The Academic Laureate Award is one of three Citizen Laureate honors bestowed upon Capital Region leaders in academia, business, and industry who exemplify the highest standards of leadership and citizenship. The Academic Laureate Award recognizes individuals for their notable achievements in academia, including teaching, research, scholarship, administration and/or service.
Dean Ouellette joined a distinguished group of academic laureates which include Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) President Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, Nobel Laureate Dr. Ivar Giaever, and Author William Kennedy among others.
The Citizen Laureate honor was created in 1977 to strengthen the ties between the academic and business communities in the Capital Region. Since then more than 100 honorees have been named.
Dr. Alice Green, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice, and Charles Touhey, President of Touhey Associates along with Chet and Karen Opalka, longtime supporters of many arts and cultural organizations in upstate New York were named 2022 Community Laureates.
While Dean Ouellette is the first Academic Laureate from Albany Law School, several alumni have been named Community Laureate. They include:
The Citizen Laureate is the UAlbany Foundation’s signature fundraising event. Several student scholarships have been awarded as part of the effort.
Dean Ouellette's Acceptance Speech
I’m overwhelmed. I’m just so grateful for this unbelievable recognition.
Special thanks to the Citizen Laureate Advisory Committee for their work in managing the nomination and selection process, George Hearst and The University at Albany Foundation for their support of and involvement in the event, and my terrific partner in education, Havidán Rodríguez. President Rodriguez, you are an inspirational leader for this great institution.
Thank you also to my incredible Albany Law leadership team, board of trustees, and faculty, many of whom are here tonight. You make it all happen. We could not have achieved what we have achieved without each one of you.
And my family. Tonight we have with us my beloved husband of 33 years, Jacob Reider and our amazing social worker first born, Molly Reider. Our son Sam couldn’t be here in person, but he is with us in spirit. Jacob, Molly, and Sam, I am so grateful to you. I know I am not easy, and my job occasionally stresses me out -- but you’ve loved me and supported me through all it anyway. Thank you.
And Congratulations to tonight’s other laureates, Alice Green, Charles Touhey, and Chet and Karen Opalka. I am in awe of all you do for our community. And I am truly humbled to share the stage with you tonight.
It has been an honor of a lifetime to serve as Albany Law’s leader. I want to spend just a few minutes telling you why.
You probably know that Albany Law proudly educates and graduates the next generation of lawyers and leaders – problem solvers and social change agents.
So many great leaders started out at Albany law.
But Albany Law is so much more. Our law school is an engine of social mobility for our community.
Many of our students were the first in their families to go to college, much less law school. Many of those first-generation students come to us from the University at Albany, through our affiliation. By providing access and opportunities for education and a path to the legal profession, we help students and their families rise out of poverty. Pursue their dreams. And make a difference in our communities and our world.
And beyond that, it is part of our mission, it is in our DNA, to serve our wider community.
Now some of you might not like lawyers (smile), we know that… but when a person is facing the loss of a home, a child, a job, or a business, a lawyer can make a life changing difference.
Our students and our faculty serve those who cannot afford legal representation.
Albany Law delivers: We provide free legal services to low income cancer, aids, and hospice patients, children and families, immigrants and refugees, and victims of domestic violence. We grow our Capital Region community by providing free legal services to start up businesses and non profits. And we’ve been instrumental in developing services for underrepresented communities, the elderly, and veterans, in and around Albany. We serve farmers of color, help local governments in need, and provide tax assistance to low income individuals. We have students who have invented tech tools to help underrepresented tenants in housing court. We facilitate relations between the Albany police and the community, and provide nonpartisan research and advice for government officials. And our students even successfully got the American bumble bee considered for protection as an endangered species.
It is hard to measure the impact of Albany Law in our community. But here is one measure – last year’s graduating class documented 56,572 hours of pro bono and public service during their time as students at Albany Law School. Many of you know that lawyers bill by the hour – in six-minute increments. You can do the math. 56,000 plus hours of free legal work is quite the contribution by a graduating class of 165 future lawyers.
And that is just while they were students.
Instilling a sense of service – to the underserved, to our communities, to our world – growing problem solvers and building leaders – well, that is what we do and who we are at Albany Law. And I am incredibly proud of that work.
There is nothing we can give the next generation that is more powerful and more valuable than the gift of an education, especially an education that instills a lifetime commitment to service. Tonight’s event, and our partnership with UAlbany makes that gift available to our shared students. It is an honor to be a part of it.
I gratefully accept this award on behalf of the entire Albany Law community. Thank you.