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Four awards for UDC Law at 2020 Founders’ Day

Tuesday, March 3, 2020  
Posted by: UDC Law Staff
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Four members of the UDC Law community received awards at the 2020 Founders’ Day Celebration at the UDC Theater of the Arts, including two faculty members, one current student and one alumna. The annual Founders’ Day celebration honors the history of UDC and its predecessor schools while highlighting the current and future impact of students, faculty and staff.

Mary E. Morall, 2L, received the Student Humanitarian & Civil Engagement Award for her work with the LGBTQ+ community, and Dr. Denisha Jones, ’03, ’18 (J.D.), was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Legacy Award for her dedication to the UDC National Alumni Association.

Prof. Susan L. Waysdorf was granted the Dr. Paul Phillips Cooke Lifetime Achievement Award for her continued dedication to underserved populations and her role in building the innovative UDC Law Service-Learning Course. The late Prof. Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke was honored with the Dr. Marjorie Holloman Parker Distinguished Educator’s Award for a lifetime of commitment to education and social justice. Reuben-Cooke’s husband, Ed Cooke, accepted the award on behalf of his wife, who died in November.

Read more about each award and recipient below.


Award: Student Humanitarian and Civic Engagement Award

Recipient: Mary E. Morall

Group photo on stage
From left, UDC President Ronald Mason Jr., Mary E. Morall, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Lawrence Potter, and Chief Student Development and Success Officer Dr. William Latham.

The Student Humanitarian and Civic Engagement award is given to students who have demonstrated a commitment to activism, social responsibility, civic participation and advocacy for the welfare and betterment of the University of the District of Columbia and the greater community.

Mary E. Morall serves as the Director of Education & Outreach of UDC Law OUTLAW, an LGBTQ+ organization for law students. Within her role, she has nurtured the bridge between the law school and greater community to provide student with resources to attend law school. Morall is one of the inaugural fellows of the 2019-2020 DC Bar Law Student Community Leadership Fellowship. In Summer 2019, Morall was the Queer Reproductive Justice Holley Law Fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force in Washington. Her research focuses on the displacement Black people have experienced, spanning the transatlantic slave trade to modern day gentrification and the intersections of health and LGBTQ+ identity.

Morall is a magna cum laude graduate of Howard University where she received her B.S. in Maternal & Child Health Education with a minor in Afro American Studies. She is a doula, writer and plant-based educator. Morall has taught health education classes to diverse groups of people domestically and abroad. In Fall 2016, she was an integral part of President Obama’s final cohort of White House interns, where she served as the My Brother’s Keeper intern in Cabinet Affairs.


Award: Distinguished Alumni Legacy Award

Recipient: Dr. Denisha N. Jones

Group photo on stage
From left, President Mason, Dr. Denisha Jones, Dr. Potter, and Vice President for Advancement Rodney Trapp.

The Distinguished Alumni Legacy Award is awarded annually to an active member of the UDC National Alumni Society for five years or more of dedicated service and who has demonstrated extraordinary participation in the association through contributions to the Alumni Society, including increasing membership participation, enhancing the image of the association, showing professional ethics of the highest caliber and engaging in the community.

Dr. Denisha N. Jones is a two-time UDC graduate, first in 2003 when she completed a B.A. in Early Childhood Education and again in 2018 when she received her J.D. from the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law. Jones is the Director of the Art of Teaching Program at Sarah Lawrence College. She began her career in education as a kindergarten teacher in D.C. and worked as a preschool director before spending the last 15 years in teacher education. She earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana University in 2013. Jones was previously Director of Teacher Education and an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Trinity Washington University as well as an Assistant Professor at Howard University.

In 2011, Jones became active in the fight to stop the corporate takeover of public education, organizing and speaking at numerous rallies, marches and conferences. Her determination to be a more effective advocate is what prompted her to attend law school. She was an engaged student while at UDC Law, serving as Managing Editor of UDC Law Review, Director of Community Service for the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), Vice President of the UDC Law National Lawyers Guild Chapter and host and organizer of the 2018 Robert M. Cover Retreat for public interest law students, practitioners and academics. She received the Earl H. Davis Award for outstanding service on behalf of clients in the UDC Law Clinical Program, won the regional contest of the Mid-Atlantic BLSA Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition (along with classmate Alicia Lewis) and was named a finalist for National Jurist’s Law Student of the Year. She is licensed to practice in the District of Columbia.

Jones is a board member and administrator for the Badass Teachers Association, Inc. (BATs) and currently serves as the organization’s interim Assistant Executive Director. She also serves as chairwoman of the National Advisory Board for the Public Education Defense Fund.


Award: Dr. Paul Phillips Cooke Lifetime Achievement Award

Recipient: Prof. Susan L. Waysdorf

Group photo on stage
From left, President Mason, Prof. Susan L. Waysdorf, UDC Law Dean Renee M. Hutchins, and Dr. Potter.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is named for the former District of Columbia Teachers College President Paul Phillips Cooke (Class of 1937). It is presented annually to a University of the District of Columbia faculty of staff member who has consistently demonstrated exceptional loyalty and extraordinary commitment, dedication and service to the advancement of the University and its goals and objectives.

Prof. Susan L. Waysdorf began teaching at the School of Law in 1993 as Director of the HIV/AIDS Law Clinic. In 1997, her Prisoners’ Rights and Advocacy Law Clinic received national recognition advocating for compassionate release of terminally-ill and elderly prisoners and for prisoner parole. She teaches Family Law, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and the School of Law’s acclaimed Service-Learning course.

Waysdorf founded the Service-Learning program with other colleagues after organizing a group of students and faculty to provide post-Hurricane Katrina recovery aid in New Orleans. Fourteen years later, Waysdorf continues to teach in and administer the program. Law faculty have traveled with law students during Spring Break to historically underserved regions of the nation, including the Mississippi Delta, the Gulf Coast and the U.S.-Mexico border where they work with community and civil rights groups.

Waysdorf’s Service-Learning scholarship appears in a number of journals and law reviews, including the Journal of Legal Education, the New York Law School Law Review and UDC Law Review. During her 2008 sabbatical, she returned to New Orleans to volunteer with community-based, humanitarian recovery groups.

As a Skadden Arps Public Interest Fellow at D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Clinic from 1991-1993, her innovative work for families affected by the AIDS epidemic became a prototype for family-centered, holistic HIV/AIDS legal services national. She has published, lectured and consulted on marriage equality, access to health care and the rights and needs of special populations in the AIDS epidemic, including women, children, prisoners and the elderly.


Award: Dr. Marjorie Holloman Parker Distinguished Educator’s Award

Recipient: Prof. Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke

Group photo on stage
From left, President Mason, Prof. Reuben-Cooke's husband Ed Cooke, Dean Hutchins, and Dr. Potter.

The Distinguished Educator’s award is named for the Honorable Marjorie Holloman Parker (Class of 1936). It is presented annually to an individual whose laudable contributions as an educator have made a discernible difference in the city or nation’s schools, colleges, universities or private institutions of learning.

Prof. Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke began a distinguished legal career after graduating from University of Michigan School of Law in 1973, working as an Associate Attorney at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in communications, antitrust, tax, securities, criminal and general corporate law. In 1986, Reuben-Cooke embarked on a teaching career that included a number of administrative appointments. At Syracuse University College of Law, she was appointed Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 1992 and directed the school’s academic program. She was also Associate Director of the Institute for Public Representation (IPR) at Georgetown University Law Center, where she was responsible for litigation before the Federal Communications Commission and the federal courts, including the Supreme Court. She was named Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at UDC in 2003; she joined the faculty at UDC David A. Clarke School of Law in 2007.

One of the first five African American undergraduates admitted to Duke University, Reuben-Cooke was active on campus and in the community throughout her time as a student. She was a champion of social justice, engaging in protests and signing an open letter speaking out against Duke faculty and administrators who were members of Hope Valley Country Club, at the time an all-white club. During her senior year, Reuben-Cooke garnered enough write-in votes to become Duke’s first black May Queen, a distinction that grabbed the attention of The New York Times.

Reuben-Cooke’s was named a John Hay Whitney Fellow and admitted to the Order of the Coif. She also received the Sojourner Truth Award from the Syracuse University Chapter of The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, the C. Eric Lincoln Distinguished Alumni Award from the Duke University Black Alumni Council and the Black Citizens for a Fair Media Annual Award for Public Interest Advocacy.


more Calendar

No Classes/University Closed (Veterans' Day Holiday)

11/26/2020 » 11/28/2020
No Classes/University Closed (Thanksgiving Holiday)

12/2/2020 » 12/14/2020
Final Examination Period (12/2-12/14)

University Closed (Christmas Day)

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