Stephen Kanter

Profile on Stephen Kanter, former law school dean and professor, who retired after 39 years of service.

Years of service: 39

What was your path to Lewis & Clark?

In the summer of 1971, after I graduated from Yale, Dory and I moved to Oregon. I took some time while preparing for the bar exam to meet with a variety of people doing interesting things with law and public policy, including members of the Lewis & Clark faculty. Shortly after that, I became the fourth lawyer at the newly formed Metropolitan Public Defender, where I represented indigent criminally accused individuals. Lewis & Clark gave me the chance to teach criminal procedure as an adjunct professor. I enjoyed teaching and deepened my contacts with the law school; we hired several graduates as the public defender’s office grew. The law school hired me for a tenure-track position in 1977 to teach in my preferred areas of criminal law and procedure and constitutional law. The rest, 39 eventful years later, as they say is history.

What have been your favorite courses to teach? 

Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, First Amendment Seminar, and Constitutional Theory Seminar.

What have you enjoyed most about your work?

Teaching and working with our students and my faculty and staff colleagues, altogether exceptional and wonderful groups of people.

What do you consider to be your most memorable moment?

There have been many, but I’ll select one from 35 years ago: arguing before the Oregon Supreme Court as friend of the court the unconstitutionality of the 1978 Oregon death penalty, with some current and former students in attendance.

What’s something people might not know about you?

I wrote a children’s book, The Bear and the Blackberry. And I helped lead the unsuccessful effort to bring major league baseball to Portland in the early 2000s.

What is your favorite place on campus?

Two of my favorite places are the amphitheatre on a pretty spring day, with students and faculty sitting, chatting, and working; and the faculty reading room, with its majestic floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the trees of Tryon Creek Park.

What will you miss?

Our vibrant community and colleagues, faculty, students, staff, and alumni.

What are you most proud of?

The contributions of so many of our alumni to their communities, and my role as dean in helping our ongoing effort to build a unique law school that maintains the highest standards of intellectual rigor and open inquiry in an environment that is remarkably collaborative and supportive.

What’s next for you?

The next chapter of life—I never know for sure what that will be. Certainly it will include travel, hiking, reading, family, and friends. Oh, and we have a new puppy. As I turn 70 this summer, I am not only stepping down at Lewis & Clark but also acknowledging that my days playing adult hardball baseball are over—though I might still be available for a cameo appearance. I wish everyone the very best and thanks for all the great friendship and memories!