Rod­erick Ire­land, a dis­tin­guished judge, North­eastern grad­uate and member of the fac­ulty since 1978, has been nom­i­nated to be chief jus­tice of the Mass­a­chu­setts Supreme Judi­cial Court.

Gov. Deval Patrick announced the nom­i­na­tion today. Once approved by the Governor’s Council, Ire­land, Ph.D. ’98, would be Mass­a­chu­setts’ first African-​​American chief jus­tice. In this posi­tion, Judge Ire­land will con­tinue to work along­side Judge Margot Bots­ford, JD ’73, another dis­tin­guished grad­uate who serves on this high court.

Ire­land, a native of Spring­field, Mass., has been an asso­ciate jus­tice of the Supreme Judi­cial Court for 13 years.

North­eastern has a proud track-​​record of edu­cating future leaders in public ser­vice,” said Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun. “Jus­tice Ireland’s career exem­pli­fies an unwa­vering com­mit­ment to serving others. As a member of our fac­ulty, he strengthens our com­mit­ment to expe­ri­en­tial learning by bringing the judi­cial system to life for our students.”

Ire­land began his legal career in 1969 as a Neigh­bor­hood Legal Ser­vices attorney, and then was a public defender from 1971 to 1973 with the Rox­bury Defenders Com­mittee, even­tu­ally becoming exec­u­tive director. From 1975 to 1977 he served as assis­tant sec­re­tary in the state Exec­u­tive Office of Admin­is­tra­tion and Finance.

At North­eastern, Ire­land has taught under­grad­uate and grad­uate courses, pri­marily on juve­nile jus­tice, in the School of Crim­i­nology and Jus­tice Policy, at the School of Law and in the Law, Policy and Society Program.

He earned his doc­torate in law, policy and society in 1998.

Stu­dents love him,” said Chester Britt, dean of the crim­i­nology school. “His class is the first one that fills up every semester. He’s really pop­ular — he does a great job in the class­room, and he works them really hard.”

Britt said part of the appeal of Ireland’s class is that his stu­dents, “because of the nature of his posi­tion, get access to the juve­nile court system. They get a much better, inside view of the pro­ceed­ings, and that is a won­derful learning experience.”

Judge Ire­land earned his JD from Columbia Uni­ver­sity Law School and a LL.M. degree from Har­vard Law School. Over the course of his career, he has earned awards for judi­cial excel­lence from the Mass­a­chu­setts Bar Asso­ci­a­tion and Lawyers Weekly Newspaper,the Mass­a­chu­setts Academy of Trial Attor­neys and the Mass­a­chu­setts Judges Con­fer­ence. He is also the author of Mass­a­chu­setts Juve­nile Law, 2d edi­tion, 2006.

Ire­land has served as a member of the Uni­ver­sity Cor­po­ra­tion since 1999. His wife, Alice Alexander, J.D. ’79, served as assis­tant dean and director for coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion at the School of Law from 1985 to 2005.

UPDATE: December 8, 2010: TheGovernor’s Council today voted to con­firm Rod­erick Ire­land as chief jus­tice of the­Mass­a­chu­setts Supreme Judi­cial Court.