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New Jersey’s First Woman Chief Justice and Attorney General to Serve as Monmouth University’s Public Servant in Residence

New Jersey’s first woman Chief Justice and Attorney General, Deborah Poritz, will serve as Monmouth University’s Public Servant in Residence during the 2015-2016 academic year. The former Chief Justice will give select lectures on campus during the year.

“We are delighted to welcome Chief Justice Poritz to our campus to share her experience in law and public service with our students and faculty,” said President Paul R. Brown, Ph.D. “There is no substitute for learning directly from an expert with real-world experience. Justice Poritz’s knowledge of legal issues and her perspective on the evolution of social issues in the courts is sure to provide for many lively discussions.”

Poritz was nominated to the New Jersey Supreme Court by Governor Christine Todd Whitman in 1996 and served in this position for 10 years until her retirement in 2006. She wrote the opinion in Dale v. Boy Scouts (1999), which prohibited the Boy Scouts from expelling a Monmouth County Scout Master because of his sexual orientation. The United States Supreme Court overturned this decision a year later in 2000, and a national controversy followed, leading more recently to changes in Boy Scouts’ policies. Prior to sitting on the Supreme Court, Poritz served as New Jersey’s first woman Attorney General (1994 to 1996) and as Governor Tom Kean’s Chief Counsel (1989), also the first woman to serve in that position.

She received her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Brooklyn College in 1958. Subsequently, the former Chief Justice studied English and American literature at Columbia University on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and then continued graduate studies at Brandeis University. She taught composition and literature at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania prior to pursuing a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After retiring from the New Jersey Supreme Court, the Chief Justice joined the law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath, Of Counsel, where she continues to practice law in the firm’s Princeton office. She also taught at the Rutgers School of Law in Newark and in Camden for three years after leaving the court and continues to serve as the Chair of the Boards of Legal Services of New Jersey and the Fund for New Jersey, and, also, as Vice-Chair of the Princeton Healthcare System Board.

Monmouth University’s public servant in residence program, coordinated by the Office of Global Initiatives and the Department of Political Science and Sociology, was created in 2000 to provide a venue for public officials who wish to share their expertise with students and the campus community at Monmouth University. The last four former Public Servants in Residents include former New Jersey Governors Jim Florio, Christine Todd Whitman, Brendan Byrne, and former Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court James Zazzalli. For more information, contact Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology Joseph Patten at 732-263-5742 or