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UK Law Honors Alumni, Inducts Three into Hall of Fame

June 22, 2017

On Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Owensboro, KY, the University of Kentucky College of Law and the Law Alumni Association inducted three new members, including the first African-American female, into the 2017 Hall of Fame. The annual Hall of Fame & Alumni Awards Reception is held annually in conjunction with the Kentucky Bar Association Convention.

The UK Law Alumni Association Hall of Fame was established to acknowledge graduates and long-serving faculty of the College whose extraordinary professional success and contributions, profound positive influence on the College of Law, and high degree of character and integrity are recognized by their peers. Inclusion in the Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by the UK Law Alumni Association. The 2017 Hall of Fame inductees are Sarah Howard Jenkins, Taft A. McKinstry, and Robert L. Walker.

Sarah Howard Jenkins is the Charles C. Baum Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. As an academic-legal professional, Prof. Jenkins has devoted her time and energy to challenging her students to develop a commitment to diligence and competence in the study and practice of the law. Through her scholarship and participation in the quasi-legislative legal reform processes of the American Bar Association (ABA), she sought to ensure parity among the diverse interests in commercial law. Her work has already made a difference for people who otherwise would not have been represented in the reform of commercial law in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. Prof. Jenkins’ involvement with an ABA Task Force on Suretyship, and one of her articles, was motivated in part by the large number of elderly women in predominantly African American churches who generously guaranteed the debts of family and congregational members. Without her involvement, these members of our community would have been unrepresented in the reform processes.

Prof. Jenkins is a member of the prestigious American Law Institute and she has served as chair of the ABA UCC Subcommittee on Article 1, during the revision of UCC Article 1, and the Subcommittee on Payment Systems, 2007 through 2010. Twice, she has served as chair of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law and as member of the AALS Standing Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Minority Faculty and Students. She has published extensively on Commercial Law issues, organized several symposia of distinguished domestic scholars, and is the author of Volume 13 of the Revised Corbin on Contracts.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, she is the daughter of Vivian and, the late, Honorable George Howard, Jr., the mother of Elizabeth Courtney Jenkins, and, as a follower of Jesus Christ, she espouses a biblical worldview.

Taft A. McKinstry is Managing Member of Fowler Bell PLLC and chair of the firm’s Commercial Law and Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights Groups. With sophisticated experience built on more than 40 years of practice, McKinstry is known for finding successful solutions to highly complicated commercial, bankruptcy and litigation matters.

She represents local and national clients in a variety of industries including insurance, heavy equipment, equine, coal, oil and gas production, retail and e-commerce. McKinstry’s appellate experience encompasses numerous published opinions, including cases before the Kentucky Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

McKinstry is a member of the Visiting Committee of the University of Kentucky College of Law and a member of the Board of Directors of Commerce Lexington, having previously served as its General Counsel. She has served as Chair of the Central Kentucky Network of International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Conference (IWIRC).

McKinstry was inducted as a Fellow into the American College of Bankruptcy in 1994, has been rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell since 1987, and has been recognized in the Best Lawyers in America continuously since 1994. She is also a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America.

McKinstry graduated from UK Law in 1972 where she was a member of the Kentucky Law Journal. She received her Bachelor of Arts with a major in mathematics and business minor in 1969 from the University of Kentucky.

Robert L. Walker retired in 2016 as the senior vice president and chief financial officer of Western & Southern Financial Group (Western & Southern) based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Prior to joining Western & Southern in 1998, Walker was senior vice president and chief financial officer at Providian Corporation in Louisville, Kentucky. Earlier roles at Providian included general counsel and vice president of tax. Additionally, he held the position of chief financial officer at National Data Corporation. He began his career as tax counsel for the Mead Corporation.

Professionally, Walker currently serves as a director of the board and member of the Executive Committee for Computer Services, Inc., in Paducah, Kentucky. He also continues to serve on the Finance Committee of Western & Southern as well as on the University of Kentucky College of Law Visiting Committee. He is also a past member of the Transylvania University board of trustees, the Kentucky Bar Association and Financial Executives International.

In the Cincinnati community, Walker served on the board of TriHealth, Inc., and is a past board chair. He was also a member of the Cincinnati Opera board of trustees and is a past board member and treasurer of the Playhouse in the Park. In the Louisville community, Walker served on the boards of Leadership Kentucky and Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and is a past board member and treasurer of Actors Theater of Louisville.

Walker holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Transylvania University and a Juris Doctor from UK Law. He resides in Naples, Florida, and Cincinnati with his wife, Susan. They have two grown children and three grandchildren.

Other honorees recognized at the reception included Eric P. Blackhurst, 1986 (Professional Achievement), Thomas L. Rouse, 1978 (Community Service), Allison Ball, 2008 and Bradley D. Clark, 2009 (Young Professional), Judge Janie McKenzie-Wells, 1986 (Distinguished Jurist), and Michael A. Rowady, 1941 (Legacy).