The Honorable A. Jay Cristol Endowed Chair in Bankruptcy Awarded to Professor & Vice Dean Andrew B. Dawson


Dean Varona, Prof. Dawson, A.J. Cristol, President Frenk & Provost

Dean Anthony E. Varona, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Andrew B. Dawson, The Honorable A. Jay Cristol, University of Miami President Julio Frenk & University of Miami Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost Jeffrey L. Duerk

The Honorable A. Jay Cristol, B.A. '58, J.D. ’59, Ph.D. '97, Chief Judge Emeritus of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, made a commitment to create the Judge A. Jay Cristol Endowed Chair in Bankruptcy, and Miami Law named Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Andrew B. Dawson as the first holder of the chair. This is Judge Cristol's second significant donation to his alma mater; he made an endowed gift to support the school’s Bankruptcy Clinic, the Eleanor R. Cristol and Judge A. Jay Cristol Bankruptcy Pro Bono Assistance Clinic, in 2012.

"Next to doctors, lawyers contribute the most to helping people,” said Judge Cristol. “I am pleased that I am able to endow this chair to assist Miami Law on its path to becoming one of the finest law schools in the United States.”

A. Jay Cristol - A Love of Life and The Law

But that isn't nearly half the story: The nonagenarian has lived a vibrant and exciting life, both in the air and on the ground, as Jeffrey Duerk, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, referenced in his introduction at the chair investiture event at the Lowe Art Museum.

At 15, Cristol snuck out to take flying lessons behind his parents' back, a move that would get him grounded, in every sense of the word. But the former Miami Beach High School student would get another chance to earn his wings when the Korean War interrupted his education at the University of Miami. The United States Navy put him through flight school, and he spent the war in the Sea of Japan aboard the aircraft carrier USS Princeton, flying a Grumman AF "sub killer" on day and night missions.

Post-war and back at UM, Cristol earned a degree in philosophy, followed by his J.D., though he would remain in the Navy, retiring as a Captain in 1989.

Cristol would continue his service in the Judge Advocate General's Office, graduating from the Naval Justice School as well as flying operational missions during the Cuban Missile Crisis and airlifts during the Vietnam War. He received more than a dozen decorations, among them the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal. His combat assignments were joined by intellectual work, as he lectured at the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy, on assignment from the Department of Defense.

The Pennsylvania native, whose family fled to Miami Beach during the Depression, served as Special Assistant Attorney General of Florida from 1959 to 1965 and founded a civil practice firm in which he served as a Senior Partner until he was appointed to the federal bench in 1985.  During his legal career, Judge Cristol has always maintained an interest in teaching. At Miami Law, Cristol teaches Reorganization in Bankruptcy, a seminar that studies the principal issues raised by Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. He has also taught Law of War and served as the administrative officer for the summer Naval Reserve law courses at Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island.

Always a 'Cane, Judge Cristol earned a Ph.D. in 1997 from UM's Graduate School of International Studies after spending 17 years researching an attack during the Six-Day War on the USS Liberty, in which 34 Americans died. He wrote a book on the subject, The Liberty Incident Revealed: The Definitive Account of the 1967 Israeli Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship (Naval Institute Press, 2013).

Endowed Chair as Part of 100 Talents Initiative

University of Miami President Julio Frenk has inaugurated the 100 Talents Initiative, through which the University will seek to establish at least 100 endowed chairs by the time of UM’s centennial in 2025 in order to attract exemplary faculty. “We know endowed chairs leave a lasting legacy,” President Frenk said. “When visionary donors such as Judge Cristol make gifts to endow faculty chairs, they create permanent legacies that link their names to the chair holders’ achievements in perpetuity. Faculty who are experts in their fields can touch thousands of lives through teaching, mentorship, and their innovation and discovery.”

Drew Dawson’s Roundabout Path to the Law

Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Dawson took a circuitous route to his life’s calling. A native of Dallas, Texas, the Williams College Spanish major spent almost half a decade teaching and coaching freshman and junior varsity football at a Dallas high school. He first tested the waters of law as a paralegal at a Dallas law firm years before joining the Miami Law faculty in 2011. Having graduated from Harvard Law School in 2008, he served as law clerk to The Honorable Jane R. Roth of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Honorable Peter J. Walsh of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Dean Dawson then returned to Harvard as a Kauffman Legal Fellow in 2008-2009, prior to his move to Miami.

Dawson’s interest in bankruptcy law began in law school while studying the U.S. Bankruptcy Code under Professor Elizabeth Warren. While at Harvard, Dean Dawson was Senior Editor of the Harvard Negotiation Law Review and recipient of the American Bankruptcy Institute Medal of Excellence and the Irving Oberman Memorial Award.

In his remarks during the chair installation, Dawson said: “Judge Cristol told the story of a young couple in bankruptcy court and presenting their plan to repay creditors. When they finished, he asked, ‘Did you leave yourself enough money to buy ice cream for your kids each week?’ The story made me cry and what hit me was Judge Cristol’s humanity and empathy.”

“Judge Cristol has given us many gifts over time,” Dawson said. “You have taught me a great deal, leaving a mark on the way I teach the subject, the way I think about it, the way I write about it. I am truly humbled to celebrate it and to celebrate you.”

Dawson’s Scholarship Crosses Federal Bankruptcy and Labor Laws

Dawson’s research focuses on the intersection of federal bankruptcy and labor laws, both in the corporate and municipal bankruptcy contexts, where federal judges are being asked to resolve challenging financial problems in the public as well as the private sector.

In addition to his scholarship in bankruptcy, Dawson has served as the Reporter for the Labor and Benefits Subcommittee of the American Bankruptcy Institute's Commission to study the reform of Chapter 11. The ABI Commission worked for three years to study ways in which the Bankruptcy Code should be modernized in light of the significant changes in corporate finance and corporate governance since the Code's enactment in 1978.

An Eye Also on the International

In addition to his work in the domestic insolvency context, Dawson has also contributed to the study of cross-border insolvency under the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross Border Insolvency. The United States adopted the Model Law in 2005; Dawson conducted the first empirical study of this new chapter 15 of the Bankruptcy Code. He has also served on the advisory board of the Caribbean Insolvency Symposium and was inducted into the International Insolvency Institute’s NextGen Leadership Program in 2014.

Dawson was one of the primary organizers of the second International Comparative Law Insolvency Symposium held at Miami Law in the fall of 2019.

“In addition to all that he does, Drew has long been actively engaged with the University of Miami School of Law,” said Anthony E. Varona, Dean and M. Minnette Massey Professor of Law. “He has served on numerous faculty committees, including the Appointments Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, the Judicial Clerkship Committee, the Hiring Committee for the Investors’ Rights Clinic, and the Junior Faculty Development Committee. Drew’s many years of exemplary service to our School of Law ultimately culminated in his being named Vice Dean for Academic Affairs. Drew has become an invaluable member of the University of Miami School of Law community, and we are fortunate to have him.”

Watch the Judge A Jay Cristol Endowed Chair Ceremony: