Remembering Prof. Beiser

January 7th, 2010

I have not written to Brown or the BAM since graduating, other than to send in annual-fund checks. The Farewell by Jeff Shesol '91 to Professor of Political Science and East Asian Studies Ed Beiser made me change that right away (Obituaries, November/December).

Professor Beiser's classes were the epitome of what you could hope for in a strong liberal arts curriculum. The Politics of the Legal System was without question the best class I have ever taken. Professor Beiser and his course were demanding, challenging, rigorous, occasionally intimidating, almost always entertaining, and, for all of those reasons, exciting. If you were able to respond when called upon with an answer that moved the discussion forward (even if to some degree at your own expense), you felt that you had really accomplished something. To do that more than once was significant.

My interest in working as a lawyer began in Professor Beiser's class. While my work as an attorney now has much more of a commercial focus than Professor Beiser's questions did, some of my work still allows me to get many of the same benefits I got from his class: to really think through a problem and develop a solution that works, to figure out how different pieces fit together and relate to one another, and to work with very bright people to enjoy the back and forth as we evaluate one another's ideas.

I was sad to learn that Professor Beiser was only sixty-five when he passed away. That means he was only thirty-three when I was in his class. That he was able to do what he did at what seems like such a young age—all the while enrolled at Harvard Law School—is all the more impressive. (Can you imagine having him as a fellow student in class there?)

I pass on my appreciation and condolences.

Ned Abelson '78
Wellesley, Mass.

What do you think?
See what other readers are saying about this article and add your voice. 
Related Issue
January/February 2010