Connect with us

The Passing of a Trailblazer – In Memory of Dean Jacqueline Allee Smith

St. Thomas University School of Law mourns the loss of Dean Jacqueline Allee Smith who served from 1987 to 1993. She died on Wednesday, August 4, 2020, at the age of 76. A pioneer and a leader in the legal community, Dean Allee became the third dean in the Law School’s history. At that time, Dean Allee was one of only six women serving as law school deans in the country. President David A. Armstrong, J.D., stated: “We are so sorry to hear about the passing of Jacqueline Allee Smith. She was a true trailblazer, the first female dean at STU Law, and one of the first female deans in the country. She is a great example of what we do here at STU to teach all our students to blaze a brave path.” Prior to taking on the leadership of the School of Law, Dean Allee was a partner and the head of the bankruptcy department at Holland & Knight.

Dean Allee was key to the Law School’s establishment and continued success. Under her leadership, the School obtained ABA accreditation. She was, among her many other achievements, the founding Dean of the highly regarded St. Thomas Law Review. While Dean Allee’s passing is a loss for all who knew her, those following in Dean Allee’s footsteps will always feel her presence. As Dean Tamara Lawson remarked, “Dean Allee built a strong faculty, and fashioned the high academic standards which earned our original recognition by the ABA and, in our recent reaccreditation by the ABA and AALS, still serve us today. I am grateful for her legacy of leadership and philanthropy. She will be truly missed by the STU Law community.”

Former University President Father Pat O’Neill, who brought Dean Allee to our community, commented: “We are forever indebted to her, for her firm hand, decisive leadership, and vision for St. Thomas at a critical time in its ascendency.” Dean Allee expanded the faculty to include many of the most notable and beloved Professors, including Al Garcia, Dan Gordon, Fred Light, Steve Plass, Amy Ronner, and Jay Silver, who through their teaching and scholarship have brought Dean Allee’s vision to fruition. Professor Emeritus Ronner recalls Dean Allee as a “miraculous dynamo” who “did not stop to flatter, schmooze, or placate, but instead achieved goals by charging ahead with intelligence, diligence, and dedication.”

St. Thomas Law has established the Jacqueline Allee Smith Scholarship in honor of Dean Allee, which continues to be funded today with contributions from faculty and friends. The award is presented annually to a student on the basis of academic performance and financial need. Dean Allee was married to Chesterfield Smith, himself a dynamic leader in the legal profession, having served as President of the American Bar Association during Watergate and having founded the internationally esteemed firm of Holland & Knight. Contributions to the Jacqueline Allee Smith Scholarship fund should be directed to Jorge Cos, Assistant Dean of Alumni Relations and Development,, 305-623-2374.

Yamile Rodriguez

Author Yamile Rodriguez

More posts by Yamile Rodriguez