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Retiring law school colleagues celebrate combined 100-plus years of service


April 28, 2011

Two longtime professors and a dedicated librarian at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law were honored during a retirement party on Tuesday, April 26, for putting a new law school on the map and helping thousands of students in the process.

Professors Michael Berch and Milt Schroeder, who both joined the faculty in 1969, and Alison Ewing, a reference librarian at the Ross-Blakley Law Library since 1993, retired with a combined 102 years of service. About 60 faculty and staff members, students, alumni and guests paid tribute to their lengthy careers during the party in Armstrong Hall.

Dean Paul Schiff Berman called their retirement “simply a transition into a new phase of their relationship with the law school, but it is not the end. We expect the three retirees will continue to be around this law school for quite a long time.”

Professor Emeritus George Schatzki described his old friend Berch as “the conscience of the law school” whose honesty, loyalty, love and caring are unparalleled.

“He’s the most generous person I’ve ever known – so giving of his time, his thoughts and his money,” Schatzki said. “Many students and alumni have received loans from Michael who, in doing so, never expects to get the money back.”

Berch, the Alan A. Matheson Professor of Law, has taught a wide variety of courses, including Federal Courts, Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Law and the Regulatory State and Professional Responsibility. Known for his shock of red hair, exuberance in the classroom and zany personality, Berch has received numerous teaching awards, and is an Honors Disciplinary Faculty member at ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College.

Before entering academia, he worked on high-profile criminal cases at the U.S. Department of Justice and was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Said Schatzki, “He really is a very special person, and for me, a very special friend.”

Tory Trotta, Associate Dean for the Ross-Blakley Law Library, characterized Ewing as a “spark plug” who is courteous, vivacious and fun. “She professionalized the library’s access services department,” Trotta said. “She led that department, she taught, and she was president of the Arizona Association of Law Libraries.”

As its library liaison, Ewing was especially fond of and worked closely with the law school’s Indian Legal Program.

And like her dear friend, Marianne Alcorn, who died of cancer in December after 30 years as the library’s Head of Reference and Faculty Services, Ewing was “highly competitive, extremely stubborn and very opinionated.” During the last few months of Alcorn’s life, Ewing was the link to Alcorn’s friends at the law school.

Before joining the law school, Ewing was the law librarian at Brown & Bain and at Meyer, Hendricks, Victor Osborn and Maledon, was a Lexis-Nexis representative and held various positions in law-firm marketing and recruiting. She is a member of the American Association of Law Libraries and the Southwestern Association of Law Libraries.

Judge Barry Silverman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who graduated from the College of Law in 1976, recalled taking three classes from Schroeder, or as he was affectionately known, Uncle Miltie. Schroeder’s teaching of Commercial Law was legendary, Silverman said, because the professor was a national authority on the Uniform Commercial Code.

“He taught Commercial Law, but what he really taught was attention to detail and how to read a statute and how the commercial world works,” Silverman said.

Schroeder teaches Contracts, Sales and Leases of Goods, Secured Transactions and Banking Law, and researches topics in banking and commercial law, such as proposals for reforming financial institutions and the effort to prevent banking systems from being used to assist in financial terrorism. He is author of the three-volume The Law and Regulation of Financial Institutions, which initially was published in 1995 and has been updated annually since.

Schroeder was an associate dean at the law school from 1978-80, and is a former ASU faculty representative to the Pac-10 Athletic Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He has served as a judge pro tempore for the Arizona Court of Appeals and as an arbitrator for the Maricopa County Superior Courts. Before entering academia, Schroeder practiced law in Washington, D.C.

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