The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Immediate

UI's Bezanson named to distinguished professorship in honor of Guttenberg native

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Randall P. Bezanson, a professor of law at the University of Iowa whose ties to the institution go back more than 25 years, has been named the first Charles E. Floete Distinguished Professor at the UI College of Law.

Bezanson, who joined the law school faculty in 1973, is one of the nation's leading experts on the First Amendment, libel law and mass communications law.

The new professorship was created through a bequest to the UI Law School Foundation from the late Kathi Floete, in memory of her father, Charles E. Floete. The elder Floete, a native of Guttenberg, graduated from the UI law school in 1879 and spent his entire professional career in South Dakota as a rancher, banker and real estate agent.

N. William Hines, dean of the UI College of Law, said the bequest is a timely reminder of the law school's lustrous past.

"This gift reminds us of Iowa's historic place as the first law school west of the Mississippi and its long tradition of educational distinction," Hines said. "The law school Charles E. Floete attended here 120 years ago was quite different from today's college in many ways, but the common thread is lasting academic and professional excellence.

"Through this professorship we can continue to reward the outstanding teaching and legal scholarship of such talented professors as Randy Bezanson," Hines said.

Bezanzon, a native of Cedar Rapids, graduated from the UI College of Law in 1971, and served as editor-in-chief of the Iowa Law Review during his senior year. After serving as a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Bezanson joined the law faculty in 1971 and was named full professor in 1979.

From 1979 to 1985 Bezanson served as UI vice president for finance and university services. He was appointed dean of the Washington and Lee Law School in Virginia in 1988 and served there for six years before returning to Iowa in 1995.

His most recent book is "Speech Stories: How Free Can Speech Be?" (New York University Press, 1997), a collection of seven essays dealing with difficult freedom of speech cases that have been considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in the past 30 years.

He also is the author of "Taxes on Knowledge in America: Exactions on the Press From Colonial Times to the Present" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994) and was a co-editor of "Reforming Libel Law" (The Guilford Press, 1992.)

His 1987 book, "Libel Law and the Press: Myth and Reality" (The Free Press, Macmillan and Co., 1987) (co-written with Gilbert Cranberg and John Soloski of the UI School of Journalism) won the National Research Award of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Kathi Floete lived in California most of her life. In creating the professorship in her father's name, she compared the UI's legal education to a "golden key" that opened the door to her father's life.

"I hope in the future it will also open the door to the lives of other students," she wrote.