Emily Spieler honored for service as School of Law dean

Northeastern University hosted a reception on Wednesday to honor the service, dedication and leadership of Emily Spieler, who stepped down as dean of the School of Law at the conclusion of the academic year. Spieler, the Edwin W. Hadley Professor of Law, has served as dean since September 2002.

Spieler said she came to Northeastern “because of the reasons that made the law school special”: experiential education, the opportunity to build a collaborative environment and how the school nurtures a broad understanding of the law as a vehicle for the pursuit of justice.

“The biggest challenge we face today is how to carry forward and build upon these fundamental values while adapting to and getting better at addressing the problems of the world in which we live today and the world we will live in tomorrow. It’s this challenge that I’ve kept in my mind every moment since I arrived at Northeastern,” she said at the reception, held in the Cabral Center at the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute.

“I came to a place that was wonderful, and together we made it better.”

Throughout the evening, speakers highlighted Spieler’s transformative impact on the School of Law and the university. Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun lauded her commitment to expanding global experiential-learning opportunities and strengthening the school’s dedication to public-interest law and social justice.

“We’re delighted you’re going to stay here, because your wisdom, your leadership and your principles will always be with us, and you’re going to continue to embody them,” Aoun said.

Spieler was also heralded for recruiting top faculty, globalizing education and research and understanding the value in building interdisciplinary collaborations aimed at solving society’s greatest challenges. Noted were her efforts to build new programs such as the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project and sustain existing programs like the Domestic Violence Institute and the Public Health Advocacy Institute.

Spieler also dramatically expanded the law school’s international reach by hiring faculty with an international and immigration law focus, expanding the international law curriculum and working to found the Program on Human Rights in the Global Economy. This fall, the School of Law will also welcome the first class in its LLM (master of laws) program for foreign law graduates.

In addition to recruiting faculty with joint appointments in other colleges, Spieler built strategic alliances with other higher-education institutions that have enabled Northeastern students to pursue joint degrees in law and public health, environmental law and policy and sustainable development.

Law professor James R. Hackney Jr. said Spieler brought to the law school a rare combination of tireless energy, grit, passion and compassion. He praised her for being a brilliant strategist with the ability to guide and inspire faculty through the process of self-realization.

“You have successfully brought out the best of us as a community and created a momentum that will propel us forward,” Hackney said. “As a faculty colleague, I hope you will continue to challenge and motivate us.”