Charles M. Hewitt, Jr.
- Herman Frederic Lieber Award (1960)
- Indiana University Bloomington
Maurer School of Law
Department of Business Law
BIOGRAPHYCharles M. Hewitt, Jr., who died on October 7, 1989, served Indiana University as an outstanding teacher, a productive scholar, an innovative administrator, and as a nationally recognized leader of his profession. His immense energy, his warm personality, his colorful phraseology, and his irrepressible sense of humor delighted all who knew him and have indelibly engraved him in the hearts and minds of his colleagues and former students. Born the son of an attorney in Birmingham, Alabama on April 6, 1923, Charlie attended Birmingham Southern College and the University of Alabama before joining the Air Force. He served for three and one-half years as a sergeant in the intelligence corps, returning to Tuscaloosa after the was to earn a law degree in 1947. Later, while practicing law and teaching business law, he earned an M.B.A. in 1949. Encouraged by Alabama's dean and the late John Mee to prepare for an academic career, Charlie entered the doctoral program at the Indiana University School of Business. After finishing his course work in a year and a summer, he returned to Alabama, first as an assistant professor of Business Law and later as an Assistant Dean of the School of Business.
He returned to Indiana in 1953 as a lecturer in Business Law, and was promoted to assistant professor upon completion of his doctorate in 1955. He was promoted to associate professor in 1957, and attained full rank in 1960.
Charlie was an unusually effective and popular teacher who eschewed the then traditional "black letter" approach to teaching business law in favor of a socio-historical approach which emphasized law as a dynamic social institution constantly adapting to changing social needs and values. Thousands of undergraduates had their first taste of law from Charlie in mass lecture sections of 300 or more. Many were sufficiently inspired by the experience to pursue careers in the law.
Charlie's unique blend of personal dynamism, "Big Picture" outlook, and kindly, avuncular humor were equally effective with graduate students and business executives. He won numerous graduate and undergraduate teaching awards during his career, including the Herman F. Lieber Award, Sigma Delta Chi's "Brown Derby" Award, three Delta Sigma Pi awards, and four M.B.A. Association Teaching Excellence awards. He was a sought after teacher in the executive programs of the School of Business and of a number of other universities, as well as in the "in-house" training programs of several major corporations. Even after retirement, he continued to teach with great success in the Executive M.B.A. Program and in the Indiana Executive Program.
Charlie was also an active scholar, with a long list of articles in scholarly and professional journals to his credit. His doctoral dissertation was published by Richard D. Irwin, Inc. in 1956, and it and his congressional testimony were instrumental in securing the passage of federal legislation protecting automobile dealers' franchise rights. He co-authored a best-selling business law text through four editions. He almost single-handedly founded the leading scholarly publication in his field, the American Business Law Journal, and served as its Editor-in-Chief for six years.
Charlie also rendered significant service to the School of Business, chairing the Business Law Department for five years and helping to build a department now acknowledged as one of the nation's finest. He served the University as Dean of the Junior (now University) Division from 1969 to 1973. During his tenure in that office the Groups Program for disadvantaged students and an administrator for Latin Affairs were established. He also served his profession by holding a variety of offices in the American Business Law Association, culminating in a term as President in 1975. In 1983, the Association further recognized his outstanding contributions by presenting him with the Faculty Award of Excellence, its highest honor.
Charlie frequently served as a consultant to business, especially to franchise trade associations who valued his significant expertise in the franchise area. He also assisted business law departments at several other universities in their quest to improve their curricula and institutional standing. Lastly, as one who was involved in the early development of Lake Monroe, he was instrumental in a gift of land near the lake that was the genesis of the Alumni Association's family camp, Shawnee Bluffs.
Impressive as the foregoing list of Charlie's contributions is, however, it does not begin to capture the essence of the man. Charlie was, first and foremost, intensely vital and alive. This great vitality enabled him ultimately to spring back from the tragic loss of both his sons, and to embrace life once again with his customary vigor. After retiring in May of 1987, for example, he went scuba diving in the Caribbean and on a hot air balloon safari in Africa. At a time when many men are suffering from hardening of the arteries or hardening of the categories, Charlie was always open to a new idea, a new joke, or a new experience.
If the timeliness of a man's death is measured by the breadth and depth of his accomplishments when he departs, Charlie's death must be a timely one. If, however, timeliness is measured by the contributions a man remains capable of making, his death must by any standard be adjudged untimely. Just as the lives of all who knew him were enriched by the experience, so have they been impoverished by his loss.