Congratulations to the 2017 Alumni Awards honorees
State senator. Corporate attorney. Higher education administrator.
Graduates of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville hold these titles and more.
At the Brandeis School of Law's Alumni Awards Oct. 12, the Law Alumni Council recognized 12 of the people who make up the Brandeis Law community.
Senator Gerald Neal ('72) was the recipient of the council's highest honor, the Lawrence Grauman Award. Named after the judge of the Jefferson Circuit Court Commons Pleas Branch, Fifth Division, from 1950-64, the award honors a lifetime record of leadership and service to the profession and community.
Senator Neal was elected to represent District 33 (Louisville), the second African American to serve, and first African American man elected to the Kentucky State Senate. Senator Neal was elected in 1989 and has served in that capacity since, the longest service of any African American member of the Kentucky General Assembly.
He described his years in law school as a period of "challenge and change," saying that he carried on the lessons instilled in him by his parents — notably, to fight for human dignity.
He learned to use the law as a tool and a shield to help him pursue his life goals.
"It was the basic knowledge and understanding of law that allowed me to do what I do," he said.
Senator Neal encouraged today's law students to continue to pursue justice, and for graduates of the law school to serve as examples for younger generations.
"Each of us has an opportunity and a responsibility. We must not give up," he said. "That's what Brandeis was all about — truth, justice and equity."
The other honorees were:
- Dean’s Service Award (awarded to a non-alumnus who has supported the law school): Jay Lambert
- Distinguished Alumni/ae Awards (awarded to those who distinguish themselves as leaders or in other ways within the profession): Vanessa Cantley, John Heyburn, Donald J. Kelly, Amanda Main, W. Scott Miller Jr., Tyler Thompson
- Recent Alumnus/a Award (recent graduate who has attained distinction and demonstrated potential for future professional accomplishment): Rebecca Weis
- Gail Robinson Award (recognizing a lifetime of public service): Judge James M. Shake
- Outstanding Faculty Member: JoAnne Sweeny
- Outstanding Staff Member: Jim Becker