This year, Franklin University Switzerland bestowed special honors on Professor Penelope Andrews. At the school’s 52nd annual graduation ceremony, she was presented with an Honorary Degree for her distinguished legal career and global human rights advocacy, and she addressed the class of 2022 as the keynote speaker. The ceremony took place on Saturday, May 14, 2022 at Lugano, Switzerland’s lakeside Palazzo dei Congressi.
Franklin University President P. Gregory Warden introduced Professor Andrews, highlighting her many accomplishments. At New York Law School (NYLS), she leads the Racial Justice Project as Director and hosts the South Africa Reading Group. Professor Andrews is also active in international collaborative research and mentoring networks and is committed to ensuring the relevance of law and society scholarship globally. In 2021, she finished her two-year term as President of the Law and Society Association. Prior to joining NYLS, she held appointments and senior positions in law schools across the United States and internationally, including Dean at the University of Cape Town Faculty of Law, President and Dean at Albany Law School. In addition, she previously served as an Acting Judge of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria and as an arbitrator in hearings on racial discrimination in South Africa. Professor Andrews has been widely published on comparative constitutional law, gender and racial equality, and human rights, and she has received numerous awards for her global human rights advocacy, including the National Bar Association’s International Award.
In her speech, Professor Andrews congratulated the class of 2022, and members of the class of 2020 invited to join for the in-person celebration, on their achievements and applauded the faculty and students’ families who had helped them along the way. After recognizing the intrepid and passionate spirit that had already brought the students so far in their lives, she encouraged them to reflect on their long-term goals to prepare for the professional and personal opportunities they would encounter in the next phase of their lives. She then asked the audience to consider what makes humans successful, turning to inspirational figures in her own life and racial justice work such as Nelson Mandela, Dr. Wangarĩ Maathai, and bell hooks to use as guideposts. In examining their lives, she elaborated on six shared qualities that graduates could carry forward to find success on their own path: respect, responsibility, resilience, reputation, rejoice, and resistance. Professor Andrews closed her speech with words of endurance and hope from Maya Angelou’s poem “And Still I Rise.”
Professor Andrews noted that she felt extraordinarily honored to receive this recognition from Franklin University, especially in light of the challenges of the pandemic for the past two years. She hoped that her address to the students will inspire them in some way as they pursue their post-graduate careers.
“We are thrilled and proud that Franklin University recognized Professor Andrews with their highest honor,” says Anthony W. Crowell, NYLS Dean and President. “It’s no surprise, but certainly a clear validation of the universal importance and recognition of her scholarship and leadership in the profession and academy. We are fortunate to have her teaching our students, to call her a cherished and valued colleague, and to know that she is having a global impact shaping norms to make a fairer and more just world.”