MSU Law establishes Talsky Center for Human Rights Endowment also established professorship

By Roberta Gubbins

Legal News

Michigan State University College of Law recently announced the establishment of the Lori E. Talsky Center for Human Rights of Women and Children, which was made possible by a generous gift from alumnus Lori Talsky, '96, and her husband, Alan Zekelman, of Bloomfield Hills.

The endowment also established the Alan S. Zekelman Professorship in International Human Rights Law. The holder of the Zekelman Professorship is Professor Susan H. Bitensky, teaches Constitutional Law, Evidence, International Human Rights Law, and Jurisprudence. She will also provide intellectual leadership and program oversight of the Talsky Center.

According to Talsky, the focus of the Talsky Center is to "serve as a leading voice for international human rights, and provide opportunities for MSU Law students to do this important work around the globe."

Thus the program planned for the spring and summer 2012 includes international externships. According to Bitensky, three students have applied for "externships with the International Criminal Tribunal (ICT) for the former Yugoslavia, located at the Hague in the Netherlands."

"This international criminal tribunal deals with the prosecution of the alleged crimes committed by individuals during the most recent armed conflict in the Balkans."

The students will work as law clerks under the direction of the "judges and legal officers to conduct research, prepare decisions or draft judgments. Depending on the stage of the case, the intern may also attend court, prepare witness summaries and attend and participate in deliberations."

The future plans for the Talsky Center include "seeking permanent spots with the Hague for our students to extern. We may also place them in other courts or NGOs (Non governmental organizations) that deal with Human Rights issues," said Bitensky.

Other future plans include the hosting of two speakers from the ICT at the law school--Hon. Bakone Moloto from South Africa and Michelle Oliel, Canadian, who is part of the court's legal staff and a symposium in the next academic year on a human rights topic to be identified.

The gift was made to support the Talsky and Zekelmans' goals of increasing awareness about the importance of international human rights in improving life outcomes for women and children who suffer--or are at risk of suffering--human rights violations.

"I am extremely grateful and honored to be selected for Zekelman Professorship, said Bitensky. "The two of them (Talsky and Zekelman) are very dedicated to promoting human rights. They are wonderful people."

"We are honored to receive such a generous gift from Ms. Talsky and Mr. Zekelman," said Joan Howarth, dean of MSU College of Law. "Their contribution speaks to their deep and abiding interest in using the rule of law and education to ensure that fundamental human rights are preserved and strengthened around the globe for all people--especially for women and children. This gift also reminds us that law professors can inspire their students to do remarkable things."

Talsky graduated summa cum laude from Detroit College of Law, which is now MSU College of Law, in 1996. Upon graduation, she joined the firm Maddin, Hauser, Wartell, Roth, & Heller. Talsky practices family and matrimonial law, litigation, and real estate law.

Zekelman is a successful businessman and philanthropist.

"In another life," Bitensky had and still has a passion for ballet. Before college, she was an apprentice to the Robert Joffrey Ballet Company. Much to her parents' dismay, she "went to New York City to pursue ballet" as her life's work. "And after about a year and a half of that, I decided I would go to college."

She graduated from Case Western with a degree in psychology. She turned to the law because "I felt I was more suited to the law and the results could be more concrete."

It was a good choice. Bitensky served as assistant general counsel to the United Steelworkers of America for three years in Pittsburgh, followed by four years of private practice with a Manhattan labor law firm.

Before joining the Law College faculty, she was associate counsel to the New York City Board of Education for six years during which time she dealt mainly with commercial law and education law matters.

Published: Fri, Jan 13, 2012

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