Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Makings of a Teacher: Ray Garrett, Jr., Chairman, SEC

Ray Garrett Jr. served as Chairman of the SEC, 1973-75. We plan to have a table for him, and commemorative page honoring him in the program at the SEC's 75th Anniversary Celebration Dinner for the Securities Exchange Commission, June 25, 2009.

Let us know of your interest in participating. Email me at .
In October 26, 1974, Ray Garrett, Jr. gave a speech at the Dean's Day Program of the NY University Law School, where he received the Distinguished Citizen Award. Ray Garrett Jr. had taught there in the summer of 1950.


An Address by
Ray Garrett, Jr., Chairman
Securities and Exchange Commission

Presented before
New York University Law School
Distinguished Citizen Award
October 26, 1974
New York City

This is a time for remembrance for me. My inclination to reminisce could easily exceed your tolerance, and I do not intend to search the limits of the latter. But I cannot stand here this afternoon, having received this most gratifying honor, without being full of recollections of my brief but rewarding formal association with New York University Law School.

I came down here from Cambridge in July, 1950, as the direct result of the persuasive powers of then Dean Russell Niles. I had stayed on a fourth year at Harvard as a teaching fellow, participating in the development of its group work program for first year law students. Dean Niles was interested in a similar program here, and I therefore had an attraction to him for that purpose. Furthermore, he was offering the then generous salary of $5,000 for the year, plus the opportunity to earn extras. With three small children, my wife and I could not afford to be indifferent to money.

We settled in the original Levittown, where some of my classmates were already living [there], and I made the acquaintance of the Long Island Railroad and commuting from Wantaugh. To help pay for the move, I was allowed to take over the second half of the summer night school course on civil procedure -- my half to be code pleading. Since that subject had produced my lowest mark as a student, the assignment was a challenging one such as only a hungry man with a hungry family would accept.

The course was scheduled for two nights a week in the old loft building around the corner. The older gentleman who had taught common law pleading for the first half of the summer, and who obviously had a strong distaste for such irresponsible innovations as code pleading and young squirts, introduced me to the class with that charming observation that you can always tell a Harvard man but you can't tell him much, and mercifully disappeared -- from my sight if not from my memory. Whereupon the class talked me into collapsing our two nightly sessions into one night a week for three hours.

So I began my formal teaching experience talking from seven to ten p.m. on sultry August nights on a subject that I had scarcely mastered, to 20 or 30 sleepy people, in a dreary room on the eighth floor of the old building with no air conditioning, and all the sounds and smells and soot blowing in through the open window. It was not the best way to teach or learn the law, but it was an effective test of stamina, and it made what came afterwards comparatively easy.

My first regular course for the day students came in the fall, and the subject was contracts -- something I felt more comfortable with than procedure. Here I thought I could start some kids off right with the tough Socratic method. Our first case was Hawkins v. McGee, of loving memory to a generation of law students weaned on Professor Fuller's casebook**, and I called on some poor, miserable soul toward the back of the large class to state the case. Naturally, everything he said was wrong and much of it foolish, which I made very clear to the class as I kept him nakedly exposed and suffering for half the period.

When it was over, I returned to my office in glowing satisfaction at such a fine beginning. Shortly afterwards, then Associate Dean Ralph Bischof invited me down to his office to discuss my first class and how it had gone. I gave him a glorious report which he listened to patiently and then said, "Ray, that first-year student has just left here and won't be back. He just resigned, saying he didn't come here to be embarrassed and publicly insulted."

"Well, Dean," I said, "with such a thin skin he probably would never make it as a lawyer."

"Possibly," replied Ralph, "but Ray, he was a Phi Beta in Philosophy from Columbia and had a very high LSAT score. Please don't scare away all of our more promising students."

It's awful what young and inexperienced teachers can do. No one had really ever been that cruel to me, and I was ashamed. I have often wished since then that young man has found a rewarding life elsewhere and has been able to forgive me.

That was all in the old building. The next year we moved to the new. No one who did not live through the transition can quite appreciate the excitement it produced. It was far more than an improvement in physical comfort. It brought with it the promise of great things to come, and they have come. I left for the practice in Chicago the next year, so I didn't stay around to help very long, but the school has become everything that Arthur Vanderbilt....

For full speech go HERE or copy and paste:

**From a blog about The Paperchase:

Who Was the Basis for Professor Kingsfield? (from Todd)

Can anyone tell me who was the basis for Professor Kingsfield's character in "The Paper Chase"? Kingsfield, of course, does the famous "hairy hand" case of Hawkins v. McGee in the first day of class. So presumably he is using Fuller's casebook on contracts, which as I understand it, used to begin with remedies. To the best of my knowledge during that age, Fuller's casebook was the only one that began with remedies. Did all Contracts professors at Harvard used Fuller's casebook during that era? ...So I assume hat Kingsfield was using Fuller's casebook, but was Fuller the inspiration for Kingsfield's character? See rest of the string HERE.

Ray Garrett, Jr. went on to become a wonderful teacher (ask me, his daughter) ... "While Ray was achieving greatness, he simultaneously taught the rest of us with a kind, measured demeanor. Few men possess such rare abilities and fewer still choose to employ them." (Jim Reynolds, American Bakeries Company)

Ray Garrett was known for his emotional intelligence.

"Ray was infected with the notion that collegiality was something to be sought." (Al Sommers)

ON CHOOSING AN SEC CHAIRMAN: Ray Garrett, Jr., a healer and a consensus builder

'You want someone who is technically proficient,' said Joel Seligman, the dean of the Washington University law school in St. Louis and a historian of the S.E.C. 'This is a very hard job to learn.'

Mr. Seligman pointed to the 1973 appointment of Ray Garrett Jr., a highly respected securities lawyer, after his predecessor, G. Bradford Cook, was forced out as a result of a scandal that made his honesty suspect. 'That is the kind of person you want, probably someone with an accomplished career in securities law, someone who will be a healer and a consensus builder,' Mr. Seligman said...."

Contact Susan Garrett Dunn, for more information. See memorial website here by his daughter, Nancy: .

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