Monday, December 20, 2010

Eric J. Schmertz, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Former Dean of Hofstra School of Law

Hofstra University and its School of Law are deeply saddened by the death of Eric J. Schmertz, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Dean of Hofstra Law School (1982-1989).  

Professor Schmertz generously donated his time and talent to Hofstra over several decades, influencing the lives of colleagues and students at the Law School and the University through his leadership of presidential conferences on Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and William J. Clinton, as well as cultural studies conferences on Frank Sinatra and Babe Ruth.

Professor Schmertz was appointed a charter member of the Faculty of Law in 1969; to the Law School’s first endowed chair, the Edward F. Carlough Distinguished Professorship in Labor Law, in 1981; and Dean in 1982, serving seven years and establishing many distinguished professorships. His public service included senior labor relations appointments by Governors Rockefeller, Cuomo and Spitzer, Mayor Dinkins and President George H.W. Bush.

He received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Hofstra at the 2007 midyear commencement exercises.   

Funeral services will take place December 21, at 1:30 pm at the Clark Funeral Home in Katonah, NY (914-232-3033). Shiva calls may be made to the family at 73 Burr Farms Road in Mount Kisco, NY, on Tuesday December21 from 4 - 8 pm, Wednesday December 22 from noon - 8 pm, and Thursday, December 23 from noon - 8 pm.

Professor Schmertz will be remembered by the Hofstra community as an inspirational teacher and leader, consummate peace broker and friend. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family. He will be greatly missed.


  1. Eric was my cousin and we loved him so much. I always admired his brilliance and warmth. It's a sad day for family and friends.

  2. My deepest condolences to the Schmertz family. I had the honor of working at the Law School during Professor Schmertz' tenure as Dean. I remember how he took the time to make me feel like part of the team, introducing me to former Mayor John Lindsay in the elevator one day as, "the fine young man in our copy center." That gave a nineteen-year-old kid a real sense of pride. I also remember him as a devoted family man, bringing his thirteen-year-old son Andrew's start-up venture in the newspaper business in for us to print. It struck me then that he must have been a great role model not only at Hofstra, but within his family as well. It was my privilege to know the man.

  3. As a Hofstra administator in the Event Scheduling office, it was a privelege to see his leadership, intelligence and professional demeanor play such a key role in the Reagan and Clinton presidential conferences. I believe that his perseverence and vision led Hofstra to where we are today in the field of Presidential Studies. It was a privelege to know him.

  4. I first met Eric while a student at Hofstra Law School, but I got to know him as a lawyer when I appeared before him in labor arbitrations. He will be missed greatly. I hoped the University will have some type of memorial. I have provided additional thoughts about Eric on my blog,
    Mitchell H. Rubinstein

  5. As the oldest surviving member of the Schmertz family,it is my honor to add my words to the Book of Remembrances of my dear cousin Eric.

    Over the years, many were the times I would meet a new acquaintance who would inquire of me,"Are you related to Eric Schmertz?" When I would proudly answer,"Yes, Eric is my first cousin." The reply would invariably be,"Oh, what a brilliant and warm person(or leader, or teacher, or arbitrator, or mediator, or just what a wonderful man."

    My wife, Judy, and I fondly remember the Hofstra Presidential, Babe Ruth and Sinatra conferences and other events(including his Hofstra honorary degree award) which we attended as Eric's and Harriette's guests and how proud we were to witness his many honors and achievments. I shared his passion for baseball and we suffered through many Mets games together.

    Memories of Eric will remain with us forever.

  6. I had the privilege of knowing Professor Schmertz both as a student (two classes in labor law) and professionally. My first job out of law school was as an attorney for the New York City Transit Authority, for whom Professor Schmertz served as a hearing referee. I appeared before him numerous times, arguing cases on behalf of the Transit Authority. In addition, I remember wonderful evenings with other colleagues at his home in Riverdale, and certainly was always proud to read about his important work in labor negotiations. Intelligent and gracious, Professor Schmertz will be remembered with much affection.

  7. ellen ( schmertz) bowenMay 30, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    This weekend, my son, Daniel, graduated from Brown University.
    My dad, Eric J Schmertz, would have been very proud to have seen his first grandchild graduate from college...and somehow I know his spirit was with us.
    I miss you Dad...and will always cherish our memories...You would have enjoyed the graduation ceremony complete with bagpipes and enough pomp and circumstance to last a lifetime!!