Seven retiring original GSU College of Law faculty honored at 30-year mark
Contributions from this core group – including L. Lynn Hogue – built the law school from scratch

The Georgia State University College of Law marks a milestone this week as seven original faculty retire after 30 years, with a May 9 reception honoring their contributions.

These professors took a risk to come to a fledgling law school that needed their help to become accredited. Over the years, their steady foundation of leadership and passion boosted the College of Law to national prominence late last year as preLaw magazine’s best value among all U.S. law schools. They are also donors as well.

“I don’t just work here, I believe in the place,” said L. Lynn Hogue (left), well known for his challenging constitutional law classes. “I believe in what we do and what we are, and I believe in backing that understanding with hard-earned dollars.”

The earning sprang from the learning, and Hogue counts himself as a student as well as professor. That two-way circuit of knowledge is what keeps him in the classroom, as he continues to teach beyond his 2010 retirement – as long as possible, he said.

“There’s always something new when you teach,” he said. “Law changes all the time. New issues arise, so there’s always a challenge in how you teach something that is constantly evolving. I stay fresh in what I deal with, and what I deal with stays fresh all the time.”

Hogue, along with peers Mark Budnitz, Anne Emanuel, Bernadette Hartfield, Nancy Johnson, E. R. Lanier and Charles Marvin, will retire at the end of this academic year.

The milestone attracted alumni such as Dana Carroll (J.D., 2008) to post tributes on the College of Law’s website.

“I can’t even remember the topic, but when a student began to recite an answer Professor Hogue interrupted, saying, ‘I don’t want to know what the book says. I want to know what you think!’,” Carroll wrote.

“It was a light bulb moment for me in law school – to begin not only reading and memorizing material, but to digest it and form opinions…. Thank you for teaching me to think again.”

A new law school meant a blank slate for expectations of what a professor should be. Hogue is a film buff whose favorite movie is “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” about a struggling music teacher. Hogue observed that his career began in the era of the stern Professor Kingsfield from “The Paper Chase,” and evolved into the culture-savvy law students of “Legally Blonde 2.”

As the practice and perception of law changed, Hogue drew upon the curiosity and passion nurtured in him by teachers along the way, who remained his mentor into their 90s. Georgia Bowman, his debate coach at William Jewell College in Missouri, “was encouraging and supporting and yet demanding – everything you would want,” he said, as an example of his influences. “She was very inspiring, just what you would want from a great teacher.”

At the core, Hogue’s mission didn’t change. He points to a favorite quote from Columbia University’s Andrew Delbanco: “Professor means someone professing a faith. Surely this meaning is one to which we should still wish to lay claim, since the true teacher must always be a professor in the root sense of the word – a person undaunted by the incremental fatigue of repetitive work, who remains ardent, even fanatic, in the service of his calling.”

As the law school moves into its fourth decade, the service of Hogue and colleagues has left a lasting impact on students such as Martha Baum Carlton (J.D., 1986).

“Professor Hogue, I still feel so awed by your teaching and devotion to your students that I must call you ‘Professor,’ “she wrote. “You were the ultimate professor for me. You made me go way beyond what I thought I could do. You inspired me to become a much better person than I was. Law school, as difficult as it was, became more palatable due to your diligence and inspiration. I will never forget you.”

—By Michelle Hiskey; Contact Kim Cretors (404) 413-3424