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Former SMU Law School Dean Charles O. Galvin has died

Charles O. Galvin
Charles O. Galvin

January 28, 2011

Charles O. Galvin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and former Dedman School of Law Dean at Southern Methodist University, died January 27. He was 91.

A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Dallas.

Dean Galvin, who was active at the national level, was dean of the law school from 1963 to 1978 and was a member of the faculty for over 30 years.

“Dean Galvin was one of the greatest deans in the history of the law school and one of the foremost tax professors of his time,” said John B. Attanasio, Dean of SMU’s Dedman School of Law.  “This is a great loss for the law school, the university, and the entire community.”

Among the many outstanding contributions Dean Galvin made to SMU Dedman School of Law were the completion of the law quadrangle with the building of the Underwood Law Library, the inception of the Hatton W. Sumners Scholarship Program, and the establishment of the William Hawley Atwell Chair of Constitutional Law, the law school’s first endowed chair. 

SMU Provost Emeritus James E. Brooks, who was provost during Dean Galvin’s tenure, said, “Charley Galvin was one of the most effective deans this University has had.  He not only was skilled and enlightened dean of the School of Law but was very much a citizen of the University who could be counted on to be a steady and positive hand when basic University issues and values were at stake.”

Dean Galvin began his impressive academic career at SMU, where he received his B.S.C. degree with highest honors in 1940.  Subsequently, he earned an M.B.A. degree with distinction from Northwestern University before serving in the United States Navy in World War II with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Dean Galvin returned to Northwestern after the war and received his Juris Doctor degree in 1947 and later, his S.J.D. from Harvard.  He was awarded an honorary LL.D. degree from Capital University in 1990.

In 1952, Dean Robert G. Storey invited Dean Galvin to join the SMU Law School faculty, where he remained for more than 30 years.  From 1963-1978, he served as Dean.  Dean Galvin was the Centennial Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University from 1983-1990.  He also taught at Harvard, Michigan, Northwestern, Duke, Pepperdine, UT-Austin and the University of Kansas. 

He wrote numerous important works on federal tax law and other subjects in collaboration with Boris Bittker. 

Dean Galvin was a founding member of the Southwestern Legal Foundation, Taxation Editor of the Oil and Gas Reporter, and co-editor of the Texas Will Manual.  He was also trustee of the American Tax Policy Institute and the United States Supreme Court Historical Society. Since 1993, he had been of counsel to Haynes and Boone, LLP. (Dallas) and served as an adjunct professor of law at SMU Dedman Law for eight years.

Dean Galvin’s illustrious career is best exemplified by the array of honors bestowed upon him.  He was awarded the Doctor of Laws honoris causa degree from SMU.  He was named Distinguished Alumnus by SMU and Northwestern University. He also received the Equal Justice Award from Legal Services of North Texas, the John Rogers Award from the Southwestern Legal Foundation, and the Dallas Independent School District Magnet School Award and the McGill Award from the Catholic Foundation of Dallas.

In 1999, the law school established the Charles O. Galvin Award for Service to SMU Dedman School of Law in honor of the outstanding career of this extraordinary scholar and individual. 

“In establishing this award, the law school will continue to recognize his many accomplishments and his great service to the legal and academic community,” said Dean Attanasio. 

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