Professor John A. Robertson’s Legacy Lives On

There is a newly designed space for Texas Law students, staff, and faculty to relax and recharge on the 5th floor of Jones Hall: the John Robertson Alcove, created in memory of the longtime and beloved professor who passed away in the summer of 2017.

“John loved art, music, books, and sunlight, all things he thought nourished the soul and made for deeper thinking and better work,” said Dean Ward Farnsworth. “This space provides all that, and we’re so pleased to honor his memory this way.”

The Alcove is made possible by the John Robertson Memorial Fund, to which many colleagues, former students, and friends of Prof. Robertson contributed. The design and creation of the space were overseen, “By a committee of some of John’s dearest friends and admirers,” noted Prof. Wendy Wagner, who, along with Professors Steve Goode and David Rabban, headed up that committee. The Law School’s Sylvia Hendricks was instrumental in realizing the committee’s vision.

Robertson, a renowned bioethics scholar, was the holder of the Vinson & Elkins Chair and a member of the faculty for over 35 years. He was honored in 2010 with the Lifetime Achievement award from the American Society for Law, Medicine & Ethics. Robertson was also a passionate collector of art, sharing that passion by choosing the dozens of works that line the law school’s fifth and sixth floors.

The Alcove sits nearly in the center of those floors, “A space we hope that you can enjoy reading, studying, admiring art, or resting,” said Wagner. “And if you are ever moved to do so, feel free to contribute a book to the shelf!”

The John Robertson Memorial Fund will also finance two summer student bioethics internships starting in 2020.

Concurrent with the opening of the new Alcove and the announcement of the summer fellowships in Prof. Robertson’s name, the law school hosted an October 31st faculty colloquium led by Harvard Law’s Prof. Glenn Cohen. “John put the field of law and bioethics on the law school map,” said Cohen.

Cohen’s colloquium—presented as a workshop-style session—honored Robertson’s pioneering work in bioethics with a new paper, “Informed Consent and Medical Artificial Intelligence: What to Tell the Patient?”

The John Robertson Memorial Fund is still accepting gifts, which will be used to support more student fellowships. Gifts may be made here.