Mark Newell, ’77

Mark Newell, '77

New tools for solving real-world problems

Given that Mark Newell, ’77, graduated from Albion in three years—and with summa cum laude honors—it’s fair to say he spent more than a few hours in Stockwell Library as a student. Now his presence in the library will continue to be felt on into the future—albeit in an entirely different way—through a major gift supporting the new Center for Teaching and Learning to be added to the library as part of Phase II of the Stockwell renovation campaign.

The Newell Center for Teaching and Learning will encourage faculty to test advanced systems and software for use in teaching and further develop their expertise with the new technologies available. They can then determine how these technologies can be incorporated effectively into their teaching. Students will likewise benefit by developing their technology skills and applying those to problem-solving and decision-making.

“As a board member, I was aware of the current focus on key infrastructure projects, including the library renovation, and how important those will be for students and for the future of the College,” Mark says. “This is a great project—taking the old-fashioned approach to a library and turning it into something that is more up-to-date and useful for the longer term. Others have committed major support to other parts of the library, and I’m just happy to be able to help as well.”

In addition to his personal contribution, substantial support for this project has come from donations made by his partners in honor of his December 2011 retirement from the international law firm of Latham & Watkins.

Mark was the third member of his family to attend Albion College, preceded by his mother, Janet Albaugh Newell, ’53, and his sister, Nancy Newell, ’75. He says he particularly wanted a college where he could have close contact with his professors, and he found that at Albion. Among his faculty mentors were Julian Rammelkamp (history), who encouraged his aspiration to attend Harvard Law School, and Charles Schutz (political science), who always relished the opportunity to debate ideas with his students.

Mark recalls, “The approach that Dr. Schutz used was to demand deep, rigorous thought, and if you strayed from that he would call you on it, and ask you to explain it. That’s a great way to learn, and it’s also highly relevant in the practice of law.”

After graduating from Albion, Mark earned both a J.D. degree and a master’s in public policy from Harvard University. Prior to entering the practice of law, he served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. from 1982 to 1983, where he worked on several important opinions, including decisions related to abortion rights.

In 1983 Mark joined Latham & Watkins in its Washington, D.C. office, and he would remain there for the next 28 years, specializing in complex business litigation. He became a member of the firm’s executive committee in 1999 and three years later was elected vice chairman and chief operating partner, a position he held until just before his retirement. In this influential role, he was instrumental in the firm’s expansion into what are now 31 offices in 14 countries around the world.

“I helped to plan for that growth and to identify lawyers and law firms to bring into Latham & Watkins, and then to integrate them… so they could become part of a single global enterprise,” he explains. “That gave me the opportunity to visit many places I had never visited, and to meet people from many different cultures and backgrounds. I ended up traveling throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.”

Today Latham & Watkins has more than $2 billion in revenues, and its size—with over 2,000 attorneys—ranks it among the top ten law firms in the world.

Mark is currently serving as general counsel of the United States Golf Association (USGA), providing oversight for the USGA’s legal staff and advising on policy matters. One of the most interesting aspects of his role, he says, is serving as a rules official during USGA championships. “We are out on the golf course with the players and are called upon to make rulings during some of the most important golf championships that are played,” he says. “That’s a great deal of fun.”

At Albion, he chairs the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees.

“The College has a remarkable history and reputation as a school of outstanding quality,” he observes, “with a tremendous faculty devoted to teaching. As we cope with a difficult economy, as well as with the rapid changes in society, my hope and belief are that we will continue to find a way to retain the core value of a liberal arts education, while ensuring that what the College is offering to students and parents is relevant to them.

“We want students and parents to feel confident that the value of an Albion education will be both intellectual and real-world. Albion has succeeded in doing both in the past, and I’m confident it will do so in the future.”