Remembering Former Dean, Professor Emeritus Charles Ares

May 13, 2020

It is with profound sadness that the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law notes the passing of former dean Charles E. Ares (‘52) 

Born and raised in Southern Arizona, Ares graduated from Tucson High School and joined the U.S. Navy at 17. At 20, he enrolled at the University of Arizona and majored in political science, then entered the College of Law in 1949. He graduated in 1952, having earned top marks, the admiration of his teachers, and local news acclaim for representing Arizona in the 1951 National Trial Team Competition in New York City.  

After graduation, Ares served as a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas from 1952 to 1953 and recalled 'sneaking' into the gallery to watch Thurgood Marshall argue in Brown v. Board of Education 

Returning to Tucson, he established a private practice, also serving as a deputy county attorney. In those early professional years, Ares practiced with legendary partners Mo Udall ('49) and Stewart Udall ('48). The close-knit Tucson legal community included other distinguished alumni such as S. Thomas Chandler ('46), Raul H. Castro ('49), and Stanley Feldman ('56).  

As graduates of the state's only law school during a time of rapid growth in Arizona, Ares and his colleagues expanded the legal infrastructure and were prominent in the development of civic and cultural life.  

In 1961, Ares and family moved east for a position at New York University School of Law, where they remained until 1966 when he was named dean of Arizona Law.   

His seven-year deanship was transformative, and the blueprint from those years remains fully visible to this day.  

Dean Ares recruited a cadre of young, energetic scholars to build the college's academic reputation. He created and expanded practice opportunities for students. He outpaced many of the nation's law schools in diversifying the student body, admitting more women and students of color, and championed a more diverse profession with law firms and other employers.  

Ares returned to the full-time faculty in 1973 but remained a central figure at Arizona Law, helping to guide the institution that he nurtured to national standing.    

The Ares' legacy remains strong on our campus, with the Ares Fellows Writing Program, the Charles E. Ares Professorship, and the Charles and Jean Ares Scholarship, created in 2017 by "their friends, family, admirers and colleagues."    

Among the legions of those whose lives he shaped were my fellow deans and college leaders,” said Dean Marc Miller in a community-wide address. “Charles was an extremely sharp and perceptive observer of supreme courts and constitutional law, whether the issues or opinions came from the Supreme Court of the United States or the Arizona Supreme Court. He was also a perceptive observer of his law school over the past 71 years. Charles was an invaluable counselor, to me, and all the deans and others who have tried to follow in footsteps. Seventy-one years of study and leadership produces profound perspective and insight. He would share that perspective, sometimes with a single probing question. Yet he was utterly open to -- and a fan of -- new colleagues and new ideas.  I have never met anyone so completely invested in a college -- so completely committed to its history, yet so completely unbiased and zen in watching it grow and change. 

"The success that the Law College certainly enjoys today is in large part attributable to the unique qualities Charles Ares brought to bear during his deanship and subsequent role on the faculty over the half-century he was associated with the educational enterprise. His guiding hand and intellectual influence will be sorely missed," Roger Henderson, Ralph W. Bilby Professor Emeritus of Law and Dean Emeritus   

"No law school owes as much to one dean or colleague as we do to Charles Ares. He served with incomparable integrity, wisdom, modesty, courage, and selfless -- peerless -- fidelity. His sense of justice was our beacon. We are beyond grateful to him -- and to Jean and the Ares family -- for their enduring gift to us all," said Regents Professor and Dean Emerita Toni Massaro. “May they be comforted by this: the Ares legacy thus will live on, even as we all make our unsteady way beyond the time when we could be with him in person, hear him, laugh with him (Charles had a marvelous sense of humor), and be inspired by him 

Ares passed away in his home in Tucson at the age of 93. He is survived by his wife, Jean, and four children.   


To make a gift to the Ares Scholarship Endowment and support scholar in honor of Dean Ares:  

Share your memories of Dean Charles Ares here, and send condolences to The Ares Family, c/o Megan O'Leary, University of Arizona, College of Law, 1201 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, Arizona, 85721-0176.