FACULTY PROFILE Josie Gough (BA '74, MEd '78, JD '84)

To be of service

Josie Gough supports students as assistant dean of the Office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity

At age 13, Josie Gough was arrested while demonstrating for fair housing practices during the 1960s Civil Rights movement. That experience sparked a lifelong desire to help others to fight the good fight. A first-generation college student, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Loyola University Chicago before earning her law degree from Loyola’s School of Law. Today, Gough serves the law school as assistant dean of the Office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity. Here, Director of Communications Kristi Turnbaugh talks to Gough about why she became a lawyer, ways she stays connected during the pandemic, and how she helps create career opportunities for students.

What made you want to go to law school?

I grew up during the Civil Rights movement. When I was in grammar school, my best friend’s father was an attorney. In connection with his work, he would take the two of us to his downtown office, to NAACP meetings all over the state, and to Springfield, where law and policy would be on display. For him, it was the ability to spend time with his daughter, and for me, it was exposure to a world of possibilities. 

My best friend and I had our first and last arrest [in 1965] when we were 13 years old, demonstrating in front of City Hall for fair housing at the same time that Dr. Martin Luther King was in the City of Chicago. Thrown into a police wagon and taken to the central district police station at 11th and State Street, where we were then thrown into a cell. This experience is something I will never forget.

I could see myself working as an activist attorney as part of a movement far bigger than me. I knew law school would be the way to do that and change my life in so many ways. After graduating college, I hadn’t quite figured out how I would pay for law school. So that part of the dream was deferred for a few years. I became a high school English teacher. I taught at Chicago Public Schools for 7 years and then decided that I was either going to be three years older with a law degree, or three years older without it. So I quit my job, used my pension, and paid for the first year of law school. And the rest is history.

What are some of the ways you connect with students?

I serve students by presence and programming. In terms of presence, I make myself available to students 24/7. They count on me to be there for them.

I curate a number of programs to stay connected with my students, colleagues, and our legal, cultural, and faith-based community. I featured several of our alums including Romeo Quinto, who is a phenomenal attorney and a key member of our Dean’s Diversity Council, [and] the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, who led us through a critical discussion on race focusing on the impact of COVID-19.

Because wellness is so important to our law school community, we convened a program that focused on wellness and how we can all become agents of healing justice while taking care of ourselves. And finally, we took a deep dive into what the legal profession must do to realize real diversity and inclusion.

How do you help create professional opportunities for budding lawyers?

I encourage students to take advantage of the School of Law’s experiential learning opportunities in our clinics, practica, and externship programs. I encourage our students to become members of the various bar associations that will be instrumental in their development as legal professionals during the time that they are in law school. 

I created the D.C. Externship Program six years ago because so many of our students are interested in employment opportunities in D.C. during law school and post-graduation. Nothing that I have accomplished was done alone. It does take a village. 

“Trying to be of service—and Loyola is known for being of service—is a responsibility that’s personal.”

What is the most challenging part of your job?

It’s a 24/7 job. With all of the issues that we, as human beings, are dealing with—it takes a lot out of you to be responsive to our community’s needs in a way that is real. And it’s a responsibility that I take to heart every day. So trying to be of service—and Loyola is known for being of service—is a responsibility that’s personal—and you can’t phone it in.

What do you hope to accomplish over the next 12 months?

My hope in the next year is that those of us who are charged with being responsible for bringing our mission statement to life for the benefit of our students can do it. I hope to be a catalyst for change. In the spirit of John Lewis, to engage in “good trouble” that leads to positive change within the law school and our profession. I want to continue my work in a way that allows our law students to thrive and to feel that they all belong.


Doing more. Going beyond. It’s what we expect from each other as members of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law community. As a student you’ll experience this in the classroom and in your campus experience. It’s why we provide wellness services and academic success services to all students. Learn More