Al Turnbull '62, the "Dean of Deans," Retires
by David Ibbeken '71
Al Turnbull retired July 31st after thirty-six years of extraordinary and devoted service to the Law School. He leaves a mark on this institution unmatched by anyone before him and unlikely to be matched by anyone after him. During Al's tenure as Associate Dean, he admitted and placed more than 13,000 students, setting a wonderful tone of civility and excellence for this institution. In fact, Al admitted eighty percent of our living alumni.
A graduate of Exeter and Princeton, Al attended the Law School from 1959 to 1962 and distinguished himself by winning the Lile Moot Court Competition in his third year with his classmate and close friend, Charles Kidd.
I served as Al's student assistant for two years in Law School and later for seventeen years on his admission committee, and saw time and again the great sensitivity he brought to reading admission files. I have believed for years that he sees more in a file than anyone I have ever observed. Although most students were grateful Al admitted them to the Law School, some of our most devoted graduates are those he admitted from the wait list, typically late in the summer. As I travel the country, scores of alumni tell me how deeply grateful they are for the chance Al gave them to attend the Law School.
His peers at other law schools widely regard Al as the "Dean of Deans." He was active in the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) where he had a range of responsibilities including chairing a number of committees, serving on the board of trustees, and playing an important role in the creation of the Law School Data Assembly Service. Over the years, he has been a valuable source of strength and guidance to that organization and its many members.
Happily, the Class of 1962 surprised Al at its recent fortieth reunion by renaming its class scholarship The Class of 1962 Albert R. Turnbull Scholarship. This is a fitting tribute to one who cares deeply about need-based financial aid for students. Al answered this honor by saying, "I've been a very lucky man. I've had the chance to interact with the nation's greatest young people at the greatest institution." The Law School Alumni Association and the Dean on behalf of the Law School faculty also presented to Al a variety of fly-fishing equipment that he will no doubt enjoy in the weeks and years ahead on the Outer Banks; and in Florida with his brother, Ben; off Montauk with his son, Albert; and on the streams and rivers of Virginia.
Al leaves us with a student and alumni body that will distinguish itself and this Law School for decades to come. Before his ripple effect concludes, he will have impacted the Law School for close to 100 years. He deserves great credit for the way in which he has conducted a highly sensitive and difficult assignment. We will miss him and wish him all the best.