Samuel J. Astorino June 6, 1932 - May 12, 2012 Beloved History and Law Professor at Duquesne University

By Niederberger, Mary | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), May 15, 2012 | Go to article overview

Samuel J. Astorino June 6, 1932 - May 12, 2012 Beloved History and Law Professor at Duquesne University


Niederberger, Mary, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Samuel Astorino was the son of Italian immigrants who started his working life in the steel mills of Carnegie but worked to earn a doctorate in history from the University of Pittsburgh and become a university professor.

He first taught at Pitt, then Waynesburg and St. Vincent College before settling at Duquesne University, where he would rise to become chairman of the history department for 13 years.

But that achievement apparently was not enough because during his years as a history professor, Mr. Astorino attended law school at night, earning his law degree from Duquesne University in 1982.

In 1984 he joined the faculty of the university's law school where he remained until his death on Saturday. Mr. Astorino, 79, of Carnegie, died of stomach cancer at the Center for Compassionate Care in Mt. Lebanon.

He taught at Duquesne for 48 years, according to Ken Gormley, dean of the Duquesne University School of Law.

"He was a true scholar in many areas. You could go to Dr. Sam because he had enormous breadth of knowledge," Mr. Gormley said.

Mr. Gormley said he tapped into that knowledge when he was trying to write about the impeachment proceedings against former President Bill Clinton. "He helped me in trying to understand the impeachment process and the American system of government," Mr. Gormley said.

Mr. Astorino started his teaching career in 1958 and settled into his career at Duquesne University in 1963 as an assistant professor of history. From 1968 to 1981 he served as chairman of the history department.

After receiving his law degree, in addition to working as a professor, Mr. Astorino served in the Office of Counsel to the President from 1982 to 1988 under former university president the Rev. Donald Nesti.

Mr. Gormley said Mr. Astorino was a popular professor both with students in the history department and with law students. Two years ago Mr. Astorino received the Distinguished Teacher Award from the students at the law school.

One of Mr. Astorino's history students, Joe Kulik, would later become a law school classmate and his son-in-law. …

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