The School of Law honored four individuals for their service during its Awards Dinner held at the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia in the spring.
Thomas A. “Tom” Eaton, Kenneth “Ken” Henson Jr. and Sharon “Nyota” Tucker received the Law School Association’s highest honor – the Distinguished Service Scroll Award – for their outstanding dedication and service to the legal profession and the law school. Additionally, Emily Ward was presented with the Young Alumni/Alumnae of Excellence Award.
Eaton, a J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law Emeritus, joined the School of Law faculty in 1979 and taught in the areas of torts, constitutional litigation, healthcare regulation and workers’ compensation. In 1993, he was named a Hosch Professor and one decade later he became the law school’s only professor to receive a UGA Creative Research Medal (for his systematic and in-depth study of tort litigation with the late Susette Talarico). He is the author of Constitutional Torts, Constitutional Remedies: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution and Cases and Materials on Workers’ Compensation.
After retiring from the law school in 2015, he served on the law school’s Board of Visitors and was a part-time professor through 2018. Eaton’s award was presented by his children, Amanda Eaton Ferrelle (J.D.’04) and Andrew W. “Andy” Eaton (J.D.’07).
Henson is a 1978 graduate of the law school. A native of Columbus, Georgia, he is the son of the late Kenneth M. and Sue B. Henson, both UGA graduates. After graduating from the School of Law, Henson worked as an assistant solicitor in Muscogee County, Georgia, before joining his father, a fellow School of Law graduate, in his law firm. After his father’s retirement, Henson practiced law by himself for more than 30 years.
He is currently a real estate developer active in the revitalization of downtown Columbus, focusing on renovating historic properties and developing housing that will increase urban vitality. Henson is also involved in various community organizations, including the Columbus Area Habitat for Humanity (which he helped found), the Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust and Dragonfly Trails. He has served on the School of Law’s Board of Visitors for more than one decade. Henson’s award was presented by former Senior Director of Law School Advancement Anne Moser.
A 1974 alumna, Tucker is the first African American female graduate of the School of Law. After law school, she served as a staff attorney in the Albany office of Georgia Legal Services, a legal intern with the Earl Warren Fellowship Program in the San Francisco office of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and an associate with the law firm Mary Young & Associates.
In 1980 she joined the faculty of Albany State University, where she became the pre-law advisor for students interested in attending law school – a position she held for more than 25 years. She also served on the ASU University Council and as the university’s chief of staff before retiring in 2016. She has been recognized numerous times for her leadership and work as an educator, and the School of Law named its admissions suite in her honor in 2019. Tucker’s award was presented by her sister, Juanita Tucker.
Ward, a 2013 graduate of the law school, is a partner with Smith, Gambrell & Russell, where her practice concentrates on white-collar defense and civil litigation. She has represented multiple potential defendants, each resulting in no indictments being filed or substantially reduced penalties being negotiated. She often defends medical professionals before state medical, dental, nursing and health insurance boards. Ward particularly enjoys representing students accused of academic, behavioral and other infractions and using those challenging situations to mentor students as they resolve their situations.
She is active in multiple bar associations including the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlanta Bar Association. Ward currently serves as the treasurer and is a member of the executive committee of the Atlanta Bar Association, and is the chair of the Atlanta Bar Criminal Law Section Board. Ward’s award was presented by Dana Richens, who is a partner with Smith, Gambrell & Russell.