(1957-1966) Dean Thomas F. Quinn

Thomas F. QuinnFor the first time since Dean Swearingen, the university looked outside for the Law School’s new leader. Thomas F. Quinn arrived with degrees from Georgetown, Albany Law School of Union University, and Harvard. He held faculty posts in St. Louis University’s business and law schools, but his full-time job before coming to Duquesne was as an executive with a major textile company. 

Shortly after Quinn’s arrival, the school made its long-awaited move to new on-campus quarters in Rockwell Hall. The combination of an energetic, enthusiastic new dean and 42,000 square feet of modern space propelled Duquesne’s ascent from local to regional prominence.

This facility allowed Dean Quinn to turn Dean Swearingen’s advice that students visit the courthouse to view proceedings on its head—now courts came to the students. When the U.S. District Court ran short of space, Dean Quinn offered use of the new court room. Later, the complex was used by the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and the Pennsylvania Milk Control Commission.

With new and larger space, Dean Quinn immediately turned his attention to launching a day division. for nearly half a century, Duquesne Law School had exclusively offered part-time evening studies, catering to a working student body. Quinn realized that the school’s potential for growth and national recognition was limited without a full-time program.

Tall and immaculately dressed, Quinn cut an imposing figure and was legendary for his diligence and discipline. On rare occasions when heavy snowstorms would force Duquesne University and other regional institutions to cancel classes, Quinn insisted that Duquesne Law always remain open. A young faculty member at the time, John E. Murray, Jr. recalls one unidentified individual’s wry response, scrawled on a blackboard in Rockwell Hall:

In the event of atomic attack, law school classes will continue in the basement of the building.

General Quinn

Yet Murray also recalls times when Quinn channeled Fr. Hehir’s spirit, making arrangements to ensure that promising students would not be forced to abandon their studies due to sudden financial or personal hardship. “He thoroughly understood that his purpose was to assist others to succeed,” Murray remembers. “He was quite willing to help them carry their burdens.”

In October 1966, Quinn was appointed Clerk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. The Rev. Henry McAnulty, C.S.Sp., university president, named Murray acting dean effective January 1, 1967.