Marc Poirier, a law professor at Seton Hall Law and a really wonderful human being, passed away Sunday after a brave battle with cancer. Tributes about his work in the academy have been populating a wide range of legal academy blogs this week. After all, he was an exceptionally bright scholar with diverse interests that ranged from property theory to LGBT issues. He was also, amazingly, able to successfully blend the two. His article, The Cultural Property Claim within the Same-Sex Marriage Controversy, was widely popular.
He also wrote in the fields of environmental resource management, sexuality and the law and gender. One L in a Different Voice: Becoming a Gay Male Feminist at Harvard Law School should be required reading for anyone interested in law school reform. Then there was his activity as a Zen practitioner. Marc just led a meditation retreat a few months ago at Columbia. In the midst of his struggle against a very serious disease, Marc also traveled cross-country last fall to the SALT Teaching Conference to lead a session on meditation for a bunch of law professors. In Las Vegas.
Marc served for many years on the SALT board, and he was a steady source of honest advice, critical thinking and amazing problem-solving. His volunteer work behind the scenes on behalf of law professors and law students made a significant impact on the academy. Everyone on the SALT Board felt as if he or she personally had a special connection with Marc. And, knowing Marc, we each did. He was authentic and optimistic. He had the ability to break down complicated issues through principled and creative approaches. And then, of course, there was that smile.
Marc’s commitment to marginalized people and his determination to improve the world were relayed through his scholarship, service, meditation sessions and big hugs. The SALT Board feels especially saddened by Marc’s passing. But we feel especially privileged that he was a part of our family.
The following are a few of the words of tribute from current and former SALT Board Members:
Marc had an amazing ability to make me think more deeply and take a step back and look at how what I was saying fit into a much bigger picture. He had a keen intellect and a gentle manner. He added so much to our collective efforts and to this world. He will be greatly missed.- Andi Curcio
I will miss Marc’s passion and his voice; I am so sorry to hear that he has passed. – Margaret Barry
Marc’s tremendous intellect was matched only by his enormous hugs and booming hellos. He will be very missed. — Ngai Pindell
I sat in stunned silence thinking: I. Just. Can’t . . .Then this: You will always be missed my Brother. Peace out. – Adele Morrison
I am so grateful to have had his friendship, his intellect, his wit, and his generosity in my life. I remember how Marc would just get to the nub of an issue and always made us think — think of what we only thought we knew until he made us probe deeper. I also remember Marc’s laughter. He was effervescent and I enjoyed being around him.Yes, we will miss, but not nearly as much as we will remember him. – Paula Johnson
He was such a gentle, wise, and giving soul. His contributions to our collective conversations were a reflection of that, calling us to dream big, stay true to our ideals, and do the hard work, together and with joy, to reach them. His voice stays with me, and I am grateful for that and for the time I had with him. I only wish it had been more. – Carol Chomsky
I am so saddened by this loss of Marc for SALT and legal education. He lives on in the hearts of all of us who had the privilege of knowing him. Will try to honor his memory in our future work. My sincerest condolences to his family. – Ben Davis
Marc was thoughtful, brilliant, funny, and, most of all, one of the kindest and nicest people I have ever had the honor of knowing. I will miss him.-Beto Juarez
We have lost a tireless social justice advocate, a wonderful colleague and friend. RIP Marc Poirier.-Jackie Gardina
Marc was one of the first people that I met at SALT and I was always so glad to see him. – Beverly I. Moran
I will miss Marc dearly and am delighted to see organizing around tributes to him at the SALT dinner and elsewhere. And let’s all remember to pay it forward, to give others what Marc has so generously given to us again and again, and to tell those around us how much we care about them and value them. – Hari Osofsky
Marc’s enthusiasm for social justice was transformatively contagious. Marc pushed me to implement the student consumer guide project. He was the generous cheerleader who took the time to meet with me in person to ignite fire to the project. Marc was also always so transparent about his soulful struggle with the physical. I am the better for the brief moment he graced my life, and when you multiply it, well his life was powerful for SALT. – Raquel Aldana
I will miss his wisdom and kindness. He was humble, hardworking, funny and incredibly earnest. He was so optimistic about his treatment and so engaged in the world around him that I am still in shock about his passing. Marc was a wonderful example of how we should treat each other and approach life’s challenges. We will do our best to honor his spirit. -Olympia Duhart