Baylor Law School Mourns the Death of Dean Emeritus McSwain

May 29, 2011
Baylor Law School mourns the loss of Dean Emeritus Angus McSwain, who died suddenly Sunday, May 29, in Waco. Services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, at the Austin Avenue United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Chris Mesa of Austin Ave. UMC and the Rev. Tom Robbins of First United Methodist Church, Temple, officiating. Visitation will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, p.m. at Wilkerson Hatch Funeral Home.

"In the loss of Dean McSwain, the Baylor Law community and our university have lost an iconic figure and a beloved friend," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. "Dean McSwain was a paradigm of the teacher-scholar. His leadership on the law faculty across the decades, and his 19 years as dean of the Law School set the standards and established a culture that have allowed our Law School to thrive, and through our alumni, to have a profound impact upon our profession, our state and beyond. He was in all he did an understated gentleman who always sought to do his best, to serve others, and to live a quiet life of faith. Our prayers are with Andy, Chris and Stewart in this loss to their family and in this loss to the legion of people who loved and held the Dean in the highest esteem."

Dean McSwain was born in 1923 and graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in Bryan, Texas. He entered Texas A&M University, but in 1943 his education was interrupted by World War II. He spent the next three years in the Army Corps of Engineers and was discharge as a First Lieutenant in 1946. He received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M in 1947. He earned his L.L.B. cum laude in 1949 from Baylor Law, where he was first in his class, and later an LL.M. from the University of Michigan Law School.

He served as a professor of law at Baylor from 1949-1965, when he became dean. McSwain would lead the law school for the next 19 years, at that time, the longest tenure of any dean in the law school's history.

Throughout his tenure as dean, Baylor Law achieved and maintained a high standard of academic excellence. McSwain emphasized classroom teaching as the law school's primary objective. During the early years of McSwain's tenure, a number of new faculty members arrived, including David Guinn (1966), who was honored as Master Teacher and is currently the senior faculty member; R. Matt "Mad Dog" Dawson (1971); and W. Frank Newton (1972), who later became the dean at Texas Tech University School of Law. Other faculty hired during McSwain's tenure who are still active at Baylor Law include Tom Featherston, Mike Rogers, Ron Beal, Mike Morrison, David Swenson and current Dean Brad Toben.

McSwain returned to full-time teaching in 1984 and was named to the Gov. Bill and Vara Faye Daniel Chair of Property Law in 1985. In 1990, he was designated a Master Teacher, the highest honor granted to Baylor faculty members. Since his affiliation with Baylor Law, he taught a wide-variety of courses, including trusts and estates, torts, local government, civil procedure, constitutional law, jurisprudence and personal and real property. Although he "officially" retired in 1994, he continued to teach until 2008, a total of 59 years.

In addition to Law School activities, McSwain was a member of the Texas Bar Association and served as both secretary and chair of the Family Law Section. He also authored numerous articles for the Texas Bar Journal as well as textbooks and casebooks.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Ann. He is survived by one son, Andy McSwain, also a Baylor Lawyer; Andy's wife, Chris; and grandson, Stewart.
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