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Release: June 18, 2002

Blanck And Gittler Named To Professorships In Law

College of Law professors Josephine Gittler and Peter D. Blanck have been awarded named professorships by the University of Iowa effective July 1, 2002. The new professorships were recommended by Law School Dean N. William Hines and approved by Provost Jon S. Whitmore.

Gittler will hold the Wiley B. Rutledge Professorship and Blanck will hold the Charles M. and Marion Kierscht Professorship. Rutledge was dean of the UI College of Law from 1935 to1939 and went on to serve notably as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Charles M. Kierscht is a 1962 law graduate who has chaired the college's Iowa Law School Endowment Campaign for the 21st Century for the past five years. Kierscht and his wife Marion made a generous leadership gift to the campaign to create this new professorship in the college.

Gittler became the first woman member of the law faculty when she joined the Iowa faculty in 1973. She spent part of her early life in Ames, where her father was a professor. She graduated from Barnard College (Columbia University) in 1965 and earned her J.D. from Northwestern University in 1968, where she was a member of the Northwestern Law Review, and was elected to the Order of Coif, an academic honorary society. Before joining the Iowa faculty, she served three years as a law clerk to different federal and state judges in Connecticut and directed a penal code training program for the state.

At Iowa, Gittler has specialized in juvenile justice and health law issues affecting children and mothers. Most recently in both her teaching and research she has focused attention on mediation and negotiation as alternatives to litigation for resolving disputes in health care decision-making. She is consistently rated as an outstanding teacher by her students and faculty peers, and her nearly 30-year record of research productivity is not only very impressive, it has had a major and lasting impact in reforming the law affecting families and improving social services available to them. For over 20 years, Gittler has been co-director of the National Maternal and Child Health Resource Center, an outreach program she created at the College of Law in 1981. Since 1994, she has also directed the Conflict Management Institute, which she created at the college. The interrelated missions of both the center and the institute are to expand and improve health-related services to families.

Blanck joined the Iowa faculty in 1990. He received his B.A. degree in psychology in 1979 from the University of Rochester magna cum laude, then earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University in 1982. He stayed on at Harvard to serve as a Post Doctoral Fellow for one year, then went to law school at Stanford University, receiving his J.D. in 1986. At Stanford he served as president of the Stanford Law Review. After clerking for a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for one year, Blanck practiced law for three years with a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm.

During his 12 years at Iowa, Blanck quickly earned tenure and rose to the rank of professor in record time. He regularly teaches the basic course in contracts, but his classroom and research specialty is disability law, in which he has become a major national figure. Blanck has established a consistent record of excellent teaching effectiveness and he is a prodigious scholar, publishing numerous books, articles, books chapters, and reports each year. In 1994, Blanck created the Law, Health Policy and Disability Center on the Iowa campus, and he has continued as its director through the center's meteoric growth in external support and national recognition. The center currently receives a number of large external grants and contracts and employs 17 researchers. Blanck himself is frequently sought out to advise congressional committees, state officials and business leaders on disability law issues.

In announcing the awards of named professorships to Gittler and Blanck, Dean Hines stated, "These awards not only recognize outstanding teaching, scholarship and service to our college, they advance the college's and the university's commitment to interdisciplinary academic work. Both Josy and Peter do some of their teaching and nearly all of their research in collaboration with colleagues from disciplines other than law. Their impressive professional accomplishments are proof positive that interdisciplinary study and research can be not only rigorous and relevant, but that the synergies created through innovative collaborations of scholars can enhance the real-world impact of their published results."