Westling Award Talk - 22 May 02
The award the University Senate is about to bestow for the first time is called the Wayne Westling Award for University Service and Leadership. The University Senate hands out awards sparingly and to my knowledge has never granted an internal award for Service and Leadership specifically aimed to honor the achievements of one of our own. On this special occasion, I’d like us to pause a moment and consider the achievements by the person for whom this award is named, Wayne T. Westling.
Wayne was the consummate academic. He was a Professor of Law here at the UO for over 20 years. During his career he published 4 books, several book chapters, and an amazing corpus of articles for scholar journals and the popular press. He also practiced law as a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles and here in Douglas County, activities that most of us never held against him.
Wayne’s academic work speaks for itself. But what is not in print and which in many ways was his greatest contribution, was his care and love for his students, his law school and his University, the University of Oregon. He was revered by his students for both his inspiring lectures and his gentle one-on-one style. Wayne served his law school with distinction as member of every possible law school committee (and unlike us arts and science types, lawyers love committees).
At the University level, Wayne was an exemplary citizen. He chaired the University's Affirmative Action Task Force and Protection of Human Subjects Committee, and was virtually a permanent member of the Pre-Law Advisory and Australian Studies Committees. He served twelve fruitful years in the University Senate, including several on its Executive and Budget Committees and one as its President.
It was as a member of the Senate Budget Committee that I got to know Wayne and quickly learned to deeply appreciate his clear thinking and his gentle insistence on developing consensus to attain our goals. As chair of the newly resuscitated Senate Budget Committee 3 years ago, Wayne was the principal author of the important Budget Committee White Paper on Faculty Salary Improvements, a document that continues to underpin major campus budgetary decisions even today. I much valued his sage advice and his ability to find a way forward on the most intractable of problems.
There are thousands of lawyer jokes - being a biologist the one I like best is the one that asks that burning question: what is the difference between a sperm and a lawyer? The answer, of course, is none, because both have a 1 in 10 million chance of becoming human. Wayne was that 1 in 10 million - a good man whose caring, warmth, generosity, and kindness proves that nice guys finish first not last in the only race that really counts, the human race.
Through his outstanding contributions in scholarship, teaching and service to the University and the larger community, Wayne demonstrated the true meaning of selfless leadership and service. The Wayne Westling Award for University Service and Leadership could not have been more aptly named.