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College of Law celebrates 40th anniversary


May 10, 2010

Law school tuition was a bargain back in 1967, when the first students at the ASU College of Law paid $175 (in-state; $407.50 out-of-state) per semester to attend classes. The students "weren't much to look at," and they had no building, according to alumnus Michael Gallagher, but they did have "the most gifted and greatest law school faculty in the country in those days."

As emcee of a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Class of 1970 and of longtime professor Michael Berch, on April 9 at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Gallagher entertained 300 guests with stories of the old days:

Olivia Birchett's official title was admissions officer and registrar, but she more played the "house mother." U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren attended convocation in 1968. People like Jon Rose, John Morris, Milt Schroeder and Berch joined the faculty.

"Berch used to tell us with regularity, 'Don't set your sights too high. You can't all be heroes. We need someone to sit on the curb and clap when the heroes go by,'" Gallagher said.

All kidding aside, Gallagher described Berch, who turned 75 on April 1, as a "one-of-a-kind" caring, considerate and enthusiastic teacher.

In 1986, Berch and his wife, Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch established the Rebecca and Michael Berch Scholarship Fund that has awarded $50,000 to students over the years. This year, the couple issued a challenge to alumni that the Berch family would match dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000 in support of the scholarship fund. The alumni answered the call and exceeded the goal.

The celebration was punctuated with remarks by Dean Paul Schiff Berman, Curt Clausen – Berch's son, and Berch himself. A poignant video of Willard H. Pedrick, the founding Dean of the College of Law, was broadcast, as was a touching – and hilarious – tribute to Berch.

To watch a video of the evening, click here.

Janie Magruder, Jane.Magruder@asu.edu
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law