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Drumroll, Please

by lewis i. rice

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BC Law begins its seventy-fifth anniversary celebration

September launches a three-year celebration at Boston College Law School commemorating the Law School’s seventy-fifth anniversary and the Class of 2007, the official seventy- fifth graduating class. The milestone will be marked in several ways, including the creation of two new awards and a series of lectures and forums examining the changes that have occurred in the law, legal education, and the legal profession over the last three-quarters of a century.

The first to receive the Seventy-fifth Anniversary Boston College Law School Distinguished Service Award is Father Robert Drinan, S.J., a former BC Law dean and congressman. He will be honored at the Law School on October 4 in East Wing 115 at a presentation to be followed by a reception. Alumni and friends are invited.

The Distinguished Service Award was conceived to honor people of distinction who are role models to the BC Law community.

The second new medal is the Seventy-Fifth Alumni Award, which recognizes the exceptional achievements of graduates. A process is now in place by which alumni may nominate classmates and colleagues for this prestigious honor. 

The Alumni Award, like the Distinguished Service Award, will be given to a number of individuals throughout the three anniversary years and beyond. For news of upcoming anniversary events and awards keep an eye on these pages and on the website.



ROBERT F. DRINAN, S.J., WHO SERVED AS DEAN FROM 1956 TO 1970, will receive the inaugural Boston College Law School Distinguished Service Award this fall as the institution launches a three-year celebration of its seventy-fifth anniversary. He was thirty-five and the youngest law school dean in the country when he took the job. Widely credited with transforming the Law School into an elite national institution, he recruited students throughout the country and offered merit scholarships, leading to rising LSAT scores every year for admitted students. He also increased the core faculty from twelve to twenty-three, started a law review, and phased out the night school.

“We did a lot of things to make the place known,” he said during a recent return visit to the Law School. “Those people who came have been grateful and have been eminent in their professions.”

That includes many alumni who, like Drinan himself, pursued political careers, including former Boston Mayor Kevin White ’55, former Congresswoman Margaret Heckler ’56, and former US Senator Warren Rudman ’60. Recently, Senator John Kerry ’76 has turned to Drinan as an advisor on religious issues as he pursues the United States presidency.

Drinan served five terms in the US House representing the Fourth District of Massachusetts. Shortly after leaving the deanship of BC Law School, he ran on Father Robert Drinan, who presided over the Law School during its leap to national prominence, is to be celebrated for his contributions. an anti-Vietnam War plank and beat an incumbent. Later, he became the first Congressman to call for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon during the Watergate crisis.

In 1980, the Vatican ruled that no priest could hold a legislative position and, though he disagreed with the directive, Drinan complied, leaving Congress in 1981.

Since then, he has taught at Georgetown University Law Center, including courses in legal ethics and international human rights. He has also written eleven books, including the forthcoming Religious Freedom and World War: Can God and Caesar Coexist?

Drinan entered the seminary after graduating from Boston College during a time, he said, when families and society were grounded in faith. His Jesuit experience trained him in theology and philosophy and also led to his legal studies at Georgetown University Law Center.

“As a lawyer, you’re supposed to have a passion for justice,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s strictly political. It’s religious. If you have this version of Christianity, you should do all these things.”

The Jesuits, he said, believe in faith and justice and faith and work. That is why he does not contemplate retirement or a life of leisure.

As he prepares to catch a plane back home to Washington, DC, after speaking earlier to a conference of Massachusetts Superior Court judges, he shows a book on Robert Kennedy that highlights the candidate’s words during his presidential campaign.

Drinan wonders how the world would be different if Kennedy had not been killed, if he had become president. “God,” he says as he leaves the institution that still bears his imprint, “works in mysterious ways.”

—Lewis I. Rice