Robert Covington, a scholar and teacher of employment law who has served on the faculty for 46 years, has announced his retirement from the law school faculty, effective August 31.
Professor Covington joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1961, immediately after his graduation from Vanderbilt Law School. At that time, Dean John Wade – whose leadership during the 1960s and early 1970s propelled Vanderbilt Law School to national status – customarily hired a top graduate to teach and serve as a research fellow the following year. Professor Covington agreed to put his plans to join the JAG Corps on hold for a year to accept the honor. “My immediate predecessor in that position was Gil Merritt,” Professor Covington recalls.
Professor Covington, who was offered a permanent appointment on the Vanderbilt faculty soon thereafter, never joined the JAG Corps. Today, he looks back on a lengthy and rewarding career as a Vanderbilt law professor. Among the honors he has accrued at Vanderbilt is the law school’s Covington Room, named in his honor.
Over the course of his career as a scholar of labor law, Professor Covington acknowledges that the discipline has evolved so rapidly that simply keeping track of changes and trends has been a challenge shared by legal scholars and practitioners alike. “The rapid pace of change presents a tremendous challenge to labor law practitioners,” he says. “With the exception of the National Labor Relations Act, very little of what I taught during my last year on the Vanderbilt law faculty was on the books when I graduated.”
An accomplished baritone, Professor Covington also founded Headnotes, an a cappella choir of students and faculty that has performed at law school functions for more than a decade.
“Bob Covington has been an important part of the life of the law school for almost half a century, and we will miss him,” Dean Edward L. Rubin said. “We wish him a retirement as long, happy and productive as his tenure at Vanderbilt Law School.”