Farewell, Ed Beiser

March 23rd, 2010

I want to thank Jeff Shesol '91 for his heartfelt tribute to Edward Beiser ("He Asked the Big Questions," Obituaries, November/December). Professor Beiser was an important figure in my time at Brown, and even influenced my decision to become a health-care attorney. Although at times his Socratic method— unique in my experience at Brown—made me nervous, I can honestly say that I never learned more than in both his Law and Society and Law and Medicine courses.

Thirty years ago Professor Beiser raised health care issues we still struggle with today: surrogacy, egg and sperm cell donation, and end-of-life care. He certainly was well ahead of his time, and prescient in his insights into current health care conflicts. Anyone who took his course can certainly echo my thoughts about how much we learned from him, and how much we enjoyed struggling with the challenging questions he raised. Professor Beiser will be sorely missed, but he will never be forgotten as an irreplaceable Brown institution.

Thank you again for a worthy tribute in your magazine.

Jackie Baum Bechek '80
Needham, Mass.



I'm very glad to have Jeff Shesol's vivid memoir of Professor Beiser. Beiser's insistence that he was not teaching a law course may not be fully, as he'd say, "exactly correct." The Beiser approach to understanding judicial behavior enriched my satisfaction as a litigator. I think he'd dispute that PoliSci 116 was worth more than three years of law school, but my JD surprisingly did not require me to study his teaching texts: Cardozo's The Nature of the Judicial Process, Murphy's Elements of Judicial Strategy, and the writings of the legal realists.

Pre-law course or not, Professor Beiser gave me a great start in that big Salomon auditorium. Zikhrono l'vrakhah [May his memory be for a blessing].

Samuel Press '76
Burlington, Vt.




"If I do nothing else this semester, Mr. Richman, I will teach you to express yourself clearly." We were in a senior seminar for law-and-society concentrators. With only nine of us in the class, there was nowhere to hide, and on that day Professor Beiser focused his attention on me.

It was with great sadness that I read of Ed Beiser's passing in the BAM. I can still clearly see Professor Beiser peering through his thick lenses, rocking on the balls of his feet, a look of pure relish on his face as he posed yet another probing question. He accomplished his goal and more that semester, the first that law and society existed as a concentration. He always challenged us to dig deeper, to make connections, and, yes, to express ourselves with precision.

Robert Richman '80
Minneapolis, Minn.


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