IU Maurer School of Law professorship honors first black woman to serve on any state supreme court

The Indiana University Maurer School of Law has established an endowed professorship in honor of alumna Juanita Kidd Stout, who was the first African American woman to serve on a state supreme court in the United States.

The Juanita Kidd Stout Professorship has been endowed by $1 million in pledges and gifts from faculty members, friends of the law school and alumni. It is the first professorship in the history of Indiana University to honor an African American woman and the law school's first scholarship named after a woman of color.

Stout earned a JD degree from IU in 1948 and an LLM in 1954. After graduation, she moved to Pennsylvania and opened a law practice. She then worked in the district attorney's office and was elected to the Philadelphia Municipal Court in 1959, making her the first African American woman in the country to be elected to a court of record.

Later, she became the first African American woman to be appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the first African American woman to serve as a state supreme court justice in the United States. She received an honorary degree from Indiana University in 1966 and was inducted in 1986 into the law school's Academy of Law Alumni Fellows, the school's highest honor.

When Stout died in 1998, she left an indelible legacy of service and accomplishment. Philadelphia named the Juanita Kidd Stout Criminal Justice Center in recognition of the difference she made in thousands of lives as a lawyer and public servant.

"Justice Kidd Stout has long been a personal hero of mine," said Lauren Robel, IU Bloomington provost and executive vice president, and the Val Nolan Professor of Law. "She lived a remarkable life of historic firsts marked by courage and compassion while shattering barriers to women and African Americans in the legal profession."

Robel has made a lead gift to the endowment, and 11 other law school faculty, alumni and friends of the law school have added to it. The gift will count toward the $3 billion campaign, For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.

Recipients of IU honorary degrees 1966View print quality image
Juanita Kidd Stout, center, poses with other recipients of IU honorary degrees at the 1966 Indiana University commencement ceremony. Photo courtesy of IU Archives

"Establishing this professorship is an important way to recognize one of our most prominent and distinguished graduates," said Austen Parrish, dean of the law school and the James H. Rudy Professor of Law. "I was pleased to join Provost Robel in making a gift to establish this professorship as an enduring tribute to Justice Stout's legacy, and I am grateful for the other faculty and friends of the law school who joined me in contributing. I would like to extend a special thanks to one of our alums who has asked to remain anonymous but whose tremendous generosity made this professorship possible."

Those who join Robel and Parrish in establishing the endowment include:

  • Alfred C. Aman Jr., IU Roscoe C. O'Byrne Professor of Law.
  • Kevin Brown, IU Richard S. Melvin Professor of Law.
  • Robert Fischman, IU George P. Smith, II Distinguished Professor of Law.
  • Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, IU professor of law and Harry T. Ice Faculty Fellow.
  • Charles Gardner Geyh, IU John F. Kimberling Professor of Law.
  • Dawn Johnsen, IU Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law.
  • Julia C. Lamber, IU professor emerita of law.
  • Leandra Lederman, IU William W. Oliver Professor of Tax Law.
  • Sarah Evans Barker, senior judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The professorship is one of many initiatives recognizing the law school's trailblazing alumni and also builds on recent firsts in the law school's diversity achievements, including graduating the first JD class with more women than men this year, electing alumna Annie Xie as the first woman of color editor-in-chief for its Indiana Law Journal in 2016 and appointing Jose Moncada as first Latino editor-in-chief for the coming year.

"The greatest law schools have great minds -- faculty who are simultaneously creative scholars and engaging teachers," Parrish said. "Endowed professorships are a crucial tool for retaining our world-class faculty, for continually enriching our academic environment and, in turn, for attracting the most talented students. It will be a tremendous honor for a faculty member to be named the Juanita Kidd Stout Professor of Law."

The holder of the professorship will be announced later this year.

Ken Turchi is assistant dean for communications and administration at the IU Maurer School of Law.