News for faculty and staff

Contact | Past Issues

Week of August 15, 2011


Eric Stein

Eminent legal scholar Eric Stein, who first came to the Law School as a refugee from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and later helped his adopted country draft rules that still govern the United Nations, has died in Ann Arbor at 98.

The passing of a man universally acknowledged as the father of legal scholarship on the European Union means the loss of two bridges in the legal world — one spanning the Atlantic, and the other spanning the pre- and post-World War II eras.

“All of us who knew Eric were grateful for the privilege,” Law School Dean Evan Caminker says. “Eric has been associated with Michigan Law since the middle of the last century, and his vitality and exuberance will be sorely missed.”

Stein’s connection to the Law School, where he was the Hessel E. Yntema Professor of Law Emeritus, began long before he joined its faculty in 1955. He was born in 1913 in what is now the Czech Republic. In 1939 the young lawyer, who was Jewish, was serving in the Czechoslovakian army when Hitler’s sudden occupation brought his homeland under Nazi control.

By 1940 he was in Naples, from whence he came to the States on a student visa and earned an American J.D. at Michigan Law. He immediately joined the U.S. Army and returned to Italy, where he helped design the temporary Allied military government.

He also learned in Italy that only two of his close relatives had survived the war. His parents and a sister died in Nazi concentration camps.

Stein’s war service earned him a Bronze Star and the Order of the Italian Crown, Italian Military Cross.

After the war he went to work for the U.S. State Department, where, armed only with the U.N. Charter, he helped organize the General Assembly, the Security Council, and other institutions still at work today.

Stein discovered his life’s work, in international and comparative law, in the early 1950s. Europe’s Coal and Steel Community represented the marriage of strategic industries from nations that had been enemies in World War II, and Stein became fascinated by the group’s potential to evolve and prevent such catastrophes in the future. By 1956 he was a law professor at Michigan, and by 1960 had correctly predicted that the Community would evolve one day into what is now the European Union.

“Eric taught the first course and wrote the first book on what we would now call European Union law,” says Professor Daniel Halberstam, who holds the endowed professorship created to honor Stein at the Law School. “He also was the first to make people see the constitutional dimension of European integration. And he did all this with a wonderful gift for writing and a compelling spirit of decency.”

Looking back on Stein’s work, a leading German newspaper recently proclaimed him “Europe’s Prophet.”

His remarkable career didn’t slow as he aged. He helped draft a proposed constitution for a Czecho-Slovak Republic, then helped write the Czech Republic’s constitution after the two countries finally split. At 84 he published the prize-winning book “Czecho/Slovakia: Ethnic Conflict, Constitutional Fissure, Negotiated Breakup.” In 2001 Czech President Vaclav Havel personally presented him with the Czech Medal of Merit First Degree.

Stein also received prestigious lifetime achievement awards in every discipline he touched: from the American Society of Comparative Law in 2004, the European Union Studies Association in 2005, and this year from the American Society of International Law.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Virginia Stein. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Eric and Virginia Stein Fund for International and Comparative Law at the Law School, 625 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109, or to Arbor Hospice, 2366 Oak Valley Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. A memorial gathering will be held at the Law School on a date to be determined.

— Submitted by John Masson, Law School

Peter Khan

Peter Khan, former professor of electrical engineering, died July 15, in Brisbane, Australia. He was 74 years old. He was internationally known as a former member of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha’i Faith.

Khan was born in New South Wales on Nov. 12, 1936. When he was 12 years old, Khan, his parents and sister became the first Muslims in Australia to join the Baha’i Faith. From that time onwards, he dedicated his life to promoting the Baha’i teachings. At the age of 21, he was elected a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia, on which he served until 1963.

Khan became an electrical engineer, receiving his B.Sc. (1956), his B.E. (1959) and his doctorate (1963) — all from the University of Sydney. From 1963-67, he lived in the United States as a Fulbright postdoctoral fellow at U-M, and remained there as a professor of electrical engineering until his return to Australia in 1975. He became a visiting professor at the University of New South Wales and an associate professor at the University of Queensland from 1976-83. He also was a fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia, a senior member of the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a member of the editorial board of its journal, Transactions on Microwave Theory.

After leaving the United States, Khan served as a Baha’i Continental Counselor for Australasia until his appointment in 1983 to the Baha’i International Teaching Centre, when he and his wife, Janet, transferred their residence to the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel.

Khan was first elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1987, serving until April 2010 when he relinquished his position.

— Submitted by David Frankel



Mary Bagwell, laundry feeder folder, U-M Health System Laundry Services, on the key to great spaghetti: “You add a little bit of sugar or a little bit of mint to take out the bitterness.”


William Faulkner’s Artifacts of Authorship exhibit, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Special Collections Library

View Events
Submit Events