Rewarding Integrity, Professionalism, and Scholarship – The William T. Schwartz Endowment
William T. Schwartz’s relationship with the College of Law began decades ago. He was a mentor to law students, he hired UW law graduates, and he participated in the college’s CLE programs. In his role as Wyoming State Bar President, he served as a key liaison between the state bar and the law school. Schwartz not only gave the College of Law his time and expertise, but he was also a proud monetary supporter of the college.
In 1998, he and his law partner created the William T. Schwartz and William S. Bon Law Scholarship. Then, in 2007, his law firm, Schwartz, Bon, Walker and Studer LLC, donated a sizable amount to the Brimmer Legal Education Center. After his death, his family created the William T. Schwartz Professor of Law endowment in his honor to ensure that his passion and dedication to law was passed down to future generations.
The William T. Schwartz Professor of Law endowment is awarded to a distinguished member of the law faculty who demonstrates a high degree of integrity, professionalism, and scholarship. The professor is chosen by the dean of the College of Law in consultation with the Schwartz family. The professor holds this prestigious position for 5 years, with the chance of renewal if there is continued evidence of high standards of teaching, scholarship, and integrity. The funds from this endowment can be used to enhance salary and to support the recipient’s teaching and scholarship activities.
In 2010, this distinguished professorship was awarded to Jerry Parkinson, who has been with the University of Wyoming since 1998. Parkinson served as the dean of the College of Law until 2009, and currently, he teaches civil procedure, civil rights, Indian law, sports law, and education law. Before coming to UW, he was a law professor and associate dean at the University of Oklahoma, where he won an outstanding teacher award three times.
“The honor of holding a professorship—particularly in the name of somebody like Bill Schwartz, who was not only a giant in the legal field but just an extraordinary gentleman—is probably more important to professorship-holders than stipends or anything else,” says Parkinson. “It’s the recognition that a senior-level professor gains with a named professorship that means an awful lot.”
William T. Schwartz was born and raised in Wyoming but went to school at the University of Nebraska, where he studied petroleum geology and received his bachelor’s degree in 1943. Right out of college, he served in World War II with the Fifteenth Air Force. By the end of his military career, he had flown 50 missions, had been promoted to First Lieutenant, and had been awarded the Air Medal, two Bronze Battle Stars, a Distinguished Unit Badge, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Upon his return to the U.S., he went back to the University of Nebraska and obtained his law degree in 1948, earning the prestigious Allen Moot Court Competition Award. He moved back to Casper in 1950 and took his first job with General Petroleum as legal staff. He served as the lawyer for Consolidated Royalty Company, then became president and managed a board and over 1,300 shareholders. His expertise was widespread, but his focus was in oil, gas, and minerals. In his distinguished career, Schwartz served as the president of the Wyoming Bar Association and the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation.
To honor his life and the influence he had on the legal system and the state of Wyoming, Schwartz’s family initiated a gift that was matched by state funds to establish the endowment. The donors include Mary Anne and Ron Barnes of St. Louis, Missouri, and their children; Susan and the late Jim Higgins of Belfast, Maine, and their children; Sally and Jim Belcher of Cheyenne and their children; and Bill and Cheryl Schwartz of Jackson and their children.
Parkinson is honored to be able to continue the tradition that Schwartz started and has used the funds to inspire students by enhancing the classes he offers. Last fall, he taught a class that focused on sports law and brought in a guest speaker from California, a nationally recognized leader in sports arbitration. This benefits students by exposing them to a practice of law that interests them and by giving them a potential career path. Visiting guest speakers give the students contacts in their fields who could potentially become mentors.
In addition, Parkinson uses the endowment to continue his scholarship, which includes his classes, public lectures, and continuing legal education programs. With these funds, he has completed three articles and is currently working on a book about NCAA enforcement and infractions processes—things he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish without the aid of the endowment.
“The benefits—at least to me—number one is just the honor of being associated with William T. Schwartz, number two is the opportunity to really know the Schwartz family, and third is the financial support that offers the practical benefits that otherwise wouldn’t be there,” says Parkinson.
The university’s mission is to prepare students for the future and turn them into critical thinkers and leaders—this cannot be accomplished without first-class faculty. Endowments from donors help the university succeed in its mission because they allow salary supplements, which are an important part of keeping senior faculty at the university. The William T. Schwartz Professor of Law endowment has made a huge impact on Parkinson, which in turn impacts how he teaches and influences students. But it’s the relationship with the Schwartz family that has had a lasting effect on the professor and the College of Law.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have been able over the last few years to really almost become a part of the Schwartz extended family,” explains Parkinson. “These kinds of professorships really do connect donors and professors in a way that is just unique and really special. I feel like the Schwartzes are my second family here in Wyoming.”
William T. Schwartz made a huge impact on the University of Wyoming College of Law and the legal profession in Wyoming. In addition to his donations, six members of his family have attended law school at UW—five of them have already graduated and the sixth is currently attending. His remarkable legacy has benefitted previous generations and will continue to make a marked impact on future generations.
Jerrry Parkinson, William T. Schwartz Professor of Law