Dean John Feerick sitting at his desk

Dean John Feerick sitting at his desk
Photos by Chris Taggart
Professor Dan Capra typography with Trophy
TAKE A LOOK AROUND the photo-lined office of Dean Emeritus John Feerick ’61 and the first thing that comes to mind is family. That includes not just his six children, 11 grandchildren, and wife, Emalie, but also his Fordham family—made during his years as a student as well as since his start as a law professor in 1976 and through his deanship from 1982 to 2002. Among them are hundreds of colleagues, legal luminaries, and students who have touched his life over the years.

Feerick’s parents, both Irish immigrants, encouraged him from an early age to, as he recalled, “get an education and make something of myself.” For a son of the Bronx like Feerick, that meant attending Fordham College, then going on to Fordham Law, where, as editor-in-chief of the Fordham Law Review, he published an article on presidential succession. After President Kennedy’s assassination, the article led to Feerick being asked to help draft the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

With all his illustrious accomplishments, Feerick is still very much rooted in the present—and looking to the future. He meets with Fordham Law students every day, always taking care to send them out into the world a little kinder and wiser. “At my present age, talking with students about their careers, about life, sustains me,” said Feerick. “It gives me great joy that people think I can be useful and constructive.” What he hears in those conversations also gives him hope. “I’m very encouraged by our students’ enthusiasm,” he said. “We’re in very challenging times right now, but it helps to think about how you can contribute and solve problems.”

American Bar Association Committee meeting photo in black and white
AUTHOR, AUTHOR! “This photo is of the American Bar Association Committee meeting where we formulated the 25th Amendment to the Constitution,” said Feerick. “It’s the key authors, you might say, of the proposals that got combined in the Amendment. In the photo, I’m the one taking notes, next to Senator Birch Bayh, who is talking about the proposal. Not only was Bayh the principal author of the 25th Amendment, but he also drafted the 26th Amendment, Title IX, and the Equal Rights Amendment—that one almost made it but didn’t.”
Sign that says "To John, With deep affection from your partners at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom June 1982"
THE BUCK STOPS HERE Feerick’s conference table, grand desk, and well-worn office- and side chairs were all gifts from his former partners at Skadden Arps. After graduating from Fordham Law, Feerick worked at Skadden as an attorney and later as a partner in the firm’s very early days. “It was a small firm that became a big firm,” he said. “The desk goes back to 1948, I think. It belonged to one of the founders and was given to me as a gift when I came over to Fordham. They were sorry to see me go but were very supportive—and are still supportive of the Law School.”
A nice, dark wood desk with 10 drawers for storage on the sides
A small Irish and American flag in a pencil cup
WAVING THE FLAG “This Irish flag goes with me wherever I go,” said Feerick. “It’s part of my roots.” Feerick is also known for his collection of green ties, like this one with a four-leaf-clover print [on Feerick in main photo]. “I always wear them for special occasions.”
Scroll of Alumnni, Friends, and founders of Fordham University
WALL OF FAME “This is a very significant document of major donors to Fordham Law,” said Feerick, who was instrumental in raising funds to double the size of Fordham Law when he was dean. “It hung in the lobby of the amphitheater in the Gabelli building for 30 years, from 1982 to 2014, until we dedicated the new law building. If I were to create a Fordham Law hall of fame, the people in this document would be members. So many people whose names are on that list are now gone, and when we moved from the old building to this building, I didn’t want it to end up in the closet, put away somewhere. So I hung it in my office as a reminder of the graduates who made a difference for the Law School.”
Framed pictures of Feerick, his wife, and his children
PROUD PATRIARCH Like any grandfather, Feerick likes to point out photos of his grandchildren, one of whom is studying to be a doctor, and another two who are in the military. “One grandson is a Navy Seal; the other is going through training to be an Army Ranger right now,” he said.
Framed picture of Feerick and his wife Emalie
CORE COMMITMENT “My wife, Emalie, has been at the core of my life for 60 years,” said Feerick. When asked the secret of such a long, happy marriage, he said, “Well, I grew up in the culture of my religion—Catholicism—and the idea of marriage being a lifelong event was ingrained in me. And I built that as part of my foundation. Whatever the challenges of life, you’re committed.”