2020 Distinguished Alumnus: Jerry Dickinson
Shaler Area is proud to announce graduate Jerry Dickinson (Class of 2005) has been named the 2020 Distinguished Alumnus.
Mr. Dickinson was recognized during Shaler Area High School’s National Honor Society Induction Ceremony on Nov. 5 for his accomplishments following high school graduation and his contributions to the study of constitutional law and community activism. 
“It is an honor to receive this award,” Mr. Dickinson said. “I thank the teachers, staff, administrators, mentors and many others at Shaler Area for providing me with a stellar education that prepared me for a career serving the public interest.”
The Shaler Area School District created the Distinguished Alumnus Award to recognize and honor the graduates of the Shaler Area, Shaler, Etna or Millvale School District who have made a valuable contribution to society either in their personal or professional life.
A committee of teachers and administrators from Shaler Area High School selects the winner of this award annually as a way of recognizing the many accomplishments of its graduates.
Mr. Dickinson is an associate professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He was awarded tenure in April 2020. His scholarship and teaching specializes in constitutional law, property and race and the law.
His academic writings have been featured in numerous law reviews, and his editorials frequently appear in national outlets, such as The Washington Post and The Atlantic. His knowledge of constitutional law led to an invitation to submit written testimony at a hearing before the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Additionally, he was recently a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, running a progressive campaign against a 25-year incumbent.
Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Mr. Dickinson was a Fulbright Scholar in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he studied comparative constitutional law and advocated on behalf of the poor in evictions proceedings in the inner-city slums and shantytowns, which were being gentrified by corporations and developers. Additionally, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Theodore McKee, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.
As a lawyer in Pittsburgh, Mr. Dickinson practiced law at Reed Smith LLP, and while at the firm continued to focus his efforts on assisting marginalized groups. He founded and coordinated the Housing Rights Project, a pro bono initiative advocating on behalf of indigent tenants in eviction proceedings in Allegheny County in collaboration with the Neighborhood Legal Services Association.
Mr. Dickinson served as lead counsel to establish one of the region’s first community land trusts for affordable housing located in the Hill District, Pittsburgh’s historic Black neighborhood. Today, he continues to represent poor tenants in evictions proceedings amid the pandemic and litigates fair housing cases in state court. 
“From serving as Senior Class President to Editor-in-Chief of The Oracle to captaining the boy’s soccer team and serving as placekicker for the football team, I embraced all three worlds of academics, athletics, and extra-curricular activities to build leadership skills that would prepare me for a career serving the public interest,” Mr. Dickinson said.
Mr. Dickinson earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from the liberal arts College of the Holy Cross. He earned his law degree from Fordham University School of Law.
“Success is not about being the fastest, strongest, or smartest at what you do; success is simply discovering what you love to do,” he said.
Mr. Dickinson lives in Regent Square of Swissvale with his wife, Emily, and two daughters, Aria and Nyla. 
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1800 Mt. Royal Boulevard     Glenshaw, PA. 15116     P 412-492-1200     F 412-492-1236
1800 Mt. Royal Boulevard Glenshaw, PA. 15116 P 412-492-1200 F 412-492-1236
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