Ithaca, NEW YORK, June 13, 2012
Heartfelt appreciation for the teaching and scholarship of Professor Emeritus Robert S. Summers has prompted an alumnus of Cornell Law School to create an endowed fund in his name. Beginning in the fall term of 2012, The Robert S. Summers Student Research Assistant Fund will provide compensation for Cornell Law students who work as research assistants for members of the Law School faculty.
The alumnus (who prefers to remain anonymous) established this endowment to recognize the supportive and fruitful working relationships that Robert Summers, who retired from teaching in December 2010, maintained with his research assistants. Former students, this donor included, are grateful for the intelligence and dedication Professor Summers brought to his professional activities. The donor’s hope is that the named fund will encourage former research assistants and students of Professor Summers to make gifts to it in his honor.
Robert A. Hillman ’72, the Edwin H. Woodruff Professor of Law, recalls working for Professor Summers as “a marvelous experience” largely for the relationship it inspired: “Bob became a mentor and true friend to each of his research assistants and he was dedicated to ensuring their success in all of their endeavors. Nor did the relationship between Bob and his assistants end upon their graduation. Bob and his assistants have become lifelong friends.” Betsy Summers Allehaut ’91 spoke for the Summers family in thanking the donor and said that her father “is honored and humbled by the creation of the fund. He dedicated his life to teaching, research, and scholarship. His student assistants were invaluable to him. My dad loved his students and the classroom. His family is grateful for this recognition.”
Stewart J. Schwab, the Allan R. Tessler Dean of Cornell Law School, emphasized the important role the Summers Fund will play in enhancing the education of Cornell Law students. “Being a research assistant for a faculty member is one of the most valuable educational experiences a law student can have. This fund is aptly named in honor of Professor Summers, because he had a wonderful rapport with his many student research assistants over the years and was able to give them an outstanding intellectual experience while in return learning so much from them.”
Known by his colleagues as an exemplary scholar of extraordinary productivity—a career of more than 50 years included the publication of 55 books and more than 100 articles—Professor Emeritus Summers was beloved by Cornell Law students for his intellectual generosity and personal kindness, qualities partly masked by an old-school Socratic method that gave more than one lL a case of sweaty palms. His students perceived, however, that this rigorous approach taught them to “think smarter”—with sharper focus and concision—to the end of achieving keener verbal facility in extemporaneous legal argument. These skills have served alumni of Cornell Law School well for several decades, thanks to the teaching of Robert Summers.
~ John A. Lauricella