The Stuff of Legends

By Lorrie Kyle Ramey ’70

Marvin Newman
Raising the Bar

Marvin Newman

Ask students lucky enough to have enrolled in COM 445 to name their favorite course at Rollins, and undoubtedly the response will be Death and Dying. Marvin Newman’s consideration of the facts and ethics surrounding patients’ rights mesmerized not only Rollins students (Death and Dying stands unchallenged as the most popular course in College history, regularly filling Bush Auditorium and still generating a wait list), but legal experts and media around the world.

Listen to Marvin Newman's recollections of Rollins.
Listen to Marvin Newman's recollections of Rollins.

Considered an expert on such challenging topics as stem cell research, physician-assisted suicide, and organ transplants, Newman is called on by the likes of The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, CNN, and Fox News, and has been invited to lecture at Cambridge and Oxford Universities—along with others a bit closer to home. He has also been the “go to” person for Rollins prelaw students. Over the years, his advice and advocacy have earned Rollins graduates seats in law schools such as Georgetown, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale.

Newman, whose law degrees are from Northwestern University (no slouch, itself), followed in his trial-attorney father’s footsteps, but he always knew that he wanted to teach. In 1961, he offered his first course at Rollins, and thus began the juggling act that defined Newman’s life for nearly 15 years: maintaining a successful law practice (he tried more than 300 cases in 40 states and three nations before retiring); teaching at midday, in the evenings, and on weekends; eating dinner with his family every night; and running eight miles a day. He joined Rollins’ faculty in 1975, rising to the rank of professor of legal studies and communication, a pairing that also inspired Newman to tackle cyber ethics, particularly internet-privacy issues. He holds the distinction of having taught in every program of the College during his career, as well as visiting appointments at Washington University School of Law, Vassar College, and Sarah Lawrence College, garnering multiple awards for scholarship and teaching along the way.

Newman expected equally high performance from his students. He incorporated a service-learning component into his courses, compelling students to challenge preconceptions by involving them with the elderly in hospice training, the less advantaged through legal aid, and the terminally ill with organizations such as Make-A-Wish Foundation. The result: students who learned about themselves while learning the importance of compassion.

With a personal portfolio of volunteer activities that includes service on The Florida Bar’s Student Education and Admissions to the Bar Committee and the ethics committees of Orlando Regional Medical Center and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute, all of which he chaired, it’s unlikely that Newman will be bored in retirement. In fact, he’s been invited to return to Oxford to lecture on bioethics and has already signed on to inaugurate a program for M.D. Anderson working with cancer patients and their families.

At the top of Newman’s post-retirement “To Do” list is shooting baskets with his grandsons. No surprise for a man who wouldn’t miss an evening meal with his wife and daughters.

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