After a decade spent stewarding the renovation of Myron Taylor Hall, it was only fitting that Stewart J. Schwab’s portrait was unveiled in the building’s new lobby, with Dean Eduardo Peñalver describing the fifteenth dean as one of Cornell Law School’s great builders, whose vision for the new academic wing dramatically reshaped the way generations of students will experience their education.
“His portrait rightly belongs among those of his predecessors,” said Peñalver, leading the champagne toast on November 6, with Schwab surrounded by family, friends, colleagues, advisory council members, and current Torts students. “The skill and grace you brought to your work as dean are a continuing example to me, and on this occasion, we have the opportunity once again to thank you for your tireless service. You finished your deanship with the Law School in better shape than when you began, and that is the highest compliment anyone can pay to a dean.”
Then, lifting the cover, Peñalver unveiled the formal portrait by William Benson, and all of a sudden, there were two Stewart Schwabs in the room, one in oil and the other flesh and blood. On the canvas, Schwab sits at his desk, with shelves of law books behind his left shoulder, a photo of all ten family members on his desk, and his right hand thoughtfully supporting his chin. In real life, standing beside the easel, the other Schwab carefully studied his image, talked about how much Benson had taught him about composition, and questioned whether he was old enough to have his portrait hung in the Gould Reading Room.
“I really am touched, humbled,” said Schwab, the Jonathan and Ruby Zhu Professor of Law, praising his own role model, Peter W. Martin, the Law School’s twelfth dean, before turning his attention back to the sixteenth. “Continue to do the great work you’re doing, knowing you have the help and support of everyone here. I’m sure the best days of Cornell Law School are ahead of us, but as we all know, you will have some weighty decisions to make in the future:
“Standing or sitting?” he joked. “Hands clasped or hands apart?”