Interim Dean and Chancellor Professor of Law Lynda Butler received the John Marshall Award during the Law School's graduation ceremony on May 17. The award honors exceptional service to the Law School and was presented to Butler by William & Mary President Taylor Reveley and Vice Dean Eric Kades.
At the start of his remarks, Vice Dean Kades reminded the audience that "the many rules against self dealing" were among the lessons the graduates had absorbed during law school. "It would not look good for Dean Butler to give herself the John Marshall Award," he joked, in way of introducing the news that the Dean, usually the presenter of awards at graduation, would be an award recipient.
The Marshall Award, he told the audience, "is given each year for outstanding and long-standing service to the Law School." He said that since joining the faculty nearly 30 years ago, Butler has "served with great distinction as a teacher and a scholar, and from day one ... has performed service to the Law School and the College far beyond that of most of the rest of us." Her service included, for example, serving as the president of the Faculty Assembly and as director of the College's Environmental Science and Policy Cluster. Perhaps, however "her greatest service has been ... stepping into the deanship under very trying circumstances."
The audience erupted into applause when the Vice Dean reminded them of Butler's success in her career-blazing role "as the first female law dean in Virginia." "It has been a distinct pleasure and honor to serve as vice dean," he said. "I have learned everything I know about administration from you, and you deserve most of the credit for anything that I have done right this year."
President Reveley drew appreciative laughter from the crowd when he said, using a favorite, patented phrase, that Kades had indeed "captured the essence" of Butler's contributions. "Teacher, scholar, good citizen, leader," said the President, summarizing the superlatives of her accomplishments, "the complete package for the John Marshall."
The President marveled at the swiftness of events back in February 2008 that led him to appoint Butler to serve in his stead at the Law School, after he became William & Mary's president. "She has ... kept the school moving forward seamlessly. It's been splendid to watch. It has been a great source of comfort to me," he said. He noted, as had the Vice Dean, that Butler was the first woman to serve as dean of a law school in Virginia. "Once again," he said, harkening back to the Law School's unique history as the first law school in America, "William & Mary Law School leads the way."
The award honors the example of John Marshall (1755-1835) who served as the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. Marshall was among the first students to study law under the tutelage of George Wythe at William & Mary.