Phyllis W. Beck is a magna cum laude graduate of Brown University. She earned a J.D. from Temple Law School night division in 1967 where she was first in her class. After practicing law, she taught at Temple Law School and then was Vice Dean at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
From 1981 to 2005, she was a judge of the Superior Court, the intermediate appellate court in Pennsylvania. Initially appointed by Governor Thornburgh in 1981, she was elected statewide to a ten-year term in November 1983, and retained in office in 1993. She was the first woman to serve as a judge on the court, which was formed in 1895. She is presently chair of the Independence Foundation, the ninth largest foundation in the Delaware Valley. She also serves as its chief financial officer. Until May 2009, she was general counsel of the Barnes Foundation.
Her scholarly articles, published in a variety of law reviews, reflect her interest in the criminal law, issues relating to women, the family and equality, among others. She is a contributing author to a book on the Pennsylvania Constitution.
She is a trustee and treasurer of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Judge Beck was a founding member and president of Philadelphia Futures, an organization devoted to mentoring children. She is currently on the board of Philadelphia READS, the local initiative of the national program of America READS, and is chair of the board of the After School Activities Partnerships(ASAP).
Judge Beck is a member of the American Law Institute, the Committee on Judicial Ethics of the Philadelphia Bar Association, a member of the Board of Visitors of Temple Law School, and a member of the President’s Advisory Board of Temple University. She is a Pennsylvania Supreme Court appointee to the Board of Continuing Legal Education. She also serves on the board of the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. She is an overseer of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, a board member of the Museum of American Jewish History, and president of the Foundation for Cognitive Therapy and Research.
She is the recipient of two honorary degrees, the Judicial Award of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Anne X. Alpern Award of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Commission on Women, the Brennan Award of the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the Florence Murray Award of National Association of Women Judges, the Outstanding Alumni Award from Temple Law School, the Pennsylvania Legal Services Excellence Award, and the Sandra Day O’Connor Award.
Judge Beck is married to Dr. Aaron T. Beck. They have four children and eight grandchildren.
Deviations from Trust Indentures, Cy Pres, and Deaccessioning