Saturday, August 26, 2006
For over 30 years, the University of Florida Graduate Tax Program has been one of the nation's leading programs for the advanced study of tax law. Among the country's 30 graduate tax programs, Florida has by far the largest number of full-time faculty and is the only school to offer three advanced tax degrees:
Graduate tax students assist in the publication of the Florida Tax Review, one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed tax journals in the country. In this 12-part series, TaxProf Blog will profile the Florida Graduate Tax Faculty.
Dennis A. Calfee grew up in a small town in southeastern Washington State, Connell, where his father was the town’s sole pharmacist and sole Republican. He picks up the story:
My interest in tax was first perked by Professor Daniel Brajcich and advanced by Professor Gary Randall at Gonzaga University. Both of these professors were superb classroom teachers and exemplary individuals both personally and professionally who had a positive influence on countless students, including yours truly. After a clerkship on the Washington State Court of Appeals and some time with Uncle Sam I decided to get a graduate degree in taxation. While working for the Old National Bank in their trust department during law school I relied heavily on two books: Federal Income Taxation of Estates and Beneficiaries, which had three co-authors two of whom were Professors at Florida: Richard B. Stephens and James J. Freeland; and Federal Estate and Gift Taxation, which had three co-authors, two of whom again were Florida professors: Richard B. Stephens and Steven A. Lind.
The year I had the opportunity to further my education and apply to a Graduate Tax Program I discovered that the College of Law at the University of Florida was beginning an LL.M. in Taxation program. It was my lucky day, for thereafter I had the opportunity to learn tax from Stephens, Freeland, Lind, Lokken and Miller. Each was a gifted classroom teacher with his own unique style. Looking back on that initial experience I think that one of the best things about my LL.M. education was the opportunity to interact with each of these individuals and observe how each approached the internal revenue code and the education of students. I was in tax heaven!
As my LL.M. year closed I was asked if I would like to teach one year as an interim tax professor. I was elated at the prospect of teaching at the College of Law. I worked all summer preparing my notes for one of the classes I was to teach in the fall quarter. I went to class the first day and promptly fell down the last three steps into a pit classroom. Once at the podium, I discovered that I could not speak because my mouth was full of cotton, at least that is how it felt. Then in the first 45 minutes of my first hour of class I consumed all the notes for the semester. I remember thinking that if this is what it takes to teach, I could not do it. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the semester reviewing the material covered in the first 45 minutes of class. After the first year, I was afforded the opportunity to teach for one more year. Thirty-one years later I am looking forward to my 32nd year of teaching tax courses at the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida. There has never been a dull moment.
Just imagine each day going to "work" to interact with Brauner, Dilley, Friel, Gutting, Hudson, Lokken, McMahon, McDaniel, Miller, Oberst, Polsky, Richardson and Willis, and that is without even getting on the phone where Professor Lind is always willing to take my questions. Imagine the intellectual stimulation and satisfaction achieved by working with Steve Lind and Dick Stephens on the Federal Estate and Gift Taxation treatise. Imagine the pride in representing Florida, accompanied by your wife and your three children, throughout the world in places like Taipei, Leiden, Montpellier and Beijing. Imagine being the Faculty Advisor to the Florida Law Review. Imagine service with the Athletic Association at the University of Florida and seeing first hand the management of an athletic program by Jeremy Foley and his staff. Imagine the opportunity to meet, learn from and make friends with talented students and alums each an every day. WOW! Pinch me, am I living a dream? I am.
For prior Florida Graduate Tax Faculty Profiles, see:
Each Saturday, TaxProf Blog shines the spotlight on one of the 700+ tax professors in America's law schools. We hope to help bring the many individual stories of scholarly achievements, teaching innovations, public service, and career moves within the tax professorate to the attention of the broader tax community. Please email me suggestions for future Tax Prof Profiles. For prior Tax Prof Profiles, see here.