A Look at Professor Cedric Merlin Powell: Bridging the Gap Between the Brandeis School of Law and the Louisville Community

By Rebecca Sears

The Brandeis School of Law recognizes the value of community engagement for both faculty and students. Faculty members like Professor Cedric Merlin Powell are setting this example by giving back to the community. Professor Powell has taught at Brandeis for what will be twenty-one years in August. In regards to public service, he believes the school truly lives out the spirit of Justice Brandeis through their commitment to serving the community.

“We embody Justice Brandeis’s spirit by encouraging students to be the public lawyer he believed in. We also are one of the few law schools which require service to graduate. This is a great motivator for students to become involved,” Powell said. “Being connected to the local community is a win-win situation for law students. Their training and public interest work will ultimately make them better lawyers.”

While Professor Powell encourages student engagement, he is strongly connected to the Louisville community as well. For the past ten years, Powell has served on the TARC board and is currently the board’s chair. He says, “Leadership Louisville is how I got started with TARC. They’ve been around for 25-30 years and allow individuals to see all of the community, to choose where they would like to get involved. It is a great program.” Powell attends monthly meetings and also dedicates his time to special TARC projects. In his ten years, he has helped the board provide efficient, economical, and environment friendly transportation to the city. When discussing his work with TARC, Powell expressed “I am most proud of our team effort. Every façade of TARC is a team: from the mechanical to implementation to planning to drivers, we are working with the same goals in mind.” Between teaching at the law school and dedicating his time to TARC, Professor Powell is bridging the gap between the local community and the law school. He is, without a doubt, continuing the long-standing tradition of public service at the school. 

When asked his favorite thing about his work in the community, he enthusiastically responded: “When we come up with something to better public transportation. For instance, when we replace old buses with new ones or introduce a new route to the public.” Recently, TARC introduced a new express route connecting downtown Louisville to Sellersburg, Indiana. The goal is to develop a link between Ivy Tech College and downtown Louisville. TARC hopes to encourage education for those who may be working in the Louisville area by providing viable transportation options. In working with TARC, Professor Powell is now even working to create state connections as well. 

Professor Cedric Merlin Powell is most certainly bridging the gap between the local community and law school. His work with TARC will have lasting impacts as he continues to improve the city’s public transportation system. Recently, the Louisville Bar Association recognized his service to the community with the Trail Blazer Award and the YMCA acknowledged his work in their youth achievers program. With his example, students will continue striving to be the public service lawyer Justice Brandeis encouraged and envisioned.