Lives Lived: A generous colleague and a beloved and inspiring teacher

Lives Lived: A generous colleague and a beloved and inspiring teacher

Following a prolonged illness, Stanley M. Corbett, the Faculty of Law’s longest-serving Associate Dean, passed away peacefully at Kingston General Hospital on May 18, just 10 days before his 70th birthday.   

By Kirsteen MacLeod

July 10, 2015


Stanley Corbett will be deeply missed by the Queen’s Law community. Faculty, staff and students, like his family and friends, were inspired by his limitless curiosity, touched by his generosity, and delighted by his gentle humour.

[Stanley Corbett]
Stanley Corbett

In Dr. Corbett’s 50-year history at Queen’s University – particularly during his time with the Faculty of Law – he distinguished himself as a scholar, author, teacher, mentor, leader, colleague, and friend. Those campus years included four degrees: BA’66, MA’72, PhD’82, and LLB’95. He started his studies in mathematics before moving to philosophy for post-graduate studies. After several years on faculty at Acadia University, including a term as head of the Philosophy Department, he left that academic career to return to Queen’s for a law degree.

Dean Bill Flanagan, who would become Dr. Corbett’s long-time colleague and friend, first met him in his property law class in 1992 and recalls he was a “terrific student” – which is why he was invited to join the faculty full-time in 1997, just two years after his graduation.

“Stan was a brilliant student,” agrees Professor Emeritus David Mullan (LLM’73, LLD’15), who had him in his first-year public law class. “Later, as a colleague, I benefitted greatly from our many discussions about emerging public law issues and our respective courses.”

Dr. Flanagan sees Dr. Corbett’s overall influence on Queen’s Law as incalculable. 

“It is rare that a single individual has an indelible impact on a school,” he says. “In our case, it is impossible to imagine what our faculty would be like today without Stan’s work here.”

Many of his greatest contributions to the faculty’s future were made as Associate Dean (Academic). He held this top academic post for an unprecedented three terms, starting in 2008, and, in the dean’s words, “always demonstrated skill, good judgment, a sense of humour, and dedication to the school.”

Colleagues also recall that Dr. Corbett routinely carried a heavier-than-usual teaching load, was ready to assist faculty and students with any challenge, and was an accomplished author with a commitment to justice. His 2007 book, Human Rights Law and Commentary (LexisNexis Canada), now in its second edition, is catalogued in more than 100 law libraries across North America, and he published more than two dozen articles, reviews and other materials over his career.

It was under his guidance that the law school expanded from classroom education into blended and online learning; added essential law skills courses to the first-year program; and updated and expanded the curriculum to meet the evolving needs of today’s law students – and the profession itself.

His other main legacy, among many, is as a teacher who shaped his students’ experience of Queen’s Law, both at home and abroad. Dr. Corbett won the Law Students’ Society Teaching Excellence Award three times. 

He was a leader in curriculum planning for the Law school and its Global Law Programs overseas, serving as the latter’s academic director at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle from 2008 to 2014. 

A celebration of his life will be held at Grant Hall in October.

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on the website of the Faculty of Law.