Rebecca Bowman-Rivas, program manager of the Law & Social Work Services Program, is the 2016-17 recipient of the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents' Staff Award for Extraordinary Public Service to the University or Greater Community. “This is a huge honor, and I was humbled just to be nominated. Truly, everything that I do here is a team effort,” Bowman-Rivas said of the award.
“I started at the Law Clinic in August 2002, and even after 15 years, I am still excited to come to work,” Bowman-Rivas stated. “The range and breadth of practice here would be difficult to duplicate anywhere else.” The Law and Social Work Services Program, a joint effort of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and the School of Social Work, is the first of its kind in the nation. As part of Maryland Carey Law’s commitment to ensuring and enhancing the quality of justice in society, the program brings together law and social work students to offer vital services to needy individuals and families.
Most notably, Bowman-Rivas, along with Forensic Social Work Fellow, Liz Smith, and former fellow, Angela Aloi Pietrowiak, have been instrumental in the success of the Unger Project. In what was hailed as a landmark ruling, inmates in Maryland sentenced to felonies prior to 1981 were determined to have had their due process rights violated because of faulty jury instructions. Dozens of inmates who had spent over thirty years in jail were now freed on probation with little preparation. Bowman-Rivas and the Law & Social Work Services Program have worked tirelessly to better the lives of these individuals both by identifying inmates who may be eligible for probation as a result of the ruling and offering social work services to those released.
Co-Directors of the Clinical Law Program, Professors Renee Hutchins and Michael Pinard, both lauded Bowman-Rivas’s work. "Rebecca and her team provide invaluable assistance to clinic clients, many of whom are struggling to make the perilous transition from incarceration to free living," noted Hutchins. “Rebecca and her students allow us to represent our clients holistically by addressing their legal and non-legal issues. Rebecca’s work is critical to the lives of our clients and their families, as their non-legal issues often have more immediacy than the legal issues that brought them to us,” Pinard added.
Dean of Maryland Carey Law, Donald Tobin, had this to say of Bowman-Rivas: “We’re immensely proud of Rebecca for all her great work helping people succeed. Her work exemplifies the benefits of interdisciplinary education and service in meeting our commitments to the pursuit of justice and making a difference in our community. We are thrilled the Board of Regents has bestowed this tremendous honor on Rebecca and recognized her amazing achievements.”
The USM Board of Regents' award for Extraordinary Public Service to the University or Greater Community is given for:
Bowman-Rivas is the first winner at Maryland Carey Law since LuAnn Marshall won the same award in 2000.