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Honoring a Professor’s Lasting Impact

Guthrie ‘Guff’ Abbott Sr. (right) enjoys time with family (from left): son Guthrie Abbott Jr., wife Patsy, son Louis and daughter Linda. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

When a law professor addresses students in the classroom, the faces of future attorneys, judges, politicians, policymakers and even world leaders could be looking back. A professor’s teaching can have a ripple effect, touching one life that, in turn, can influence thousands of others.

Recently, a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law who asked to remain anonymous made a $50,000 gift to the Guthrie T. Abbott Scholarship in Law Endowment, honoring the professor who made a lasting impact on his life.

When “Guff” Abbott joined the law school faculty in 1970, he said he “felt blessed” to be in such a position. He had worked in private practice in Gulfport, after graduating with a Juris Doctor from the university in 1967.

“The Lord blessed me when he put me into teaching,” said Abbott, of Oxford. “I loved every day of it, and I was always excited about being in the classroom and working with students.

“I still have former students who will thank me for all that they learned in my classes, especially in ones like Mississippi Civil Practice and Procedure. In that course, I covered what lawyers should know, but students often do not learn in law school. To this day, former students indicate they are grateful for having taken the class.”

Abbott served on the faculty for 32 years as a professor and as acting dean for two years. After retirement, he continued teaching, bringing his total time in the classroom to 46 years.

The students he taught became successful leaders in a number of areas, and seven have served as Mississippi Supreme Court justices.

“I believe law school opens so many doors for people,” Abbott said. “You don’t have to become a practicing attorney to benefit from law school; so many vocations can be enhanced by having a law degree.”

In 2012, Abbott and his wife, Patricia, established the scholarship that bears his name as a way to provide support for students who want to pursue law degrees.

“I hope the scholarship gives its recipients the opportunity to come to law school and makes their attendance financially easier,” said Abbott, who was the first in his family to attend law school.

Scholarships established by former faculty members are especially meaningful, Dean Susan Duncan said.

“It shows how their commitment to the university extends beyond the classroom and provides a legacy of learning,” she said.

“Likewise, a former student’s gift to a scholarship endowment solidifies the commitment that professors like Guff Abbott make to our law school. It’s such a wonderful tribute to him and his career as an educator that will allow countless opportunities for others.”

The Guthrie T. Abbott Scholarship in Law Endowment is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations. Those interested can mail a check, with the fund’s named noted in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. Online gifts can be made at http://give.olemiss.edu.

For more information, contact Suzette Matthews, law school development officer, at suzette@olemiss.edu or 662-915-1122.

By Mary Stanton Knight

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