Frank Walwer, Former Associate Dean, Dead at 79
Public Affairs, 212-854-2650
New York, March 25, 2010—Frank Walwer ‘55, a former associate dean at Columbia Law School who oversaw financial aid and admissions and increased minority enrollment, has died. He was 79.
Walwer was killed Jan. 1 in a car accident in Bradenton, Fla., where he lived.
Walwer, who was also a 1952 graduate of Columbia College, worked at the Law School from 1958 to 1980. During his tenure, the Law School boosted the number of minorities attending the Law School.
Back in 1960, Walwer had a phone conversation with an assistant dean at Harvard Law School, who asked him how many blacks were at Columbia. At the time, there were virtually none. Afterwards, as he told Benjamin Davis, in a 2003 article published in the American Review of International Arbitration, he visited several predominantly black colleges, identified five promising black students, and admitted them after increasing the size of the class by five.
“Dean Walwer believed it was essential to broaden the ranks of the law schools and thus enrich the profession and system of justice,” wrote Davis, a professor at the University Of Toledo College Of Law. “It was as simple as that. Whether that analysis was a normative-based social justice approach, a market-based approach, or a color-segregationist approach, by his action it was clearly the approach of an activist to the problem: find blacks and admit them.”
Walwer left the Law School in 1980 to become dean of the University Of Tulsa School Of Law for 11 years.
“He came often to our Seminar on Legal Education to share his thoughts and insights with aspiring teachers who fanned out to regional law schools like those he so successfully later led as dean,” said Peter Strauss, Betts Professor of Law. “Sorry as I was to see him leave for the deanship at Tulsa, it seemed just the right move for him -- a move to full responsibility for leading legal education.”
In 1994, Walwer left Tulsa to help found Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth, and was that school’s dean from 1994-99. Texas Wesleyan secured its accreditation from the American Bar Association during that period.
Walwer also served on the Law School Admissions Council for many years, chaired the ABA Section of Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar, and chaired many committees on law school admissions and financial aid. He co-authored with Lecturer-in-Law Peter Swords, The Costa and Resources of Legal Education: a Study in the Management of Educational Resources.
“We were good friends and I became very fond of him. He was warm, entirely comfortable with himself and a happy person who enjoyed life,” Swords said. “The best part of the day for me was when we were working together.”
Walwer is survived by his wife of 49 years, Mary Ann, a son, Gregory, and three grandchildren.
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