LAWRENCE — University of Kansas School of Law alumnus Art Piculell of Scottsdale, Arizona, has made a $500,000 gift to establish a professorship honoring the late Professor William R. Scott, who taught law at KU from 1947 to 1979.
“We just basically are paying back for what we got,” Piculell said. “Dee and I were very fortunate to get our educations and to benefit from that.”
The William R. Scott Law Professorship is the third professorship Piculell has established at KU Law. In 2014, Art and his late wife, Dee, established a law professorship honoring late Professor Earl Shurtz, and in 2004 they created the J.B. Smith Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law.
KU Law Dean Stephen Mazza expressed his gratitude for the gift.
“Art and Dee have been incredibly generous toward KU Law over the years,” Mazza said. “They have chosen to name the chairs they’ve established as tributes to Art’s former professors. But it’s the legacy of the Piculell family that will live on and benefit the next generation of KU Law faculty.”
Art met Dee at Emporia State University, where in 1959 they both earned bachelor’s degrees, Dee in music education and Art in psychology and sociology. The couple married and moved to Wichita, where Art became a social worker with the Sedgwick County Board of Social Welfare and Dee was a grade school teacher. Later, they moved to Scott City, where Art was the county welfare director of both Scott and Wichita counties, and Dee taught school. In 1962, they moved to Lawrence so that Art could attend law school. Dee taught grade school in Lawrence and served as president of the law wives’ club.
After Art’s graduation, the couple moved to Cimarron, where Art practiced law. In 1972, they moved to Portland, Oregon, where they started companies that focused on real estate development and investment. He and Dee divided time between Oregon and their home in Arizona before Dee’s death in 2014.
William Scott, affectionately known as “Scottie,” was a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1942 and served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps until 1946, when he left the service to join the faculty at KU. He taught more than 2,000 students during his 32 years as a professor at KU Law, and Art was among them. Scott earned a reputation as an authority on property law and contributed articles to the Kansas Law Review and the Kansas Bar Journal.
Scott, who was born in 1908 in Nevada, Missouri, died in 2002 in North Andover, Massachusetts. A remembrance by KU Law Professor John Peck after Scott’s death said, “Professor Scott was a rare individual: kind, compassionate, brilliant, happy, and witty; deeply religious, but never wearing his religion on his sleeve. He taught us property law so we could practice property law. Perhaps more importantly, he left us with many funny stories and happy memories.”
Scott’s dry witticisms were so well-known, Peck recalled a booklet of Scottie stories and jokes compiled by law students. Recollections included Scott’s conversations with students who complained about grades and his witty replies.
Piculell said he was fortunate to be able to take every course that Scott taught at KU and fondly recalled Scott’s passion and sincerity mixed with laughter. He recently recalled a story from a class:
“It was a Saturday morning class, and some students in the back row were falling asleep. Professor Scott quietly walked to the back of the room and said, ‘I have something very important to tell you in understanding the law, then you can go back to sleep. You will get a call one Saturday morning, and it will be a client. You will be in bed. All you have to say is, ‘The keys go with the house.’ Now you can go back to sleep.’”
KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
Photo: Art and Dee Piculell.