JOSIE GOUGH (BA ’74, MEd ’78, JD ’84)
MEDAL OF EXCELLENCE
The Medal of Excellence honors a member of the School of Law community who exhibits the qualities of character, intellect, and social and professional responsibility that the School of Law fosters.
Josie Gough is a nominator, not a nominee.
That was Gough’s first thought when she learned she had been selected to receive the School of Law’s 2022 Medal of Excellence.
“I had to read the email several times,” she says. “I’ve nominated other faithful alumni, but never thought of myself as someone to be encouraged in this way.”
Her word choice is deliberate. Gough sees the award less as a reflection of past contributions and more as a form of encouragement “to still be of service and to do more,” she says.
Indeed, though Gough retired from the School of Law in December 2021 after 10 years on the faculty, she will return in the fall to co-teach a course on diversity and inclusion that she helped launch last fall. She will also serve on the Dean’s Diversity Council.
“I’m like that bad penny that keeps turning up,” she jokes.
As the school’s first assistant dean for inclusion, diversity, and equity and also a Curt and Linda Rodin Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and Social Justice, Gough launched a number of initiatives designed to ensure that all law students feel they have a place and a voice at Loyola, including the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Awards and Fellowship Program; lunch-and-learn workshops; and first-generation programs.
She also helped to establish the Professional Identity Formation course, which has received national recognition for its approach to addressing systemic racism and inequities within the legal profession.
As for her notion that she’s not awardee material, innumerable people would disagree, to say nothing of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Foundation, and many other organizations that have recognized her with honors.
“Josie has dedicated herself through countless hours, no matter the time of day, to support our students and alumni,” writes Jeffrey Hammer (JD ’06) in his nomination of Gough. “Josie’s touch and words of encouragement were just the thing that many of us needed to make it through times of monumental change and challenge.”
“Our students know that we have chosen them, and they have chosen us—and I think we’re very lucky when they do.”
Even now, after returning to private practice in May, Gough continues to meet with students one-on-one, to write recommendations and help them make connections for job opportunities.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t get a call or text from a current student, former student, or prospective student,” she says. “That gives me joy.”
That connectedness is at the heart of Gough’s excellence. When she joined the law school as its first director of experiential learning and professional development, her strong relationships in the legal community empowered her to enrich the school’s externships, adding new corporate opportunities and creating the D.C. Externship Program.
Gough says she was inspired by her own mentor from her time as a student: Norman Amaker, renowned civil rights attorney and Loyola law professor from 1976 to 2000.
“He told me he would not let me fail, but he was really saying, ‘You have to make sure you don’t fail,’” Gough says. “He wasn’t talking about a class; he was talking about life. Anything that I’ve done to support students is my effort to give back in the same way that he and others gave to me.”
Countless people who call her professor, colleague, or mentor would say that “Dean Josie,” as she is known, has given back in exponential measure. For students and recent alumni especially, she was a most essential part of their educational and professional success, and more important, of their personal journeys in the years they attended the School of Law.
“I try to build their confidence—to help them bet on themselves,” she says. “When I see how successful and how values-driven our graduates are, I think I was able to do that to some extent. The proof is in the pudding.”