Briefing Room


College mourns loss of former Dean Beytagh

February 23, 2016 | Faculty

Francis X. (“Frank”) Beytagh, dean of the College of Law from 1985-1993, died on February 21 at the age of 80. Dean Beytagh was an outstanding leader, a nationally recognized scholar in his field of Constitutional law, and a dedicated teacher, a role he continued at the College until he took emeritus status in 1997. He continued teaching, on an occasional basis, as an emeritus faculty member until 2006. As dean, Beytagh oversaw the development of the College’s program in alternative dispute resolution, its partnership with Oxford University, and a major building expansion.

“Frank was devoted to the College of Law and tirelessly supported our mission of teaching and research. He was a quiet advisor to each of the deans who followed in his footsteps, always available with wise counsel and support.  He has left an indelible legacy at Moritz,” said Alan C. Michaels, dean of the Moritz College of Law.

During Beytagh’s deanship, the College hired 14 faculty members, including eight women and three persons of color. Dean Beytagh was a proponent of judicial externships and clerkships, greatly expanding the College’s programs, and brought U.S. Supreme Court Justices William J. Brennan, Harry Blackmun, Lewis F. Powell, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and Antonin Scalia to Drinko Hall during his deanship.

“Mr. Chief Justice Warren has been called [by Jack Harrison Pollack] ‘the judge who changed America.’ I would posit a similar contention, that Frank Beytagh is the man who changed the College of Law at The Ohio State University,” wrote E. Gordon Gee, then president of The Ohio State University, in a 1993 tribute to Beytagh. Among the most significant accomplishments during his tenure was a $19 million addition to Drinko Hall, which nearly doubled the size of the law building. The addition was funded through a combination of state appropriations and private fundraising from the College’s $15 million Centennial Campaign (1986-91).

“In the hundreds of discussions we have had during the past eight years, I have found no subject on which he refused to fairly consider a view that differed from his,” wrote Professor Larry Herman in a 1993 tribute. “He processes complex information more quickly and thoughtfully than any other person I have known. He has a rare knack for seeing both the forest and the trees. His values are solid. He is a leader. He has never shirked the responsibilities of leadership.”

Over his career, Beytagh also served as dean of the University of Toledo College of Law and as president of Florida Coastal School of Law. He taught Constitutional law at the University of Virginia, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Michigan, the University of Houston, and Southern Methodist University.

Beytagh graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1956. He was a commissioned officer in the United States Navy for four years, and he served an additional 20 years in the Naval Reserves, retiring with the rank of Captain. He graduated first in his class from the University of Michigan Law School, serving as editor-in-chief of the Michigan Law Review.

Beytagh went on to clerk for United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren before serving as an assistant solicitor general under Thurgood Marshall. His name appears on dozens of briefs filed before the Supreme Court of the United States, including Allen v. State Board of Elections, 393 U.S. 544, establishing the broad applicability of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to state election laws. In 1968, he argued before the Court representing the United States in Avery v. Midland County, 390 U.S. 474, which applied the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution to the appointment of state legislatures.

Always active with the bar, Beytagh chaired the Columbus Bar Association Committee on Professionalism and served on the Ohio Civil Legal Needs Advisory Committee. He was a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Beytagh is preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Diane (Griffin) Beytagh. He is survived by his three children and six grandchildren.

Details about family visiting hours, the funeral mass, and contributions in his honor may be found here.