Professor Kurtz Named David H. Vernon Professor of Law



On behalf of the College of Law, Dean Gail Agrawal is proud to announce that Professor Sheldon Kurtz, formerly the Percy Bordwell Professor of Law, was named the David H. Vernon Professor of Law as of April 1, 2014.  Professor Kurtz has been a recognized leader, teacher, and scholar for over forty years at the College of Law.  He succeeds the late Professor Randall P. Bezanson as the second holder of the David H. Vernon professorship.

The David H. Vernon Professor of Law was established to honor Professor and Dean Emeritus Vernon who passed away on November 5, 2001.  Vernon was a beloved teacher at Iowa for over 35 years.  He served Iowa Law as a visionary dean from 1966 to 1971 and established the College of Law as an innovator and leader in legal education.  The fund was established by the generosity of family, colleagues, alumni, and friends.  The inaugural David H. Vernon Professor of Law was Randall P. Bezanson who passed away on January 25, 2014.  Dean Agrawal explained, “The appointment of Professor Kurtz to this professorship is meaningful both as an acknowledgement of his contributions in teaching, scholarship, and service to the College of Law and in recognition  of  his deep personal and professional relationships with Professors Vernon and Bezanson.”

“Being named the Vernon Professor and succeeding Randy Bezanson in this Chair is one of the great honors of my life.  Both David and Randy have had an enormous influence on me but more importantly they were close and dear friends who I miss daily,” Kurtz said.

In the classroom, Professor Kurtz is an energetic and memorable teacher.  First-year students enjoy his Property Law course while upper level students benefit from his courses on Trusts and Estates, Health Law, and Business Associations.  He also pioneered a model legislative drafting seminar and teaches a unique medical seminar  in which law students spend one week at The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics observing and discussing the delivery of healthcare.

Kurtz, together with Professors Hovenkamp and Professor Carol Brown of the University of Richmond Law School, co-authored one of the leading casebooks on property law used in American legal education, American Property Law (West Publishing Company, 6th ed. 2012). Professor Kurtz also authored Introduction to the Law of Real Property (5th. ed. 2011). His research and scholarship interests have focused not only on property and health law issues but on estate planning as well. In addition to publishing numerous articles on estate planning, he is the author or co-author of numerous books, including the most widely used treatise on Iowa probate law (Kurtz on Iowa Estates, 3rd Edition, 1995) and the only comprehensive student treatise on the law of wills and trusts (Wills, Trusts and Estates, 2d. ed. West Publishing Company, 2001) (with McGovern and English).

“Across the United States and beyond, thousands of attorneys owe their understanding of property law to Shelly Kurtz.  Even if they never had the privilege of sitting in a classroom where Shelly himself was teaching, they spent a great many hours learning from him through his student-focused scholarly writing.  His work has an extraordinarily broad impact,” Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty Todd Pettys said.

His service to the College of Law is as extensive and exemplary as his teaching and scholarly work. In addition to his considerable service to the College of Law, he has served the University in a variety of capacities. He is the only person in the history of the University to have served twice as President of the University’s Faculty Senate.  His commitment to service is not limited to the University of Iowa.  He is a former Commissioner of Uniform State Laws from the State of Iowa.  As a commissioner, he has worked on the development of many widely adopted model laws. In particular, he was the Reporter for the revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 2006 that has been adopted in over 46 states. Most recently he is serving as Reporter for a revised Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. “Professor Kurtz’s activities as a drafter of legislation for enactment by state legislatures that reform and improve the legal system have been enormous,” said Professor Arthur Bonfield. “Indeed his contributions and success as a real world law reformer are a model to which law faculty experts should aspire.”

Kurtz is a life member of the American Law Institute and is a member of the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics and the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel.   In service to the profession, Kurtz chairs the Multistate Essay Drafting Committee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which drafts the essay examination for a number of states, and he is also a member of the Property Section of the Multistate Bar which prepares property questions for the Multistate Bar.

His complete faculty bio is available here.

In January, Professor Kurtz presented the 2014 George G. Wright Legacy Lecture.  A podcast of the lecture is available here.