Mary Crossley and Jasmine Gonzales Rose First Recipients of Derrick A. Bell Fund for Excellence Award

Pitt Law Professors Mary Crossley and Jasmine Gonzales Rose have been named inaugural recipients of the Derrick A. Bell Research Award, one of the first initiatives of the Derrick A. Bell Fund for Excellence.

Established in March 2013 by Mrs. Janet Dewart Bell, members of the Bell family, and other lead donors such as the Rubash family (Norman Rubash, Law '57) and the Hathaway family (Jerry Hathaway, Law '79), the Fund honors Professor Bell, Law '57, a distinguished teacher, scholar, and civil rights advocate.  Professor Bell was the only African American in his graduating law school class and the first tenured African American professor at Harvard Law School. The faculty research award is designed to support the designation of a Pitt Law student or students annually as Derrick A. Bell Student Research Fellows in Law, to work with faculty members in areas that closely align with Professor Bell’s legacy of using law as a means to achieve social justice.  Pitt Law student Megan Block will serve as the inaugural Derrick A. Bell Student Research Fellow in Law.  A second inaugural Student Fellow will be announced next semester.

Crossley’s scholarly work focuses on issues of inequality in the financing and delivery of health care, and her proposal concerns how hospitals completing their first Community Health Needs Assessments (required by the Affordable Care Act) have taken information regarding racial and ethnic disparities into account in identifying their communities’ significant health needs. Gonzales Rose plans an article on the potential statutory support for allowing limited-English proficient (LEP) citizens to serve on juries with the assistance of interpreters.

In addition to supporting faculty research, the Fund will support a number of initiatives, which could include encouraging matriculation of students from diverse or underprivileged backgrounds, engagement with the community through providing pro-bono legal services for the underserved, and the establishment of postgraduate fellowships for alumni working in an area of law and social justice.

Additional financial support is needed in order to bring these initiatives to fruition. Those interested in helping to continue Bell’s legacy may make a tax-deductible pledge in his honor to the Derrick A. Bell Fund for Excellence here.