“This is our legacy…and our future,” announces the booming voice of Darth Vader during a hype video before the Michigan-Colorado game. As 110,000 fans settle into their seats, the narration of James Earl Jones, BA ’55, HLHD ’71, signals that the game is about to begin.
On this day, a muggy September afternoon, Colorado gets off to a strong start with two quick touchdowns. Professor Emeritus Tom Kauper, ’60, sitting in Section 22, shakes his head in frustration. A couple of seats away, Professor Emeritus Jerry Israel’s son Dan Israel, ’93, yells over the din of the crowd that Michigan needs a solid punt return to put things back on track.
Something even better happens: Michigan blocks the Colorado kick, and, after a manic hot-potato sequence, runs in for a score. Behind Israel and Kauper, Professors Adam Pritchard and Joan Larsen (a married couple) high-five each other and kiss.
Some version of this scene has played out in the Big House for several decades. Faculty members from the Law School long have sat together in Section 22, basking in the strong seasons and grousing together during the lean years. The names are legendary in Hutchins Hall: Bill Bishop, Olin Browder, Paul Carrington, Sam Estep, Bill Pierce. Allan Smith, whose seats later went to Israel. Yale Kamisar, who transferred his seats to Pritchard and Larsen. These days, Israel, Kauper, Pritchard, Larsen (a state Supreme Court justice and adjunct professor), and Larry Waggoner, ’63, sit in a cluster, while Doug Kahn and J.J. White, ’62, sit farther back in the section.
And it’s not just the faculty members and their spouses in these seats. There is a long history of prominent alumni and other guests joining them, and of kids and grandkids turning into the next generation of Wolverine superfans. Israel’s and Kauper’s children often attended games together, and maintain friendships to this day. Even the relatively new faculty in the section are passing the love of the game down to their children, who often sit with them at games. “Shirley and Tom [Kauper] bought my daughter her first Michigan cheerleading outfit when she was a baby,” says Pritchard, the Frances and George Skestos Professor of Law. “She’s 16 now.”
The faculty members’ children play a vital role at the games. “We always needed a source of quick information—who is number 22, where does he come from (questions primarily asked about some non-starter who gets into the game in the fourth quarter),” says Israel, the Alene and Allan F. Smith Professor of Law Emeritus. “For many years, my son, who started attending at age 7, was that source. Then it became my grandsons, and as the last one will be off to college next year, I anticipate Adam and Joan’s son will take on that role.”
To borrow from the James Earl Jones narration before the game, section 22 is our legacy … and our future.