Former Pennsylvania senator and Law School adjunct professor Arlen Specter, 82, is battling cancer, but is still planning to teach this semester.
Specter, a 1951 College graduate, is scheduled to co-teach “Congress, the Constitution and the Supreme Court” with Matthew Wiener, his former General Counsel.
Though he may not make it to the first class, which is scheduled for today, Specter expects to be back in the classroom soon enough, according to Wiener.
“He sounded good and he is optimistic about his course,” Wiener, who spoke with Specter yesterday, said of his colleague. “I do expect to see him sitting in one of the instructor’s chairs this fall.”
“He expects to make a full recovery,” Wiener added.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Specter said the disease is “another battle I intend to win.”
The former senator has fought off potentially fatal diseases repeatedly throughout his political career. He had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in 2005 and then again in 2008.
But he is used to battling these illnesses. Specter chaired conference hearings for the interrogations of Justice John Roberts in 2005, while he was undergoing chemotherapy. “He is a tough person,” Wiener said.
“Arlen has been a wonderful addition to the Penn Law community, teaching an insightful and groundbreaking course on separation of powers — a topic with which he has unparalleled experience,” Penn Law Dean Michael Fitts said. “He’s offered our students unique insights into the law and inner workings of Washington, D.C.”
Third-year law student Melanie Foreman, who took Specter and Wiener’s class last fall, also hopes he will recover quickly. “Everybody hopes that he pulls through,” she said. “He’s a wonderful person.”
Specter served in the United States Senate from 1980 to 2011, switching from the GOP to the Democratic party in 2009. He lost in the Democratic primary in 2011.
His son Shanin Specter, also a Penn Law adjunct professor and an attorney in Philadelphia, declined to comment for this story.