In Memoriam, Professor Jamie A. Grodsky

At the memorial service for Professor Grodksy, who passed away last May, the words most frequently used to describe her included “enthusiastic”, “brilliant”, “golden”, “kind”, “loyal,” “witty” and “passionate.” To her friends, family, colleagues and students she will be remembered for all these things and much more. On September 20th, 2010, the GW Law community and members of her family gathered to share fond memories and inspiring stories about Professor Grodsky. Her father described with a twinkle in his eye how she spent a year wandering Appalachia with a guitar on her back. A former colleague from Capitol Hill noted how she was devoid of both the ego and cynicism that pervade many of the institutions and people there. A friend and her sister detailed the rescue of her cat, Felix, whom she loved just as he was, despite his sometimes cranky disposition. Several people described how Professor Grodsky could make others become excited about their own lives through her excitement, and how she always listened to others like they were the only person she wanted to talk with at that moment.

Then there were her fellow Professors who described her devotion to scholarship and to her students. One Professor even noted how she spent part of her last day before entering the hospital ensuring the substitutes for her Environmental Law classes would have everything they needed to shepherd her students through the end of the semester. This detail struck me because I was one of the students in those classes, along with other members of the JEEL staff. We had quickly discovered Professor Grodsky’s unmatched enthusiasm for the material she taught and I was impressed by her interest in the individual lives of her students. She asked us about our jobs, our weekends, our recommendations for kayaking trips and our hometowns. When she fell ill she braved her way through classes anyways. She always put teaching us first. She was so strong, brave and full of life that we found it absolutely shocking when we learned she had passed away.

Though we are the last generation of many students Professor Grodsky taught, her legacy will not be forgotten. The memorial service underscored that her commitment to environmental law and to humanity was a thing of beauty to aspire to and a model that will continue to inspire her students throughout their careers and lives.

One way her legacy will live on is through the Jamie Grodsky Environmental Scholarship Prize:

The Jamie Grodsky Prize will be awarded to a GW Law student for their written submission each year at an awards ceremony held in connection with the Law School’s annual J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro environmental law conference. The Prize winning paper will be published in the GW Journal of Energy and Environmental Law or other GW law journal.

For other thoughts from GW Law students: http://www.law.gwu.edu/News/newsstories/Pages/RememberingJamieGrodsky.aspx

-Emily Hildreth, Senior Projects Editor