Roy Lee Steinheimer Jr. served as dean of the Washington and Lee University School of Law from 1968 to 1983. On Steinheimer’s death in 2016 at age 98, W&L President Ken Ruscio ’76 stated, "Roy Steinheimer's deanship was a pivotal one for Washington and Lee's Law School. He left a genuine legacy, and more than any other individual shaped the Law School that exists today. His contributions were profound, and we shall be forever grateful for his service and dedication to the university."
During his landmark tenure as dean, the Law School moved into its current headquarters, Sydney Lewis Hall, welcomed its first women students, further diversified its student body, and strengthened its national profile. In addition to these administrative accomplishments, Steinheimer had a reputation for fair and caring leadership. He nurtured the personal atmosphere of the Law School. "I thought we could turn out finer professional people,” he said, “if we got to know them and were in constant contact with them, so that the professionalism that we as professors had could rub off on them."
Upon his retirement from the deanship, the law faculty established the Roy L. Steinheimer Jr. Commercial Law Award. This is given each year to the graduating law student who has compiled the most outstanding record in commercial law, an area in which Steinheimer was a renowned scholar and lecturer. That same year, law students commissioned an artist to paint his portrait, which now hangs here. In 1984, alumni and friends created the Roy L. Steinheimer Jr. Professorship in Law.
He continued to teach at W&L and, in 1985, was named the Robert E.R. Huntley Professor of Law, teaching commercial transactions and consumer protection. He retired from W&L in 1987, but served as an adjunct professor of law until 1999.
Roy L. Steinheimer Jr. was born on Dec. 2, 1916, in Dodge City, Kansas, and grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas. He received his A.B. in economics in 1937 from the University of Kansas and his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1940. He practiced law with Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City for 10 years before returning to the University of Michigan, where he taught from 1950 to 1968. Steinheimer married Jane Powell Patchett in 1949; she died in 1982. He married Frances Pugh in 1988; she died in 2008. He was the step-father to Sarah Pugh Dicks ‘86L and Susan Pugh Morten.