Dick Badger, '68: The Law School's Most-Sighted Author
Dick Badger, ’68, the son of a traveling salesman, lived in a half-dozen places as he was growing up. Once he settled down, he really settled down—he’s been at the Law School, with only a two-year break for military service and a smidgen of time at a Chicago law firm, since he arrived in 1965. Generations of students are glad he decided to stay put.
How he has stayed in one place without gathering any moss remains a mystery. Not only has Badger brought a distinctive zest, warmth, and wit to a wide range of administrative responsibilities, his extracurricular activities have delighted millions of people in Chicago and beyond.
After returning from service as an army captain in Vietnam in 1971, Badger worked for a time with Norval Morris. Dean Phil Neal then asked him to take over the career services department, and not long after that he added dean of students and then director of admissions to his duties. “In those days,” Badger recalled, “the Law School’s administrative functions were pretty thinly staffed. As a result, I became the point of contact with the Law School’s administration for a lot of students.” Students remember him fondly. When interviewing Law School alumni, this reporter was often asked “Please give my regards to Dick Badger.”
Badger is currently Assistant Dean for the LL.M. program. He has led that program’s growth from twenty-five students in 1995 to fifty students today. In addition to being a member of the LL.M. admissions committee, he describes himself as “a kind of social chair,” responsible for ensuring that these overseas students enjoy a positive experience while they’re in a city far from home. Among other things, he invites them all to his home for Thanksgiving each year and—of course—he takes them to a White Sox game.
Ah, Badger and the White Sox. He attends about thirty White Sox games each year, and to each one he brings about twenty-five signs he has created to comment on the game’s events. The Law School’s faculty is famously prolific. Badger’s writings are much shorter, but they have been read by, literally, millions. The signs he makes are witty—FRANK ON A ROLL to celebrate a Frank Thomas hitting streak; GOOD EYE PODS to acknowledge a walk earned by Scott Podsednik. Fans, television crew, and even the print media take notice. The Chicago Tribune featured Badger and his signs in a recent article.
This past year Badger furthered his claim to most-sighted status by appearing in the feature film Proof, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins, which was filmed in Hyde Park. Sure, he was just an extra (in the memorial-service scene in Rockefeller Chapel, should you wish to look), but his performance was widely hailed as “amazingly lifelike.”
The theatrical bug bit Badger years ago. Beginning in 1979 he wrote the book and lyrics for ten musical shows performed at annual meetings of the Law School Admissions Council (which nonetheless placed him on its board of trustees). He’s composed screenplays that are just waiting for a visionary producer to see their blockbuster potential (one of them, Louie Louie, uses that famous song to explain the political history of the United States from 1968 to 2000).
But Badger’s most endearing quality is surely his utter devotion to the Law School. What else could explain his willingness to offer his face as a target for students’ cream pies?