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Prof. Orfield and Gilbert Castro ('09) Receive Stark Civil Liberties Awards

JUNE 23, 2009—University of Minnesota Law School Dean David Wippman is pleased to announce that Professor Myron Orfield is the faculty recipient and Gilbert A. Castro ('09) is the student recipient of the Dr. Matthew Stark Award for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for 2009. The Stark Award is given to faculty members and students who have demonstrated distinguished service, writing, teaching, involvement, or public leadership in civil liberties, civil rights, public education, or social justice.

In addition to his teaching, Orfield serves as Executive Director of the Law School's Institute on Race & Poverty (IRP). The IRP investigates how policies and practices affect people of color, the disadvantaged, and their neighborhoods, and it works to ensure access to opportunity as well as regional stability.

The IRP is a consistent source of significant proactive research and public advocacy. Among its recent major reports is "Communities in Crisis," which found that people of color and their Twin Cities neighborhoods were at a clear disadvantage in access to credit during the subprime lending crisis. Another study, "Failed Promises," reported that most charter schools still underperform comparable traditional public schools and intensify racial and economic segregation in Twin Cities schools.

Orfield is an authority on civil rights, state and local government, state and local finance, land use, regional governance, and the legislative process. During his five terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives and one term in the state Senate, he oversaw laws that created the nation's most substantial regional government and reformed laws on land use and fiscal equity in the Twin Cities. He works with local land use organizations nationwide, advocating regional approaches to metropolitan governance.

Gilbert Castro performed prolific and meaningful public service on behalf of the disadvantaged as a student at the Law School, while completing the requirements for a double concentration in Human Rights Law and in Labor and Employment Law.

Castro volunteered on the Minneapolis Legal Aid's Housing Project through the Minnesota Justice Foundation and, through the Asylum Law Project, spent a week of semester break volunteering for the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center in Miami. He also completed a volunteer internship in the immigration department, became the Advocacy Coordinator, and organized the first outreach clinic for Centro Legal, the Twin Cities' Hispanic and Latino legal aid center.

At the Law School's Workers' Rights Clinic, Castro served as a student attorney for clients, and through the Volunteer Lawyers Network, he volunteered as an interpreter for the free housing clinic. He participated in the summer Courtroom Advocacy Project of Sanctuary for Families, a battered women's shelter and legal-services provider in New York City. There he represented victims of domestic violence, assisting them in obtaining protective orders.

The Dr. Matthew Stark Award for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is made possible by a generous donation from Dr. Matthew Stark, a long-time leader in the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union. Beginning with service on the governor's Human Rights Commission in the mid-1950s, he has dedicated his professional life to ensuring that the benefits of our democratic society extend to all citizens, regardless of their religious, ethnic, cultural, sexual, racial, financial, and intellectual backgrounds or political beliefs.

At the University, he served as coordinator of the human relations programs, advised student volunteer organizations through the Student Activities Bureau, oversaw special programs and out-of-classroom learning projects, and worked tirelessly with minority group students. Dr. Stark has committed more than $150,000 to establish funds at the University of Minnesota Law School, College of Education and Human Development, and College of Liberal Arts to award students and faculty members who follow his example of distinguished service toward civil rights and civil liberties.

Portrait of professor Myron Orfield

Read Professor
Orfield's Bio

Portrait of Gilbert Castro

Gilbert Castro ('09)