Don Gillmor, U of M media law professor, dies at 86

Donald Gillmor wrote the first modern casebook on media law.
Donald Gillmor wrote the first modern casebook on media law.
Gillmor photo: U of M.

Very few people bear the qualities necessary to be regarded as one of the world's leading experts in media law and be listed among the nation's sexiest professors by Esquire, but Donald Gillmor achieved both of those honors.

Gillmor, a professor of journalism at the University of Minnesota for 35 years, died last week due to complications related to Alzheimer's at age 86.

His 1976 Esquire commendation aside, Gillmor is best known as co-author of the book Mass Communication Law: Cases and Comment. Now in its sixth edition, the text is considered the "original modern casebook" in media law.

Gillmor was also the founding director of the U of M's Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law, and served as the first Silha professor of media ethics and law starting in 1990.

"The Silha Center is unique in the world," says Jane E. Kirtley, now Silha professor and the center's director, in a statement from the U. "Don was the inspiration for Otto Silha to endow both the Silha Center and the professorship. Don's research and teaching embodied the marriage between these two related but distinct aspects of media scholarship. His legacy continues to influence our research, publications, outreach, and support for graduate and law students at the Silha Center."

Gillmor retired from the U in 1998. His work in media law has won plenty of awards over the years, including the 2009 University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication Alumni Society's Award for Excellence. A memorial service will be held for Gillmor later this week (details here).

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