On Saturday, April 25, 2015, we will honor alumnus Desmond ("Des") Kearns '72 with the University of Arizona Alumni Association Professional Achievement Award.
Originally from Ireland, Des completed all of his education through his undergraduate degree in London, England. Des obtained a bachelor's degree in mining engineering. He worked in the mining industry in Cyprus, England, Ireland, Canada and the United State.
After graduation, his first job was conducting geophysical exploration for copper ore bodies on the Island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean, working for an American firm. While at this company, he was able to arrange a transfer from Cyprus to the Pima Mine, south of Tucson.
In Tucson, Des shared a house with alumnus - Mike Murray '64, who encouraged Des to enroll at Arizona Law. Des talked to Dean Charles Ares, who was then the Dean of Arizona Law, and Dean Ares eventually cleared the way for Des to enroll.
However, instead of enrolling at that time, Des went back to Ireland for two years and eventually married Bessie Jean Ruley ("Jean"). Two years later, Des and Jean returned to Tucson where she taught at the University of Arizona and Des enrolled in Arizona Law.
We believe Des was the first foreign student to enroll at Arizona Law and one of the first dual degree students. During his three years at Arizona Law, Des completed his JD and a Master of Science in Mining Engineering at the College of Mines, and became a Registered Professional Mining Engineer in Arizona. Although there was no formal dual degree program at Arizona Law at that time, Dean Ares and Professor Bill Lacy, the department head in the College of Mines, worked together to pave a path for Des to earn both degrees. During his time at Arizona Law, Des was also a writer and editor on the Arizona Law Review.
After graduation from Arizona Law, Des went into private law practice in Tucson, Arizona, concentrating his practice in natural resources law and related areas. Des also maintained ties to Arizona Law by teaching on an adjunct basis. In 1979, he joined the Arizona Law faculty on a full-time basis for two years to teach the natural resources law courses after Professor Robert Emmet Clark retired. He taught the first year Real Property course, Water Law, Mining and Public Land Law and a section of Moot Court.
Des has been active in the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation for more than 40 years, chairing the group that produced the second edition of the American Law of Mining, a multi-volume treatise on mining law. He has also served on the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for more than 35 years.
Des is a member of Arizona Law's Board of Visitors and has been a close advisor to the College in our emerging Global Mining Law Program.
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