Occasionally the American Society for Legal History awards a very special honor: the Craig Joyce Medal. The ASLH website explains:
The Society depends on the volunteer labors of its members. It is fortunate in the number of its members who are willing to join in the business of the Society, which is to foster scholarship and teaching in the broad field of legal history. Each year well over a hundred names appear on this website on the lists of officers, directors, and committee members. Among that number, a few people contribute their time to the Society over many years in ways that are above and beyond the call of duty, even in an organization whose members have a strong sense of duty. The Craig Joyce Medal recognizes those individuals. It is awarded on an occasional basis to acknowledge and honor extraordinary and sustained volunteer service to the Society. The medal was first awarded, fittingly, to Craig Joyce, the Andrews Kurth Professor of Law at the University of Houston, in whose honor the ASLH Board of Directors created the award.
At this year's meeting of the ASLH, this medal was awarded to Sarah ("Sally") Barringer Gordon (University of Pennsylvania). Ray Solomon generously allowed us to post the remarks he read at the luncheon:
|Sally Gordon (credit)|
All of us know, the ASLH depends on the volunteer labors of its members. Over the years our Society has grown and flourished because of the countless hours of work our members put in to ensure that the intellectual life of the field is vibrant, the annual meeting is superb, the membership grows nationally and internationally, the website and blog have interesting and informative content, and we are well-managed and financially secure. Each year well over a hundred names appear in the program on the lists of officers, directors, and committee members. Among that number, a few people contribute their time to the Society over many years in ways that are above and beyond the call of duty, even in an organization whose members have a strong sense of duty. The Craig Joyce Medal recognizes those individuals. It is awarded on an occasional basis to acknowledge and honor extraordinary and sustained volunteer service to the Society, as Craig himself exemplified for so many years. It has been awarded to some officers for their service, but not to any presidents. In my many years as a member I can honestly say that every president since Herb Johnson (he was the first I knew) certainly worked tirelessly to make the Society stronger and better than when they came to office. While they each deserved recognition for that service, the Joyce medal was not designed to do that. However, President Benton has used her discretion wisely to make an exception. I am pleased to announce that this year the Joyce Medal is awarded to our immediate past-president, Sarah Barringer Gordon – or as she is known to all of us --- Sally, who is a most accomplished scholar and the Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History at The University of Pennsylvania.
More than any other single person Sally has been the impetus behind the transformation of the Society over the past two decades into an efficiently running, financially stable, programmatically dynamic learned society. I first began to work closely with Sally when her supposed cousin, Bob Gordon, asked us to be part of the Society’s Fund for the Future campaign. Sally’s leadership as chair enabled us to secure our first real endowment, which enabled us to create the Projects & Proposals Committee and began to support important new projects that featured younger scholars and brought new scholars into the Society from other fields. When our financial infrastructure was in total disarray, Sally stepped in and retrieved the records that enabled Craig Klafter to work his magic, and she oversaw the Finance and Investment Committee. And when we needed to figure out how to keep the Hurst Program going, she was there to lead the effort to contact former students to honor their mentors and endow the Program. It was also Sally who brought Wally Johnson to the Society and successfully pitched the idea of a first-book program, which has proven to be a unique opportunity to help young scholars and should become a model for other learned societies to follow. Sally also modernized the administration of the Society --- getting control over how membership is handled, rewriting our bylaws, and increasing the content and design of our website. Of course, in all of these many critical projects Sally had amazing assistance, but always she was the driving force.
And I have yet to mention that for almost a dozen years she has been an editor of the Society’s Studies in Legal History with the University of Cambridge Press, the preeminent series in the field. In that role she has read countless manuscripts and worked with authors to improve their manuscripts and has diversified the geographical coverage of work in the Series, as well as bringing different voices to the conversations in the field. She has even hawked books in the display room at our annual meeting.
And I have yet to mention that Sally has been for twenty years a director of the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation where she has led the efforts to vastly expand the Foundation’s support for the field and the Society. Most notably many members have benefited from the dissertation, article and book prizes the Foundation funds.
And I won’t mention the more than half dozen committees Sally has chaired or served on during her 30 years as a member of the Society.
I have been accused many times of knowing a lot of people, but I’m an amateur compared to Sally, who is the pro. Her smiling presence and humor have welcomed and promoted a generation of young scholars to the field and the Society. These include many from her alma maters of Yale and Princeton, those she has mentored at Penn, those she has taught at the Hurst and the Johnson Programs, as well as those whom she has met at our conferences and annual meetings.
In sum the American Society for Legal History and our field is as strong as it is today in large part because of the work of Sally Gordon. For that and more she is a worthy recipient of the Craig Joyce Medal.
Congratulations and thank you to Professor Gordon!
-- Karen Tani