Rutgers Law School celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Minority Student Program last year with a daylong event that included panels of students, alumni, former deans, and faculty members and concluded with an evening gala that drew more than 700 people.
In June, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) awarded Rutgers Law School’s 2018 MSP50 Celebration its highest honor—the Circle of Excellence Grand Gold Award for a single-day special event. CASE is the professional association for fundraising, alumni relations, and marketing staff in more than 3,700 universities and other educational institutions and nonprofit organizations in 82 countries.
The judges wrote:
“Rutgers Law School Minority Student Program (MSP) 50th Anniversary: Coming Together and Looking Ahead, Rutgers University-Newark showcased an elevated level of thoughtful planning especially with respect to engaging multiple stakeholders at every level (volunteers, alumni, current students, political leaders in the community, and notable alumni). The program both day and night was carefully laid out and incorporated sponsorships in the materials without losing its message. We really felt the event stayed true to the school and program's mission of diversifying the legal profession, and really led the effort in how to leverage panel topic dialogue, generational scholarship recipient stories, oral histories that reflected on the growth of the program, and historical timelines. Great model for how to structure an event to connect its audience to the program participant experience and impact, while not missing an opportunity to close with an appeal for support. An exceptional approach to highlighting scholarship recipients past and present to re-engage law alumni in a call to action. Not your typical anniversary celebration. This program takes inclusive excellence to the next level.”
The Minority Student Program (MSP) was started by the law school in 1968, after the Newark Rebellion, in an effort to diversify the law school. Since that time, some 2,700 lawyers of color and disadvantaged lawyers of all ethnicities, have graduated from MSP and as a result, have diversified the legal profession in New Jersey and beyond.
The MSP50 celebration was held in April 2018 with the day program at 15 Washington Street in Newark, the former location of Rutgers Law School and the evening gala was celebrated at the nearby Robert Treat Hotel.
Among those attending the celebration were some of the program’s most notable graduates – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez RLAW '79, Wade Henderson RLAW '73, the former president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, N.J. State Senator Nia Gill (D-Essex) RLAW '75, N.J. Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) RLAW '91, current and former Superior Court appellate division judges, assignment judges and trial judges, along with leaders in business, public service, civil rights, government, and private practice.
Gill and Quijana, both MSP graduates, announced an assembly resolution in honor of the MSP anniversary and Gill added, “MSP made me who I am.”
Some of the first graduates of the landmark program attended the event – including retired administrative law judge Savanah Potter-Miller RLAW’71, Rutgers Professor Emeritus Lennox Hinds RLAW’72, who went on to become Nelson Mandela’s attorney and an election monitor in South Africa, Charles Victor McTeer RLAW’72, a noted civil rights attorney and plaintiff’s lawyer securing the first settlement against the tobacco industry, and Ollis Douglas RLAW’72, a retired Essex County assistant public defender.
Professor David Troutt, who led the MSP50 Committee for the law school, shared some of the findings he learned through surveying graduates and deans. He said surveys showed that graduates found MSP “a source of strength” and were ready to go into communities and stand up for themselves and others. Others talked about a shared sense of community and shared experience they received at law school by being part of MSP.
To support the Minority Student Program Alumni Endowment Fund at Rutgers Law School, click on this link.