Remembering Dean and Professor Harold F. McNiece ’44CBA, ’45L


A decade after his untimely death in 1972, through the generosity of alumni and friends, St. John’s Law established the Harold F. McNiece Professorship in honor of the longtime professor who served as the Law School’s dean from 1960 to 1970. Some of those generous donors returned to campus recently to celebrate a milestone achievement: the permanent endowment of the McNiece Professorship.

The celebration was a fitting tribute to a beloved educator, leader, and friend. It was also the perfect opportunity to hear from University Trustee and Dean Emeritus Hon. Joseph W. Bellacosa ‘59C, ‘61L, ‘87HON, who supported the fundraising initiative in word and deed through personal gifts, by working in partnership with the Law School, and by lending his name to a very successful effort to add to the endowment. Additional, substantial support came from the Bellacosa Law School Fund.

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Offering remarks at the celebratory event, Judge Bellacosa said about his extraordinary mentor: “Harold F. McNiece was dean during my Law School years, and spent his entire academic career at our Law School. He led the school through the turbulent ‘60s as a brilliant teacher and smart executive for what it takes to manage a Law School.” Dean McNiece also transformed the institution he led, Judge Bellacosa noted, overcoming “elitist biases” to bring St. John’s Law into “the premier ranks of academic reputation.”

That transformation happened from the outside, Judge Bellacosa said, as Dean McNiece “gathered wide respect from across the jurisprudential landscape—private, public, and governmental spheres, and, of course, academic circles.” It also took place inside the Law School community. As chronicled in “Faculty Memorial for Dr. Harold F. McNiece” and “Harold F. McNiece,” two articles published in a 1973 edition of The Catholic Lawyer, Dean McNiece was a dedicated colleague, an accomplished scholar, and a man of deep faith who made a difference in the lives of countless students and alumni.

Concluding his remarks, Judge Bellacosa shared another reason why the day was particularly special for him. When he served as dean, he had the privilege of hiring Cheryl L. Wade onto the Law School’s full-time faculty, where she has served as the Dean Harold F. McNiece Professor of Law for many years. Judge Bellacosa also acknowledged his fellow alumni who supported the McNiece Professorship’s endowment through the years, with special thanks going to: Jack Clarke ’55CBA, ’57L, John Howard ’50UC, ’54L, James Keegan ‘68L, the late John Mullen ’54L, Regina (Bligh) Purcell ’55UC, ’61L, the late Roy Reardon ’54L, ’00HON, and Don Reid ’58CBA, ’62L, ’87HON for their generous donations and commitments.

Named professorships build the Law School’s reputation and raise our faculty’s visibility. You can make a gift to the Harold F. McNiece Professorship Fund, or help to fund other named professorships, by visiting