I am sad to report that Frank Donaldson, a legendary professor and dear friend of Cumberland School of Law, passed away last week. He would have been 101 years old this September.
Joining the faculty in approximately 1962, Professor Donaldson taught at Cumberland a total of 43 years. He was a full-time, tenured professor from 1962-1981, including several years as Associate Dean. In 1981, President Reagan appointed him the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. He served in that role for 11 years, continuing to teach part-time. After leaving the U.S. attorney’s office in 1992, Professor Donaldson taught another 13 years as professor emeritus.
Professor Donaldson was an outstanding teacher. He was loved by generations of Cumberland alumni who asked about him at every alumni function. They fondly remember playing handball with him and being challenged in his class—all agreeing one did not dare be unprepared for Professor Donaldson’s class. Professor Brad Bishop and Judge John Carroll were among Donaldson’s many successful students. Bishop had Donaldson for contracts, and Carroll had him for civil procedure. Bishop said that Donaldson was his mentor after Bishop joined the faculty. “I often said that I taught Contracts according to Donaldson,” Bishop said.
Prior to his time on the Cumberland faculty, Professor Donaldson earned his undergraduate degree from Howard College (Samford) and his law degree from the University of Alabama. He served as a U.S. Airforce pilot, a reservist, and an FBI agent.
Even in recent years, Professor Donaldson attended alumni reunions and enjoyed visiting with former students and colleagues. He often was accompanied by his daughter, Sharon Stuart, who is a Cumberland alumna, founding partner of Christian & Small, and member of the Samford Board of Trustees.
Professor Donaldson played a huge role in making Cumberland a great law school and educating great lawyers. We will miss him deeply.