Dean's Reception honors Class of 2016
On the eve of Elon University School of Law's Commencement, graduates and their loved ones celebrated the completion of their legal studies in a program that included recognition of Mark Funkhouser L’16 and Joshua Bonney L’16 for their academic achievements & service.
The Class of 2016 gathered one final time as students on Friday in an evening program sponsored by Dean Luke Bierman at Elon University School of Law’s downtown Greensboro campus.
The Dean’s Reception, an annual program that recognizes the achievements of each graduating class, recognized the outstanding accomplishments of two pending graduates: Mark Funkhouser, who received Elon Law’s 2016 Distinguished Service Award, and Joshua Bonney, recipient of the inaugural Dean’s Award.
The Distinguished Service Awards recognizes engagement in and contribution to the life of Elon Law and demonstrated commitment to its mission. Funkhouser has been passionate about pro bono service, serving on Pro Bono Board since his first year at Elon Law, and he was instrumental in Elon Law’s Ask-a-Lawyer Day, at which members of the public can obtain free legal advice from licensed attorneys.
Funkhouser was an active member of OutLaw, Elon Law’s LGBTQIA student organization, and served as its president for two years. During his tenure, he organized and facilitated presentations at Elon Law by attorneys from the North Carolina ACLU and Equality NC. He recently was named a “Student of the Year” at Elon University’s Lavender Graduation celebration in May.
Funkhouser’s practical experiences during his time at Elon Law reflect his commitment to public service. He completed internships with the Guilford County Public Defender’s Office, the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic, and Legal Aid of North Carolina. In addition to his distinguished service to the law school, Funkhouser was selected to be a member of the Elon Law Review, where he served as articles editor for two years.
After completing the Florida bar examination this July, Funkhouser will be joining the U.S. Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review.
The Dean’s Award recognizes exemplary learning, lawyering and leadership for the 21st century. Bonney made the Dean’s List each semester of his legal studies as a Leadership Fellow and member of the Black Law Students Association.
He served as judicial intern to Justice Robert H. Edmunds, Jr. on the North Carolina Supreme Court and spent the past spring Harvard University’s Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government as a research fellow to former presidential adviser David Gergen.
Bonney received the Frederic L. Ballard Memorial Scholarship this spring from the National Association of Bond Lawyers and expects to receive his MBA from the Elon University Martha & Spencer Love School of Business in May 2017.
Bonney will work as an associate at Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein in Charlotte after taking the North Carolina Bar Examination this summer.
In his formal remarks to a crowd inside the law school library, Bierman praised graduates for their pioneering spirit and commitment to the legal profession.
“You’re going out as lawyers to help solve messy problems, to help bring order to a complicated society,” Bierman said. “We help solve problems. We help clean up messes. We help people do what it is they want to do in life.”
The reception also included a note of appreciation for Andy Haile, who concludes his tenure as associate dean of academic affairs at the end of May before returning to the Elon Law faculty. Bierman was joined by Associate Professor Michael Rich in praising Haile’s commitment to the law school and in easing Bierman’s transition into the role of dean nearly two years ago.
“It has been truly a pleasure over the past three year to work with Andy,” Rich said. “His heart has always been in the right place. He is one of the most sympathetic and caring people on the faculty.”
Leaders from the Class of 2016 also presented Bierman with a gift - a new podium for use at Elon University School of Law events - to be will be purchased from more than $1,000 contributed by students as part of a class giving campaign.
Bierman concluded the reception by reminding graduates of the impact they will leave on the Elon University School of Law: “You are leaving a legacy of a school that is better than when you got here.”