it seems like Rivers made a lot of people feel that way, and he somehow managed to uplift thousands of people in a completely authentic manner.

I cannot fully explain how Rivers positively affected so many people during his time as an educator, but his life reminds me of the power of a genuine smile, the strength of selflessness, and the benefits of an optimist outlook. 

April 29, 2019 in Haskell Murray, Service, Sports, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Petition to Create AALS Section Community Economic Development

My friend and colleague, Priya Baskaran, asked me to post the following, which I am happy to do: 

Over the past year, a critical mass of law school faculty and staff have expressed interest in establishing an AALS Section on Community Economic Development (CED). The proposed section will provide a dynamic, collaborative environment to enhance the scholarship, activism, and direct legal work of CED-focused faculty and professional staff. Notably, the section will help bridge existing gaps between various actors in the CED universe by increasing opportunities for networking and enabling greater synergy and collaboration between scholars and experts in various substantive subjects and disciplines related to CED. Interested faculty and professional staff are invited to read the full petition.

I think this is a great idea, and I will be signing the petition (here).  I have been working with an interdisciplinary group on my campus, WVU Center for Innovation in Gas Research and Utilization (CIGRU). We are a multidisciplinary group of researchers who are experts in science, engineering, environmental, policy, law, and finance. The CIGRU conducts research and services relevant to gas, oil, and chemicals. Our experimental research includes broad areas covering catalysis, reaction engineering, material science, power generation, and gas turbine. The CIGRU undertakes U.S. government- and industry-funded research projects developing clean and renewable energy technologies. Our services include air emission control, regulatory and policy, law and finance relevant to shale gas.

I have been leading CIGRU's Economic and Community Development Group for the past few years.  About 18 months ago, CIGRU earned a five-year seed grant awarded by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, under its Research Challenge Grant program. The WVU gas utilization team includes eight CIGRU researchers, working in partnership with Marshall University, the WVU Energy Institute, the WVU Bureau for Business and Economic Research, the West Virginia Chemical Alliance Zone, Morgantown’s National Energy Technology Laboratory and the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center. So, this idea resonates with me. I think this is a great idea, and it has my support. If you agree, I hope you'll sign on, too.  

For anyone interested, CIRGUs grant announcement and a description of the program are available after the jump. 

Continue reading

April 16, 2019 in Conferences, Current Affairs, Entrepreneurship, Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Service | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

University of New Mexico: Faculty Position in Business Law and/or Intellectual Property

UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO SCHOOL OF LAW

BUSINESS LAW AND/OR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

OPEN RANK FACULTY POSITION

The University of New Mexico ("UNM") School of Law invites applications for a faculty position in Business Law and/or Intellectual Property. The faculty position is a full-time tenured or tenure-track position starting in Fall 2018. Entry-level and experienced teachers are encouraged to apply. Courses taught by this faculty member could include general business courses, intellectual property courses, and commercial law courses. Candidates must possess a J.D. or equivalent legal degree. Preferred qualifications include a record of demonstrated excellence or the promise of excellence in teaching and academic scholarship and who demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and student success, as well as working with broadly diverse communities. Academic rank and salary will be based on experience and qualifications. For best consideration, applicants should apply by October 22, 2017. The position will remain open until filled. For complete information, visit the UNMJobs website: https://unmjobs.unm.edu/. The position is listed as Open Rank – Business Law Requisition Number 2761.

The University of New Mexico is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Direct Link to Job: https://unm.csod.com/ats/careersite/jobdetails.aspx?site=1&c=unm&id=2761&m=-1&u=16023

October 11, 2017 in Jobs, Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Research/Scholarhip, Service, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Law & Wellness: Interview with Jodi D. Taylor (Shareholder at Baker Donelson)

Jodi D. Taylor, a shareholder at the law firm Baker Donelson and a former classmate of mine, recently won the firm’s Work-Life Warrior Award. “Baker Donelson established the Work-Life Warrior Award to honor an attorney in the Firm who demonstrates an ongoing commitment to excellence in maintaining a healthy work-life balance or has advocated on behalf of work-life balance issues for the benefit of others.” Jodi graciously accepted my request to answer a few questions for this post, as part of the series I am doing on law and wellness.

The interview is below the break.

Continue reading

August 18, 2017 in Haskell Murray, Lawyering, Service, Wellness | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Priorities, Principles, Politicians, and Professors

In this semester's student mentorship group, we have been discussing personal priorities and principles. The consensus from the students seems to be that this topic is not only useful, but also more difficult than originally envisioned. A number of the students expressed a lack of clarity regarding their own priorities and life principles, but they recognized the need for deep thinking about those things.

Outlining priorities and principles could be a useful exercise for politicians and professors as well. Without a clear understanding of our priorities and principles, we often drift toward our political parties and the visible rewards dangled in front of us.

Regarding both politicians and professors, I am most inspired by those who take stands that do not benefit their party or themselves, but rather make the stand because it is the “right thing” to do. Professors, obviously, have more freedom to seek and speak the truth, but I think that professors' impact will be greater if they stick to their principles regardless of the party in power.

Of course sticking to priorities and principles does not guarantee a good or admirable outcome. One must have “good” priorities and principles. What qualifies as “good” is beyond the scope of this short blog post, but I do think priorities and principles that are selfless (or as selfless as we are capable of being) tend to be good ones.

April 21, 2017 in Business School, Ethics, Haskell Murray, Service, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 3, 2017

J.D. Vance and Mentors

A few months ago, J.D. Vance, Yale Law School graduate and author of New York Times Best Seller Hillbilly Elegy, talked about "America's forgotten working class."

With the rise of Donald Trump, Vance's book and the book's topic have been much discussed.

I, however, want to focus on Vance's discussion after the 10 minute mark where he thanks various mentors for helping him overcome family financial, and community-based problems. Without a stable immediate family, Vance found guidance from his grandparents, the military, and his professors.

Raised in a predominately individualistic culture, I believed, for a long time, that hard work was the primary driver of success. I still think individual dedication is important, but looking back, I am also incredibly thankful for the many people who provided a helping hand along the way.

While most schools do not specifically reward it, I think professors are particularly well situated to mentor students. We can also be incredibly helpful to our more junior colleagues. Recognizing the value of the mentors in my own life, I do hope to "pay it forward" and become increasingly involved in the mentorship process.

February 3, 2017 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Law School, Service, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Better Meetings, Better Teaching

During the past few days, I have participated in a lot of meetings.

This has led to some thinking on what makes a good meeting.

To me, a useful meeting is one that accomplishes things that could not be handled appropriately by an e-mail. Some meetings are held, I am convinced, because those calling the meetings are not sure that participants read and pay attention to e-mails. This worry could be best addressed, in my opinion, by making expectations regarding e-mail management clear, perhaps coupled with consequences for those who ignore the contents.

That said, e-mail is not appropriate in all cases and here are four categories where in-person meetings can work better than e-mail:

  1. Inspire. Perhaps some can be inspired over e-mail, but it seems much easier to inspire in person. As such, I think some good meetings can be used to inspire participants to achieve organizational goals. But inspiring others, especially sometimes cynical professors, can be difficult to do.
  2. Build Relationships. Sometimes the only times you see certain colleagues are at faculty meetings, so meetings can be a good way to build relationships, especially if folks hang around before and after meetings or if significant time is given for small group discussion.
  3. Engage in Group Discussions. E-mail is pretty good for one-way communication, but as anyone who has been on a group e-mail with hundreds of replies knows, e-mail isn’t great for dynamic group conversation. As such, it may make sense to have meetings when a group needs to converse about working through an issue. That said, preparation for the meeting can often be done alone, and the lion-share of the conversation can be done in small groups.
  4. Engage in Difficult Conversations. When tone is important, e-mail is often inadequate. Thus, in-person meetings may be important for communication of sensitive or controversial information.

When meetings focus on things that cannot be done remotely, I think meetings can be quite useful. Similarly, when teaching, we should think – what is it that students cannot get through an e-mail, the internet, or an online class? We should focus on those things. As such, I am trying to do even more interactive projects and small group discussions in class this semester.

August 26, 2016 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Law School, Service, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Business School Legal Studies Professors on Twitter

Bridget Crawford (Pace Law) has posted an extensive list of law school professors on Twitter that is available here.

Previously, I compiled a list of business law professors, in both business schools and law schools, but to avoid overlapping with Bridget's list, I am only including business school legal studies professors in this updated list.

I will update the list from time to time. Updated: August 30, 2018.

Perry Binder (Georgia State) – @Perry_Binder

Jody Blanke (Mercer) – @JodyBlanke

Seletha Butler (Georgia Tech) – @ProfSButler

Kabrina Chang (Boston University) – @ProfessorChang

Peter Conti-Brown (Penn/Wharton) – @PeterContiBrown

Greg Day (Georgia) – @gregrrday

Laura Dove (Troy) – @LauraRDove

Marc Edelman (CUNY/Baruch) – @MarcEdelman

Adam Epstein (Central Michigan) – @AdamEpstein

Kevin Fandl (Temple) – @kfandl

Jason Gordon (Georgia Gwinnett) – @JMGordonLaw

Nathaniel Grow (Indiana) – @NathanielGrow

Enrique Guerra-Pujol (Central Florida) – @lawscholar

Lori Harris-Ransom (Caldwell) – @HarrisRansom

Laura Pincus Hartman (DePaul) – @LauraHartman

Kathryn Kisska-Schulze (Clemson) – @ KKisska13

Mike Koval (Salisbury) – @MikeKoval123

Jeremy Kress (Michigan) – @Jeremy_Kress

Lydie Louis (Hult) – @LydieLouis

Tanya Marcum (Bradley) – @Marcumland

Haskell Murray (Belmont) – @HaskellMurray

David Orozco (Florida State) – @ProfessorOrozco

Eric Orts (Penn/Wharton)– @EricOrts

Jennifer Pacella (CUNY/Baruch) – @ProfPacella

Marisa Pagnattaro (Georgia) – @pagnattaro

Joshua Perry (Indiana) – @ProfJoshPerry

Matthew Phillips (Wake Forest) – @mtppilot

Griffen Pivateau (Oklahoma State) – @pivateau

Angie Raymond (Indiana) – @AngRaymond

Susan Samuelson (Boston University) – @bizlawupdate

Tim Samples (Georgia) – @TimRSamples

Inara Scott (Oregon State) – @NewEnergyProf

Mike Schuster (Oklahoma State) – @Prof_Schuster

Donna Steslow (Kutztown) – @BusLawProf

Adam Sulkowski (UMass-Dartmouth) – @adam_sulkowski

Peter Swire (Georgia Tech) – @peterswire

Jennifer Cordon Thor (Oakland) – @jenthor2000

Gregory Voss (Toulouse) – @wgvoss

Whitney Westrich (Cincinnati) – @WhitneyWestrich

Eric Yordy (No. Arizona) – @EricYordy

July 2, 2015 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Service, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3)