The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law honored communications law guru Richard Wiley on Tuesday for a lifetime of achievement, including a run at the Federal Communications Commission that spanned three presidential terms.
Wiley, 77, is only the third person to receive the Milestone Award from the university’s Institute for Communications Law Studies, which recognized his longtime support for the institute and his professional success in communications law.
“He’s just one of the great people in that field,” said retired Columbus Law School professor Harvey Zuckman. “He has mentored a number of our students, that, along with that he is probably the premier communications lawyer in the United States.”
Wiley is the only person to act as general counsel, commissioner and chairman of the FCC. He started under President Richard Nixon, served under President Gerald Ford and then resigned after helping transition into the administration of President Jimmy Carter for a year.
His pivotal role in the development of HDTV earned him the nickname, the “Godfather of Digital Television,” and earned him an Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Wiley went on to form Washington-based Wiley Rein, which now has the largest communications law practice in the nation, with 80 lawyers. The firm represents giants such as Verizon, AT&T and CBS.
A reception at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in D.C. on Tuesday also raised more than $100,000 for the Professor Harvey L. Zuckman Scholarship Fund, established in 2007 to provide financial aid to deserving young law students interested in communications law.
Wiley and Zuckman became friends playing softball while working in the Army JAG program at the Pentagon. Wiley, an Illinois native, received his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and a L.L.M from Georgetown University Law Center.
But Wiley said his friendship with Zuckman made the Columbus School of Law like his second home. Wiley has provided internships for students, has hired a number of students to work for his firm and has boosted the reputation of the communications law program there.
Wiley had already received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the Columbus School of Law, and now joins other former FCC commissioners James Quello and Kathleen Abernathy as Milestone Award recipients.
“I thought it was a very gracious gesture on behalf of the law school,” Wiley said. “It’s a fine local law school and I like the people there.”
Photo from Columbus School of Law. From left, Harvey Zuckman, retired professor and founder of Catholic University's Institute for Communications Law Studies; Richard Wiley, former FCC Chairman, founding partner of Wiley Rein, and the 2012 recipient of the Institute's Milestone Award; and Veryl Miles, dean of the Columbus School of Law.