Archive Dedication Dream Come True

John Hicks and Sharon J. Bell smiled as they helped cut the ribbon in front of a room dedicated to an important part of history at the University of Tulsa College of Law.
The brief ceremony marked the formal opening of the Hicks & Rogers Law Archive Room at the Mabee Legal Information Center is only the beginning of a work that started in 1973.
It was at that time that Hicks, then 30-years-old, realized that history was being lost when the law school was being moved from downtown Tulsa to become a permanent part of the university on East Fourth Street. It was at that time that he started collecting materials for a book that would be published in 2005, near the end of his teaching career and retirement in 2008.
Hicks reflected on the newly dedicated archive room and pointed out that it took so many people bring the project together.
‘‘History is important and I express my heartfelt thanks for all that was done,’’ he said. ‘‘This is wonderful for the TU College of Law.’’
A chronological history of the law school was prepared for display by Mary Guilfoyle-Holmes, a first-year student, and other students.
Guilfoyle-Holmes, who has a masters degree in library science, said she went through archives, pulling pictures and working with graphics design students to build the display. The Harmon Foundation also provided critical financial support.
‘‘This is absolutely a dream fulfilled,’’ said Hicks who began his teaching career at 25-years-old at the downtown campus.
‘‘When the school was moved from downtown it dawned on me that this was a new school and was looking forward to the future and present, not back at it’s roots. I started collecting material for a book at that time for the ‘‘History of the University of Tulsa College of Law.’’
When Hicks and his wife Sandy went to Wake Forest University in North Carolina for a semester as a visiting professor, the material for the book went with them.
Sandy laughed as she looked at the collection of material she had put in their small apartment at the university. It was at that time the book was finished.
Next came the problem about dealing with the collected materials.
That data has been put into the Hick & Rogers Archives Room so future researchers will have access to the material. All is being catalogued, something that will be an on-going process.
Hicks said that when someone reads something about the law school in his book they will be able to go to the archives and find supporting material.
When the new law school facility was dedicated a young Justice William Rehnquist was the keynote speaker.
The room has a collection of history that hopefully will carry forward in the future, Hicks said. It was in 1970 that Leta Chapman issued a challenge grant that she would donate $1 million of the community would raise the remaining $500,000 to build the new law school facilities.
That first building bears the name of John Rogers, the man Hicks credits for bringing the law school into modern times.
Hicks said his teaching career at the University of Tulsa College of Law his first and only job.
‘‘I started teaching at 25 years old in 1968 and retired 40 years later in 2008,’’ he said. ‘‘I loved the University though probably half my students were older than I was when I started teaching. It might be said that I am a corporate man.’’
Hicks said many of his students did quite well in their legal careers and some went on to judicial positions.
He recalled a 1968 graduate, Charles Chapel now on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, as one of his students.
And although he isn’t 100 percent certain, he thought he taught John Reif, now an Oklahoma Supreme Court justice.
‘‘I am proud of having worked with a number of people including John Hager and John Rogers,’’ he said. ‘‘It was Mr. Rogers who brought the law school back to the university, away from its free standing facility downtown.’’
Rogers had been a trustee for the Chapman Trust for many years and towards the end of his life turned that responsibility over to William Bell, a partner in the Rogers and Bell Law Firm.
After Bell died, his daughter Sharon Bell took over those responsibilities.
Professor Richard Ducey, MLIC director, said it took the involvement of many people to make the center a reality. It provides an opportunity to really learn about the history of the University and College of Law and how it was accredited by the American Bar Association as well as the American Association of Law Schools.
It is important to see programs and how they developed and how over a period of time this has become such a great school.
The time line that Guilfoyle-Holmes put together is an ongoing effort and will be changed as other significant events occur, he said. Future versions will be produced in separate parts so it can be more easily updated.
The archive facility itself can be expanded as necessary to allow for research work to be done on site.

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