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AALS Meeting Recap: Reception and Honors for Professor Aoki

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Jan 9, 2012

Many UC Davis law faculty members participated in the Association of American Law School annual meeting in Washington D.C. during January 4-8.  Besides the intellectual and service contributions made by the faculty, we had a wonderful reception attended by law school alumni, UC Davis law faculty, and faculty from law schools across the United States.  Among the alums in attendance were Paul Rosenthal ’75, Professor Francine Lipman ‘93 (Chapman), Professor Megan La Belle ‘99 (Catholic), Professor Jay Carlisle ‘69 (Pace), Molly Baier ‘83, Marlon Cobar ‘00, Sergio O’Cadiz ‘96, and Tina Ham ‘03.  The alums in attendance practice law in DC in many different areas from international trade at private law firms, to federal prosecutors, to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to human rights groups.  Faculty members at the reception included Associate Dean and Professor Vik Amar, Chris Elmendorf, Carlton Larson, Lisa Pruitt, Jack Chin, and Afra Afsharipour, who were all surrounded by alums eager to catch up.  Nicole Lehtman, director of our UCDC program, was in attendance and explored externship opportunities for law students with many alums.  Among other law professors in attendance were Richard Albert (Boston College), Angela Onwuachi-Willig (Iowa), Penelope Andrews (CUNY-Queens), and Matt Parlow (Marquette).

On Saturday, it was my distinct honor and privilege as chair of the Nominating Committee to present the report of the committee to the full Association of American Law Schools House of Representatives and the President of the Association, Michael Olivas (Houston).  I presented the committee’s nominations of Leo Martinez (Hastings) as President-Elect and Dean Blake Morant (Wake Forest) and Dean Kellye Testy (Washington) to the Executive Committee.  These are the highest elected positions in the AALS.  The House approved the nominations.  I walked Professor Martinez, who received an enthusiastic round of applause from the entire House of Representatives, to the platform to be seated with the other AALS officers.

For me, the highlight of the 2012 AALS annual meeting was the two award ceremonies for our late colleague Keith Aoki.  At its annual luncheon, the Minority Groups Section honored Professor Aoki with the Clyde Ferguson award for a career dedicated to racial and social justice.  Hundreds of law professors were in attendance as Professor Ernesto Hernandez (Chapman, a member of the Section’s Executive Committee), lauded Professor Aoki’s career achievements.  At the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) annual gala on Saturday night, Professor Aoki was honored with the Teacher of the Year Award.  Professor Bob Chang (Seattle) highlighted Keith’s enduring service to the community, deep commitment to justice, and his formidable scholarly achievements.  I was privileged to accept the award for him, but I really accepted the award for Professor Aoki’s family and UC Davis.  My brief remarks focused on Keith’s generosity of spirit and zest for life, with a story or two to illustrate.  A table of UC Davis professors, including Associate Dean Vik Amar, Jack Chin, Tom Joo, and myself, enjoyed the gala.