(1929-1932) Dean John P. Egan

John P. EganThe search for Dean Swearingen’s successor began and ended under the same roof. John P. Egan became the first in a long line of deans to be selected from within the school’s faculty.

In fact, Egan was Duquesne through and through. He enrolled in the Holy Ghost Fathers’ prep school in 1904, proceeded through the college’s undergraduate program, and completed his studies in the Law School. He briefly taught in the prep school before joining the law faculty as a contracts instructor in 1915. He was associated with noted attorney F.C. McGirr and with John E. Laughlin, an original faculty member of the Law School and vice dean under Swearingen.

Like his predecessor, egan became a renowned jurist. Appointed to the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in 1931, he would win election to three consecutive terms on both party tickets. Unlike Swearingen, he would not juggle the responsibilities of judge and dean for long.

The major challenge of Egan’s brief tenure was an edict from the State Board of Law Examiners requiring that the already rigorous night school schedule—ten hours a week, 34 weeks per year—be extended from three years to four. This immediately resulted in a sharp enrollment drop from 100 students to 70, but enhanced the school’s professional reputation significantly. Enrollment would remain steady at approximately this level through the Great Depression. 

While students now had to complete an additional year of study, another longtime source of consternation ended. Up until this time, students completed each year of study with oral final exams, in which they answered questions related to each course in front of a panel comprised of the entire faculty. The class of 1930 was the last to endure this anxiety-ridden experience.

The year after his appointment as judge—after just three years as dean—Egan resigned from his administrative post at Duquesne, though he remained an adjunct faculty member until 1940. Egan, who dispensed justice both in the courtroom and on the college football field where he refereed more than 500 games, died shortly after election to his third judicial term in 1952.