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Osagie Imasogie LLM’85 is humbled and thrilled for the opportunity to spread the word about the Law School.
Photo: Colin Lenton

New Chair of Board of Advisors Seeks More Buzz About the Law School

Osagie Imasogie LLM’85 was appointed to a three-year term as Chair of the Board of Advisors last year. A member of the Board since 2006, Imasogie and his wife Losenge created the Imasogie Professorship in Law & Technology. They also established the Imasogie Gateway which serves as the main entrance into Golkin Hall.

Imasogie is a leader in the pharmaceutical industry, having held positions at GSK, SmithKline, DuPont Merck, and Endo. He is Chairman and Founder of Zelira Therapeutics, Ilera Holdings and Ilera Holistic. In this interview, Imasogie, with his trademark ebullience, expresses unalloyed optimism about the future of the Law School.

What drew you to serve as the Chair of the Board of Advisors and what do you hope the Law School will accomplish during your tenure?

When I was approached, I was quite thrilled and humbled that I would be considered for the role. I am grateful that the Law School is in a very good place, in terms of infrastructure, faculty, and funding. We have done well in the (fundraising) campaign. However, we can always do better.

No.1, I would like us to continue to enhance the reputation and the prestige of the Law School. There tends to be a lag in time between where the Law School is now and the full recognition of that by the larger community. My hope is that over the next couple of years we will be able to shorten that lag and get the full recognition that the Law School deserves.

The second thing is that I hope and expect that the Law School continues to recruit extraordinarily talented students. We are one of the most unique law schools in the country, given our wide-ranging multidisciplinary program, which leads to a broad range of careers. I am hopeful that we can increase not only our diversity in the student body but also in the careers that our graduates pursue.

My final hope is that we build on what is already an exceptional faculty. There are areas we can build on.

What do you see as areas of growth at the Law School?

The first area is intellectual property. We are already major players in that space. But I think we are going to continue to grow there because intellectual property is the new global currency. It cuts across every sector of the economy. In the 21st Century to be an effective lawyer you have to have at least some sense of intellectual property.

The second area of growth is the cultivation of public service. We need to give students the opportunity to become civil servants or public defenders, for example, in order to bring the brilliance and the energy and the creativity of the Penn Law graduate into vocations other than the traditional areas of Big Law and corporate practice. Public service, due to the nature of the cost of law school, can only be pursued by a larger group of students if they have the financial resources, and that’s where the Toll and Carey gifts come into play.

What do you think the long-term impact of the Carey and Toll gifts will be?

The gifts put us in a much stronger position to execute the overarching strategy of the Law School. In other words, these funds give us tremendous flexibility. The Toll gift is targeted to public service. I can’t overemphasize how important that is. One thing that was made very clear over the last few years, in all levels of our government/society, is that it does matter who our civil service members are and who occupies positions of authority within our system of government. To reiterate what I said earlier, making sure graduates who are so inclined have the ability to enter the public sector is a huge thing. The Toll gift has allowed us to support students with that career goal.

The Carey gift, meanwhile, will allow our Dean and future Deans to shift resources and adjust to new needs as they arise. That flexibility is crucial.

You said in a previous interview about the gift from the W.P. Carey Foundation that you are bullish on the future of the Law School. Please elaborate.

I am very pleased that we have moved up in a host of rankings. (Penn Law recently placed sixth in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, moving up one notch from previous years.) I continue to be bullish that that process will accelerate in the coming years. In terms of job placement, we are one of the top law schools in the country. I am extraordinarily proud of that. The vast majority of our students graduate with a joint degree or joint certificate. The vast majority of our students, therefore, have a multidisciplinary approach to law and life. Our faculty, meanwhile, continues to rate very highly across multiple disciplines. I am comfortable that this across-the-board progress will continue.

You are the first Black alumnus to lead the Board of Advisors. Why is this important to you and for current underrepresented students?

You are the first to ask me this question. I am pleased that this historical fact was and remains a non-issue within our Law School community, as should be the case. However, I think it is a significant development in the context of the larger society where people can see people that look like them in this kind of position. That is very, very positive. All members of our community, irrespective of the level of melanin in their skins, or gender, creed, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation should feel happy about this because it shows that we are truly an enlightened community and Law School that is focused on an inclusive approach to living our lives and to academia and governance. No one should be surprised at this, after all this is the Penn Carey Law School and we only strive for excellence.