Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Law School honors former Mayor Dinkins, seven others at Icons Gala

June 12, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas W. Allard is shown with his wife, Marla. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese

Brooklyn Law School went all out with a night of stories, dinner and fireworks to honor some of its most famous professors and alumni including former Mayor David Dinkins during its Icons Gala on Ellis Island Thursday night.

“The women and men who are going to take this stage here tonight have all helped Brooklyn Law School’s national reputation, have made significant contributions in their fields. They represent a legacy and share a spotlight with many Brooklyn Law School greats,” said the evening’s master of ceremonies, Brian T. Sullivan.

“To look at this room and think about the many people who came through here a hundred years ago, many of the people in this room are probably descendants of those people who came to this country with a nickel in their pocket and a dream,” Sullivan continued.

Guests at the event arrived on a ferry from Battery Park in Manhattan. Brooklyn Law School’s (BLS) Dean Nicholas W. Allard said it was the most appropriate place to salute the school’s many icons.

“Like Ellis Island, our law school has been a gateway to opportunity for generations,” Allard said. “From our founding more than 115 years ago, our doors have been wide open to women, immigrants, children of immigrants, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos and others from various backgrounds.”

The Gala was a salute to eight of the school’s icons, notable professors and alumni including Dinkins (Class of 1956), Roberta S. Karmel, Richard T. Farrell (Class of 1964), Joseph Crea (Class of 1947), Aaron D. Twerski, Henry W. Haverstick III, Linda B. Feldman (Class of 1983) and Susan N. Herman.

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Many of the honorees told their tales of how they came to BLS, how it allowed them to realize their dreams and of all the good times they had there.

“I always wanted to be a law professor, but this field was not open to women when I graduated from law school in 1962,” said professor Roberta S. Karmel. “I was very happy that Brooklyn Law School afforded me the opportunity in 1986 to realize my ambition to teach and write.”

Dinkins told his own story of how he and his wife struggled to afford his schooling. He credited his opportunity at BLS as one that helped him significantly later on in life and said it is a big part of the reason he tries to help so many others.

“What I tell my students at Columbia University is that it is important to understand that everyone stands on somebody’s shoulders,” Dinkins said. “I tell them that when they get to where they are going, they have to reach back and help somebody else.”

Allard presented 100-year-old professor Joseph Crea with a birthday cake. During the celebration, everyone in the audience held up flashlights as a way to give thanks for his contributions to the school.

After the speakers told their stories, ferries took the crowd back to Manhattan, but not without a treat — a fireworks display on a barge just off of Ellis Island.

“I can’t thank everyone [enough] for coming tonight,” Allard said in closing. “These are people who have, and continue to contribute, to the success of our students and this great institution. I can assure you that we haven’t seen anything yet. We have incredible new, young faculty that is with us here tonight. We are on the move and the future is here.”

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