Providence Business News, September 22, 2017 | Nicole Dotzenrod
Image: Matt Ferrara Photography
JUDITH C. SAVAGE was recently awarded the Honorary Chairs’ Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. Savage is a former Rhode Island Superior Court judge and distinguished jurist in residence at Roger Williams University School of Law. She will be honored at RICH’s Celebration of the Humanities on Oct. 5. (Purchase tickets here.)
PBN: How did your undergraduate foundation in the humanities carry and influence you during your career?
Savage: Through immense sacrifice on the part of my parents, I was able to journey from my native Michigan to Wellesley College to study with women from all over the world – women with many different life stories and distinct life experiences. I soon immersed myself in the humanities, studying literature, art history, philosophy, history, French, economics, music and political science with the brightest of minds. My world, as a result, got so much bigger. And I was challenged to think big and to dream big. Our college motto was “Non Ministrari sed Ministrare,” which means “not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” We took our motto to heart, believing that our study of the humanities should be used in service of the greater public good. I have tried to be faithful to that mission as a lifelong learner, letting it fuel my vision and my work in the community as a lawyer, public servant, judge, educator, mentor and friend.
PBN: Why do you share the R.I. Council for the Humanities’ mission to promote the humanities in public life?
Savage: I saw the power of this mission up close this year when the Rhode Island Center for the Book at the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities invited me to co-chair Reading Across Rhode Island with my former colleague and friend, Judge Edward Clifton. We traveled across the state, engaging students and community groups in a discussion of Bryan Stevenson’s landmark book, “Just Mercy.” Together, we all took a hard look at issues of injustice in criminal justice – mass incarceration, racial injustice, wrongful conviction, the death penalty, mental illness in prison, solitary confinement and the sentencing of juveniles to life without parole. But we did not simply look at the issues from afar; we read the stories of the convicted and the condemned that tugged at our hearts and made us recognize our common humanity.