It has been nearly 100 days since our colleague and friend Ian Kerr passed away. During that time, scarcely a day goes by where I don’t think about Ian. Whether it is resisting the urge to send him a message seeking his advice or counsel, thinking about how he would have reacted to emerging developments, or passing by the closed door to his office, his presence is still strongly felt by the entire University of Ottawa and technology law communities. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve run into someone who I haven’t seen in awhile and their first response is to express their condolences and admiration for Ian. Indeed, seemingly everyone has a story of how Ian touched them or had a positive impact on their lives.
In the months since his passing, friends and colleagues have worked to create a project for the Ian R Kerr Memorial Fund that is commensurate with his remarkable legacy. Given his accomplishments, this is not easy. As many will attest, Ian was an extraordinary teacher, a prescient scholar, a dynamic leader, and an incredibly supportive colleague. He had many academic passions, but it was students that fuelled his fire more than any other as he had a rare talent to bring out the very best in his students and stayed engaged in their lives and careers long after they completed law school.
Ian was the founding creator of the faculty’s LL.M. in Law and Technology and one of its biggest supporters. The LL.M. in Law and Technology has grown into one of the top programs of its kind, attracting students from around the world with alumni that can be found in academia, leading technology companies, law firms, government, and public interest organizations.
Given his close linkage to the LL.M. program, I am thrilled that the faculty is establishing the Kerr Fellows program to help bring the very best students from around the world to the University of Ottawa and link a generation of new leaders to Ian and his legacy. Each year, four new Kerr Fellows will be supported with $25,000 scholarships from the Ian R Kerr Memorial Fund, additional financial support from the University of Ottawa, a travel stipend to attend conferences such as WeRobot or the IAPP Canadian Privacy Symposium, and a guaranteed placement in their field of study within the technology law internship program.
A fundraising campaign for the Ian R Kerr Memorial Fund and the Kerr Fellows program is underway with the goal of raising $1 million in support of ten years of new Kerr Fellows. A call for applications to the Kerr Fellows program is expected early in 2020 with the first cohort of fellows commencing their studies in September 2020. On this Giving Tuesday, I hope that many will consider supporting Ian’s legacy and the next generation of technology law scholars.