When a law professor addresses students in the classroom, the faces of future attorneys, judges, politicians, policymakers and even world leaders could be looking back. A professor’s teaching can have a ripple effect, touching one life that, in turn, can impact thousands of others.
Recently, a University of Mississippi School of Law graduate who asked to remain anonymous made a $50,000 gift to the Guthrie T. Abbott Scholarship in Law Endowment, honoring the professor who made a lasting impact on his life.
When “Guff” Abbott joined the Ole Miss law faculty in 1970, he said he “felt blessed” to be in such a position. He previously worked in private law practice in Gulfport, Mississippi, after graduating with a juris doctorate degree from the university in 1967.
“The Lord blessed me when he put me into teaching. I loved every day of it, and I was always excited about being in the classroom and working with students,” said Abbott of Oxford, Mississippi.
“I still have former students who will thank me for all that they learned in my classes, especially in ones like Mississippi Civil Practice and Procedure. In that course, I covered what lawyers should know, but students often do not learn in law school. To this day, former students indicate they are grateful for having taken the class.”
Abbott served on the law faculty for 32 years as a professor and as acting dean for two years. After retirement, he continued teaching, bringing his total time in the classroom to 46 years. The students he taught became successful leaders in a number of areas, and seven have served as Mississippi Supreme Court justices.
“I believe law school opens so many doors for people,” Abbott said. “You don’t have to become a practicing attorney to benefit from law school; so many vocations can be enhanced by having a law degree.”
In 2012, Abbott and his wife, Patricia, established the scholarship that bears his name as a way to provide support for students who want to pursue law degrees.
“I hope the scholarship gives its recipients the opportunity to come to law school and makes their attendance financially easier,” said Abbott, who was the first in his family to attend law school.
Law Dean Susan Duncan said scholarships established by former faculty members are especially meaningful.
“It shows how their commitment to the university extends beyond the classroom and provides a legacy of learning,” she said.
“Likewise, a former student’s gift to a scholarship endowment solidifies the commitment that professors like Guff Abbott make to our law school. It’s such a wonderful tribute to him and his career as an educator that will allow countless opportunities for others.”
The Guthrie T. Abbott Scholarship in Law Endowment is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations. Those interested can mail a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund’s named noted in the memo line, to 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655.
For more information contact Suzette Matthews, development officer for the School of Law, at email@example.com or 662-915-1122.
Online gifts can be made at http://give.olemiss.edu.
By Mary Stanton Knight