November 25, 2013
Prof. Jim Mooney to retire after more than 40 years teaching
University of Oregon School of Law Professor Ralph James Mooney is bidding farewell to teaching after more than 40 years educating soon-to-be lawyers. His last class will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
Mooney has taught at the School of Law since 1972, when he left his legal practice in San Francisco. As the Contracts professor for numerous first-year law students, it didn't take long for him to earn the reputation as one of the school's most academically rigorous and beloved professors. In fact, one of the law school's enduring traditions is the annual Mooney Roast during which students, after making their way through the grueling two-semester Contracts course, have the opportunity to take their shots at the professor during a lighthearted exchange of gibes.
Mooney is a true Eugenian. Born in Pendleton but raised in Eugene since age five, he attended Bailey Hill grade school and Woodrow Wilson Junior High (both now shuttered or torn down) and South Eugene High School. At South Eugene High School he served as student body president and played football for the Axemen. In 1961, as a high school senior, Mooney was the recipient of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce's Future First Citizen Award. He and his wife, Lesley, raised their two children, Richard and Katherine, in Eugene.
To say that Mooney has had an accomplished career is a drastic understatement. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, then practiced law for four years in San Francisco, primarily litigating in both federal and state courts and administrative agencies. Since he began working at Oregon Law, he has developed an incredible collection of accolades including, but not limited to: inaugurating the teaching of American Legal History at the Law School in 1975, the 1976 Law School Teacher of the Year Award, 1990 Burlington Northern Foundation Award, and in 1999 Oregon Law’s Orlando John Hollis Award for teaching, among many others.
In addition to genuinely outstanding classroom teaching, Mooney developed a widespread reputation as an excellent, productive scholar in the fields of American Legal History and Contract Law. For example, he published two lengthy, landmark articles on the life and career of Matthew P. Deady, Oregon's first federal judge, as well as three others on the Oregon Constitution and the formative-era work of the Oregon Supreme Court. His extensive work on Contract Law also has been cited by many other leading scholars in the field, both nationally and abroad. Mooney taught a year in New Zealand, another in Australia and has lectured in France, Italy, Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia.
An example of his acclaim as an outstanding professor is the Oregon Law Review's "Tribute to Jim Mooney" issue (http://law.uoregon.edu/org/olrold/archives/87/tribute.pdf) that was published shortly after Mooney announced his retirement plans.