By Thompson Perry
Many people don’t like their jobs. They wake up in the morning and leave their homes with gritted teeth, hoping to survive another tedious day at the office.
Professor Ronald Eades of the Brandeis School of Law, however, is not one of those people. He’s been teaching for 30 years and has enjoyed every minute of it.
“When I started in 1977, I didn’t really know whether I would enjoy it or not,” Eades said. “Over the years, I’ve realized that it was the best decision I could have made. It never felt like ‘work.’”
Maintaining a passion for anything for 30 years is no small feat, but Eades said his enthusiasm for teaching is renewed each year by the newest crop of incoming law students.
“I teach a course, torts, that is taken by first year students. I enjoy watching them begin their law school careers. They learn so much that first year. It is a delight to experience that,” he said.
His teaching and research interests include torts, products liability, evidence and legal history.
Eades knows first-hand how rigorous law school can be for new students.
“As a law student, one of my professors at the University of Memphis School of Law was my faculty advisor, Professor Dan Murrell. He was always available and very helpful,” said Eades. “When I first got into law teaching I used to meet with him at conferences to talk and get advice. Although he has retired, we still stay in touch through phone calls and email. We remain friends to this day.”
Following his collegiate education, which included degrees from Rhodes College, the University of Memphis and Harvard University, Eades spent two years as a Tennessee Valley Authority staff attorney. In 1977, he made the decision to join the faculty of U of L’s law school.
“Once I began teaching at the University of Louisville, I met two professors here, Bill Biggs and Jim Merritt. They were both very helpful in guiding me as a new teacher,” he said, “They have both since passed away. I still miss them.”
According to students, Eades, in his own way, has been that kind of guiding light and mentor to many young law students over his teaching career.
Eades said he finds himself personally invested in the success of the students he teaches.
“Law school classes are difficult and frequently produce a substantial amount of tension among students. They even begin to develop some anxiety about the pressures of class. This is especially true of first year students,” said Eades. “I try to push them to do the best they can do, while trying to reduce some of the needless stress and anxiety. Taking time to relieve the stress with a little humor in class is something I work on.”
Receiving the university’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 1991 and the inaugural James R. Merritt Fellow for 1994-95 proves how dedicated Eades is to his teaching.
The classroom is not the only challenge in his life. “My wife and I enjoy traveling. Over the years, I’ve managed to climb several mountains over 14,000 feet in Colorado, run on beaches in the Caribbean and spend a long weekend on the Artic Circle,” Eades said.
Eades has journeyed across the world, from recreational travel to serving as a visiting professor at law schools in England, Germany and Finland.
Remarkably, he said he still finds his greatest thrills in the classroom.