Founded 10 years before the American Revolution, Rutgers is now a leading national public research university that is commemorating its 250th anniversary. How the institution began from religious motives and how religion impacts higher education today will be discussed during a public lecture at Rutgers Law School.The eighth annual Donald C. Clark, Jr. ’79 Endowed Law and Religion Lecture, titled “Rutgers Reformed: A Historical Look at Religion in American Public Higher Education,” will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 24 at the law school’s Camden location.
Two of the three panelists will address Rutgers’ origins from the perspective of the University and the Church: Thomas Frusciano, an archivist in special collections at Rutgers University and John W. Coakley, L. Russell Feakes Memorial Professor of Church History at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Jessie Hill, associate dean for academic affairs and Judge Ben C. Green Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, will discuss the state of religion in higher education today, addressing institutional identity and its implications for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association.
Organized by the student-run Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, the annual endowed lecture at Rutgers Law School encourages comprehensive dialogue on law and religion outside of the legal classroom.
According to Dominic Giova, editor-in-chief of the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, this year’s program was inspired by Rutgers’ 250 anniversary year.
“When I approached Professor Perry Dane, one of the journal’s faculty advisors, about a topic, he brilliantly came up with the idea to build the lecture around the Rutgers 250 theme,” says Giova. “It seemed like a great opportunity to advertise the newly merged Rutgers Law School while also delivering a meaningful and substantive symposium on the dynamic intersection of law and religion.”
In July 2015, the American Bar Association approved the merger of Rutgers’ independently operating law schools in Camden and Newark to become one Rutgers Law School with two locations, joined by innovative technology, shared and expanded curriculums, and powered by more than 100 full-time faculty and an alumni network of 20,000. .
Encouraging comprehensive dialogue on law and religion outside of the legal classroom is precisely why Clark endowed this annual lecture at Rutgers Law School’s Camden location. “Once again, the Journal is bringing outstanding scholars to the law school to share their particular insight on an interesting aspect of the intersection of law and religion,” says Clark, a former litigation partner in some of Chicago's largest law firms, and former managing partner of his own litigation boutique. The Rutgers Law alumnus, recently retired as general counsel for the United Church of Christ, provided legal counsel and representation to clergy, churches, and religious judicatories throughout the country.
He credits his Rutgers Law education for providing him with a strong foundation of critical legal analysis that he continues to carry with him throughout his professional career.
“[The law school] places a premium on critical legal analysis and the importance of it being applied to all legal issues and all aspects of life in which legal issues arise,” says Clark. “I’m interested in making today’s students aware of an example of how the foundational principle of critical legal thinking has real meaning throughout one’s career and everyday life.”
All three speakers will be featured in the summer issue of the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion.
More information about the student-run Rutgers Law publication, founded in 1999, is available at lawandreligion.com.
The public lecture will take place in Penn 401, accessible from the side of the Paul Robeson Library on Fifth Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at Rutgers University—Camden. Registration for the lecture is now online. For directions to campus, visit camden.rutgers.edu.