|FAMU President James H. Ammons (center) is pictured with Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum (left to right), FAMU Law Dean LeRoy Pernell, State Representative Geraldine Thompson and Judge Emerson Thompson (Ret.) at Pernell’s Welcome Reception held in Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. – Nearly 200 elected officials, judges, attorneys, business leaders and other supporters joined Florida A&M University (FAMU) President James H. Ammons during a reception to welcome LeRoy Pernell as the new dean of the FAMU College of Law.
Ammons kicked off the event at the Marriott Orlando Downtown by recognizing Pernell as one of only two African-American law school deans with more than a decade of tenure at one institution.
“We are pleased to have Dean Pernell as a part of our leadership team,” said Ammons. “I believe he is a great asset to the College of Law and the university.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer extended greetings on behalf of the city, declaring how proud he was to have the FAMU College of Law located in Orlando, and recalling that while he was in the Florida Senate, he co-sponsored legislation authorizing the reestablishment of the law school.
“We recognize the value this law school brings to our city,” Dyer said. “Dean Pernell, we are excited to have you at the helm of our law school. We welcome you and thank you for accepting this opportunity.”
Also attending the event were University and state administrators, including Frederick S. Humphries, the former FAMU president who fought to have the law school reestablished; C. William Jennings, chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees; and Tico Perez, a member of the Florida Board of Governors. Other participants included Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum, who worked to bring the law school to Orlando; Orlando City Commissioner Samuel Ings; Orlando City Commissioner Phil Diamond; State Representative Geraldine Thompson; Judge Emerson Thompson (Ret.); and a number of other judges, legislators, political officials, business leaders, area attorneys, and law school alumni.
Several attorneys from the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP -- which sponsored the reception -- also attended, including Michael Sullivan, co-managing partner; and Jéan Wilson, partner.
Pernell assumed permanent leadership of the FAMU College of Law in January 2008. During his first two months on the job, he has met with faculty, students and staff to address critical concerns and to lay out his vision for moving the law school to the next level of greatness.
“The proud history of FAMU and the national significance of this College of Law make me excited to work with others to bring about the realization of the full potential of this law school,” Pernell said. “The Florida A&M University College of Law is here to stay.”
Among his top priorities at FAMU College of Law will be achieving full accreditation by the American Bar Association and improving the passage rate on the Florida Bar Examination.
Pernell joins FAMU after 10 years as dean and professor of law at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in Dekalb, Ill., which has been nationally recognized for its diversity efforts. Under his leadership, the NIU law school expanded technology into the classroom, established a clinical educational program, and opened the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford, Ill.
He holds a J.D. from Ohio State University College of Law and a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College. Pernell has served as vice provost for the Office of Minority Affairs at Ohio State and law professor at Ohio Sate. He also worked at Otto Beatty and Associates (of Counsel) in Columbus, Ohio and the Columbus Legal Aid and Defender Society.
Pernell succeeds Ruth A. Witherspoon, who, after serving as interim dean for one year, will resume her previous position as associate dean for student services and operations.
The FAMU College of Law was founded in 1949 on the main campus in Tallahassee. After graduating 57 lawyers, the law school was closed by the state of Florida in 1968. The Florida Legislature voted to reopen the law school in 2000 and Orlando was selected as the location. The reestablished FAMU College of Law opened its doors in 2002 and is now housed in a state-of-the-art facility at 201 Beggs Avenue in downtown Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood.
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