University of Oregon School of Law announces Meritorious Service Award winners

Gassama and Charles

May 18, 2021. Eugene, Oregon

The Meritorious Service Award at the University of Oregon School of Law is the highest award given by the school. It is given each year to persons who have made extraordinary contributions to legal education or the legal profession.

This year the school announces the award goes to two individuals. The first is a posthumous honor for Lauren Elizabeth-Barthé Charles, JD ’11. The second recipient for this prestigious award is the Frank E. Nash Professor of Law, Ibrahim Gassama.

As an Oregon Law student, Lauren Charles was an active leader in the community, serving as minority outreach assistant for the admissions office and as the 2010 co-director of the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (known as PIELC). She also was a law clerk at Lockheed Martin in Washington, DC. After graduating from University of Oregon School of Law, Lauren was an assistant director of JD Admissions at the law school until 2014.

Before passing on March 7, 2021, Lauren was an accomplished professional, living in the Washington, DC, area.  She worked as an attorney and lead project manager for Leidos, a Fortune 500 science and technology firm. Though on the East Coast, she continued her service to University of Oregon Law by volunteering at numerous alumni and development and recruitment events for admissions, and in February 2021 spoke to and counseled Oregon law students as part of a career development program.

Professor Gassama receives the Meritorious Service Award for his exemplary service to the law school and to legal education. Professor Gassama's current academic focus is on tort law as well as the interrelationships among human rights, environmental degradation, and economic development.

Colleagues describe his wise counsel, his steady and calming influence, and his ability to disagree with respect. Professor Gassama has served in many critical capacities, including serving on the Personnel Committee and the Dean’s Search Committee. He also served as Associate Dean.

Moreover, his influence with students is legendary, as he cares deeply about our students as individuals, as thinkers, and as professionals. He pushes them to interrogate their assumptions, and not be complacent about doing “good in the world.”

Prior to joining the Oregon law faculty, Gassama worked on human rights, foreign policy, and international economic development issues for TransAfrica, the African American lobby for Africa and the Caribbean. Gassama worked on Nelson Mandela’s first visit to the United States, and in 1994, he coordinated the recruitment, training, and deployment of U.S. based nongovernmental observers participating in South Africa's first democratic election.

Professor Gassama will retire in June 2021.