The Committee on History and Art completed the School’s gallery of deans with the presentation on February 20 of the portraits of Deans Frederick Campbell Woodward and Charles Andrew Huston, executed by John B. Bohrer.
At a luncheon at the Faculty Club brief remarks were made on each of the deans by Sheldon Tefft, James Parker Hall Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Chicago Law School, Professor, University of California, Hastings College of the Law and Harold Shepherd, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law Emeritus, Stanford Law School.
Following are Professor Tefft’s remarks on Dean Woodward.
Some fifteen years ago, when Larry Kimpton was president of The University of Chicago, I got an urgent request from his office to locate the University’s portrait of Fritz Woodward, Stanford Law School’s dean from 1908 to 1916.
That should have been a very simple task. Mr. Woodward had been associated with the University for some forty years and had made most brilliant contributions to the institution, first as a professor in its Law School and later as vice president, and for a time as acting president. He had merited and so far as I knew had commanded the respect and admiration of the entire University.
As a token of its appreciation of his achievements the University had named one of its larger dormitories Woodward Court. The truth was, however, that, though only Woodward Court bore his name, nearly every important gift that the University had received while he was active in the president’s office came because of his heroic efforts to further the interests of the University. The list of those benefactions included gifts to endow professorships such as the John P. Wilson Professorship in the Law School as well as gifts for magnificent buildings such as the Rockefeller Chapel, the Billings Hospital, the International House, and the Burion-Judson Dormitories.
Even the most exacting and cynical of the University’s public relations experts were ecstatic in their praise of his effectiveness. Whether books are kept as to such matters I do not know, but, if they are, Woodward would be at, or very close to, the top of every such list.
What a shock and what a bitter disappointment it was that even after an extensive and prolonged search I was unable to locate the portrait! My failure was especially frustrating because I was so very much indebted to Mr. Woodward. The association with him, though never intimate, had extended over more than a quarter of a century. Indeed, as acting president of the University he had approved the appointment to the Law School faculty of a brash, inexperienced young lawyer from Nebraska and it was because of that that I have had the rare privilege since 1929 of being associated with a most select company of scholars and teachers of law. At Stanford I should mention, in addition to Mr. Woodward, the late Arthur H. Kent and also Harold Shepherd who greeted me when I came to Chicago. Later appeared Phil Neal who is now the Dean at Chicago. At Hastings I particularly cherish my association with Brooks Cox, Rollin Perkins, George Osborne, and now John Hurlbut.
The failure to locate the portrait made me most desolate. How Bayless Manning has managed to find one I do not know. But, in any event, I salute him. For the portrait will serve, as it should, to perpetuate the memory of a brilliant lawyer, teacher and administrator who contributed so mightily not only to Stanford and the University of Chicago, but, indeed, to the profession and the world at large.
Professor Shepherd then spoke about Dean Huston.
During my student days in the Stanford Law School (1917-22) it was my privilege to know Dean Huston both as a teacher and as administrative head of the School. As a student I took three major courses he then taught, agency, private corporations and administrative law. I recall this latter course with particular clarity for in this area of the law, which has since assumed such major importance, Dean Huston was truly prophetic and along with Goodnow at Columbia and Freund at Chicago, a sturdy pioneer. I recall it also for another reason which I shall relate later. During my senior year in law school as president of the student law association, I was invited not infrequently to attend meetings in his office for discussions of law school policy which either affected the students in their organized capacity, or on which the dean wanted an expression of student opinion. In both capacities of teacher and dean I came to have for Dean Huston deep respect and genuine affection.
In physical appearance Dean Huston was of medium height, somewhat stocky build and ruddy complexion. He was a thoughtful, quiet and gentle person and these qualities were evidenced both in his physical movements and his manner of speech.
He did not use the Socratic method in his classes to the extent that some other members of the faculty did. His method, so far as I can characterize it generally, was rather one of quiet and friendly suggestion and persuasion. His gentle nature caused him frequently to go out of his way to assist a student who seemed a bit frightened or confused or was about to involve himself in some stupidity or intellectual inconsistency. When a student, however, insisted on hanging himself, the dean would allow him enough rope with which to do it.
I recall one instance in the first year course in agency which became known to the students around the Law School as the straw hat method. The series of cases under discussion involved the problem of the scope of the implied powers of an agent and the general sequence of the cases showed rather obviously enough that the implied power of an agent in charge of a large complicated enterprise would be broader than those of an agent in charge of a single isolated transaction. The case immediately under discussion involved the large complicated enterprise.
The Dean: “Can you describe for us the character of the business?”
Student: “Yes, it was an English corporation.”
The Dean: “But what about the nature of the English corporation’s business?”
Student: “It was manufacturing.”
The Dean: (letting out a little rope) “But what about the scope and extent of the manufacturing?”
Student: “They made hats.”
The Dean: “Can’t you tell us anything more about the enterprise than that?” (The rope was way out now.)
Student: (triumphantly) “Yes it was a straw hat business.”
Dean Huston was a scholarly man who read widely outside the law as well as within it. In many of his classes there were frequent literary allusions and he would often digress from the case to give a thumbnail sketch of the judge who wrote the opinion or to comment on the historical background against which the case was decided. These excursions were always interesting and informative and reflected, in addition to his scholarly interests, his conviction that the law was not a self-contained body of doctrine which must always be made to appear internally consistent but rather an institution shaped and modified both by the personalities of the judges who wrote the opinions and the historical events of which the law was simply a part.
In addition to Dean Huston’s interest in the students’ organized activities through the law school association he had a deep and sympathetic interest in individual personal student problems. I cite a personal experience here because it was to my knowledge characteristic of what Dean Huston did for other students of my generation. The law school of that day was small in numbers and when World War I came the school was completely disrupted. Class identities were pretty well lost as those who did come back, came at highly irregular intervals. There was no G. I. Bill, or other public funds, to assist those who could return and scholarships and loan funds were almost non-existent.
I had completed about half of my law course when I went into military service. The end of the war left me without funds and little hope of being able to return to finish. I had secured a lowpaying teaching job in a small Idaho college but graduation from law school seemed a long way off. One day out of a completely blue sky came a friendly personal letter from Dean Huston. Why he took the initiative and how he sensed my particular personal problem I’m not quite sure, but in this letter which I shall always treasure, he strongly urged and encouraged me to return to Stanford and said that if I could get back he would assure me of some part time work either as a Reader in one of the first-year classes or work in the law library and he just might even be able to find me a scholarship. Under the inspiration of this letter I did come back. Some of my classmates have told me similar instances involving their own relations with Dean Huston.
In the summer after my graduation from law school Dean Huston met his untimely death. Dean Kirkwood who succeeded him wrote me that this had created a vacancy on the faculty which would be filled by a junior appointment. I was honored by that appointment and during my first year on the faculty at Stanford I was proud indeed to be asked to teach two of the courses I had taken as a student under Dean Huston: agency and administrative law. I found the course in administrative law tough going, lacking the vast background of knowledge that my teacher had but the course was greatly brightened by the presence in the class of a brilliant student just beginning law school, John Bingham Hurlbut, just now joining the ranks of Stanford Law School’s emeriti professors.