POTUS comes to Madison: Through the lens of UW Law School

On Thursday, October 4, President Barack Obama’s campaign set up on Bascom Hill, just outside of the Law School. All of the buildings on the hill facing the stage were closed down for the day for security reasons — including the Law School Building.

Bascom Hill
Photo courtesy of Mike Hall, Director of Student Life. See gallery.

But that didn’t mean the Law School shut down completely. There was plenty of activity.

Though no classes were held in the building, Law School administration made every effort to assist professors and instructors who wanted to hold class in other locations. Some classes did relocate. Others were rescheduled.

Employees worked from home or took time off. Many chose to use personal time. Some of those attended the campaign rally; others avoided the throngs.

Here’s a sampling to convey the excitement of the day and the rich diversity of activity and opinion in our Law School community.

On the hill

Law School “courtroom” becomes national media hub  

National Media Pressroom
The Foley & Lardner Courtroom became a national media hub.

Working with University Communications and Marketing and the Obama campaign, the Foley & Lardner Courtroom, with a great view of the stage, was wired for major media coverage bandwidth.

Extra lines and cables were installed. Media outlets from MSNBC to Fox News covered the event and filed their stories from the courtroom. Law School building manager Josh Cutler — who in a previous life worked backstage in the rough and tumble world of arena rock shows — assisted media and ensured that the room would remain undamaged and in good order.

Sweet Tweets

Greta Van Susteren of Fox News viewed a photo of Bascom Hill on the day of the event and fondly remembered her time here as an undergrad — with a tweet and a blog post:

Like every other Wisconsin Badger, for 4 years I climbed this hill shown in this pic (Bascom Hill) in below zero weather with snow and sleet beating me to a frozen pulp.  I did not feel my fingers or toes from early November until March 31st!   (And how I miss those days!  University of Wisconsin was so so so so so fun! I would so love to be back there.  Maybe my next job is teaching at the University of Wisconsin Law School?  This picture makes me so envious.)

There’s been some fun back and forth between Greta and UW Law School staff since then. See the series of tweets and blog posts here.

Press corps for a day

Mike Hall, UW Law’s Director of Student Life, is a talented photographer who, in addition to his formal responsibilities, documents many aspects of student life. He applied for a press pass — and was surprised and pleased to get one. He took time off to photograph the day. See some of his work.

Bascom Hill
Bascom Mall on Oct. 4, 2012.

The dean remarks on the value of the visit; mentions high-powered alumni from both sides of the aisle

Dean Margaret Raymond’s statement praised the opportunity for students to be part of the event no matter their political affiliation.

Arguments are heard

Some on campus felt that the President’s visit was too disruptive. Three professors, including one from the UW Law faculty, made a formal statement that criticized the campaign’s registration process.

Off the hill

Making effective use of time

Academic Enhancement Program staff held a professional development retreat in the sunroom of Assistant Dean Moji Olaniyan’s house, with discussion following at a local restaurant. For a month, they had tried to plan a session on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” to improve performance and contribute to professional and personal growth. “We had been too busy,” said Olaniyan, “until the POTUS visit provided the opportunity!”

Patient partnerships continue online

The Center for Patient Partnerships (CPP) clinic is structured to take advantage of the latest technology, allowing them to work from remote locations.

Staff worked from home, available to each other and students via Google chat and phone. Some staff met via conference call to discuss the upcoming implementation of the e-learning module “Healthcare System Overview,” part of their online Introduction to Patient Advocacy course.

A few CPP students completed their regularly scheduled client intake shifts from home. Other students that are normally in the office on Thursdays worked outside of the office on their everyday client work, providing advocacy via email, communicating internally via email and their client database, and making phone calls. Advocacy faculty and staff were similarly active and available.

Alum hosts the Wisconsin Innocence Project for Supreme Court moot argument

UW Law professor Keith Findley had arranged a “moot” to prepare him for a Wisconsin Innocence Project oral argument in the Wisconsin Supreme Court the next day (Friday). The moot session was originally scheduled to occur in the Law School, but since the building was closed, he had to find a new location. Alum Gordon "Chip" Davenport III '83 (board member of the Wisconsin Innocence Project and parent of a current student) came through at the last minute and agreed to host the event at Foley & Lardner’s Madison office on East Gilman Street. The moot involved students, faculty, and even the dean. 

Law School Building Locked Down
The Law School Building was locked down for security reasons.

Scrambling to file a Supreme Court brief

The Remington Center legal team had a brief due at the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday, which meant they had to push their whole briefing schedule up a day. The team (consisting of three lawyers and three law students) pulled some very late nights to get their appendix printed in time to file in the Supreme Court on Thursday.  

(The case, State v. Starks, is unusual. The client represented himself pro se and the Remington Center team was only appointed to his case once the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to hear it.)

Share your experience

If you have thoughts or stories related to the recent POTUS visit — or if this sparks memories of your time at UW — please share them on our Facebook page.

Submitted by Law School News on October 24, 2012

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