Almost 40 years after he left campus, outgoing Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, BC ’77 and BC Law ’80, will return to Boston College Law School—although this time, it won’t be as a student: He will begin teaching at the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy in January, just under two weeks after wrapping up holding political office.
With Malloy’s extensive background dedicated to public service as a lawyer and politician, his return to BC Law with comprehensive professional experience fits the Rappaport Center like a glove. Malloy’s presence will give law students a first-hand look at careers in public service, bringing local and state government experience to the heart of the center.
After graduating from BC Law, Malloy prosecuted cases as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn before receiving a partnership at a Connecticut-based law firm. Born and raised in Stamford, Conn., Malloy subsequently ran successfully for mayor of Stamford, serving in his hometown from 1997 to 2005.
Though Malloy lost his first gubernatorial election in the primaries, he later secured his spot as governor of Connecticut in 2010. He won a second term in 2014, running against Tom Foley, his Republican opponent in 2010, for the second time, snagging the victory with just over 51 percent of the vote. Malloy’s gubernatorial term will end in January of 2019, and he will begin teaching on Jan. 14.
BC Law School Dean Vincent Rougeau first invited Malloy to give a commencement address to law graduates before approaching him with a position at BC Law. Malloy’s address touched many, including Rougeau, as he told his story of making a successful career after struggling with dyslexia through his law education
“It’s a very compelling story about personal fortitude and struggle and help within a community,” Rougeau said. “I think many people were very, very moved by it.”
Malloy has suffered from physical and learning disabilities, including dyslexia, since he was a child. After his dyslexia diagnosis, Malloy began to learn the skills he needed to succeed and eventually graduated from BC magna cum laude.
As governor, he focused his attention on a diverse range of political issues. Malloy targeted creating jobs and expanding small business initiatives during his first term, according to Connecticut’s official state website. His efforts helped to add approximately 70,000 jobs to the private sector during his first four years in office. Other political accomplishments include increasing education funding for local schools, addressing income inequality, and extending affordable health care.
Rougeau feels Malloy’s immediate public service experience is irreplaceable and will bring a unique element of public involvement to law school students.
“His service was not without controversy and difficulty, which is part of what many people who enter public service have to face,” Rougeau said. “And so I think he has a lot to offer in terms of describing the kinds of choices people in public service often have to make, some of which will make them very unpopular, but are choices that they feel must be made.”
Malloy leaves office with a 70 percent disapproval rate in his state. He is currently the second least popular governor in the country, according to the most recent Morning Consult poll, an improvement from when he placed last in the April 2018 poll.
Elisabeth Medvedow, executive director of the Rappaport Center, explained that the overarching theme for discussion in the center this year is “challenges to constitutional democracy,” and topics such as impeachment and consequences of criminal convictions will be explored. Medvedow, who will be working closely with Malloy, feels that his experiences as a public servant “fits right into our mission for the year.”
“We probably won’t ever have another political person who has such an intimate, deep, and immediate knowledge of what it takes to run a state and what matters to citizens of communities,” Medvedow said.
Malloy is one of four prominent political figures BC Law has brought in to teach based on their professional experiences. Former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley and retired Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Justice Geraldine Hines previously held classes at the school. This year, retired associate justice of the Mass. Supreme Court Robert Cordy took a teaching position, and Malloy will follow. Still, Malloy is the first of these politicians to teach so soon after holding office.
Malloy’s seminar class, titled The Intersection of Law, Politics, and Public Policy, will be offered in the spring semester to law school students. His time teaching at BC Law will be kicked off with a public address open to the entire BC community, though the date of the address is still to be determined. Medvedow will also work closely with Malloy as he develops programs in which he will either moderate or serve on a panel.
Rougeau expressed optimism in Malloy’s singular ability to bring new insight to the table at BC Law, citing specifically Malloy’s learning disabilities before coming into office and his ability to make tough calls as a public servant.
“You know, there are many different ways to use a law degree, and he demonstrates a number of them in his career,” Rougeau said. “He has a lot to offer to offer to somebody. He can tell them about his personal journey, about his professional journey, and about the role of service.”
Correction (10/30/18, 5:09 p.m.): Geraldine Hines and Robert Cordy’s names have been corrected in this article. In addition, Malloy’s disapproval ratings have improved from their April 2018 mark, and the article has been updated to reflect that.