UA Community Mourns Death of Law School Dean
Atkinson, 58, passed away unexpectedly while attending the annual American Bar Association meeting in
“Dick Atkinson’s leadership has given a very important part of the university a renewed vitality, building morale and feelings of goodwill among students and staff,” said Chancellor John A. White.
“In the two and a half years of his deanship, he has accomplished a great deal in fund raising, planning for new facilities, and encouragement of student and faculty achievement and diversity. This is a tremendous loss to the
Provost Bob Smith described Atkinson as “personally compassionate, and a thoughtful, caring leader.”
“His faculty and staff feel a great deal of affection and appreciation for him,” Smith said. “This is a huge loss for us all, but especially for his people. They have a great sense of pride about the
"I had the very great privilege of working closely with Dean Richard Atkinson over the past two and one half years, and had nothing but respect and admiration for him," said Carol Goforth, associate dean of academic affairs at the
"While it is true that he was the best dean that I have ever worked with, his untimely death will be felt far beyond the
Atkinson was the 10th dean at the University of Arkansas School of Law and began his two-and-a-half-year term
Atkinson joined the law school faculty in 1975 and served as interim dean for the 1990-91 academic year.
Atkinson received his Bachelor of Arts from
Atkinson has been one of two faculty members selected by the graduate class to participate in the hooding ceremony at commencement virtually every year since its inception in the early 1990s. He was chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, gave bar review lectures around the nation and also received state-committee appointments by the governor of
One of Atkinson’s colleagues, Bob Laurence, the Robert A. Leflar distinguished professor of law, wrote a peer review of Atkinson not long before he became dean and described him: “He is one of the best teachers in the law school, and has won the Professor of the Year Award so regularly as to make the claim to being the best teacher. His service to the institution, as well, is extraordinary, and here I do not just mean his formal committee work. He is, himself, an exemplar of 'community life.’ And he is one of the faculty members most fondly remembered by alums. As the years go by and his tenure lengthens here, I suspect that for many of our graduates, he is the University of Arkansas School of Law.”
Under Atkinson’s leadership, the School of Law was included among the "most diverse law schools in the country" by the 2006 U.S. News and World Report's “
In 2004, The National Jurist magazine ranked the
Long-committed to improving health care in the community, Atkinson was a member of the board of directors of
At the time of his appointment as dean, Judy S. Henry, a 1984 graduate of the law school and partner at Wright, Lindsey & Jennings L.L.P. in
Atkinson is survived by his partner Dr. Michael G. Hollomon, director of psychiatric services at
Details and arrangements for services are not known at this time but will be announced when they become available.
Effective immediately, the associate dean for academic affairs, Carol Goforth, will serve as acting dean of the
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