Professor Alan Matheson kisses his wife, Milicent,after Dean Patricia White announces that aprofessorship will be established in his name.
Several hundred people gathered at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law on Friday, Feb. 2, to honor Alan Matheson, a founding dean of the law school, as part of a Diamond Jubilee to celebrate his 75th birthday. Dean Patricia White announced that colleagues, friends and family had contributed funds to establish an Alan Matheson Professorship. After cutting several birthday cakes, Matheson's friends, colleagues, family and students spoke about his caring nature, his dedication as a teacher and his gentle demeanor. "He was the easiest person in the world to get along with," said Judge William Canby, a founding faculty member, who praised Matheson for his leadership when he served as dean. Laura Lawless, a student of Matheson's who graduated in 2005, said his gap-toothed smile and gentle manner made her second semester of law school less painful and less scary. "I learned there were people in the law who were not confrontational, but passionate … people in the practice of law who remained people," she said. Lawless said the picture of Matheson hooding her at graduation was the first item she placed on the mantle of her new home. Nora Nunez, who will graduate in May, told how Matheson showed up to teach the first day of her community property class despite having broken ribs from a car accident. "He exudes kindness," she said. "He's a sweetheart of a guy and a prince of a man." Matheson's son, John, said he grew up in a "nearly perfect" environment. His son, David, said Matheson "doesn't try to be good, he is good," and his son, Alan Jr., said he was "the measure of a man, the standard I have always tried to live up to." The faculty of the Indian Law Program presented Matheson with a blanket in honor of his leadership, and Professor Michael Berch gave him a portrait of Matheson commissioned by the students. "I am overwhelmed," Matheson said. "I am very grateful." Matheson thanked his friends and family, including his wife, Milicent, "my soulmate, my friend, my love, without whom I wouldn't be here," his sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Matheson praised his fellow faculty members as wonderful examples, the law school staff as dedicated, and said Dean White has lifted the College to new heights. But he saved his highest praise for his students, calling them marvelous and saying it was an honor and a privilege to teach them. To contribute to the Alan Matheson Professorship, go to www.law.asu.edu/Matheson. To read a portrait of Matheson, click here.