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UT Mourns Loss of Legal Scholar and Professor Robert Hamilton

The University of Texas at Austin mourns the passing of School of Law Emeritus Professor Robert W. Hamilton. He died Jan. 12 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

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AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin mourns the passing of School of Law Emeritus Professor Robert W. Hamilton. He died Jan. 12 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Hamilton, who held the Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law, taught at UT Austin for 40 years. He was a nationally recognized corporations and corporate law scholar, a member of the American Law Institute and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He also received Texas Excellence Teaching Awards in 1970 and 1973.

“Bob properly prided himself about his teaching and cared as much about it as any one at the law school,” said Professor Lucas A. Powe Jr., who served on the Texas Law faculty with Hamilton for more than 30 years.

Hamilton graduated from Swarthmore College in 1952 and earned his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1955. After graduation, he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark (Texas Law Class of ’22). He spent eight years with Gardner, Morrison & Rogers in Washington, D.C., before joining the Texas Law faculty in 1964 where he stayed until his retirement in 2004.

Among his many accomplishments, Hamilton served as the academic expert and reporter for the Revised Model Business Corporation Act in 1984, writing the act’s official text that was subsequently enacted into law in 24 states and is used as a guideline by most others.

“One of the most important outcomes of the act has been to allow for smooth business transactions across state lines,” explained Professor Barbara Bintliff, director of the Tarlton Law Library and Jamail Center for Legal Research. Every state is empowered to write its own corporate laws, Bintliff said, and this act promoted business growth throughout the United States by providing much needed stability and uniformity.

His participation as the act’s reporter required years of patience and dedication, and his work provided a substantial and long-lasting contribution to corporate law.

Nearly 15 years later, in 1998, the Robert W. Hamilton Book Award — one of the highest honors celebrating literary achievement at UT Austin — was established in his honor for his 12 years of service as the chairman of the University Co-op board of directors. The award is given each year to a university published author, as selected by a multidisciplinary committee of scholars.

“Professor Hamilton leaves a growing legacy of outstanding scholars and artists who carry the honor of the award given each year in his name,” said Daniel Jaffe, UT’s vice president for research, who helps oversee the award’s selection process. “We are grateful to him for the opportunity to recognize our most creative and insightful authors for their contributions to the university and to our broader culture.”

Hamilton’s tenure at the University Co-op marked a period of exceptional growth and success for the campus bookstore, but according to James Kielty, the co-op’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, he’ll be remembered for much more.

“Professor Hamilton was instrumental in turning the co-op into a profitable venture,” Kielty recalled, “but what I’ll remember most about him was his devotion to and close relationships with his wife Dagmar and his children.”