For more than 20 years, Dorsey D. Ellis, Jr., J.D., has been an integral part of the Washington University community.
Dr. Ellis served as dean of the School of Law from 1987 until 1998. During that period, he oversaw the planning, construction and funding of Anheuser-Busch Hall, the school’s state-of-the-art teaching and research facility; the successful completion of the law school’s first capital campaign 21 months ahead of schedule; and an increase in the size, stature and diversity of the faculty, as well as an increase in the strength and diversity of the student body.
He also bolstered the school’s interdisciplinary teaching through joint-degree programs with East Asian Studies and European Studies, both in Arts & Sciences, and with environmental engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.
Other highlights of his tenure include: increasing substantially the number and scope of the school’s lawyering skills courses; invigorating the first-year legal research and writing program; merging computer and library services into a leading department of information resources; twice managing a self-study and re-accreditation process; hosting numerous legal conferences featuring eminent scholars and practitioners; and expanding the school’s international ties through broadened faculty teaching and scholarship and advanced degree programs for lawyers from other countries.
In recognition of his leadership and “to honor the dean who conceived, built and dedicated” Anheuser-Busch Hall, Washington University’s Board of Trustees had a limestone boss in Dr. Ellis’ likeness placed in a prominent position on the east side of the collegiate Gothic building.
A group of alumni and friends established the Dorsey D. Ellis Jr. Scholarship in recognition of his efforts to attract bright and talented students.
After ending his term as dean, Dr. Ellis served as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College of Oxford University and a Visiting Professor of Law at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.
He then returned to his first love — teaching
— when he was appointed the William R. Orthwein Distinguished Professor of Law at Washington University in July 1999.
Dr. Ellis has taught in the areas of legal history, antitrust, regulated industries, law and economics,
and torts, and has published on constitutional history, torts, antitrust, law and economics, and punitive damages.
He currently serves as academic director of the law school’s new Transnational Law Program, which allows U.S. students to study at both Washington University School of Law and Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
Outside of the University, Dr. Ellis has been
a consultant to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, the Federal Trade Commission and the Iowa Department of Justice. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the St. Louis Chamber Chorus and chairman
of the Board of Directors of Maryville College in Tennessee.
During the past decade, Dr. Ellis also has served on numerous national committees focusing on legal education and law school facilities. He is a member of the Academic Resource Corps of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), chaired the Committee on Law School Facilities for the American Bar Association (ABA) Section on Legal Education and has served on accreditation inspection teams for both the ABA and AALS.
Additionally, he is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Law and Economics Association and the Order of the Coif.
He has served as a trustee for the Missouri Historical Society and a member of the Professional Advisory Panel of Legal Advocacy for Abused Women.
Dr. Ellis came to Washington University from the University of Iowa, where he was vice president for finance and university services, special assistant to the president, acting assistant dean of the faculties and a professor of law. He practiced law with Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York City for five years before entering law teaching.
Dr. Ellis earned a bachelor’s degree in 1960 from Maryville College in Tennessee and a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1963. Maryville College conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1998.
He and his wife, Sondra, have two children — Laura, a lawyer, and Geoffrey, a graduate of the Olin Business School at Washington University. He is the proud grandfather of Mackenzie and Tate.