GW Law Welcomes Mary-Rose Papandrea as Inaugural Holder of the Burchfield Professorship of First Amendment and Free Speech Law

January 25, 2024

Media Contact: Shannon Mitchell; [email protected]

WASHINGTON (January 25, 2024) — The George Washington University Law School is pleased to announce that Professor Mary-Rose Papandrea has been named the Inaugural Holder of the Burchfield Professorship of First Amendment and Free Speech Law

“Professor Papandrea brings her national prominence as an expert in First Amendment and Free Speech Law; her deep caring for students and teaching; and her commitment to promoting democracy to the heart of the nation’s capital. She is the perfect scholar to inaugurate this professorship and take the scholarly impact that GW Law faculty is known for to the next level,” said GW Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew. 

Professor Mary-Rose Papandrea 

Mary-Rose Papandrea is a nationally known scholar who has published numerous articles on  First Amendment and media law issues. Papandrea is currently the UNC’s Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and she is an outstanding educator with over two decades of teaching experience. After serving as UNC Law’s associate dean for academic affairs for five years, she worked for the UNC Provost’s Office as the leader of the university’s strategic initiative to “promote democracy” through civic engagement, discourse across differences, and research about democratic institutions. Professor Papandrea is a member of the American Law Institute and an adviser to the Restatement of the Law Third, Torts: Defamation and Privacy. She has served as chair of the AALS Section on Mass Media Law and the AALS Section on National Security Law. She is also a sought-after speaker who is frequently invited to discuss a range of First Amendment and media law issues, from free speech in public schools and universities, the regulation of social media, the publication of national security information and prosecution of press sources, and the future of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan.  

Papandrea attended Yale College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, before receiving her JD with high honors from the University of Chicago Law School. She clerked for Judge John G. Koeltl of the Southern District of New York, Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and Associate Justice David H. Souter on the United States Supreme Court.  Before becoming an academic, Professor Papandrea practiced law at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in First Amendment and media law litigation.  Prior to UNC, Professor Papandrea taught at Boston College Law School for over a decade and was a visiting law professor at Fordham, Wake Forest, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Paris X. 

Professor Papandrea is looking forward to joining GW’s “world-class faculty,” adding that “there is no better place than the nation's capital to engage with practitioners and policymakers in this rapidly developing and challenging area of the law.  On a more personal note, I am thrilled to return to DC, where I started my legal career as a law clerk and practicing lawyer and continue to have many close friends.”

The Burchfield Professorship of First Amendment and Free Speech Law

GW Law Alumnus Bobby R. Burchfield, JD ’79, endowed the $4.5 million Professorship through the Burchfield Family Charitable Foundation. A longstanding pillar of support for GW Law,  Burchfield believes “free speech is the foundation of a functioning republic and civilized society” as the impetus for establishing the Burchfield Professorship of First Amendment and Free Speech Law.  

“My goal in endowing this professorship was to allow the GW Law faculty to attract a nationally prominent scholar on free speech to The George Washington University Law School, who can both educate and mentor our outstanding students and future leaders, but also impact the national and international debate on this critical issue. In Professor Papandrea, it seems to me that the Law School has found the right person, and I am delighted.”