Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Pepperdine Law reopened on Monday after being closed for 17 days due to the Woolsey Fire. I was hugely disappointed that I was unable to welcome students, staff, and faculty back to campus. I spent Saturday evening in the UCLA Hospital ER and learned that I had detached retinas in both eyes. I had emergency eye surgery on Monday and am now on my way to a full and speedy recovery.
The 17-day closure forced us to institute a compressed class and exam period. Our leadership team worked tirelessly to ease the burden on everyone by creating a week-long schedule of community activities. Monday featured a full breakfast and lunch followed by a Deans Forum. Because I could not attend in person, we displayed my doppelganger in the form of a 6-foot cardboard cut-out:
My dear friend and Dean of Students, Naomi Goodno, read the following statement from me while standing in front of my double:
I am so sorry that I can’t be there to welcome each and every one of you in person. I want you to know from the bottom of my heart how proud I am of this entire community for the character you have displayed over these past 17 days. You all have handled extraordinarily difficult circumstances, beginning with the Borderline shooting and continuing through the fires and the aftermath, with an amazing combination of grace, resilience, and compassion for each other. I want to give a special shout-out to Deans DeWalt and Gash and Professor Baker who were here throughout the fire and its aftermath and did whatever work needed to be done to help the University recover.
We are enormously grateful for the university leadership who have been preparing, planning, and cultivating relationships with local officials to handle a fire of the magnitude of the one we just experienced. It was the right plan, it was executed brilliantly, and the plan worked. We are all beneficiaries of their heroic work and our job now is to redouble our efforts to play our own unique role in the enduring story of Pepperdine Law. For the students, it begins this week in your compressed schedule of classes and continues next week with your compressed exam schedule. I know these are not ideal conditions. But I also know you are the ideal students to come together to make this work, with the help of faculty and staff who are singularly devoted to your success this semester, throughout law school, and beyond.
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