This week Sue Stewart joined UR’s senior administration as Vice President and General Counsel.
“Sue Stewart’s distinguished career makes hers a household name in Greater Rochester and beyond,” UR President Thomas Jackson said in a press release dated Sept. 11.
“Her extensive credentials provide a perfect fit for an institution as complicated and large as ours and I am delighted that she is joining the university’s senior administration.”
Stewart serves as the chief legal counsel and adviser to the University’s Board of Trustees, President, Deans and other administrators regarding a wide range of issues. Some of those subjects include student discipline, faculty research contracts, technology development, federal regulations of clinical research and how best to encourage diversity in admissions and hiring.
In March 2001, Stewart retired from the prominent law firm Nixon Peabody, LLP, as managing partner of its Rochester office.
Throughout her 33-year career, Stewart’s work has focused on the legal issues of educational institutions, medical schools and their hospitals, museums and other nonprofit organizations. Stewart served for many years as the university’s primary outside counsel.
“When I was offered this job, I was retired and living in the Adirondacks,” Stewart said. “This was my dream job, so I had to think about it and I decided to come back. I emotionally care about the university.”
Although it was not a primary objective, by fulfilling her educational and career goals Stewart became a pioneer for women.
“When I was admitted to Harvard Law School I was invited along with the other women in my class to dinner at the Dean’s house,” Stewart recalled. “He told us that there was a quota of no more than 5% of the class could be female. We were there over his dead body, taking the place of men who would run the country.”
As far as Stewart knows, all of the women in her class have made fantastic legal careers for themselves. When Stewart transferred to Georgetown Law School, she learned that institution had a similar quota.
When she applied for her job in 1967, Nixon Peabody did not hire women”- however, some partners decided that it might be time to change that policy. Stewart and another woman were the first female lawyers to practice at Nixon Peabody.
“We were the first to be hired by a large legal firm, the first to be made partners and the first to be in management,” Stewart said. “I was part of a huge change-men and women being judged on who they are, not their gender.”
In 1999, Stewart received the Athena Award from the Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce, an award given to women only, which was in recognition of her contributions to the business field and community.
Stewart is also a philanthropist. She received the 2001 Distinguished Volunteer Service Award from the United Neighborhood Centers of Greater Rochester after helping to raise 18 million dollars to rebuild and revitalize the Neighborhood Center buildings and program.
“I’m most proud of that achievement,” Stewart said.
Just last week Stewart was named as one of the “Fifty over 50″ by the Rochester Business Journal. The honorees are people who have””had careers distinguished by a high level of professional success and significant involvement in civic endeavors,” according to the Rochester Business Journal.
Thus far, Stewart could not be happier with her new position. “And the Vice President title gets me a great parking pass,” Stewart joked. “One should be as lucky as I am-to truly love what you do.”
Keesing can be reached at email@example.com.