Santa Clara University

Herman Levy, 1929-2004
Herman Levy 

Herman Levy

Law professor Herman M. Levy passed away in Oroville on Monday, April 5, the day before his 75th birthday.  He was a resident of San Jose and had taught at the SCU School of Law since 1971.


Levy was a passionate advocate of the interests and concerns of his students, and a lively and consistent presence not only in the classroom but also in many extracurricular settings.


Drawing from the labor-management disputes to which he devoted so much of his professional energy, he was always on the alert for the possibility that the interests and concerns of his students and co-workers were not being adequately respected and protected.


“He always was the champion of the underdog.”
— A former law student 
As one of his former students observed in 2003:  “He always was the champion of the underdog, taking on issues that have no impact on his life at all—whether they are for students in the law school or for inadequate parking for people with handicapped privileges.” 


Although he had struggled with health difficulties for many years, the suddenness of his passing stunned the law school community.


Law school dean Donald J. Polden said, “Herman was widely admired here and held in great affection by his colleagues and students, past and present.” 


Despite a legal dispute with the Law School administration in recent years—a dispute which was settled in 2003—Levy remained devoted to his students and the Law School and established the Herman M. Levy Endowed Scholarship to assist Santa Clara law students interested in careers in employment law. 


Levy grew up in western Pennsylvania, received his B.A. in History from the University of Pittsburgh and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1954.  He served for two years with the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps in Germany, and he then practiced law as an enforcement attorney for 13 years with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. before coming to Santa Clara.  He also studied at Oxford University, which in 1968 conferred on him a Diploma in Comparative Labor Law.


As a law professor at Santa Clara, he continued to develop his expertise in labor law, teaching that course for many years in addition to teaching contract law, arbitration, and sports law.


He was named Outstanding Professor of the Year in 1977 and was President of the University’s Faculty Senate in 1988-89.  Levy also was an experienced and active labor arbitrator, and was in Oroville at the time of his death to conduct an arbitration.   


Herman Levy is survived by two nephews and their families, Barry and Jane Smith of New York City, and David and Karen Smith of Montclair, New Jersey.  He leaves a legion of friends, students, and colleagues whose lives were improved by his presence, and also leaves his devoted and beloved dog, Lucy.   Persons wishing to make contributions in his memory are requested to designate them for the Herman M. Levy Endowed Scholarship and to send them to the Office of the Dean, School of Law, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real,  Santa Clara, California 95053.

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