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75 Years in the Law

75th kickoff event

Father Robert F. Drinan, S.J.
October 4, 2004

Father Robert F. Drinan, S.J., who served as the Dean of BC Law from 1956 through 1970View streaming video of event (latest version of RealPlayer required: get RealPlayer)

Boston College Law School held the kickoff event to celebrate the School’s 75 years in existence on Monday, October 4, 2004, welcoming Father Robert F. Drinan, S.J., back to campus to address the Law School community. The celebration drew close to 300 people to campus as Father Drinan, who served as the Dean of BC Law from 1956 through 1970, kept the crowd enthralled with an energetic and inspiring speech. Drinan received the Law School’s first Distinguished Service medal, in recognition of his many great contributions to the School, the legal profession, and the public interest.

“Father Bob Drinan was one of the most influential deans in the history of the School,” said BC Law Dean John H. Garvey in introducing Drinan. “He was instrumental in expanding and improving the reputation of Boston College Law throughout the nation. I am constantly hearing stories from alumni who were inspired by him, who thank him for getting them into Law School and starting their careers. He has been a personal hero to me.”

Throughout Fr. Drinan’s tenure as Dean, he devoted his talent and endless supply of energy to bringing national stature to the Law School and to staying on the forefront of innovation in legal education. During his long career he has also served as a priest, professor, lawyer, politician and human rights activist. He has received over twenty honorary degrees, including degrees from Georgetown, Loyola (Chicago), Villanova, Syracuse and Santa Clara.

“In an amazing career that has spanned more than half a century, Father Drinan has never faltered in his extraordinary humanitarian efforts and support for justice under the law,” said Dennis W. Archer, President of the American Bar Association, in announcing the selection of Robert F. Drinan. S.J., for the ABA Medal, the ABA’s highest honor, in August 2004. “He has demonstrated to lawyers what it means to be committed to public service and to countless law students what is embodied in the highest dedication to ethical, moral legal practice.”

Fr. Drinan served in the United States Congress as a Representative from Massachusetts from 1971 to 1981. He was a member of House committees on the Judiciary, Internal Security, and Government Operations and of the House Select Committee on Aging. He chaired the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice of the House Judiciary Committee, and was a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic Study Group of the Environmental Study Conference and the Steering Committee of Members of Congress for Peace Through Law.

As a Congressman, his travels included official Congressional delegations to Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, and Japan. He has also served on private delegations to the Netherlands, South Africa, Sudan, Israel, and the Soviet Union and on privately sponsored human rights missions to Chile, the Philippines, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Argentina, France, and Vietnam. He served as an election observer in Armenia and Panama.

Fr. Drinan has been a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center since 1981. He teaches in the areas of international human rights, constitutional law, civil liberties, legislation, and advanced legal ethics. He is a regular contributor to several law reviews and policy journals and is the author of eleven books on major public issues. His latest book Can God and Caesar Coexist? Balancing Religious Freedom and International Law was published in 2004 by Yale University Press. His other books include The Mobilization of Shame: A World View of Human Rights (Yale University Press, 2001); The Fractured Dream: American’s Divisive Moral Choice (Crossroad, 1991); Stories From the American Soul: A Reader in Ethics and American Policy for the 1990s (Loyola Press, 1990); Global Challenges to Christians in the 1990s (University of Tulsa Press 1988); Cry of the Oppressed: The History and Hope of the Human Rights Revolution (Harper & Row 1987); God and Caesar on the Potomac: A Pilgrimage of Conscience (Michael Glazier 1985); Beyond the Nuclear Freeze (Seabury Press 1983); Honor the Promise: America’s Commitment to Israel (Doubleday 1977); Vietnam and Armageddon (Sheed and Ward 1970); Democracy, Dissent and Disorder (Seabury Press 1969); Religion , the Courts and Public Policy (McGraw Hill 1963).

Father Drinan serves on numerous committees developed to promote human rights. He is a member of the ABA’s House of Delegates and is a founding member and past-chair of the ABA Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities, which honored him with their first Distinguished Service Award. He is a member of the National Governing Board for Common Cause and the National Council for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, and the Board of Directors of People for the American Way, and a past president of Americans for Democratic Action.

He was a founder and member of the Board of Directors of the Lawyers Alliance for Nuclear Arms Control, and a member of the boards of directors for Bread for the World, the Council for a Livable World Educational Fund and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and an advisor to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Commission.

He served on the Advisory Committee to the U.S. National Archives and the Advisory Board of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. He was vice chairman of the National Advisory Council for the American Civil Liberties Union and is a member of the Helsinki Watch Committee. Fr. Drinan chaired the International Committee for the Release of Anatoly Scharansky and Peace PAC, is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Bar Foundation, and was a founder of the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry. He is a past board member of the National Board of Trustees of the National Conference of Christians and Jews and a member of the American Law Institute.

Celebrating 75 Years will be marked by a series of events and special programs at Boston College Law School and at various venues across the country, as the Law School commemorates its 75th class, the class of 2007.

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The Law School will be highlighting the latest events from the 75th Celebration on these pages in the months to come. For a full listing of Law School events, visit our events page here.