NASHVILLE, Tenn. ñ Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell has been named the 2004
Distinguished Alumnus of the Vanderbilt University Law School.
Purcell, a 1979 graduate of the Law School, will receive the award
during the school’s annual Leadership Dinner April 3 at the Hermitage
Criteria for the award include exemplary professional accomplishments
and recognized leadership within one’s field of endeavor. Recipients of
the award must also demonstrate qualities that reflect the values of a
Vanderbilt University Law School education, according to Kent D.
Syverud, dean and Garner Anthony Professor of Law.
"Bill Purcell has excelled as a state legislator, public policy expert,
public defender and public servant," Syverud said. "He has
distinguished himself as mayor by squarely facing the toughest issues
of metropolitan government, including schools, taxes, development and
neighborhoods. Through inclusive processes, he stewards the community
to creative, long-term solutions that improve Nashville as a place to
work and live. He models all the skills of outstanding lawyers, and the
Vanderbilt Law School is particularly proud to honor our alumnus Mayor
Purcell for his extraordinary contributions to public service and to
On being named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, Purcell said,
"Vanderbilt Law School brought me to Nashville and gave me the start in
my legal career and interests in protecting our children. It goes
without saying that this recognition means a great deal for me because
of the role this law school, its faculty and alumni play in my life
Purcell served 10 years in the Tennessee General Assembly, six as House
majority leader, before becoming director of the Vanderbilt Institute
for Public Policy Studies’ Child and Family Policy Center in 1996. He
was elected mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and
Davidson County in 1999 and reelected in 2003. Purcell is a trustee and
member of the executive committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The Distinguished Alumnus Award was established in 1988. Previous
recipients have included George Cates Jr., Pauline Gore, James Sasser,
Gilbert Merritt Jr., Richard Sinkfield, James Cheek III, Tone Grant,
Fred Graham, Douglas Henry, Hugh Morgan, James Neal, Lucius Burch Jr.,
Fred Thompson, Aubrey Harwell and Wayne S. Hyatt.
Also on April 3, Judge Thomas A. Wiseman Jr., senior U.S. district
judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, will be given the Law
School’s Distinguished Service Award.
Wiseman, a 1952 graduate of Vanderbilt University who earned his law
degree from Vanderbilt in 1954, was appointed to the bench by President
Carter in 1978. He served as chief judge from 1984 to 1991 and took
senior status in 1995. He served in the Tennessee House of
Representatives from 1965 to 1968 and was state treasurer from 1971
through 1974. He is an adjunct faculty member at Vanderbilt Law School
and served on the school’s Alumni Board from 1991 to 1994.
"Judge Wiseman has worked with Vanderbilt law students and faculty for
decades, inside the classroom and courtroom and in the community,"
Syverud said. "A beloved teacher of trial advocacy and evidence, he has
trained countless Vanderbilt law students in his classes and his
chambers. His commitment to quality at the Law School and in his
students has made Vanderbilt Law School a much better place and,
therefore, amply merits his selection as recipient of the 2004
Distinguished Service Award," Syverud added.
On learning that he would receive the honor, Wiseman said, "The
education I received and the friends I made at Vanderbilt Law School
have been largely responsible for any success I have achieved. I am
grateful to Vanderbilt for this award and for the opportunity to give
back to the institution that has meant so much to me."
The Distinguished Service Award was first presented in 1987 when the
dean recognized the former presidents of the Law Alumni Association and
Dean’s Council. Recipients have included William McDonnell, Mrs. Cecil
Sims, John Beasley II, Paul Hartman, Stephen Potts, Garner Anthony,
Mary Moody Wade, Henry Bushkin, Robert Brundige, Edward Hardin, Wayne
Hyatt, David Partlett, Don Welch, Kay Simmons, Richard Aldrich, Joe
Wyatt, Joe McCarty, Tom McCoy, Pauline Aranas and Ted LaRoche.
Media contact:Susanne Hicks, (615) 322-NEWS