Former Dean of MSU Law dies at the age of 80

Michigan State University College of Law professor emeritus and former Dean Jeremy Harrison died April 16 in Okemos at the age of 80.

A San Francisco native, Harrison earned his J.D. from the University of San Francisco (USF) School of Law and practiced law for two years before returning to school and earning a Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School in 1962.

He then clerked for Judge James Durfee of the United States Court of Claims, during which time he taught Evidence and Real Property at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

He taught for one year at the University of Ghana and for two years at the University of Ife in Nigeria, before taking a tenured position at the USF School of Law.

He and his family lived in Ethiopia for three years where he taught at Haile Sellassie I University. After the family had to flee a revolution in Ethiopia, Harrison returned to the USF law faculty where he taught for several years.

He was a visiting professor for three years at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, and was appointed Dean in 1984, serving for a decade.

He taught for a year at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, before joining Detroit College of Law – now MSU Law – in 1996.

He served as Dean for two years, before returning to full-time teaching in 1998, with courses that included Conflicts of Law, Torts, Remedies, and Decedents’ Estates and Trusts.

Harrison retired in July 2012, becoming a Professor Emeritus; he continued his involvement with the MSU Law Inns of Court chapter he helped found.

“Jeremy Harrison was a soft-spoken Dean who took on a large task with assurance and confidence," said Professor David Favre.

“Dean Harrison joined the Detroit College of Law as it was in physical and institutional transition from downtown Detroit to the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing. He always had a positive attitude and was respected by all for his foresight and fairness.

“After making a significant contribution to the growth and transformation of the Law College in the role of Dean he stepped down to rejoin our teaching world, continuing with his positive attitude in the classroom.

“We remember him as an individual, a friend to talk with. We remember his smiles in the hallways, as well as his leadership of the College at a time of great need.”

Harrison is survived by his second wife, Laura; 12 children: 28 grandchildren, and two brothers.  He was predeceased by his first wife, Roseanne and two brothers.