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Chairs and Professorships

Harry Pratter Professor of Law

Harry Pratter (1917-2002) was part of the heart and soul of Indiana Law for more than 50 years, from the time he began teaching here in 1950. It is difficult to describe fully the impact that Pratter had on generations of students and faculty at this school. He taught subjects including Commercial Law, Negotiable Instruments, Conflicts of Law, Contracts, Torts, and Family Law, but like all great teachers, fundamentally, he taught life. He simply saw connections between ideas and situations that others do not see. And he had ways of enabling others to see these connections and to think and reflect about them for many years thereafter. For Pratter, there was no such thing as just a legal problem, there were only human problems.

Pratter was born in Ukraine and emigrated to the United States as a child. He received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Buffalo and his JD from the University of Chicago in 1950. He served in the army during World War II and, before enrolling in law school, taught English at the University of Buffalo for two and a half years.

At IU, Pratter served on numerous law school and university committees and received many honors, including the Gavel Award, in 1966, which honors faculty and staff members who have contributed exceptionally to the life of the law students in any given year. He was a member of the University Faculty Council from 1969 to 1971, and from 1975 to 1976 served as acting dean of the law school. Although he officially retired in 1984, he didn’t stop teaching law classes until 1994. Even after that time, he remained a great teacher, no less so for being "at large."

The Harry Pratter Professorship was established in 2000, at the initiation of Bob and Karen Knight. Bob Knight helped create this professorship in Pratter’s name with a major gift of his own, as well as by participating in university events, the proceeds of which were for the benefit of this fund. Other donors who have chosen to honor Pratter with major gifts of their own are Professor George P. Smith II, Randy and Maribeth Seger, Robert and Gaye Shula, Jerry and Anne Moss, Peter and Sandra Obremskey, Clarence and Judy Doninger, and Andy and Carol Hays.

Joseph Hoffmann
Harry Pratter Professor of Law and Director for Strategic Projects