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Elon Law pays tribute to Faith Rivers James

The longtime associate dean for experiential education and leadership stepped down from Elon Law in January after joining The Citadel in South Carolina as assistant provost for leadership and department head of Leadership Studies.

Elon Law Dean Emeritus George Johnson presents former Associate Dean Faith Rivers James with a faculty resolution in recognition of her contributions to the growth and success of Elon Law.
Faith Rivers James with her husband, Perry James, at the Feb. 16 law school program organized in her honor.
Tiffany Atkins L'11, an Elon Law Legal Method and Communication Fellow, shares reflections of her law school mentor: Associate Dean Faith Rivers James.
Former Associate Dean Faith Rivers James talks with Jim Exum, a retired Elon Law faculty member and former chief justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.
Students, staff and faculty expressed their gratitude to Faith Rivers James for all she accomplished as an Elon Law educator, administrator and mentor.

The legacy of a beloved Elon Law educator was celebrated at the law school this month after she joined The Citadel in South Carolina as an assistant provost and director of the military college’s Leadership Studies program.

Dozens of Elon Law students, faculty and staff gathered in Cemala Commons on Feb. 16, 2018, to honor former Professor Faith Rivers James, who served as associate dean for experiential learning and leadership throughout most of her decade of service to the school.

With remarks by an alumna and colleagues, the lunchtime program was capped by the reading and presenting of a faculty resolution recognizing Rivers James’ influence on the growth and success of Elon Law.

“I just would like to say thanks to all of my colleagues, first and foremost, who brought me here,” Rivers James told the dozens of people who attended the program. “(Dean Emeriti) George Johnson and Leary Davis convinced me we were going to do something very special here at Elon Law and we were going to train students to do great things.”

Rivers James taught legislation, nonprofit organizations, property, and public law & leadership, a course she created at Elon Law. ‚ÄčA native of Charleston and a Harvard Law graduate, Rivers James has done extensive research on preservation of African American property ownership.

She was instrumental in the creation of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation in Charleston, for which the South Carolina Bar Foundation received the National Conference of Bar Foundations Award for Excellence in Programming in 2004.

"The faculty is so appreciative of all the work Faith has done and all of the contributions she has made to our school,” Johnson, who served as dean from 2008-2014, said before reading the faculty resolution.

It was her mentoring, however, that resonated most with the countless students Rivers James taught at Elon Law.

“You have changed everyone’s lives, everyone’s trajectory as a leader because of the example you provide. The building will be a bit emptier without you,” said Tiffany Atkins L’11, currently a Legal Method & Communication Fellow at Elon Law. “We will miss you but look forward to following all of the things you do. Know that you have made a difference in the lives of students.”

Text of the Faculty Resolution

Faith Rivers James
Associate Dean for Experiential Learning and Leadership& Professor of Law

Whereas, Since 2007, Associate Dean Faith Rivers James has been an esteemed member of the faculty of Elon University School of Law; and

Whereas, Dean Rivers James helped develop a Leadership Program honored by the American Bar Association with the E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award in recognition of its innovative, deeply committed and highly effective approach to leadership training of law students; and

Whereas, Dean Rivers James was instrumental in the creation of the Juris Doctor & Master of Environmental Law and Policy dual-degree program between Elon Law and Vermont Law School; and

Whereas, With the noble goal of shaping an American legal profession to better reflect the diversity of the United States, Dean Rivers James was a champion for Elon Law students of color, serving as advisor and advocate for the Black Law Students Association; and

Whereas, Dean Rivers James concluded her service to Elon University and Elon University School of Law in 2018 to accept a position at The Citadel as Assistant Provost for Leadership and Department Head of Leadership Studies; therefore, be it

Resolved, That Elon University School of Law faculty express their deepest gratitude to Associate Dean Faith Rivers James for her unwavering commitment to Elon Law and wish her unparalleled success in her future legal and educational endeavors.

Luke Bierman
Dean & Professor of Law

Enrique Armijo
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & Associate Professor of Law

Eric Townsend,
2/20/2018 4:20 PM