NEW YORK – Professor Constantine Katsoris – Gus, as he is known to all – was presented the George J. Mitchell Lifetime Public Service Award by Fordham University’s Feerick Center for Social Justice on October 6.
Among the luminaries present were former U.S. Senator Mitchell himself, who served as Senate Majority Leader and is best known for taking leading roles in negotiations for peace in the Middle East and in Northern Ireland. The latter process culminated in the historic 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended the three-century-old bitter conflict.
Professor Katsoris told the gathering, “Considering the prior recipients, including Senator Mitchell, I accept this award with great humility, but I would like to thank some of those who made this night possible…my parents, who taught me the difference between right and wrong…my family, my wife and children, who encouraged me as I switched careers from that of a practitioner to academia.”
He has taught more than 15,000 students.
The event was held in the reception hall at Mutual of America headquarters high above Manhattan. Guests enjoyed the spectacular views of the City though the window walls.
Several Center officials welcomed the guests and thanked donors for the contributions that helped establish and sustain the Center and its work, which Michael M. Martin, Dean of Fordham Law School said “focuses on the pressing needs of low income and marginalized New Yorkers,” though its several programs. The Center works in partnerships with government agencies, bar associations, pro bono programs, advocates, and community-based service providers.
Dean Martin said he was honored pay tribute to “the four New Yorkers whose lives have inspired all of us in the legal community with their dedication and commitment to the values of Fordham Law School in the service of others.”
John Feerick, who served as Dean, 1982-2002 and continues to teach as a full professor at Fordham, also thanked the donors and congratulated the honorees. He introduced Senator Mitchell, who presented the award named after him to Katsoris.
Senator Mitchell noted that Katsoris is The Wilkinson professor of Law and that his more than 50 years of service as a full time professor is the longest in the history of Fordham Law School.
“And during all that period, and even before, when he was an associate at the firm of Cahill, Gordon, Rekindle & OH, NYC from 1958-64, he set a standard of public legal volunteer service that is a high water mark of faculty pro bono activity,” Senator Mitchell said.
He added Katsoris’ pro bono service on numerous commissions and conferences and declared that “In these and in many other ways Gus has led as an example of what one dedicated, talented, determined volunteer can accomplish.”
Within the Fordham community, Senator Mitchell said Katsoris “has inspired students through his many decade of leadership of the Fordham student sponsored fellowship program which provided summer stipends to students for pro bono assignments…he does this to build a community of Fordham lawyers in the service of others.”
“It is not possible in these few minutes to capture the full breadth and scope of Professor Katsoris’ lifetime of activity in so many good causes,” the Senator conclude, adding “It is truly a great honor for me to present to you an award that bears my name…and all of us here are honored to share in the presentation of this award.”
Professor Katsoris told guests of his admiration for “people who put their country’s needs first above their own self-interests…George Mitchell “is among those great statesmen and I am proud to accept the award that bears his name. Senator, I promise you to do my very best never to dishonor your good name.”
GROUP PHOTO: (L-R) Nick and Roula Katsoris with their daughter Julia and niece Kelly and nephew Cole in front of them, and their son Constantine. Gus Katsoris and his wife Ann, their grandson Christopher, and their son Louis with his wife Valerie after the award ceremony.