Courtroom name to honor professor emeritus


The NIU College of Law named its courtroom in honor of professor emeritus, Francis Riley because of his significant contributions he has made to the legal community.

Mary Obrzut, director of career services and alumni relations for the College of Law, organized the event and explained why Riley was chosen for the honor.

“Frank was one of the original professors at the Law School when it was in Glen Ellyn. He was instrumental in the transfer to NIU,” Obrzut said. “He was also one of the most loved professors. Everyone who had him loved him.”

Riley expressed his feelings toward the honor of having the courtroom in his name and explained his experiences played an important part in his teaching philosophy.

“I feel very proud and very good,” Riley said. “I wanted to impart my experience and what learning I had to the upcoming lawyers I was teaching. I wanted to give them every advantage to make their entry into the law easier.”

Riley joined the Lewis University College of Law, Glen Ellyn, as an associate professor in 1975 and also served as the university’s attorney until 1978. In 1979 he was promoted to professor and carried the position when the college was taken over by NIU.

In 1983, Riley was named a professor emeritus, one who is retired from active duty but still has faculty status. Riley continued to contribute to the law school after his retirement by training national moot court teams and serving on the newly formed board of visitors.

Riley’s extensive involvement with the College of Law is a milestone in his list of accomplishments in the legal profession. Riley has had over 40 years of public service. He served as a special agent in the U.S. Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps and also served as a field investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Migration.

Riley was also a special investigator for the president’s committee on fair employment and was a special appellate attorney for the Office of Price Administration. He later worked for the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Territories as a regional counsel for the Alaska Public Works program and for the State’s Attorney of Cook County, as chief of the Appeals Division.

While working for the State’s Attorney, Riley helped train former Gov. James Thompson who also worked in the office.

The ceremony formally honoring Riley took place on March 26 and many prominent members of the legal community spoke about the significant impact and contributions he made to the profession.