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Our History: Featured Alumni/ae: Seitz, Collins J., 1940

Over the decades our graduates have developed distinguished careers as justices, members of Congress, ambassadors, educators, business people, and community leaders in many fields. This site features some of those late graduates.

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Collins Jacques Seitz

Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1914, Collins Seitz graduated from the University of Delaware in 1937 and earned his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1940, where he was Decisions Editor of the Law Review, and a member of the Order of the Coif and the Raven Society. He began private practice in Wilmington in 1940, continuing until he was appointed vice-chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery in 1946. He was at the time the youngest judge appointed in Delaware in over a century. He served as vice-chancellor until 1951 and concurrently served on the Supreme Court of Delaware from 1949 to 1951. He was elevated to chancellor in 1951 and remained in this position until 1966.

In 1950, Seitz was the first state judge to order the desegregation of a state-financed university at the undergraduate level, a controversial action at the time. As Dean Thomas Jackson noted in 1990, “Such an incident reveals well the magnificent integrity of Judge Seitz—the placing of the public before the private.”

Seitz was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President Lyndon B. Johnson on February 28, 1966, to a seat vacated by John Biggs, Jr. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 9, 1966, and received his commission. He served as chief judge of the Third Circuit from 1971 to 1984 and assumed senior status on June 1, 1989. In 1990, Seitz received the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Award in Law and was the first graduate of the UVA School of Law to earn that distinction. He served on the court until his death on October 16, 1998.

Interview with Seitz in the William A. Elwood Civil Rights Lawyers Project Collection 1984-1989

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