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Transcript - Hjorth Retirement Celebration

Retirement Celebration for Dean Emeritus & Professor Roland Hjorth

Kellye Testy: It's my pleasure and honor to welcome you to the celebration of Professor Ron Hjorth. I am so glad that you've all joined us this evening. It's a wonderful robust crowd, and it's a fitting one to make this tribute tonight. So, I welcome you the University of Washington School of Law.

I am, as you may know from some of the publications you've recently received, the new Dean of the school. I'm Kellye Testy, and I'm very happy to be here. Thank you.

It's an honor to be the Dean of the Washington Law School. In large part an honor, because of the fact that I get to say I am a follower to Ron Hjorth, who was as you know, the Dean of the school for six years. So, it's a very special honor for me today, to be able to begin this ceremony honoring him.

It is the case that he was both instrumental in my recruiting, he has been incredibly supportive as I've begun my deanship. Ron, I want you to know today, as we begin honoring you, that I'm deeply grateful for all of your support.

Ron Hjorth, as a professor, is a wonderful teacher. I can't tell you how many of you have shared with me the stories of the classroom, and how he's inspired you. He is also an amazing scholar, having written so many articles, and a book on tax. He has been, as I often say, living proof that teaching and scholarship do not have to be contradictory, that one can be both a great teacher and a great scholar.

Of course, as you also know one of the things that Ron is most known for is his service as our Dean, from 1995-2001. One of the things that was so very important that he accomplished during that time is he is the Dean that was able to raise both the public and the private funds for the construction of William Gates Hall.

There is a common saying about a home that goes like this, "That a house is built with walls and beams, but a home is built with love and dreams." I think that all of us recognize that when Ron worked so hard to bring about this home for the Law School and Gates Hall, he did that through love for this institution, through love for all the students, and the alumni that he had worked with over the years, through love for his colleagues, and through love for the students, and all this law school stands for.

In fact, it has very much established the place where we all can dream, and where we all can come together to move this great law school forward. So it is very significant that that work, in making it possible for us to have a home in Gates Hall, has really made it possible for this law school to continue to aspire and reach the great standards for excellence for which it's known.

So, that is something Ron, that we're going to always be in your debt for, and that we appreciate so very, very much.

Now, you will hear today from several people making tributes to Ron Hjorth. I want to just share with you as we begin today, just some of the basics from his biography and background as we do that.

He is our Dean of emeritus. He is the Garvey Shubert Barer Professor of Law for the School of Law. He received his BA in Nebraska. I like to say that we share our common roots in the Midwest. After spending one year on a Fulbright Fellowship, he then attended New York University School of Law as a Root-Tilden Scholar. That certainly has a long line of incredibly accomplished individuals that is generated.

Now, he then spent three years as an associate at Paul, Weiss, and Rifkin in New York, and then he joined the UW Law Faculty in 1964, becoming a full professor in '69.

So, what we do today is we honor over 45 years of service to this law school. That is amazing, amazing service.

He was named Dean in '95 as I noted, and served in that capacity until 2001, when he became the Garvey Shubert Barer Professor of Law. As I noted he is author of a book on taxation and business enterprises, a book on matrimonial tax, and many articles and legal publications, and more than 30 publications that have been part of continuing the legal education program.

So, he has had influence not only in the academy, but also in the legal profession.

To continue the tributes tonight, it's my pleasure to introduce my colleague, Professor emeritus Richard Kummert, a long time colleague and also a long time friend of Ron.

Professor Kummert joined the UW Law Faculty in '64, so along with Ron. He teaches in the area of business and corporate law. He also served as an Associate Dean to Ron Hjorth, during the time that Ron was serving as our Dean.

So, I hope that you will now join me in welcoming to the podium, Professor Dick Kummert. We're very pleased to have you with us today.

Richard Kummert: Thank you, Kellye. I hope if you're watching from the audience, you realize since I've got a paper and pen on it, that shows just how long I've been at this institution. I'm still working on the old-fashioned ways basically, of paper and pencil when it gets critical.

I've been given 10 minutes, in which to thank Ron Hjorth on behalf of the faculty for all of his contributions to the law school, and to share with you some of my experiences with my great and good friend for 45 years at this law school.

Rather than try to do this quickly, what I've chosen to do is try to combine the two things, rather than tell you some tells about what the faculty thinks. I think the following statements are true with the respect to the faculty, and then I'd like to go ahead and amplify them with some personal experiences.

First I, and I believe all of my colleagues, sincerely believe that Ron throughout his career has been an inspiring law teacher, someone who's methodology is to be emulated with respect to the classroom.

Second, I believe he has within the faculty, and in some cases if the faculty happened to know about some of these situations, but has acted with such great compassion in times of the needs of our colleagues, that indeed he has a special spot, basically in the hearts of several people here.

Third, I believe that, and it connects with my final theme here, he has been tireless throughout his career, basically winning friends for the institution, all in the name basically, of trying to provide to our students the absolute best by way of education and in fact that can be achieved.

Let me see whether I can pick up these three things, with a few examples.

As Dean Testy said, Ron and I started, we argue a little bit, about which one of us got here earlier in August 1964. I still say ...

Roland Hjorth: I needed more time to prepare for my classes.

Richard: We started our teaching together. He was teaching Income Taxation, and I was teaching Estate and Gift Taxation. I have to say, Ron's impact on the students in teaching that particular class was evident and quite palatable immediately.

I would wonder into the halls of old Condon after class, and encounter little groups of the income tax students arguing passionately, about whether a subsection and a regulation really answered that nasty question Professor Hjorth had put at the end of a particular problem.

Now here I was trying to teach a State Gift Tax, which I think is probably on the scale of things not the most involving course out there. But my feeling in usually was essentially that I had to leave three minutes before the end of the hour to take the time to go wake up the students so they would go to the next class. Seeing people who are roused to argue about clauses and minor clauses within subsections of the regulations I found just astonishing at that particular point.

I did a little spy work and discovered part of his secret and that is he is a designer of his own problems basically for income tax. He is, I think, with respect to the institution the first person I know of who used the problem method in teaching any subject matter in this particular institution. It's not only the method but it's the beauty of the construction of those particular questions in fact that got the students involved because they were carefully thought out and calibrated. Starting in luring the students in with the very simple, take them along the path as it got a little more complex, and then dropping them off the ledge with the hard ones.

On the other hand, it's perfectly clear to me over the years, and we certainly both have followed people who have gone through this institution with an interest in taxation. And I can say to you basically that he, through his efforts and his personal interests basically on the students, convinced any number of them to go on and to specialize in Federal Income Taxation and practice.

All I can say frankly is there is no finer reward for a teacher in any discipline than to have your students, in essence, follow in your particular footsteps. Again, his introduction of the method now 45 years later quite widespread throughout the institution I think no one gives it any thought. The early practitioners certainly at this institution with what I think in hindsight is really a quite an important development in the matter of delivering legal education.

My second topic was compassion. His compassion for colleagues, his passion is his compassion basically for students. Early in my career, Ron came to my aid at a very difficult moment. In May 1968, my wife was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. I, at that time, was feeling very overwhelmed. Not only the grief, the physical impact of this particular news. My wife was 34 at this particular time, but secondly the whole week of trying to enter into what seemed to be an entire battalion of medical people ranging all the way from GPs on through Oncologist on through Radiologists on through Physical Medicine people to deal with the lymphoma that followed the radical mastectomy that took place.

On top of all that, two small children and two weeks to go in the quarter teaching a new, relatively new, subject matter. Without discussion, frankly, no discussion he jumped in picked up the class finished it on my behalf, provided assistance for thereafter throughout a very difficult summer.

Now we as a faculty saw this and even a more dramatic example when a colleague of ours recently died this particular colleague had suffered from acute alcoholism. This was a fact, I think, frankly not know to many people in this building at the time. When it did become known to us we knew that she was a very hard person to provide assistance or support to, very difficult to deal with, truly problematical from the standpoint of her willingness to go ahead and try to take steps for treatment.

Now in fact when she died we discovered that Ron over the years had made very strenuous efforts here to support a woman who otherwise I think was all by herself in this particular institution. Providing support in difficult times basically that alcoholics suffer through in general. Once again, I know of no one when she died felt her loss more deeply than Ron Hjorth.

My third subject and I think again my colleagues would agree with this statement, although as you know about law colleagues they always find five people who will vote against anything.

This proposition is basically that he has had very active on the top of his agenda. Trying to deliver the best to his law students at this particular institution whether it be as a teacher, be it as an administrator, be it as a party who is outside trying to go ahead and warm the employers to the idea of hiring more UW graduate. Things of that sort.

He and his wife, a truly gracious hostess, have opened their home on countless occasions basically to entertain law students, entering LL.M students, teachers, visiting teachers, all sorts of members from the legal community, there's too much majority in there but... and of course basically University personnel overall.

He is a very substantial, and I guess, at one stage I called his section probably one of the best friend makers on behalf of the institution. He dealt it all with fundraisers; you know that's a magic phrase. That's the guy that can make the ask when it comes to money.

Now he's got all this coming into the job, 1995 law school sitting in this grey concrete barrier down on University desperately in need of an improvement basically with respect to its facilities. Remember the old days essentially when the students first brought in laptops and we had extension cords running all over the room. That was something. We're lucky we got out of there with only one electrocution.

On the other hand, the school faced some fairly substantial hurdles with respect to getting approval for the financing for building. Of all things, we had a department on campus that hired a professional lobbyist to lobby against us. And the fact that the President indeed had favored the project but we needed a team, a lot of help with respect to the legislative lobbying, if you will. Fundraising was an absolute nightmare because the target started with some number down in the 18 million and by the time it was done, it was something like 47 million that had to be raised from private parties.

The target continuously elusive both projects, for this purpose I think he chose his assistants perfectly for this particular set of problems he chose Paula Littlewood to act basically with him as his legislative strategist trying to work on picking off member after member. Trip after trip, lunch after lunch, I don't want to go too far that way.

He chose Dexter Bailey, superb fundraiser who's gone on and done some great things basically, sadly for some other institutions. He crafted a message that the alumni he approached accepted, again, with some appreciation, basically, that he is an established scholar, that he speaks with the authority of somebody who knows what happens in a classroom, things of that sort. And he made the message quite simple: "We want the best for our students. We want to improve the educational surroundings here, to the point, basically, where our students think that they're attending a first-class institution. We're tired of being called Attica South. We want something else."

We now, of course, and this was a monumental task: three solid years at least; hundreds of trips, it seemed, to Olympia; all sorts of entertaining with respect to potential givers, with respect to the project. Broke the tape. Sadly, didn't get to see, actually, the dedication, as the person for whom the building was the result of. And I know that smarts with you as much as it does with me, overall.

I do want to mention one last thing in this particular connection. In the process of this very substantial effort, he also drafted a plan for a substantial number of new student scholarships, a program to be modeled on the Root-Tilden program at NYU, of which he was, in law school, one of the recipients.

The notion here was to build on the idea that we want to firmly establish our position as the premier law school in the Northwest, and that what one needed to do in that particular connection, following the Root-Tilden model, was to go ahead and provide Merit scholarships to two people, outstanding applicants from each of the states, 10 states in some fashion adjacent or close to the state of Washington.

Obviously, it fell under the weight of the enormous amount of fundraising that had to be done for the building. I think it needs to be rectified. I would be very pleased if people took the inspiration and said, "We will call these the Hjorth scholarships."

What we find, essentially, is the competition for good law students in the United States has never been more severe. We lose time after time, because we have very little Merit money. This is a very serious cause. In some sense, I must say, looking back, I'm terribly sorry the money went to the building. While I enjoy it, frankly, I would have enjoyed 20 more good students even better.

Thank you.

Our next speaker is Paula Littlewood. In case you wondered, I promised her I would take more than my time. She is a 1997 graduate of the University of Washington Law School. She had worked for a time, and as you've seen already in connection with the legislative efforts in fundraising, as the assistant dean, basically, for some kind of relations. It's a title I can't remember. She is currently the executive director of the Washington State Bar Association, a matter of great pride to us, and also a member of the Law School Alumni Association board of directors.

Paula Littlewood: Thanks, Dick. As Dick mentioned, I served as assistant dean with Ron for several years. But my association with Ron began through a seemingly innocuous email. It simply read, "Please come see me." I was still in school at the time, finishing my concurrent degree at the Jackson School, and I had come to know Ron as a law student when I was serving as editor-in-chief of the "Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal." I assumed that Ron had emailed me with regard to something pertaining to the journal. I can honestly say that if you had said to me five minutes before I walked into this office that day that I would serve as assistant dean for five years at this great institution, I would have said that you were crazy.

As you know, Ron was dean during the critical time we were working to secure funding for a new law school building. When I joined the law school as assistant dean, the university had just made the decision that they would go back to the legislature one last time to try and secure the public funding portion for the new building.

The vision for the funding of the new building had been developed several years earlier and was to be a public-private partnership, with two-thirds of the funding coming from the state and one-third from private donors. So top on our list of things to accomplish was to secure $46 million in state funding. Mind you, we were to secure these funds from a Republican controlled legislature where not only the Ways and Means chair had been denied admission to the UW Law School many years before but also, the governor at the time had been denied admission to the law school.

We also had to set out to finish raising the $24 million needed in private funds. The challenge was indeed formidable, but the need for the new facility was even greater. We faced trials and tribulations along the way, but Ron was amazing to work with, and we downright had a lot of fun together. We always had time for a laugh, and we never lost sight of our goal.

As with any great leader, Ron had a wide range of skills and experience to draw upon. So when I think of Ron, I think of the many facets of this amazing man, some of which I'd like to highlight here tonight.

Ron, the fundraiser. By the time I came to work with Ron, I had been a professional fundraiser for many years. As any professional fundraiser is accustomed to hearing, principals you work with in this capacity are always quick to tell you they hate fundraising, they aren't very good at it, and "This is the least favorite part of my job."

Ron was no exception. And he assured me, as we got to know each other in those early days, that he wasn't any good at the fundraising piece. I can tell you, without hesitation, that Ron is one of the best fundraisers I have ever worked with. Indeed, to this day, he is still the only person I know who has received a $500,000 gift from someone on the very first ask.

But there was no trick to Ron's strategy, and there was no skill that needed to be developed, because Ron was genuine in his affection and loyalty to the school, and it was clear he was dedicated to it and its future. Every alum, who all happened to be former students of his, understood this fact instantly when they sat down to talk with Ron, and I believe they were also inspired by it.

Ron, the pig farmer. Now, a huge piece of the task we faced, of course, was securing the public funding for the building. Many of you will recall hearing tales of the Dean's team during the winter quarter of 1999. While raising funds for the new building took our whole community to achieve, the Dean's team, as detailed through the somewhat-weekly "New Building Update Newsletters," referred specifically to Ron, Professor Bill Andersen, and me.

The three of us spent the winter traipsing up and down I-5 between Seattle and Olympia, logging close to 3,000 miles that legislative session and meeting with close to 70 legislators. Ron excelled in the lobbying arena, I think due in large part to his unbelievable ability to connect with each person he meets on a personal level through some shared experience or understanding. This skill was invaluable in our efforts to secure funding as we walked the halls of Olympia.

Now, to say that some legislators, shall we say, were reluctant to meet with us would be an understatement. One senator in particular, from Yakima, was very difficult to get a meeting with during our time in Olympia. But we finally secured a meeting with him, and Ron, Bill, and I assembled in his office, ready to convince him that funding for the new building should be of utmost priority for the Legislative Session.

True to form, it didn't take long for Ron to find some common ground with the Senator, that common ground being pig farming. To be honest, I don't even know how the two of them got onto the subject, but I can tell you I'm not sure either Bill Andersen or I have recovered yet; from hearing the two of them discuss how rubber bands are applied to certain anatomical parts of the pig to achieve certain desired results.

I don't even know, if we ever even got to a discussion of the funding for the new law school building during that meeting, let alone whether we got the Senator's support. I can only say, "I hope so."

Ron the Professor. Ron, I'm going to beat you to the punch here. I'm going to confess to all of you here tonight, I did not take tax while I was in law school.

Roland: You did take one, Marie.

Paula: Ron reminded me of this fact weekly if not daily, when I worked with him. The words still haunt me in my professional career today, "Paula, if you had only taken the tax." So, although I didn't experience Ron firsthand in the classroom, as we traveled around the State and around the country, I did witness firsthand the loyalty and admiration Ron's former students had for their professor, and it was truly remarkable. Ron the Leader. There is no question Ron was an effective and focused leader as Dean. This beautiful building we sit in here today, is just one testament to that truth. I learned working with Ron, that leaders show their true strength of character when faced with adversity. There were two incidents Ron faced while Dean, that I believe were particularly trying. The first was a battle that played out in the national media, between Ron and Washington Post columnist, Matt Hentoff, who had attributed certain damaging remarks to Ron, that Ron had not made.

The second, was when Ron received extraordinary pressure from outside the law school to admit an applicant to the law school, who had been denied admission. The applicant was related to a particularly wealthy alum, not a law school alum, but Ron stood by the long standing policy of the school to not admit anyone based merely on legacy.

In both of these situations, Ron never wavered in his resolve. In his integrity in these situations was unparalleled. The lessons I learned from these incidents, I have never forgotten. I strive to embody the qualities Ron exemplified, as I carry forward on my own leadership path. We all could always rely on Ron's unfaltering moral compass.

Finally, I'd like to close by sharing a few particular memories I have from mine and Ron's time working together, that although are personal to me, I think will resonate with all of you, who have come to love and revere Ron as I have.

Huddled around my cell phone in the lobby of our hotel in New York, listening to a voicemail from Sondra Paul, where we learned we had received the aforementioned $500,000 gift. Ron, literally jumped for joy, as only Ron can do. I then dragged Ron out, so we could celebrate this exciting news. It was fun to share this evening with Ron, enjoying the lights and life of Manhattan, and hearing stories of the city, where so many decades before Ron had attended law school.

Sitting in the parking lot of the Shucks Auto Parts in Olympia, watching Ron and Bill Andersen change the windshield wiper blade on Ron's car in the pouring rain. Law professors, mechanics do not make. But luckily, chivalry is not dead in Ron and Bills book, nor in mine. So, I sat dryly in the car, wondering how much three hotel rooms might cost for the night in Olympia.

Winning a two-bit bet. A two-bit bet was a custom Ron learned from the NYU Tax Faculty, while visiting as a professor at NYU. A two-bit bet is made when you're absolutely certain, you are correct about something. The common parlance, "Two-bits says you're wrong," is the form most often expressed by Ron. One should never make a two-bit bet, unless you are certain are right.

Ron was fond of rolling out the two-bit challenge in a conversation, where he was certain he was correct about something. One day, after we'd worked together for some time, my opportunity finally came. Ron and I were talking about something related to our lobbying ventures in Olympia. As the conversation proceeded, Ron responded to one of my comments with the dreaded, "Two-bit says you're wrong." But I knew I had him this time. Sweat beaded on my brow, as I waited for Ron to thumb through his dictionary.

Simultaneously, I hoped that my sister had been correct about this odd fact I had stored away in the recesses of my brain. Suffice it to say, I don't think Ron will ever forget the capitol is spelled with an "OL," when it refers to the building where State Legislature meets.

The Nisqually earthquake, which of course happened the day before our scheduled hearing before the Supreme Court, to admit Takuji Yamashita posthumously to the Washington State Bar during the School of Law'scentennial celebration.

The Supreme Court had been closed, due to damage from the earthquake. So thanks to our brilliant and nimble Chief Justice Gary Alexander, who found us a Federal courtroom in Tacoma, thank you to Judge Bryant, and promised to find nine justices and nine black robes. Thanks to his efforts, the ceremony proceeded. An idea, hatched by Ron in a restaurant in Washington, D.C. was brought to fruition, and justice for a family was realized after 99 years.

Ron, more than anything, I remember a dedicated Dean, who gave selflessly to his community. A leader, a professional, in every sense of that word as we understand it. A teacher, but even more so a mentor, a friend. I will always remember the laughs.

So, it's my great honor to not only congratulate you on a truly remarkable career, but to also thank you on behalf of all of the alumni of this great law school, that you have helped to shape in so many ways. I'm also pleased to present you with a memory book, which contains letters from alumni from all over the world. We hope you'll cherish the reading of these letters, as people share their memories with you.

Now, it is my great pleasure... or we can applaud if you want.

Now, it is my great pleasure to introduce Professor Sam Donaldson. Sam joined the Law School Faculty in 1999, and is the director of the Graduate Program in Taxation. He teaches courses in basic income tax, international taxation. Hey. I just figured out this is a setup. He teaches all of the tax stuff, and I didn't take tax. Property disposition and transactions, partnership taxation, and estate planning.

Samuel Donaldson: One thing some of you may not know about Ron is his commitment to physical fitness. Regularly, Ron makes it a point, whether at the beginning of the day to go running, or in the middle of the day to go swimming, and it's a great routine that has served him well.

He remains very physically active, and whether you know this, maybe I'm spilling news he wouldn't want shared, but on his birthday every year, Ron always makes it a point to run six miles, and has always done so successfully, I understand. In part for this particular occasion, and to honor Ron, I want you to know Ron, as an inspiration, that today I completed a six mile run. It started in July, but the last 50 yards were triumphantly completed this morning.

I was asked to make some brief remarks regarding the Graduate Program in Taxation. As many of you know, while Ron was serving as the associate dean here at the law school, he had conceived of the of having a Tax LL.M Program. It was rather a strange concept at the time because around the country, while there had been close to two dozen other Tax LL.M programs at other United States law schools, a number of them had started to fold up shop.

A number of us were thinking that these tax programs were becoming a thing of the past, and that certain programs located on the East Coast had effectively a monopoly over the market. Ron saw that there was a place for a strong vibrant gradate program in taxation that was located in the Pacific Northwest, that was on the West Coast, that could rival what those other programs offered, and he persevered as associate dean for the creation of the program.

Once the program was established, and Ron was dean, he was a great supporter in the initial years of the program, and following his service as dean, has been actively teaching in the program. In my view, one of the greatest contributions that Ron made to this law school is the creation of a program that is now in its 15th year, with over 700 alumni around the world, and over 90 students currently enrolled. A few of the students are here, but most of them, we're keeping actively working through the weekend.

At first I had wondered...at one point I had asked Ron, "Why did you want to create a graduate program in taxation when others were closing?" And he confided in me that maybe this would be the opportunity for Paul Littlewood to take a course in taxation. We remain open to our alums who would like to come back, because it's never to late to learn from the great insights that are available.

But Ron, you should know that I came here immediately after being at the Seattle Estate Planning Seminar, which is a rather large seminar of practitioners from all around, up and down the West Coast, about 900 in attendance this year. Regularly, I had run into several alums of our program, alums of this law school, many of whom asked me to send along their regards.

They couldn't be here, but you should know that the affection and respect and admiration that you have from individuals far transcends this room. There are many hundreds... in fact, during the presentation I was making this afternoon, I made reference to the fact that I had to leave abruptly to make it here on time, and when I mentioned that it was for the occasion of your retirement, there was applause in the room to recognize the event.

So, you have a tremendous, that will be a lasting legacy here within the profession that reflects well upon this school, reflects well upon you, and something of which we're all quite proud.

Beyond, I think, one thing that really sort of... if you could talk about the greatest contribution that Ron had made really to the program, the thing that would be quintessentially, Ron Hjorth, that no one else really could have contributed. It's something else that I have to mention in connection with Mary, too.

Each year in the gradate program in taxation, when we held our graduation parties in June, it was Hjorths that threw their home open for the graduation party. Professor Kummert made reference to the fact that it wasn't just for Tax LL.M students, that Ron and Mary would offer there home, but it was for our students every year that they gladly offered their home. Well may not gladly, always.

There was the one year when somebody didn't leave until after 11:00 one night of the party, that we're still trying to beg forgiveness for. But regularly alums of our program tell me that it's that party that really sent the message home to them that they were a part of the family of the law school.

Ron Hjorth really helped to establish the family element of this law school, and to the extent that we have a law school community that we enjoy, a community of scholars, a community of students, a community of professionals, a community of compassionate individuals, it's in large measure to your leadership, your initiative, and to the model that you set in the compassion that you show to one and all.

I was only supposed to speak on behalf of the graduate program in taxation, but I do have to add a couple of words, because Ron is a good friend, and has been a good mentor. In fact, Ron has given me perhaps the two best pieces of advice that I have received as a professional while here at the school.

A number of years ago we tried to hire additional tax faculty. It still remains a priority of our esteemed Testy that we continue to add to the critical mass of our tax faculty here at the law school, and we tried hiring senior established tax scholars to come out. We tried hiring junior tax scholars to get their start here. We made, by my count, no less than six offers to individuals to come to the law school, and we were turned down every time.

Never really because of who were, but we were sometimes competing against other schools that had ridiculous packages that they could throw out. Other cases where family commitments wanted to keep people in certain part of the country, but bottom line, we didn't get these people.

This was discouraging to me, as I'd been actively involved along with Ron in trying to recruit people in here, and I was starting to think maybe there was something about us that people didn't want to be with. I had expressed on more than one occasion to Ron, "Let's just get somebody in here that can help us, and help add to our numbers."

Ron was never really disappointed that we couldn't attract these people. In Ron's view, it was always better that we were trying to get the best, even if we fell short. If it meant that we just had to work a little bit harder as a community until we could get that best and suitable person, that it was always going to be in the best interest and that what this school deserved was only to have the best that were onboard.

So, not to settle in our standards, and to recognize what a great law school and a great institution this is, is something that I've learned from you, Ron.

The other great lesson that you have given to me... a couple of years ago, I began a hobby constructing crossword puzzles. Ron is an avid crossword-solver, as am I, as are all good, intelligent people. Right-thinking Americans. Good thinkers. I was pleased as punch, when after several times trying to get my crossword puzzles published, I finally managed to conquer into the big time with the "New York Times," because I knew that Ron solved the "New York Times" crossword puzzle every morning- I don't know if it was before the six mile run or after the six mile run. How the heck do you do all of that?

But, I knew when my puzzle had come out, I was anxious to get Ron's feedback, so I had told that I had constructed that day's crossword, and he said, "I haven't solved it yet. Let me work on it." This was a Thursday puzzle for those of you who know anything about crosswords, and within 20 minutes Ron was back in my office having solved the puzzle completely, correctly.

He stuck his head into my office and he said, "Hello, Sam." And he says: "I've solved your puzzle." I was like, "Well, what did you think?" He said, "Don't quit your day job!" I'm not going to quit my day job, and I thank you for that advice.

While we are commemorating Ron's retirement, I am quite happy to say that Ron hasn't really retired he is doing the academic retirement thing. Ron continues to teach our students. He's teaching basic income tax to a fleet of happy students this fall, and will continue to teach in our graduate program in taxation, our important tax policy course.

Ron, I'm very pleased that you are continuing to be with us to teach our students and to give the benefit of your experience and your professionalism to our students, because it has made a difference to many years, many generations of law students, and I'm glad you're continuing to do that. But most importantly, I'm very proud and honored that I have met a colleague and a friend. Thank you.

It's my pleasure to introduce next Joel Benoliel from the class of 1971. You know, Joel is the Senior Vice President and Chief Legal officer of Costco Wholesale. Thanks for the free membership by the way. No, I'm sorry.

What you may not know is that Joel's a very active alumnus for the school. He serves on our advancement community and is on the board of the Washington Law School Foundation. Here is someone who can speak to Ron having witnessed him from several different perspectives. Please help me in welcoming Joel.

Joel Benoliel: Ron and Mary, I don't know that you can really appreciate this from this vantage point. Standing room only. This is a great, great show of affection for both of you from this vantage point, especially. Dick Kummert said that both of you are "friend makers". And I guess that's the capacity that I'm standing up here tonight - I am a friend - because of your efforts. Let me be a little more specific later on.

But I am very honored to be one of the people standing up here tonight on this occasion. I met Ron 41 years ago as a student in his class on corporations. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and not because I have any particular memory of the course - because I really don't. I really recall it because I got credit for the course without ever taking your exam.

Now before you think that I did something illicit. This was in the fall of 1968, and it was a time like many of that of the period that we had to leave school to complete our military service and come back. It was such a frequent occurrence, that the administration devised a formula whereby you got credit for courses on a pass/fail basis depending on having achieved a certain number of weeks into the quarter when you got your orders.

I had to go away to Thanksgiving that year. So, don't send me the exam I'm not... So I can say that I met the criteria and I got the credit, and I can say along with a very few others that you exams where a cinch.

Before I begin, what I really wanted to say is that I have to speak for someone else, who couldn't be here, and that was my colleague at the office Jeff Brotman. He's out of town on business and couldn't be here, but he wanted me to extend his warmest wishes to you and sincere appreciation for all you have meant to the law school and to him personally. I'm quoting here "Despite the grade you gave me." So apparently he didn't enjoy your exams quite as much as I did.

Ron, about 15 years ago, I got a call from you and you asked me to come to the law school and have lunch in your office, a brown bag in your office, with some students. And I thought that might be interesting, and I did it and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. What you couldn't have known, then, that it was the first time that I had been back to the law school since it had moved out of Condon Hall. Like so many young lawyers, I had been focused on my career exclusively. It had been 20 years plus. I never looked back. I had zero contact with the law school, until you made that call to me.

But as you've heard from others, your warmth, your gracious manner, your infectious smile and laughter, it was easy to decide at that time that I should in some way show my appreciation for the education that got me started in a terrific business career and legal career. When you and Mary invited Maureen and me to go to a football game with you, like your exam, I have no memory of the game, but a vivid memory both of us share of how gracious and interesting you both were.

I remember hearing the story about how you and Mary met when you were a visiting professor at NYU. I'll leave it to you to tell that story, if you wish. You invited me to join your advisory board, which I gladly did, and the process of reengagement began, and the process of becoming friend began. By the time you were busy raising the private portion of the funding for this wonderful new building, you knew you could count on my as a friend and an ally in that work.

But now this is where a classic case of unforeseeable consequences begins. Because of the warm and open hand that you reached to me, I was touched by it. And so we made a modest gift to the construction of this building. But as I told you at the time, it was the largest gift Maureen and I had ever made to any cause.

But later as the country and, we were no exception, were blessed by a decade of great financial reward and growth in our business and investments, I was reminded of my desire to make a more significant gift to help those who like me could not afford to go to law school without financial help.

So we endowed a scholarship of which we're very proud to benefit three law students, one in each class. This past summer, we celebrated the first graduate who entered as a first year student with our scholarship. But the chain of causation and unforeseeable consequences doesn't stop there. The CEO of our company, Jim Sinegal, was very keen to find out about this endowed scholarship that we had created, and I later found why. It turned out that he had been on the lookout for sometime for just the right way to show his appreciation personally for his wonderful partner Jeff Brotman, and the two of them had been in business together for 25 years.

He wanted to express that in such a way. And so he endowed a similar scholarship to our own, and named it "The Jeff Brotman Endowed Scholarship". So now, we have six students, full time, who are on scholarship as a result. As more people become inspired by that sort of a story, this chain causation will go on, and I think in perpetuity will have many, many more than six students who will benefit from this brown bag lunch that we had 15 years ago.

Now I have said this many times and, I mean this, that none of this would have ever happened had it not been for the sincerity and warmth of the greeting that we received from both Ron and from Mary when you were the dean. I know it would be typical of you to express great surprise that I would attribute any of this to you. But I surely do and I think that all deans of all law schools, everywhere, could do no better than to emulate the formula that you so skillfully used to collaborate with students, faculty, alums, donors, government agencies, and the broader legal community.

You were open, interested in other points of view, caring about the advancement of ideas of others more than you cared for your own self-aggrandizement. We truly would not be standing here today in this wonderful Gates Hall had he not been the dean at that critical juncture. And for certain, I wouldn't be standing here today if it hadn't been for what this special man has meant to us.

I will bet that there are dozens like me out there who are just waiting to be touched in the right way, and waiting to be asked to come back and reconnect with a place that they love. I want to thank you, because I am delighted to have been given this chance to say publicly what I've said privately many times, and that's thanks to you, Ron and Mary. We are deeply grateful.

Now it's my pleasure to call upon the last speaker of this evening, that is, before Kellye gets back up here, and that's a person who truly, in this room, needs no introduction. That's Judge Betty Fletcher. Betty?

So I'll perform the useless act of introducing the person who needs no introduction.

Betty graduated in the class of 1956, and after graduated soon went into practice with the firm known then as Preston, Thorgrimson, and Horowitz, now K&L Gates, until 1979, when she went on the federal bench.

She's a pioneer for women in the state. She was the first woman from Washington to join the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She's currently serving as a senior circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She was also the first woman president of the Seattle King County Bar Association. You've already done so, but please, again, help me welcome Judge Betty Fletcher to share...

Betty Fletcher: Thank you, Joel. I'm really speaking today for my husband, emeritus professor Robert Fletcher. We both are delighted to be here and to help honor Ron. Today, we celebrate the times and contributions of our good friend. From the day of his joining the faculty to the present, he has been a wonderful friend, a person of absolute integrity, and in recent times, the effective leader of the law school.

Bob and I were unable to attend the occasion of the bestowing of the lifetime service award on Ron. We wrote a letter that we requested to be read to those assembled. That did not happen. With your permission, I would like to read that letter to you today. This was written back on May 7.

We are very regretful that we cannot be present this evening to join in the celebration of Ron and Mary Hjorth's contribution to the life of the law school. Our friendship goes a long way back. We had Ron to dinner as part of the interview and recruiting process for Ron. We both gave him a thumbs up.

Bob particularly, over the years, observed Ron's superb skills as a teacher and a scholar. I later had the privilege of working with him for a year, when he came to my law firm as a resident scholar and adviser to improve our knowledge of the tax laws. We clearly needed improvement.

Still later, we have observed him as probably the best dean the law school has ever had. Ron had a most humble and deprecating approach to his talents, coupled with a very wry sense of humor that endears him to all of us. The poster outside his door, for many years, was a picture of a female lion with paws crossed over the window sill. The caption below was, "Every time I put my best foot forward, somebody stomps on it."

We also salute Mary, whose warmth and enthusiasm have embraced us all. Thank you both for helping to make this law school a place to be recognized for its quality education and scholarship, delivered in a warm and friendly environment.

Now, just a little postscript. One of the things that Bob is most proud of is that he was on the hiring committee when Dick Kummert and Ron Hjorth were appointed. He probably could settle the argument about who was on first.

I know Bob has often spoken about his conference with Dick Kummert in the Los Angeles Airport. They both were sitting there, talking, kind of taking a measure of one another, when the word came; John Kennedy has been assassinated. You never forget that.

Just a little postscript about the deanship. Why was Ron such a great dean? We can certainly look at results; a new, superb physical plant; a rejuvenated old faculty, augmented by exciting new faculty. He generated wide support in the legal community and brought the law school to new heights and heralded better days to come. And I think those better days are about to come.

But then, more profoundly, he set an example for all of us. His integrity, his sensitive treatment of not only his colleagues but of the least among us, his ethic of hard work, and his sound judgment. Thank you, Ron, and please keep involved.

Kellye: Judge Fletcher, thank you so much. I'd like to ask you all to join me in thanking all of our presenters today. Now, Ron, I have a gift for you, and I also have a special announcement to make that I think you'll be pleased to hear. But before I get to those, we have one other very special moment that we need to take, and that is that we need to take a moment to honor Mary.

Mary, you can see that we all recognize how much of a true partner you've been to Ron and to this law school. And you have contributed so much in your energy, your enthusiasm. You have, in many ways, been the first lady of UW Law. So I want to ask you, if you'd please come up, I have a little gift for you.

Then I want to let you all know that we have a Verena gift that actually has the three pictures of the school of law. The old Condon Hall, the newer Condon Hall that many have shared with me it was better known as somewhat of a prison I guess, and of course this wonderful, wonderful Gates Hall that we now occupy. So that is a gift that we have for you, Ron, along with a certificate recognizing you're wonderful service to the School of Law.

Now in addition to that I also have another wonderful surprise to bestow today, a very special announcement to make for the School of Law and, I think, Ron, one that you'll be delighted to hear. That is in recognition of our former Dean, in recognition of Professor Ron Hjorth who's impacted so very many students, so many colleagues over the course of his career, who has truly inspired so many of us in so very many ways and as you heard tonight, touched so many people so deeply. I'm very pleased to announce that we have established the Dean Ameridus Roland L. Hjorth Endowed Professorship, that that has been established to further teaching and scholarship in your name and to honor your 45 years of service to this School of Law.

Lets hear it for that.

Ron before I ask you to join me and to present you with your gifts and ask you to share some words I want to take just a minute to let all of you know our deep thanks for the founding contributors to this Professorship. I'd like to just take a moment to read your names. Mike and Lynn Garvey, Jerry and Darlene McNall, Ken and Lucia Shubert, John and Carol Hurster, Bob Bylo and Genine Merhoff, George and Patsy Hosofol, Earl and Christian Lasher, Linda and Rand Eberson, John and Bobbie Bridge, Clem Barns and Lisa Anderson, the Tax LL.M Program at the Law School, Chuck Ruth, Rick Morey, Jeff and Susan Brottman, John and Rebecca Steele, the Law Firm of Garvey, Shubert, and Bayer, Julie Weston and Jerry Morrison, Kimberly and Charles Elwinger, Marilyn Sloan, Shan and Lee Mullin, Dick Hoff and Debbie Walsh, Sharon Nelson, Kent and Sandy Carlson, the Washington Law School Foundation, Teresa and Matthew Buyers, John Criseto and Jennifer Schilling, Brent and Amy Jones, Bruce and Lydia Robertson, David and Sharon West, Bryan Morrison, Ken and Dr. Karen Schubert, and Acani Suziki.

Would you please join me in thanking and recognizing those founding contributors?

Ron please join me.

This is a crystal that recognizes the Professorship and notes that it is the Dean Ameridus Roland L. Hjorth Endowed Professorship and it's my great honor to present this to Ron tonight.

Roland: I will say this, I know what an endowed Professorship means and costs and I will say this that Dean Testy knows how to keep a secret. I had prepared some remarks, but I am left speechless.

But I want to also to tell you how deeply grateful I am to all of you that donated to this Professorship. It is, I think, in many ways the greatest honor that anybody could receive from this school, to have a Professorship named after him and they're very important to our faculty that we have and so I'm deeply, deeply grateful to you. I don't want the hors d'uvre to get cold.

But I was told I should speak a few minutes and I think I'm already over the... but we've passed the hour. But I wanted to share something, this getting to be quite a serious event...

Well, first of all I and my partner of 39 out of the 45 years, Mary has already been introduced to you but one of the great joys of our life is also here tonight and that's our daughter, Heather. Heather I'd like to have you stand for just a second.

Well I came here in either December of '63 or January of '64 and I was met at the airport by then Dean Lehan Tunks. I came from New York so it was kind of in the middle of the day and the sun was shining. Now I was a person who had never seen a mountain in my life, and I had never seen green grass in the winter. So Dean Tunks picks me up and he casually mentions that those are the Olympics to the one side of us and those are the Cascades to the other side of us. And that green grass, I just couldn't believe that so I fell in love with Seattle when I got here and that love has never died.

The very next day, my first day of interviews, the very first interview I had was with two people. One's still here, that's Bob Fletcher, and the other one was Marian Gallagher, they could've have been the best salesmen that this Law School had-could ever have had and I must tell you that then I fell in love with this Law School and that love affair has also never died. So thank you so much.

Then I came here and there were, what I call the early years, and I can't believe how cruel I was in those early years. I'm ashamed now almost to say this but I've started so I'd better continue. I had established what we called "The Rule." The students all knew it, as "The Rule" and "The Rule"was I told the students on the first day of class, "now you don't have to come to class, that's your decision, but if you come to class you need to be prepared. If you're not prepared, you'll be wasting your time and you'll be wasting everybody else's time. So if you come to class and you're not prepared and I call on you I will ask you to leave." So...

Audience Member: I remember that! Roland: Well, but it was also it was the case that it was kind of a self-enforcing thing because I never challenged anybody if they said anything unless they said "I'm not prepared" they stayed. So it was kind of an honor roll of people who said "I'm not prepared." I remember particularly there was one named Bob Boudich and I was single at the time. He was a Law Review student, a first rate student, and a great person and he and his wife in fact had me over to dinner one time.

The next day or the day after that we were going through one of these problems that Dick kind about and we were making good progress on the problem and I was pleased at how far we were going toward the way to a solution. So I called on Mr. Boudich and I said "Mr. Boudich where do we go from here?" He picked up his books and he said, "I don't know where you're going, sir, but I'm leaving the room."

Another one was, and I can tell this about Bob because he's been a very successful provider of low-income housing on the East Coast.

I can tell another one because this person has told this on numerous occasions, and he takes great pride in it. But he was busy. He says, working in his father's grocery store, he was simply not able to prepare for class on a given day. He was in class. I don't happen to remember this particularly, but he announced that "he wasn't prepared," and walked out of the room.

But then later on in the year, the exam had been given. I was walking down the hall and as you know, all of our exams are graded unanimously. I hadn't yet seen the grades, but I knew that the exam had been given and the grades had posted and so forth. So I said, "How did you do in the exam, Jeff?" He said: "I got an 88." I was like, "My god...an 88!" He had the rank number two or three in class. Well, that was Jeff Brotman.

When he told me he got the 88, he said; "Hjorth's jaw dropped in shock!" But Jeff has proven to be most of the loyal friends of this law school and, of me, personally, throughout the years. Not only after I became dean, but before that. I mean he is a wonderful, wonderful human being.

I guess those early years, the ones I remember, as "happy years" of teaching. I would have one person named Mr. Foss, who had majored in drama, an undergraduate. He fancied himself as a Shakespearean scholar. One time we were talking about damages, which at that time if you sued for damages for defamation of personal character, that was not income, it was favored.

So I said, "Mr. Foss, can you tell me why we would not tax damages for personal defamation?" Well, he says, "As far I know.." he said. I said, "That's the worst thing that could happen to a person." He said, "Because, he who steals my purse, steals trash. But he who filches for me my good name makes me poor indeed." Well, I thought that's really pretty good.

A day or two later, I called on him, and this day he wasn't doing so well. He was just mumbling on and mumbling on, and not making any sense. So I thought I would throw a little Shakespeare back at him. I said, "Well, Mr. Foss, I am sorry to tell you this but what you have said so far has been full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." And Mr. Foss looked up at me and he says, "Well, sir, I'm sorry, but what I'm about to relate will probably be a tale told by an idiot."

I did not have my Shakespeare at the office. But I went home that night and looked at this, and I found out "a tale told by an idiot" is the line immediately preceding what I quoted to this person.

Those were the early years. They were happy years. But then there were the middle years. And the middle years, we were in the new Condon Hall. There was a barber shop about a block away from us, and there were two young women barbers starting up this business. One was probably 21 or 22, or something. I stopped in there to get a haircut - strange as that might seem.

So she has this very professional thing, she cuts everybody's hair with a scissors, none of these shears stuff. And she standing behind me and making conversation, wanting to know what I did. I said, "Well, I work over in the law school." She said, "How long have you been there?" I had never thought of that before. I always thought of myself as a young Turk. I said, "My god..." I said: "Do you realize that this summer it has been 20 years that I have been there!"

So she stopped cutting my hair from the back, and walked around to the front of me, looked me directly in the face and she said, "I hate to tell you this, but it's starting to show." Well, that's 25 years ago. She was young then. I have seen her only once, but that was very shortly thereafter. I would love to see her again because it has been 25 years, I'm sure it's starting to show on her, and I would love to return the compliment.

But then there were the dean years. And I must tell you how honored I have been in my life to have been the dean of this law school. I think this is a great law school. I have loved this law school from the very time I first came here. The six years that I served as dean, I think they may not have been the happiest but they were certainly the most fulfilling. They were the time when I got to go back and see a whole bunch of students that I had not seen in years. It was also a time when I was able to exercise my faculties I thought to the fullest extent in a cause that I believed in, because I really believed in it.

Also, I want to express my gratitude to all of the persons who were on the faculty at that time, and the staff. The staff who don't get very many honors, and they don't get paid highly, but we couldn't run without them. So I want to thank those, if there are any of those whoa are still here tonight, I want to thank you.

I also want, as I said, to thank the faculty. Because whenever it came to a point, a crucial point, the faculty always gave me the benefit of the doubt, and I appreciated that very, very much. I also appreciated so much the loyalty and the generosity of our alumni.

It was not any easy thing for me to make an "ask." I was a farm boy from Nebraska. We didn't just do pig farming, but I was a farm boy. It was not an easy thing to go up to somebody for the first time and say: "Mr. X, I'm asking you for $500,000. Can you do that for us Mr. X, " or, "will you do that for us Mr. X?" I was told at that point you should be quiet, and not say after that, because the first person who speaks probably loses that game.

But anyway, it was a marvelous time in my life. I very, very much appreciated it. So now I am personally, as I have said before, so delighted with our new dean, Kellye Testy. I have said this on other occasions, she is a genuinely good, caring, intelligent, wise human being. I want the faculty here to support her in the way they have supported me. I want the alumni, also, to support her in the way that she supported me, because I want this to be one of the great law schools in the nation, in the world.

I think that's not an impossible dream. I will call on my own experience. I graduated from New York University in 1961. When I graduated, it was not considered to be one of the nation's leading law schools. It was not considered to be serious competition to Columbia and Harvard and Michigan and Stanford. But now it is. These many years later, it is. It is clearly among the top ten law schools in the nation... clearly.

Now if that can happen there, it can happen here. I very much hope that it will happen here, that we will always aspire to greatness. I don't ever want us to aspire to being just good. I want us to aspire to be one of the great law schools in the nation, in the world.

So, thank you so much. Thank you especially for coming. And I think now that Dean Testy is about able to close the proceedings.

Kellye: I want to just let you all know that we're going to build on the best of all that we've been and accomplish exactly what Ron Hjorth just called us to do. So let's hear it for UW Law. All right. There you go. Absolutely. Please join us to continue the festivities and to honor Ron at a reception that's in our library, and we look forward to seeing you all there. Thank you again for being here tonight.

Last updated 10/25/2011