Sunday, May 27, 2012

LL.M. Graduates - Best Wishes to Class of 2012

On May 19, the School of Law held its 2012 Commencement Ceremony in the Fayetteville Town Center. It was a beautiful sunny day, and many graduates, friends, and family stopped by the adjacent farmers market to admire the produce and listen to the music. Dean Stacy Leeds presided over the ceremony.  Chancellor G. David Gearhart introduced his "little brother," Jeff J. Gearhart, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Wal-Mart, as the commencement speaker.  Both men are alumni of the School of Law.

One of the memorable aspects of Jeff Gearhart's commencement speech was the advice that you should always "own" whatever you do. Whatever you do, whether large or small, take responsibility for it.  Do your best and be proud of what you do.

This year's LL.M. class entered the LL.M. Program with that very spirit. Each class, each new reading, each challenging assignment was truly "owned" by the class.  They took responsibility for their learning, and they spurred each other on.  With cooperation and a little friendly competition, members of the class took the opportunity to learn agricultural and food law as their task for the year.  And, they performed that task with pride.  As one of their teachers, I have to thank them for providing me with inspiration and for always keeping me "on my toes!"

And, now, just nine months after most of them first stepped foot in Fayetteville, Arkansas, we send them off.  My very west wishes to the Class of 2012.  Pictured below are those who participated in the LL.M. Graduation Ceremony, Mirriam Kutha (Malawi), Volha Samasiuk (Belarus), Vade Donaldson (Washington), Kristy Boehler  (Missouri), and Liz Mashie Gunsaulis (Arkansas).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Amy Cornell Selected For Agricultural Leadership Program

LL.M. Program alumna, Amy Cornell, has been selected as to participate in the prestigious Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP), sponsored by AgrIInstitute, Inc.  During this two year program, ALP class members attend twelve seminars held throughout Indiana, travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with national leaders, and spend ten to fourteen days in a foreign country studying international issues.

Amy serves as the Program Manager of Regulatory Affairs for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.  She received her LL.M. degree in Agricultural Law from our Program, her J.D. degree from Indiana School of Law – Indianapolis, and her B.S. degree in Management from Purdue University.  Amy is an active member of both the American Agricultural Law Association and the Indiana State Bar Association.  She serves as a board member and resource development for Indiana Canine Assistant Network and also serves on its Volunteer Committee.

Since it began in 1984 nearly 380 participants have graduated from the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program, strengthening and transforming local communities and the agricultural community in Indiana as a whole.  Congratulations, Amy!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Michael Pollan at Artosphere

I was delighted to attend the special kick-off event for the Fayetteville Artosphere celebration -  bestselling author Michael Pollan spoke at the Walton Arts Center last night. Ozarks at Large producer Kyle Kellams conducted a Q&A session with him, and the result was an interesting, informative, and friendly discussion of food, people, and culture.

Michael Pollan is one of the most celebrated current authors, writing on "the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment." We read and discuss some of his work in our LL.M. classes.

His work includes four New York Times bestsellers: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (2010); In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008); The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006) and The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World (2001).

The Omnivore’s Dilemma was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by both the New York Times and the Washington Post, and it won the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, the James Beard Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Michael Pollan has been a contributing writer to the New York Times Sunday Magazine since 1987. For example, his article, Farmer in Chief, published in October 2008 is a must-read for those questioning the sustainability of current farm policy.

He currently is the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism and director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

I met up with several of this year's LL.M. candidates for a picnic during the opening festivities -  there was free music by April Verch and local band Three Penny Acre, a beer garden with local brew, a farmers market, and booths from local groups such as Ozark Slow Food, Feed Fayetteville, and the Fayetteville Farmers Market on Tyson Plaza. Local author, Quinn Montana, who wrote the book Worship Your Food was offering signed copies of her book.  It was a sampling of Fayetteville's embrace of the local food movement. And, another reason why Northwest Arkansas is a perfect location in which to study food law and policy.

After the presentation, at the book signing, I had the opportunity to provide Professor Pollan with information about our LL.M. Program -  he was pleased to learn about our integrated study of agricultural and food law issues.