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Scholar and Expert in Education Law; Advocate of Fiscal Equity for New York City Schoolchildren
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NEW YORK, April 10, 2006 --- It is with great sadness that the dean and faculty of New York Law School announce the death of their colleague, Professor Denise C. Morgan. Professor Morgan died April 8 in Chicago after a long illness. She was 41.
“Denise was an amazing woman—kind, energetic, smart, dedicated, committed, and courageous,” said Dean and President Richard A. Matasar. “She was an extraordinary colleague and an inspiration to students and faculty members alike. Our school grew with her and her loss leaves us with a hole in our hearts and a void in leadership that will be difficult to replace.”
Professor Morgan, who taught education policy and the law, federal courts, civil procedure, and a seminar on race and American history, was a passionate advocate of fiscal equity in public education in New York. She represented the Black, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Legislative Caucus, and filed several amicus briefs on behalf of the Caucus in a landmark case against New York State to establish equity in public school funding for New York City’s schoolchildren. The decade-long litigation, Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. v. New York State, which began in 1993 as a constitutional challenge to the state’s method of financing public education, continues today as CFE seeks to force the state to comply with sweeping financing reforms ordered by New York's highest court in 2003.
Prof. Morgan credited her West Indian immigrant parents with instilling in her a deep sense of the value of education: “My parents are immigrants from the West Indies who arrived in this country without a great deal of money, but with very good educations,” Professor Morgan explained in a 2001 interview. “I believe in the power of a strong public education system to create social, political, and economic mobility. I also understand that our public school system has never lived up to its full potential—that’s what drives my work.”
Before joining the New York Law School faculty in 1995, Professor Morgan, who received both her B.A. and her J.D. from Yale University, clerked for the Honorable Marilyn Hall Patel, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, and then joined Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton as an associate. It was at Cleary that she started working on a pro bono case that inspired her research into public school finance litigation.
Prof. Morgan wrote extensively about civil rights and equal educational opportunity, covering such topics as single-sex schools and desegregation law. Her most recent scholarly work focused on the role that the federal government plays in protecting individual rights, especially those rights that facilitate the belonging of outsiders in the national community. Professor Morgan argued that recent Supreme Court decisions would leave a detrimental impact on the enforcement of those rights. She was the author of numerous articles and principal editor of Awakening from the Dream: Civil Rights Under Siege and the New Struggle for Equal Justice (2005).
Prof. Morgan is survived by her husband Eric Wold, their daughter Sylvan, and her mother and father Coralee and John Morgan.
A memorial service will be held in New York City. Details about the memorial, and an educational trust fund to be established for her daughter Sylvan, will be available from Associate Dean Joan Fishman by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. [Contact correction.]
About New York Law
Founded in 1891, New York Law School is the second oldest independent law school in the United States. Drawing on its location near the centers of law, government, and finance in New York City, its faculty of noted and prolific scholars has built the school’s curricular strength in the areas of tax law, labor and employment law, civil and human rights law, media and information law, urban legal studies, international and comparative law, and interdisciplinary fields such as legal history and legal ethics. New York Law School has more than 11,000 graduates and enrolls some 1500 students in its full- and part-time J.D. program. It is one of only two law schools in the metropolitan area to offer the Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation.
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