Geof Stone (1971)  

Three days after I arrived at the Law School as a first-year student in the fall of 1968, I called home. “I don’t like it here,” I plaintively informed my none-too-pleased parents, “I want to come home.”

I had plenty of reasons to be miserable. A native New Yorker, I was in Chicago only because I wanted to be near my girlfriend, a student at Northwestern. She broke up with me the day before I arrived on the Midway. Less than six weeks earlier, I had my selective service physical examination with a bunch of pimply-faced eighteen year-olds from Brooklyn. I fully expected to be drafted before the year was out, with all the painful choices that would present. And after three days of classes, I hadn’t the faintest idea what was going on. Replevin? Stare decisis? Assumpsit? What were these people talking about? The questions and answers flew back and forth, and I was in a fog. It was perfectly evident that I wasn’t cut-out for this mysterious thing they called “the law.” (Indeed, the only other time in my life I can recall being so utterly befuddled was some two months ago when I decided to take up the banjo.) In any event, my parents, clearly and quite reasonably dreading the thought of having a draft-eligible, politically disaffected, law school dropout back under their roof, enthusiastically beseeched me to “stick it out for another week.”

This was sound advice. The next day I had three classes: Torts with Harry Kalven, Contracts with Grant Gilmore, and Elements with Soia Mentschikoff. (Not a bad line-up for a day’s education.) That day, for the first time, it began to make sense. Suddenly, the professors’ questions seemed almost intelligible and, like everyone else in the room, I began to understand that the students’ answers were as wrong-headed and charmingly naïve as they seemed. The fog began to lift, and a sense of excitement set in. In truth, I was enthralled. That night, I called home to say “never mind.”

I could not have dreamed in those first days of anxiety and exhiliration at the Law School that I would spend my life here. For me, this has been, truly, a labor of love. From that fourth day of classes in 1969, I was smitten. At first, it was a dizzying crush; then, by the time I returned to join the faculty, it had matured into a take-your-breath-away infatuation; by the late 70s, it was unmistakably a full-blown romance; and, finally, by the late 80s, when I was dean, it was a head-over-heels, love-of-a-lifetime, “I’ll do anything for you, baby,” passion. My fervor has continued – unabated -- ever since.

Like the University of which it is a part, the Law School represents the best of what a law school can be. We strive for intellectual honesty and academic rigor. We take seriously our responsibility to ask the hard question and to resist the easy answer. We set for ourselves – faculty, students, staff and alumni -- the highest standards of legal education. As Edward Levi reminded my class at his inauguration as President of the University in the fall of 1968, this University must constantly renew its commitment to “searching intellectual honesty,” for “our path is not an easy one.” That commitment, as much as anything, has made this, for me, the adventure of a lifetime.