31 Years of Generosity

Posted On May 21, 2013

“Before Google, there was Jim, and I’d venture to say his signal to noise ratio is better,” said Patrick Wiseman, professor of law, in tribute to James L. Bross, retiring professor of law and founding faculty member of the college.

“He’s a font of information, much of it useful,” Wiseman said during Bross’s retirement luncheon on May 17. “I’ve often imagined that in retirement he’ll appear on ‘Jeopardy;’ I’m pretty sure he could beat Big Blue, Hal, or whatever IBM’s computer was called.”

During the luncheon, former students and colleagues alike reminisced about Bross and his generosity. The college presented him with season tickets to the Atlanta Opera and a bound copy of his Property casebook.

For 31 years, Bross has served on the admissions committee, mentored new faculty members and taught scores of students at Georgia State Law.

“Jim is generous in his assumptions of all of us, that we are all as cultured and well-informed as he is, that we will catch all of his references,” said Kelly Timmons, associate dean for student affairs and associate professor of law. “I can admit here, now, that, Jim, I am not as culturally astute as you think, but I appreciate your belief that I am.”

Timmons agreed that if she or any other faculty member appeared on the hit television show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” when she started at the college in 1999, “Jim Bross would be our ‘Phone a Friend.’”

Wiseman and Timmons credited Bross with providing the college’s grading formula.

“What members of the faculty may not know is, if you’ve been using the grading spreadsheet provided by the school, you’ve been ‘embrossing’ your grades,” Wiseman said. “That spreadsheet embodies a formula he supplied us with years ago. I’ve been using a variant of it to ‘embross’ my grades since grading my first Property exam back in 1985.”

Bross’s generosity extended to his students, especially the part-time ones, Timmons said. “And when some of those students, struggling to balance law school with full-time employment and families, didn’t perform as well on the Property I as they had hoped, Jim was very willing to make time to meet with them, at a time that was convenient for them,” she said.

Les Oakes (J.D. ’86), partner at King & Spalding, called his Property course “happy hour” with Bross. “Professor Bross provided a sense of entertainment which was not to be underestimated.”

Jim Altman (J.D. ’85) said Bross taught him how to think like a lawyer, but “better yet, how to maintain who you were while in law school.”

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