In Memoriam: Penelope Pether 1958-2013

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Villanova Law Professor Penelope (Penny) Pether died on September 10, 2013.

Penelope Pether, 55, of Haverford, a law professor at Villanova University, died Tuesday, Sept. 10, of cancer at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Dr. Pether was a widely published legal scholar, specializing in the theory and practice of judging in the federal courts; feminist legal theory; the history of racial discrimination; and rape-law reform.

“Penny Pether was a well-respected educator, dedicated mentor, and beloved friend and colleague,” said John Gotanda, dean of the Villanova School of Law. “Her passion for teaching was immeasurable, and her death is a tremendous loss for the Villanova Law community.”

Over the last eight years, she taught courses there about criminal law, comparative constitutional law, and law and literature.

She also brought Villanova law students and inmates together in an unusual seminar at Graterford Prison to study issues of crime and justice from behind prison walls, Gotanda said.

Her husband, David Caudill, said that even in failing health, Dr. Pether went to the prison to teach. She insisted that the inmates could master the difficult legal concepts, and that they should try.

“She really cared about those guys,” her husband said.

From the Villanova Law School website (here):

The Villanova University School of Law community mourns the passing of Penelope Jane Pether, Professor of Law. Professor Pether was a respected educator, dedicated mentor and beloved friend and colleague. Her passion for teaching was immeasurable, and her death is a tremendous loss for the our community.

In 2005, Professor Pether joined the VLS faculty from American University Washington College of Law where she was Professor of Law and Director of Legal Rhetoric. During her tenure at Villanova, she taught a wide variety of constitutional law, law and literature, criminal law and criminal procedure courses. Professor Pether distinguished herself by the positive impact she has had on so many students over the years at VLS and the contributions she has made to the field through her scholarship. She will also be remembered for her work with the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which brings law students and incarcerated men and women together to explore and learn about issues of crime and justice from behind prison walls. Though she will be sorely missed, her legacy lives on through the students whom she instructed and inspired.

Professor Pether was an active member of the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education and a member of the Feminist Law Professors blogroll.  Our condolences to Professor Caudill and to her family.  Penny will be missed.

May her memory be a blessing.

-Bridget Crawford

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