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Tulane mourns beloved professor who helped shape energy law program

June 23, 2020 8:15 AM
 | 
Alina Hernandez ahernandez4@tulane.edu

 

 

Robert Sloan, a professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Tulane Center for Energy Law, died June 19 of a rare form of brain cancer.

Sloan, who was beloved at Tulane Law as a longtime adjunct professor and mentor to students in energy law and regulation, was a former executive vice president and general counsel at Entergy Corp. and an accomplished international legal scholar who had worked for the U.S. State Department and for global law firms.

His career path – which included working for the multinational peacekeeping force as part of the Camp David accords – was larger than life, as was his love of travel and teaching.

“Bob was the most wonderful person in every respect – always cheerful and kind to everyone he encountered, so generous and supportive of students and colleagues, deeply interested in everyone and everything,” wrote Law Dean David Meyer in announcing his passing with the law school community.

Sloan’s wife, Dauphine, told Meyer that, true to form, Sloan was chiefly worried about not being there for his students in the closing days of the spring semester. The sad news reverberated through the law school, even as most faculty and staff are working remotely. Many sent their condolences in writing.

“Bob encouraged students to see law in the context of political, economic and cultural factors; to think and learn about the world outside the country; even to contemplate careers abroad,” said Prof. Jörg Fedtke, Co-Director of the Eason-Weinmann Center for International and Comparative Law. “Learn a language, he said over and over again, even if you think it may be too late as a 1L. It is not. He gave his time generously to students - in Weinmann Hall; at Starbucks on Washington; in Berlin, where he offered a lifetime of experience in negotiation without any compensation for himself. He will be missed.”

Prof. Vernon Palmer, Director of the Eason-Weinmann Center for International and Comparative Law, remembered Sloan's collaborative nature and innovative ways to reach students, and how Sloan's favorite place was alongside students, in the law library's reading room.

"We may never know how blessed we were to have Bob Sloan on this faculty. Bob brought to this law school an immense intellectual range and an enthusiasm for life that was nothing short of contagious.  He often stopped by my office, always impromptu, and we would end up talking for an hour or so about law, literature, history -- from Samuel Johnson to his beloved France, and everything else that mattered to him," Palmer said. "Always thinking of ways to collaborate, his latest idea was to co-teach with me, in French, a non-credit course on the founders and great figures of the European Union. Alas, that would have been a wonderful experience."

"When I wanted to find him, I knew exactly where he would be -- alongside the students in the reading room of the library. He probably spent more time working in the law library than anyone else on the faculty," Palmer said.

As a former executive vice president and general counsel at Entergy Corporation in New Orleans, Sloan had broad-ranging experience in the energy industry in the United States and across the globe, ranging from oil and gas to coal to nuclear power, to renewables to transmission grid management to overall electric industry regulation.

Throughout his time at Entergy, Sloan was an adjunct professor at Tulane, co-teaching a Law & Literature course with former Dean Ed Sherman.  He was also a regular guest instructor in Tulane’s Paris and Berlin summer programs. 

After retiring from Entergy, Sloan worked with the Sidley Austin firm and ultimately joined Tulane Law full-time as a Senior Research Fellow with the newly-created Tulane Center for Energy Law. 

He played a significant role in helping the Center expand its impact and international reputation. He taught energy law courses, mentored students, and published important scholarship articles on nuclear energy policy.  A major article he co-authored with University of Chicago physicist Bob Rosner on the decommissioning of U.S. nuclear plants is now under review at the Nature Energy journal and is expected to be published soon. 

“Bob was the perfect fit to the newly established Center for Energy Law Team in particular given his special interest in nuclear energy related issues, wide experience in the energy field coupled with his enthusiasm to pass his knowledge and experience to students,” said Center Director Prof. Kim Talus. “Besides being a colleague who offered valuable insight and input into various work related issues, we would talk about European politics, real estate in France, languages… More often than not, student visitors of the energy law center would come and knock on Bob’s door to seek his advice – the center will be much quieter now.”

Among other activities, Sloan was active with the “global nuclear future” program of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Before joining Entergy, Sloan was senior vice president and general counsel at General Electric Industrial Systems, the global industrial products and services arm of the company. He was an assistant legal adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department where his responsibilities covered nuclear non-proliferation issues and politico-military questions.

For much of the 1990s, Sloan was the managing partner of the Brussels office of a large American law firm. Earlier in his career, following his work in the U.S. State Department, he was the general counsel in the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), the multinational peacekeeping force operating between Egypt and Israel as part of the Egypt-Israel “Camp David” peacekeeping process. Sloan, who spoke French and German fluently, handled international corporate, financial, and project-finance transactions in the U.S., Western Europe and Asia, as well as complex contract negotiations in French-speaking developing countries.

Yet, it was his work with students, his generous and inquisitive nature with colleagues, that people remembered most.

Visiting Assistant Prof. Hao Jiang, a Tulane Law alum who received his JD, LLM and SJD at Tulane, got to know Sloan well over the past nine years, first as a student and then as a colleague.  The two met by accident at the Starbucks on Washington Avenue and Magazine Street when Jiang was a student. They struck up a friendship.

Jiang sought out Sloan when a client needed help, and that one client grew to be several clients. They became friends, colleagues and occasional travel partners.

“Bob had unlimited energy. He would pick me up at 5 a.m. for flights to Shanghai and we traveled together for hundreds of hours in coach. We went through a lot together: late nights, long hours, severe weather, and flight delays. There was one year we barely made it home for Christmas. There was another year we celebrated Bob's birthday in Fuzhou,” said Jiang. “He took such a pleasure in meeting new people. He was always positive and humorous. The jet lags were killing me, but Bob handled it so well. Clients loved him.  He was a kind and passionate person who really wanted to make things happen.”

The Law School will host an event celebrating Sloan’s life and devotion to the Tulane Law community later this year, with the Sloan family.