|Aloha Richardson Students, Faculty, and Staff,|
I am delighted to welcome all of you back as the first week of the Fall 2023 semester comes to an end. I offer a special welcome to our first-year students. I am so excited for all of you as you commence the next chapter of your academic career and professional lives.
Unfortunately, as we begin the academic year, we are still learning the full extent of the deadly wildfires that devastated Lāhainā, Maui. As with UH and the State, our law school has many connections to the Valley Isle, from current students and faculty, to our graduates and their families. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this devastating tragedy. The law school continues to work in positive and supportive ways throughout the State and is committed to lending our support and expertise to continue to serve Maui residents. Here is information if you want to donate, including a fund for impacted UH students and employees.
There is a matter that I need to briefly address. Many of you may have read or heard about the August 23rd Civil Beat story on a lawsuit filed against the university and members of the law school community. As the article noted and as the lawsuit states, there is also a pending University personnel investigation, and I have been advised, and as students of the law and people committed to the rule of law you understand, to allow the legal processes to proceed in due course, and not to discuss the investigation or lawsuit in detail. However, I am confident that this situation will be resolved in time, and that our Richardson community will emerge stronger than ever, as long as we continue our focus on serving our students and our community.
I write to reaffirm the law school’s longstanding commitment to being a collaborative, inclusive, multicultural community that embraces Hawai‘i’s diversity and values. We take community and ʻohana seriously and have extensive anti-discrimination policies, which include race, sex, gender identity and expression, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, disability, genetic information, marital status, breastfeeding, income assignment for child support, arrest, and court record (except as permissible under State law), sexual orientation, national guard absence, or status as a covered veteran. We embrace open and respectful discourse and interactions and remain faithful to the values, behaviors, and practices that bring us together and build community, instead of those interactions that would tear us apart.
We must remember this history of excellence, inclusivity, professionalism, and compassion, especially this year, as we celebrate the law school’s 50th anniversary. The William S. Richardson School of Law has shone with both brilliance and heart. The Richardson Law community has prided itself on centering community and has embodied the best of Hawai‘i’s aloha spirit. Richardson Law School and Richardson Lawyers have provided a first-class education to thousands of students, decades of community service and support, have produced impactful scholarship that has had a tremendous impact on our State and beyond, and have trained generations of lawyers who lead and work with grace, dignity, and professionalism – they do us all proud. Many of Hawaiʻi’s most influential leaders graduated from this law school, and their true impact cannot be measured and will continue to reverberate for years to come. Please be on the lookout for information about the events commemorating this vital milestone anniversary year. The first such law school event will occur on September 6th as we start our 50th Anniversary celebrations that evening.
All of us—students, faculty, staff, and administrators—have important roles as we prepare for the next 50 years. We must uphold the high standards established by those who came before us, while evolving and growing in order to best serve and support our communities here in Hawaiʻi and beyond, in the years and decades to come. As Professor Emerita Mari Matsuda stated in her article, A Richardson Lawyer, “A Richardson lawyer will fight hard and win, operating all the while with dignity, respect, gracious civility, and aloha toward all.”
I am excited about the academic year ahead. I hope you will continue to join me in embracing and supporting each other and the entire Richardson ʻohana as we further our collective educational mission and continue our extraordinary service to our community.