University of Vermont

University Communications

Sullivan Wins Kutak Award from American Bar Association

Tom Sullivan UVM president
Tom Sullivan, UVM president. (Photo: Sally McCay)

University of Vermont president Tom Sullivan has been named the 2015 recipient of the American Bar Association’s Robert J. Kutak Award, honoring an individual who has enhanced significantly collaboration between the academy, the bench and the bar.

"Tom Sullivan's career and many accomplishments exemplify the spirit of the Kutak Award,” said Joan Howland, chair of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. “As a visionary and committed leader in higher education, Tom continues to strive to bring legal educators, the judiciary and practicing lawyers together to develop creative solutions to a myriad of issues, including the challenges associated with  ensuring equal access to justice for all segments of American society.”

“It’s a great honor to receive this important award from the American Bar Association,” Sullivan said. “I’m grateful that my background as an educator and a practicing attorney has enabled me to bring together these important strands of the legal profession for the betterment of society.” 

In 2003 Sullivan also received the J. William Elwin, Jr. Award for leadership and contributions to law school development from the ABA Section of Legal Education.

Before being named UVM’s 26th president in 2012, Sullivan was active in legal education in many capacities. He began his career as a member of the faculty at the University of Missouri Law School and then as a faculty member and associate dean at the Washington University Law School in St. Louis. He was named dean of the University of Arizona Law School, then dean of the University of Minnesota Law School before serving as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost there from 2004 to 2012. In addition to his extensive administrative experience, Sullivan is also a nationally recognized authority and prolific scholar on antitrust law and complex litigation.

Throughout his career, Sullivan has been an active leader in the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. He has served as the chair and as a member of numerous ABA sabbatical evaluation teams. Sullivan was a member of the Section’s Council from 1996 to 2004, serving as the 2002-2003 chair. His many other contributions to the Section include chairing the Task Force on Accreditation Process, the Task Force on Long Range Planning and Strategic Objectives, the Rules Revision Committee and the Nominations Committee.

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and the national Kutak Rock law firm established the Robert J. Kutak Award in 1984. Most awardees have been active members of the Section and the ABA. Former Supreme Court judge Sandra Day O’Connor was a recipient in 2006.

Sullivan will receive the award at a reception in his honor on Friday, July 31, during the 2015 ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.