William Zacharias, Class of 1934
Former dean of Chicago-Kent College of Law
William Zacharias was both an alumnus of Chicago-Kent College of Law and the law school’s sixth dean. He began a career as a solo practitioner, but was asked by the late dean Webster H. Burke to teach a personal property class following the sudden death of a professor. He was soon offered a full-time faculty position and over the next 36 years, taught a variety of courses at the law school, including his favorites, Legal Method and Legal System. During his time at Chicago-Kent, Dean Zacharias served as an Assistant Professor of Law, Professor of Law, Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Chicago-Kent Law Review, secretary of the faculty, Assistant Dean and Acting Dean before being named Dean of the law school in 1956. He originally refused the appointment until the Chicago-Kent Board of Trustees agreed to improve the curriculum, faculty salaries and other benefits, increase staff, and expand and modernize the facilities. He then agreed to serve as acting dean and, within a year, the board agreed to all of the major demands. He served as Dean from 1957 to his retirement in 1973. During his tenure, Dean Zacharias participated in negotiations that led to the merger of Chicago-Kent College of Law with the Illinois Institute of Technology. He passed away in 1999 at the age of 93.
According to professor and former dean Henry H. Perritt, Jr., “[U]nder Dean Zacharias’ leadership, the law school provided the opportunity to thousands of students who aspired to careers in law, at very affordable cost. He was ferociously committed to the school.”