Michael Levine ’62 was one of the contestants representing Reed on the TV quiz show College Bowl, broadcast February 7, 1960. His teammates were Virginia Oglesby Hancock ’62, Peter Stafford ’60, and Bill Jarrico ’61. The Reedies lost to Purdue in a cliff-hanger that accumulated the highest combined score, 230-220, in any match to that date.
There comes a time, in even the most backward, to finally step forward, to acknowledge those who helped out along the way. That time for me is now, and the person to be acknowledged is my former University of Southern California (USC) law professor Michael Levine ’62.
If you can imagine, he returned to his Reed undergraduate roots to recruit, found an unprepossessing senior, and said, from one Reedie to another, “You will not be disappointed if you come to the USC Gould School of Law, where some of the finest faculty in the nation are teaching, many of them recent Harvard law grads,” and he was right.
I have to say that of all my professors, undergrad and law, Reed and Harvard law alumnus Michael Levine stands alone, head and shoulders above the rest. Even now, when I dare to remember what it was like to be in his classroom, I am filled with a mixture of excitement and dread at his dominating intellect, fear and awe at his deep, booming voice, and complete respect for his well-earned, commanding academic presence.
He taught what was perhaps my most fascinating course ever taken, a law and economics class on opportunity costs, one of those small, upper-class specialty courses that few law students venture into, at their peril, and he taught it well.
And he did more than that. For reasons I will never understand, he somehow selected the undersigned to be one of two USC students to join with two more from each of a half dozen other universities, in what was called the Pacific Southwest Universities Air Pollution Association Consortium, a sort of student think tank for developing innovative approaches to the air pollution problem choking the Los Angeles basin. Never has a more impressive professor chosen a more undeserving student.
It seems strange that it has taken all these years to realize how vital it is to thank this man, while I still can.