Celebrating Dean Maxwell Cohen and Isle Cohen


Published: 22Mar2010

On the day that would have been Maxwell Cohen's 100th birthday, the Faculty hosted a special celebration in honour of the late Dean of Law whose tenure was pivotal in establishing McGill at the forefront of legal education.

The event also marked the launch of the Dean Maxwell and Isle Cohen Doctoral Seminar in International Law, created through the generous contributions of JoAnne Sulzenko, daughter of Maxwell and Isle Cohen, and of alumni and friends of the Faculty.

This biennial seminar will create a forum for graduate students in international law to share ideas and present their research. The first edition of the seminar, which is being organized by Professor François Crépeau, holder of the Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law, and the Faculty of Law, will take place on June 28, 2010, with students participating from over 12 different countries.

Family and friends gathered to reminisce about the life and times of Maxwell and Isle Cohen, and share green cake, which the Faculty served in the tradition of Dean Cohen to mark both St-Patrick's Day and his birthday.

Also on hand for the celebration were several former deans, including John W. Durnford, William Foster, Rod Macdonald, Peter Leuprecht and Nicholas Kasirer. Emeritus Professor Durnford, who succeeded Cohen as Dean in 1969, said "When I came to the Faculty as a student, Max Cohen was my professor; when I was a professor, he was my Dean; and then I became his Dean."

Current Dean, Daniel Jutras added, "Maxwell Cohen truly was a "bâtisseur" of the Faculty of Law as it stands today, both physically and intellectually.  His relentless fundraising efforts led to the construction of New Chancellor Day Hall, our home since 1968, and his unique vision gave shape to a program of legal studies that gives a prominent place to law among the humanities, in a bilingual and comparative setting."

Maxwell Cohen was Dean at the Faculty from 1964 to 1969, and a pioneer of the National Program created in 1968. The Maxwell Cohen Moot Court at the Faculty of Law is also named in his honour.

The Faculty of Law is grateful for this contribution to Campaign McGill: History in the Making - the university's most ambitious fundraising drive ever.

Top photo: pastel and charcoal portrait of Maxwell and Isle Cohen, by artist Eva Prager (Dec. 1973), owned by JoAnne Sulzenko (by permission).

Second photo, clockwise from upper left: William Foster and John Durnford. JoAnne Sulzenko. Nicholas Kasirer and Daniel Jutras. And green birthday cake. Credit: Maria Marcheschi.