Law studens in O'Brian Hall.

Change in Action

Working for change is a hallmark of our law school. It can be seen in our expanding programs, and in the efforts of our faculty, students and alumni. And when those forces come together, the wider society reaps the benefits. Here are just a few of the most recent examples.

A doctor in the house

Introducing our new doctorate program

As the law school continues to expand its academic footprint, it’s now offering ambitious students the opportunity to earn a Doctor of Juridical Science degree.

The JSD program, anticipated to start this fall, comes in addition to the school’s JD and master of laws programs and its undergraduate major in law. It’s intended for students who are driven to make original contributions to legal scholarship.

Professor Mateo Taussig-Rubbo directs the JSD program, which includes a year of coursework in residence plus a doctoral dissertation, typically a two-year project. The degree prepares students for careers as law professors, judicial and other public offices, as well as high-level policy positions in international organizations.

In addition to U.S. students, the program will provide scholarly training for foreign students, many of whom are required to earn a PhD or JSD before they become university professors or judges.

Over the past few years, the law school has undergone a fundamental transformation, establishing UB Law as a hub for legal education at all levels. We are very pleased to now offer a pathway to cultivate legal scholars at the doctoral level. – Dean Aviva Abramovsky

Moving the needle on civil rights

Prof. Athena Mutua appointed to advisory committee for U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Education funding. Voting issues. Policing practices. The criminal justice system.

All of these are high on the docket for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Now Professor Athena Mutua has added her voice to their work, as a recently appointed member of the federal commission’s New York State Advisory Committee.

Mutua counts among her academic interests the fraught intersection of race, class and the law. “This is something I’ve been engaged in all my life,” she says.

The state committee members investigate allegations of civil rights violations, and conduct enterprise projects on civil rights issues.

For example, the New York committee last year released a major report on school funding. It argued that students of color are being deprived of the right to participate in civil society because they lack access to fundamental good-quality education, simply based on their poverty level or their color.

photo of Professor Athena Mutua.

There are a lot of different voices at the table, and that’s a good thing. One would argue that the promotion and preservation of civil rights is a nonpartisan issue. – Professor Athena Mutua, Floyd H. & Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar

Influencing public health by degree

Student leader receives presidential fellowship

It’s all coming together for Peter J. Farruggia ’21. He’ll leave UB with a JD and master’s degrees in both business administration and public health – a one-person exemplar of the interprofessional collaboration that’s increasingly important in health care.

And he’s taking a giant step into the world of public health policy. He was recently named a Class of 2021 Presidential Management Fellow. The highly competitive program, administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the federal government’s premier leadership training program for promising recent graduates.

After graduation, Farruggia will begin a two-year assignment in a federal agency, further developing his leadership skills and giving him the opportunity to leverage his knowledge of health policy and health administration in the policymaking arena.

It’s all a giant step toward his ultimate goal: a career dedicated to public service, especially in health and health care, and perhaps with an international focus.

photo of Peter Farrugia.

I want to make it my life’s mission to increase health access and decrease health disparities and inequities for people who have been pretty consistently left behind. –Peter J. Farruggia ’21

Leveraging her gift for the good

Alumni support expands justice and equity initiatives

Margaret W. Wong ’76 has shared her story often: how she immigrated from Hong Kong in the late 1960s, got a shot at a better life from UB School of Law, and built her thriving national immigration practice from the ground up.

Now Wong is looking to the next generation, with a $500,000 gift to help establish the school’s new Social Justice and Racial Equity Fund, expanding the law school’s capacity to nurture promising students of color and respond to critical issues of justice and equity. The fund seeks to “promote inclusive excellence and to remove barriers to access and advancement on the basis of… race, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability or veteran status for students, faculty and staff at the law school and in the legal profession.”

The initiative will enable new investments in diversity scholarships and fellowships, bar exam support for students of color, the Discover Law program for underrepresented students considering law school, and training and programming on racial justice topics.

photo of Margaret Wong.

I love that society is questioning past practices and striving to improve inclusion and racial equity. The law school must be at the forefront of these efforts to maintain its leadership in legal education. –Margaret W. Wong ’76