I met Professor Cord on my second day of on-campus freshman orientation. His liberal political views and my conservative political philosophy clashed dramatically at a cocktail party to welcome incoming freshmen, and I foolishly engaged him in an hourlong debate in front of an amused audience of new students. The next morning, I was quite shocked to learn that my impromptu debate opponent was also my Political Science 101 Professor. He spotted me immediately in the large auditorium that was our classroom and instantly began to take a keen interest in my academic development.
Over my five years at Northeastern, I assisted Professor Cord in the research and editing of his seminal book on the Separation of Church and State. For Professor Cord, that book brought well deserved recognition as an expert on the very first phrase of the Bill of Rights. His scholarship would be cited in the Harvard Law Review and by the United States Supreme Court. With that book, he would make a mark on one of this nation’s most fundamental freedoms.
For me, that book—bolstered by Professor Cord’s mentorship and reinforced by a letter of recommendation from Professor Cord that only my mother could have believed—was a path to Harvard Law School, an editor position on the Law Review, a clerkship with one of the greatest federal judges in American history, senior service in the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency, and a wonderful legal career. All of those positions trace their roots firmly back to Professor Cord’s endless commitment of his personal time and energy in advancing the education of his students.
Time has now taken my most important teacher. We are all a little diminished by this loss. But his achievements—often recorded in the successful careers of his students—will live on for decades to come. I believe that he would be very pleased by that.