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Akron Law professor and former dean assumes emeritus status

Legal News Reporter

Published: May 13, 2022

He’s been a member of the faculty at The University of Akron School of Law since 2007, serving as dean until 2012. But come May 31, Dean Emeritus Martin H. Belsky will be stepping down from his full-time teaching role to serve as an adjunct professor.
“I’ve decided it’s time to focus on spending more time with my outside activities and family,” said Belsky.
“I really enjoy teaching and I will continue to teach two or three courses a year for at least the next couple of years.”
On April 14, the law school honored Belsky with a retirement party in the McDowell Common, unveiling his portrait, which now hangs in the Dean’s Office.
Akron Law Dean Emily Janoski-Haehlen said Belsky has done a great deal for the law school and its students over the years and will be “greatly missed” as a full-time member of the faculty.
“I met Marty for the first time during my interview for the law library director position at Akron Law,” said Janoski-Haehlen. “I knew from the moment I met him that Marty was an amazing member of the Akron Law family and truly loved Akron Law.
“As the dean of Akron Law, Marty raised money for the building project which resulted in the beautiful McDowell Law Center the law school calls home,” she said. “As a faculty member, he is beloved by the students––his classes fill within minutes of registration opening. His laughter can be heard around the law school in conversations with colleagues and students.
“He is well known in Akron for his service contributions to the law school, the university and the community,” said Janoski-Haehlen. “Lucky for us, he is returning to teach in the fall semester.”
A native of Philadelphia, Belsky received his bachelor’s degree from Temple University, where he majored in political science and history.
After obtaining his juris doctorate from Columbia Law School in New York City, he attended the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, where he earned a diploma in criminology. Belsky also has a graduate diploma from The Hague Academy of International Law in the Netherlands.
“I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was 8 years old,” said Belsky. “I had come home from school one day and saw my mother watching the Army–McCarthy hearings (1954 televised hearings involving U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s charges of Communist subversion on the part of members of the U.S. Army).
“The Army was represented by Joseph Welch and I was very impressed with him and his skills in getting out the truth.
“I’ve used my legal background to do some interesting work over the years,” said Belsky. “I have been involved in law reform, bar associations, civil rights and interfaith organizations my whole life.”
Belsky began his career in 1969 as an assistant district attorney in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
After working his way up to chief prosecutor, he left the office in the mid-1970s to join a law firm. Several months later, he was recruited by former Rep. Joshua Eilberg to serve as counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.
“I came too late to be involved with the impeachment of Richard Nixon but was tasked with listening to and cataloging his tapes.”
He continued on the Judiciary Committee and worked on immigration, international law and criminal justice issues. At the same time, he was asked to take on the role of chief counsel to the Special House Committee on the Outer Continental Shelf (offshore drilling).
He then served as deputy general counsel and later assistant administrator of the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Though he had been teaching as an adjunct at both Temple and Georgetown law schools, Belsky began his full-time academic career in 1982 as an associate professor of law and director of the multidisciplinary Center for Governmental Responsibility at the University of Florida.
From 1986 to 1995, he served as president, dean and professor at Albany Law School.
Prior to taking on the role of dean at Akron Law in July 2007, Belsky was a law professor and dean at the University of Tulsa College of Law in Oklahoma.
“I like to say that I’m a serial dean--only one step away from being a recidivist criminal,” said Belsky.
In 2008, Belsky was named Randolph Baxter Professor of Law, a title he retained after stepping down as dean in July 2012. Over the years, he’s taught Legal Ethics, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Law and Theology and various criminal justice seminars.
“My favorite course is Constitutional Law,” said Belsky.
Former Akron Law Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor Emeritus Bill Jordan worked with Belsky for the majority of the time he served as dean.
“Marty was a fascinating character,” said Jordan. “He was heavily involved with many administrative agencies throughout his career.
“He left success in his wake no matter where he went, including while serving as our dean.
“Marty was a fountain of ideas and was particularly interested in adding more practical training to our first-year program,” Jordan said. “He had a real eye for talent and hired some superb people.”
During his time at Akron Law, Belsky co-chaired The University of Akron’s diversity council and veterans committee. He also chaired various search committees for deans of other UA colleges.
Belsky, who lives in Akron with his wife Tulsa Law Professor Emeritus Kathleen Waits (a former Jeopardy! champion) has been and continues to be very active in the legal profession and the community.
A longtime member of the Akron and Ohio State bar associations, Belsky has been admitted to practice in five states.
He’s served on both the Akron Bar Association and Akron Bar Foundation boards and is a member and former chair of the Akron Bar Association’s Diversity Committee.
A current member of the Charles F. Scanlon and Judge Samuel H. Bell American Inn of Court, Belsky has been on bar association boards in Pennsylvania, New York and Oklahoma and is a former member of the board of directors of several chapters of the Federal Bar Association.
Belsky has also served on the New York and Oklahoma bar’s judicial discipline committees and spent many years on the executive committee of the American Judicature Society.
From 2009 to 2011, Belsky served as the subcommittee chair of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Task Force on Legal Education. He is presently on a committee that reviews the writings of new law professors for the Association of American Law Schools scholarship award.
In addition, he often interviews candidates for admission to the Ohio Bar.
Belsky’s service has earned him many accolades over the years, including the Akron Bar Association’s Diversity Award, which he received in 2017.
Outside of the legal profession, Belsky has been active in countless local and national religious and nonprofit organizations aimed at improving justice and fighting against discrimination.
He’s served as a member and frequent board member of various interfaith and religious understanding organizations in Akron and statewide.
Belsky is currently the chair of the Akron-Summit Council on Holocaust & Genocide Education.
He’s also a board member and former state chair of the Anti-Defamation League (Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania) and a past president of the statewide Ohio Jewish Communities.
Belsky is finishing his term as president of the Project GRAD Akron board. The nonprofit educational reform program provides mentors and offers programming designed to assist Akron Public Schools students.
“Even though I will no longer be a member of the faculty at Akron Law full time, my wife and I plan to stay in Akron,” said Belsky. “This is now our home, especially since my son Allen, daughter-in-law Alex and two grandchildren (Ari and Shoshana) now live here in Highland Square.
“Our daughter Marcia, who lives in New York and does standup comedy visits very regularly.”