Professor Santoro - Founder, Teacher, Mentor
In 1991, Rhode Island was one of only three states without a law school. A group of individuals who believed that Rhode Island should have a law school contacted Anthony J. Santoro to conduct a feasibility study on whether or not to establish a law school at Roger Williams University in Bristol. After collecting the data and filing his report, he determined that the law school at Roger Williams University was feasible. This is how the story of Anthony J. Santoro and the Roger Williams University School of Law began.
That same group of individuals then wanted Anthony Santoro as the first dean of the new law school. He accepted their offer. He started work establishing the physical facility and recruiting and hiring the founding faculty, but his tenure as dean was short. Before the law school opened its doors to its first class, the president of Roger Williams University unexpectedly resigned. Dean Santoro became President Santoro. He served the University and School of Law as President from 1993-2000. After leaving the presidency, he returned to the Law School where he has been teaching for the past seventeen years.
At the close of this fall semester this beloved professor, president emeritus of the university and founding dean of the law school will retire after more than 25 years of dedicated service to Roger Williams University. Professor Santoro was born in Melrose, Massachusetts and graduated from Somerset High School (Mass.). He received his BA from Boston College and his JD and MA in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center. Before coming to Bristol, he was a professor and/or dean at several other law schools.
In spite of his many years as a law school dean and as RWU’s president, Professor Santoro’s first love has been teaching and being with law students. His specialty in business and tax law has provided students with a variety of courses related to those subjects. Law students have had the opportunity to enroll in his courses on: Federal Income Tax, Business & Partnership Tax, Tax Stories, Business Planning, Business Concepts for Non-Business Lawyers, Business Organizations, and Advanced Tax. These specialized courses attracted motivated students.
Students not only learned what Professor Santoro had to offer on the topic; they also discovered a wonderful teacher and mentor. He would meet with them out of class to discuss their progress, questions they had, their goals, their careers, their lives. Professor Santoro was even observed by a friend of the Beagle one fall semester at the end of exams, sitting at a table at Aidan’s waiting for his tax class to finish their exam and join him for lunch. The relationship between professor and students did not end at the classroom door.
One of these relationships led Brian Ali ’06 to create the Professor Anthony J. Santoro Business Lecture Series, held every fall for the past six years, as a tribute to Professor Santoro who is respected and honored as a teacher by his students. As Mr. Ali said in 2012, “I owe Professor Santoro a great deal of thanks for being a wonderful friend and mentor.”
That respect and honor is a two way street. In 2014, Professor Santoro referred to his former tax students and their careers in a blog post about the need for tax lawyers. He had stayed in touch with several of them as they pursued their LL.M degrees and was happy to report on their employment success.
From all who have had the pleasure to work in the same law school as Professor Santoro, we hope that his upcoming retirement will be filled with much joy and laughter and that he will enjoy his retirement. Happy days to you and your wife, Professor Santoro!