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Faculty of Law

NEXUS Magazine

Spring & Summer 2024

The theme of this issue of Nexus is the most important during my time as Dean. For any organization to be successful, it needs champions, people who share its values and who are willing to devote their time and money to help it thrive. This is especially true for universities, which are notoriously strapped for cash and hard to manage. 

You can have the most visionary leader, the most cooperative faculty, and the most devoted staff, but without influential people in your corner, progress will not happen. Without your champions, your lofty plans and big dreams will stall at the implementation stage, gummed up in the morass of institutional bureaucracy and politics. It's your champions that cut through the friction and help you get things done. 

About four years ago, shortly after I became Dean, I got advice along these lines from a UNB Law graduate. They were much more familiar with universities and public institutions than I was. "Whatever you do," they said, "engage our alumni. They're an untapped resource and the key to unlocking UNB Law's full potential." 

When people ask me about the progress we've made over the last four years, I often reference this advice and remark how spot-on our wise graduate was. 

You see, I attribute much of our recent success to the passionate support of key alumni, some of whom we're celebrating in this issue. Of course, many other people have contributed to our trajectory, including faculty and staff. But, as I observed, we internal players depend on an external team to share our vision and will it into reality. At UNB Law, we're incredibly fortunate to have the most enthusiastic alumni of any Canadian law school. 

As Ted Flett (JD'16) noted in a recent article in Canadian Lawyer Magazine, being a UNB Law graduate is something distinctive and special. There aren't a lot of them, so their affinity for each other and their law school is intense. And over the last four years, we've benefited tremendously from their support. 

In this issue, you'll read about the extraordinary contributions of Earl Brewer (LLB'74) and Sandy Kitchen-Brewer, who I'm privileged to call mentors and friends. What I admire most about Earl and Sandy is that when other people focus on pointing out problems, they get busy finding solutions. For years, New Brunswick lagged the rest of Canada without a school meal program, so Earl and Sandy built kitchens and distributed food all over the province to solve that problem. After they did the heavy lifting, the provincial government got on board and now kids all over New Brunswick learn on a full stomach. 

A few years ago, Earl took an interest in UNB Law's Strategic Plan. While some people thought we were being too ambitious or that we'd have to wait our turn to become a priority, Earl silenced the naysayers by making the largest donation that a graduate has ever made to UNB Law. His $1 million leadership gift has inspired others to follow him and lent credibility to the Faculty's aspirations. 

Another champion is Janet Hoyt (LLB’84), who I consider the "O.G." of our alumni team. You see, Janet was there six years ago when we started working on UNB Law's Strategic Plan. She served as the alumni representative on our Strategic Planning Committing. As a member of the UNB Board of Governors and a pioneer in lawyer talent development, she brought influence and credibility to our work. Janet also introduced me to some of UNB Law's most prominent alumni, who then joined the effort themselves. Janet is what some in the business community call a "super connector" and people like her are rare and invaluable to organizations. She is a most deserving recipient of the Ilsa Greenblatt Shore Distinguished Graduate Award. 

Another UNB Law graduate who was honoured recently is Jamie Petrie (LLB’94); Jamie received the UNB Alumni Award of Honour. Jamie has had a remarkable legal career, holding senior leadership roles in some of New Brunswick's most important organizations. As Chief Legal Officer at NB Power, Jamie is at the centre of decisions affecting one of the cornerstones of our Province's economy. Despite his demanding day jobs, Jamie has been a non-stop champion of his alma mater. And every time I see him, he's hopeful and optimistic and has a big smile on his face. In addition to boosting UNB Law's message, people like Jamie give us confidence to carry on when times get tough. 

There are dozens more UNB Law graduates who have been instrumental in UNB Law's revival. We've profiled some in previous issues of Nexus and we'll profile more in future issues. But the message I want to leave you with is that UNB Law is proud of and grateful for its alumni. 

In addition to driving the Faculty of Law’s growth and development, our graduates are a source of inspiration, and they’re living proof of our institutional aspirations. To illustrate this, let me share a recent highlight for me, which was attending the reception for the Class of 1974’s 50th reunion.

This is a remarkable group of people, which includes many judges, business leaders, senior public servants, and even a premier. Their professional accomplishments made me so proud to be part of the UNB Law community. Then I watched and listened to these leaders shake hands with and thank their former professors, Karl Dore and Dick Bird, who attended at the invitation of their former students. “I want you to know that the way you taught us really set me up for success,” one member of the class told them. 

It was a moving series of interactions, obviously a testament to the talent and dedication of two of UNB Law’s legendary educators. But it also said something about UNB Law as an institution—that our mission and our values aren’t just words, they come to life through the transformative experiences of our students and the contributions they go on to make as graduates. In so many ways, UNB Law is defined and shaped by its alumni, and we have every reason to continue to foster our special relationship with you.  

To this end, over the last several years, we've added resources to our budget for hosting alumni events and reunions. In addition to the 1974 reunion, in May, the Faculty of Law held receptions in honour of the classes of 1994, 1999, and 2014. We now have a team that can help with all aspects of organizing a class reunion.

Also in May, I travelled across the country, meeting graduates in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. This fall, we'll be hosting alumni events throughout Atlantic Canada. We've also reoriented Nexus to focus more on alumni stories, and our popular podcast series showcased nearly a dozen UNB Law graduates. 

Celebrating our champions—our amazing graduates—isn't just an occasional affair; it is now part of UNB Law's culture. Engaging our alumni is a source of institutional pride and power. It also gives meaning to who we are as an institution. It must remain a top priority.

Spring & Summer 2024


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