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Elizabeth Kelly Dedication


Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Kelly and his wife Kimberly.  Mark is the son of Elizabeth (Liz) Slusser Kelly who served as a cataloger on the founding staff of the law library for the SIU School of Law from 1973 until 1978.  At that time the law school was housed in temporary, former fraternity buildings. I understand from this memorial article in the Law Library Journal that Liz's office was the former housemother’s room.  During that time period she also earned her J.D. and raised four children of her own.

Roger Jacobs Liz KellyLaw Library Director Roger Jacobs with Liz Kelly (center) and two other staff members (mid-1970s).

From the time of her law school graduation in 1978 until 1984 she served as our Law Library Director and Associate Professor. In the early part of her tenure as Library Director, one of her duties was service on the law school’s New Building Committee for the planning of our current Lesar Law Building.  Among many other responsibilities, that committee solicited, reviewed, and selected the quotes that appear on the tablet on the front of the building.  In recognition of this, as well as her many other contributions to the establishment and success of the law school, we have hung a smaller version of the tablet in the Law Library.

Last Thursday a small group of us gathered for a short but sincere dedication of the tablet and presentation of a memorial plaque. The Kellys were given a small replica of the tablet.

Kelly presentation

from left: Associate Dean and and former Law Library Director, Frank Houdek, who succeeded Kelly as Library Director in 1985, Kimberly Kelly, Mark Kelly, Dean Cynthia Fountaine, Law Library Director Doug Lind, and Professor Emeritus Robert E. Beck, who worked with Liz and served with her on the New Building Committee.


Although I did not have the opportunity to meet Liz before her death in 2010, this quote from her colleague Ann Puckett (author of the memorial article), makes me wish that I could have known and worked with her.

“She gives credit where credit is due, she regards occasional failures as steps in a learning process rather than opportunities to assign blame, and she remains serene in the face of any challenge.”

As Puckett added in a footnote, “Having coped daily with four children under four must surely explain Liz’s serene, unflappable demeanor. After that, nothing else would seem very challenging.”

So we are grateful not only to Liz Kelly for her contributions, but also to her family for contributing to the unflappability that served her and SIU Law so well.