Biographical Information

Tom Bergin received his B.A. degree from Princeton in 1946 and his L.L.B. from Yale in 1951. He then spent nine years in private practice in New York, specializing in the real estate, television, and advertising fields. He was assistant to the president at Sarah Lawrence College, and taught constitutional law in the political science department at Yale before coming to Virginia in 1963.  During his time at Virginia Law, Bergin founded the joint degree program in law and economics and taught in the Graduate Program for Judges.  Bergin taught Property, Urban Development, Sales, Law and Economics, Law and Philosophy, and Law and Morality.  His humor and wit made a lasting impact on his students, and a year after he retired 300 friends and former students funded The Thomas F. Bergin Teaching Professorship, a chair that is awarded annually to an outstanding teacher in his honor. Mortimer M. Caplin ’40, who was a member of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors establishing the chair, declared that “No one at the Law School is more beloved as a teacher and a scholar than Mr. Bergin.”
Bergin’s retirement in the spring of 1992 prompted the Virginia Law Weekly to devote an entire issue to him, renaming the paper that week, “The Berginia Law Weekly.”  Similarly the May 1992 issue of the Virginia Law Review also honored Bergin with five essays by former and current colleagues paying tribute to Bergin’s humanity and his exacting scholarship. Following his last class, Bergin received a standing ovation from the entire student body, which lined the length of the Law School’s main floor corridor. In the words of former Dean Robert E. Scott:  “It is not good enough to be creative, or to have good ideas, or to be provocative:  the obligation of the scholar is to get it right.  Tom Bergin has lived by that simple premise.  Getting it right is not the best thing, it is the only thing. Careful, meticulous, precise, rigorously demanding of one’s self and one’s arguments—all of these describe Tom Bergin’s legacy to the Law School.”

Faculty Presence: 
1964 to 1992