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Joy McCann Foundation establishes distinguished professorship for professionalism at Stetson Law


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Gulfport, Fla. – The Joy McCann Foundation donated $500,000 to Stetson University College of Law to endow the William Reece Smith Jr. Distinguished Professorship. The honor celebrates the work of Stetson Law Distinguished Professorial Lecturer and Florida legal legend William Reece Smith Jr.

The distinguished professorship will be awarded to a full-time College of Law faculty member with a demonstrated commitment to both professionalism and the mentoring of students. The gift also provides financial support for special projects the distinguished professor chooses to pursue.

“We focus on making our community a better place to live; one way we do this is through our support of education,” said Joy McCann Daugherty, chair of the foundation. “The high quality of Stetson as an institution is reflected in its faculty. Professor Smith has been a stalwart force in the Tampa legal community for many years, and the McCann Foundation is proud to support Stetson by honoring Reece.”

The professorship requires the honoree to be a leader at Stetson and in the professor’s field of study. The recipient must also be a role model in their community for the profession.

“This distinguished professorship will enable our faculty to develop innovative programs to enhance the teaching of professionalism at the College of Law,” said Stetson Dean Darby Dickerson. “We are privileged to have the name William Reece Smith Jr. permanently linked with such an academically significant program.”

William Reece Smith Jr.’s relationship with the law school dates back to 1954, when he taught as an adjunct professor. He has served as distinguished professorial lecturer since 1991. He has served as the president of the International Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Bar Foundation, American Bar Endowment, National Conference of Bar Presidents, the Florida Bar and Hillsborough County Bar Association. Professor Smith has diligently worked to improve access to legal services to the poor for more than 40 years. He founded Florida Legal Services and served as its first president. The courtroom in Stetson’s Tampa Law Center is named in his honor.

About the Joy McCann Foundation
The Joy McCann Foundation is a private family foundation committed to community enrichment and the development of mentors in the health, science and legal professions. Chaired by Joy McCann Daugherty and Dr. Robert Daugherty, the foundation has made grants totaling nearly $10 million over the past five years to non-profit organizations and educational institutions in Florida.

The foundation has as one of its goals a priority in funding mentoring to develop future leaders in the health, science and legal professions. Programs and awards established by the foundation are intended to identify and honor mentors who serve as role models, encouraging others through their actions, professional work and attitude to become leaders at academic institutions and within professional disciplines.