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Boston University




Constance Browne’s passion for justice has deep roots.

William Holt, her grandfather, was born in a women’s prison outside Boston in either 1887 or 1888. His mother had been incarcerated—no one is sure why. Then, when Holt was three or four years old, he was taken by rail to Maine with other orphans intended to become farm laborers. Did his mother consent to letting him go? No one knows that either.

Eventually Holt landed with a family in North Waterford who treated him well, though it seems he was never adopted. He graduated from Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine, becoming a cancer researcher and the kind of beloved country doctor who would accept payment in chickens or produce from patients who had no money to spare.

“He has always been my heart and my hero,” says Browne, a Boston University School of Law clinical professor of law. “Devotion to others was at the core of his being.” That same devotion, to her students, is one reason Browne has been named this year’s winner of the Metcalf Cup and Prize, the University’s highest award for teaching, to be presented at BU’s Commencement on Sunday, May 22.

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