Spring/Summer 2023


Fundraising Effort Connects Michigan Law’s Past and Future

By Annie Hagstrom

Paul and Sylvia Bateman
Paul and Sylvia Bateman, ’80

For Paul and Sylvia Bateman, Michigan Law’s Black Alumni Reunion is a chance to gather with their classmates and meet other alumni—and an opportunity to support the next generation of Black students in the Quad.

“We have a great affinity for the University of Michigan Law School and are very appreciative of how it changed our lives,” Sylvia says. “We come back to reconnect and feel part of the Michigan Law family.”

The Batemans, ’80, have served as co-chairs for the Black Alumni Reunion’s fundraising committee since 2019. They say that it has been an honor to work with fellow Black alumni who served on the Reunion’s executive steering committee and, especially, those who served alongside them on the fundraising committee. The committee raised money from more than 60 alumni and corporations for this year’s event and for the 2020 Reunion, which was postponed and later reenvisioned for a remote setting during the pandemic. 

“Being on the committee gave us the opportunity to reach out to people, and even if they weren’t in the position to contribute, it was great to have that conversation and catch up with other alumni,” Paul says. “And it was important to us to help because these events don’t happen without broad support.”

The gifts were used to cover registration fees for admitted and current students, and subsidized reduced fees for recent alumni and those working in the public and nonprofit sectors. The steering committee is also developing plans to use surplus funds from the 2023 event for future outreach and support for Black admitted and current students. 

The Batemans choose to stay involved to help empower the next generation of Black students at Michigan Law, and they are grateful for the opportunity to engage with the younger generation—something that was less common when they were in law school.

“For our time at the Law School, we had a relatively large class of African Americans, and it did create a sense of community and belonging,” Sylvia says. “We developed friendships with 2Ls and 3Ls who would give us tips and help show us the ropes, but during our first year we didn’t have the opportunity to connect with such an expansive group of alumni as now attends the Butch Carpenter Gala, which we plan the Reunion around.” 

Paul, who participated in the Reunion’s mentoring program and is mentoring a current student, agrees. “The opportunity to spend time with newly admitted and current students holds real value, and it’s great to meet them face to face instead of over Zoom,” he says.

Paul and Sylvia say their experience in Ann Arbor was transformative, and that their education and the relationships they formed in the Law Quad opened doors as they forged successful careers in the law. Most recently, Sylvia was a vice president at Exelon, the largest utility provider in the United States, before her retirement in 2020. Paul is a shareholder and the chief inclusion, equity, and diversity officer at Littler in Chicago, where he practices labor and employment law. 

“My parents were working class, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to get my law school education at such a highly ranked school as Michigan Law,” Sylvia says. “New students are coming through that may be like us—this is their first exposure to the law, as they don't necessarily have a lawyer in the family. We want to ensure that they feel welcome and that they can afford to attend.”

“These events help us keep that connection to Michigan and to help others thrive,” Paul says. “And it’s always great to see old friends.”


Fundraising Committee for the 2023 Black Alumni Reunion

Paul Bateman, ’80, Co-chair  
Sylvia Bateman, ’80, Co-chair  
J. Danielle Carr, ’89  
Chandra Davis, ’02  
Marty Dunn, ’84  

Shanene Frederick, ’19  
Emerson Girardeau, ’14  
Christopher Porter, ’08  
Kevin B. Scott, ’83  
Barron Wallace, ’89