Houston Family Endows Law School Deanship

With two gifts totaling $5 million, SMU Dedman School of Law has become one of the few law schools in the country with an endowed deanship.

The Noel family of Houston made a gift of $4 million in September to honor the late Judge James L. Noel Jr. (’38). Judge Noel’s five children – James L. Noel III, Carol Noel King (’76), Edmund O. Noel (’75), William D. Noel (’82) and Robert C. Noel (’80, ’89) – and their spouses endowed the Judge James Noel Deanship and Professorship in Law.

The family’s gift secures a $1 million matching gift from the Dedman Foundation for the endowment.

“This is a wonderful way to honor Judge Noel, and is a truly historic moment for the Law School,” says Dean John B. Attanasio, who holds the endowed position.

Noel earned an LL.B. from SMU School of Law in 1938 and received two Bachelor of Science degrees in 1931 and 1932 from SMU as well. After serving in World War II, he worked in the Texas attorney general’s office as the lead oil and gas lawyer. He later established his own law firm. Noel was appointed to the federal district court bench in Houston in 1961, where he served until 1976.

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