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The School of Law Mourns the Lady Ann

Friday, April 20, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Katherine S. Broderick
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Dear Members of the School of Law Community,

Associate Dean Ann Richardson died Tuesday of cancer, a disease she managed with extraordinary energy and aplomb since 1994. She leaves a huge hole in the hearts of family, friends, colleagues and the entire School of Law community. I will leave to others the privilege of describing Dean Richardson's amazing personal life, especially her three, much-adored children and grandchildren, her stellar academic credentials, and her distinguished career with the Peace Corps, the African Development Foundation, the law firm Karr McLain and Time Dollars. I wanted to take a minute to talk about the critical role that she played in building and developing the School of Law.

Ann Richardson

In reflecting on Ann's work life, one must try to imagine the stresses and strains endured by the academic dean at UDC Law. Remember, no one ever goes to see the academic dean with good news. Students go when they have catastrophic family, health and mental health issues, when they are failing academically or personally, when they have been accused of Honor Code violations, or when they feel wronged in some way by a member of the community or a policy or procedure. Faculty come from time to time for similar reasons, or when they strenuously object to teaching a needed course, or teaching on a particular day or at a particular time, or serving on a particular committee. They come when they receive poor student evaluations or publication rejections, or when they have writer's block.

Staff members visit the academic dean with questions about technology breakdowns, registrarial glitches, students needing a complex set of accommodations, or colleagues in trouble. And the dean? The dean comes to vent, with difficult judgment calls to work through, with endless last minute University assignments, and when she needs a warm embrace, a pat on the back, or a martini up with a twist – RIGHT NOW!

The academic dean manages the ABA annual questionnaire, IPEDs, course scheduling three times per year, the academic calendar, course and committee assignments, research grants, adjunct hiring and firing, academic budget needs and on and on and on. And many days, nothing gets checked off the "to do” list because life intervenes in some completely unexpected way - like an earthquake, or a heat advisory with no air conditioning.

Dean Ann and I started in the office of the dean on the same day, August 3, 1998. She was an invaluable ally and friend – more like an older sister, really, but without the drama! In a recent law review article, I saluted Ann's "vision, insight and (her) deft touch” but that only begins to capture her contributions.

She had a steady hand at the helm of the academic enterprise. She cared deeply about the School of Law's dual missions of access and service and the ways in which each of us supported those missions – or didn't. She brought an unstoppable work ethic, excellent judgment, absolute integrity, intellectual curiosity, grit, amazing grace under pressure, true warmth, and a wonderful sense of humor. Ann loved her job at the School of Law. She told me over and over how much coming to this place meant to her. She kept up her email interaction with us even in hospice care. I will miss her guidance and her love every day.

Shelley Broderick

(To see Ann's Death Notice in The Washington Post, go to

(Read her obituary in The Washington Post, "Ann Richardson, law school dean")

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