KU Law community mourns passing of former dean

Thursday, January 09, 2020

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Law community is mourning the passing of former dean and longtime professor Martin Dickinson, who died Jan. 5 in Estes Park, Colorado. He was 81.

Dickinson was KU Law’s longest-serving faculty member. He gave 48 years to the law school, from when he started teaching in 1967 until his retirement in 2015. He served as dean from 1971 to 1980, overseeing a time period that included the dedication of the law school’s current home at Green Hall.

Martin Dickinson

He was a visionary leader, advocating for the advancement of diverse and female law students and faculty well before the legal profession as a whole began to do so, said Stephen Mazza, dean and professor of law.

“He was also a fantastic classroom teacher who truly cared about his students,” Mazza said. “KU Law alumni across the nation frequently recognize him as one of their favorite professors.”

By Dickinson’s own estimate, 4,000 law students passed through his classes during his nearly five decades as a professor. In a recollection of his tenure for the fall 2015 edition of KU Law Magazine, Dickinson described his time as “a fascinating ride that included revolutionary changes.”

Under Dickinson’s leadership, KU Law navigated a successful lobbying effort to fund the construction of its current home at Green Hall. The school had seen rapid growth due to booming demand for legal education in the early 1970s and had outgrown its former building, now known as Lippincott Hall.

Dickinson was a highly respected teacher and mentor, receiving the Immel Award for Teaching Excellence in 1997; the Moreau Student Counseling Award in 1988, 1995, 1997 and 2009; the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1988; and a Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2002. He was also a noted scholar of tax and estate law, serving as a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the American College of Tax Counsel and the American Bar Foundation.

“Martin Dickinson’s insightful leadership as an administrator and his dedicated approach to his craft as an educator will be remembered at our law school for many years to come. On behalf of the entire university, I offer my sincere condolences to his family, his friends and the many people whose lives he touched during his time at KU,” Chancellor Douglas A. Girod said.

Former students and colleagues remember Dickinson for his dedication to teaching, support of students and his professionalism.

“I was a member of Professor Dickinson’s first tax class in 1967,” said Terry Arthur, L’69. “He inspired me to become a tax attorney and gave me the knowledge to pursue that specialty in the law. I am sure he did the same for many other KU Law students over his 48 years of teaching. He expanded the excellent reputation of the KU School of Law as dean and was instrumental in the building of a new Green Hall. He will be missed.”

Dickinson earned a bachelor’s degree from KU in 1960 and a master’s degree at Stanford University in 1961, then completed his law degree at the University of Michigan in 1964. Before returning to KU, he worked as an associate at the Denver-based law firm of Holme, Roberts & Owen.

Professor Emeritus Mike Davis worked with Dickinson for 44 years on the KU Law faculty. Davis taught at KU Law from 1971 to 2015, and he served as dean from 1980 to 1989. He said while the longevity of Dickinson’s career is noteworthy, it was the substance of his time at KU Law that set him apart.

“His nine years as dean in the 1970s were a time of growth, increased quality and significant diversification of both the student body and faculty. Once back on the faculty, Martin settled into 35 years of stellar teaching, steady and prolific scholarship, and a firm footing in the practice of law he taught and wrote about. He became a valued friend of many of us experienced faculty members, as well as a successful mentor to many who came later,” Davis said.

“Perhaps most notably, throughout his lifetime he continued to grow as a person, becoming by his words and acts a man more fully immersed in the daily issues of our time. In short, Martin Dickinson was a remarkable individual, one who will live on for decades in the memories of his grateful students and colleagues,” Davis said.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri. Remembrances and condolences can be shared at allnuttestespark.com.

The family suggests memorial contributions to KU Endowment, in support of the Dean Martin B. Dickinson Teaching Award, kuendowment.org/givenow; and Hospice of the Estes Valley, Rocky Mountain Conservancy.

Kobach: Kansas justices score lower in quality comparison

"Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued Thursday the federal model of judicial selection placed higher caliber lawyers from Kansas on the U.S. District Court and U.S. Court of Appeals than the state’s existing approach for picking justices of the Kansas Supreme Court.

Kobach and Gov. Sam Brownback believe the Kansas Constitution ought to be amended to eliminate the nonpartisan merit selection system relied upon in Kansas to evaluate applicants for the state Supreme Court and to provide governors a choice among three finalists.

. . . 

Professor Martin Dickinson honored with Steeples award

Thursday, May 16, 2013

LAWRENCE – Through teaching, research, advising and mentoring, the faculty members of the University of Kansas serve a large audience through their work. Some go even further in their service to the state of Kansas. Three such faculty members have been honored for their exemplary contributions to the people of Kansas with the Steeples Service to Kansans Award.

The recipients of the 2013 Steeples award are Martin Dickinson, School of Law; John Hachmeister, visual art, and Kelly Kindscher, environmental studies.

Don Steeples, the Dean A. McGee Distinguished Professor of Applied Geophysics, and his wife, Tammy, established the award in 1997 to honor Don Steeples’ parents, Wally and Marie Steeples, and to recognize outstanding service by KU faculty to other Kansans. The award provides recipients with $1,000 and an additional $1,000 base adjustment to their salaries.

Martin Dickinson is the Robert A. Schroeder Distinguished Professor of Law. He was nominated primarily for his work relating to tax law and estate planning. Over four decades he has served on numerous state-level advisory committees relating to property taxes, income tax, estate tax and trust administration. These committees have suggested important revisions to Kansas law that have protected the elderly and helped ensure a fair system of revenue generation for the state. While serving as dean of the KU law school from 1971 to 1980, Dickinson created new admission criteria, recruited outstanding faculty and convinced legislators to fund a new building, all of which strengthened the school’s profile regionally and nationally.

John Hachmeister is an associate professor of sculpture in the School of the Arts. The Steeples Award recognizes his promotion of “the arts in the community” in and around Kansas. Perhaps the best example of this is his 25-year commitment to preserve and maintain the Garden of Eden folk art site in Lucas. Lucas has since been designated as the “Grassroots Arts Capitol of Kansas.” Hachmeister was also instrumental in developing a partnership between KU and the Kansas City School for the Blind. The program, Accessible Arts, connects KU art students with children at the Kansas City School for the Blind to create tactile objects used as learning aids for many subjects including math and science. Most recently, Hachmeister connected four area artists with a trustee to create four larger-than-life statues in Independence depicting works of Kansas-born playwright William Inge.

Kelly Kindscher, courtesy professor of environmental studies and ecology and evolutionary biology, has served the state of Kansas for more than 20 years as a voice for the environment of Kansas, especially its plants and prairies. Kindscher, who is also a senior scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey, has always focused on public education and engagement in his work, whether speaking to city and community groups, leading walks introducing Kansans to native plants and prairies or providing environmental advice across the state. Kindscher's research interests are focused on prairie and montane meadow plant communities, wetland and prairie restoration, conservation of Midwest/Great Plains ecosystems and ethnobotany.

Funds for the Steeples award are managed by KU Endowment, 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.

Glitch concerning deductions lurks in new Kansas tax law

A Kansas City Star article about conflicting information on deductions in the state's newest tax bill quoted Martin Dickinson, professor of law.

Cooper wrote:

The conflict surprised lawmakers on the House tax committee and leaves some doubt about the fate of the deductions — although the Legislature clearly intended to keep them in place.

“Obviously, it’s not certain because we have this inconsistency in the statute,” said Martin Dickinson, a tax specialist at the University of Kansas who has studied the tax bill passed by the Legislature.

The small business distortion

Martin Dickinson, professor of law, was quoted in a recent Huffington Post editorial on business tax breaks.

Johnson wrote:

South Carolina lawmakers are considering a similar tax break, and earlier this year, Kansas enacted one that is even more fiscally irresponsible (and no more economically justifiable) than North Carolina's. As University of Kansas tax law professor Martin B. Dickinson wrote, the change will "shift ... the income tax burden from the wealthy and prosperous to working people."

With Income Tax Changes, Kansas And Maryland Show Their True Colors

Novack wrote:

Critics point out, however, that the new Kansas exemption is not in any way linked to the size of the business, or to job creation and covers everyone from a self-employed orthodontist or plumber to the partners of big law and accounting firms to the owners of a handful of Kansas banks organized as S corporations. “All of the law firm partners will not be paying tax. All their associates and clerical personnel will,’’ says University of Kansas Law Professor Martin B. Dickinson, an expert in tax and estate law.


Brownback tax cut law produces winners and losers, KU tax law professor says

Martin Dickinson, professor of law, spoke to about 100 people at a Douglas County Democratic party meeting about the tax cuts that Republican Governor Sam Brownback signed into law.

Rothschild wrote:

Martin Dickinson, a Kansas University law professor and nationally recognized authority in tax law, said Saturday the tax cuts Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law will benefit the wealthy, produce revenue shortfalls and possibly prompt gaming of the tax system.

Kansas to see follow-up legislation on tax cuts

Professor Martin Dickinson was recently quoted in a story on a new Kansas law reducing state income taxes.

Hanna wrote:

But Martin Dickinson, a University of Kansas law professor who specializes in tax issues, said some provisions are flawed and unclear. For example, he said, the provision meant to exempt partners in a business from paying income taxes could still result in them facing taxes when income is distributed to them, not what lawmakers intended.

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