New IU Maurer professorship honors first black, female U.S. state justice

The Indiana University Maurer School of Law has announced the creation of a trailblazing endowed professorship – the first in Indiana University history to honor an African-American woman, and the law school’s first named after a woman of color.

Endowed by $1 million in pledges and gifts from faculty members, alumni and law school friends, the professorship honors Juanita Kidd Stout, IU Maurer alumna and the first African-American woman to serve on a United States state supreme court.

Lauren Robel, IU Bloomington provost and Val Nolan professor of law, contributed the endowment’s lead gift, with numerous IU law professors close behind.

Also contributing to the fund are law school dean Austin Parrish and Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The total gift will count toward IU’s $3 billion bicentennial campaign.

Stout earned her JD degree in 1948 and a master of laws degree in 1954. She then opened her own practice in Pennsylvania, eventually working in the district attorney’s office. Stout was later elected to the Philadelphia Municipal Court in 1959, making her the first African-American woman in the country to be elected to a court of record.

Stout continued to break barriers when in 1988 she became the first African-American woman to be appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court — the first African-American woman appointed as a state supreme court justice in the U.S.

She received an honorary degree from IU in 1966 and was inducted into the law school’s Academy of Law Alumni Fellows in 1986. Philadelphia named the Juanita Kidd Stout Criminal Justice Center in recognition of her accomplishments as a lawyer and public servant upon her death in 1998.

“Justice Kidd Stout has long been a personal hero of mine,” said Robel. “She lived a remarkable life of historic firsts marked by courage and compassion while shattering barriers to women and African-Americans in the legal profession.”

Parrish noted that to be named the Juanita Kidd Stout Professor of Law will be a tremendous honor for a faculty member. The selection will be announced later this year.

“Establishing this professorship is an important way to recognize one of our most prominent and distinguished graduates,” Parrish said. “I was pleased to join Provost Robel in making a gift to establish this professorship as an enduring tribute to Justice Stout’s legacy, and I am grateful for the other faculty and friends of the law school who joined me in contributing.

“I would like to extend a special thanks to one of our alums who has asked to remain anonymous but whose tremendous generosity made this professorship possible.”

The professorship is another achievement in diversity efforts for the law school, which maintained more female graduates than male graduates this year. It also elected alumna Annie Xie as the Indiana Law Journal’s first woman of color editor-in-chief in 2016 and Jose Moncada as first Latino editor-in-chief for the coming year.

“The greatest law schools have great minds — faculty who are simultaneously creative scholars and engaging teachers,” Parrish said. “Endowed professorships are a crucial tool for retaining our world-class faculty, for continually enriching our academic environment and, in turn, for attracting the most talented students.”

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