“Leadership does not require a position or a title; it requires action,” said Judge Pamela Shell Baskervill ’75 in her 2005 Founders Day address at Mary Baldwin University. On May 19, she will be back at the lectern to deliver a rousing message to graduates and their families as the keynote speaker for the college’s 171st Commencement.
Baskervill continues a tradition of noted alumnae, such as Louise Rossett McNamee ’71 and Charlotte Jackson Berry ’51, who have returned to their alma mater to share life experiences. She is the third Mary Baldwin graduate to give the Commencement address while working as a presiding judge.
Baskervill is eager to enrich her long relationship with the college, which has included service on the Advisory Board of Visitors and Parent Council. A political science major, staff member of Campus Comments, and scholar at Oxford University as a student, Pamela Baskervill — and her youngest daughter Susannah, a 2005 graduate — were both Russell Scholars while at Mary Baldwin.
A member of the Virginia Bar Association since 1978, Baskervill earned her juris doctor from the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond and worked for more than two decades as a private practice attorney, following in her father’s footsteps. In 2001, Baskervill was appointed as judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Virginia, headquartered in Petersburg. She is also an active volunteer, previously holding leadership positions for the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, and Poplar Springs Hospital, as well as being involved in church activities and serving as a mock trial coach and judge.
Baskervill credits her undergraduate education at Mary Baldwin with instilling a variety of life skills, in addition to imparting solid academic preparation.
“I learned how to acquire information from which I could form my own opinion and to express it in a manner that was not adversarial so that I could learn from my colleagues and they could learn from me. I learned it was acceptable to fail as long as I had tried,” she said.
Baskervill’s husband, Charles, also an attorney, recently retired from the Mary Baldwin Board of Trustees. Her older daughter, Ann, is a graduate of Washington and Lee University.
Mary Baldwin’s Commencement ceremony begins at 10 a.m. May 19 on Page Terrace. In the event of rain, Commencement will be held at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville at 10:30 a.m.