Use this button to switch between dark and light mode.

Prof. Elizabeth McCormick, R.I.P.

July 08, 2023 (3 min read)

Dean Miriam Marton writes: "It is with great sadness that I write to let you know that our beloved colleague, Elizabeth McCormick, aka Betsy, passed away this morning after a fierce battle with ALS. In her typical warrior fashion, Betsy fought this horrid disease with everything she had and then some, advocating not only for herself but for others and their families stricken by ALS.

Betsy was a mentor and a dear friend to me and to so many colleagues, students, community members and leaders. She was truly a warrior for justice who began her academic career with Jon Bauer at the University of Connecticut where they started the Asylum and Human Rights Clinic. After spending a year as a visitor at Cornell, Betsy then came, if you can imagine, to Tulsa, OK to start an immigration clinic: the Immigrant Rights Project. Oklahoma was as red in 2005 when she came as it is now. Indeed, Betsy came in the midst of the passing of Oklahoma version of state anti-immigrant law. Yet no politics or politician or naysayers got in her way. She not only established the Immigrant Rights Project in an anti-immigrant world, but Betsy also educated our local police department such that there was an organized and efficient mechanism to obtain law enforcement certifications from the Tulsa Police Department for our clients who had been victims of crimes or trafficking, a requirement to obtain U and T visas. Again, this she did in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Betsy also recognized that Tulsa’s noncitizen community needed more – year-round legal services as well as community and professional education and broader advocacy about immigration process and justice. At the same time, she wanted to protect her law students’ time in clinic by allowing them the time we all hold dear for reflection and deep work on their cases rather than overloading them with multiple clients.

So, Betsy started what turned out to be the second incubator program in the country, the Tulsa Immigrant Resource Network (TIRN), to work in conjunction with the Immigrant Rights Project. Betsy’s vision lives on to this day as TIRN now celebrates its 15th year. Over the years, Betsy, her students, and TIRN worked together to represent asylum seekers in removal proceedings in the harsh Dallas court, advocate for the termination of the contracts between ICE and the Tulsa County Sheriff, take students to the border to provide free legal services to asylum seekers, provide immigrant detainees in Oklahoma with Know Your Rights presentations and legal consultations, and to provide direct legal representation to families who otherwise would be left to navigate a complex and cruel system themselves.

Betsy was also a scholar and a tenured professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law. She served as the first Associate Dean of Experiential Learning here until 2019. Her scholarship was brilliant yet practical, such that I still consult it today. And her commitment to the University of Tulsa College of Law was extraordinary. During the last few years of her career, Betsy served in the Fall 2021 as Interim Dean, and also served several semesters as the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. She did not retire until this past May.

Last year, because we wanted her to know how much we love her and are in awe of her work, we started the Elizabeth McCormick Immigration Justice & Advocacy Fund. Launched by generous gifts from two private donors here in Tulsa, the family has requested that in Betsy’s memory, those so inclined to do so donate to this fund that is used to support the cost of immigration advocacy in Tulsa for our clients. The link is below, and I have also included a link of a video from May 2022 in which I am interviewing Betsy on the history of her work here, and in which our Dean announces what we call here at our clinic “The Betsy Fund” to her.

Betsy’s legacy lives on, but there is now a huge hole not only in our hearts but in our University Community. Her voice, her perspective, her expertise, her passion for justice, and her commitment to advocacy will be greatly missed. The world seems a little darker this morning.


Miriam H. Marton (Mimi)

Associate Dean of Experiential Learning

Director of Clinical Programs

Clinical Professor of Law

Admitted in Oklahoma, New York and Michigan

University of Tulsa College of Law

407 S. Florence Ave.

Tulsa, OK 74104
Phone:   918-631-5799

Fax:         918-631-5798"