It was likely not what Professor Gary Neustadter had imagined, but after 45 years of teaching at Santa Clara Law, he taught his final class on Zoom. However, several faculty members “zoomed in” to help honor him and celebrate, including longtime Santa Clara Law colleague Professor Emeritus Kenneth Manaster.
Neustadter earned his BA and his JD from UCLA, and practiced commercial litigation with a Los Angeles firm before joining the Santa Clara Law faculty in 1975, specializing in debtors’ and creditors’ rights, secured credit, sales, contracts, consumer protection, and interviewing and counseling.
He has been extensively involved in the SCU community, including service as the Law School’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 1986-91, as well as the President of the University’s Faculty Senate, the University’s Faculty Athletic Representative, and Chair of the Athletics Advisory Board. The recipient of the Innovative Teaching Award in 1997, Neistadter also supervised law student work in consumer and bankruptcy matters at the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center.
“Though he never held himself out as such, Gary was always a mentor to me, a model that I tried (unsuccessfully) to fashion myself after,” said Santa Clara Law Professor Brad Joondeph, who was Neustadter’s colleague for 20 years. “He was the consummate colleague—in his commitment to teaching, his concern for his students, and his personal devotion to the institution.”
“I will most remember the grace with which he handled the illness and passing of his wonderful wife and colleague, Patty Rauch,” Joondeph added. “Gary is such a kind and thoughtful soul; I will really miss his warm and sincere friendship. It is just not going to feel like the same law school without him.”
Neustadter was also beloved by his students, who numbered in the thousands over his 45 years of teaching.
“Professor Neustadter is such a kind and caring professor,” said second-year Santa Clara Law student Adena Ishii. “The students often called him ‘Gare-bear.’ He always made himself available to us and was especially supportive during the COVID-19 pandemic. He always tried to come up with examples that were engaging to make Contracts more fun!”
“Professor Neustadter’s subject matter knowledge in contract law is almost encyclopedic, and his ability to impart a substantial and operative amount of that knowledge to his first-year law students is beyond extraordinary—it is, in fact, a huge and immeasurable advantage his students take with them in their future legal careers,” said Nathan Pope JD ’20. “As excellent and exceptional as his expertise and teaching skills are, what I most appreciate about Professor Neustadter is his wisdom and focus on teaching legal ethics in the context of contract law, thus ensuring his students develop the crucial ethical understandings so desperately needed in a world where ethics are too often violated, ignored, or untaught,” Pope said.
“Gary has been an amazing colleague,” said Interim Dean Anna Han. “He is always thoughtful and when he speaks, it is with great deliberation. He is an excellent teacher and has benefitted generations of students. He and Patty offered their support and friendship to me when I started at Santa Clara which was so appreciated. He will be missed. However, I am delighted that Gary, as Professor Emeritus, will continue to be engaged with the SCU Law community.”
Santa Clara Law plans to hold an in-person retirement celebration for Professor Neustadter when conditions allow it.