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Shu-Yi Oei named first Hoffman F. Fuller Associate Professor of Tax Law

April 14, 2014

Professor Shu-Yi Oei talks about taxes and Tulane during her April 10 investiture as the first Hoffman F. Fuller Associate Professor of Tax Law.

Professor Shu-Yi Oei talks about taxes and Tulane during her April 10 investiture as the first Hoffman F. Fuller Associate Professor of Tax Law.
Photo by Sally Archer 



Professor Emeritus Hoffman Fuller (L ’56) led Tulane’s tax law program for almost 50 years.

Professor Emeritus Hoffman Fuller (L ’56) led Tulane’s tax law program for almost 50 years.
Photo by Sally Archer 



Professor Shu-Yi Oei (center) is congratulated by donor Bernie Pistillo (L ’81), Dean’s Advisory Board Chair Robert Hinckley (L ’76) and Tulane University Provost Michael Bernstein, along with many faculty, staff, students and friends.

Professor Shu-Yi Oei (center) is congratulated by donor Bernie Pistillo (L ’81), Dean’s Advisory Board Chair Robert Hinckley (L ’76) and Tulane University Provost Michael Bernstein, along with many faculty, staff, students and friends.

Photo by Sally Archer 


 

Who gets excited about taxes?

When Tulane Law School Professor Shu-Yi Oei talks about tax law, she manages to convey why “there has never been a more exciting time to be a tax scholar.”

The issues touch on everything, from politics to economics to sociology: How the new health care law gets implemented. What Social Security will look like in the future. Whether the IRS unfairly targets some taxpayers. How to effectively tax multinational corporations. Whether government benefits should be direct payments or tax breaks. How families should be taxed.

“Remember, U.S. v. Windsor was a tax case,” Oei said, referring to the Supreme Court ruling that struck down a law denying federal benefits to married same-sex couples.

Oei, who joined the Tulane Law faculty in 2009, has been named the first holder of the new Hoffman F. Fuller Associate Professorship of Tax Law. The position is named for Hoffman Fuller (L ’56), who led Tulane Law’s tax program for almost 50 years and chaired the Tulane Tax Institute for half a century.

The professorship is funded by three gifts: from tax lawyer Bernie Pistillo (L ’81), a partner at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco; the estate of Harold Judell (L ’50), an FBI agent-turned-lawyer whose municipal bond work included projects such as the Mercedez-Benz Superdome, Lake Ponchartrain Causeway, Crescent City Connection and Tulane Medical Center; and an anonymous donor.

“I feel a great deal of pleasure, and I feel honored at this being created in my name,” said Fuller, who attended Oei’s investiture April 10 with his son, John, daughter-in-law, Kristen, and 12-year-old grandson, Zachary.

Pistillo, whose international tax practice has taken him from New York to London to San Francisco, said he still vividly remembers his classes with Fuller, and the lessons remain relevant.

“What he was teaching us was a way of thinking — critical analysis, problem-solving — which has served me in good stead,” said Pistillo, who handles tax planning aspects of mergers, acquisitions and restructurings for major international and domestic corporations.

Dean David Meyer said Oei has followed in Fuller’s footsteps, as an outstanding classroom teacher and faculty leader. With Professor Steve Sheffrin, director of Tulane’s Murphy Institute and a member of the Law School’s Affiliated Faculty, she founded the Tulane Tax Roundtable, an annual gathering of leading scholars.

Oei’s main research interest involves how taxes are collected, which raises numerous questions including: What’s fair? Who gets prosecuted for nonpayment? Is there benefit to society when government forgives some tax debts? In bankruptcy, should government or credit card companies get paid first?

“Tulane is the perfect place to do interesting and cutting edge scholarship,” she said. “The culture of this place has made it OK for young scholars like me to take risks.”
 

 
   


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