Deceased former UH law dean remembered by colleagues
Former UH Law Center dean and longtime professor John Brewster Neibel died Oct. 8 after more than 40 years at UH.
Neibel, 80, succumbed to heart failure during a surgical procedure. He was the third dean of the law school and was dedicated to the University’s goal of achieving flagship status.
“John was instrumental in building the quality of the Law Center, including playing a lead role in initiating the Law Center’s health law program,” Law Center Dean Raymond Nimmer said in a UH news release.
Neibel attended Lamar High School and graduated from the UH Law Center in 1956. A. A. White, the law school’s first dean, recruited Neibel as a student after he emerged as a champion debater at UH.
“John did well in law school, and when A. A. White resigned in mid-semester, John took over A. A.’s classes while still a third year student,” law alumni professor John Mixon said. “Immediately on his graduation, the law school hired him as an assistant professor.”
Newell Blakely became dean after White left and promptly appointed Neibel to assistant dean. After several years, Newell resigned the deanship in 1964. Following a year’s search for a suitable replacement, the faculty decided that Neibel was the best available choice in 1966, Mixon said.
In his eight years as dean, he successfully led the drive for membership in the Association of American Law Schools and increased the quality of admissions.
Neibel held office during the late 1960s and early 1970s when legal education, along with society in general, went through a period of great upheaval, Mixon said.
“John had to deal with strong personalities and heartfelt commitments that created an exciting but stressful environment,” Mixon said. “As dean, John had an eye for quality and a great interest in the advancement of the law school.”
After he left the dean’s office in 1974, Neibel spent several years as a professor. After his retirement in 2001, he enjoyed life with his wife, Doris, and their children.
“John was a good and capable legal educator,” Mixon said. “We will miss him.”
A memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Frankel Room at the Law Center, with a reception to follow.