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Berch named Alan A. Matheson Professor

July 07, 2009

Alan Matheson and Michael Berch have been friends and colleagues at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law for 40 years and together have witnessed numerous milestones -- the administration of seven deans, the comings and goings of numerous faculty and staff members and the graduation of more than three dozen classes of future lawyers, business and political leaders and caring community citizens - among others.

The icing on this special relationship recently was spread when Berch was named the Alan A. Matheson Professor by Dean Paul Schiff Berman.

"Both Michael and Alan have long been legendary figures at the College of Law. They are absolutely devoted teachers, mentors, and community citizens, and I am very pleased to be able to link them officially through this distinguished professorship," said Berman.

Berch said he is honored to receive an academic designation named for someone as kind, principled and tenacious as Matheson.

"Alan is absolutely outstanding in his service and his commitment to the law school," said Berch, who joined the faculty in 1969, two years after Matheson. "He is a great teacher, and his students absolutely adore him. He has good, sound judgment, and he cares. And any time there has been a problem at the college, he has come to the rescue."

Matheson, a professor and Dean Emeritus, said he was delighted about the appointment. "Michael's many contributions to the law school have been remarkable," he said. "He is an outstanding teacher, he has published often, he helped upgrade the admissions process at the school, he has served as an unofficial development officer, helping to raise money from alums and members of the profession, and his personal generosity in providing scholarships for students is legend."

Despite Berch and Matheson's shared status at the law school as beloved professors whose loyalty is unquestioned, their personalities couldn't be more different, Berch pointed out. "He's reserved and very effective; I'm demonstrative and, I hope, effective."

Indeed, they are. Berch was a finalist for the 2008 Professor of the Year from the ASU Parents Association, received the Arizona State Bar President's Award for outstanding services to the Bar's teaching mission in 2007 and, that same year, was one of three recipients of the 12th annual Last Lecturer Awards at ASU. Other teaching honors he has received include the ASU Law Alumni Distinguished Professor of 2001, the Maricopa County Bar Association Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for 1992-93, and the ASU Alumni Association Distinguished Teacher Award in 1990. He has coached many of ASU's winning Moot Court teams and has written extensively.

Matheson has the most institutional knowledge of anyone at the College of Law, having arrived in 1967 to serve on the founding faculty and as Associate Dean. He has been Dean or Interim Dean five times, and is a former president of the faculty senate. Matheson received in 1995 the ASU Alumni Association Faculty Achievement for Service, and gives as freely of his time in the community as he does at the law school: he has served on committees of the American Bar Association, the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Arizona, the Maricopa County Bar Board, the Law School Admission Council, the Board of Directors of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, and DNA-Navajo Legal Services' Board of Directors, and as President of the Tri-City Citizens Mental Health Board.

Matheson teaches in the areas of Constitutional Law and Community Property, while Berch teaches Federal Courts, Civil Procedures, Conflict of Laws, Law and the Regulatory State and Professional Responsibility. Berch also is a frequent visiting professor at the University of San Diego School of Law.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law