Gift Endows First Law Chair

Gift Endows First Law Chair

Family law expert Sanford Katz appointed to Libby Chair

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

Boston College Law School Dean John H. Garvey announced last week that family law expert Sanford Katz, a 32-year member of the faculty, has been appointed inaugural holder of the school's first gifted endowed chair, the Darald and Juliet Libby Chair in Memory of Michael G. Pierce, SJ.

Established through a $1.5 million gift by Darald Libby, JD '55, and his wife Juliet, the chair honors the New Hampshire couple's late friend and mentor Rev. Michael G. Pierce, SJ, of the Jesuit Mission Bureau in Boston. Darald Libby is chairman of the board of David Clark Co. in Worcester.

"This is a great honor, and it is fitting that it will go to someone of Sanford's distinction," said Garvey. "He has served the Law School with warmth and energy for more than three decades. He has won international acclaim for his work in family law. He embodies in many ways the qualities that the Libbys wished to celebrate, and that we at Boston College prize."

When Law School Dean Robert Drinan, SJ, hired him in 1968, Katz said, "he told me what BC's ideals were: scholarship, teaching and service to others. He wanted me to become a leading scholar in family law and to instill in our students a respect for the majesty of law.

"BC has helped me to achieve these goals, and I am extremely grateful to the Libbys, the Law faculty and the University administration," said Katz, citing University President William P. Leahy, SJ, and Vice President and Assistant to the President William B. Neenan, SJ.

Katz, who also has taught at the Catholic University of America School of Law and University of Florida College of Law, is the author of hundreds of articles and a major textbook on family law. He is a former president of the International Family Law Society and past chairman of the family law section of the American Bar Association.

In addition, Katz has written a number of model statutes on adoption and termination of parental rights, and has worked with state legislatures in crafting laws he describes as helping to "humanize the divorce process." He is widely viewed as the architect of subsidized adoption, in which public funds are provided to the adoptive parents of children with medical problems or histories of abuse. The funds help offset the considerable cost of their care and thus enhance the children's prospects for adoption.

Law School Dean John H. Garvey (left) with Sanford Katz, the inaugural holder of the Darald and
Juliet Libby Chair in Memory of Michael G. Pierce, SJ. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Katz is co-directing a project on Anglo-American family law titled "Cross Currents," co-sponsored by Oxford University, which will result in a book to be published by Oxford University Press. He also is a special contributor and consultant for the fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, published by Houghton Mifflin Co.

A 1955 graduate of Boston University, Katz earned his juris doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1958 and attended Yale University as a US Public Health Fellow during 1963-64. He also has been a visiting fellow at All Souls and Pembroke colleges at Oxford University.

As a top executive at David Clark, Darald Libby helped develop the company, once known primarily for manufacturing girdles, into a multi-million dollar enterprise. The firm gained notoriety in the early 1960s for designing the suits worn by astronauts such as John Glenn, Ed White, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell. David Clark Co. now produces specialized communications systems and devices as well as protective equipment for aerospace and emergency medicine.

Libby retired from the company in 1989 but continues to serve as chairman of the board.

Juliet Libby, who as a girl kept the books for her father's coal and heating oil business, went on to become a certified public accountant. After marrying Darald in 1946, she devoted her financial skills as a volunteer in various church and social groups. She taught catechism classes at St. Paul's Parish in Worcester, organized children's programs and studied art and calligraphy.

The Libbys named the Law School's first endowed chair in honor of their friend, Fr. Pierce, whom they befriended through the retreats he conducted at Campion Hall in Weston, The friendship continued when Fr. Pierce moved to the Jesuit Mission Bureau in Boston. Fr. Pierce died in March of 1998.

"We wanted to find some way to honor him," said Darald Libby, interviewed after announcing the gift. "He had a great sense of humor. He was always doing something for others."

"We've done very well, better than we ever deserved," said Juliet Libby. "God has been good to us and we feel we have to share, to pass it on. In this world, some people try to amass a fortune. We like to give it away and have the pleasure of doing it while we're alive."

 

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