(1968-1970) Dean Louis Manderino

Louis ManderinoJuris began as a vehicle to promote internal communication among day and evening students, faculty, staff and alumni. Though initially focused on school activities, its writers eagerly tackled topical issues and advocacy as well. A engthy faculty profile appearing in the inaugural issue set the tone.

Spanning portions of four pages, the article recounted the life of Professor Louis Manderino. The son of Italian immigrants who settled in the Mon Valley, Manderino was a bright, brash young graduate of St. Vincent College and Harvard Law. He returned to Monessen and set up a practice with his brother, but a series of fateful events called him to teaching at Duquesne. He began on a part-time basis in 1956, and three years later was hired full-time by Dean Quinn. Though he tried to keep his hand in the practice, by 1962 Manderino’s energies were focused exclusively on the school, where he became a favorite among students. 

Nowhere in the profile was it mentioned that Manderino was a candidate for the deanship, but those inside Rockwell Hall understood the subtext. A 2005 remembrance in AlumNews, penned by the Honorable Donetta Ambrose, a’67, L’70, revealed the depth of the students’ passion.

Lou was a legend in his own time. No professor was more interesting, more challenging, or more popular. In fact, Professor Manderino became Dean Manderino by sheer will of the student body—a student body that demanded his elevation and would not take ‘No’ for an answer.” 

In an era of mounting unrest, Duquesne law students’ persistent yet peaceful prodding paid off. Manderino, at age 38, was named by Fr. McAnulty as the school’s sixth dean in early 1968. The new dean’s portrait graced the cover of the February Juris. Nobody realized then how brief Manderino’s tenure would be, or that his successor was the topic of that issue’s faculty profile.

Ironically, the seeds of Manderino’s departure had already been planted. An unabashed liberal who was active in Democratic Party politics, he was a delegate to the 1967-68 Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention. In the Juris profile, he defended his activism: “The days of the Ivory Tower concept of education are gone. A teacher in a university such as this should recognize a duty and responsibility to serve his community and be a valuable and helpful citizen.” 

Among the 1968 constitutional reforms was a new level of appellate jurisdiction. A former law clerk to Duquesne Law alumnus and federal judge Austin L. Staley, L’28, Manderino was soon called to his own seat on the bench as a charter member of the new Commonwealth Court. He resigned the deanship in 1970; then won election to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court the next year. At the age of 41, he was the youngest man ever elected to the state’s highest court.

A consummate recruiter during his early teaching days, Manderino accelerated the growth in the Law School’s enrollment, which increased from 472 to more than 600 during his brief deanship.

Manderino continued to serve the school as an adjunct faculty member during his years on the bench. On November 8, 1979, he collapsed and died of a heart attack while walking down Fifth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. He is fondly remembered by students and colleagues alike.