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University’s Adams Center Namesake Earns National Honor

Published on May 26, 2011

Arlin AdamsSELINSGROVE—Retired judge Arlin M. Adams, for whom Susquehanna University’s Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society is named, recently received the American Philosophical Society’s Benjamin Franklin Medal for distinguished public service. The award honors his “contributions to public life reflecting the best skills a lawyer can possess: leader of the bar, distinguished judge, public policy advocate, settler of disputes, generous donor of time and talent.”

Previous recipients of the award include, among others, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Justices Thurgood Marshall and Sandra Day O’Connor. The award ceremony took place in April.

The Arlin M. Adams Center at Susquehanna was founded in 2001 by the family of the late Sigfried and Janet Weis, of Weis Markets Inc., and the Sunbury-centered Degenstein Foundation, with support from the Annenberg Foundation. Adams presented the center’s inaugural lecture, about separation of church and state, in March 2002. His academic relationship with Susquehanna dates to 1985, when he received an honorary degree from the university.

“Judge Adams is among the nation's most respected and wise voices, as this honor reflects,” said L. Jay Lemons, university president. “All Susquehannans take pride in his accomplishments and are grateful for his leadership, support and generosity to the university.”

Adams has served for 25 years as general counsel to the Philadelphia law firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, LLP, where his career began in 1947. He has a diversified litigation and appellate practice with extensive experience in class action litigation and punitive damage matters. From 1969 to 1987, he served as a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit. Previously, he had spent three years as secretary of public welfare for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, helping to create the program that later became known as Head Start.

His distinguished career is marked by professional and civic leadership. Adams was president of the Annenberg Institute from 1988 to 1991 and chair of the Annenberg Research Institute. Elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1979, he served as president from 1993 to 1999. The University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Annenberg Foundation established the Arlin M. Adams Professorship on Constitutional Law in his honor in 2005. He is a trustee of the Goldsmith Weiss Foundation, Andrew Allen Charitable Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr College; a trustee emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania; and an honorary trustee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The first in his family to go to college, Adams earned a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Temple University and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

The American Philosophical Society was established by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 and is considered to be the oldest learned society in the United States. In addition to Franklin, early membership consisted of several other founding fathers, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.


Karen M. Jones


Susquehanna University Architecture

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