HONOLULU, HAWAII – University of Hawaii Professor of Law Jon Van Dyke passed away in his sleep last night while at a conference in Australia. The Carlsmith Ball Faculty Scholar, who was awarded a Regents’ Medalist for Excellence in Research and the Presidential Citation for Excellence in Teaching, was well known in both the education and political communities. He and his wife, attorney Sherry Broder, advocated on behalf of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for the passage of the Akaka Bill and other native Hawaiian programs. Their son, Jesse, is a spokesperson for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka.

Professors at the William S. Richardson School of Law Community will hold a tribute for him this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in his classroom and there will be another Evening Memorial beginning at 5:30 pm.

In an email to the law school community, the Dean of the law school, Avi Soifer, wrote that “Jon was admired, loved, and vitally important throughout a remarkable number of different circles of people stretching far beyond our Law School, but we were particularly and truly blessed to have the direct benefit of his many years of inspirational teaching and scholarship, remarkable public service, and deep and abiding friendship. There is and will be no other like him.”

He added: “Like so many others, I find it virtually impossible to think about the Law School and our community without picturing Jon working away and bringing his extraordinary array of different skills to bear on all kinds of genuinely important projects and commitments. Jon Van Dyke will certainly not be forgotten, but he will be hugely missed.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie also issued a statement today: “Jon’s passing is a lesson in treasuring every moment with those you love and admire. His loss will be deeply felt. I first met Jon in the 70s at the time of the Constitutional Convention. He was one of our advisors on the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. It was then that we became friends. Jon was an invaluable resource. His intellect brimmed over with energy and brilliance. He was a patient, calming influence in every instance of tension and conflict. Jon was endlessly courteous, no matter how trying the circumstance and equally resolute to his commitment to the public good. He was a warm and caring individual – true to his friends and true to himself – and always, always for Hawaii. My sincerest condolences go out to his family. His legions of friends grieve with them.”

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono added: “We cannot reflect on the state of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders’ rights without finding Jon at its heart. His passion, depth of knowledge, and dedicated advocacy is an example of Hawaii at its finest. I will always be grateful for his friendship and can never forget his service to our community. My thoughts and sincere sympathy are with Sherry, Jesse, Eric, and Michelle.”

According to his biography, Professor Van Dyke, who was educated at Yale and Harvard, joined the UH faculty in 1976, teaching Constitutional Law, International Law, International Ocean Law, and International Human Rights. He also taught at the Hastings College of Law, University of California, San Francisco (1971-76), and at the Catholic University Law School, Washington, D.C (1967-69).

He also authored 6 books – North Vietnam’s Strategy for Survival (1972), Jury Selection Procedures: Our Uncertain Commitment to Representative Panels (1977), Sharing the Resources of the South China Sea (co-author 1997), Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawai`i? (2008) (which was picked as one of the six most memorable books of 2008 by the Honolulu Advertiser), International Law and Litigation in the U.S. (co-author, 3rd ed. 2009), and Checklists for Searches and Seizures in Public Schools (co-author updated annually) — and has edited another five books —Consensus and Confrontation: The United States and the Law of the Sea Convention (1985), International Navigation: Rocks and Shoals Ahead?(1988), Freedom for the Seas in the 21st Century (1993) (which was awarded the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for 1994 by the International Studies Association), Updating International Nuclear Law(2007), and Maritime Boundary Disputes, Settlement Processes, and the Law of the Sea (2009).

His biography also said he has also written numerous articles on international ocean law, international human rights, international environmental law, and the rights of Native Hawaiians.



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Hawaii Reporter is an award-winning, independent Hawaii-based news and opinion journal founded in 2001 and launched in February 2002. The journal's staff have won a number of top awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including the top investigative news reporting awards, business reporting awards, government reporting awards, and online news reporting awards.