Professor Tony McDermott, who taught at Pepperdine University School of Law since 1982, passed away on June 1, 2010, at the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, California. He was surrounded by family and loved ones.
A much-beloved professor, McDermott, known to generations of students as "Skippy," taught broadly across the curriculum, including in the areas of contracts, business planning, civil procedure, tax, corporations, and sports law. He earned the University's highest honor for teaching in 1995 when Pepperdine recognized him as a Harriet and Charles Luckman Distinguished Teaching Fellow.
Tom Bost, interim dean, remembered Professor McDermott as “an excellent classroom teacher, a caring mentor for generations of students, and a loving and devoted father.” “Tony cultivated countless friendships, and was blessed with the gift of a precise and accurate memory: with seeming ease, he could remember names, dates, times, jobs, births, and deaths. I pray God’s blessings on all of those who loved Tony,” says Bost.
Throughout his twenty-eight years at Pepperdine, Professor McDermott’s mentorship of students extended beyond the classroom. He relished the opportunity to spend time with students and often hosted students in his home. He also served as the director of Pepperdine’s Overseas Program from 1997 to 2000 and taught in the law school’s London Program on multiple occasions.
Born in 1939, Professor McDermott earned a BA and LLB from the University of California, Los Angeles. His first position in legal education was as the assistant dean of the UCLA School of Law, where one of his primary responsibilities was to establish the UCLA Legal Education Opportunity Program, the first of its kind in the nation.
Prior to teaching at Pepperdine, he taught at the University of Denver, Loyola, Oregon, and Santa Clara law schools. He served on the board of trustees of the Law School Admissions Council, and as a consultant to the Council on Legal Education Opportunity and the Committee to Study the Bar Examination Process for the State Bar of California. He previously worked as a federal public defender, a California probate referee, and the business manager of a thoroughbred breeding and training farm.
Alumna Keri Sepulveda, a 1997 graduate of Pepperdine, reflects on the legacy of her friend and former professor. “Professor McDermott was a true servant leader. He exemplified the values of dedication, integrity and, above all, concern for fellow man,” she says. “He inspired me to give greater thought and deliberation to all my work as an attorney, to diligently apply the law with a sense of kindness and conscience.”
Professor Doug Kmiec, who currently serves as U.S. Ambassador to Malta, remembers his colleague and friend. “Skip was a man of integrity and fairness. He cared deeply about his students, his colleagues, and the reputation of the institution. His open door, sonorous voice, and ever-present Irish wit will be my memory of him.”
Professor McDermott is survived by his son, Tim McDermott, a 2007 graduate of Pepperdine School of Law.
A memorial service was held on June 9.
Two funds have been established in honor of Professor McDermott: a fund to benefit UCLA athletics and a student scholarship fund at Pepperdine School of Law. For more information, please contact Brad Benham