College mourns loss of Associate Dean Fairman
Christopher M. Fairman, the Associate Dean for Faculty and the C. William O’Neill Professor in Law and Judicial Administration at The Ohio State Moritz College of Law, died of cardiac arrest on Wednesday, July 22. He was 54.
In conjunction with his family, there will be a memorial service at the Moritz College of Law to celebrate his life on September 21, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. in Saxbe Auditorium of Drinko Hall. Parking is available in the Ohio Union Garage. The event will be live-streamed on this page.
“Chris was an exceptional teacher, scholar, and colleague. Deeply caring about family, our students, his colleagues and friends at the university, Chris had a powerful impact on the law school, legal education, and the issues he wrote about,” said Dean Alan C. Michaels.
Fairman regularly taught Civil Procedure I, Civil Procedure II, and advanced courses related to legal ethics. He was also a valued member of the Program on Dispute Resolution and focused on the intersection between attorney ethics and alternative dispute resolution. Earlier in his career, he was an award-winning high school history teacher, to which Fairman attributed his continued success as an award-winning law school professor. Fairman received numerous awards for his outstanding teaching and advising, including the Morgan E. Shipman Teaching Award (Outstanding Professor of the Year) at the Moritz College of Law and the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching at Ohio State, the University’s highest teaching award, which honors faculty members for superior teaching.
As a scholar, Fairman helped define and shape two areas: civil procedure and taboo language. Specifically, his work on “heightened pleading,” which both identified and criticized requirements by the courts and Congress that force certain types of plaintiffs to say more in their pleadings than other litigants in order to stay in court, has been highly influential. In addition, his pioneering scholarship around word taboo includes numerous articles, essays, and a book. His book Fuck: Word Taboo and Protecting our First Amendment Liberties (Sourcebooks, 2009) examines the law surrounding the word and reveals both inconsistencies in its treatment and tensions with other identifiable legal rights that the law simply doesn’t answer. Professor Fairman was adamant that our government should keep out of the censorship business: “Words are ideas. If the government can control the words we say, it can also control what we think.” His first article on the subject—by the same name—was published in 2007 in the Cardozo Law Review, and it remains among the top 20 most frequently downloaded articles of all-time from the SSRN, a multi-disciplinary online repository of scholarly research.
“Students loved his engaging classroom style and his constant devotion to their success. Chris cared deeply about the College of Law and enjoyed developing a new generation of teacher-scholars in his role as Associate Dean,” Michaels said. “Everyone in our community benefitted from his creative ideas, deep engagement, and practical counsel. His premature passing creates a profound loss that we all feel.”
Born in Kansas and raised in Texas, Fairman earned a B.A. with highest honors in 1982 from the University of Texas at Austin and a J.D. with honors in 1994 from the University of Texas School of Law. Upon earning his law degree, he clerked for Justice J. Woodfin Jones of the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District and for Judge Fortunato P. Benavides of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. After four years of practice with Weil, Gotshal & Manges in Dallas, he joined the Ohio State law faculty in 2000. He was promoted to associate professor in 2004 and to full professor in 2007. While at Ohio State, he also served as a faculty advisor to a number of student organizations, including the Latino Law Students Association and the ABA National Appellate Advocacy moot court team. He moved into the associate dean role in 2013.
Throughout his career, Fairman embraced community service, serving as a member of the Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure; Civil Justice Resource Group; The Chrome Foundation; and the University’s Academy of Teaching, just to name a few.
Fairman is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Mallory and Joe McKeel; mother and stepfather, Valentina and David Zacharias; former wife, Laura Fairman; and three brothers, Carl, Michael, and Curtis Fairman.
A visitation was held at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home at 3125 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas on Saturday, August 1st from 2-4 pm. A memorial service was held at Crestview United Methodist Church at 1300 Morrow St., Austin, Texas on Sunday, August 2nd at 3pm.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law at https://moritzlaw.osu.edu/alumni/giving/ways-to-give/ or the American Foundation for Aids Research at http://www.amfar.org/donate/.
Terri Enns ’96
This is such sad news for Chris’s family as well as the larger Moritz community. His quiet, ever-supportive presence will be sorely missed.
Daphne Meimaridis ’89
So very sad to hear we have lost Chris. He made such a positive impact on our community.
I am so, so sorry. Chris was such a wonderful man. I am thinking of everyone at Moritz.
Professor Chris Walker
Chris was such a generous mentor, kind colleague, and loyal friend, and he has left us way, way too soon.
Erin Butcher ’10
So sad to learn this. I really appreciated him as a professor and as an interesting and generous guy.
Professor Jim Brudney (Fordham)
Chris was a valued colleague, fabulous teacher, and above all a wonderfully decent human being. His departure is a great loss…
Professor Ed Lee (Chicago Kent)
Chris Fairman taught me PPT (his visual artistry was magical) and so much more in life. My friend and mentor, RIP
Brooke Burns ’05
He was the first professor I had on my first day of law school; and, I am so glad. I will never forget the passion he had for teaching and making the material accessible for first years.
Michael Spencer ’06
Professor Fairman was my favorite law professor. Through procedure, he really taught me how to thank like a lawyer. I’ll never forget his humor, his kind heart, his big smile and all that made him special. Love you Professor.
Marchelle E. Moore ’98
The news of Professor Fairman’s passing is absolutely heartbreaking. I pray his soul is at peace and that God’s comfort surrounds his family and friends during this difficult time.
Meagan Woodall ’15
Dean Fairman was one of the funniest, smartest, and most dedicated professors I have ever known. He was a phenomenal coach to the ABA National Appellate Advocacy teams. From evening walks in icy Washington, DC and funny dinners in Chicago to conversations ranging from snakes to civil procedure, we never seemed to stop laughing. His mark on those with whom he worked and taught is evident, and he will be greatly missed.
Reyahd D.J. Kazmi ’11
Prof. Fairman was one of my favorite law professors. Granted, I had him for Civ Pro and Legal Writing so I am a bit biased, but he was by far one of the most engaging and caring professors at Moritz. He was dedicated to my success and I knew it. I’m thankful for having the opportunity to learn from him. Much love and prayers to/for you, Fairman.
Professor Katherine Kelly
Chris was a wonderful scholar, teacher, mentor, and friend. I am lucky to have known him.
Renuka Raman ’13
It is really heartbreaking news, its a shocker! Prof Fairman was such a wonderful person, I enjoyed his lunch ons and was always cheerful and fun loving. Hope his soul rest in peace and my heartiest condolences to the family members. Prof Fairman, you will be missed dearly!
Stephanie Klupinski ’10
Chris was my civ pro professor in the fall of 2007. He was a great teacher. I know he had been a high school teacher before, and you could tell…he actually put time and thought into his lessons and actually provided a rubric in advance of the final. I am so sorry to hear about his death. He will be missed.
Brad Cromes ’10
Professor Fairman’s talent for engaging students was unmatched – his ability to make civil procedure something to look forward to being but one example. His good-natured iconoclasm is irreplaceable. I’ll remeber him for PowerPoint, Neuticles, “F&%k!,” seersucker, Dick & Jane, and a passion for his work that made law school a bit more human.
Michael Abromowitz ’13
My first ever law school class was Prof Fairman’s Civ Pro I. After some amazing special effects with his PowerPoints, a few awesome one-liners, and a wonderful narrative of Pennoyer, I knew I had made the right decision to attend Moritz. Prof Fairman was an amazing human being; his presence will surely be missed, but his legacy will never be forgotten.
Professor Ellen Deason
Chris combined, in a rare and wonderful way, wisdom and humor, principles and compassion, integrity and loyalty. I shall miss you so, my friend.
Rasha AlMahroos ’08
Professor Fairman taught me Civil Procedure. He was an amazing professor and truly loved teaching. He made class interesting and exciting. What sad news. My deepest condolences to his family. He will be missed.
Joe Bahgat ’07
Chris was so much more than one of my favorite law professors; he was a friend. I feel so privileged to have been his research assistant, and to have worked on his trademark law review article “fuck.” He was an innovator, and a pioneer, and he was living proof that lawyers can be brilliant, and still have personality, charisma, and style.
Trevor Johnson ’15
Today is a sad day for the Moritz community. Chris was a great teacher, mentor and most importantly a friend. From the first Civil Procedure class in 2012, to working as his research assistant, to Ethics in ADR last semester he pushed me to be a better student. I will miss being able to pop in and say hello, miss talking about his dog Hooch, the dreaded days when Comfest comes to Goodale Park and just catching up. He may be gone, but surely not forgotten. May you rest in peace Professor Fairman knowing the impact you’ve had on so many of your “fellow proceduralists”.
Sam Stoller ’06
What a loss. A quality person and an inspiring teacher. You will be missed Professor Fairman.
Jason Lucas ’05
He was also my first professor in law school. We really thought the world of him.
Professor Joshua Dressler
Chris was truly dedicated to OSU (except, perhaps when the Buckeyes played Texas) and Moritz. He loved teaching and spent enormous time caring for his students. And he was, simoly, a wonderful and decent human being. His death is a great loss to everyone who knew him.
Laura Weidner ’06
Professor Fairman was brilliant, cared about his students and simultaneously made learning fun. He brought us and the law to life. Thank you, Professor Fairman–you are gone too soon but we will never forget you!
Professor Stephanie Hoffer
My kind-hearted, unique, and loveable colleague, I will miss you and your wit very much. It was much too soon
Greg Lestini ’02
Prof. Fairman was kind, funny and always put his students first. He was one of the professors who made me feel comfortable in law school and that it was ok to be a scholar, and a little silly. He will be sadly missed, but left an indelible legacy. We are all lucky to have known him.
Dave Fitzgerald ’02
RIP Chris. You were a great professor for Civ Pro and an even better person to be a colleague with post law school. OSU was blessed to have him for 15 years.
Stephanie Champ Klimack ’02
So sad to hear. Such a funny and vibrant teacher.
Jon Eisenberg ’04
Professor Fairman was a brilliant mind and a kind man. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the Moritz community. What a real loss.
Zeff Gebolys ’15
Dean Fairman was a wonderful teacher, coach, and personality. He was quirky, unique and truly cared about his students. His passing is an incredible loss for the Moritz community, and for all those students who will never learn Civil Procedure the same because he isn’t there to teach them.
Tom Hausman ’73
I never knew professor Fairman, but from all that was written about him on this web site, he must have been very special. I am very sorry for his family and the Law School. If he was anything like Morgan Shipman, he would certainly have been special.
Luke Fedlam ’13
Professor Fairman was a great professor who truly cared about his students, the College of Law and the University. He made complex topics understandable and he did it with humor, grace and passion. He is gone too soon, but his impact on those he taught will carry on for years to come. Rest in peace.
Abhilasha Tungathurthy ’15
I can’t believe this! I’ve seen him very recently at our law school premises. I should’ve talked to him one last time! I feel proud having a lengthy conversation once on American Civil laws and an introduction to his innovative writings. More than a professor, he is very friendly with the students. Shocking news to hear his loss, a mournful moment to digest. My sincere tributes to the legendary human being and condolences to his family!
David Stouffer ’15
Dean Fairman was one of the kindest and smartest individuals I have never known. He would always make himself available to help students with their academic and personal struggles. I am so grateful to have known him, and he will truly be missed. Rest in peace, Dean Fairman.
Claudia Villaseñor Sanchez ’13
I am deeply saddened for this news! A great professor and a kind man. Thank you for everything. He and his family are in my prayers. Rest in peace.
Associate Dean Garry Jenkins
Chris Fairman was a wonderful human being: generous with his time, advice, and good spirit. He cared deeply for our students, faculty, and staff. Of course he was a master of teaching, most notably with PowerPoint, but he was also faculty colleague like no other. One thing I know for sure is that our law school is a better place because of his contributions. Rest in peace, my friend.
Sheree Edwards Garner ’03
Professor Fairman was not only a great professor, but a great human being. He had an incredible impact on me as a student, and the lessons I learned from him are still with me today as an attorney. He will truly be missed.
Professor Louis Jacobs
From his first interview as a faculty candidate, his intellectual intensity, unassuming nature, sense of humor, and humanness came shining through. Chris made no enemies because he empathized with all and thought life was too short to waste time and energy on mean-spiritedness. He was right on all counts, tragically so as to his truncated life.
Rashmin Asher ’14
I was lucky enough to have Dean Fairman as a professor. He was funny, intelligent, and one of the nicest people I have ever met. He will truly be missed. My condolences to his family. He made Moritz a better place!
Igor Brin ’10
Professor Fairman, you will be missed. 1L year you were my homeroom teacher and kept Civil Procedure animated with your PowerPoints and life anecdotes. 2L/3L years you continued to be a mentor and a friend. You will be severely missed this October for our 5yr reunion, but your love, humor, and joy for the law will always fill my memories of Moritz.
Caroline Onyango-Dyregaard ’07
RIP Prof. Fairman
I was quite saddened to hear of Dean Fairman’s passing. He was a wonderful man, with a great sense of humor and a great capacity for warmth and understanding. He will me missed by all, especially me. RIP Dean Fairman.
Professor Thomas Gallanis (Iowa)
Chris was a wonderful colleague and a dedicated teacher. My heart goes out to his family and to the Moritz Law community.
Professor Dale Oesterle
His life’s journey was one of the most interesting and compelling of anyone I have known. He would give you an honest conversation. A real treasure this man.
What a terrible, unfair loss. I learned so much from observing his calm, other-directed focus — listening carefully to a student as she or he crafted an argument, and then offering his invariably insightful response. Chris was a fantastic faculty colleague, but better than that, a true friend with whom one could hash out a thorny problem or laugh at an absurdity.
Professor Peter Shane
Even on a faculty of dedicated teachers and superb colleagues, Chris Fairman was a standout. His devotion to teaching, research and service was heartfelt and unwavering. Many an extramural moot court team would testify that his commitment to students was by no means limited to the classroom. Although Chris was quite aware of life’s absurdities, his constructive spirit never flagged. Calling on Chris for help with a project, a judicious second opinion, or just to share a laugh was such a reflex that his passing is not going to seem real for quite some time. I am inclined, if anyone asks, to just pretend he’s on sabbatical.
Matt Richardson ’03
Chris Fairman profoundly influenced my practice as a civil litigator. His scholarship on heightened pleading inspired me in my own legal scholarship and served as a guidepost for my litigation strategies. Most importantly, he was such a good guy who would take the time to help out, even when he was busy with other responsibilities. I, and many others, will miss him.
Michael Corey ’12
Professor Fairman’s gifts were abundantly clear to anyone who stepped into his classroom. A gifted teacher, who taught with precision, clarity, and thoughtfulness, Prof. Fairman also taught with a reverence for decency and goodwill. He will be sorely, sorely missed by the Moritz family.
I met Chris just a month and a half ago at Mallory’s shower in Austin. He was a genuine, nice guy and one of the funniest people I have ever met. I am very saddened to hear of his passing, and send my thoughts and condolences to his family and anyone that knew him. RIP
Jocelyn Cohen ’06
Though I never practiced law and veered back toward creative writing, I will always remember Professor Fairman. His last name was apt. I appreciated how he infused seemingly mundane rules of civ pro with humor and wit. His PowerPoint presentations are legendary—they brought much-needed levity to an otherwise highly stressful environment. Prof. Fairman was one of the great ones, and I’m sad for future law students who will miss out on everything he brought to the classroom and beyond. My thoughts are with his loved ones.
Sol Bermann ’99
I didn’t know Chris well, and didn’t work with him much during my time at Mortiz. However, I do know the affect he had on students and colleagues, and what he meant to the College. He will be greatly missed.
Hon. Woodie Jones
Chris was my law clerk at the Third District Court of Appeals of Texas in the mid-1990s. I have had many outstanding law clerks and staff attorneys, but none better than Chris. I was so proud that he got to fulfil his dream of becoming a law professor. He was a special person, and I will miss him.
Shawn Busken ’07
Prof. Fairman was my favorite professor at Moritz. Daily he did the impossible-making civ pro interesting! My prayers go out to his family.
Kate Delaney Poterjoy ’06
Professor Fairman had an outstanding ability to make material both understandable and interesting. My thoughts are with his family.
Darren Reid ’06
Like many, I had Professor Fairman for Civil Procedure during my first semester in law school. His creative engagement with his students (those powerpoint slides!) resulted in one of my best classroom experiences at Moritz. God bless him and his family.
I have known Chris Fairman over the past 7 years through his daughter. Every time I came to his house, he was so kind and always made me feel welcome. He had a sense of humor that was smart and quick. I will forever have ingrained in my mind the last time I saw him; walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. RIP Chris. Prayers and love to his family.
Professor Ernie Young (Duke)
I knew Chris only briefly through our UT connections, but found him a lovely guy with an extremely lively mind. This is such sad news.
Lana Knox Guthrie ’06
I was lucky to have Professor Fairman for Civ Pro as a 1L. His class was always so interesting and entertaining. I am still in awe of his powerpoint skills – he really made the law exciting. I enjoyed his teaching style so much that I took two more classes with him. He will certainly be missed.
Wail AlKahtany ’03
Professor Fairman was very kind to me and my classmates. He was passionate about his work as an educator. He was not just my professor for Civil Procedure, but a friend and a mentor. His passing is a great loss. He will be missed, but he will live on through his good deeds as well as the knowledge and wisdom he imparted to his students. My condolences to his family and loved ones.
I met Chris in Jr High School so I have known him as a teenager, college student, husband to my best friend, father to dear Mallory, teacher, and lawyer. I will remember him best for his humor, dedication to teaching, and the pride that was on his face as he walked Mal down the aisle and toasted her at the reception. His fatherly love and devotion was apparent to all. My prayers to the whole Fairman Family. RIP Chris.
I’m stunned and at a loss to hear of Chris’s passing. I will always remember his kind and warm demeanor. I mourn his loss with the rest of the Moritz Family. May he R.I.P.
Assistant Dean Sara Sampson ’97
I want to echo what others have said with more eloquence: Chris was a remarkable teacher, scholar, administrator, and person. May we all carry a little piece of Chris in our hearts.
Professor Paul Rose
Chris was a wonderful role model and a delightful human being. He was incredibly generous and wise, and we will miss him greatly.
Katya Stelmakh ’05
Professor Fairman was one of those Professors who made my Moritz journey truly remarkable with his outstanding teaching, humor, and kindness to us all. Each time I have been reflecting back on my law studies, I remembered him as one of the most special individuals I had honor to meet early in my career and immigrant life in the United States. He will always live in my memories.
Professor Sarah Cole
Chris was a wonderful friend, a terrific listener, an unparalleled classroom teacher and a well-regarded scholar in civil procedure and dispute resolution. He always made time for his colleagues and his students — even when he was surely too busy to do so. Moritz will not be the same without him and I will miss him very much.
Brookes Hammock ’10
Professor Fairman was a quiet but consistent part of the LGBTQ community at Moritz. His office door was always open to students who needed to tell their story — or to hear his. He was frank, honest, and compassionate. Those are rare qualities, and he will be sorely missed.
Principal Penny Miller
Chris taught at McCallum HS in Austin, Tx and I had the good fortune to be his principal. Outstanding, creative, caring, and a team player all describe Chris. After observing his teaching, I always left wishing I could stay longer.
Professor Samuel Issacharof (New York University)
I met Chris when he came to UT as a first-year student, after several years as a high school teacher. I had heard of him indirectly because he was the adored favorite teacher of kids of colleagues of mine. Even as a first-year, Chris was a beaming presence in class, someone who enjoyed the complexity of law and the give and take of the classroom — even if thrust back in the role of student. It was a pleasure to see him move to the academy and to the procedural fields. A terrible loss.
Chris was my Economics and Government teacher in high school, a student government sponsor, and my favorite teacher. He put such energy into teaching and made learning a fun and interactive experience. An amazing teacher. So glad that he went on to teach law.
Professor Debby Merritt
Such sadness. We won’t see your smile again, but we will always carry it with us. You lit sparks of wisdom, humor, and compassion in all of us. When I see those traits, I will think “there’s a little piece of Chris.”
I had Mr. Fairman as a high school history teacher at McCallum in Austin, Texas in 1985. He bounced around the classroom, asked tough questions, grinned often, and made us think. Students adored him. I remember him bringing in a turntable and playing the Big Boys’ song “History.” His enthusiasm inspired me to become a teacher. He undoubtedly inspired many others.
Mr. Fairman was the best teacher I ever had – McCallum High School, U.S. History
Briana (Shay) Mohan
Like Ben and Joel, I too had Mr. Fairman as a US history teacher at McCallum High School in Austin, Texas in 1989. I also remember the songs and his little record player. He would hand out song sheets and encourage us to sing along, him leading by example at the top of his lungs. It was so clear that he knew what he was teaching and he taught it so well. He also let us, against school policy, eat lunch in his classroom. Mr. Fairman, RIP. I’m so glad you were our teacher.
I had Chris Fairman for U. S. History at McCallum high school. He was such a creative and inspiring teacher who brought in historical songs to make each time period come alive. He also let a group of us eat lunch in his room and write silly history poems on the chalkboard. I’m so sorry to hear this news.
Tom Cameron, Ph.D.
As Chris’ co teacher for 4 years in the AP Honors English/history program at McCallum High School in Austin, TX (1983-1988), I’m deeply saddened. Chris was a brilliant teacher even then, inspiring his “Historians! Historians!” to engage in every class. Our students (each of whose names he knew by the second day of class) are all over Facebook tonight with messages of high praise and deep sadness. He was unique, and I’m honored to have been his colleague.
Mr. Fairman was my history teacher during his last year at McCallum High School (1990-1991). We knew that he was planning to go to law school the following year. He often spoke of Mallory. I believe he made a roach cake for her 2nd birthday because she was fascinated with roaches at that time. He was pretty proud of that. Mr. Fairman was incredibly energetic, fueled by coffee, and a passion for bringing history to life. I am very lucky to have been one of his students, and to have known him. The world is missing one less Iggy Pop fan, and a wonderful man. May Chris Fairman’s memory be for a blessing.
Mr. Fairman was my high school U.S. History, I am saddened by his death and even sadder still that I never took the time to tell him that his way of bringing history alive in the classroom inspired and guided some of the lessons I taught when I taught high school U.S. History myself. I was not a great student (especially not in high school history) but he made a subject that I thought was boring (at the time) tangible and applicable. I will never forget him for that!
Lee Bickerstaff Nespor
He taught me American History and Economics at McCallum High School in Austin, TX. By far the best teacher I have ever had. He breathed life into the subject of history in a way few people can – he made it fun, engaging and interesting – he made you want to learn. I especially recall his use of music in the classroom and his collection of recordings by Burl Ives singing old civil war and presidential campaign songs. What a hoot! You were amazing Mr. Fairman. RIP.
Professor Joshua Dressler
(A second comment) As I read through the heartfelt comments of others, one sees not only what a great person Chris was, but also what a wonderful teacher he was, not only here at Moritz, but in his earlier career as a high school teacher. It is so moving to hear the words of those who are expressing themselves at this time, who remember all these years later how he helped them in the classroom. It is a reminder to all of us of the power of a great teacher. He or she can help us understand the world, and inspire us in our lives. It is also a reminder that all of us should track down our former professors and teachers, from law school, undergraduate, and well before, while they are still alive, to thank them.
Chris was so very kind and helpful in his role as associate dean for research. We will all miss his support. Blessings on Chris and his family, friends, colleagues, and students…
I’m not sure I can add anything that hasn’t been said, already. So I’ll just say farewell, Professor Fairman. The world is a little less bright with you not in it.
Professor Doug Berman
Though my heart is broken by this loss, I am comforted knowing Chris’s spirit and commitment to educating future generations will live on in all the colleagues and students whose lives he touched during his rich (though too brief) life. The hole left behind at Moritz will never be filled completely, but I feel hopeful that members of the Moritz community will honor his legacy through continued commitment to public education and public service.
Professor Fairman was a friend, a teacher, and a great mentor. As a professor at Moritz, his door was always open to his students. I was one of the lucky students to have him during my first year of law school and he made the experience exceptional. May he rest in peace.
I’ll never forget his classes. I’ll miss him.
Mr. Fairman was one of the best teachers I ever had in my life and all of my fellow high school American History and Government students agree on that fact. I started a Facebook group for his students: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1472844669679494/
Mr. Fairman taught me U.S. history in high school. I remember his class fondly. I have been fortunate to have many great teachers at every level of my education through law school, including the likes of Charles Alan Wright. Mr. Fairman was the best. He is what every teacher should aspire to be.
I admired his way of treating people and his dedication to his profession and the Moritz School of Law was admirable.
Mr. Fairman was my US History teacher at McCallum High School in Austin, TX. He was not only one of the very best educators I ever encountered, he is also touching many other generations through our children as well. Quite a legacy! I tracked Mr. Fairman down a couple of years ago after I spent an evening trying to share (but probably butchering) one of his lessons with my children. This is what he had to say about all of us “…By all markers I have succeeded as a law professor. Yet every skill that has made that possible, I honed as a public school teacher at McCallum. I am often asked what the difference is between teaching 11th graders and graduate students. Most are shocked to learn that there is very little. All students want to be treated with respect, know their time is valuable, and feel that their teacher is passionate about the material. Patience and a sense of humor also go a long way. You have made my day Brandi by taking the time to say thank you for something s o long ago. I was very lucky to have had so many students at McCallum who were just plain good people, not to mention good students of history. Thank you for reminding me of what a great luxury I had teaching all of you…”
Professor Martha Chamallas
Such a huge loss for all of us. Chris was a wonderful person — I loved his style (the best dressed on the faculty!), his whimsical sense of humor, the way he always made me feel that he was on my side, and his unfailing support for our school. Chris was often the quiet one, the one who listened, but we all knew he was very brave, very kind and very sweet.
This is such sad news about a very nice man and respected professor. I will always remember his kindness to the staff and his infectious smile. A sad loss and much too soon.
Professor Bruce Johnson
Chris was an extraordinary colleague, teacher and friend. He was the one who advanced -by miles – the use of technology in our classrooms, and I enjoyed working with him over the years on that and other projects. He was a good man and all of us will deeply miss him.
Professor Ned Foley
Chris was a wonderful colleague and an especially valued source of support and wisdom as Associate Dean, a role in which he was entirely selfless, thinking solely of how to help others and Moritz as a whole. He was exceptionally generous in spirit as well as in time and insight, and brought to every conversation grace and good humor. While we cannot yet fathom what a terrible loss this truly is, we are able to recognize our great fortunate in sharing time with Chris, and that recognition is what we must always cherish.
You have many teachers and mentors in your life but no one shined quite like he did in enthusiasm, inspiration and humor. I took Honors History from Mr. Fairman 1988-1989 at McCallum High in Austin, TX. He taught us all to think deeper, reach further and see history as a living thing – he even made us reenact the Yalta negotiations live action, and used songs from 1800s campaign songs to punk rock to teach us. He will truly be missed.
Assistant Dean Laura Fernandez
A wonderful human being, colleague and mentor. He was understanding, compassionate, wise (and hilarious). It was such a joy to work together and a pleasure to know him. I will miss him very very very much.
Possibly my favorite memory of Professor Fairman was from September 18, 2003, when, to introduce the case Burnham v. Superior Court in Civil Procedure, he played Tammy Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and perfectly synchronized the letters popping up in his PowerPoint with her singing them. He was SO delighted with himself, as we were with him.
Professor Dakota Rudesill
There is research suggesting that our names are influential on the people we become. Chris Fairman exemplified his: he was a fair man. That means a lot. He was always thinking of all the interests and equities in play, and being kind and thoughtful and fair to everyone. What a marvelous quality in a colleague, administrator, teacher, scholar, citizen — and I am sure family member as well. Finally, I would mention that he was brave. Not everyone would have written what he did, or been as honest as he was in conversations with colleagues. A massive loss for all who knew him.
Professor Ruth Colker
I am honored to have known Chris as a friend and as a colleague and feel fortunate to get to know him even better now through all the thoughtful words that his friends have written on these pages. It is wonderful to feel his warmth and love on these pages.
Professor Dan Tokaji
When I began my teaching career a dozen years ago, Chris showed me the ropes, sharing his unmatched wisdom and skills with me. That’s just how he was — devoted teacher, generous colleague, and kind man. Though taken from us far too soon, Chris will always live in our hearts.
Kelly Curtis ’05
Professor Fairman also taught my first class on my first day of law school. He somehow made one of the most terrifying moments of my life one that was filled with compassion and good humor. I aspire every day to be half as good in the classroom as he was. His passing is a profound loss for the entire Moritz community.
Sarah Biehl ’03
I remember being back at the law school sometime after I graduated – perhaps our 5 year reunion? – and Professor Fairman practically running out of his office to say hello when he saw me walk by. I was in his first Civ Pro section his first year at Moritz, and he made procedure fun and fascinating. His crazy PowerPoint animations, his stories from his practice life, the way he remembered and engaged with every student – he was born to do this job. We are all so lucky that we got to learn from him, and I’m so sad to know that future Moritz students won’t get to experience that.
Thank you to all that have posted amazing memories of my father. I have found comfort in the thousands of lives that he has touched. He was truly a remarkable and irreplaceable person. A full obituary and donation recommendations can be found on www.wcfish.com. There will be a visitation at Weed-Corley-Fish funeral home on North Lamar Blvd Saturday, August 1st from 2-4 p.m. in Austin, Texas. On Sunday, August 2nd at 3 p.m. a memorial service will be held at Crestview United Methodist Church. All are invited to attend. There will be a memorial service in Columbus, Ohio hosted by the Moritz College of Law most likely in September, but date yet to be determined. Thank you again for all your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
John Minter ’03
Professor Fairman was intelligent, engaging and down to earth. On a personal level, his conversations were sincere and professionally, his dedication to his students was clear. In addition, his scholarship on words, ideas and preventing government censorship was important. Even those that never walked through Mortiz’s doors or met Prof. Fairman have suffered a loss.
Professor Amna Akbar
What a loss for our community and for Chris’s family. Chris was a mentor and a great support to many junior faculty. I am so grateful to him for his support over the years. I appreciated his plain spokenness, his dry sense of humor, and his quiet persistence in getting things done.
James Talbert ’15
Professor Fairman was a wonderful professor and an original. I’ll miss him.
Professor Peter Swire (Georgia Tech)
I add my words of sadness to hear of Chris’ untimely death. When he was new to the school, I was asked to review his teaching. As you might suspect, I came away realizing how far I had to go to achieve the level that Chris was at.
Professor Daniel Markovits (Yale)
Chris Fairman taught me American history in high school and then became a colleague as a law professor. In a lifetime spent around schools and universities, he remains one of the most powerful and charismatic teachers I have ever encountered. Mr. Fairman’s charisma had extraordinary roots: never in his regard for himself, but always in his deep interest in and regard for his students. To be taught by Mr. Fairman was to be listened to — seriously, intently, steadfastly, critically, and sympathetically. It was a great piece of good luck to get to be taught and listened to like this. His death is a still greater loss.
Professor was a wonderful educator, but more importantly he was a wonderfully humane and caring individual. Fly high. RIP.
Professor Katrina Lee
I had the privilege of having an office just a couple of doors down from Chris for much of my career here. He was exceptionally generous with his time and wisdom to students and colleagues alike. Chris cared. Deeply and genuinely. I learned a lot from Chris, and I am grateful for his encouragement and advice, which was always specific and thoughtful. A heartbreaking loss. I will miss him.
I’ve only known Chris for a few years and this is how I find out that he passed away. The time but I did know him I met him at OSU he was a very good person I never held a grudge. I’ll miss you Chris and in my heart there will always be a place of love for you! I hope you find the peace and happiness let you couldn’t find here I’m really sad because I just talk to you a day before this.
Nilay Dalal ’04
My condolences. I am sorry to hear this sad news. Prof Fairman was one of the best professors I had in law school. He was inspiring and genuinely cared about teaching his students.
Nick Kamphaus ’08
I had Professor Fairman during my first semester in law school. As we all know, his presence in the classroom was amazing. I can honestly say that he had an outsize influence on how I understood the legal profession and what a lawyer can be. Professor Fairman, you will be dearly missed!
Cecil J. Thompson ’03
Professor Fairman was a person of remarkable disposition. His blend of intellectual brilliance and joviality made him a special teacher. If we are lucky, once in a while, someone like Professor Fairman crosses our path. With sadness, I extend my sincere condolences to his family and the Moritz community.
Professor Kristen Blankley ’04 (University of Nebraska)
Chris Fairman was a dedicated teacher, mentor, and scholar. I learned a lot from him as a student, and I appreciated his advice and mentoring when I transitioned into the academy. I am so grateful for his friendship and his advice.
Jim Saywell ’14
Dean Fairman was a terrific person. As a professor, moot-court coach, and mentor, he had a positive impact on all those he met. I’ll be forever grateful to him for improving my legal writing, speaking, and thinking — and, more so, for being such a warm mentor and friend.
Megan Fulcher Bosak ’12
His bright spirit and intellect will be sorely missed. He influenced the lives of hundreds if not thousands of students, and will never be forgotten.
Samil Pullen ’13
I’m not going to try to be proper; I’m going to be real: I can’t remember ever gasping out loud after finding out someone I knew died. I did when I saw this sad news in my thread. I quickly found myself asking myself why I just gasped, and I quickly reminded myself that this man…this man right here was one of the few professors who showed me more care and concern than I could have imagined I would get in law school. This man helped bring me from a “C” student to an “A” student, and taught me how to maintain that level in other courses. He was always positive. He always told me that I could do it. I stayed in the library for hours while I tried to perfect what he taught me, and he spent hours reviewing and giving me feedback. In a nutshell, he’s a MAIN reason I stayed in law school and actually finished. I’m sad…really sad.
Michael Jones ’08
I had Professor Fairman for legal writing in my first year. I will never forget sitting in his office going through my paper together. My first draft was not well-written. Professor Fairman had me read passages out loud to him to make me realize how bad the writing was. He then spent the next 30 minutes patiently explaining how to fix my errors. I still use his process today. I’ll never forget how patient he was with me. He will be missed.