Reflections on the Future of the University Community
Monday, January 30, 2017
“Putting oneself in uncomfortable situations is necessary to grow. That is what you have here, the opportunity to experience things that are different from what you know. And if you can take full advantage of that, then you will have gotten the best of education.”
– U.S. Justice Sonia Sotomayor
At the first President’s Bicentennial Colloquium, “The Future University Community,” U.S. Justice Sonia Sotomayor and German Justice Susanne Baer discussed how respect and compromise can create and strengthen community, stressed the importance of developing diversity in higher education and urged students to understand the law.
U-M students, faculty, staff and community members packed Hill Auditorium for the event, moderated by journalist Michele Norris, former host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Before the discussion began, President Mark S. Schlissel presented Sotomayor with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from U-M. Baer and Norris had previously received honorary degrees from U-M in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the daughter of Puerto Rican-born immigrants and the first in her family to attend college, graduated from Yale Law School in 1979. Thirty years later, President Barack Obama appointed her to the Supreme Court.
Justice Susanne Baer, a 1993 graduate of the U-M Law School, was elected to Germany’s supreme court in 2011 and is the first out lesbian, and the first scholar known as a “radical feminist,” appointed to the position. At the Law School, she is the William W. Cook Global Law Professor. She also is a professor of public law and gender studies at Humboldt University in Berlin.
Moderator Michele Norris is a former National Public Radio host and special correspondent and the founder of The Race Card Project, an initiative created to foster conversations about race in America.