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First African-American dean of the College of Law honored with memorial barbeque

Loyola press release - September 10, 2007

(New Orleans)—In remembrance of the many accomplishments of Louis Westerfield, former dean of the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and the first African-American dean in the history of the university, the Loyola University AP Tureaud Chapter of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) will host the first Louis Westerfield Memorial Barbeque on Saturday, September 15, at Audubon Park, from 2 to 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. In case of rain, the location will be the Broadway Activities Center, on Pine Street, across from the College of Law.

The BLSA has chosen to honor Westerfield for his unwavering service to his community, unselfish dedication to others, and unyielding commitment to personal and collective scholastic excellence.

From 1990 to 1994, Westerfield was the dean of the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. As dean, he strove to increase the diversity of the school’s student body, faculty, and staff. During his tenure, Loyola expanded services and raised record amounts of funds for endowed professorships, scholarships, and school operations.

Westerfield’s experiences with poverty and racism early on in his life were critical elements in forming his life-long advocacy of expanded opportunity for those traditionally overlooked by society. As he was preparing to graduate from high school, one of his guidance counselors told him, “Westerfield, there is no need for you to take the ACT. You’re certainly not college material.” Westerfield said about the incident, “Obviously, I didn’t take his advice. But just as obviously, many others did.” He later received a bachelor of arts in political science from Southern University in New Orleans in 1971 and a Juris Doctor from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in 1974.

Part of the reason Westerfield was so admired is that he worked his whole life to try to create opportunities for other people. Westerfield was never ambitious for himself alone. He was constantly trying to better himself and to improve everything and everyone around him. He helped family, friends, students, and staff to get a better education, better jobs, and to get out of trouble. Those who knew him remember that he lived the saying, “When you're climbing up the ladder, make sure it hangs down enough to allow others to climb up with you.”

Westerfield died of an unexpected heart attack in August 1996.

The A.P. Tureaud Chapter of the BLSA was created to ensure that the matriculation of African American law students through Loyola was not only intellectually stimulating, but also a nurturing and positive experience. BLSA serves as a mentorship program for students, and continues to be active within the community.

Attending the barbeque will be Loyola University College of Law alumni, faculty, staff, students, and members of the community. Those who knew Dean Westerfield personally, and have been influenced by his legacy, are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information, please contact Jose Massingue, Development Committee Chair for the BLSA, at (504) 250-9328 or jmassing@loyno.edu