WCU to host evening with NC women Supreme Court justices March 28

Cheri Beasley

Cheri Beasley

The three women justices who serve on the state’s highest court will discuss how their college studies prepared them for life and careers during a forum hosted by Western Carolina University on Saturday, March 28.

The N.C. Supreme Court justices – Cheri Beasley, Robin Hudson and Barbara Jackson – also are expected to talk about their experiences as women living in North Carolina and serving in the state’s judicial system.

The forum, open to the public, will be held from 7:15 until 8:45 p.m. in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center.
Asheville attorney Jacqueline Grant will be the forum moderator. Grant, a 1992 WCU graduate, is president of the 28th Judicial District Bar Association and a partner in the law firm Roberts & Stevens.

“An Evening with N.C.’s Women Supreme Court Justices” was organized by a committee co-chaired by John F. Whitmire Jr., head of the department of philosophy and religion, and Brandon A. Robinson, a WCU alumnus and Durham attorney who is a member of the university’s Board of Visitors. The forum sponsors are the College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Undergraduate Studies, Office of Intercultural Affairs and Public Policy Institute.

Robin Hudson

Robin Hudson

“This forum will be an opportunity to generate engagement between students, faculty, staff and a variety of communities of which Western is a part on issues of importance to all of us, including the importance of a broad undergraduate liberal arts background in preparing for civic, professional and personal life,” said Whitmire.

As college undergraduates, all three of the justices studied in the humanities and social sciences disciplines. Hudson majored in philosophy and psychology at Yale University. Jackson was an English and history student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Beasley attended Rutgers University, where she majored in political science and economics. After earning their bachelor’s degrees, Jackson and Hudson enrolled in law school at UNC-Chapel Hill. Beasley studied law at the University of Tennessee.

“All three of the justices enjoy interacting with students and take seriously the value of mentorship,” said Robinson. “State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin, a WCU graduate, is committed to making the state judiciary more visible and connected with the public. The conversation at WCU is a wonderful way to educate citizens on the importance of an independent judiciary in a democratic society.”

The forum will complement several related activities currently underway or planned at WCU, including the 2014-15 campus learning theme, “North Carolina: Our State, Our Time,” and the inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference set for March 27-28. Women’s History Month also is celebrated during March.

Barbara Jackson

Barbara Jackson

“The forum is an opportunity to link together these ongoing campus events and initiatives,” said Whitmire. “It also represents a chance for our students to meet and interact with exemplary models of women leading distinguished professional lives devoted to public service. As an educator and a father with two daughters, I find that important both professionally and personally.”

A native of DeKalb County, Georgia, Hudson previously practiced law in Raleigh and Durham for more than 20 years. Jackson, who has lived in Raleigh for most of her life, formerly served as general counsel for the North Carolina commissioner of labor. Beasley has been a district court judge, serving the 12th Judicial District for nine years. She is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. All three justices also have served as judges for the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

The state Supreme Court consists of a seven-member panel, including the chief justice and six associate justices, who hear arguments in their courtroom in the Justice Building in Raleigh. The justices are chosen by the state’s voters in nonpartisan elections and serve for eight-year terms.

For information about the forum, call Whitmire at 828-227-7262.