Mizzou Law dean can tell you about pressure

Law school deans face a lot of pressure today. Legal education, after all, has endured rocky times, and law school leaders sometimes take the brunt of the criticism that’s thrown at it.  

But Lyrissa Lidsky, dean of Mizzou Law, knows a whole other kind of pressure.

She's battling breast cancer.

And she’s become an inspiration to her students, staff and fellow teachers, all of whom have rallied in support as she has fought it. Indeed, a Mizzou Law employee came up with the idea to produce bracelets with the words, “I am Lidsky Strong.”

She’s been strong, all right. Lidsky continued to teach as she underwent chemotherapy treatments. She’s also been candid about her condition and her fight.

“When you’re in a public position and you’ve lost all your hair and you’re bald, you might as well be open about it,” Lidsky told the Columbian Missourian. “It kind of does make you the public face for the disease.”

She’s even used Twitter to thank her supporters and describe her ordeal. Here’s one:

“My last day of my First Amendment Law class is tomorrow. I've had a great time teaching a phenomenal set of students. They brightened the darkest days of chemo with their engagement with the material I love. I'm so glad I had the privilege of teaching them.”

And another:

“I received these gorgeous flowers  along with a beautifully written card of support from our  @MizzouLaw student body. They made my last chemo treatment today even brighter.”

She was diagnosed in December after she discovered a lump. She was told it was caught early, and she encourages others to self-exam.

“It may have saved my life,” she told the school newspaper.

Lidsky was named dean of the University of Missouri School of Law in 2017, after spending two decades at the University of Florida Frederic G. Levin College of Law. The mother of three was the first female dean of the Columbia-based school. 

That was a significant step in her career, one that came with great optimism and enthusiasm. She was to lead a law school, after all. But then came cancer.

And then, soon later, came this perspective:

“It’s weird to think of cancer as a gift,” she told the newspaper. “But one of the gifts of having cancer is that you see so much good in humanity. People have been so kind and so supportive.”



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