April 25, 2011

MSU Law Community Mourns the Passing of Professor Craig Callen

East Lansing, MI — With great sorrow, Joan W. Howarth, Dean of Michigan State University College of Law, announces the passing of Professor Craig R. Callen, who died Saturday, April 23, 2011, after a brief illness.

“The MSU Law community has suffered a terrible loss,” said Dean Howarth. “Craig Callen has been at the heart of our world, as a respected scholar, dedicated faculty leader, generous mentor, and beloved teacher and friend.”

“Craig made a wonderful academic home here at the Law College. He was voted by the students as their Distinguished Professor of 2011, served on the elected Faculty Advisory Council, and met his latest publication deadline just a few weeks ago. Craig brought intelligence, humor, independence, and decency to everything he did. We are mourning the loss of a remarkable man.”

Professor Callen, the Judge John D. O’Hair Professor of Evidence and Procedure, had been a member of the MSU Law faculty since 2002. He taught Civil Procedure and Evidence.

The author of dozens of articles and co-editor of a book on comparative expert evidence, Professor Callen is recognized for his significant contributions to the field of evidence law and theory, particularly as the law of evidence relates to philosophy, psychology, and reasoning. From 1998 until his passing, he served as editor-in-chief of International Commentary on Evidence, an experimental electronic journal that he helped establish. As he explained in a recent interview, given that the application of law turns on facts—or what we believe to be the facts—Professor Callen studied how and why we think we know things.

Professor Callen recently summarized his teaching philosophy, explaining that he tried to treat students “the way I’d want to be treated if I had their ability. They sometimes have a lot more potential than they give themselves credit for.”

Professor Callen’s students and friends knew him to be a person of wide-ranging interests. He read mysteries, philosophy, history, and poetry. He enjoyed an extensive classical music collection. An avid University of Iowa and Minnesota Vikings football fan, he earned points for the faculty team and murmurs from the audience when he correctly answered a run of obscure sports trivia questions in a recent student–faculty quiz bowl competition.

Professor Callen earned a B.A. with honors and high distinction in 1971 from the University of Iowa, and a J.D. in 1974 from Harvard Law School. He practiced law with firms in Chicago and Milwaukee before taking the advice of his law school professor, Archibald Cox, that he consider teaching. He began his academic career in 1978 as a writing instructor and visiting assistant professor at the University of Miami School of Law, and then as an assistant professor at Oklahoma City University School of Law from 1980 to 1983. Callen then spent 19 years at Mississippi College School of Law, where he held the J. Will Young Professorship, with visiting professorships at the University of Colorado, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Leiden in The Netherlands.

Professor Callen served as a chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Evidence, a member of the board of directors for the Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI), and a member of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section’s Committee on Rules of Criminal Procedure and Evidence.

Professor Callen is survived by his mother, Evelyn Callen; his sister, Sheri Gustafson; his brother, Bruce Callen; his brother-in-law, Frank Gustafson; his sister-in-law, Sandy Callen; his niece, Linda Parker, and her husband, Antoine Parker; his nephew, Andrew Peek; his niece, Jenna Callen; his nephew, Michael Callen; and his grandnieces and grandnephews. Those who wish to extend condolences or share memories with the family may send them to The Family of Professor Craig Callen, c/o Michigan State University College of Law, 368 Law College Building, East Lansing, MI 48824-1300.

Members of the Law College community can pay their respects and share remembrances of Professor Callen at a memorial service at Michigan State University College of Law at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 27. A funeral service also will be held in Des Moines, Iowa.

Memorial donations may be made in Professor Callen’s name to the National Parkinson Foundation or the Craig Callen Scholarship at MSU College of Law.

Memories of Professor Callen »