Dean Ouellette Addresses Albany Law’s Rich History, Looks Forward in Inaugural Speech
Alicia Ouellette ’94 was inaugurated on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, as the 18th President and Dean in the 164-year history of Albany Law School.
With numerous elected officials, including judges of all levels, the Board of Trustees and the entire Albany Law community in attendance, Dean Ouellette reflected on the past, spoke of the present and mapped out her plan for the only law school in New York’s capital city.
“This is a perfect moment for us to celebrate Albany Law School,” Dean Ouellette said during her inaugural address. “This great school deserves a little pomp and circumstance, a party to celebrate our history and traditions, and a collective moment to look forward, together, to a transformative future.”
“This great school deserves a little pomp and circumstance, a party to celebrate our history and traditions, and a collective moment to look forward, together, to a transformative future.”
Other speakers included Dan Nolan '78, chairman of Albany Law School’s Board of Trustees, and president and CEO of Hugh Johnson Advisors; former Court of Appeals Judge Howard A. Levine, senior counsel at Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP; Hon. Kathy Sheehan, Mayor of Albany, who declared Sept. 10, 2015, to be Dean Alicia Ouellette Day; Academic Dean Connie Mayer, the school’s Raymond and Ella Smith Distinguished Professor of Law; and Jessie Cardinale ’11, associate at Pedowitz & Meister LLP in New York City.
Dean Ouellette touted the school’s accomplishments – which include the nation’s first student-edited law review – and its long list of notable alumni: President William McKinley, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Robert H. Jackson and David J. Brewer, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former Citigroup chairman Richard Parsons, women’s rights pioneer Kate Stoneman; U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, among many others.
“Not bad for a small independent school in Upstate New York,” she said. “Collectively these and dozens more make up the story of Albany Law School. And the story is ongoing. It continues here every day. We continue to make history, to make change.”
Dean Ouellette spoke to the value of seeking a legal education and serving “the common good,” pointing to her pre-law-school experience as a family life specialist at a shelter for homeless families.
“While I could make a difference in some cases, I found myself frustrated,” Dean Ouellette said. “When the stakes were high, when the issues got complicated, we turned the cases over to the lawyers. They were the change-makers. I went to law school to become a change-maker, and I believe in legal education because it equips our students with the tools they need to make change.”
Those tools will include traditional means and emerging technologies.
“We are in the midst of a sea-change in teaching and learning,” she said. “How we respond – how we stay true to our best traditions while pioneering new pathways – this is the challenge before us.”
Dean Ouellette praised the student body – “they are and will always be the lifeblood of this law school” – and commended Albany Law School’s alumni for their continued loyalty and engagement. Two other local treasures were acknowledged: the school’s partners in education and its location in the powerful Capital Region.
Dean Ouellette said that, through investments in education, service, research and thoughtful collaboration, Albany Law should see “plentiful” opportunities for growth.
“Now is the time for Albany Law School,” she said. “Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.”