Legal scholar and former University of Houston Law Center Dean Raymond Nimmer died Thursday. He was 73.
Nimmer taught at the law school since 1975, focusing his scholarship on commercial law, information law and intellectual property. He was dean from 2006 to 2013 and served one previous stint as interim dean from 1993 to 1995. The law school will soon announce details of a celebration of Nimmer’s life and career.
“He was one of the brightest, most hard working and well respected people to serve on our faculty,” said a statement by former interim dean Richard Alderman, who worked alongside Nimmer for 40 years and became interim dean after his resignation in 2013. He said Nimmer cared as much as anyone about making the school as great as it could be.
Over his 40-year legal academic career, Nimmer taught contracts, internet law, electronic commerce, bankrupty, secured financing law, copyright law, information law and more. He authored more than 25 books, including volumes on information law and the law of computer technology, modern licensing law and the law of electronic commercial transactions. Nimmer also served as co-director of Houston’s Intellectual Property and Information Law Institute.
Current dean Leonard Baynes said in a statement that Nimmer’s work gave the institute a national and international reputation, and that his service as dean advanced the school in ways that still benefit it today.
Nimmer stepped down as dean in February 2013 after performing the job for seven years. He took a one-year sabbatical and then returned to the classroom. When he resigned, he told faculty and staff that deans shouldn’t serve for an extended time and he was surprised he had served for so long. He had concerns about his health, and also believed the law school had achieved goals that he set for it, even during hard financial times. Nimmer explained that his goals had been to increase faculty, revise curricula, improve the school’s ranking, conduct international outreach, triple scholarship funds and revitalize the school’s alumni organization.
As he worked to increase the faculty, Nimmer showed himself to be “a big feminist,” said law professor Barbara Evans.
“He made considerable progress toward gender-balancing our faculty and successfully recruited a crop of women scholars who are now coming of age as full professors and leading scholars in their fields,” she said.
The school’s ranking did improve, noted law professor Sandra Guerra Thompson, because of Nimmer’s skillful recruitment of first-rate professors and students.
Thompson said that through his career, Nimmer made significant contributions including rewriting an important section of the Uniform Commercial Code and becoming a pioneer in the area of computer and information law.
“Ray Nimmer was one of the most influential legal scholars of his generation,” Thompson said. “As dean he was a fair-minded, innovative administrator.”
Angela Morris is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @AmorrisReports.