Every year, Colorado Law gives the Clifford J. Calhoun Award to a faculty or staff member who contributes to the public service of the law school in the spirit and tradition of its namesake, Professor Calhoun. The former associate dean and professor died June 25, 2013 in Burlington, Iowa at age 76.
“He was an extraordinary human being,” said friend and former colleague, Art Travers. “A role model not only to his students, but also his colleagues.”
Calhoun spent 29 years teaching at Colorado Law. He graduated from Harvard University in 1958, then served in the army before attending Harvard Law School, class of 1963.
As a teacher, students and colleagues described Calhoun as a patient, understanding professor who took the time to make sure his students understood the material.
“He was humane as a professor,” former student Jane Christman (’82) said. “You come to law school and you are afraid they are going to use the Socratic method and stand up there and pick somebody out and torture them. He didn’t do anything like that.”
Christman said her graduating class appreciated his teaching style and voted him professor of the year. “The class as a whole really liked him,” Christman said. “He was just so nice, almost too nice to be a law professor.”
Friends and colleagues said he was known for being very warm and welcoming, making him a favorite with both students and staff.
“He was a superb teacher and an extraordinarily unselfish person,” said former colleague Dennis Hynes. “He was always thoroughly prepared and treated everybody fairly. And the staff all loved him.”
Calhoun served as more than just a professor, though. During his tenure, he served as associate dean, acting dean, and even wrote programs for the school when computers came into more frequent use.
“He was the unofficial IT guy and several times came to my office when my computer crashed,” Hynes said. “This was during the early years when we didn’t have IT people. Cliff was by far the most sophisticated person.”
Not only did he rescue malfunctioning computers, Travers said Calhoun’s background enabled him to write programs for the school.
“He was a math major at Harvard and when things started getting computerized here; he wrote programs for the law school.”
His time spent serving the Colorado legal community was recognized by the establishment of a scholarship in his name in 1998.
“The scholarship is given to somebody who is in the legal field and serving the public without trying to be recognized. To us, that’s what he was,” Christman said. “He was just behind the scenes doing the work, but not out to publicize it.”
Travers said Calhoun’s contributions were done quietly and without any expectation of praise, but had lasting effects within the community.
“His dedication to the state of Colorado and improving the lives of people here through the law is to what led to him having a service award named after him,” Travers said. “He set the bar so high that no one else could ever reach it. “
Calhoun retired in 1998 and moved back to Burlington, Iowa with his wife, Lindsay. There, he was involved in leading the Southeast Iowa Symphony, was a member of the Burlington Kiwanis, and enjoyed spending time walking his dog. He is survived by his wife, his son, William (Jill) Calhoun, and his daughter, Catherine (Ronald) Bosch.
A memorial service celebrating the life of Clifford Calhoun will be held on Tuesday, October 15 at 4 p.m. at Colorado Law in the Wittemyer Courtroom of the Wolf Law Building. Donations may be made to the Clifford J. Calhoun Scholarship Endowment Fund.