Justice Sotomayor, German Justice Baer to be part of bicentennial


The University of Michigan celebrates its bicentennial with a January 2017 colloquium that features two of the world’s leading jurists and legal scholars whose pioneering visions for justice have transformed the United States and German court systems.

The first of three 2017 Presidential Bicentennial Colloquia — The Future University Community — will bring together for a conversation Justice Susanne Baer of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany and Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

This event combines a moderated discussion between Baer and Sotomayor, followed by a question-and-answer session with student audience members. Broad themes will include diversity, community, higher education, and the role of history, justice and ethics in our lives and our work.

President Mark Schlissel announced the colloquium speakers Wednesday at his Leadership Breakfast for faculty and staff.

Martha S. Jones, who was appointed by Schlissel to plan this colloquium and surrounding discussions, said both justices are recognized for their intellectual leadership and for bringing diverse perspectives to legal practice and theory.

“They will talk about how their experiences have influenced their work as jurists and the legal system more broadly,” said Jones, professor of history, Afroamerican and African studies, and law. She is a co-director of the Law School’s Program in Race, Law & History.

Sotomayor is the first Latina to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Baer, a Law School alumna and William W. Cook Global Law Professor since 2010, is the first lesbian to serve on Germany’s high court.

To commemorate U-M’s bicentennial, the Office of the President will host three colloquia to explore topics related to the future of the university. The purpose is to engage the broader higher education community in discussion surrounding these challenges, drawing meaning from the university’s past as its future is imagined.

“Our full year of bicentennial events and activities gives us a wonderful opportunity to look forward and consider how we lead in the future — to celebrate and cerebrate, as it were,” Schlissel said.

The “Future University Community” seeks to answer various questions, such as who will be the university’s future students, faculty, staff and alumni, and how will they engage in the work of the university? In addition, how should the university think of diversity in its third century and what will be the challenges to sustaining it?

The conversation is from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Jan. 30, 2017, at Hill Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Ticket information is forthcoming.

Other colloquia and the tentative dates are “The Evolving Bargain between Research Universities and Society” in June 2017, and “Campus of the Future” in October 2017.


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