Remembering Henry Ramsey Jr., Former Howard Law Dean, Council Chair, and Civil Rights Activist

Volume 45 Number 3

    Henry Ramsey Jr., who served as an Alameda County (California) judge, dean of Howard University School of Law, and chair of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, died March 14 in Berkeley, California, five days after suffering a massive stroke. Mr. Ramsey was also active in the civil rights movement and participated in the third march on Selma, Alabama, in 1965 that succeeded in reaching the state capital of Montgomery.

     Mr. Ramsey was born in Florence, South Carolina, and briefly attended Howard University before transferring to the University of California-Riverside, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1960. He then earned a law degree from the University of California-Berkeley, School of Law in 1963.

     After graduation, Mr. Ramsey served as a Contra Costa County, California, prosecutor before he entered private practice in the late 1960s. He joined UC-Berkeley as a faculty member in 1971 and taught there until 1980. During that time, he also served as a Berkeley city council member from 1973 to 1977. In 1981, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Mr. Ramsey as an Alameda County Superior Court Judge, a position he held until 1990, when he became dean of Howard University School of Law. He served as dean until 1996

     In addition to serving as the Section’s Council Chair from 1991-1992, Mr. Ramsey served on the Accreditation Committee from 1978 to 1983, including a term as chair in 1980-1981. He chaired the Special Committee to Study the Law School Approval Process in 1989 that led to several key recommendations, including improving training for site evaluation teams, promoting less secrecy in the approval process, and creating an intermediate sanction for schools found to be in violation of the Standards. In the late 1990s, Mr. Ramsey chaired the Law School Admission Council’s Bar Passage Study Working Group, which for the first time collected bar examination outcome data by ethnicity and gender and explored factors that could explain differences in outcomes. The study was published in 1998 as the LSAC National Longitudinal Bar Passage Study.

     His numerous awards include the Section’s 2000 Robert J. Kutak Award, and two awards from the University of California-Berkeley, School of Law: the 2003 Citation Award and the 2006 Judge D. Lowell and Barbara Jensen Public Service Award. The ABA’s Law Student Division created the Henry Ramsey Jr. Diversity Award in his honor, given annually to law students, law schools, or student organizations whose activities advance women; ethnic minorities; people with disabilities; and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender legal professionals and students. A law academy at De Anza High School in California is also named in his honor. 

    Mr. Ramsey is survived by his wife Eleanor and his six children.   

    At its March 2014 meeting, the Council issued a memorial resolution in honor of Henry Ramsey Jr.


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