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Hal Edgar ’60

For more than 50 years, Hal Edgar has been on the faculty of Columbia Law School, where he is Julius Silver Professor Emeritus of Law, Science and Technology. He also served as a Collegiate Trustee for 12 years. His son, Will Edgar, is a member of Collegiate’s Class of ’99.

  1. What has Collegiate given you that has been essential in your post-Collegiate life? 

    The ability to read critically, and almost as importantly, confidence in my ability to read critically, and to evaluate whether and to what extent authors' conclusions followed from the evidence they presented. It made Law a natural fit for me. 
  2. Favorite Collegiate Faculty member?

    There were many great teachers, but Holden Johnson inspired me. He radiated energy and love of learning. I remember he once arrived to teach a European History class, noticed the periodic table still on the wall from Chemistry, and spontaneously talked about who had first envisaged it, and how amazing it was that 19th Century scientists could develop it with the tools at their disposal, all the while telling the story excitedly, as if he had just learned it the night before.
  3. Proudest accomplishment post-Collegiate?

    Getting to teach so many wonderful students!  Also my work on Bioethics issues: at the Hastings Center; at UNESCO helping draft the  Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights; and as a litigator helping represent the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study,  getting some monetary compensation for those who suffered an outrageous violation of their rights. 
  4. Favorite Performer?

    Too many all time favorites (Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Doc Watson, Bob Dylan among them), but how about a shoutout for my erstwhile Collegiate classmate John Hammond, a wonderful Blues singer and guitarist.
  5. One Thing I wish I had done differently at Collegiate?

    Played soccer. I stunk at football.