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Law School Announces Wise Memorial Symposium

November 29, 2006

Wayne State University Law School is pleased to announce the creation of the Edward Wise Memorial Endowed Symposium.  The Symposium, which will be an annual day-long event, will alternate between the topic of Comparative Law and the topic of International Criminal Law.  The first symposium will be held in the Winter Term of 2007.

The Symposium is named in memory of Edward M. Wise, a renowned scholar and professor of criminal law, comparative law, international criminal law, and legal history, who taught at the Law School from 1965 until his untimely death in 2000. 

The Symposium will include a public lecture and a meeting for interested students with the guest speaker.  Details of the first Symposium will be announced in late 2006.

Edward Martin Wise was a graduate of the University of Chicago and Cornell Law School.  He received his LL.M. from New York University Law School.  Working with Gerhardt Mueller, Wise created a new field, international criminal law, and published widely on that subject.  At the time of his death, his curriculum vita was 30 pages long.

Professor Wise’s books included Criminal Science in a Global Society and Studies in Comparative Criminal Law, both of which he edited.  He was co-author of Anglo-American Criminal Justice, and co-editor with Mueller of International Criminal Law.  He had also edited Comparative Law:  Cases-Text-Materials, which had numerous editions printed.  He authored over sixty articles, chapters and book reviews, including a number in languages other than English.  He spoke at conferences and symposia around the world.

Wise’s service to both the University and the profession was no less prolific than his writing and speaking engagements.  Among many other responsibilities, he was director of the Law School’s Comparative Criminal Law Project; president of the American Section, International Association of Penal Law; and a member of the editorial board of three different legal publications.  Over the course of his career he filed amicus briefs for the ACLU in over two dozen cases.

Wise came to WSU in 1965; he spent his entire career as a law professor here.  In addition to his expertise in the law (he was a noted research scholar), Wise had a range and depth of knowledge in the fields of history, anthropology, archeology, sociology and literature.  He read in eight languages, had a photographic memory, was fond of the work of Rudyard Kipling, and had memorized every Star Trek episode.

The Symposium seeks to honor the memory of Professor Wise by allowing a scholar to examine the law as Wise saw it:  as a “complex, somewhat fragile intellectual and moral deposit----at its finest, an instrument for good, for social advancement, for the liberation of nations and peoples; and at its worst, a tool powerful enough to decimate entire democracies in the blink of an eye,” as his widow, WSU Professor Sandra VanBurkleo, put it.  Dr. VanBurkleo is an associate professor of History and has been an adjunct professor of law at the Law School since 1995.

The Symposium is made possible by funding from Professor VanBurkleo and Wayne State University.

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