Beth A. Eisler, 1946-2012: Toledo professor of law a former interim dean

Beth Eisler, professor, University of Toledo.
Beth Eisler, professor, University of Toledo.

Beth A. Eisler, a University of Toledo law professor and former interim law-school dean, died Monday in Arbor Hospice in Ann Arbor. She was 66.

Ms. Eisler learned she had anaplastic thyroid cancer in mid-September. She taught for several weeks afterward and would have continued had her doctor not ordered her to stop, said her husband, Ira Fisher.

She started at the UT law school in 1987 and mostly taught contracts and evidence. She became a mentor to many faculty colleagues, many of whom she had a role in hiring, said Daniel Steinbock, dean of the law school.

Ms. Eisler was past chairman of the appointments committee, associate dean for academic affairs from 1993 to 1995 and 1999 to 2005, and interim dean in 2005 and 2006. She had served as chairman of a committee preparing the law school for an accreditation inspection this year.

“This would be a very different — and not nearly as good — law school had Beth Eisler not been a part of it,” Mr. Steinbock said. “As an administrator and faculty member, she was instrumental in shaping our program and the composition of our faculty. Beth Eisler was an outstanding and caring teacher, and thousands of students had a better education and experience for having known her. She was a role model for female students hoping to balance a professional career and family life.”

Her initiatives as associate dean enhanced students’ educations and remain in place, Mr. Steinbock said, such as giving exams that resemble the bar exam. “The idea was to prepare people to do well, not only on the bar exam, but as practicing lawyers,” Mr. Steinbock said.

Three graduating classes honored her with the Outstanding Professor Award. She received a Student Impact Award in 2011 and 2012. She’d been active in the Michigan Supreme Court’s state board of law examiners and the Toledo Bar Association’s lawyers’ roundtable.

She began her teaching career in 1975 at Wayne State University law school in Detroit.

She was born Oct. 24, 1946, in New York City to Naomi and Samuel Eisler. She and her husband became friends as ninth graders at a West Orange, N.J., junior high school.

They kept in contact as she went to George Washington University, from which she received bachelor’s and law degrees. She worked on rules of evidence as an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department. He was in the Peace Corps and traveled the world.

“One time, when I came back to the States to visit — I was living in Spain — we met for dinner. We said, ‘This is silly,’ and Beth came to Spain for six months,” he said.

They moved to Ann Arbor, where he applied to graduate school at the University of Michigan. She was hired by Wayne State’s law school. They married May 24, 1976.

Family came first, her husband said, and she liked going to their cottage in northwestern Lower Michigan, “especially when her children and grandchildren were with her.”

Surviving are her husband, Ira Fisher; daughter, Maia Fisher; son, Alexander Fisher; mother, Naomi Sokol; sister, Andrea Eisler; brother, Arlan Eisler, and four grandchildren.

A memorial service is at 10 a.m. Jan. 12, at the UT law school. The family will receive visitors in their Ann Arbor home from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 4 to 9 p.m. Jan. 12, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 13.

The family suggests tributes to the University of Toledo Foundation for the Beth Eisler Student Assistance Fund or Arbor Hospice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.