Dean’s Reception for the Class of 2012 celebrates student achievement

On the eve of Commencement Exercises, members of the Class of 2012 took time to celebrate all they had achieved collectively and to recognize individual achievements of their peers.

Dean Johnson with Tara Michelle Austin, who received the Clinical Legal Education Association's Outstanding Student Award for excellence in the field.

George R. Johnson, Jr., Dean and Professor Law at Elon, delivered welcoming remarks.

“It’s sometimes hard to imagine, but law school really is a family undertaking,” Johnson said. “Some of you participated in this undertaking vicariously, as your loved ones struggled to adjust to this new thing. But in all of this we have made a really wonderful bond here, a really great school and we thank you very much.”

Alexis Martinez-Fedrizzi, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, presented the following students with awards in recognition of academic and community service achievements:

A. Brennan Aberle received the North Carolina Advocates for Justice Student Advocacy Award. This award recognizes a graduating student for demonstrated commitment to public service and excellence in trial and/or appellate advocacy skills.

Collin Cooper received the ALI-ABA Award. This award is to recognize a graduate who best represents a combination of scholarship and leadership, the qualities embodied by the parent organizations, the American Law institute and the American Bar Association.

Jonathan Metcalf, left, and his family at the Dean's Reception for the Class of 2012.

Austin Morris received the American Bankruptcy Institute Medal for Excellence. This award is given by the American Bankruptcy Institute on behalf of its more than 5,000 members, to the student having demonstrated excellence in the study of bankruptcy law.

Tara Michelle Austin received the Clinical Legal Education Association’s Outstanding Student Award for excellence in the field, determined by excellence in student course work, in representing clients and in exploring the legal, ethical and strategic issues facing the clinical community.

James Stanton received the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Award. This award recognizes a graduating student who demonstrates an overall ability in trial advocacy by high achievement in trial practice, evidence, and pleading and procedure courses.

Joshua David Neighbors received the Marshall-Thompson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Constitutional Law Studies. Created by Barron Thompson, a member of Elon Law’s charter class, this award comes with a stipend and recognizes excellence in the study of Constitutional Law.

Gabriel Zeller, center, with his family at the Dean's Reception for the Class of 2012

Beth Klein received the National Association of Women Lawyers Recognition, given to the graduate who has shown exhibited academic achievement, motivation, tenacity and drive and who in the future will contribute to the advancement of women in the society.

The following students received the North Carolina Bar Association Pro bono Recognition Awards in recognition of those members of the graduating class that have provided at least 75 hours of pro bono legal service in the community:

A. Brennan Aberle, Danielle Carrie-Belle Appelman, Tara Michelle Austin, Christopher Charles Avery, Joseph Alan Baker, Whitney Jo Butcher, Ashley Donielle Clark, Phillip Jordan Clontz, Lee Collin Cooper, Robert Alexander Garner, IV, Thomas Richard Green, Carrie Patricia Osborn Johnson, Danielle Kathleen Kennedy, Jill Lyndsey Kirshner, Matthew Richard Kraus, Pamela Renee Lawrence, Hasina Asha Lewis, Jennifer Codi Mathews, Janet C. McIlwain, Brian Scott Morgan, William Austin Morris, Joshua David Nielsen, Heather Christine Sangtinette, Leona Hedwig Schweins, Kathryn Slaughter, Ashley Vanessa-Marie Smith, Benjamin Albert Snyder, Megan Elizabeth Spidell, Kathy Sherita Stewart, Crystal Renee Sumner, Lien Kieu Thi To, Diana Meghan MacKenzie Varner, Christopher Julian White, Mathew Jordan White and Benjamin Joseph Williams.

Class of 2012 member Heather Dolan, center, with her family at the Dean's Reception for the graduating class at Elon Law, May 19

Austin Morris received the North Carolina State Bar Student Pro bono Award. This award recognizes the public service rendered by one law student at each North Carolina Law School and is presented annually at the October meeting of the North Carolina State Bar.

The School of Law established a Chapter of The Order of Barristers in 2012 and, per the organization’s constitution, may select up to 10 members for induction each year. Membership in this national organization recognizes graduating law students who have excelled in moot court and mock trial activities. Members selected from the Class of 2012 at Elon Law include:

Robert Alexander Garner IV, Elizabeth Mary Klein, Pamela Renée Lawrence, Jennifer Codi Mathews, Christopher William McLain, Brian Scott Morgan, Joshua David Nielsen, Simon John O’Brien, Melissa Blake Westmoreland and Christopher Julian White.

The inaugural Leadership Fellows of Elon Law, and members of the Class of 2012, from left: Ashley Clark, Marina Emory, Collin Cooper, Jeffrey Koehler, Carrie Johnston, Melissa Westmoreland, Kathy Stewart and Mark York

Martinez-Fedrizzi also recognized the inaugural Leadership Fellows of Elon Law, pictured at left.


Megan Connole and Jason Spitzer, Co-Chairs of the Class Gift Committee, announced the gift on March 19 at the Dean’s Reception for the graduating class.

In an effort to give back to the law school and the community, the Class of 2012 donated a decorative bench to the City of Greensboro as their class gift.

The bench will serve as the first in a series of 12 neighborhood benches to be placed adjacent to and in the vicinity of the Downtown Greenway. Once completed, the Downtown Greenway will connect 4-miles of paved, walking and biking trials in a loop around downtown. A Public Art Initiative was established to incorporate art into the design of the greenway, including the 12 decorative benches.

Sculptor Jim Gallucci with Co-Chairs of the Class Gift Committee for the Class of 2012 at Elon Law Megan Connole and Jason Spitzer

Each bench will be designed by a North Carolina artist to represent the area of the Downtown Greenway where it will be placed. Sculpture Jim Gallucci designed the Class of 2012 bench, which is the first installation of the project.

A world-renowned sculpture, Gallucci is best known for his fully functional artistic creations such as gates, archways, benches and bridges. The Greensboro based artist has received national attention for his 9/11 commemoration piece, “The Gates.” This sculpture utilized several tons of salvaged World Trade Center steel and was displayed at various locations around the country.
Gallucci incorporated Elon University colors, maroon and gold, and the oak leaf symbol into the bench design.

“The oak theme ties this gift to the University, but we actually didn’t give this gift to Elon Law or Elon University, which is the typical tradition,” said Jason Spitzer, co-chair of the class gift committee. “Instead we donated this bench to the City of Greensboro. Greensboro has been a good home for us for the past three years and the city has given our class a number of memories and opportunities.”

The Class Gift Committee, made up of Connole, Spitzer and fellow Class of 2012 members: Matt Kraus, Beth Klein, Ann Ansley, Erin Brady, Heather Deal, Jeffery Maggs, Ali Boney and Co-Chairs Megan Connole and Jason Spitzer, began planning the gift in the fall. After a series of surveys sent out to the class, committee members decided to donate a sculpture as their class gift. Originally, the committee had hoped to purchase an indoor sculpture, but concerns about where it would be located as Elon Law expands led them to consider other options.

“We were informed about a program that the City and Action Greensboro were just starting that converted bus stops and benches into aesthetically pleasing benches that blended art and functionality,” Spitzer said. “Jim Gallucci’s artwork is the definition of this as he as created several gates and benches that are both pieces of art and totally functional at the same time.”

By shear coincidence, Gallucci had just created a model for an oak leaf bench when the committee approached him with their change of plans. By early March, Gallucci and the committee finalized the bench design.

Funding for the gift was raised through various channels including a silent auction and donations from the students, faculty, staff and administration.

“The faculty, staff and administrators have always been generous with the class gift and in donating to the silent auction,” Spitzer said. “Some of the most popular items in the silent auction have been the dinners and activities put on and donated by the faculty.”

The silent auction helped raise over $2,100 to go toward the class gift.

The bench will be placed outside the school, under the “Elon University School of Law” sign that faces Friendly Avenue.

Steven D. House, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, offered congratulatory remarks to the Class of 2012.

“You have changed this school for the better. You have made Elon a better place and we are deeply appreciative for that,” House said. “We look forward to the world that you will change outside of Elon. Congratulations.”



Reporting for this article contributed by Courtney Roller L’13