The academic community at Quinnipiac University School of Law is responding to a tragic loss with a program designed to help others in the form of a student-support fund in memory of the late attorney Thomas J. Ullmann.
Ullmann, who died suddenly in a hiking accident last year, was a well-known teacher at Quinnipiac, a former chief public defender in New Haven and a member of the Connecticut Law Tribune editorial board remembered for having a smile for everyone he met and an impact on countless lives.
“While I never had the pleasure of watching him teach, I have heard from people who had him in class who said he struck a kind of balance between specific technical skill building and inspiration,” said Quinnipiac Law Dean Jennifer Gerarda Brown. “He taught trial advocacy, and of course you have to be very precise in the courtroom and in treatment of witnesses, but you have to balance that technical mastery with a kind of larger sense of enthusiasm and inspiration for the law. That’s the main thing I’ve heard from people, is that Tom Ullmann always struck that balance in a way that was great for our students.”
Ullmann died accidentally while hiking on trails in the Adirondack Mountains near Indian Lake, New York. His passing came as a shock to the Connecticut legal community. In response, his family organized the student-assistance fund at Quinnipiac Law in his memory. “My children and I wanted to initiate something special in memory of Tommy … something he would be happy with,” said Ullmann’s wife, Diana Pacetta-Ullmann, in announcing the launch of the annual Thomas J. Ullmann Fund for Student Support. “Quinnipiac is a special place—it’s where he went as an undergraduate and taught at the law school, where our children attended day care, and where we were fortunate enough to have met. We have already established the fund, and donations added to it will help to build it.”
Connecticut Law Tribune Editorial Board and former Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz called Ullmann “a dear friend to the board of the Connecticut Law Tribune, countless attorneys, judges and students. In his honor and his memory, his family has created a scholarship fund that will keep his memory alive and support causes about which he was so passionate.”
Brown said response to the fund has been good thus far, but donations now would be welcome and timely, as funding is expected to be used to purchase textbooks and support stipends for internships this summer in the New Haven office of the state’s Public Defender Services.
“As those of you who knew Tom know, he loved teaching and mentoring students and found it important to provide opportunities for them to learn from practicing lawyers,” Pacetta-Ullmann added. “He also always believed that students who would otherwise have difficulty meeting the high costs associated with law school deserve financial support, especially those students intending to practice public-interest law.”
Brown said donations to the fund will have a double impact in that they will help law students while providing access to justice for clients in need.
“We’ve been very pleased with the response,” Brown said. “So many people have come forward to say Tommy meant a lot to them and they would like to support this fund—people who have been supportive of the law school before and people who are new to us who haven’t been donors, but for whom Tom Ullmann meant enough to them that they want to honor him in this way. It is a fund that could always use more support, because we want to replenish it over time and we want students to be able to take advantage of the opportunity as future funds become available down the road.”
To make a donation, visit the Quinnipiac Law donations page and select the Thomas J. Ullmann Fund for Student Support. For more information, contact Colleen Entenman, senior director of law development, at Colleen.Entenman@quinnipiac.edu or 203-582-3403. Donations are tax-deductible.