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Release: May 4, 1999

Law awards first Erich D. Mathias International Social Justice Award

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa College of Law has awarded the first Erich D. Mathias International Social Justice Award posthumously to the former third-year law student for whom the award is named.

Erich Mathias died in a Jan. 8 auto accident while returning from winter break from his parent’s home in South Carolina.

The award will be presented each spring to a third-year law student who has most demonstrated a commitment to international social, economic, and cultural justice issues.

Mathias is remembered by UI law faculty and his classmates as a student with an avid interest in international social justice issues even before starting law school in 1996. Before then, he worked in various positions as a consultant with the Catholic Relief Services, with the Family Planning International Assistance of Planned Parenthood, and with the Religious Working Group on the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

He studied international law through George Washington University at Oxford and attended the University of London law school in 1998 through a UI study abroad program. An externship with the Center for Economic and Social Rights in New York gave him an opportunity to call for changes in the way multilateral banks influence foreign countries’ domestic priorities.

"Erich’s enthusiasm for law and helping other people made him a stand-out among other students. He was widely liked and respected for his ambitions and his talents," says Linda McGuire, assistant dean for student affairs.

"The Social Justice Award is a way of recognizing future law students who mirror Erich’s zeal for global change and have demonstrated that they are dedicated to the betterment of the world," McGuire says.

A memorial service was held for Mathias on Jan. 14, the day N. William Hines, law school dean, announced the award. Donations to fund future awards can be made to the Iowa Law School Foundation.