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Message from President James McGrath

Dearest WMU-Cooley Community,

Across our nation, people have been reacting to the senseless death of George Floyd. All right-minded people are outraged by this atrocity, captured on video for all to see. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated aberration, but a sign of the sometimes hidden, but systemic racism that still pervades our society. We have seen impassioned cries for justice, peaceful protest, and as you know, some violent reaction. If you are living near the areas affected by rioting, I hope to hear that you and your family are safe and secure in your homes. 


James McGrath

I will never fully comprehend the hurt and pain these events inflict on the bodies and minds of my African American brothers and sisters. But I have consistently worked to better understand, and try to be what my professors at Howard Law School called an “agent of change.” I wanted not just to learn the law at Howard, but how society is shaped by the law. I wanted to learn legal social change from the school where many of the architects of the legal challenges to segregation and legalized inequality were educated. As a wise woman recently reminded me, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is part of the path that led me to WMU-Cooley Law School. 

When interviewing here, it was important to me that advancing access to justice is at the core of our mission. I know that many of us are deeply affected by what we see happening across the country. As always, your faculty and staff are here for you as you try to make sense of these events in the context of your legal education. Some faculty have already informed me that they are planning to discuss these events in class to illustrate legal concepts and initiate conversations about potential policy reforms.  

Your faculty has also been speaking out in the media on these recent events that affect all of us. Go to our blog feature with interview and story links on this issue and read more from our outstanding faculty of experts and law school. Read the Faculty and Staff Resolution Repudiating Racism.

Although we are not able to casually meet with each other in our campus halls, we will be asking key student groups to host online discussion boards on these topics. In addition, we will soon host a forum including key faculty and staff members, where students and other members of our community can discuss the personal, legal and policy implications of these recent troubling events. We will forward these details as soon as we are able. 

I know that my words here solve nothing, but hope they convey the depth of my sorrow for the state of our country, and my optimism that together we can work to improve our world. I welcome your thoughts on these and any other matters and look forward to hearing of your efforts and successes. I also take this opportunity to remind you that should you ever have any concerns regarding discrimination or bias in our academic community, to share those with Jacqueline Freeman, Director of Pre-Enrollment Programs and Diversity, at [email protected].

The recent historic and unwelcome changes to our world test our resolve to forge ahead with our important work of preparing socially conscious lawyers. More than ever, we need to ALL RISE to meet these recent events and whatever challenges the future will bring. 

With great confidence we will be stronger from all of this,

James McGrath
President, Dean and Professor of Law