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King Hall Community Mourns Professor Keith Aoki

News Posted on April 27, 2011

Keith AokiThe King Hall community mourns the passing of Professor Keith Aoki, who died at the age of 55 on April 26 following a prolonged illness.  A brilliant scholar, devoted teacher, and beloved colleague, Professor Aoki had a lasting, positive impact on faculty and students.

"Keith has touched our community in a special way, and he will be greatly missed," said Dean Kevin R. Johnson in an announcement to the King Hall community.

Professor Aoki earned a B.F.A. degree from Wayne State, as well as an M.A. in Fine Arts from Hunter College, and worked as an artist in New York City before applying to and being accepted at Harvard Law School.  In addition to his J.D. from Harvard, he earned an LL.M. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.  He taught for more than a decade at the University of Oregon School of Law, where he was the Philip H. Knight Professor of Law, as well as Lewis & Clark, Columbia, and Boston College law schools before coming to King Hall as a visiting professor in 2006 and joining the faculty in 2007. Professor Aoki was an accomplished and respected scholar in civil rights, critical race theory, intellectual property, and local government law, and a member of the prestigious American Law Institute. 

Professor Aoki's scholarly work was published in leading legal journals.  A person of many talents, he was a gifted cartoonist who wrote legal articles and two books--Bound by Law and Theft: A History of Music, co-written with James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins--in comic book style.  His legal comics had been the subject of recent articles in the San Francisco Chronicle and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.  Professor Aoki also authored Seed Wars: Cases and Materials on Intellectual Property and Plant Genetic Resources (Carolina Academic Press).

Much of the King Hall community learned of Professor Aoki's death through an announcement from Dean Johnson on April 26.  Shortly thereafter, a moment of silence was observed in the King Hall courtyard.  The previous week, students participating in the annual Cardozorama talent show changed the name of the event to "Aokirama" to honor Professor Aoki.  UC Davis flew its flags at half-staff for three business days in honor of Professor Aoki beginning April 28.  The California State Senate adjourned its April 28 session in memory of Professor Aoki.

Professor Aoki is survived by his loving wife, Mona, and their nine-year-old twin daughters, Rachel and Sarah. 

The family is setting up college accounts for the girls.  Checks can be sent to:

Professor Steven Bender, Trustee for Aoki Education Trust
University of Oregon School of Law
1221 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1221
(Be sure to include the title Professor on the envelope.)


Deposit your pledge directly at a U.S. Bank branch (checking account #153664356323).  Confirm when depositing that it is the Aoki Education Trust (trustees Steven Bender and David Munsey).  Send an e-mail to notifying him of the contribution so he can confirm the deposit.

A Message from Dean Johnson to the King Hall Community

Flickr photoset