Former Dean Dies

By David Blymire
The Sentinel
February 27, 2004


A professor and former dean of the Dickinson School of Law died Thursday at home.

Michael J. Navin became the school's seventh dean in 1987, a position he held for two years.

More recently, he taught courses in contracts, insurance and corporations and real estate transactions law.

"Mike was a valued and important member of our community for the past 17 years, and we will miss him greatly," said Dean Philip J. McConnaughay. "We will do our best to comfort one another, as well as Mike's family, as we try to cope with our loss."

Navin is survived by his wife, Joan, and sons, Lawrence and Christopher.

Death spurs cancellation

The death was a factor in a decision to postpone Thursday's scheduled visit to the law school by Penn State University President Graham Spanier.

"Obviously, the situation that developed on campus yesterday made it a difficult day to have a meeting," Penn State spokesman Tysen Kendig said this morning.

He said the session was to have been a "general forum" for students, faculty and staff to talk about a variety of topics with the president, although the proposed relocation of the law school was expected to be brought up.

Colleagues contacted this morning for comment recalled that Navin was the kind of guy who would pitch in and help whenever needed.

"He was a very good colleague," said Professor William Barker. "He really helped out his fellow teachers here."

Barker says Navin didn't hesitate to take over teaching one of his courses last year when Barker had an opportunity to pursue a project in Africa.

Barker says he described the opportunity to Navin who "marched right over to the dean's office" and made the arrangements.

"That's the kind of guy he was," Barker says.

Since July, Navin co-directed the Law School's Agriculture Law Research and Resource Center.

Professor Leslie MacRae, also co-director of the center, said this morning, "The thing I will miss the most is his sense of humor, his willingness to help people and his love of students."

In September 1997, Navin was appointed vice dean and served in that capacity until July 2000 when he began a two-year commitment as a Faculty Fellow at Penn State's Center for Academic Computing at University Park.

Before coming to Dickinson, Navin taught at the University of San Diego School of Law for 14 years. Before that, he taught at Williamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon, and was in private practice in Seattle, Washington.

A profile at the law school website says Navin was working on a book on contract law.