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LEGACY


Distinguished judge, attorney, and philanthropist Marianne D. Short, Esq., NC’73, JD’76, P’05, transforms the future of BC Law with a record-breaking gift.

Donna and Fred

Visiting BC Law on a spring afternoon with her husband, Ray Skowrya, P’05, is not “like” returning home for BC University Trustee, alumna, parent, and philanthropist Marianne Short. The sprawling campus was, in fact, her base for six years.

A 1973 graduate of Newton College and a 1976 Law School alumna, this renowned judge, attorney, and executive leader has seen the campus and its surroundings transform and expand. And when she returns, fond memories come flooding back: pick-up basketball with faculty and fellow law students at Quonset Hut; countless cups of tea while studying for exams in Stuart House; student events hosted by the Newton College president in Barat House.

For nearly 50 years, Marianne has been a fundamental part of BC, first as an NC undergraduate and then as a BC Law student. In 1985, University President J. Donald Monan, S.J., appointed her as a University Trustee. At age 34, Marianne was one of the youngest on the Board and one of the first women. She is also a member of the Council for Women of Boston College and a former associate member of the Law School Board of Overseers, and she has served as a member of her Newton College Class Committee.

Together at BC, Marianne and Ray have invested in financial aid, scholarships, and the Pete Frates Center at Harrington Athletics Village, and have also established a Sesquicentennial Assistant Professorship at BC Law in their name. Their unwavering philanthropy has created opportunities for generations of Eagles to pursue their interests and fulfill their dreams, both in and out of the classroom.

But it’s their most recent commitment that truly strengthens the future of BC Law—by establishing the Marianne D. Short, Esq., Law School Deanship. Odette Lienau, professor of law and former associate dean for faculty research and intellectual life at Cornell University Law School, has been named the inaugural dean, effective January 2023. Learn more

a snowcovered mountain with the sun setting behind it

Marianne’s home in Dillon, Colorado, where she has a view of the pristine lake and the mountains.

FINDING
HER PURPOSE


I didn’t want to just be a lawyer. I wanted to be a litigator and I wanted to be in trial. I wanted to make a difference for others.”

—MARIANNE SHORT

At home, Marianne’s parents instilled a sense of purpose in each of their seven children. A Catholic education was seen as the means to finding one’s purpose. “My father made sure that we were going to college to ‘do something’ with our lives,” Marianne says. “He believed we should stand up and make a difference,” she adds. “He was also a tough taskmaster, making us reach for the highest rung possible, as opposed to settling for something.” As a result, Marianne was driven, too. She was an excellent student in each of the Catholic schools she attended.

Marianne’s mother, a former schoolteacher from New York, read to her little ones daily, often with an infant in her arms and the older children sitting on the floor around her. The Bobbsey Twins and books by Charles Dickens were favorites among Marianne and her siblings. 

Each of the Short children had regular chores, which instilled a sense of responsibility in them at a young age. Daily tasks included feeding the family’s sheep and horses, picking fruit, and baking. When there was a bit more excitement, such as the birth of a foal, it was Marianne’s job to negotiate with the school bus driver to wait for her older brothers until they were finished with their duties and could board. “I always had to come up with some song and dance about why they were late,” she recalls.

As the oldest daughter, Marianne helped care for her three younger sisters and her youngest brother. “Watching the younger kids made me a disciplinarian, but also the best defender of them,” she says.

Marianne Short in 1988

After 12 years as a litigator in private practice, Marianne was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 1988—and became the youngest member of the court at age 37. She retired from the court in 2000 to return to private practice.

Marianne’s father, who was first a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and then a business owner in Minnesota, exposed his oldest daughter to his own career at an early age. “I remember sitting in a corner of his home office playing with my Ginny doll while he was negotiating transactions,” she says. Her parents often hosted dinner parties at their house with Minnesota politicians such as former vice presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Frederick “Fritz” Mondale, before they served in the nation’s capital. Marianne and her sisters helped set the table, serve, and clear during those occasions—while at the same time caught bits of the discussion. “I learned a lot from just listening to all of those conversations my parents had with these friends and politicians,” she remembers.

When it was time for Marianne to select a college, her parents let her choose—as long as it was Catholic. Newton College of the Sacred Heart spoke to her and the idea of studying in Boston seemed exciting, although it meant living away from her family for the first time.

Rev. Francis J. Nicholson, S.J.

Rev. Francis J. Nicholson, S.J.

CALLED TO SERVE

At the start of the first semester, she was a little nervous, unsure of what to expect. “Back then, law school was portrayed in the movies as a harsh place, where the professor would just yell your name and grill you for an answer,” Marianne says. Thankfully, she adds, the classrooms at BC Law didn’t resemble that pressure-cooker atmosphere. Right away, she joined a study group—one that she stayed with for all three years of law school, for support and friendship.

“Overall, our professors were really interested in us learning, as opposed to us failing, or simply showing us that they were smart,” Marianne says, citing James Smith, Robert Berry, the Rev. Francis J. Nicholson, S.J., and Mary Ann Glendon among her favorite faculty. “They cared about us and wanted us to make something good out of our careers. They weren’t just going through the motions.

“Truthfully, I feel blessed having been educated at Boston College Law School,” she says. “I learned the best of law at BC, from professors and from classmates. I have been able to parlay all of that education into a wonderfully interesting career.”

Marianne’s prestigious path includes 35 years of courtroom and management experience. She began in the attorney general’s office in Minnesota, where she tried cases and defended the State, and then she moved on to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, where she served as judge for 12 years. From 2007 to 2012, she rose through the ranks at Dorsey and Whitney, LLP, from associate to partner to managing partner. She was also an active litigation partner, co-chairing the firm’s appellate and health litigation practice groups. Marianne then joined UnitedHealth Group as executive vice president and chief legal officer. Today she is officially retired from UnitedHealth Group, but will remain as a strategic advisor until spring 2023. Marianne is also a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.


Truthfully, I feel blessed having been educated at Boston College Law School. I learned the best of law at BC, from professors and from classmates.”

—MARIANNE SHORT

library shelves


Truthfully, I feel blessed having been educated at Boston College Law School. I learned the best of law at BC, from professors and from classmates.”

—MARIANNE SHORT

As a student, alumna, and University Trustee, Marianne has seen significant physical change to Boston College over time. But at its core, the University has stayed true to its mission, she says. “BC has gone from being a good school for boys and sports to really so much more. It’s a community influencer and a defender of rights on all kinds of fronts. You’ve got to give the Jesuits a lot of credit for what they’ve built and sustained and changed with the times. They are incredibly smart and incredibly educated, and they hold everyone to that same standard.” When she joined the Board of Trustees 37 years ago, it was made up of 12 Jesuits and 12 laypeople. “Today the Board has expanded,” she says, remarking , in particular, the strides that have been made by University President William P. Leahy, S.J. “When you look at the depth and the quality of people who come on, and the different voices around the boardroom table, it’s remarkable. Fr. Leahy has really diversified the Board in both ethnicity and in mindset.”

Marianne Short speaking with students

Marianne chats with BC Law Black Law Student Association (BLSA) co-president-elects Praise Tillman, JD’24 and Reginé Cooper, JD’24.

Throughout her entire academic career, Marianne’s education was guided by Catholic nuns in grade school and college, and then by priests and professors at a Catholic, Jesuit institution founded in the values of Ignatian spirituality—such as authenticity, integrity, service, and justice. From her teachers and her parents, she learned the significance of what it means to be authentic and true to oneself, to have a deep sense of purpose, and to serve the community.

Marianne’s career and her latest philanthropic commitment reflect these fundamental ethics, as well as her belief in the future of BC Law. “I care about law and I am a lawyer through and through,” she says. “I also care deeply about the Law School, so this gift is very personal to me. We’ve been blessed with unbelievable deans at BC, and I know that this gift will continue the long legacy of public service that has been a foundational part of the Law School for years. That’s what has set BC Law apart from other institutions. There’s such a feeling of giving back at BC, paired with the desire to volunteer in the community. Not every law school has this kind of spirit,” she says.

 “I learned at a young age that if you are searching for something for yourself, you may or may not be happy in life,” Marianne concludes. “But if you are doing something for others, you will always be proud of that. And I think that’s really true.”

Odette Lienau, The Inaugural Marianne D. Short, Esq., Dean

After a nationwide search, Boston College named Odette Lienau, professor of law and former associate dean for faculty research and intellectual life at Cornell University Law School, as the inaugural Marianne D. Short, Esq., Dean at Boston College Law School. She will assume the role in January 2023.

A distinguished legal and political scholar and internationally renowned expert on sovereign debt issues, Lienau has centered her research and teaching interests on international economic law, debtor-creditor relations, international politics, and political and legal theory. She has served as a consultant and expert for the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, and offered Congressional testimony on the international debt architecture before the United States House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security.

Odette Lienau, The Inaugural Marianne D. Short, Esq., Dean

After a nationwide search, Boston College named Odette Lienau, professor of law and former associate dean for faculty research and intellectual life at Cornell University Law School, as the inaugural Marianne D. Short, Esq., Dean at Boston College Law School. She will assume the role in January 2023.

A distinguished legal and political scholar and internationally renowned expert on sovereign debt issues, Lienau has centered her research and teaching interests on international economic law, debtor-creditor relations, international politics, and political and legal theory. She has served as a consultant and expert for the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, and offered Congressional testimony on the international debt architecture before the United States House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security.

Odette Lienau

BC LAW BY THE NUMBERS

95.6 Employment rate for the Class of 2021
3.69 median GPA
#9 Best Professors and Best Quality of Life (Princeton Review)
#25 Best Law Schools (Above the Law)
#15 'Go-To' Law Schools for Large Firm Hiring (National Law Journal)
165 median LSAT for fall 2021 entering class
95.6 Employment rate for the Class of 2021
#15 'Go-To' Law Schools for Large Firm Hiring (National Law Journal)
165 median LSAT for fall 2021 entering class
#9 Best Professors and Best Quality of Life (Princeton Review)
3.69 median GPA
#25 Best Law Schools (Above the Law)

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