Home » News » September 28- Seventeen members inducted into charter Hall of Fame at Stetson University College of Law

September 28- Seventeen members inducted into charter Hall of Fame at Stetson University College of Law


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Gulfport, Fla. - Stetson University College of Law recently honored the dedication and contributions of 17 alumni, faculty and friends with its newly established Hall of Fame. The charter members were inducted during a banquet on Sept. 19.

Dean Darby Dickerson chaired the 10-member panel that selected the inductees. “To have been selected for the Hall of Fame, a candidate must have reached and remained at the pinnacle of his or her field for a period of time sufficient to demonstrate perseverance and maturation or must have affected a profound positive influence on the College of Law,” she said.

The inductees include: (click name to view photo)

Edith M. Atkinson ’22
Edith M. Atkinson was the first female Stetson law school graduate to become a judge.

Charles A. and Eleanor N. Dana
The Danas were strong financial contributors to the College of Law after its move to Gulfport.

Richard T. Dillon ’57
Soon after graduating in 1957, Richard Dillon was named librarian and an assistant professor of law at Stetson. In 1959, he was named first assistant dean of the law school and held this post continuously until his appointment to dean in September 1968. He served as Stetson’s law dean for 13 years. His administration was characterized by extensive physical improvements and tremendous academic growth.

J. Ollie Edmunds ’28
Dr. Edmunds was the first university-trained lawyer and Stetson law school graduate to assume the presidency of Stetson University He was associated with Stetson University for 60 years, from 1921 when he enrolled as an undergraduate student his retirement as chancellor. He was president when the law school moved from DeLand to Gulfport.

Bruce Jacob ’59
Twenty-two years after graduating from Stetson University College of Law, Bruce Jacob returned to his alma mater to serve as dean for 13 years. In his years as dean, Jacob guided the College of Law to significant changes in legal education. Dean Jacob established the Elsie and Ed Jacob Scholarship Fund in memory of his parents. Dean Jacob, who also served as dean at Mercer, continues to teach at Stetson.

Frederick B. Karl ’49
Fred Karl made countless contributions to Florida residents throughout his long career. He has led several of Florida’s major public institutions, serving as a Florida Supreme Court justice, state representative, state senator, state public counsel, county administrator, county attorney, city attorney, gubernatorial candidate and hospital CEO.

Elizabeth A. Kovachevich ’61
Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich was the only woman in her graduating class at Stetson University College of Law. She was the first woman circuit court judge in Pinellas County. President Reagan nominated her to the federal bench, and from 1996 to 2003, she served as Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Judge Kovachevich has served on the College of Law’s Board of Overseers, and she also started the federal judicial internship program for Stetson students.

Calvin Arnold Kuenzel
Calvin Arnold Kuenzel was a celebrated Stetson law professor who taught almost four decades until his death in 1998. Legendary for his demanding style of teaching, Professor Kuenzel was held in awe by generations of students who took his first-year contracts course. Professor Kuenzel served as assistant dean at Stetson from 1969 to 1975 and was appointed the LeRoy Highbaugh Sr. Professor of Law in 1981. He died in 1998, just as he was planning to retire from full-time teaching.

James Nemec ’36 and Ruth Nemec

The James and Ruth Nemec Auditorium at the College of Law and Nemec Hall on Stetson’s DeLand campus are both named in recognition of their generosity. They established the James and Ruth B. Nemec Scholarship Fund at Stetson and co-founded the Palm Beach Friends of Stetson University.

Perry Nichols ’37
Perry Nichols was one of the nation’s most successful trial lawyers and president of both the American Trial Lawyers Association and the International Trial Lawyers Association. A charter member of the Law Center Foundation and the Stetson Law Board of Overseers, he served as chairman of each. Nichols gave generously of his time, talent and finances at some of the most crucial moments in the College of Law’s history.

Harold L. “Tom” Sebring
Harold L. “Tom” Sebring served as dean of the College of Law from 1955 to 1968. Dean Sebring served as the head football coach for the University of Florida before giving up football for a legal career. He served as a circuit judge, Florida Supreme Court justice and chief justice. After World War II, he was a judge for the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.

William Reece Smith Jr.
Professor William Reece Smith’s relationship with the law school dates back to 1954. He has served as distinguished professorial lecturer at Stetson University College of Law since 1991. He has served as Presidents of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, Florida Bar, National Conference of Bar Presidents, American Bar Endowment, American Bar Foundation, American Bar Association and International Bar Association. Smith has diligently worked to improve access to legal services to the poor for more than 40 years. He founded Florida Legal Services and served as its first president. The courtroom in Stetson’s Tampa Law Center is named in his honor.

Lewis H. Tribble ’15
Dean Lewis Tribble was a member of the faculty of Stetson University Law School for 17 years, serving 10 of those as dean. He fought for the law school’s accreditation and kept the school financially afloat during the Depression years.

William Amory Underhill ’36
William Amory Underhill was a Stetson University trustee from 1977 to 1986 and served as a member of the College of Law Board of Overseers for more than 20 years, serving as chair for 18 of those 20 years. Stetson recognized his many years of service by naming him trustee emeritus in 1994. He was the 1988 recipient of one of Stetson’s highest honors, the Doyle E. Carlton Award for outstanding service to the university and to higher education.

W. Gary Vause
Dean W. Gary Vause served Stetson University College of Law for 28 years as law professor, assistant dean and four years as dean until his death in May 2003. He spearheaded construction of Stetson’s new Tampa Law Center. Dean Vause established or contributed greatly to a number of other Stetson programs, including its Master of Laws program in International Law and Business; the dual J.D./M.B.A. degree program and summer abroad programs in Granada, Spain, and Tallinn, Estonia. He also expanded Stetson’s curriculum in health and elder law.

Hall of Fame Banquet photos