Michigan State University

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Madison alumni are an extraordinarily innovative group. They achieve success in government, politics, business, education, science, arts, and human services, as well as continue their education at top graduate and law schools.

Jeffrey Irvine Cummings

While attending Madison, Jeffrey Cummings (MM/URBAN 1984) was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Honors College, and of the Dean’s List.  Cummings also received Michigan State University’s Black Student Achievement Award in 1984.
Cummings attended Northwestern University School of Law and graduated cum laude and Order of the Coif in 1987.  He was a member of the Dean’s List and recipient of the John Henry Wigmore Full Tuition Merit Scholarship and President of the law school’s Black Law Student Association.

Cummings was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1987.  Between 1987 and 1989, he clerked for the Honorable Ann C. Williams, a federal judge in Chicago.  After his clerkship, he was hired by the firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, became a partner in the firm in 1995, and currently serves as co-managing partner.  Over his career, Cummings has prosecuted through settlement or trial a number of individual and class action cases representing plaintiffs bringing claims of race, sex, and age discrimination as well as other civil rights claims.  During the 1990s, Cummings spent thousands of hours litigating Voting Rights Act cases on behalf of African-American plaintiffs in Chicago, St. Louis, and the State of Illinois. Cummings also represents whistleblowers in fraud cases under the federal False Claims Act.  Cummings is a past Board Chair and current board member of the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Since 1995, Cummings has also served as an Administrative Hearing Officer for the City of Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations responsible for presiding over employment, housing, and disability discrimination cases filed under the City’s Human Rights Ordinance.

Cummings is a steadfast supporter of James Madison College and the University as a whole.  In 1997, he established a scholarship at the College in the name of his parents, Nelson and Marlene Cummings.  The scholarship, which was fully endowed in 2001, is intended to honor his parents’ commitment to social justice and to assist the College in its effort to recruit and retain students whose presence will further the College’s compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.  Award recipients are selected based on their responses to essay questions concerning current public policy issues in the United States.  Cummings is a member of the MSU’s Beaumont Tower Society and the College’s Board of Visitors.  In 2006, Cummings was honored by his receipt of the James Madison College Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Cummings has received numerous other honors including:  The "Legal Eagle" Award, presented to plaintiffs' counsel by the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization for legal work on the voting rights challenge to Chicago's 1992 ward redistricting (1997); the Northwestern University School of Law Student Public Interest Fellowship Public Service Award (2005); and designation as an Illinois Super Lawyer in 2006 and 2007.