The legal blogosphere has been curiously quiet regarding the news that John Murray, law faculty member at Duquesne Law, former faculty member at Pitt Law, former Dean of the law schools at Pitt and at Villanova, and Chancellor and former President of Duquesne University, passed away last Wednesday.
The relative silence might be a puzzle, because John Murray was the very embodiment of teaching, in the classroom, among his colleagues, and in the public sphere. (If only I could publish some of the email tributes now circulating on my school’s internal faculty list, and no doubt circulating elsewhere among law faculty who were mentored by John Murray early in their careers!) Anyone who met or heard John Murray was struck immediately by the man’s presence, which was incredible and powerful and generous.
Perhaps the omission is not so much a puzzle; the latter part of his career was spent leading (and rebuilding) a regional Catholic university. He was still a law teacher and scholar, but his major contributions to the law were years in the past. He carried himself with enormous dignity, but he was not, by any means, a “modern” law professor or a name “brand” influencing the current generation of young teachers and scholars.
I teach a leadership course to members of my law school community, and I focus on leadership as voice: understanding and sharing your sensibility, spirit, and presence in the world, how you cultivate that and share it so that you have the kind of impact and effect that you want to have. I only met and heard John Murray in person a few times, for he was long gone from Pitt Law when I arrived. But he had a wonderful voice, in the sense that I just described (he also had a tremendous speaking presence). And all of Pittsburgh, its legal community, and the contracts and sales parts of the legal profession benefited mightily from it. He will be missed.