First published in the April 21 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
Most cities’ institutions and universities have a tribute or ritual that signifies the highest possible level of respect.
It’s difficult to imagine any higher form of praise exists in Southern California, Los Angeles or USC than lighting the Olympic torch atop the peristyle above the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
On March 31, the iconic cauldron was illuminated at about dusk and about 200 supporters showed up to honor the contributions of Barbara Franks Bice.
She was acknowledged not only with the torch-lighting, but also with a reception and dinner in honor of Bice’s $2 million estate gift to the USC Gould School of Law. The endowment from the educator, philanthropist and community leader supports and furthers the work of the school’s Public Interest Law Foundation [PILF], one of the country’s oldest student-led organizations in the area of public interest law.
The endowment enhances USC Gould’s commitment to encouraging the pursuit of public-interest legal careers and advances PILF’s more than 30-year legacy of helping underserved and vulnerable groups.
In recognition of the gift, PILF is now renamed the Barbara F. Bice Public Interest Law Foundation.
“Providing an endowment to support the PILF summer public-interest internships provides a unique opportunity,” Bice said. “First, it recognizes the great contributions the student founders, subsequent student leadership and grant recipients have made to public-interest work over many years. Second, the endowment supports Gould’s commitment to law in the public interest. Third, it furthers opportunities for students to experience firsthand the importance of public-interest work.”
Through the internships, students gain appreciation for the important assistance that they provide to underserved populations, Bice said.
“Finally, the gift expands the important benefits the host organizations make to the public good. I am grateful for this unique opportunity,” she added.
Andrew T. Guzman, dean of the USC Gould School of Law, was in attendance and spoke at the ceremony.
“Barbara’s $2-million estate gift will have a transformative effect in the years ahead,” Guzman said. “This is why we are overjoyed to now rename the Public Interest Law Foundation in her honor. This estate gift has indeed set the trajectory for PILF’s success. Like so many times before, Barbara has set the standard for us to follow. As dean, I look forward to working with all of the Gould community, as we carry on our great tradition of coming together in advocacy and support of PILF’s amazing efforts. The future is bright for PILF, and Barbara has helped us light that path forward.”
Well-chosen words, enhanced by the burning flame of the Olympic cauldron.
Wende Julien, a 2009 graduate of Gould who is now executive director of the Los Angeles County Probation Oversight Commission, also shared words of appreciation for Bice.
“Thank you, Barbara, for building up PILF to be mighty,” she said. “For incubating legal champions, for supporting so many public-interest law organizations that need support, and for building a path so that future Gould PILF students can ‘Fight On’ for justice. May many others follow your lead.”
Mirelle Raza, deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice, praised Bice’s matronly approach to mentorship.
“Everyone who has come through Gould over the past 50 years knows about the legendary Mrs. Bice,” Raza said, eliciting a roar of appreciative laughter. “In fact, Barbara is commonly known as the mother of all Gould students, and it is this exact sentiment that PILF has felt and benefitted from since our founding. Barbara provides guidance and support in a way I can only describe as warm, but fierce. And this embodies what PILF is about, being fierce and impassioned about public service, but providing this service to our communities in a warm and welcoming way.”
A resident of Pasadena, Bice is a former educator with the San Marino Unified School District.
During her 20-year tenure, she was an AP English teacher, founding director of the career education program and the career center at San Marino High School, and served as the founding executive director of the San Marino Schools Foundation.