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Convocation Speaker Wants Global Health Treaty
From going under cover in a mental institution to proposing a global health treaty, Larry Gostin has spent his career fighting injustices perpetrated on society's most vulnerable.

The professor of global health law shared moments from his journey as an activist and intellectual as he delivered the Life of Learning address during the annual Spring Faculty Convocation in Gaston Hall March 3.

Gostin, also the faculty director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, said that in Georgetown, he found an institution matching his quest for social justice, equity and protecting human rights.

"Georgetown embodied my highest ideals of using world-class scholarship to serve the needs of the most disadvantaged," said Gostin, who also is an associate dean in the Law Center. "The ideals of equity and human fulfillment are embodied in the inscription on Georgetown Law's Edward Bennett Williams Library: 'Law is but the means -- justice is the end.' "

An Early Push for Justice
That sense of justice began before Gostin received his law degree.

During his speech, he recalled applying for a summer job as a Duke law student. It turned out to be part of a Justice Department study of the appalling conditions in North Carolina mental institutions.
 
"My experience as a patient in a high-security mental hospital was the most transforming of my life," Gostin said of his months-long stay. "Nothing I have done, or will ever do, will teach me how to feel, viscerally, the suffering of the most vulnerable among us [than being in the mental institution.]"

Already active in major public health reform efforts in the United States, Gostin has led major U.S. law reform initiatives including emergency health legislation to combat bioterrorism. He soon will travel to Norway for international talks to establish his Framework Convention on Global Health as a global treaty. The framework addresses the basic needs of the world's least healthy people.

The professor called it "the beginning of a dream come true. I owe this, and so much more to this place on a Hilltop that I have come to love like none other."

Honors for Service and Contributions
The Spring Faculty Convocation at Georgetown also marks the 20-year milestone reached by faculty and staff members and features the induction of Georgetown's most generous benefactors into the 1789 Society.

The university awarded 58 Vicennial medals and inducted 17 individuals or groups into the 1789 Society during convocation.

"Without the generosity of time, talent and resources of the two groups we honor tonight, we could not maintain our heritage of academic excellence," said President John J. DeGioia. "[It is] a heritage which is the foundation, core and starting point for everything we do at Georgetown."

Click below to watch a video featuring Vicennial medal winners talking about their time at Georgetown.

A Life of Learning: Reflections on Twenty Years at Georgetown from Eidolon Films on Vimeo.

-- Lauren Burgoon

(March 4, 2010)
'The ideals of equity and human fulfillment are embodied in the inscription on Georgetown Law's Edward Bennett Williams Library: 'Law is but the means -- justice is the end.' ' -- Larry Gostin, professor of global health law

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