Professors celebrate 50 years at Iowa
In 1962, former UI College of Law Dean Mason Ladd, hired two, very bright recent law graduates. One from the east coast, Arthur Bonfield, a Brooklyn native and 1960 Yale Law School graduate, and one from the Midwest, N. William (Bill) Hines, a Kansan and 1961 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law.
While they were raised and schooled in different parts of the country, their lives started to align once they graduated from law school. Bonfield obtained a JD and LLM in 1961 from Yale, and was completing a post-graduate fellowship at Yale from 1961 to 1962. Bill had begun his teaching fellowship in 1961 at Harvard.
Both had married and started their families. In 1962, they were recruited to the UI College of Law by Dean Ladd to commence their academic careers as assistant professors. They began their Iowa teaching careers with a summer class in 1962; Bonfield in the Law of Restitution which he taught only once, and Hines in
Probate Law, where he still teaches.
How did you decide that you wanted a law career in academia?
Hines: I went to college as a jock and earned four letters in basketball and tennis. I expected to be a high school teacher and coach and went to law school mostly because my dad was a lawyer. Once in law school, I became more interested in academics and my dean, James Logan, who went on to be a federal judge appointed by President Carter to the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, encouraged me to become a law professor. He arranged for me to be awarded a teaching fellowship at Harvard University. This was an enormous professional boost.
Bonfield: I was getting my law degree at Yale and my professor for constitutional law, Alexander Bickel, and I had a conversation about becoming an academic in political science or in law school. He asked me, “Do you want to do scholarship that will be read only by other scholars, or do you want to do scholarship where your work is read by those with power and converted into law?” I decided then to be a law professor because I wanted the latter.
What made you apply to a faculty position at Iowa?
Bonfield: Dean Ladd only hired from Harvard and Yale, and maybe Columbia. He came to Yale and interviewed me and Al Utton. He offered the position to Utton. I had been interviewing for faculty positions and had offers from other law schools but not teaching the subjects I wanted; one was the University of New Mexico (UNM). Utton was from New Mexico. I really wanted to come to Iowa because I could teach constitutional law here. Somehow after Utton talked to Ladd and I talked with UNM, we got the offers switched and I ended up at Iowa and Utton at UNM.
Hines: While I was working as a teaching fellow at Harvard, Dean Ladd came to interview potential teachers, but no one signed up to see him. In a panic, our supervisor conscripted three of us faculty fellows to sign up to be interviewed. Ladd called me at 11 pm one night two weeks later asking if I wanted to come to the UI College of Law next year. I explained to him that I had a two-year commitment to Harvard. He said go talk to Dean Griswold, who Dean Ladd was sure to recommend I take the Iowa offer. Instead, Griswold strongly advised me to stay and finish the fellowship. My wife and I wanted to get back to the Midwest, however, so I decided to accept the Iowa offer anyway.
What was your first day like at Iowa?
Hines: I felt very confident when I arrived. I had just spent a year teaching the brightest and the best at Harvard. In my first summer at Iowa I was surprised to be teaching a lot of students who were veterans, some much older than me. It was a lot tougher than my teaching experience at Harvard, but I survived and gained greater confidence from the new challenge.
Bonfield: I found my office and moved in. Dean Ladd informed me I’d be teaching a course called Restitution. I told him I had not ever had such a course in law school. He said, “You’ll learn it.” I did.
How is the process of educating future lawyers different than when you started?
Hines: The basic intellectual skills haven’t changed all that much. When we started, Iowa was still following the Harvard Law School model, flunking out roughly one-third of the first year class. In 1966, we started selective admissions and adopted Yale’s approach by having smaller classes, a larger number of faculty, and a much higher retention rate.
Bonfield: Today, we are teaching many more women and minorities. Their presence helped the educational process because it introduced viewpoints in the classroom that were not expressed 50 years ago. Today, we also make much more of an investment in the students admitted and fail out of law school far fewer students.
How have expectations for new faculty changed over the years?
Hines: For law school faculty, it’s more demanding now in teaching, scholarship, and service commitments. Excellent teaching is still expected, but faculty need to publish more. There now is structured release time from teaching to support research and writing.
Bonfield: Scholarship has become an increasingly important part of the job. When I joined the faculty, I immediately began producing substantial amounts of scholarship both because I wanted to and because it was expected.
What has been the most challenging and/or gratifying aspect of your careers?
Bonfield: Two of my biggest challenges also were extremely gratifying. First was law reform—getting people to adopt ideas I developed and make them law. It started with the Iowa Civil Rights Act which I drafted and then was successful in selling it to the Iowa Legislature, and then it was followed by similar successes in other statutes I drafted—the Iowa APA, Open Meetings Law, and public records laws. Second was the challenge and gratification that came after I was appointed associate dean in charge of the law library 26 years ago. At that time we were ranked 12th or 13th in size, and now we are the second largest law school library in the US. The third most gratifying aspect of my career was my teaching. I have always loved my teaching and found it extremely gratifying.
Hines: I spent 28 years as dean of the College of Law. I wanted to get the College greater national recognition for the quality of our educational program. As one way to do this, I tried to find occasions to get our faculty invited to national conferences to show off their quality in teaching and scholarship.
Bonfield: Bill did a great job of this. With other law schools you only see publications, but an inadequate emphasis on teaching and the educational program.
Hines: Also, polls and rankings do not reflect what happens for students at Iowa—the professionalization of students and their preparation for a lifetime of learning the law. Another major challenge I had was getting the Boyd Law Building planned, funded, and built. It was very gratifying to be at the center of the effort that created this wonderful facility, which still looks and feels new after 25 years.
Is there an event/moment that stands out in your memory of the last 50 years?
Bonfield: Success in the law reform work that I have done that significantly improved the administrative law system of Iowa.
Hines: Arthur and I have been involved in the wholesale redesign of Iowa legal education here. We followed the Yale model but took it a step or two further. We adopted small section classes in both semesters of the first year, and since we came, the size of the faculty has quadrupled. As dean, I took part in hiring more than 65 faculty members. We’ve hired some terrific colleagues over the years, many of whom have gone on to become leading authorities in their fields.
Another highlight was the dedication of the Boyd Law Building featuring Justice Harry Blackmun in 1986. There was great concern that there would be anti-abortion protestors who would mar the occasion, but there were no problems.
Bonfield: During the last 50 years, we have worked hard at moving the law school upwards in quality and substance, and I think we have been very successful.