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Law School Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Program That Changed the Face of the Legal Profession

Minority Student Program alums include nationally prominent lawyers in public and private practice

April 07, 2008 – 
Forty-years ago, the faculty of Rutgers School of Law–Newark, prompted by inequities exposed during the urban unrest in the summer of 1967, created the Minority Student Program to address the underrepresentation of African-American students at the law school. Their bold plan soon became a nationally recognized model for educating and preparing minorities and disadvantaged students for a law career. With the program expanded over the years to include Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and socioeconomically disadvantaged persons of all races, the MSP has unmistakably changed the face of the legal profession, not only in New Jersey but across the country. 
“By any measure you choose,” said Dean Stuart L. Deutsch, “the Minority Student Program has been an exceptionally successful and influential approach to advancing diversity in the legal profession. In recognizing the value of different backgrounds in the classroom and different perspectives in the workplace, the MSP was a pioneer in promoting representation of all segments of society in law school and the legal and business worlds. Today, the program continues to enrich both our community and the practice of law.” 

More than 2,200 students of color and students from disadvantaged backgrounds have participated in the program and graduated from the law school. Their careers represent every spectrum of the profession. Among them are New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez (Class of 1979), U.S. Magistrate Judge Esther Salas (Class of 1994), New Jersey Public Advocate Ronald Chen (Class of 1983), and Lowenstein Sandler member David L. Harris (Class of 1979).

On Wednesday, April 9, the law school will celebrate its Minority Student Program with a 40th anniversary banquet at Nanina’s in the Park, Belleville. The theme, “Honoring the Past to Enlighten Our Future,” foresees the continuing relevance of the program in creating a legal workforce that is more representative of all segments of society. Keynote speaker will be Wade Henderson (Class of 1973), president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and former MSP dean. The banquet will honor MSP deans and MSP founders, who include Professor Frank Askin (Class of 1966), Professor Emeritus Alfred Slocum (Class of 1970), and Northeast Utilities System trustee John G. Graham (Class of 1963), who was an associate professor and assistant dean at the law school in 1968.