A veteran attorney once told Professor Rebecca Purdom JD/MSEL’96, the law school’s associate dean for innovation and new programs, to pick a place where she could pursue the kind of law that interested her, and where there weren’t too many distractions. “You’re going to have to spend three years being really uber-focused on what you’re doing, and you’re going to have to lock down and study,” she recalls him saying. So she made the trek from her little southern Oregon hometown of Ashland to even smaller South Royalton, and found her place.
South Royalton has something of the Old World monastery about it. It’s a pastoral place to escape some of the distractions and demands of a modern big city, and devote oneself to contemplation and study. It’s a town without a stoplight, and the nearby annual Tunbridge World’s Fair is a big draw. The landscape is one of modesty, earnestness, and endurance. It eschews the grand passions of soaring Western peaks in favor of mountains sanded down by millions of years of erosion. When she first arrived, Purdom was enchanted by its similarity to her vision of the fictional worlds of British authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
She stayed in part because it’s a place where she can go trail running from her door, and find countless ponds for a quick paddle in her canoe. How many law schools can you go to with a hand-built replica of an eastern Greenland wood-and-cloth kayak on the roof of your car, and have people strike up a knowledgeable conversation about it? Is that a western Greenland or an eastern Greenland design?