Inside USD

A Wealth of Experience: Lawrence Alexander

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Inside USD caught up with four dedicated, long-serving faculty members from across campus who have seen the University of San Diego change and grow throughout their time teaching. Together, these four faculty comprise over 150 years of teaching experience at USD, and have many insights, stories, and pieces of wisdom to share.

Lawrence Alexander is the Warren Distinguished Professor of Law for the University of San Diego School of Law. He joined the School of Law faculty in 1970. Professor Alexander teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, criminal law, and jurisprudence. He serves on the editorial boards of the journals Law & Philosophy, Ethics, Criminal Law and Philosophy, and the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. He is the co-editor of the international quarterly Legal Theory.

On a pleasant Wednesday morning, Professor Lawrence Alexander sits outside of Tu Mercado and diligently grades papers. A Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, Alexander joined the School of Law in 1970. Now, over four decades later, Professor Alexander continues to teach constitutional and criminal law to his students, grading papers just as he did 44 years ago. Even so, much has changed for the law professor in the years since he first arrived to USD, including the size and reputation of the school itself.

Professor Alexander speaks with clear pride as he discusses his professional home for the past 44 years. Hired initially as an assistant law professor, Alexander joined the USD School of Law when it was still a local school for San Diego students. In fact, he cites witnessing the growth of the USD School of Law as his most proud professional accomplishment in his years here. “The single-most important thing to know about the law school,” Alexander says, “is that it emerged from very humble origins.” The school started as a local law school with nightly classes, but has since expanded into a distinguished school with faculty of national reputation. “The quality of the faculty in terms of national reputation has changed astronomically,” he observes with appreciation.

Another proud accomplishment for Alexander has been achieving a good balance between his work and his personal life. “It is really important to keep a good work-life balance,” he notes. Professor Alexander often gives advice to his first-year law students to help them achieve this balance in their own lives: “What is really important is to be really organized and to budget your time,” he advises. “Exercise when your brain is tired of working and you need something physical. Make some time for your friends and family, but be very organized.” Ultimately, Professor Alexander says, “The race goes to the most organized.”

Moving forward, Professor Alexander would love to see the USD School of Law continue to grow and thrive, especially in terms of its faculty. Though there has been a down turn in the market for law schools, he is hopeful about USD’s ability to continue earning a positive reputation in the future. “What I would hope for is that the school would continue its trajectory in terms of the reputation of the faculty. The reputation of the faculty is what draws students ultimately,” he says. “That’s what I would like to see continue here.”

As for his own future, Professor Alexander plans to continue teaching at the USD School of Law. “I’m in good health and I’m enjoying what I’m doing,” he says, also noting that academic research is a constant for him. In his free time, he enjoys traveling the world with his wife, though he always returns to the University of San Diego. “I’m happy, which is why I’m still working here,” he notes. As one of the university’s most longstanding and distinguished professors, hopefully Professor Lawrence Alexander’s happiness at USD continues for years to come.

— Kristen Darling ‘15

Professor Alexander is the last profile in this series. Read our other profiles on Dwight Bean, PhD, professor of Mathematics and Computer Science; Iris Engstrand, PhD, professor of History; and Don Helmich, PhD, professor of Management Science.

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