Oregon’s Marine Pioneer: Jon Jacobson (1939- 2014)

For more than three decades, Professor Emeritus Jon Jacobson taught contracts, the law of the sea, and international law courses with generosity, enthusiasm, humor, insight, and immense kindness to Oregon law students until his retirement in 1999. During his more than thirty years of teaching, Jon inspired multitudes of students to pursue careers in public interest marine management, policy, law, and advocacy. Jacobson passed away in August of this year.

Jacobson was born and raised in small town Algona, Iowa. He received his bachelor’s and legal degrees from the University of Iowa. Despite his land-locked upbringing, Jacobson soon became one of the world’s most respected scholars on the international law of the sea.

His professional accomplishments are endless. He was twice a Fulbright scholar at the University of Oslo’s Scandinavian Institute of Marine Law and served as editor in chief of the Ocean Development and International Law journal. He served on the US Department of State’s Advisory Committee on the Law of the Sea and was instrumental in the creation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He is the author of numerous textbooks and dozens of articles on marine law and policy.

“Jon Jacobson was a giant in the field of ocean and coastal law and a dear colleague of mine,” said fellow Oregon law ocean and coastal law professor Richard Hildreth. “I will be dedicating my Ocean and Coastal Law course to Jon for the remainder of my career.”

In addition to his amazing professional endeavors, Jon will be remembered as a truly good person, practical and kind to the core. Faculty members at the University of Oregon School of Law had the following to say about Jon:

“Jon was a real pioneer in our international environmental and natural resources law work. But beyond all that, he was a really nice man. He will be missed.” 

“He was a true gentleman with a vast capacity for kindness and forgiveness. A giant in the field of public international law. I will miss him terribly.”

“Jon was an outstanding teacher who was admired and respected by generations of students. He was a wonderful colleague who will be missed.”